Oct
21
Thriftworks

all good news

 
STS9
Thriftworks | @9:30 club | view more info »
sold out
Oct
21

STS9

Thriftworks


Tuesday Oct 21|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930
Sold Out


STS9

official band site »

Since forming in Atlanta 15 years ago, instrumental electronic rock band STS9 has experienced a meteoric rise to the forefront of the international music scene.

STS9 is Hunter Brown (guitar/sequences), Jeffree Lerner (percussion), David Phipps (keyboards/synths) and Zach Velmer (drums) and Alana Rocklin (bass).

STS9 truly does it all: from headlining stages at the countries biggest festivals, to selling out shows around the country as an acoustic set-up in opera houses or as an electronic act in amphitheatres, to even performing with the likes of Jay-Z in arenas, to running their own record label, 1320 RECORDS, to using their voice as a platform for change and raising significant amounts of money towards activism efforts (including $150,000 to The Make it Right Foundation, paving the way to rebuild a house in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans). Pushing boundaries is all in a day’s work for STS9.

In 2014, fans will be treated to STS9’s largest touring production rig ever. Using the latest cutting edge sound and lighting, the band is leaving no stone unturned when it comes to delivering one of the most visually stunning shows on the road today.

The release of the bands latest studio EP, WHEN THE DUST SETTLES (the eleventh album in their full discography), keeps with XLR8R Magazine’s exclamation that STS9 is "one of the country's most intriguing, innovative outfits around.” The EP was released in 2011 and debuted at #1 on the iTunes Electronic Charts and in Billboard’s Top 25.

STS9’s self-owned record label, 1320 RECORDS was founded on the principles of collaboration, cooperation, and community. The goal is clear: bring the music to the people in the most conscious, unique innovative and savvy ways possible. By doing so, the distance lessens between artists and fans, putting the power back in the hands of those that make music and those that live for it.


Thriftworks

official band site »

Seeker of Unearthed Sound.


 
John Brown's Body
Dub Campaign with Dub Architect | @Gypsy Sally's | view more info »
Oct
29

John Brown's Body

Dub Campaign with Dub Architect


Wednesday Oct 29|doors 7:00 pm|21+
Gypsy Sally's|get directions »
3401 K St NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 333-7700


John Brown's Body

official band site »

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that Kings And Queens is a synthesis of every aspect of John Brown’s Body’s storied career. It’s as if, after close to two decades of existence, this pioneering band has finally crafted their ultimate statement, tying together styles they’ve dabbled in, paid respect to, created, or pushed forward into one tightly woven mosaic. JBB’s Future Roots is now present tense.

John Brown’s Body formed (in Boston in the mid 1990s) at a time when there wasn’t what you’d call a U.S. reggae scene. The American bands that played reggae were regional at best, touring little, and many were primarily cover bands of the best known Jamaican reggae. JBB was one of a handful of groups that began touring nationally and created distinctly American reggae, steeped in traditional vibes but incorporating elements from other genres. Whereas most groups tackled typical reggae themes –religion and marijuana – JBB acted more like an indie band, writing songs that used the vocabulary of reggae to express their own experiences. Over time, this style has become the norm. The U.S. scene has grown tremendously – to the point of having two bands debut records in the Billboard Top 20 in 2012 – and many in the genre point to John Brown’s Body as a key influence.

However, this is not your typical story of an influential band doing what they did 20 years ago now trying to cash in on the movement they helped foment. Because a funny thing happened along the way for John Brown’s Body – they evolved and grew, taking their music ever forward, and have continued to influence the scene as much today – some might even say more so today – than they did at the start. The band’s relentless touring schedule helped pave the way for the nationwide scene, showing other bands that it was okay to be from the Northeast and still be comfortable playing in California, Hawaii, Colorado or Iowa. Early on, members of the band formed their own record label to highlight their local scene, which has since become the norm in many pockets of the scene. JBB delved deeply into dub effects from the start, incorporating elements of electronic music well before that became standard for today’s bands. Yet, JBB is somehow still utterly unique within the scene, even after two decades at work, which brings us back to the record at hand.

Musically and lyrically, lead singer/songwriter Elliot Martin has crafted a work that seems both self-reflective and visionary. A song like “Old John Brown” is obviously open to interpretation that Martin is commenting on both the man for whom the band is named after, as well as the legacy of the band itself. Musically, the song evokes riddims Burning Spear used in the 1970s, which has been an undercurrent influence on the group since the beginning, but has rarely surfaced as obviously as it does here since the band’s earliest breakthrough records.

The group’s last full-length record, Amplify (#1 on the Billboard Reggae chart in 2008), was extremely forward-thinking, steeped in electronic effects. Last Fall’s JBB IN DUB EP (#1 on iTunes’ Reggae Chart) stripped things down to the bedrock elements of reggae. Kings And Queens utilizes the best aspects of both these records, while bringing back much more of the classic JBB sound into the mix and production. This is reinforced by working with engineer Matt Saccuccimorano, who worked on some of the band’s earliest successful albums, and the involvement on numerous songs by former guitarist/keyboardist Nate “Silas” Richardson. Bassist Nate Edgar continues to astonish with his nimble and muscular bass lines. The bass and drums have always been at the center of Martin’s songwriting, but in Edgar and founding drummer Tommy Benedetti, he has found his most spectacular partners-in-crime. Martin has crafted his strongest batch of songs ever, coupled with startling horn lines written by the JBB Horns. Saying the JBB Horns are an influential bunch is no small talk, considering past alums have gone on to play for Slightly Stoopid as well as form the eclectically amazing band Rubblebucket.

The most obvious touch point for the band’s sound has always been classic UK reggae, especially the work of Aswad, Steel Pulse and Dennis Bovell, and that unmistakable influence permeates every track, most noticeably in the heavy drum and bass and complicated horn lines. As it was in that scene, JBB’s songs are more focused on sufferation, urban realities and overcoming, with songs like “Plantation,” “Empty Hands,” and “The Battle” sparking protest over haunting minor chords. This is not beach resort reggae. This is reality. However, the record is by no means all gloom and doom! Songs like “Shine Bright” and the love song “Fall On Deep” both add lightness, and even in his darkest metaphors, Martin can find hope and positivity (listen to the chorus of “Plantation” for evidence of that).

Kings And Queens is bookended by three songs (“Step Inside” and “Invitation” at the start and “Searchlight” at the end) that invite listeners into the live arena where this band has excelled from the beginning. Evoking sound systems from the music’s origins in 1960s Jamaica as well as JBB’s own powerful live show, these songs remind all listeners about the strength in numbers found in the reggae community, especially at live shows and festivals, and how John Brown’s Body has long been one of the greatest live acts in the genre.

This record shows that John Brown’s Body continues to lead from the front of the pack. They look forward by looking back and find a way to invite JBB fans from all eras into their packed and sweaty tent. As the opening song says, “So many people / Step inside, step inside / Come one and all / Got to make the dancehall tight.”


Dub Campaign with Dub Architect

official band site »

The Dub Campaign.. a musical movement, a battle against Babylon... Simply put: “Good music, good people, IRIE vibrations!” DC is a dub reggae, rock, jam band that is out on a mission... create positive vibes for the masses, no strings attached! DC brings the old school Jamaican dub but also incorporates vibes from all schools of music - rock, funk, jazz, psychedelic, improvised, eastern, western.. whatever you wanna call it we make IRIE MUSIC!


 
Primus & The Chocolate Factory
with The Fungi Ensemble | @Hippodrome Theatre | view more info »
Oct
29

Primus & The Chocolate Factory

with The Fungi Ensemble


Wednesday Oct 29|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
Hippodrome Theatre|get directions »
12 N Eutaw Street
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 837-7400


Primus & The Chocolate Factory


with The Fungi Ensemble

official band site »

Primus and the Chocolate Factory:
”There’s no earthly way of knowing, which direction we are going…”
by Benjy Eisen

In the summer of 1971, Primus’ Les Claypool was a couple months shy of his eighth birthday when David L. Wolper’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory debuted in movie theaters; based on the Roald Dahl book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Like many people of a certain age and temperament, the movie became a perennial favorite that Claypool would come back to repeatedly, throughout different stages of his life, taking something different away from it each time.

So it seemed equal parts genius and obvious when he decided to throw a Willy Wonka-themed Primus show on New Year’s Eve last year. During the second set, Primus performed the soundtrack in its entirety. “Of the 23 or so New Years shows, I don’t think we’ve ever had a better combination of elements,” Claypool reflects, seven months later. “It felt good. It felt like we needed to be doing this.”

It felt so good, in fact, that he decided to take Primus into the studio to prepare the soundtrack for an album release. Claypool admits that he’s always, “in some way, wanted to be Willy Wonka,” and, also, that he’s always wanted to work a cover of “The Candyman” -- a memorable number from the film’s soundtrack -- into Primus sets. “Hell, I’ve been doing the line from the boat ride on stage since the ‘80’s,” then Les sings, ”There’s no earthly way of knowing, which direction we are going…”

“Larry Lalonde and I were discussing the next project for the band and one thought I had was to take on some kind of sacred cow and twist it into something of our own. Being that the whole Wonka thing was a massive part of my childhood,” Claypool explains, “It just seemed like the perfect thing for us to sink our teeth into, in part because those tunes are all so strong.”

The project would’ve worked with almost any of Claypool’s diverse musical ventures, but he knew from the start that he wanted to bring Wonka straight to his flagship band. “There’s excitement right now in the Primus world,” he explains. Two years after releasing an album of new material, Green Naugahyde, the Primus machine has a full tank and is running hot. “There’s this reinvigoration here,” says Claypool. Beginning on New Year’s, drummer Tim “Herb” Alexander returned to the lineup, following a three-year hiatus (during which the baton was passed to Jay Lane). Reunited with Claypool and guitarist Larry “Ler” LaLonde, the trio was able to capture the classic Primus sound and honor the spirit of Willy Wonka as seen through Claypool’s H.G. Wells style, creative-vision goggles.

“The recording is about my early perception of the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory film,” says Claypool. “The notion wasn’t so much to go in and redo the soundtrack note for note as much as it was to utilize the classic elements of the music yet try to reflect some of the darker undertones of the Roald Dahl books, because when you read those books, there is an eerie and somewhat menacing aspect implied.”

In order to get the full depth that he envisioned for the music, Claypool called up two celebrated players from his multi-band roster -- Mike Dillon and Sam Bass. “Otherwise, it would’ve been the ‘Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver’ version of Willy Wonka,” he says. “I don’t think it would’ve carried as well. With the added ingredients of marimba, vibraphone, tabla and various strings, we were able to bring some depth to the sonic landscape and really shift the mood around. It gets dark and creepy yet maintains that notion of innocence.” This reinforced version of Primus (featuring the Fungi Ensemble after Les’s last solo band) set about recording what would become Primus and the Chocolate Factory at Claypool’s home studio, Rancho Relaxo, in Sonoma County, California, during the early months of 2014.

“The whole thing just unfolded,” says Claypool, who produced the album himself. “It was a very easy and pleasant project. It wasn’t like we sat and scratched our heads... Every song was all wrapped around how I would interpret the vocals, for the most part, because that was the most challenging thing.”

For example, Claypool took on the character of Grandpa Joe on the song, “Golden Ticket.” But rather than try to emulate the voice of Jack Albertson, (Grandpa Joe from the original film), he affected an almost comical, deep vibrato that brings to mind an aging Elvis impersonator lounge singer... with a wobble. “And then it just fell into place,” he says.

Some of the album’s finest moments were inspired by the same motivation that has driven Primus’ entire career: “I spent the last 20-some odd years just trying to make Larry LaLonde laugh,” says Claypool. “The majority of Primus music is me trying to crack him up and him trying to crack me up.” So when LaLonde humorously captured a Rockmaninoff melody that Wonka briefly performs in the movie, Claypool rebranded the track “Lermaninoff” in Larry’s honor and even snuck in a surprise vocal... without informing the guitarist. “That’s been the foundation of most of our career,” says Claypool. “Just trying to one-up and impress each other, and if I can make Ler piss with laughter, I win.”

The result is an album that Claypool enjoys listening to, as a fan. “One of the things that I’m most impressed with and that I’m most drawn into, on the recording, is Tim’s percussion,” he says. In order to achieve the effect he was going for, Alexander built a drum station that Claypool describes as both “a pile of percussion” and a “huge circle of things to bang on” so dense that Alexander then had to create a door just to enter and exit the thing. “Tim was able to produce these amazing sounds and he does these things that we’ve all loved about him over the years,” says Claypool. “But it’s not your traditional drum kit or rock playing. It’s very orchestral.”

With the album drop scheduled for October 21, Primus plans to tour the Chocolate Factory beginning the very next day. “We’re going to do some touring with it and we put together this pretty abstract stage production,” says Claypool, “We’re going to take it out there, around the planet, and see what happens. And, in light of the record business being gutted by the internet, we’ve made some PRIMUS brand chocolate bars to peddle as well.”

Of course, Claypool realized that it was risky business to adapt a cinematic classic that is so close to so many people’s hearts. And, naturally, he realized that it was dangerous waters to swim in the wake of Gene Wilder, who portrays Willy Wonka in the original film. The band pulls it off by making something that is truly their own, without taking anything away from the movie. When asked about the fairly recent Tim Burton attempt at bringing the Roald Dahl story to the screen Claypool comments, “Look, I love me some Tim Burton, when he writes his own stuff, and I respect what Johnny Depp has done over the years. Hell, Ed Wood is one of my favorite films, but that (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) is just unwatchable and believe me I’ve tried…twice as a matter of fact,” Les continues, “Even my kids hated it”.

“Our project is an homage to Gene Wilder and David L. Wolper’s, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and the effect it had on me in my youth,” spouts Les, “Now we get to sell PRIMUS bars and hang out with demented Oompa Loompas. Plus to top it off, it gives me an excuse to wear a purple, velvet waistcoat and brown top hat for the next 18 months.”


 
Live For Live Music Presents: Lettuce
Exmag | @9:30 club | view more info »
Oct
30

Live For Live Music Presents: Lettuce

Exmag


Thursday Oct 30|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Live For Live Music Presents: Lettuce

official band site »

After celebrating their 20th anniversary as modern day rulers of old school funk, the Brooklyn-based juggernaut Lettuce Is not showing any signs of slowing. Having blown up stages from coast to coast last year, ranging from The Fillmore in San Francisco to Terminal 5 in NYC, Bonnaroo to Pemberton and all points in-between, Lettuce is poised to continue their rapid growth throughout 2014.

“We’re more together and set to crush than ever before,” says drummer and chief songwriter Adam Deitch of the all-star group that he and his accomplished band-mates cut their teeth with back in their Berklee School of Music days. That much history, along with the A-list crop of projects that each member has taken on away from Lettuce, gives the group a bottomless well of musical ideas and unrivaled chemistry—in fact, referring to themselves as a band of brothers. “I was in a practice room at 16 with these guys, and it all clicked,” says “lead” bassist Erick “Jesus” Coomes. “We all felt rhythms in similar ways. We were all about the pocket from day one.”

“People tend to look at funk as a one-trick pony, “ says Deitch, but we aim to smashes those limits by drawing on a range of styles that can be traced from the early ’60s through the early ’80s, incorporating plenty of modern hip-hop sensibilities—heavy bass, kick and snare—along the way. Having evolved and refocused, without ever dropping the beat, Lettuce is getting ready to take audiences to the cosmos with a high-octane Fall tour. “Lettuce is like a Learjet that wasn’t getting clearance from the tower,” says Jesus. “But we’re done just rolling around on the runway.” They’re not asking for permission, so put your tray tables in their full, upright and locked position. This plane’s itching for lift off.

Lettuce released a limited edition ‘45 featuring “Don’t Be Afraid To Try” with singer Alecia Chakour (who is also touring with the band) this March, and are recording a new full-length record this fall. So be on the lookout for new music and a guaranteed PARTY!


Exmag

official band site »

Word is born. With Planet Earth in a state of great chaos and turmoil, a force of extraordinary magnitude from across the multiverse has come to assist. As we approach the great inevitability, Exmag brings the soulful sounds of the future to aid in your journey. Peace to all worlds!


 
John Brown's Body
Jah Works | @The 8x10 | view more info »
Oct
30

John Brown's Body

Jah Works


Thursday Oct 30|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
The 8x10|get directions »
10 E. Cross St.
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 625-2000


John Brown's Body

official band site »

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that Kings And Queens is a synthesis of every aspect of John Brown’s Body’s storied career. It’s as if, after close to two decades of existence, this pioneering band has finally crafted their ultimate statement, tying together styles they’ve dabbled in, paid respect to, created, or pushed forward into one tightly woven mosaic. JBB’s Future Roots is now present tense.

John Brown’s Body formed (in Boston in the mid 1990s) at a time when there wasn’t what you’d call a U.S. reggae scene. The American bands that played reggae were regional at best, touring little, and many were primarily cover bands of the best known Jamaican reggae. JBB was one of a handful of groups that began touring nationally and created distinctly American reggae, steeped in traditional vibes but incorporating elements from other genres. Whereas most groups tackled typical reggae themes –religion and marijuana – JBB acted more like an indie band, writing songs that used the vocabulary of reggae to express their own experiences. Over time, this style has become the norm. The U.S. scene has grown tremendously – to the point of having two bands debut records in the Billboard Top 20 in 2012 – and many in the genre point to John Brown’s Body as a key influence.

However, this is not your typical story of an influential band doing what they did 20 years ago now trying to cash in on the movement they helped foment. Because a funny thing happened along the way for John Brown’s Body – they evolved and grew, taking their music ever forward, and have continued to influence the scene as much today – some might even say more so today – than they did at the start. The band’s relentless touring schedule helped pave the way for the nationwide scene, showing other bands that it was okay to be from the Northeast and still be comfortable playing in California, Hawaii, Colorado or Iowa. Early on, members of the band formed their own record label to highlight their local scene, which has since become the norm in many pockets of the scene. JBB delved deeply into dub effects from the start, incorporating elements of electronic music well before that became standard for today’s bands. Yet, JBB is somehow still utterly unique within the scene, even after two decades at work, which brings us back to the record at hand.

Musically and lyrically, lead singer/songwriter Elliot Martin has crafted a work that seems both self-reflective and visionary. A song like “Old John Brown” is obviously open to interpretation that Martin is commenting on both the man for whom the band is named after, as well as the legacy of the band itself. Musically, the song evokes riddims Burning Spear used in the 1970s, which has been an undercurrent influence on the group since the beginning, but has rarely surfaced as obviously as it does here since the band’s earliest breakthrough records.

The group’s last full-length record, Amplify (#1 on the Billboard Reggae chart in 2008), was extremely forward-thinking, steeped in electronic effects. Last Fall’s JBB IN DUB EP (#1 on iTunes’ Reggae Chart) stripped things down to the bedrock elements of reggae. Kings And Queens utilizes the best aspects of both these records, while bringing back much more of the classic JBB sound into the mix and production. This is reinforced by working with engineer Matt Saccuccimorano, who worked on some of the band’s earliest successful albums, and the involvement on numerous songs by former guitarist/keyboardist Nate “Silas” Richardson. Bassist Nate Edgar continues to astonish with his nimble and muscular bass lines. The bass and drums have always been at the center of Martin’s songwriting, but in Edgar and founding drummer Tommy Benedetti, he has found his most spectacular partners-in-crime. Martin has crafted his strongest batch of songs ever, coupled with startling horn lines written by the JBB Horns. Saying the JBB Horns are an influential bunch is no small talk, considering past alums have gone on to play for Slightly Stoopid as well as form the eclectically amazing band Rubblebucket.

The most obvious touch point for the band’s sound has always been classic UK reggae, especially the work of Aswad, Steel Pulse and Dennis Bovell, and that unmistakable influence permeates every track, most noticeably in the heavy drum and bass and complicated horn lines. As it was in that scene, JBB’s songs are more focused on sufferation, urban realities and overcoming, with songs like “Plantation,” “Empty Hands,” and “The Battle” sparking protest over haunting minor chords. This is not beach resort reggae. This is reality. However, the record is by no means all gloom and doom! Songs like “Shine Bright” and the love song “Fall On Deep” both add lightness, and even in his darkest metaphors, Martin can find hope and positivity (listen to the chorus of “Plantation” for evidence of that).

Kings And Queens is bookended by three songs (“Step Inside” and “Invitation” at the start and “Searchlight” at the end) that invite listeners into the live arena where this band has excelled from the beginning. Evoking sound systems from the music’s origins in 1960s Jamaica as well as JBB’s own powerful live show, these songs remind all listeners about the strength in numbers found in the reggae community, especially at live shows and festivals, and how John Brown’s Body has long been one of the greatest live acts in the genre.

This record shows that John Brown’s Body continues to lead from the front of the pack. They look forward by looking back and find a way to invite JBB fans from all eras into their packed and sweaty tent. As the opening song says, “So many people / Step inside, step inside / Come one and all / Got to make the dancehall tight.”


Jah Works

official band site »

Jah Works is a band of brothers based out of Baltimore, MD dedicated to writing, recording and performing original reggae music. A heavy dose of drum and bass combined, sweet melodies, vocal harmony and catchy hooks are the groups’ trademarks. Through the help of a dedicated fan base, the internet, and their relentless tour schedule, they have sold over 100,000 records.

Formed officially in the spring of 1993, Jah Works have been blazing up the live music scene for over 20 years. Though best known on the East Coast, Jah Works has played throughout the US as well as internationally in Jamaica, Canada, Holland, the South Pacific, and the Middle East. The band is honored to have taken part in several Armed Forces Entertainment tours which provide entertainment for US troops stationed abroad.


 
Break Science
Manic Focus | Space Jesus | @Baltimore Soundstage | view more info »
Nov
5

Break Science

Manic Focus
Space Jesus

Wednesday Nov 5|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
Baltimore Soundstage|get directions »
124 Market Place
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 244-0057


Break Science

official band site »

Raised and influenced by the rhythm and culture of New York City, Adam Deitch and Borahm Lee fuse generations of the city's rich musical legacy with their own deep-rooted connection to hip-hop heritage. Merging their production styles seamlessly, the duo creates a refreshingly original take on electronic music. The live show transcends expectations with Lee's seasoned trip-hop/dub/jazz vibes on keyboards and Ableton Live and Deitch's thunderous breakbeat style on drums.


Manic Focus

official band site »

Manic Focus is the musical conception of John “JmaC” McCarten that breaks the bounds of the typical electronic music realm. Being classically-trained on piano at an early age, his musical talents have brought him through the realms of hip-hop beats and electronic music, having now evolved into the dynamic, bass-induced sounds of Manic Focus. A Minnesota native and recent transplant to Chicago, this producer is now blowing up the EDM music scene and gaining a huge following.

Space Jesus

official band site »

Space Jesus is the mind-spawn of Brooklyn NY based electronic music producer Jasha Tull. Fueled by bass and inspired by the intangible, Space Jesus is consistently driven by the urge to create future-based music. Born and raised in New Jersey, Jasha's firm roots in Hip-Hop are apparent in most of his productions. With a focus on bass-line synthesis, hard hitting beats, and psychedelia, Jasha explores a range of genres and tempos with a consistently urban feel.


 
Lake Street Dive
Parker Millsap | @Rams Head Live | view more info »
Nov
10

Lake Street Dive

Parker Millsap


Monday Nov 10|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
Rams Head Live|get directions »
20 Market Place
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 244-1131


Lake Street Dive

official band site »

Lake Street Dive find themselves on the cusp of stardom, though they insist they will always be the same people whose stage outfits once consisted of matching sweater vests. “We realize this could all go away tomorrow,” says Rachael Price. “But that won’t change what we do. We want to continue to do this for a long, long time. This is what we love. We just want to make sure we keep enjoying ourselves.”

Lake Street Dive have been performing for nearly a decade after meeting as fellow students at the New England Conservatory in Boston. The band was hand picked by Minneapolis trumpet/guitar player Mike Olson and named after an actual neighborhood of seedy bars in his hometown. Vocalist Rachael Price came from outside Nashville, Tennessee, stand-up bassist Bridget Kearney was an Iowa native, while drummer Mike Calabrese called Philadelphia home. “I wasn’t only impressed with their musicianship,” says Olson, who acquired the nickname “McDuck” while at the conservatory for his reclusive ways. “They were also a lot of fun just to hang out with. The first four years of rehearsals were more like glorified dinner parties.”

Lake Street Dive has come a long way, but this just could be the start of something even bigger.

It took a casually made video featuring the band gathered around a single mic, performing a cover of Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” shot on a Brighton, Massachusetts, street corner to grab the public’s attention—its YouTube views now hurtling past a million views. What followed was nothing less than a modern-day music business success story—T Bone Burnett tapping them to perform on the Another Day, Another Time show at Town Hall featuring music from and inspired by the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, taped for an upcoming special on Showtime. The New Yorker raved of their Town Hall performance: “I can’t imagine then, that Lake Street Dive—a quartet led by an amazing young singer, Rachael Price—won’t be getting some air time soon.” Rolling Stone called the band “unexpected showstoppers,” while Hollywood Reporter noted the group “delivered one of the show’s best moments with the swinging ‘You Go Down Smooth,’ with stirring vocals by lead singer Rachael Price.” The New York Daily News was similarly enthused, saying Lake Street Dive “was the evening’s wild card,” and noting Price “has the soulful howl of a young Etta James.”

And just like that, Lake Street Dive went from playing for a small devoted following, to selling out venues and planning an initial European tour, with dates on several late-night TV shows in the offing.

While “I Want You Back,” a track from their six-song Fun Machine EP, which included five covers and an original track, was spreading like wildfire on the Internet, the band had little idea what was happening. They were ensconced at Great North Sound Society, a recording studio located on an 18th century farmhouse in Parsonsfield, Maine, two hours from Boston, with producer/engineer Sam Kassirer (Josh Ritter) a location so remote, cell phone reception was spotty and web access non-existent.

The new album, Bad Self Portraits, which is being released by the Northampton, Massachusetts indie label Signature Sounds Recording as the follow-up to a self-titled debut and subsequent EP, is a microcosm of Lake Street Dive’s evolution of the band from “a weird alt-country jazz group to a pop-soul juggernaut, that turns ‘60s influences like Brill Building girl groups (“Stop Your Crying”), British Invasion rock (“Bobby Tanqueray”), horn-driven Stax R&B (“You Go Down Smooth”), Motown soul (“Use Me Up”) and even The Band-like gospel blues (“What About Me”).

“Our musical development has been like Google Earth,” explains Olson, “going from the entire universe to a specific place. That’s how we’ve honed in on our sound. We had the whole world of music at our fingertips, and we were unsure of what direction to take, but now we’re zeroing in a little closer.”

All four members of the band take part in the writing. The Bridget-penned title track is a wry commentary on how those selfie iPhone photos are just a cover for loneliness, but it could also refer to the rest of the album, each song a polaroid glimpse of a band that is constantly evolving.

“Nothing we do is set in stone,” says Olson about the band’s recording process in the studio, and that they are, first and foremost, a live outfit. “Songs change when we start to play them for people. That determines the stylistic direction more than anything else. When we record a song, that’s just a snapshot of where it was at that moment. And it continues to grow as we perform it."

And as things are rapidly growing for Lake Street Dive, the nine years that they spent focusing on their musical development has left them with one constant to strive for. "We are named in homage to dive bar bands," says Calabrese, "we were, are and always will be a dive bar band. Whether we're playing for 10 people or 10,000 we want them to have that feeling."


Parker Millsap

official band site »

An Oklahoma native brought up in the Pentecostal church, which he’s since departed, 21-year-old Parker Millsap will make you a true believer with his self-titled Okrahoma Records/ Thirty Tigers debut album. Accompanied by his collaborators, high school buddy Michael Rose on bass and fiddle-player Daniel Foulks, the young tunesmith delivers his religious-laced parables, character-driven narratives and relationship tales with the fire-and-brimstone fervor of a preacher, restoring our faith in the power of song.

Influenced by the dust-bowl neutrality of John Steinbeck, Millsap’s memorable creations include the wife-murdering bible-thumper of “Old Time Religion,” the self-made church-on-wheels minister in “Truck Stop Gospel,” the questioning believer of “When I Leave,” the meth cooks in “Quite Contrary” and the gambler who spends all his money buying lottery tickets in “Yosemite.” Filled equally with ghosts and guilt, as well as an objectivity that invites listeners to paint themselves in each picture, Millsap’s songs teeter on the fine line between gospel and the blues, sin and redemption, God and the devil, heaven and hell… from the pulpit to the back pew.


 
Yonder Mountain String Band
with special guests Allie Kral (fiddle) & Jake Jolliff (Mandolin) | The Larry Keel Experience | @9:30 club | view more info »
Nov
11

Yonder Mountain String Band

with special guests Allie Kral (fiddle) & Jake Jolliff (Mandolin)
The Larry Keel Experience

Tuesday Nov 11|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Yonder Mountain String Band


with special guests Allie Kral (fiddle) & Jake Jolliff (Mandolin)

official band site »

Yonder Mountain String Band has always played music by its own set of rules. Bending bluegrass, rock and countless other influences that the band cites, Yonder has pioneered a sound of their own. With their traditional lineup of instruments, the band may look like a traditional bluegrass band at first glance but they’ve created their own music that transcends any genre. Dave Johnston points out “What could be more pure than making your own music.” Yonder’s sound cannot be classified purely as “bluegrass” or “string music” but rather it’s an original sound created from “looking at music from [their] own experiences and doing the best job possible.” The band continues to play by their own rules on their latest record The Show.

The Colorado-based foursome has crisscrossed the country over the past eleven years playing such varied settings as festivals, rock clubs, Red Rocks Amphitheater in the band’s home state, and recently the Democratic National Convention in Denver at Mile High Stadium opening for Barack Obama. Their loyal fanbase has been built from this diverse setting of music venues as fans latched on to their genre-defying original sound.

The band has long cited such varied influences as the bluegrass of Del McCoury, Johnson Mountain Boys, Jimmy Martin, Bill Monroe, Osborne Brothers as well as the punk rock of Bad Religion, Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys. Somewhere in between these two tent poles are early 20th Century composers and alternative rock bands like Grandaddy and Postal Service. It’s all funneled through the band’s unique chemistry, honed since they first met at an informal club performance in 1998. With band members writing individually, in different pairings and as a collective, the album proves that this group is a collection of creative peers and you can hear it in the rich tapestry of music that makes up The Show.

The Larry Keel Experience

official band site »

Larry Keel is described by some reviewers as the most powerful, innovative and all-out exhilarating acoustic flatpicking guitarist performing today. Keel has absorbed the best lessons from his Bluegrass family upbringing, both sides deeply steeped in the rich mountain music culture and heritage of Southwest Virginia. From there, he has always integrated that solid musical grounding and natural-born talent with his own incomparable approach to flatpicking the guitar and composing original music. He’s also got a knack for choosing interesting and appealing material from all realms of music with guts, whether it’s a tune written by a fellow song-writer/musician friend, or a tasty cover from any number of genres all over the map. The combination is pretty irresistible, and has earned Keel the highest respect and billing among the top acoustic musicians alive, and some now gone: Tony Rice, Chris Thile,Vassar Clements, Sam Bush, Del McCoury, John Hartford, Bill Monroe, Peter Rowan, and Darol Anger to name a few. And his fierce, high-spirited energy also appeals to young rockers, jammers and alt country pickers and fans who are equally drawn to Keel’s deep rumbling voice, his earthy and imaginative song-writing, and his down-home-gritty-good-time charm. Keel regularly collaborates with JamBand and Rock giants Yonder Mountain String Band, Keller Williams, Jorma Kaukonen, David Nelson, Little Feat, Rebirth Brass Band, Dirty Dozen Brass, Railroad Earth, members of String Cheese Incident and Leftover Salmon, amongst others.


 
Lake Street Dive
Amy Helm | @9:30 club | view more info »
sold out
Nov
12

Lake Street Dive

Amy Helm


Wednesday Nov 12|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930
Sold Out


Lake Street Dive

official band site »

Lake Street Dive find themselves on the cusp of stardom, though they insist they will always be the same people whose stage outfits once consisted of matching sweater vests. “We realize this could all go away tomorrow,” says Rachael Price. “But that won’t change what we do. We want to continue to do this for a long, long time. This is what we love. We just want to make sure we keep enjoying ourselves.”

Lake Street Dive have been performing for nearly a decade after meeting as fellow students at the New England Conservatory in Boston. The band was hand picked by Minneapolis trumpet/guitar player Mike Olson and named after an actual neighborhood of seedy bars in his hometown. Vocalist Rachael Price came from outside Nashville, Tennessee, stand-up bassist Bridget Kearney was an Iowa native, while drummer Mike Calabrese called Philadelphia home. “I wasn’t only impressed with their musicianship,” says Olson, who acquired the nickname “McDuck” while at the conservatory for his reclusive ways. “They were also a lot of fun just to hang out with. The first four years of rehearsals were more like glorified dinner parties.”

Lake Street Dive has come a long way, but this just could be the start of something even bigger.

It took a casually made video featuring the band gathered around a single mic, performing a cover of Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” shot on a Brighton, Massachusetts, street corner to grab the public’s attention—its YouTube views now hurtling past a million views. What followed was nothing less than a modern-day music business success story—T Bone Burnett tapping them to perform on the Another Day, Another Time show at Town Hall featuring music from and inspired by the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, taped for an upcoming special on Showtime. The New Yorker raved of their Town Hall performance: “I can’t imagine then, that Lake Street Dive—a quartet led by an amazing young singer, Rachael Price—won’t be getting some air time soon.” Rolling Stone called the band “unexpected showstoppers,” while Hollywood Reporter noted the group “delivered one of the show’s best moments with the swinging ‘You Go Down Smooth,’ with stirring vocals by lead singer Rachael Price.” The New York Daily News was similarly enthused, saying Lake Street Dive “was the evening’s wild card,” and noting Price “has the soulful howl of a young Etta James.”

And just like that, Lake Street Dive went from playing for a small devoted following, to selling out venues and planning an initial European tour, with dates on several late-night TV shows in the offing.

While “I Want You Back,” a track from their six-song Fun Machine EP, which included five covers and an original track, was spreading like wildfire on the Internet, the band had little idea what was happening. They were ensconced at Great North Sound Society, a recording studio located on an 18th century farmhouse in Parsonsfield, Maine, two hours from Boston, with producer/engineer Sam Kassirer (Josh Ritter) a location so remote, cell phone reception was spotty and web access non-existent.

The new album, Bad Self Portraits, which is being released by the Northampton, Massachusetts indie label Signature Sounds Recording as the follow-up to a self-titled debut and subsequent EP, is a microcosm of Lake Street Dive’s evolution of the band from “a weird alt-country jazz group to a pop-soul juggernaut, that turns ‘60s influences like Brill Building girl groups (“Stop Your Crying”), British Invasion rock (“Bobby Tanqueray”), horn-driven Stax R&B (“You Go Down Smooth”), Motown soul (“Use Me Up”) and even The Band-like gospel blues (“What About Me”).

“Our musical development has been like Google Earth,” explains Olson, “going from the entire universe to a specific place. That’s how we’ve honed in on our sound. We had the whole world of music at our fingertips, and we were unsure of what direction to take, but now we’re zeroing in a little closer.”

All four members of the band take part in the writing. The Bridget-penned title track is a wry commentary on how those selfie iPhone photos are just a cover for loneliness, but it could also refer to the rest of the album, each song a polaroid glimpse of a band that is constantly evolving.

“Nothing we do is set in stone,” says Olson about the band’s recording process in the studio, and that they are, first and foremost, a live outfit. “Songs change when we start to play them for people. That determines the stylistic direction more than anything else. When we record a song, that’s just a snapshot of where it was at that moment. And it continues to grow as we perform it."

And as things are rapidly growing for Lake Street Dive, the nine years that they spent focusing on their musical development has left them with one constant to strive for. "We are named in homage to dive bar bands," says Calabrese, "we were, are and always will be a dive bar band. Whether we're playing for 10 people or 10,000 we want them to have that feeling."


Amy Helm

official band site »

Amy Helm’s deep musical roots were enriched by a lifetime of exposure to the finest expressions of American musical tradition. Combined with her stunning vocal and other creative gifts, those roots have grown up to reveal a spellbinding artist who moves easily through a broad range of musical styles.

The daughter of music legend Levon Helm and singer/songwriter Libby Titus Fagen, Helm wields a powerful voice that can both stir and soothe, whether she is singing traditional gospel, blues standards or her own heartfelt compositions. She is a gifted musician on both mandolin and drums, and has clearly absorbed the lessons of the many other accomplished artists with whom she has shared stages, including Mavis Staples, Emmylou Harris, and Joan Osborne as well as other uniquely American performers like Dr. John and Hubert Sumlin.


 
Jah Works
Lucky Dub | @Gypsy Sally's | view more info »
Nov
13

Jah Works

Lucky Dub


Thursday Nov 13|doors 7:00 pm|21+
Gypsy Sally's|get directions »
3401 K St NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 333-7700


Jah Works

official band site »

Jah Works is a band of brothers based out of Baltimore, MD dedicated to writing, recording and performing original reggae music. A heavy dose of drum and bass combined, sweet melodies, vocal harmony and catchy hooks are the groups’ trademarks. Through the help of a dedicated fan base, the internet, and their relentless tour schedule, they have sold over 100,000 records.

Formed officially in the spring of 1993, Jah Works have been blazing up the live music scene for over 20 years. Though best known on the East Coast, Jah Works has played throughout the US as well as internationally in Jamaica, Canada, Holland, the South Pacific, and the Middle East. The band is honored to have taken part in several Armed Forces Entertainment tours which provide entertainment for US troops stationed abroad.

In 2012, the band reunited with their original singer Scott Paynter, the voice on all but one of the band's 8 album catalogue. Scott is arguably one of the most charasmatic and soulful lead vocalists in the region and one who the band has had a prolific history of songwriting. A forthcoming release of traditional Jah Works' roots reggae is currently in the works.

Known for their high energy, party style atmosphere, Jah Works’ live shows appeal to both reggae and non-reggae listeners alike. Comfortable in any environment, the band has played numerous music festivals, large and small venues, colleges, and private parties. They have been fortunate to share the stage with some notable international acts including Buju Banton, Toots and the Maytals, Culture, Burning Spear, UB40, and Damian Marley , as well as with their brothers in arms, John Browns Body and SOJA. When not on tour Jah Works can be found working on new material at their home studio in Baltimore.

The original inspiration for the name Jah Works came from a song title by the legendary 70's reggae group The Gladiators. There is a broad yet simple meaning in those two words. To say aloud is to recognize the higher power behind all things seen and unseen. As Jamaican artist Terror Fabulous sings in his song of the same name, "Jah Works when you see the sun shine, Jah Works rule over all." Jah Works is the energy that brought the band together and the force that drives them today.


Lucky Dub

official band site »

Lucky Dub combines a multitude of genres, stemming from the positive vibes of reggae music. Hosting members from all over the world, LD's material combines influences of Brazillian, American, African and Latin grooves to name a few.


 
Cabinet
Trace Friends Mucho | @Gypsy Sally's | view more info »
Nov
14

Cabinet

Trace Friends Mucho


Friday Nov 14|doors 7:00 pm|21+
Gypsy Sally's|get directions »
3401 K St NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 333-7700


Cabinet

official band site »

Cabinet is a band with roots firmly planted in the Appalachian tradition. They wear their influences like badges, honoring the canon of roots, bluegrass, country, and folk, weaving these sounds into a patchwork Americana quilt. But this music isn’t romanticizing or rehashing the past. Cabinet makes it mark on today. The steady aim of their harmonies soar straight onto target each time, the soaring vocals giving voice to the story of each song. Their music takes the long way home, treating its listeners like passengers on a ride through scenic back roads. Their live shows are inclusive, celebratory, and community-building. Everyone will want to get on the wagon with Cabinet. Members Pappy Biondo (banjo, vocals), J.P. Biondo (mandolin, vocals), Mickey Coviello (acoustic guitar, vocals), Dylan Skursky (electric bass, double bass), Todd Kopec (fiddle, vocals), and Jami Novak (drums, percussion), all live and love music, and their polished sound belies their young age.

The band‘s latest offering, THIS IS CABINET - SET II, a seven song effort – six originals and a cover of The Byrds’ “Mr. Spaceman” – was recorded in March of 2013 at Stage One in Fairfield, Connecticut, and Club Metronome in Burlington, Vermont. The set is diverse yet cohesive, ranging from the melancholy of “Caroline,” which unfolds into a purposeful jam, to the modern Americana rock of “Heavy Rain,” which closes the album. Along the way, we have the ambling “Doors,” the upbeat and fun “Poor Man’s Blues” -- which would not sound out of place at an Old And In The Way show -- the snaky, reggae-tinged “The Dove” and the instrumental “Susquehanna Breakdown,” another Cabinet contribution to the tried-and-true bluegrass tradition. The group’s take on “Mr. Spaceman” is relatively faithful, but with some Cabinet flair, and offers a glimpse into the band’s myriad influences.

By now, Cabinet’s ability to get a festival crowd dancing and rip tasty instrumental breakdowns is a given. With “Set II,” the band displays its continuing development not only as players, but as songwriters who know how to get to the point – and have some fun going down that road.

Cabinet formed in 2006, bringing together players from various musical and personal backgrounds. Some of the members were barely old enough to drink legally, but their thirst for older music was unquenchable. Whether its rustic "American Beauty"-era Grateful Dead or old-timey bluegrass, Cabinet has digested it all. But that is not to say that Cabinet recreates older styles. No, this is music that might have its roots in the past, but it is current and vibrant, with a sense of celebrating the now.


Trace Friends Mucho

official band site »

An ever evolving Trash-Grass band made up of some of the best musicians on planet earth. Birthed on the stage of The 8x10 the band has slowly taken over the minds and bodies of humans from coast to coast.


 
Cabinet
@The 8x10 | view more info »
Nov
15

Cabinet



Saturday Nov 15|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
The 8x10|get directions »
10 E. Cross St.
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 625-2000


Cabinet

official band site »

Cabinet is a band with roots firmly planted in the Appalachian tradition. They wear their influences like badges, honoring the canon of roots, bluegrass, country, and folk, weaving these sounds into a patchwork Americana quilt. But this music isn’t romanticizing or rehashing the past. Cabinet makes it mark on today. The steady aim of their harmonies soar straight onto target each time, the soaring vocals giving voice to the story of each song. Their music takes the long way home, treating its listeners like passengers on a ride through scenic back roads. Their live shows are inclusive, celebratory, and community-building. Everyone will want to get on the wagon with Cabinet. Members Pappy Biondo (banjo, vocals), J.P. Biondo (mandolin, vocals), Mickey Coviello (acoustic guitar, vocals), Dylan Skursky (electric bass, double bass), Todd Kopec (fiddle, vocals), and Jami Novak (drums, percussion), all live and love music, and their polished sound belies their young age.

The band‘s latest offering, THIS IS CABINET - SET II, a seven song effort – six originals and a cover of The Byrds’ “Mr. Spaceman” – was recorded in March of 2013 at Stage One in Fairfield, Connecticut, and Club Metronome in Burlington, Vermont. The set is diverse yet cohesive, ranging from the melancholy of “Caroline,” which unfolds into a purposeful jam, to the modern Americana rock of “Heavy Rain,” which closes the album. Along the way, we have the ambling “Doors,” the upbeat and fun “Poor Man’s Blues” -- which would not sound out of place at an Old And In The Way show -- the snaky, reggae-tinged “The Dove” and the instrumental “Susquehanna Breakdown,” another Cabinet contribution to the tried-and-true bluegrass tradition. The group’s take on “Mr. Spaceman” is relatively faithful, but with some Cabinet flair, and offers a glimpse into the band’s myriad influences.

By now, Cabinet’s ability to get a festival crowd dancing and rip tasty instrumental breakdowns is a given. With “Set II,” the band displays its continuing development not only as players, but as songwriters who know how to get to the point – and have some fun going down that road.

Cabinet formed in 2006, bringing together players from various musical and personal backgrounds. Some of the members were barely old enough to drink legally, but their thirst for older music was unquenchable. Whether its rustic "American Beauty"-era Grateful Dead or old-timey bluegrass, Cabinet has digested it all. But that is not to say that Cabinet recreates older styles. No, this is music that might have its roots in the past, but it is current and vibrant, with a sense of celebrating the now.



 
The Werks & Zoogma
Soohan | @Baltimore Soundstage | view more info »
Nov
15

The Werks & Zoogma

Soohan


Saturday Nov 15|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
Baltimore Soundstage|get directions »
124 Market Place
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 244-0057


The Werks

official band site »

The Werks have quickly emerged as a national powerhouse. As a result of their eclectic individual influences, The Werks produce a dance party that can be appreciated by a majority of musical tastes. Known for fusing psychedelic shredding guitar, wailing organ of jam and classic rock with funk slap bass, synthesizers, and modern dance beats, The Werks create their own style of music. Their unique style of performing is affected and manipulated by the energy of the audience, guaranteeing that each show will be different and memorable.


Zoogma

official band site »

Evolving in the dirty south, ZOOGMA's sound combines the sonic diversity and precision of a DJ with the excitement and immediacy of a four-piece rock group. ZOOGMA is able to blend genres in a musical experience that is refreshingly original yet steeped in dance music tradition, appealing to a range of audiences. Known for their energetic performances and retina pleasing light shows, the band consistently dishes out heavyweight beat-driven dance parties across the nation. With the most recent release of “Anthems 4 Androids” and a relentless touring schedule, the four members have already added their unique voice to the live electronic-rock scene.


Soohan

official band site »


 
John Butler Trio
Monica Heldal | @Rams Head Live | view more info »
Nov
18

John Butler Trio

Monica Heldal


Tuesday Nov 18|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
Rams Head Live|get directions »
20 Market Place
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 244-1131


John Butler Trio

official band site »

The contradictions in John Butler are evident, and, despite his magnificently successful career (with number one albums in Australia and sell-out tours) his is a troubled soul. One of the most successful recording artists Australia has ever produced and a musician whose reputation has begun to rock the waters of both Europe and America, Butler is nevertheless a man on the edge, poised like a beautiful suicide. Where will he go next? Up or down? Despite the tensions within the man and his music the new album makes his future trajectory abundantly clear.

An independent role model, founder of Australia’s Jarrah Records, family man and proud skateboard aficionado, JB, in spite of his matey public persona, remains an enigma. He is from everywhere and nowhere, an Australian/American, Everyman/Nowhere Man, and his music mixes rootedness and rootlessness, pain and celebration in a way that is utterly beguiling. He is the consummate rebel-refugee whose songs chart disenchantment with the corporate world and show a yearning for truth along with an ongoing struggle for a sense of locus. The songs’ off-centre grooves have always been their charm, and yet now there is a sense, in the new album at least, of resolution and peace after years of being against the world and what it offered. Maybe the man on the brink will not jump after all?

Born in California and of mixed Australian, Greek and Bulgarian ancestry, Butler began his musical career in classic if tentative style. The narrative arc is well-known Down Under. An art-school dropout, he was ‘discovered’ busking in 1996, bystanders marvelling at ‘the sweat flying off his brow’ and ‘the holy madness in his eyes’. The tape of these early compositional soundscapes Searching for Heritage gave an inkling of where Butler was going, reaching as it did both forwards and backwards in time, conversant with all genres and yet somehow defining its own. The sound had, and still has, elements of folk, funk, reggae and rock all drizzled through the 90s Seattle sensibility. Behind all that there was a wistful Celtic ambience surreally counterpointed by a Jamaican roots/rudeboy vibe. What could have been a mess somehow made perfect sense, with the bluegrass fingerpicking, hip hop beats and psychedelic wig-outs proving not uneasy bedfellows but perfect complements.

On Flesh & Blood it goes even further, yet with a restraint that bespeaks a deepening maturity. There are dirty Stevie Wonder-style boogies, ghostly refrains that could come from Simon and Garfunkel, sonic poltergeists which seem, at times, to resemble lost rock classics. In the hands of a lesser man this would be mere thievery dressed up as ‘eclecticism’. But Butler is a maestro - he takes his influences and transcends them. He creates a sound that is as ancient as aboriginal bone-art and yet as modern as your Twitter feed. He has been hailed as one of the world’s greatest guitarists, a musician’s musician, one whose sound offers not three chords and the truth but a thousand. His prestidigitation is astounding. An old song like “Ocean,” for example, has chalked up 30 million Youtube hits, and not just with guitar freaks studying his technique. The new album has songs that are less expansive and more ‘reined in’, but the playing is all the more impressive for being more tightly corralled. Less sometimes really is more.

Flesh & Blood may be his best yet. In parts it is simply overwhelming. The album has captured that elusive thing: soul. Butler has spoken in interviews of his songs being like ‘wild horses, wild beasts’ and you can see what he means. Songs, he says, come from the ‘ether’, from a savage hinterland: they must be caught without breaking their spirit. A ‘song-capturer’, Butler’s job has been not to tame those horses but to present their wildness. His myth of composition evokes the timeless expanse of both the Aussie Outback and the American West, and he and his fellow band members have been at pains to honour the songs as independent things that belong to no one, least of all themselves.

Arising from a series of agenda-free jams in Butler’s studio ‘The Compound’ in Fremantle, (Australia) the album took a mere 20 days to record and, though beautifully structured in sonic terms, there is a rawness and honesty to the album that reflects the brevity of its laying down. The songs have a wide-open, semi-improvised feel. The crisp and beautifully spare production of Jan Skubiszewski accentuates the sense of limitless space: the drums (courtesy of the aptly named Nicky Bomba) kick with dub explosions, while the bass (‘Lord’ Byron Luiters) goes on inspired transient walkabouts. Butler’s voice, free of the ‘anger’ that has dogged him for so long, now soars with both melancholy and plangent purity. “Wings are Wide” evokes rainforests: it is drenched in dizzying guitar loops in which the listener is enmeshed and lifted timelessly elsewhere. “Spring to Come” could be a classic, Butler’s acrylic fingernails plucking more of their extraordinary patterns. “Blame it on Me” is a cocky peacock-strut juxtaposed with dark references to apocalyptic ‘heavy times’. “Young and Wild” has the simple beauty of a song - a down home-country feel offset by the gorgeous shadowing of female vocalist Ainslie Wills. “How You Sleep at Night” is a hypnotically anthemic piece featuring the ferocious drumming of new man Grant Gerathy; Bomba having jumped ship (albeit amicably) to front his own Melbourne Ska Orchestra. The synth-anchored “You’re Free” sounds like its title: it is as if the composer, haunted by righteous ire, has taken flight, escaping earthly confines but not flying too close to the sun. New single “Only One” shows a new maturity in pop craftsmanship. The quiet/loud dynamic is beautifully exploited yet again. A simple three note refrain and rolling storm-cloud drums establishes a minor key mood: a place of ‘castles built out of sand’ and ‘something haunting’ the protagonist. But then the chorus erupts with steel drum euphoria transporting the listener to what sounds like Africa — a third world of ecstatic being. That is the JB trick par excellence: the shift from fireside ballad to communal dance, from private to public, from doubt to assertion.

With Flesh & Blood, Butler has come full circle. Searching for Heritage led ultimately to April Uprising, an album that delved into Butler’s family history, one in which ethnic Bulgarians (Butler’s kin) rose up in 1876 against the tyrannical Ottoman Empire that had suppressed them. John’s own name derives from his paternal grandfather, a forestry worker who died fighting a bushfire in Nannup, Oz. From these historical titbits we glean some inkling of the artist. He is a man fighting for justice, a man fighting fires — those of love gone bad, of corporate greed, or simply of his own angry soul. As Butler has confessed in a recent interview, “I thought my anger was my strongest asset and that’s what made me powerful, but it was actually my weakest link. My vulnerability, my honesty and patience and trust are my strongest attributes.” The album bears this out. As Butler has matured the anger has been sublimated in poetry, and his voice, on the tender love songs especially, has become his outstanding instrument.

Flesh & Blood is a testament to his talent, and to a man who has finally found himself. On some songs he sounds simply reborn. “I wanted the songs to be a lot more guttural and fleshier,” says a newly humble JB. “I wanted to smell it and feel it a bit more. And I wanted my voice, now and always, to be more convincing.” If it’s authenticity he was seeking he has surely found it.

If he has been a ‘man on the edge’ he is certainly not going to jump and end it all. He now has the wisdom and the courage to take a step back - and enjoy the view.

John Butler is no pie-in-the-sky hippy. He has dirt beneath his feet: red dirt. He is well-known Down Under for his environmental and political commitment. His white Rasta look once suggested a teleported Bob Marley - but that has gone. The more recent barbered image makes him look like a handsome American from the Civil War era. His stare is hypnotic. Who will draw first, you or him? He is not, however, all gun and no trousers. He has put his money where his mouth is, fronting a campaign that helped stop a vast gas plant from despoiling the natural beauty of the Kimberley area in NW Australia. He has also set up a charitable trust that has enabled many aspiring artists to find an outlet. He is a man who cares about the world he is in and one who has tried, in his own way, to set in right.


Monica Heldal

official band site »

It’s not always easy, even with the gift of hindsight, to say exactly when something started. When the artist side of a person is awakened, making it impossible to continue on the journey that is life without making it an odyssey in music. Perhaps it was as early as when she, aged nine, heard Neil Young for the first time. Or Christmas the year she turned twelve, when her parents gift to her was a guitar. Yes, that may have been when it started, when she started playing the guitar.

Musically, artists she has no demographic connections with, had a major influence on her. Nick Drake, Emmylou Harris, the Irish blues artist Rory Gallagher, and acoustic segments from Led Zeppelin’s portfolio. There is also a strong, almost urgent, craving for something else, something of her own, that she isn’t yet able to express.

At least not until she, at 16, takes part in a singer/songwriter session in her hometown of Bergen, Norway. Just prior to this she sat herself down and wrote “Silly Willy”, a song which is still a part of her live set, and included on her debut album; Boy From The North.

The album contains ten such songs, such stories, ten segments that, despite variations in origin, create a perfect whole. Much has happened in Heldal’s life since the first song was written. She lived in Ireland for a year, where music studies soon were eclipsed by living, breathing and performing music. She gained experience, and fans, performing the music of the aforementioned Rory Gallagher, one of her earliest sources of inspiration.

Though blues may be the foundation of many of her songs, her music encompasses equal measures rock and folk. And her satin-smooth vocals have a Nordic coolness that is reminiscent of Ane Brun. Her guitar playing is eminent, and she press have already described her as a guitar virtuoso.

While still based in the small village of Dundalk in Ireland, Monica first applied to perform at Norwegian music festival by:Larm. She was admitted, and since then has performed at numerous festivals, in Norway and abroad, opening for Tom Petty and Ben Howard in Oslo. The latter so taken with what he heard, that he invited her to join him for the full European tour, and on the title track of the Burgh Island EP, which topped the UK iTunes charts.

Before even having a single out Monica has performed live on Norwegian national TV twice, been nominated for, and received, coveted awards, and played on the main stages of some of the greatest cities and festivals in Europe. The album is finally due, and she is most emphatically on her way.

For the eagerly awaited debut album, Boy From The North, Monica was thrilled to work with her bandmates Øyvind Blomstrøm (guitar), Cato “Salsa” Thomassen (gitar) and Børge Fjordheim (drums). In addition Ben Howard drummer Chris Bond is on board, both as an instrumentalist and as producer. Most of the album tracks were recorded at the Deep Litter Studio in England, the southern-most point in the County of Devon. At a venue called Start Point…


 
Moon Hooch
@Baltimore Soundstage | view more info »
Nov
20

Moon Hooch



Thursday Nov 20|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
Baltimore Soundstage|get directions »
124 Market Place
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 244-0057


Moon Hooch

official band site »

Moon Hooch captured the imaginations of thousands with its infamous stints busking on subway platforms and elsewhere in New York City: two sax players and a drummer whipping up furious, impromptu raves. This happened with such regularity at the Bedford Ave station in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, that the band was banned from playing there by the NYPD. The trio's subsequent tours with They Might Be Giants, Lotus, and Galactic as well as on their own have only broadened the band's appeal. Wherever Moon Hooch plays, a dance party soon follows.

Hornblow Recordings and Palmetto Records are now proud to release Moon Hooch's second album, This Is Cave Music, on Sept 16, 2014. The title refers to the term Moon Hooch coined to describe their unique sound: like house music, but more primitive and jagged and raw. Horn players Mike Wilbur and Wenzl McGowen do this by utilizing unique tonguing methods, or adding objects -- cardboard or PVC tubes, traffic cones, whatever's handy -- to the bells of their horns to alter their sound. Not to be outdone, drummer James Muschler gets swelling, shimmering sounds from his cymbals, and covers the head of his snare with a stack of splash cymbals to emulate the sound of a Roland TR-808 drum machine's clap.

Wilbur was raised in Massachusetts, and Muschler in Ohio; McGowen grew up in several different European countries. The three met while students at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City, and they found in each other a common work ethic and holistic philosophy. Moon Hooch are committed to environmental and agricultural sustainability, and they're such fans of Michael Pollan's groundbreaking The Omnivore's Dilemma that they visited the farm that Pollan profiled in the book, Polyface Farms, in rural Virginia while on tour in 2013. Moon Hooch literally caused a stampede when they set up and played their song "Tubes" in the pasture as cattle swirled in the background. (The trio lived to tell the tale, and the "Cattle Dance Party" video has been viewed nearly 200,000 times and counting on YouTube.) Muschler also maintains a blog called Cooking in the Cave (cookinginthecave.net) where he chronicles the band's vegan tour-van culinary endeavors -- it's amazing what these guys can do with a hot plate.

While their self-titled first album, which cracked the top 10 of Billboard's Jazz Albums chart, approximated the band's acoustic approach to dance music, This Is Cave Music takes their cave music hybrid further into electronic and pop music realms with synthesizers, post-production work, and even singing added to the mix. "We aren't trying to do it for the sake of reaching a wider audience," McGowen points out. "We are doing it because it's where our passion has evolved to. This album is a culmination of that."

The source material was, like the first album, mostly recorded at The Bunker Studio in Brooklyn by Jacob Bergson, with McGowen on contrabass clarinet and baritone saxophone, Wilbur on tenor saxophone and vocals, and Muschler anchoring things on percussion. Everyone was involved in the digital additions. "We spent a lot of time on tour producing the set, running all the live sound through Ableton software, and manipulating the studio sound on our computer while in the car," Wilbur explains. "We could just pass the computer around and work on it for hours."

The album opens with the old school "No. 6" where Wilbur wails on digitally modified tenor saxophone as McGowen anchors the low end with contrabass clarinet, providing those shifting acid house bass sounds. As always, Muschler provides tasty, precise beats and fills.

Things turn to straight up new wave on "Mountain Song" with Wilbur's dreamy vocals alongside icy synthesizers and machine-like drumbeats with contrabass clarinet filling the backdrop. Celebrating the band's love of Depeche Mode, "Rainy Day" is a classic synth-pop love song where Wilbur actually recorded his vocals in the van after a gig in North Carolina while on tour with Mike Doughty.

The circular sounding "St. Louis" is the final of three synth-pop road tunes written by the horn players. (The tour stop that gave the song its name was also memorable because Muschler cut his hand wide open while making dinner backstage. The drummer played that show in St. Louis and many that followed with one hand.) This is the band at its most anthemic with Wilbur on vocals and sax, McGowen on contrabass clarinet and a now-healed Muschler on drums.

"5-Sax Piece" uses multiple sax overdubs from Wilbur to create a polytonal, synthesizer-like backdrop, while elsewhere, McGowen's Electronic Wind Instrument (EWI) synthesizer can be heard at various times, most notably on the track that bears its name.

The album closes with a suite of songs that fit together so well that they are usually a closing sequence of the band's live set. Written by Muschler, the first chord of "Bari 3" features the lowest note of both the baritone and tenor saxophone and moves on from there to more traditional Moon Hooch fare. Sliding in behind it is the trance music-like "Why Not," which was written by Wilbur. The idea here was to write a two-note melody and see how far the band could take it, which is quite far into minimalist house music. "Contra Dubstep" follows with Wilbur singing, rapping even playing slide whistle.

The finale is one of the band's most popular and infamous songs. A live YouTube video for "Milk and Waffles," finds the band playing in the middle of a freeway bridge; while no cars ever pass, Muschler was so overwhelmed by the moment that he closed the song by taking off his clothes, trashing his drum kit and walking away.

Listening to this music, it's easy to become emotionally invested. It may not always prompt you to strip off your clothes, but the emotional impact on both the musicians and their fans is visceral and undeniable.



 
Twiddle
Threesound | @Gypsy Sally's | view more info »
Nov
21

Twiddle

Threesound


Friday Nov 21|doors 7:00 pm|21+
Gypsy Sally's|get directions »
3401 K St NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 333-7700


Twiddle

official band site »

Twiddle, a Vermont based quartet, spins tall tales over an intricate soundscape of hi-def shred. Their fresh multi-genre approach conjures up jazz, classical, and bluegrass, but above all, masterfully blends reggae and funk. Obliterating laws of improvisation, their complex arrangements never fail to leave crowds lusting for more. With sage songwriting and unmatched variety, Twiddle’s thrilling infancy continues to exceed all expectation.


Threesound

official band site »

Threesound seamlessly merges various genres of music to create something Fresh. Catchy songs that encompass rock, jazz, funk, jam, dance and beyond.


 
The Revivalists
Red Wanting Blue | @Baltimore Soundstage | view more info »
Nov
21

The Revivalists

Red Wanting Blue


Friday Nov 21|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
Baltimore Soundstage|get directions »
124 Market Place
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 244-0057


The Revivalists

official band site »

The formation of The Revivalists was all about chance, but everything since then has been a combination of hard work, awesome music, and friendship. The septet has been playing nonstop since 2007, crafting a genre-hopping sound that rounds out traditional rock instrumentation with horns and pedal steel guitar and mixes the divergent backgrounds of its individual members with the humid, funky undercurrents of the band’s New Orleans home. The result is like English spoken with an exotic accent: familiar, yet difficult to pin down.

Religion aside, a revival is all about the tangible electricity that can only be created when enough like minds are crammed under a single roof for a singular purpose. It’s a spiritual spectacle, a carnival of the divine, a whole greater than the sum of its parts. The same could be said for The Revivalists’ searing live performances. The band has a knack for bringing music to life on a stage, and they have tuned their talents to Swiss-watch precision over years of relentless touring. Their bombastic showmanship is the outgrowth of a desire to connect with audiences on a personal level, and that intimate connection is what elevates their shows above simple entertainment.

True to their name, The Revivalists lean more heavily on the older styles and warmer sounds of the golden age of rock ‘n roll, but the band isn’t afraid to dabble in electronics and sleight-of-studio when it’s right for the song. The group tends not to bother with questions like “does this sound like us?” or “does this fit with our other stuff?”, instead allowing songs to define themselves and take shape organically, each on its own terms. Is this a dark, heavy rock manifesto driven by a steel guitar line that borders on electronica, or is it an airy, acoustic story about star-crossed lovers, rich in vocal harmony and sparsely arranged until the coda? This one’s funky, that one’s sweet, this one’s heavy….

To The Revivalists, it doesn’t matter. They just write songs that they want to play.


Red Wanting Blue

official band site »

In the years since vocalist and songwriter Scott Terry formed Red Wanting Blue, the band has gone on to establish itself as a quintessential example of American perseverance and hard work, building an exceedingly loyal fanbase based on non-stop touring, all without any industry support.

Known for making instant fans of the uninitiated with one of the most engaging and passionate live shows on the road today, Red Wanting Blue found even bigger audiences after the release of its 2012 From The Vanishing Point album, which landed in the Top 10 of Billboard’s Heatseekers chart and at #1 for the band’s home region.


 
Atlas Road Crew
@Gypsy Sally's | view more info »
Nov
22

Atlas Road Crew



Saturday Nov 22|doors 7:00 pm|21+
Gypsy Sally's|get directions »
3401 K St NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 333-7700


Atlas Road Crew

official band site »

It seems as if Atlas Road Crew has arrived from another decade as their old-school sound oozes vintage 70s rock dripping with influences ranging from the Rolling Stones to The Band to the Allmans but with modern influences like The Black Keys and Kings of Leon. Their time on the South East / Mid-Atlantic circuit over the past 2 years has brought their name to thousands of new faces, earning them a legion of new fans.

In 2014 alone the band has been featured at the AAA Sunset Sessions convention in Carlsbad, CA, was direct support for Hootie & The Blowfish and The Hard Working Americans in the spring, and played the Wakarusa Music Festival in June.

Practicing in a storage unit on Atlas Road in Columbia, SC (hence the name), the band quickly begun molding, tweaking and perfecting its old-school rock 'n' roll sound. Despite the sweltering heat that often stifled the small unit during marathon practice sessions, the band stripped down heavy technology in favor of the more guitar-driven, easy riding sound that seemed to come naturally.

Atlas Road Crew is: Taylor Nicholson (vocals, guitar) from Pawley's Island, SC; Max Becker (bass) from Charleston, SC; Dave Beddingfield (guitar) from Charlotte, NC; Bryce James (piano) from Columbia, SC and Patrick Drohan (drums) from Great Falls, VA.

The guys are young, but damn do they have soul.



 
Twiddle
Threesound | @The 8x10 | view more info »
Nov
22

Twiddle

Threesound


Saturday Nov 22|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
The 8x10|get directions »
10 E. Cross St.
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 625-2000


Twiddle

official band site »

Twiddle, a Vermont based quartet, spins tall tales over an intricate soundscape of hi-def shred. Their fresh multi-genre approach conjures up jazz, classical, and bluegrass, but above all, masterfully blends reggae and funk. Obliterating laws of improvisation, their complex arrangements never fail to leave crowds lusting for more. With sage songwriting and unmatched variety, Twiddle’s thrilling infancy continues to exceed all expectation.


Threesound

official band site »

Threesound seamlessly merges various genres of music to create something Fresh. Catchy songs that encompass rock, jazz, funk, jam, dance and beyond.


 
The Bridge
Cara Kelly & The Tell Tale | @Rams Head Live | view more info »
Nov
26

The Bridge

Cara Kelly & The Tell Tale


Wednesday Nov 26|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
Rams Head Live|get directions »
20 Market Place
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 244-1131


The Bridge

official band site »

The fearless leaders of The Bridge have traveled an enormous distance to get where they are; all the way from living off-the-grid on a remote Hawaiian farm—in Kenny Liner’s case—and chafing in the buttoned-down corporate world—in Cris Jacobs’—to making a formidable album that’s fed by hometown roots and laced with wanderlust. It’s called National Bohemian, a nod to both the Baltimore-based sextet’s beloved local brew and their creatively rewarding but often unglamorous hard-touring lifestyle. It’s also the work of a dexterous band of players to be reckoned with.


Cara Kelly & The Tell Tale

official band site »

Cara Kelly & The Tell Tale’s soulful, rootsy, rock and roll crosses genre lines and captivates the crowd with their energetic live performances. Led with the fierce intensity of Kelly’s vocals and rounded out with Tim Nodar’s soaring harmonies, together they craft a sound that is wholly their own. They joined forces with Michele Castellano (lead guitar), Cara’s brother Tony Kelly (organ, piano), Josh Dunevant (bass, vox), and Rob Parrish (drums). Local independent radio station WTMD took notice and CKTT quickly found their niche in the growing Baltimore music scene and beyond, playing the main stages at regional festivals such as Hot August Blues, Lunar Bay, and Camp Barefoot Music & Arts Festivals. They released their second EP “Puncture” in early 2014.


 
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong
@The Howard Theatre | view more info »
Nov
28

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong



Friday Nov 28|doors 11:00 pm|all ages
The Howard Theatre|get directions »
620 T Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 803-2899


Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

official band site »

Funk, Rock, Electric ENERGY: These four Pigeons bring it every night. Based out of Baltimore, MD, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong has an undeniably unique and versatile live sound that ascends peaks of musical ecstasy. Their evolving arrangement of original compositions, psychedelic improvisational jams, and contagious smiles have ‘The Flock’– their self-identifying fanbase that stretches from coast-to-coast– coming back for more. One of the fastest growing emerging artists in the jam and festival scene these days, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong is here to bring the party with their danceable electro-funk grooves and infectious ability to bring positive energy to any environment.

Having launched their East Coast buzz from very successful weekly residencies at The 8×10 in Baltimore, high profile festival spots including Catskill Chill, The Werk Out, Camp Barefoot, Wormtown Music Festival and others have put the memorable band name on the lips of music lovers and groove nuts. As a result, the grass roots response to the more than 200 shows the band played in 2013 was remarkable, with significant audiences showing up for first time plays in new markets from Colorado to Florida.

As Pigeons continue to expand their touring they continue to grow their Flock and expand people’s minds (musically…). Whether it be at a major festival or your local rock club, Pigeons will show you a good time. Get ready for some fun…



 
Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood
@9:30 club | view more info »
Dec
4

Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood



Thursday Dec 4|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood

official band site »

The ever-­evolving, genre-­defying collaboration between influential trio Medeski Martin & Wood and maverick guitarist John Scofield continues to flourish. Since first convening nearly 17 years ago, Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood's kinship both onstage and off has fostered an escalating degree of musical interplay, exquisitely captured on Juice – their third studio effort and fourth album overall, available September 16, 2014, via MMW's Indirecto Records imprint.

With four multi-­faceted musicians participating as equals, anything and everything is possible. The band’s first collaboration together, the now classic 1997 release, A Go Go, featured Scofield compositions exclusively, while 2006's Out Louder was an experiment in spontaneous, collective co-­composition. To give shape to what eventually became Juice, Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood sought common ground and inspiration in the intersection of improvisation and rhythms from the Afro-­Latin diaspora. More specifically, the blueprint was found in a compilation of these sounds put together by drummer Billy Martin and shared among the ensemble.



 
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
Fly Golden Eagle | @9:30 club | view more info »
Dec
6

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue

Fly Golden Eagle


Saturday Dec 6|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue

official band site »

New Orleans native Trombone Shorty began his career as a bandleader at the young age of six, toured internationally at age 12, and spent his teens playing with various brass bands throughout New Orleans and touring worldwide with Lenny Kravitz. He is currently the front man for his own ensemble Orleans Avenue, a funk/rock/jazz/hip-hop band. Together, Trombone Shorty and the band have toured across the U.S., Europe, Australia, Russia, Japan and Brazil. In 2010, Trombone Shorty released his debut album, the Grammy®-nominated "Backatown," followed by "For True" in 2011, which topped Billboard magazine's Contemporary Jazz Chart for 12 weeks. His newest album, "Say That to This," was released in 2013 and features funk/jazz elements of New Orleans. Trombone Shorty appeared in several episodes of HBO's "Treme," and has recently appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel Live," "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" and "Conan." In 2012, he performed at the White House in honor of Black History Month with music royalty such as B.B. King, Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck and Booker T. Jones. At this year's Grammy Awards, he performed alongside Madonna, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and Mary Lambert. In 2012, he received the President's Medal from Tulane University in recognition of his charitable work with the Trombone Shorty Foundation. In collaboration with New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, the Trombone Shorty Foundation donates quality instruments to schools across New Orleans.


Fly Golden Eagle

official band site »

Ben Trimble’s musical awakening began in a basement. No, that simplifies it too much. Ben Trimble’s musical awakening began at birth — raised in Detroit with Kentucky roots, music was always a part of his life, as natural as breathing. His was a religious family, steeped in gospel choirs, honky-tonk keys, and the to-the-rafters twang of the faithful. But it was in a Nashville basement that Trimble lost himself in rock ‘n’ roll. He found himself working for a music supervisor with a 60,000-strong record collection, and dove headfirst down the rabbit hole. Motown. Blues. Glam rock. Psychedelia. And soon, all of the disparate sources of his inspiration — his lineage, his Detroit roots, his need for expression, the newfound discovery of a musical community in Nashville — slowly began to weave together into the musical tapestry that would become Fly Golden Eagle.


 
Scythian
Driftwood | @9:30 club | view more info »
Dec
13

Scythian

Driftwood


Saturday Dec 13|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Scythian

official band site »

Named after Ukrainian nomads, Scythian (sith-ee-yin) plays immigrant rock with thunderous energy, technical prowess, and storytelling songwriting, beckoning crowds into a barn-dance rock concert experience. Celebrating 10 years of getting people dancing all night, Scythian released their new album, Jump at the Sun, this summer, with new songs debuting at album release shows across the country. Ed Helms's The Bluegrass Situation has chimed in with praise, calling "Paint This Tow"' a 'shine-fueled, fiddle-flying hoedown' and "Built These Walls" a 'blue-collar ballad we can all get behind.' Nashville's Music City Roots says Scythian is 'what happens when rock star charisma meets Celtic dervish fiddling.' Scythian's "Immigrant Road Show" consists of Alexander Fedoryka, Josef Crosby, Danylo Fedoryka, Ben-David Warner, and Tim Hepburn and Larissa Fedoryka.


Driftwood

official band site »

The energy of rock n’ roll is impossible to categorize – mercurial, specific to its beholder and profoundly reflective. From the Binghamton, New York music scene comes Driftwood, a band with a rock n’ roll soul and a folk art mind. Carving out a name for themselves with electrifying live performances, they bring one of the most unique, raw sounds to the Americana/roots music scene. Incorporating upright bass, banjo, acoustic guitar and violin, the ghost of traditional American folk music lives in their palette. But the melodies, the harmonies and the lyrics are something else entirely. “We started off playing rock in high school. Then studying jazz and classical music in college. Then we dove headfirst into folk and bluegrass. At some point I guess we kind of met in the middle”, says guitarist/songwriter Dan Forsyth. Drawing on aspects of everything from 0ld-time recordings to 1960’s R&B, the music is crafted to serve the songs. With fast-growing audiences singing along at live shows, it’s easy to tell the primary focus is on song.


 
Turkuaz
Jonathan Scales Fourchestra | @Gypsy Sally's | view more info »
Dec
20

Turkuaz

Jonathan Scales Fourchestra


Saturday Dec 20|doors 7:00 pm|21+
Gypsy Sally's|get directions »
3401 K St NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 333-7700


Turkuaz

official band site »

Credible bios are supposed to be objective and not full of superlatives and hyperbole, but it’s hard to avoid gushing when the subject is a funk army of multi-instrumentals and singers that is part freight train and part tyrannosaurus rex, who—even on an off night—can blow away a room on the basis of sheer physics alone. That’s one way to describe Turkuaz, but it doesn’t address the music. In this regard, as with any band, influences are everything. One cannot escape them as one seeks to carve out a unique sound for themselves. Still, there are so many benefits to having Sly & The Family Stone, Rick James, Parliament and Bohannon in your record collection. With this as the basis for a recipe, Turkuaz adds healthy doses of jittery, world-pop-power groove—reminiscent of Remain In Light era Talking Heads—and a passion for Motown and R&B, resulting in a refreshing twist on the funk idiom.

Turkuaz certainly does have sheer size in their favor, but when broken down into the basic components, each stands out on their own. Founders Dave Brandwein and Taylor Shell had the cream of the crop to choose from at Berklee, but making it happen as a large touring ensemble takes more than chops: it takes the right blend of personalities. When Turkuaz takes the stage the chemistry is clear. The special combination of elements—singers in sequined dresses, guys in tails (or sometimes all of them in jumpsuits or other complimentary outfits) horns, keys, guitars, amps and drums and smiles all around… well, it’s easy to get caught up in the explosive auditory and visual circus and find oneself dancing. Despite all of the gear and people on stage, it is becomes clear that it is not the size that matters here: it is performance.

Through constant touring and great festival performances, Turkuaz has built a solid, passionate coast-to-coast fan base that grows with every mile driven and each night on stage. They are currently criss-crossing North America in support of their third independent release, Future 86, and have plans to conquer the world… or at least shake the walls and all the booties in every room they play…


Jonathan Scales Fourchestra

official band site »

Jonathan Scales Fourchestra is an example of musical sincerity. Weaving together collective and individual influences without compromise, they are as much themselves as they are a unit—a crucial trait of landmark instrumental ensembles. Steel pannist and founder Jonathan Scales’ compositional skill mixes with tasteful, avant-garde improvisations to form a totally unique approach to an instrument often associated with cruise ships and tropical music. Driftwood Magazine says “Scales is to steel pans ….what Béla Fleck is to the banjo—an über innovator.”


 
Papadosio
ELM | Proper Playground: A Living Gallery Experience | @Rams Head Live | view more info »
Dec
31

Papadosio

ELM
Proper Playground: A Living Gallery Experience

Wednesday Dec 31|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
Rams Head Live|get directions »
20 Market Place
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 244-1131


Papadosio

official band site »

The information age has a sound. Revolutionary technology meets an evolutionary message in Papadosio. Melding progressive rock with psychedelia, folk with electronica, and dance music with jam, the quintet has amassed a dedicated following of thousands of likeminded individuals sowing the seeds of unity and spreading the sounds of exaltation. Singer-songwriter Anthony Thogmartin’s visionary lyrics, eclectic production, and signature guitar work are anchored by the rock solid battery of drummer Mike Healy and bassist Rob McConnell. The quintet is rounded out by brothers Billy and Sam Brouse, whose virtuosic two-headed keyboard, synth, and programming attack give the band its unmistakable complexity and intensity.

Born in the burgeoning, artistic city of Athens, OH, the quintet now calls another creative community, Asheville, NC its home. Little time is spent nestled up in the Blue Ridge Mountains, though, as Papadosio spends much of the year on the road, crisscrossing the United States ceaselessly. In addition to headlining shows in every region of the country, their high-energy, technologically perplexing, and utterly engaging stage show has made the five-piece a staple on the festival circuit, with scene-stealing sets at All Good, Wakarusa, Sonic Bloom, Electric Forest, Envision Festival, Oregon Country Fair, and more.

The culmination of all that writing on the road is T.E.T.I.O.S. The follow-up to 2009’s critically acclaimed Observations finally arrived in the fall of 2012. To End the Illusion of Separation is a sprawling double album, signaling not only an evolution of the band’s sound, but a paradigm shift on a far greater scale. The album is a call for people of all stripes to reject artificial barriers of wealth, class, and creed and come together under the flag of humanity. Themes of conservation, tolerance, and mind-expansion delicately weave their way around tribal rhythms, psychedelic excursions, and soaring melodies. The fusion of the earthly, the organic, with technological innovations and progressive sonic structure plants Papadosio’s roots firmly in the past and present with an eye turned towards the horizon.


ELM

official band site »

ELM (Electric Love Machine) is a Baltimore based quartet that combines Electronica, Dance, Rock, Soul, and Funk into an incomparable, high energy live music experience. XenofoneX is the band’s debut album, and it was recorded, mixed and mastered by Chris Bentley at The Bunker Studio in Maryland.

Props must go to the band’s stellar management team, who have been infinitely accommodating, supportive, flexible, and good looking. ELM is eternally grateful for all the support they have received from family, friends and fans, and collectively intend to help this community flourish and grow and break down barriers in music, art and life.

Proper Playground: A Living Gallery Experience

official band site »


 
Dark Star Orchestra
@9:30 club | view more info »
Jan
2

Dark Star Orchestra



Friday Jan 2|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Dark Star Orchestra

official band site »

Performing to critical acclaim worldwide for nearly 17 years and over 2200 shows, Dark Star Orchestra continues the Grateful Dead concert experience. Their shows are built off the Dead's extensive catalog and the talent of these seven fine musicians. On any given night the band will perform a show based on a set list from the Grateful Dead's 30 years of extensive touring or use their catalog to program a unique set list for the show. This allows fans both young and old to share in the experience. By recreating set lists from the past, and by developing their own sets of Dead songs, Dark Star Orchestra offers a continually evolving artistic outlet within this musical canon. Honoring both the band and the fans, Dark Star Orchestra's members seek out the unique style and sound of each era while simultaneously offering their own informed improvisations creating a sound that truly encapsulate the energy and the experience.



 
Dark Star Orchestra
@9:30 club | view more info »
Jan
3

Dark Star Orchestra



Saturday Jan 3|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Dark Star Orchestra

official band site »

Performing to critical acclaim worldwide for nearly 17 years and over 2200 shows, Dark Star Orchestra continues the Grateful Dead concert experience. Their shows are built off the Dead's extensive catalog and the talent of these seven fine musicians. On any given night the band will perform a show based on a set list from the Grateful Dead's 30 years of extensive touring or use their catalog to program a unique set list for the show. This allows fans both young and old to share in the experience. By recreating set lists from the past, and by developing their own sets of Dead songs, Dark Star Orchestra offers a continually evolving artistic outlet within this musical canon. Honoring both the band and the fans, Dark Star Orchestra's members seek out the unique style and sound of each era while simultaneously offering their own informed improvisations creating a sound that truly encapsulate the energy and the experience.



 
Donna The Buffalo
@State Theatre | view more info »
Jan
24

Donna The Buffalo



Saturday Jan 24|doors 7:00 pm|18+
State Theatre|get directions »
220 N. Washington st.
Falls Church, VA|p: (703) 237-0300


Donna The Buffalo

official band site »

Original roots music since 1989, infused with elements of cajun, rock, folk, reggae, and country

“Donna The Buffalo is from central New York state, not Louisiana, but this widely loved quintet has woven that joyful, hip-shaking zydeco pulse into the DNA of its sound, and leaders Jeb Puryear and Tara Nevins have wrapped that core vibe with hopeful, mellow lyrics.” --Music City Roots, Craig Havighurst

Look around you. Consider the keepsakes you cherish, the relationships you relish, the enduring cornerstones in your life, and ask yourself how many have held steadfast since 1989. Closing in on the quarter-century mark, Donna the Buffalo has proven itself a consistent purveyor of Americana music. What’s the recipe? To be sure, it’s infused with more spices than you’ll find at a Cajun cookout by way of a southern-fried, country old-time jamboree.

Donna the Buffalo is Jeb Puryear (vocals, electric guitar) and Tara Nevins (vocals, guitar, fiddle, accordion, scrubboard) joined by David McCracken (Hammond organ, Honer Clavinet & piano), Kyle Spark (bass) and Mark Raudabaugh (drums). “It's been really fun with this lineup,” Puryear says. “You get to the point where you're playing on a really high level, things are clicking and it's like turning on the key to a really good car. It just goes.”

“You have to do just what you want to do, and everyone likes different things,” Nevins says. “Both Jeb and I come from this background of old-time fiddle music, which is very natural, very real, very under-produced, and all about coming from the gut—flying by the seat of your pants. So we have that in us, too.”

Donna the Buffalo debuted their first studio album in five years, Tonight, Tomorrow and Yesterday, on June 18, 2014 via Sugar Hill Records. All Music Guide says the album, “highlights everything this consistent band does, and it has a warm, live-sounding production… This is what 21st century Americana sounds like, a little bit of this and that from anywhere wrapped up into a poignant, jamming dance reel, a place where the past and history meet easily in the immediate now and everybody feels like dancing.”

The group draws its inspiration from a cherished part of the American heritage: the old-time music festivals of the south that drew entire towns and counties together. “Those festivals were so explosive, and the community and the feeling of people being with each other, that's the feeling we were shooting for in our music,” Puryear says. “Donna the Buffalo is an extension of the joy we've found.”

Put another way, it’s love made audible—and in the most transparent way imaginable on Tonight, Tomorrow and Yesterday. Puryear sums it up—how else?—from the heart: “We tried to do the record and keep in tact the things people love about us.”

Over the years, the band has also built a following that proudly calls itself The Herd, along with a well-deserved reputation for crafting social narratives and slipstream grooves without equal. To merely call this “roots music” does it disservice, for the roots nurtured by Puryear and Nevins run wild, deep and strong—a tribute to how much Donna the Buffalo marries musical trailblazing and tradition.

"It’s a great feeling to promote such a feeling of community, like you’re really part of something that’s happening, like a movement or a positive force…” Nevins says, “All those people that come and follow you and you recognize them and you become friends with them — you’re all moving along for the same purpose. It is powerful. It’s very powerful, actually.”

As an expansion of this community and the band's own dedication to live roots music, Donna started, and are still the driving force behind, the twenty-five year old Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance in Trumansburg, NY, the bi-annual Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival in Silk Hope, NC and the Virginia Key GrassRoots Festival in Miami, FL. DtB are regulars at MerleFest (NC), Suwannee Springfest & Magnolia Fest (FL), All Good (WV), FloydFest (VA), The Great Blue Heron Festival (NY), Del Fest (MD), Rhythm & Roots Festival (RI), Targhee Bluegrass Fest (WY) as well as a variety of other venues and festivals across the nation.

Donna the Buffalo has toured the nation for nearly twenty five years with an ever-evolving grassroots sound and plans to keep on doing so for many years to come.



 
Greensky Bluegrass
@9:30 club | view more info »
Jan
30

Greensky Bluegrass



Friday Jan 30|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Greensky Bluegrass

official band site »

“There’s this great duality to our band,” reflects Greensky Bluegrass mandolinist, vocalist, and songwriter Paul Hoffman. “We’re existing in a few different places at once: we’re a bluegrass band and a rock band, we’re song-driven and interested in extended improvisation.”

“We play acoustic instruments,” adds dobro player Anders Beck, “but we put on a rock’n’roll show. We play in bigger clubs and theaters, there’s a killer light show, and we’re as loud as your favorite rock band. It’s not easy to make five acoustic instruments sound like this – it’s something we’ve spent years working on.”

From these seemingly irreconcilable elements, the five members of Greensky Bluegrass have forged a defiant, powerful sound that, while rooted in classic stringband Americana, extends outwards with a fearless, exploratory zeal. The tension and release between these components – tradition and innovation, prearranged songs and improvisation, acoustic tones and electric volume – is what makes them so thrillingly dynamic, in concert and on record. “In theory,” Hoffman explains, “greensky is the complete opposite of bluegrass. So, by definition, we are contrasting everything that isn’t bluegrass with everything that is.”

That their sound is so seamless, so organic, is testament to Greensky’s enduring vision and tireless dedication. Since their first rumblings at the start of the millennium, they have emerged as relentless road warriors, creating a captivating live show while at the same time developing a knack for evocative, disarming songcraft.

Their fifth studio album, If Sorrows Swim – available September 9, 2014 and distributed by Thirty Tigers – is their most riveting yet, balancing gripping songs (by Hoffman and guitarist Dave Bruzza) and remarkably thoughtful, tight arrangements with an instrumental fluidity born of countless hours playing together – on stage and off.

From their unlikely base of Kalamazoo, Michigan (home of the original Gibson Mandolin-Guitar factory), Greensky – which also includes banjoist Michael Arlen Bont and bassist Michael Devol – arrived at their unique take on the bluegrass tradition by working from the outside inward. “I found bluegrass through the back door,” Beck says, “through the Jerry Garcia route. That’s how I got to listening to Bill Monroe and Earl Scruggs. It’s really interesting how many people in our generation got into acoustic music through that channel.”

Approaching their instruments from an open-ended, rock perspective gave them the freedom to create their own rules. “We were always coming at bluegrass backwards,” Hoffman says. “We were better musicians than we were bluegrass musicians. I mean, I didn’t buy a mandolin until I was 18. Dave didn’t start playing acoustic guitar until he was 18. Bont got a banjo when he was 20. We discovered that, when it came to learning these instruments, we preferred to do so by improvising and writing our own songs, instead playing standard material and fiddle tunes.”

The roots of Greensky Bluegrass lay in the friendship of Bruzza and Bont. While nurturing a nascent interest in acoustic music, they were joined by Hoffman. The trio shedded intently, playing informally in living rooms and at open mics for years before setting out as a band. Devol, a classically trained cellist, was added in the fall of 2004, and in 2006 Greensky Bluegrass won the coveted band contest at Colorado’s forward-thinking Telluride Bluegrass Festival. At that point, the members dedicated themselves to Greensky full-time and began widening their touring radius.

In 2007, dobroist Beck came aboard. From the sidelines, he was quick to pinpoint the band’s appeal. “It was all about the songs,” he says. “You can be the best pickers in the world or the most educated musicians, but, all in all, the things that connect with people are songs, lyrics, and melodies. That was the real kicker.”

By playing up to 175 shows a year, mostly in rock clubs and more open-minded festivals like Telluride, Austin City Limits, Bonnaroo, and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Greensky Bluegrass became a word-of-mouth underground sensation, cultivating a devoted legion of fans entranced both by the band’s improvisational acumen and the quality of their songwriting. Then and now, despite their wide-ranging musical interests, Greensky continues to work within the structure of a classic five-man stringband. “The cool thing about a bluegrass band or, really, any drummerless band,” Hoffman explains, “is that it’s like acoustic chamber music — challenging, exciting, and fun to play.”

“While there are potential limitations because of our instrumentation,” Beck adds, “a really big part of what is Greensky Bluegrass is about is to essentially ignore those limitations.”

The depth and sophistication of the band’s interplay is showcased throughout If Sorrows Swim, across a program of stirring, resonant original songs. Recorded over ten days, the album was tracked to two-inch tape. “The decision to use tape over digital recording is basically the decision to use less,” Hoffman explains. “It’s not about everything being perfect, it’s about capturing a moment in time."

The album mixes previously unrecorded, road-tested concert staples with new material carefully honed with the sort of razor’s edge focus that the recording studio inspires.

If Sorrows Swim opens with “Windshield,” a haunting rumination that slowly builds in emotional and musical intensity around an an insistent pulse from the bass. The desperation in Hoffman’s increasingly anguished vocal is slowly surrounded by churning rhythm guitar and incessant banjo before the tension is dispersed by a plaintive dobro solo. A brooding cello line deep in the mix adds an ominous undercurrent, and underpins the group’s swirling counterpoint as the track fades.

The album’s title derives from “Burn Them,” a minor key reflection set to a more straight-ahead, driving bluegrass rhythm. “There was something on This American Life,” Hoffman recalls. “Someone was talking about just how upset and sad they were. They were drinking a lot, but they just couldn’t drink that pain away. When I heard that, I thought to myself, ‘What if sorrows swim?’ I couldn’t get that thought out of my mind.” Tightly orchestrated, the performance is marked by ingenious touches. The transitions between the guitar and mandolin solos are delineated by a quick unison passage played by both instruments, and Bont contributes an especially nimble, melodic break.

Having two distinct songwriting voices further enriches If Sorrows Swim, with Bruzza contributing a quartet of varied, insightful songs featuring his burnished, soulful vocals. “Worried About the Weather” moves between a swinging half-time feel and a breezier, bluegrass tempo – reinforcing the contrast between relief and uncertainty embodied in the lyric. Bruzza’s brisk “Kerosene” features some of the album’s more daring improvisational passages, and highlights the band’s gift for electrically processing their acoustic instruments to emphasize the emotion behind their playing. Hoffman’s mandolin solo is colored by subtle delay, while Bruzza’s spacious, inquisitive break finds him employing a slightly distorted tone to further escalate the song’s intensity.

“What makes this album different from the last,” Hoffman explains, referring to 2011’s accomplished Handguns, “is that we paid so much more attention to what the song needs. At every juncture, we would ask, ‘Does it serve the song?’ We ask that a lot.” Throughout If Sorrows Swim, Greensky’s playing and arrangements are impressively intricate – and showcased in a rich, spacious sound that lets each note and accent sing and decay as if in slow motion.

The taxing yet rewarding process of recording now behind them, Greensky Bluegrass is anxious to unveil If Sorrows Swim’s unheard material in concert. “The live experience is this springboard,” Beck muses. “You just see what happens. When you’re improvising every night and taking risks, it becomes a very circular thing with the audience — the audience feeds off the energy of the band and the band feeds off the energy of the audience and it becomes a much bigger thing.”

With the release of their first nationally distributed album and a busy touring season ahead of them, Greensky Bluegrass are facing a new level of exposure. It’s a challenge they are up to, that they embrace. As their music and their audience has grown, so have they, and their sites are set ever-higher.

“When we were doing our first shows and making those early records,” Hoffman concludes, “it was stressful because we wanted to hit the right notes. We just wanted it to be good enough. But now, we want it to be great.”



 
Greensky Bluegrass
@9:30 club | view more info »
Jan
31

Greensky Bluegrass



Saturday Jan 31|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Greensky Bluegrass

official band site »

“There’s this great duality to our band,” reflects Greensky Bluegrass mandolinist, vocalist, and songwriter Paul Hoffman. “We’re existing in a few different places at once: we’re a bluegrass band and a rock band, we’re song-driven and interested in extended improvisation.”

“We play acoustic instruments,” adds dobro player Anders Beck, “but we put on a rock’n’roll show. We play in bigger clubs and theaters, there’s a killer light show, and we’re as loud as your favorite rock band. It’s not easy to make five acoustic instruments sound like this – it’s something we’ve spent years working on.”

From these seemingly irreconcilable elements, the five members of Greensky Bluegrass have forged a defiant, powerful sound that, while rooted in classic stringband Americana, extends outwards with a fearless, exploratory zeal. The tension and release between these components – tradition and innovation, prearranged songs and improvisation, acoustic tones and electric volume – is what makes them so thrillingly dynamic, in concert and on record. “In theory,” Hoffman explains, “greensky is the complete opposite of bluegrass. So, by definition, we are contrasting everything that isn’t bluegrass with everything that is.”

That their sound is so seamless, so organic, is testament to Greensky’s enduring vision and tireless dedication. Since their first rumblings at the start of the millennium, they have emerged as relentless road warriors, creating a captivating live show while at the same time developing a knack for evocative, disarming songcraft.

Their fifth studio album, If Sorrows Swim – available September 9, 2014 and distributed by Thirty Tigers – is their most riveting yet, balancing gripping songs (by Hoffman and guitarist Dave Bruzza) and remarkably thoughtful, tight arrangements with an instrumental fluidity born of countless hours playing together – on stage and off.

From their unlikely base of Kalamazoo, Michigan (home of the original Gibson Mandolin-Guitar factory), Greensky – which also includes banjoist Michael Arlen Bont and bassist Michael Devol – arrived at their unique take on the bluegrass tradition by working from the outside inward. “I found bluegrass through the back door,” Beck says, “through the Jerry Garcia route. That’s how I got to listening to Bill Monroe and Earl Scruggs. It’s really interesting how many people in our generation got into acoustic music through that channel.”

Approaching their instruments from an open-ended, rock perspective gave them the freedom to create their own rules. “We were always coming at bluegrass backwards,” Hoffman says. “We were better musicians than we were bluegrass musicians. I mean, I didn’t buy a mandolin until I was 18. Dave didn’t start playing acoustic guitar until he was 18. Bont got a banjo when he was 20. We discovered that, when it came to learning these instruments, we preferred to do so by improvising and writing our own songs, instead playing standard material and fiddle tunes.”

The roots of Greensky Bluegrass lay in the friendship of Bruzza and Bont. While nurturing a nascent interest in acoustic music, they were joined by Hoffman. The trio shedded intently, playing informally in living rooms and at open mics for years before setting out as a band. Devol, a classically trained cellist, was added in the fall of 2004, and in 2006 Greensky Bluegrass won the coveted band contest at Colorado’s forward-thinking Telluride Bluegrass Festival. At that point, the members dedicated themselves to Greensky full-time and began widening their touring radius.

In 2007, dobroist Beck came aboard. From the sidelines, he was quick to pinpoint the band’s appeal. “It was all about the songs,” he says. “You can be the best pickers in the world or the most educated musicians, but, all in all, the things that connect with people are songs, lyrics, and melodies. That was the real kicker.”

By playing up to 175 shows a year, mostly in rock clubs and more open-minded festivals like Telluride, Austin City Limits, Bonnaroo, and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Greensky Bluegrass became a word-of-mouth underground sensation, cultivating a devoted legion of fans entranced both by the band’s improvisational acumen and the quality of their songwriting. Then and now, despite their wide-ranging musical interests, Greensky continues to work within the structure of a classic five-man stringband. “The cool thing about a bluegrass band or, really, any drummerless band,” Hoffman explains, “is that it’s like acoustic chamber music — challenging, exciting, and fun to play.”

“While there are potential limitations because of our instrumentation,” Beck adds, “a really big part of what is Greensky Bluegrass is about is to essentially ignore those limitations.”

The depth and sophistication of the band’s interplay is showcased throughout If Sorrows Swim, across a program of stirring, resonant original songs. Recorded over ten days, the album was tracked to two-inch tape. “The decision to use tape over digital recording is basically the decision to use less,” Hoffman explains. “It’s not about everything being perfect, it’s about capturing a moment in time."

The album mixes previously unrecorded, road-tested concert staples with new material carefully honed with the sort of razor’s edge focus that the recording studio inspires.

If Sorrows Swim opens with “Windshield,” a haunting rumination that slowly builds in emotional and musical intensity around an an insistent pulse from the bass. The desperation in Hoffman’s increasingly anguished vocal is slowly surrounded by churning rhythm guitar and incessant banjo before the tension is dispersed by a plaintive dobro solo. A brooding cello line deep in the mix adds an ominous undercurrent, and underpins the group’s swirling counterpoint as the track fades.

The album’s title derives from “Burn Them,” a minor key reflection set to a more straight-ahead, driving bluegrass rhythm. “There was something on This American Life,” Hoffman recalls. “Someone was talking about just how upset and sad they were. They were drinking a lot, but they just couldn’t drink that pain away. When I heard that, I thought to myself, ‘What if sorrows swim?’ I couldn’t get that thought out of my mind.” Tightly orchestrated, the performance is marked by ingenious touches. The transitions between the guitar and mandolin solos are delineated by a quick unison passage played by both instruments, and Bont contributes an especially nimble, melodic break.

Having two distinct songwriting voices further enriches If Sorrows Swim, with Bruzza contributing a quartet of varied, insightful songs featuring his burnished, soulful vocals. “Worried About the Weather” moves between a swinging half-time feel and a breezier, bluegrass tempo – reinforcing the contrast between relief and uncertainty embodied in the lyric. Bruzza’s brisk “Kerosene” features some of the album’s more daring improvisational passages, and highlights the band’s gift for electrically processing their acoustic instruments to emphasize the emotion behind their playing. Hoffman’s mandolin solo is colored by subtle delay, while Bruzza’s spacious, inquisitive break finds him employing a slightly distorted tone to further escalate the song’s intensity.

“What makes this album different from the last,” Hoffman explains, referring to 2011’s accomplished Handguns, “is that we paid so much more attention to what the song needs. At every juncture, we would ask, ‘Does it serve the song?’ We ask that a lot.” Throughout If Sorrows Swim, Greensky’s playing and arrangements are impressively intricate – and showcased in a rich, spacious sound that lets each note and accent sing and decay as if in slow motion.

The taxing yet rewarding process of recording now behind them, Greensky Bluegrass is anxious to unveil If Sorrows Swim’s unheard material in concert. “The live experience is this springboard,” Beck muses. “You just see what happens. When you’re improvising every night and taking risks, it becomes a very circular thing with the audience — the audience feeds off the energy of the band and the band feeds off the energy of the audience and it becomes a much bigger thing.”

With the release of their first nationally distributed album and a busy touring season ahead of them, Greensky Bluegrass are facing a new level of exposure. It’s a challenge they are up to, that they embrace. As their music and their audience has grown, so have they, and their sites are set ever-higher.

“When we were doing our first shows and making those early records,” Hoffman concludes, “it was stressful because we wanted to hit the right notes. We just wanted it to be good enough. But now, we want it to be great.”



 
Railroad Earth
@9:30 club | view more info »
Feb
27

Railroad Earth



Friday Feb 27|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Railroad Earth

official band site »

2-Night Pass

Click Here For 2-Night Pass for Friday, February 27 and Saturday, February 28

Single Night Ticket

Click Here For Single Night Ticket for Friday, February 27

There’s a great scene in The Last Waltz – the documentary about The Band’s final concert – where director Martin Scorsese is discussing music with drummer/singer/mandolin player Levon Helm. Helm says, “If it mixes with rhythm, and if it dances, then you’ve got a great combination of all those different kinds of music: country, bluegrass, blues music, show music…”

To which Scorsese, the inquisitive interviewer, asks, “What’s it called, then?” “Rock & roll!”

Clearly looking for a more specific answer, but realizing that he isn’t going to get one, Marty laughs. “Rock & roll…”

Well, that’s the way it is sometimes: musicians play music, and don’t necessarily worry about where it gets filed. It’s the writers, record labels, managers, etc., who tend to fret about what “kind” of music it is.

And like The Band, the members of Railroad Earth aren’t losing sleep about what “kind” of music they play – they just play it. When they started out in 2001, they were a bunch of guys interested in playing acoustic instruments together. As Railroad Earth violin/vocalist Tim Carbone recalls, “All of us had been playing in various projects for years, and many of us had played together in different projects. But this time, we found ourselves all available at the same time.”

Songwriter/lead vocalist Todd Sheaffer continues, “When we started, we only loosely had the idea of getting together and playing some music. It started that informally; just getting together and doing some picking and playing. Over a couple of month period, we started working on some original songs, as well as playing some covers that we thought would be fun to play.” Shortly thereafter, they took five songs from their budding repertoire into a studio and knocked out a demo in just two days. Their soon-to-be manager sent that demo to a few festivals, and – to the band’s surprise – they were booked at the prestigious Telluride Bluegrass Festival before they’d even played their first gig. This prompted them to quickly go in and record five more songs; the ten combined tracks of which made up their debut album, “The Black Bear Sessions.”

That was the beginning of Railroad Earth’s journey: since those early days, they’ve gone on to release five more critically acclaimed studio albums and one hugely popular live one called, “Elko.” They’ve also amassed a huge and loyal fanbase who turn up to support them in every corner of the country, and often take advantage of the band’s liberal taping and photo policy. But Railroad Earth bristle at the notion of being lumped into any one “scene.” Not out of animosity for any other artists: it’s just that they don’t find the labels very useful. As Carbone points out, “We use unique acoustic instrumentation, but we’re definitely not a bluegrass or country band, which sometimes leaves music writers confused as to how to categorize us. We’re essentially playing rock on acoustic instruments.”

Ultimately, Railroad Earth’s music is driven by the remarkable songs of front-man, Todd Sheaffer, and is delivered with seamless arrangements and superb musicianship courtesy of all six band members. As mandolin/bouzouki player John Skehan points out, “Our M.O. has always been that we can improvise all day long, but we only do it in service to the song. There are a lot of songs that, when we play them live, we adhere to the arrangement from the record. And other songs, in the nature and the spirit of the song, everyone knows we can kind of take flight on them.” Sheaffer continues: “The songs are our focus, our focal point; it all starts right there. Anything else just comments on the songs and gives them color. Some songs are more open than others. They ‘want’ to be approached that way – where we can explore and trade musical ideas and open them up to different territories. But sometimes it is what the song is about.”

So: they can jam with the best of them and they have some bluegrass influences, but they use drums and amplifiers (somewhat taboo in the bluegrass world). What kind of music is it then? Mandolin/vocalist John Skehan offers this semi-descriptive term: “I always describe it as a string band, but an amplified string band with drums.” Tim Carbone takes a swing: “We’re a Country & Eastern band! ” Todd Sheaffer offers “A souped-up string band? I don’t know. I’m not good at this.” Or, as a great drummer/singer/mandolin player with an appreciation for Americana once said: “Rock & roll!”



 
Railroad Earth
@9:30 club | view more info »
Feb
28

Railroad Earth



Saturday Feb 28|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Railroad Earth

official band site »

2-Night Pass

Click Here For 2-Night Pass for Friday, February 27 and Saturday, February 28

Single Night Ticket

Click Here For Single Night Ticket for Saturday, February 28

There’s a great scene in The Last Waltz – the documentary about The Band’s final concert – where director Martin Scorsese is discussing music with drummer/singer/mandolin player Levon Helm. Helm says, “If it mixes with rhythm, and if it dances, then you’ve got a great combination of all those different kinds of music: country, bluegrass, blues music, show music…”

To which Scorsese, the inquisitive interviewer, asks, “What’s it called, then?” “Rock & roll!”

Clearly looking for a more specific answer, but realizing that he isn’t going to get one, Marty laughs. “Rock & roll…”

Well, that’s the way it is sometimes: musicians play music, and don’t necessarily worry about where it gets filed. It’s the writers, record labels, managers, etc., who tend to fret about what “kind” of music it is.

And like The Band, the members of Railroad Earth aren’t losing sleep about what “kind” of music they play – they just play it. When they started out in 2001, they were a bunch of guys interested in playing acoustic instruments together. As Railroad Earth violin/vocalist Tim Carbone recalls, “All of us had been playing in various projects for years, and many of us had played together in different projects. But this time, we found ourselves all available at the same time.”

Songwriter/lead vocalist Todd Sheaffer continues, “When we started, we only loosely had the idea of getting together and playing some music. It started that informally; just getting together and doing some picking and playing. Over a couple of month period, we started working on some original songs, as well as playing some covers that we thought would be fun to play.” Shortly thereafter, they took five songs from their budding repertoire into a studio and knocked out a demo in just two days. Their soon-to-be manager sent that demo to a few festivals, and – to the band’s surprise – they were booked at the prestigious Telluride Bluegrass Festival before they’d even played their first gig. This prompted them to quickly go in and record five more songs; the ten combined tracks of which made up their debut album, “The Black Bear Sessions.”

That was the beginning of Railroad Earth’s journey: since those early days, they’ve gone on to release five more critically acclaimed studio albums and one hugely popular live one called, “Elko.” They’ve also amassed a huge and loyal fanbase who turn up to support them in every corner of the country, and often take advantage of the band’s liberal taping and photo policy. But Railroad Earth bristle at the notion of being lumped into any one “scene.” Not out of animosity for any other artists: it’s just that they don’t find the labels very useful. As Carbone points out, “We use unique acoustic instrumentation, but we’re definitely not a bluegrass or country band, which sometimes leaves music writers confused as to how to categorize us. We’re essentially playing rock on acoustic instruments.”

Ultimately, Railroad Earth’s music is driven by the remarkable songs of front-man, Todd Sheaffer, and is delivered with seamless arrangements and superb musicianship courtesy of all six band members. As mandolin/bouzouki player John Skehan points out, “Our M.O. has always been that we can improvise all day long, but we only do it in service to the song. There are a lot of songs that, when we play them live, we adhere to the arrangement from the record. And other songs, in the nature and the spirit of the song, everyone knows we can kind of take flight on them.” Sheaffer continues: “The songs are our focus, our focal point; it all starts right there. Anything else just comments on the songs and gives them color. Some songs are more open than others. They ‘want’ to be approached that way – where we can explore and trade musical ideas and open them up to different territories. But sometimes it is what the song is about.”

So: they can jam with the best of them and they have some bluegrass influences, but they use drums and amplifiers (somewhat taboo in the bluegrass world). What kind of music is it then? Mandolin/vocalist John Skehan offers this semi-descriptive term: “I always describe it as a string band, but an amplified string band with drums.” Tim Carbone takes a swing: “We’re a Country & Eastern band! ” Todd Sheaffer offers “A souped-up string band? I don’t know. I’m not good at this.” Or, as a great drummer/singer/mandolin player with an appreciation for Americana once said: “Rock & roll!”