Nov
15
The Elovaters | The Late Ones

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The Movement
The Elovaters | The Late Ones | @Union Stage | view more info »
sold out
Nov
15

The Movement

The Elovaters
The Late Ones

Friday Nov 15|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
Union Stage|get directions »
740 Water Street SW
Washington DC|p: (877) 987-6487
Sold Out


The Movement

official band site »

The Movement has been winning the hearts and minds of alternative-reggae fans since their inception in Columbia, SC in 2003. Drawing inspiration from Sublime, 311, Slightly Stoopid and John Brown’s Body, they’ve come to be known as musical shapeshifters with a foundation of heavy drum and bass. Today the band consists of founding member, lead vocalist, and guitarist Joshua Swain, bassist Jason Schmidt, drummer Gary Jackson, and keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Matt Goodwin. Their sixth studio album, Ways Of The World, dropped on June 7, 2019, debuting at #1 in the Billboard Reggae Chart.


The Elovaters

official band site »

The Elovaters sophomore album, DEFY GRAVITY, dropped October 26, 2018 (Rootfire Cooperative) and debuted at #1 in the Billboard and iTunes Reggae charts. Two months later it was voted people’s choice Album Of The Year 2018 by Surf Roots TV & Radio. Produced by Danny Kalb (Beck, Ben Harper, Willie Nelson, The Movement) and critically acclaimed, “Defy Gravity is simply on another level…intricate and nuanced, full of thought-provoking surprises.” The album marks yet another milestone in the band’s incredible rise from the south shore of Boston. Other highlights from 2018 include signing with Madison House agency in September, performing at Levitate Music Festival, Sugarloaf Reggae Festival, and direct support dates for The English Beat, and Badfish.

The Elovaters are Jackson Wetherbee (lead vocal, rhythm guitar), John Alves (lead guitar), Nick Asta (drums), Matt Link (bass), Derrick Cabral (percussion), and Greg Nectow (keys). Their debut album, THE CORNERSTONE, was recorded by Mike Caplan at the legendary Lion and Fox Studios in Washington D.C. in 2017. It reached #2 on the iTunes reggae chart and #9 on the Billboard Reggae Chart, and the band has been touring heavily in support of the album ever since, opening for the likes of Ziggy Marley, Stick Figure, The Movement, Easy Star Allstars, John Brown’s Body, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad and more.

The Late Ones

official band site »

Based out of Laie, Hawaii, brothers Tui Avei (Lead vocals), and Tau Avei (Vocals), along with cousin Josh Brunson (Vocals) are the voices. Built on a roots reggae foundation with influences from various genres like Hip-hop, R&B, and jazz, The Late Ones’ unique blend of style, and harmony shapes a youthful, yet old school reggae vibe.

Born in Gardena, California, The Late Ones harness something undeniably special. Rooted in Samoan culture, and complimented by the group’s African American heritage, the familial bond between the three members transcends throughout the group’s conscious lyrics and catchy melodies.

The name “The Late Ones” pays tribute to all of the late and great revolutionaries who have come and gone like Bob Marley, Tupac, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Biko, John Lennon and also present day legendsincluding Jurassic 5, Steel Pulse, Kendrick Lamar and Ab-Soul just to name a few. It is the fusion of each revolutionary story, struggle, and message that inspires and resonates with The Late Ones' own story, struggle, and love for all genres of music. That is the “L81Z” sound.

In late 2014, The Late Ones recorded their debut EP at Sea Major Seven Studio in Honolulu, HI with Producer/Engineer Noah Cronin (Sammy J) and producers Lapana Ieriko and Klandon Fetaui. The Late Ones debut EP Revelate was released on May 5, 2015 via online digital outlets and peaked at number three on the iTunes reggae charts in the first week of the release. The Late Ones bring a youthful presence to the reggae community. With Revelate, the band hopes to push their music and message beyond their tight knit homeland of Hawaii. The EP holds six original compositions created by a group with great potential and high expectations.

 
Rising Appalachia
Raye Zaragoza | @The Hamilton | view more info »
Nov
20

Rising Appalachia

Raye Zaragoza


Wednesday Nov 20|doors 6:30 pm|all ages
The Hamilton|get directions »
600 14th Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 787-1000


Rising Appalachia

official band site »

As world travelers for nearly two decades, Rising Appalachia have merged multiple global music influences with their own southern roots to create the inviting new folk album, Leylines. Remarkably the band has built its legion of listeners independently -- a self-made success story that has led to major festival appearances and sold-out shows at venues across the country.

Founded by sisters Leah and Chloe Smith, the band established an international fan base due to relentless touring, tireless activism, and no small degree of stubborn independence. However, for the first time, they opted to bring in a producer for the new album, teaming up with the legendary Joe Henry on the sessions. These were also their first recording sessions outside of the South. For 10 days, all six band members lived and recorded in a castle-like studio in Marin County, California, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. As a result, a sense of unity and immediacy can be heard throughout their seventh album, Leylines.

“As far as recording goes, we’re open creatively, but we’ve often preferred elements of live recording. I mean, we’re folk musicians at our core,” Leah explains. “The experience of playing music together in one room, looking at each other, is the bedrock of what we do and how we’ve grown up with music. I think Joe very much felt that way as well.

He was very clear at the beginning that he was going to encourage us to have as many element of a live recording as possible.” Although Leah and Chloe Smith consider their voices as their primary instrument, Leah also plays banjo and bodhran on the album, while Chloe plays guitar, fiddle, and banjo. They are joined on Leylines by longtime members David Brown (stand-up bass, baritone guitar) and Biko Casini (world percussion, n’goni), as well as two new members: West African musician Arouna Diarra (n’goni, talking drum) and Irish musician Duncan Wickel (fiddle, cello). The sonic textures of these two cultures are woven into Leylines, enhancing the stunning blend of folk, world, and urban music that has become Rising Appalachia’s calling card.

“Our songwriting ties into those traditions as well,” Chloe says. “With some of our original songs, it’s a reflection of the times. We’re folk singers and we consider this a folk album, so there’s a lot in there. There’s word of politics, of being women in the music industry, as well as a lot about our lives on the road.”

Indeed, Rising Appalachia has toured British Columbia by sailboat, traversed the U.S. and Europe by train, and engaged in immersive cultural exchange programs in Bulgaria, Ireland, Southern Italy, Central and South America – not to mention the countless miles in a van. Tour highlights include: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco; Music Hall Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York; Boulder Theatre in Boulder, Colorado; and the Showbox in Seattle, Washington. The band consistently sells between 400 and 1500 tickets wherever they play, a testament to their loyal fan base.

Leah and Chloe grew up in urban Atlanta as the city’s hip hop scene began to flourish. They absorbed those rhythms through the music they heard at school, then traveled with their family to fiddle camps all across the Southeast on the weekends. The young girls weren’t all that interested in the old-time playing, but their parents were incredibly devout in their study and practice of Appalachian music.

After high school, Leah decided to postpone college and travel internationally. Feeling homesick while living in Southern Mexico, she looked for a connection to her past and taught herself how to play banjo. “I realized that I wanted something from home that I could share, something that would tell people a bit more of the story of where I came from, other than the news,” she recalls.

A few years later, when Chloe came to visit her abroad, Leah offeredsome clawhammer banjo lessons. They didn’t necessarily realize it at the time but a musical partnership had been established. Upon their return to the United States, they recorded an album, which they considered an art project, to sell whenever they sang at farmer’s markets. They printed 500 copies, figuring that would last them a lifetime. However, when a local college professor heard them singing at a Christmas party, he booked them as part of a Celtic holiday concert in Atlanta. After two performances, every CD had been sold.

Surprised and overwhelmed, they mulled over a career as full-time musicians, then realized that performing could be just one component of a greater overall vision – one that includes advocating for social justice, racial justice, environmental justice, and Indigenous rights.

“We’re able to filter in so many of our passions into this project,” Chloe says. “We do a lot of activism work. We do a lot of outreach. Leah is a visual artist and she can funnel her visual eye into the project. I love to write, so that comes in. There’s a big container and canvas for our life’s work here. Music is part of it, but there are a lot of other creative vehicles that are driving Rising Appalachia.”

Special guests on Leylines include folk hero Ani DiFranco, soulful songwriter Trevor Hall, and jazz trumpeter Maurice Turner. The album title alludes to the concept of invisible lines believed to stretch around the world between sacred spaces, bonded by a spiritual and magnetic presence. That deep sense of connection is key to understanding Rising Appalachia as a whole.

“Rising Appalachia has come out of this idea that we can take these traditions of southern music – that we’ve been born and raised with – and we can rise out of them, creating all these different bridges between cultures and stories to make them feel alive.” Leah says. “Our music has its foundation in heritage and tradition, but we’re creating a music that also feels reflective of the times right now. That’s always been our work.”


Raye Zaragoza

official band site »

Raye Zaragoza is an award-winning singer-songwriter who carries an acoustic guitar and a message. Her quiet yet powerful song “In the River,” written in response to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota, resonated strongly with listeners and went viral in late 2016, garnering half a million views on the video, national media coverage, and a Global Music Award and Honesty Oscar.

Raye’s debut album, Fight For You (independent, 2017), displays her compassion, dedication to justice and equality for all, and keen eye for the seemingly small daily moments that become our most meaningful memories. About the record, Raye says, “This album is about finding yourself and finding your voice. It’s about maturing and realizing that you can make a difference if you so choose.”

Writing about social issues comes naturally to Raye. "As a woman of color in America, social issues are things you deal with and see every day of your life," she says. "I write about my experience and oftentimes my existence has been laced with injustice."

Raye performs her music all over the United States as well as across Europe, where she spent five weeks touring in summer 2017. Her music has been featured on Billboard and Democracy Now! and on numerous lists of the best modern-day protest songs, including those by Paste Magazine, What Culture, and Overblown. She has also performed live sessions for Paste, Daytrotter, and FNX.

At SXSW 2018, Raye spoke about her loyal fanbase and maintaining an independent career on a panel entitled "Serving the Sacred Bond" hosted by PledgeMusic. This summer, she joined Dispatch and Nahko and Medicine for the People on their Summer Tour, which included dates at Red Rocks and two nights at Central Park Summerstage.

 
Lettuce
Antibalas | Ghost-Note | @The Anthem | view more info »
Nov
22

Lettuce

Antibalas
Ghost-Note

Friday Nov 22|doors 6:00 pm|all ages
The Anthem|get directions »
901 WHARF ST SW, WASHINGTON, DC 20024|p: (202) 265-0930


Lettuce

official band site »

LETTUCE is (a) the prime ingredient in a salad, (b) a slang for cash, (c) a green herb that can be smoked, (d) a genre-busting six-member funk/jazz/soul/jam/psychedelic/hip-hop/art-rock/ambient/ avant-garde/experimental collective formed in 1992 by four alumni of the prestigious Berklee College Of Music, or (e) all of the above.

If you answered “e,” then you’re on to the ever-changing musical palette and all-inclusive goals of LETTUCE’s sixth studio album, Elevate, and its ongoing re-interpretation of the band’s name as “Let Us.” In their earliest days as students, they would roam the cities of the Northeast, and implore others to “Let Us play.” Starting with their 2002 debut album, the phrase has been affixed to their first four albums, as in (Let Us) Outta Here (2002), (Let Us) Rage! (2008), (Let Us) Fly! (2012) and (Let Us) Crush (2015). Elevate (2019) is the band’s first studio album since 2016’s Mt. Crushmore and the follow-up to its 2017 live effort, Witches Stew.

Recorded at Colorado Sound outside of Denver, near the home of New York transplants and band co-founders, guitarist Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff and percussionist Adam Deitch, with legendary engineer Russ Elevado (D’Angelo, The Roots, Erykah Badu), Elevate shows LETTUCE touching on its past while moving full force into the future. The band explores its funk roots in the Tower of Power like punch of “Ready to Live” (the cover of a song by Cold Blood’s Lydia Pense), the Prince-like swagger of “Royal Highness” and the OG blues-soul of “Love Is Too Strong,” while expanded trip-hop sounds of the space age audio-scapes like “Trapezoid,” “Gang 10” and “Purple Cabbage” show the influence of sax player Ryan Zoidis’ Korg X-911 synths and Nigel Hall’s Rhodes keyboards.

“This album definitely stretches the boundaries,” says chief composer/percussionist Deitch, whose chance meeting with co-founder “Shmeeans” while 16-year-olds at a summer camp before their freshmen year of college proved momentous. “The idea was to keep exploring the different areas of funk and hip-hop beats, then writing melodies to those songs that made sense.”

The more progressive/spacey vibe, with elements of Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead, Eno and Miles Davis, also comes naturally to the band, according to founding member and bassist Erick “Jesus” Coomes, an Orange County native whose father, Tommy Coomes, is a successful musician with a number of albums to his credit.

“We’re big improvisational music and arts fans,” Erick says. “We consider them part of the same world. It’s like painting live with five other people, one arm and a single brush.”

Guitarist Shmeeans compares the group’s eclectic, free-wheeling approach to “the modern NBA and its position-less basketball,” Nigel Hall, the band’s resident singer, also takes vocals on the album’s two covers, Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” (one of the album’s two focus tracks, along with “Krewe”) and Lydia Pense’s “Ready to Live.” “As long as you listen, play your part and remember where the ‘one’ is, you can thrive in this band,” says Nigel.

Trumpet and horn-player Eric “Benny” Bloom, a Rhode Island native who has been a full-time member of LETTUCE since 2011, notes, “This isn’t just a funk band anymore. We’re playing every style of music in every song. You can’t categorize it. We have the freedom to do whatever we want that’s appropriate for the song.”

Much of the futuristic, yet warm and analog feel, of Elevate can be attributed to sax player, Portland, ME native and co-founding member Ryan Zoidis, who continued to explore the limits of his new toy, a vintage Korg X-911 synth. “I was still figuring it out on the last album, trouble-shooting how it would work,” says Ryan. “It’s responsible not just for the ways the band has changed musically, but it’s improved my life in general. It’s great to have have a lot more options with my sound rather than just relying on the one standard timbre of the dry saxophone. There are now a bunch of different voices I can pull up.” He points to “Trapezoid” as a piece for which he recorded himself playing the synth over a click track and then sent to Deitch, who turned it into the song on the album.

Other album highlights include Smirnoff’s nod to Carlos Santana and Trey Anastasio on the Latin-flavored and playfully named “Shmink Dabby,” the spaghetti western meets ‘60s Ethiopian funk by way of the French Ethiopiques compilation albums in the focus track, “Krewe” and the Marcus King cameo vocal on the B.B. King/Al Green gospel blues of “Love Is Too Strong.” The latter is reminiscent of other guest appearances in the past by the likes of John Scofield and Fred Wesley on LETTUCE’s debut, Outta Here, or Dwele on Rage!

“There’s always something new to be learned as musicians and as people,” adds Shmeeans. “We’re trying to get a little bit better every day.”

Says Ryan: “We realize more and more that this band is a gift we’ve been given. Everyone contributes, like a successful sports team. We’ve really become family over the years. We’ve known there was magic in this from the moment we first got together as 16-year-olds.”

That magic continues to grow with the band’s new album, a democratic ensemble in which there is no leader, but a complete unit that functions as a single entity, with plenty of moving parts. All together now… Let us Elevate.


Antibalas

official band site »

Formed in Brooklyn, the musical collective known as Antibalas’ new studio album, Where The Gods Are In Peace, is an epic Afro-Western Trilogy searching for solace from American political opportunism, greed and vengeance. Through its battle cry of resistance against exploitation and displacement, Antibalas’ long-form compositions investigate oppression in 1800s America that eerily mirror the current state of the country. Three explosive original arrangements cultivate an urgent call to heal a broken system. Ultimately, the sonic excursion lands on an island where love is our first instinct. A new ideology is born opening our hearts to the possibilities of living as one unified people, where all gods are equal and together we prevail.

True to traditional form, Where The Gods Are In Peace pays respect to the forefathers of Afrobeat with compositions spanning nine to 15 minutes in length. With a blessing from the Fela Kuti legacy early in the band’s career, Antibalas has long been revered for re-popularizing the classic Afrobeat sound while adding their distinct New York City grit to the mix. Influences of punk rock, free jazz, and hip-hop seep into their expansive works to define a truly 21st century translation of the Afrobeat genre and beyond.

Antibalas is a force of nature celebrated by both music connoisseurs and a wide array of renowned artists alike. Antibalas has served as the backing band for high profile tribute shows at Carnegie Hall, including Music of Paul Simon (2014), Music of David Byrne & Talk Heads (2015), and Music of Aretha Franklin (2017). Antibalas members have also appeared alongside some of today’s biggest stars, such as Beyonce, The Roots, Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, Angelique Kidjo, Zap Mama, Femi Kuti, Seun Kuti, Tony Allen, Davido, Arcade Fire, Lady Antebellum, and many others. In 2012, Antibalas made their late night television debut on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and have appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Ghost-Note

official band site »

HEADED BY SNARKY PUPPY’S MULTI-GRAMMY–WINNING PERCUSSION DUO OF ROBERT “SPUT” SEARIGHT AND NATE WERTH, GHOST-NOTE IS AN EXPLOSION OF SOUND. WITH AN EXPANSIVE ROSTER OF NEXT-LEVEL MUSICIANS—REPRESENTING MEMBERS OF PRINCE, SNOOP DOGG, ERYKAH BADU, HERBIE HANCOCK, KENDRICK LAMAR, MARCUS MILLER, TOTO, JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, AND MORE—THE BAND IS PUSHING FUNK MUSIC INTO THE FUTURE, BUILDING ON THE UPLIFTING, PIONEERING FOUNDATIONS LAID OUT BY THE LIKES OF JAMES BROWN AND SLY & THE FAMILY STONE AND INFUSING THEIR FRESH TAKE WITH TASTES OF AFROBEAT, HIP-HOP, PSYCHEDELIA, WORLD FOLKLORE, AND MORE.

WITH THE RELEASE OF 2018’S SWAGISM, GHOST-NOTE HAS MADE THEIR MISSION CLEAR. THE ALBUM PUTS RHYTHM AT THE FOREFRONT, WITH IRRESISTIBLE, HEAVY-HITTING BEATS UNDERLYING THE GROUP’S WILD, RICH MUSIC. FEATURING NUMEROUS GUEST COLLABORATORS, INCLUDING KAMASI WASHINGTON, KARL DENSON, BOBBY SPARKS, NIGEL HALL, TAZ, AND OTHERS, SWAGISM SHOWCASES THE BAND’S STUNNING ABILITY TO MELD AND AMPLIFY SOUNDS, ULTIMATELY ADDING TO GHOST-NOTE’S SHARP, COMPLEX COLLABORATIONS.

FEARLESS, BOTH IN SWAGISM’S SONIC DEPTH AND CONSCIOUS SOCIAL COMMENTARY, THE BAND EASILY TRANSLATES THIS ADVENTUROUSNESS IN A LIVE SETTING. GHOST-NOTE’S LIVE PERFORMANCES ARE BOLD AND IN YOUR FACE, WITH THE GROUP OFFERING UP NONE OF THE TIGHT-LACED PRETENSES FREQUENTLY ASSOCIATED WITH THE BAND’S JAZZ ROOTS. FOCUSED ON CREATING SEDUCTIVE DANCEABLE GROOVES AND A CONTAGIOUS FEEL-GOOD ENERGY, EACH SHOW IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO LET LOOSE AND CONNECT, FOR BOTH FANS AND THE MUSICIANS ALIKE.

AFTER FORMING IN 2015, GHOST-NOTE HAS ALREADY BEGUN TO TAKE THE WORLD BY STORM. THE GROUP’S TWO STUDIO ALBUMS—2018’S SWAGISM AND 2015’S FORTIFIED—HAVE EARNED CRITICAL ACCLAIM AND POPULAR SUCCESS AROUND THE GLOBE, WITH BOTH ALBUMS HITTING THE #1 SPOT ON THE ITUNES JAZZ CHARTS. FURTHERMORE, THE EVER-GROWING FAMILY OF MUSICIANS HAS MOUNTED SUCCESSFUL HEADLINING TOURS IN THE UNITED STATES, CANADA, AND JAPAN AND PERFORMED AT HIGH-PROFILE INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVALS AND EVENTS.

 
Moon Hooch
Lilypicker | @The 8x10 | view more info »
Nov
24

Moon Hooch

Lilypicker


Sunday Nov 24|doors 7:00 pm|18+
The 8x10|get directions »
10 E. Cross St.
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 625-2000


Moon Hooch

official band site »

I’m realizing more and more every day that you can make anything happen for yourself if you really want to,” says Moon Hooch horn player Mike Wilbur. “You can change your existence by just going out and doing it, by taking simple actions every day.”

If any band is a poster child for turning the power of positive thoughts and intention into reality, it’s the explosive horn-and-percussion trio Moon Hooch. In just a few short years, the group—Wilbur, fellow horn player Wenzl McGowen, and drummer James Muschler—has gone from playing on New York City subway platforms to touring with the likes of Beats Antique, They Might Be Giants, and Lotus, as well as selling out their own headline shows in major venues around the country. On ‘Red Sky,’ their third and most adventurous album to date, the band uses everything they’ve learned from their whirlwind journey to push their sound to new heights, bringing together the raw, transcendent energy of their live performances and the sleek sophistication of their studio work into a singular, intoxicating brew that blends elements of virtuosic jazz, groovy funk, and pulse-pounding electronic dance music.

“I think ‘Red Sky’ is more focused than any of our past albums,” reflects McGowen. “We practice meditation and yoga, and I think that we’re more evolved as people than we’ve ever been right now. That evolution expresses itself as focus, and through focus comes our energy.”

It was two years ago that the band released ‘This Is Cave Music,’ an exhilarating thrill ride that earned rave reviews from critics and fans alike. NPR hailed it as “unhinged” and “irresistible,” praising each musician’s “remarkable abilities” and naming their Tiny Desk Concert one of the best in the prestigious series’ history. The album followed their 2013 debut, which had Relix swooning for their “deep bass lines, catchy melodies and pounding rhythms,” while the Wall Street Journal celebrated their “electronic house music mixed with brawny saxophone riffs.” Though the band—whose members initially met as students at the New School—turned heads in the music industry as relative unknowns with a charismatic, unconventional sound (they play with unique tonguing techniques and utilize found objects like traffic cones attached to the bells of their horns to manipulate tone, for instance), they were already a familiar and beloved sight to straphangers in New York, who would react with such joy and fervor to their impromptu subway platform sets that the NYPD had to ban them from locations that couldn’t handle the crowds. NY Mag once referred to their sound as “Jay Gatsby on ecstasy,” while the NY Post fell for their “catchy melodic hooks and funky rhythms,” saying they had “the power to make you secretly wish that the short [subway] wait becomes an indefinite delay.”

While the band’s busking days are behind them now, the lessons they learned from all those platform parties helped guide their approach to recording ‘Red Sky.’

“What we discovered playing in the subway,” McGowen explains, “is that the more focus and the more energy you put into the music, and the more you listen to everything around you and integrate everything around you into your expression, the more the music becomes this captivating force for people.”

Recorded at The Bunker studio in Brooklyn, ‘Red Sky’ is nothing if not captivating. The album opens with the tribal urgency of the title track and proceeds, over the next 45 minutes, to utterly demolish any and every possible barrier that could stand between your ass and the dance floor. On ‘Shot,’ Wilbur sings a stream of consciousness vocal line over an airtight groove, while “Psychotubes” channels the apocalyptic fire and brimstone of death metal, and the staccato intro of “That’s What They Say” gives way to a gritty, late-night come-on of a saxophone line that’s far more suggestive than any whispered words ever could be.

Though the band is heavily inspired by electronic music, they made a conscious effort to use as little in the way of “studio tricks” as possible on ‘Red Sky,’ aiming instead to capture the sound of their live show, which has evolved significantly from their days underground.

“When we were playing in the subways, we were playing entirely acoustic,” explains Wilbur. “It was just two saxes and a drum set. Then Wenzl acquired a baritone sax and we all started getting into music production and incorporating electronic music into our live shows.”

At their performances, the band now plays through what they call a Reverse DJ setup, in which the live sound from their horns runs through Ableton software on their laptops to process recorded effects onto the output. In addition, to flesh out their sound on the road, the band began utilizing Moog synthesizers, an EWI (an electronic wind instrument that responds to breath in addition to touch), and other more traditional instruments like clarinets. Wilbur added vocals to his repertoire on some tracks (something the subway never allowed him to do), and Muschler, meanwhile, traveled halfway around the world to expand his percussion skills.

“I went to India, and the first morning I woke up, it was like 5am, and I followed this music along the banks of the Ganges,” he remembers. “I eventually ended up finding this amazing tabla player, and after his performance, I asked him for lessons. He agreed, and I went for daily lessons with him and another guy for the next two weeks. After that, I took a train to Calcutta, where I met with the guru that I’d studied with in New York, and I did morning lessons with him and practiced throughout the day. It was an incredible musical immersion experience.”

The band members all speak reverently of meditation and consciousness and the role it plays in their music (McGowen believes his introduction to it, spurred on in part by Wilbur and Muschler, saved his life), but equally close to their hearts are the environmental causes they champion. Moon Hooch tries to live up to their green ideals while traveling as much as possible, playing benefit shows, supporting local farmers and co-ops, participating in river cleanups, filming informative videos for their fans, and more. The band even runs a food blog, Cooking In The Cave, in which they highlight the healthy, sustainable, organic recipes they utilize with their mobile kitchen setup on tour.

For the members of Moon Hooch, commitments to consciousness and environmentalism and veganism and philosophy and peace aren’t separate from their commitment to music, but actually integral parts of it. It’s all tied into that same core approach that led to their discovery on the subway platform: try, even if it’s just a little bit every day, even if it’s just with the power of your mind, to make the world less like it is and more like you wish it could be.

“I’d say all of our songs express the essence of that kind of energy,” concludes McGowen, “because before you can even think any thoughts, there exists the energy that drives those thoughts, and that energy is intention. I feel like we’re putting the intention of positive change constantly into our music. While we’re playing, I often see the future emerging: skyscrapers getting covered in plants, frowns turning into smiles, fistfights into hugs. I can see the energy of love and collaboration and trust replace the energy of fear, hatred and violence.”

It’s an ambitious vision, to be sure, but considering the band’s track record at turning their thoughts and dreams into action and reality, perhaps it’s only a matter of time.


Lilypicker

LILYPICKER is the mind child of multi-instrumentalist Jarrett Gilgore. This project has been in utero for years and is now making its way into the world.

Gilgore assembles a rotating and evolving cast of musicians to play his songs. Gilgore comments: “I’m working to challenge myself and break old beliefs that have kept me down and afraid to grow. This band is a soundtrack to growth. When music is made with joy and love it reminds us of the limitlessness of human potential. When music is made with ego and fear, a paranoia develops that is poison for the spirit. Music is not about me or you. It is about our-selves, each-other, every-body, this life we are all living. Separation is a construct. It is my hope this music makes you feel good, makes you move, and inspires you to live your best life.”

Gilgore lives in Baltimore and performs locally, nationally, and internationally with bands including free-jazz trio Heart of the Ghost, the Dan Deacon Ensemble, guitar virtuoso Anthony Pirog, neo-soul artist Kingsley Ibeneche, and the Baltimore Afrobeat Society. As a sideman he was worked with experimental folk duo, Anna & Elizabeth, Lonnie Holley, and has made appearances with Cass McCombs and Rubblebucket. He has played on albums with Anna & Elizabeth, Laraaji, Susan Alcorn, Jim White of the Dirty Three, Benjamin Lazar Davis, and Wildhoney. Gilgore teaches music to children and adults and is continuing to figure out why he’s on this planet at this strange time.

 
Keller Williams' Thanksforgrassgiving
ft. Keller & The Keels | with special guest Lindsay Lou | @The Hamilton | view more info »
Nov
30

Keller Williams' Thanksforgrassgiving

ft. Keller & The Keels
with special guest Lindsay Lou

Saturday Nov 30|doors 6:30 pm|all ages
The Hamilton|get directions »
600 14th Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 787-1000


Keller Williams' Thanksforgrassgiving


ft. Keller & The Keels

official band site »

Definition: Appalachian Psychedelic Bluegrass “Award-winning flat picker Larry Keel and his rock solid, in-the-pocket bass-playing wife, Jenny Keel, make up two thirds of this super fun trio I started in 2004. With two albums recorded together the handful of gigs we play a year turn into acoustic picking parties. We vowed from the beginning that we wouldn’t do it often so that when we did, it would be special, and it is.” –Kw

with special guest Lindsay Lou

official band site »

Lindsay Lou has been making soulful, poignant music for the last decade. An undeniable powerhouse, Lou’s remarkable gifts as a singer, songwriter, musician and performer demand the listener’s attention. Her singing floats over the masterful playing and deep groove of her band with both a fierce intensity and a tender intimacy.

Lindsay Lou’s fourth album, Southland (released April 2018), is a transformative and heart-wrenching ten-song stunner. Lou’s voice—and its unique ability to create an expansive, almost physically tangible soundscape—carries each song on Southland forward, made even more recognizable and potent by bandmates Josh Rilko (mandolin, vocals) and PJ George (bass, vocals) and special guests.

The beauty with which the sounds on Southland slip into the ether is the product of an emotionally difficult time for Lindsay and her band—who, as musicians often do, entered the studio to “hash it out.” The process, demonstrated by the music on Southland, was sincere and stirring and introspective.

Southland kicks off with “Roll With Me,” an expansive anthem with Lou’s robust vocals on full display. “Go There Alone” was written during an “Immersion Composition Society” experiment that Lou does from time to time, and the sound fully developed with the band a little later on. The lazy, beautiful harmonies pull at your heartstrings in a way that feels like home, despite the lonely and bittersweet message. And though songs like “The Voice” and “Southland” were spurred on by more abstract ideas and words, they transformed as collaborators started freestyling with their instruments and Lou simply sang what came to mind. Impressively enough, Lou plays electric bass, electric guitar, and acoustic guitar on the album’s title track. “Southland” is about the natural beauty of the South, which to Lou, adds a sense of calm and connectedness to a region known too often for its divisiveness. Having recently left her home state of Michigan to put down roots in Nashville with the band, the influence of this change is felt throughout the themes and ideas expressed on Southland.

Born the daughter of a coal miner in middle Missouri, Lindsay Lou’s family moved to Michigan shortly after Lindsay was born. She describes her family as close knit and musical, their lives influenced heavily by her maternal grandmother’s radical ideals and zest for life. In fact, if you ask Lindsay, her grandmother—a woman who was once put in jail during the Civil Rights Movement for teaching a lesson on the “f” word as a high school literature teacher—is one of her greatest influences to this day. Armed with her activist spirit, Lou’s grandmother set up a Christian commune in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for her growing family of twelve, as well as some stragglers. There in a big farmhouse, Lou’s dad was their neighbor.

Raised with this sense of community, Lou recalls always being surrounded by music. So when the time came for her to join a band, for Lou, it felt like finding a home away from home. Her career, like her life, have been full of great moments of kismet. As a youth, Lou built her repertoire by practicing her vocals, and she picked up the guitar so she could play with her Uncle Stuckey, perhaps most musically influential on her of her mother’s siblings. The skills she honed during the days of learning to sing and play with her family led to a wide variety of musical opportunities, singing in choir in high school, attending an elite summer program at Interlochen on scholarship, and winning awards for her talents.

Today, touring nationally and internationally year round, Lindsay Lou and her band continue to collect a mass of friends and fans along the way. Notable U.S. festival plays include Telluride Bluegrass festival, Merlefest, Stagecoach, Redwing, ROMP, GreyFox, and a slew of others. Abroad, they have appeared at Scotland’s Shetland Island Folk Fest and the Celtic Connections tour, Australia’s National Folk Festival, and others. The Boot, who featured Lindsay Lou Band as a “Can’t Miss Act at AmericanaFest 2018, says “...Lou brings introspection and masterful vocal work to her live show.”

In the words of famed bluegrass musician David Grier, who caught Lindsay Lou Band at a recent festival, “Lindsay...sings the way you would want to if'n you could. Phrasing, tone, emotion, it's all there. Effortless seemingly. Simply mesmerizing. Riveting! Don't miss the musical force that is Lindsay Lou.”

 
Collie Buddz
Keznamdi | @9:30 club | view more info »
Dec
1

Collie Buddz

Keznamdi


Sunday Dec 1|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Collie Buddz

official band site »

Colin Patrick Harper hails from the Bermuda Islands. In the music industry, he is known as the reggae artist Collie Buddz. Buddz was born on August 21, 1984 in New Orleans, Louisiana. After graduating from high school, he attended Full Sail University in Orlando, FL, where he decided to study studio engineering. Upon graduating from college in 2006, Buddz began looking for work in the recording industry as a performer or producer. One of his first major gigs was working with recording star Shaggy on the single "Mad Mad World" from Shaggy's new album entitled Intoxication, which was release in 2007. That was the same year he released his self-titled debut album with Sony Music. The album was a moderate success, but well-received by critics. WWE (World Wrestling Enterprises) fans would immediately recognize Buddz's voice from the entrance theme ("SOS") for WWE superstar wrestler Kofi Kingston, which was included on the 2008 compilation WWE The Music, Vol. 8. Over the next year, he would continue making guest appearances on the works of other artists. It is no small coincidence that his stage name "Buddz" is slang for marijuana. There have been photographs taken of the artist holding bongs and other pot-smoking paraphernalia over the years. Of course, other reggae artist such as Bob Marley have made weed seem an essential part of the reggae lifestyle. At the end of the decade, Buddz started his own record label called Harper Digital. When not working in the studio, he found himself selling out venue after venue on one of his many exhaustive tours. In 2011, he would finally release his second album entitled Playback. As was the case with the first album, this album was a modest success commercially, but the critics loved his work. With a couple of albums and a good reputation under his belt, Buddz is a frequent performer at many of the major reggae festivals around the world.

More recently he has been in the studio finishing up his most recent fully self produced album 'Hybrid' which will be coming out in the Spring of 2019. Singles from the album like 'Love & Reggae' and 'Bounce It' have already topped charts and given fans a good insight into how the rest of the album will sound.


Keznamdi

official band site »

Tap into a “feel-good” musical vibration of up and coming Reggae artist Keznamdi who has recently released his six-song EP Bridging The Gap. The first single and video from the EP release is “Weekend,” which was recently filmed in Jamaica and premiered online on Friday April 5th 2013. The Bridging The Gap EP also features guest artists Chronixx and Kabaka Pyramid. Keznamdi is hard at work on a full-length album that will be released later next year.

“My music is a message and everyone of my song dem have a purpose. You need fi just sit back and relax or stand up and jam…whatever you are moved to do (he chuckles). Just tek a listen and experience it for yourself and more important than anything else, digest my message.” explains Keznamdi.

This artist is positioned to reach the world’s stage with his eclectic blend of melodies and conscious, positive lyrics. Keznamdi’s music has also been influenced by musical icons such as Stephen Marley, Damian Marley and Chakula, the internationally known Reggae group who his parents are lead singers of. Keznamdi spent his early years touring the world and recording on their 10 albums in the recording studio located in his home, buried in the lush hills surrounding Kingston, Jamaica.

“This is not a choice or hobby for me, Music chose me. It’s a way of life and the only thing I have ever known,” explains a passionate Keznamdi, describing why his path has already been carved out in stone. With a guitar always in hand and golden locks on his head, Keznamdi’s music is just as captivating as his image. His personality and sense of humor on stage is an immediate magnet for people of all cultures. Look for Keznamdi to introduce himself to music fans with a tour across the USA and in Jamaica over the next year. Performances are being scheduled to support the release of his new EP, and even a few festival performances are on tap for this amazing artist this summer. Keznamdi is an artist to look out for in the years to come.

 
Dark Star Orchestra
@The Anthem | view more info »
Dec
6

Dark Star Orchestra



Friday Dec 6|doors 6:00 pm|all ages
The Anthem|get directions »
901 WHARF ST SW, WASHINGTON, DC 20024|p: (202) 265-0930


Dark Star Orchestra

official band site »

Performing to critical acclaim for over 20 years and over 2800 shows, Dark Star Orchestra continues the Grateful Dead live 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.

Dark Star Orchestra offers much more than the sound of the Grateful Dead, they truly encapsulate the energy and the experience. It's about a sense of familiarity. It's about a feeling that grabs listeners and takes over. It's about that contagious energy...in short, it's about the complete experience and consistent quality show that the fan receives when attending a Dark Star Orchestra show.

Dark Star Orchestra has performed throughout the entire United States, including a sold out debut at Colorado’s Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater, plus shows in Europe and the Caribbean with the band touching down in seven different countries. DSO continues to grow its fan base by playing at larger venues for two and even three-night stands, as well as performing at major music festivals including Bonnaroo, Milwaukee's SummerFest, The Peach Music Festival, Jam Cruise, Wanee Festival, SweetWater 420 Festival, Mountain Jam, and many more.

In addition to appearing at some of the nation's top festival, Dark Star Orchestra hosts its own annual music festival and campaign gathering, titled the "Dark Star Jubilee", currently in its eighth year where DSO headline all three nights and are joined by a mix of established and up and coming national touring acts. Beyond the shores of the United States, DSO has taken its internationally-acclaimed Grateful Dead tribute to the beaches of Jamaica in the dead of winter for the past six years, with their event appropriately titled 'Jam in the Sand'. Featuring an ocean-side stage, DSO sets up camp to perform shows for four nights along the tropical sands of an all-inclusive resort, selling out the event each year for hundreds of lucky attendees.

Fans and critics haven't been the only people caught up in the spirit of a Dark Star show. The band has featured guest performances from six original Grateful Dead members Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Donna Jean Godchaux-MacKay, Vince Welnick, Tom Constanten and even toured with longtime Dead soundman, Dan Healy. Other notable guests have included Mike Gordon and Jon Fishman of Phish, Keller Williams, Warren Haynes, Steve Kimock, Peter Rowan, Ramblin' Jack Elliot and many more.

"For us it's a chance to recreate some of the magic that was created for us over the years," keyboardist and vocalist Rob Barraco explains. "We offer a sort of a historical perspective at what it might have been like to go to a show in 1985, 1978 or whenever. Even for Deadheads who can say they've been to a hundred shows in the 90s, we offer something they never got to see live."


 
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong
lespecial | @9:30 club | view more info »
Dec
6

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

lespecial


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


Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

official band site »

"We pour every ounce of ourselves into every note when we perform live,” says Pigeons Playing Ping Pong singer/guitarist Greg Ormont. “When we’re recording in the studio, we try to maintain that euphoria while finding a way to pack it into a tight, focused vessel. Each song becomes like a spring-loaded can of worms: there’s all this energy boxed up in a neat little package, and then when you come see us live, the cap comes off and the contents fly out in every direction like fireworks.”

It’s a whimsically apt metaphor for Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, a band whose very existence is rooted in the unyielding quest for joy and positive energy. Blending infectious funk grooves, psychedelic jams, and experimental electronics, the Baltimore four-piece’s new album, ‘Pizazz,’ is a buoyant, blissful reminder of just how much fun music can be. Eschewing the traditional funk band lineup that typically includes keyboards, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong constructs effervescent soundscapes with just two guitars, bass, and drums, crafting their music with a sophisticated ear for both open space and dense layering.

While ‘Pizazz’ is, in many ways, a familiar continuation of the journey that’s earned the band its rapidly expanding and rabidly devoted following (known as The Flock), it also marks the beginning of a new chapter for Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. The album’s eleven tracks are the group’s first recorded with new drummer Alex Petropulos, whose airtight grooves and explosive power push the band’s sound to new heights.

“We’ve had some of these songs in our live catalog for a while,” says Ormont, “but playing them with Alex has breathed new life into everything. His style and energy have revealed nooks and crannies that we didn’t even realize existed in the tracks. All music boils down to having a good drummer, especially in our dance-oriented jam world, and we’ve got the best drummer I’ve ever heard right now.”

It’s a bold claim, but Pigeons Playing Ping Pong has the live show to back it up. Glide Magazine called them “a band that melts faces and pulls no punches,” while C-Ville Weekly praised the growing “cult around [their] high-energy music, goofy stage antics, and all around good vibes,” and JamBase raved that guitarist/vocalist Jeremy Schon is “destined to become one of our generation’s finest guitarists.” Since the group’s inception nearly a decade ago at the University of Maryland (where the band’s name came to Ormont and Schon during a moment of transcendence in Psych 100), they’ve built up a reputation as one of the most engaging and life-affirming acts on the road, maintaining a relentless tour schedule that has them performing up to 200 shows a year and hitting festivals from coast to coast. The band even founded their own gathering, Domefest, which recently celebrated its eighth year and attracted nearly 2,000 members of The Flock for an immersive weekend of love, music, and community.

“It’s really important that our live show puts out as much energy as possible and promotes lightheartedness and positivity,” says Schon. “All that matters in the moment at a concert is what’s going on onstage and in the room around you, and we try to put on a show where people can really lose themselves in those moments and use our music as an outlet to feel good.”

The band chased those same ideals when they headed into producer Steve Wright’s WrightWay Studios in Baltimore to record ‘Pizazz,’ the follow-up to their 2016 fan-favorite ‘Pleasure.’ Tracking live on the floor, the foursome channeled all the rapture of their live shows into tight, crisp packages. Songs that may unfold onstage over the course of 20 minutes were reimagined for the studio, where they’d need to reach the same frenzied, emotional heights, in less than half that time.

“I think this album really shows attention to detail when it comes to choosing our moments and the way we’ve been able to make parts more concise without losing their natural feel,” says Ormont. “Having a strong drummer is a big part of that. Alex is able to convey so much feeling and bring us to those peaks and valleys really quickly and efficiently when we need him to.”

‘Pizazz’ opens up with the bouncing, carefree “Fun In Funk,” which finds the band proclaiming, “We put the fun in funk” over wah-wah guitars and an infectious rhythm section driven both by Petropulos’s drums and Ben Carrey’s fat, slinky bass lines.

“Funk is very fun, upbeat, happy music to begin with,” says Ormont. “It’s our mission to put that fun into everything we do.”

It’s a mission that Pigeons Playing Ping Pong was born for. The visceral sense of joy in their music acts as a sort of glue here, binding the band’s wildly versatile sounds into a cohesive and distinctive whole on the album. On “Somethin For Ya,” they channel 70’s disco and pair it with a wicked prog-rock solo, while tracks like “Offshoot” and “Too Long” embrace the group’s darker, more bass-and-electronics-influenced dance side. “Poseidon” and frequent show-closer “Ocean Flows,” on the other hand, showcase Pigeons’ bright, sparkling, melodic soul, as ‘Pizazz’ rises and falls with the same inimitable mix of precision and frenzy that defines the band’s one-of-a-kind live show.

Each Pigeon is a virtuosic musician and improviser in his own right, and the band’s songs are frequently born out of impromptu grooves and riffs. The swirling, trippy “Porcupine,” which clocks in at nearly eight minutes in all its jamming glory, taps into the uninhibited, open-ended nature of the band’s rehearsal sessions, while the driving “Henrietta” grew out of one of Schon’s soundcheck guitar loops. The island vibes of “Fox and Toad” are pure stream of consciousness written in the car after band practice, and “Doc” is a gritty, horn-fueled sing-along inspired by a Baltimore legend. “There’s a homeless man named Doc who would always spend his time outside of the 8×10 in Federal Hill, where we learned to push our limits as a band,” says Ormont. “Doc always supported us. Even though he was sleeping under a bridge, he’d always ask you how you were doing. We really wanted to commemorate his toughness and positivity.”

It’s difficult to think of a more fitting match for a band like Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, who radiate positivity wherever they go. Whether it’s Doc or The Flock, the band wants to elevate each and every member of their audience to the kind of blissful place that only the most ecstatic live music can take you. It’s a place filled with beauty and light, joy and power, love and community, all delivered with a heaping dose of pizazz.


lespecial

official band site »

lespecial carve their own sonic path in modern music, creating their signature blend of “heavy future groove”. The power trio’s fresh synthesis of varied and divergent influences doesn’t underestimate the listener, reflecting a post-modern cultural climate in which fans have space on their aural palette for J Dilla, Radiohead, King Crimson and Fela Kuti. Veering from hip-hop to metal, prog to house, pensive indie-rock to apocalyptic dub, leaving room for head banging and hip swaying alike, while still presenting a unified sound and vision.

“…[lespecial’s] sound owes as much to Radiohead and The Mars Voltaas it does Medeski Martin & Wood and Umphrey’s McGee.” – Relix

“That lespecial shit is crazy.” — Akil the MC (Jurassic 5)

“Trap-metal.” — Nikki Glaspie (Beyonce / Nth Power)

“One of the best bands I’ve ever seen live.” — Ott

“My favorite band.” — Space Jesus

These three childhood friends from Connecticut play off of a lifetime of shared experience in their writing and performance. In a power trio, it’s essential that each of the players can utterly captivate you at any given time. Each individual has a lot of weight to carry and is only as strong as the weakest link. In the studio, as on stage, it seems at first blush that Jon Grusauskas—delivering lyrics that call for your attention and seamlessly moving from guitar to keys to samples—is handling the entire upper end of the spectrum… until you consider how broad the melodic embrace of rhythmatist Rory Dolan and low end wizard Luke Bemand: injecting splashes of color and wicked chops into their heavy groove foundations or driving assaults, this dynamic battery simultaneously eases and propels lespecial through fractious changes of mood and tempo. Additionally, whether at the forefront or scattered throughout the mix, all of them use live looping or triggered samples that contribute to a sound that is far greater than that generally created by three people as they seek to tap into a primitive past, distorted through the lens of contemporary technology. The band’s fearless pursuit of a synthesis of the musical idioms that inspire them has, thus far, culminated with the release of their second album, cheen, on October 31, 2017. Pole vaulting over traditional genres, cheen is a snapshot of a band flexing their remarkable creative muscles. In a traditional sense, cheen is a risky album: it asks the listener to suspend a categorical approach and dig into their own eclectic unconsciousness, to adapt a phrase, and appreciate the flow of the record from start to finish, as it moves guided by an unseen plan. If there is an underlying thematic structure, it is one that is anchored—musically and lyrically—by horror flicks, 1980s video games and lespecial’s indictment of the current cultural state of affairs. Not overtly political, angry or morose, cheen seems to observe the zeitgeist and respond to it. lespecial’s willingness to take this risk of presenting an album full of flavors and feels is a reflection of the respect they have for their fans, present and future: they simply don’t underestimate the listener, and that itself is refreshing. Never willing to sit back and settle into a groove, lespecial pivoted quickly from touring in support of the release of cheen into a whole new format: collaborating with and supporting the iconic Bay Area hip-hop emcee and producer, Zion I, on tour dates and a forthcoming album. There are also plans to release remixes of cheen tracks from some of their producer friends who hold lespecial in the highest esteem.

 
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong
Here Come The Mummies | @The Anthem | view more info »
Dec
7

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

Here Come The Mummies


Saturday Dec 7|doors 6:00 pm|all ages
The Anthem|get directions »
901 WHARF ST SW, WASHINGTON, DC 20024|p: (202) 265-0930


Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

official band site »

"We pour every ounce of ourselves into every note when we perform live,” says Pigeons Playing Ping Pong singer/guitarist Greg Ormont. “When we’re recording in the studio, we try to maintain that euphoria while finding a way to pack it into a tight, focused vessel. Each song becomes like a spring-loaded can of worms: there’s all this energy boxed up in a neat little package, and then when you come see us live, the cap comes off and the contents fly out in every direction like fireworks.”

It’s a whimsically apt metaphor for Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, a band whose very existence is rooted in the unyielding quest for joy and positive energy. Blending infectious funk grooves, psychedelic jams, and experimental electronics, the Baltimore four-piece’s new album, ‘Pizazz,’ is a buoyant, blissful reminder of just how much fun music can be. Eschewing the traditional funk band lineup that typically includes keyboards, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong constructs effervescent soundscapes with just two guitars, bass, and drums, crafting their music with a sophisticated ear for both open space and dense layering.

While ‘Pizazz’ is, in many ways, a familiar continuation of the journey that’s earned the band its rapidly expanding and rabidly devoted following (known as The Flock), it also marks the beginning of a new chapter for Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. The album’s eleven tracks are the group’s first recorded with new drummer Alex Petropulos, whose airtight grooves and explosive power push the band’s sound to new heights.

“We’ve had some of these songs in our live catalog for a while,” says Ormont, “but playing them with Alex has breathed new life into everything. His style and energy have revealed nooks and crannies that we didn’t even realize existed in the tracks. All music boils down to having a good drummer, especially in our dance-oriented jam world, and we’ve got the best drummer I’ve ever heard right now.”

It’s a bold claim, but Pigeons Playing Ping Pong has the live show to back it up. Glide Magazine called them “a band that melts faces and pulls no punches,” while C-Ville Weekly praised the growing “cult around [their] high-energy music, goofy stage antics, and all around good vibes,” and JamBase raved that guitarist/vocalist Jeremy Schon is “destined to become one of our generation’s finest guitarists.” Since the group’s inception nearly a decade ago at the University of Maryland (where the band’s name came to Ormont and Schon during a moment of transcendence in Psych 100), they’ve built up a reputation as one of the most engaging and life-affirming acts on the road, maintaining a relentless tour schedule that has them performing up to 200 shows a year and hitting festivals from coast to coast. The band even founded their own gathering, Domefest, which recently celebrated its eighth year and attracted nearly 2,000 members of The Flock for an immersive weekend of love, music, and community.

“It’s really important that our live show puts out as much energy as possible and promotes lightheartedness and positivity,” says Schon. “All that matters in the moment at a concert is what’s going on onstage and in the room around you, and we try to put on a show where people can really lose themselves in those moments and use our music as an outlet to feel good.”

The band chased those same ideals when they headed into producer Steve Wright’s WrightWay Studios in Baltimore to record ‘Pizazz,’ the follow-up to their 2016 fan-favorite ‘Pleasure.’ Tracking live on the floor, the foursome channeled all the rapture of their live shows into tight, crisp packages. Songs that may unfold onstage over the course of 20 minutes were reimagined for the studio, where they’d need to reach the same frenzied, emotional heights, in less than half that time.

“I think this album really shows attention to detail when it comes to choosing our moments and the way we’ve been able to make parts more concise without losing their natural feel,” says Ormont. “Having a strong drummer is a big part of that. Alex is able to convey so much feeling and bring us to those peaks and valleys really quickly and efficiently when we need him to.”

‘Pizazz’ opens up with the bouncing, carefree “Fun In Funk,” which finds the band proclaiming, “We put the fun in funk” over wah-wah guitars and an infectious rhythm section driven both by Petropulos’s drums and Ben Carrey’s fat, slinky bass lines.

“Funk is very fun, upbeat, happy music to begin with,” says Ormont. “It’s our mission to put that fun into everything we do.”

It’s a mission that Pigeons Playing Ping Pong was born for. The visceral sense of joy in their music acts as a sort of glue here, binding the band’s wildly versatile sounds into a cohesive and distinctive whole on the album. On “Somethin For Ya,” they channel 70’s disco and pair it with a wicked prog-rock solo, while tracks like “Offshoot” and “Too Long” embrace the group’s darker, more bass-and-electronics-influenced dance side. “Poseidon” and frequent show-closer “Ocean Flows,” on the other hand, showcase Pigeons’ bright, sparkling, melodic soul, as ‘Pizazz’ rises and falls with the same inimitable mix of precision and frenzy that defines the band’s one-of-a-kind live show.

Each Pigeon is a virtuosic musician and improviser in his own right, and the band’s songs are frequently born out of impromptu grooves and riffs. The swirling, trippy “Porcupine,” which clocks in at nearly eight minutes in all its jamming glory, taps into the uninhibited, open-ended nature of the band’s rehearsal sessions, while the driving “Henrietta” grew out of one of Schon’s soundcheck guitar loops. The island vibes of “Fox and Toad” are pure stream of consciousness written in the car after band practice, and “Doc” is a gritty, horn-fueled sing-along inspired by a Baltimore legend. “There’s a homeless man named Doc who would always spend his time outside of the 8×10 in Federal Hill, where we learned to push our limits as a band,” says Ormont. “Doc always supported us. Even though he was sleeping under a bridge, he’d always ask you how you were doing. We really wanted to commemorate his toughness and positivity.”

It’s difficult to think of a more fitting match for a band like Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, who radiate positivity wherever they go. Whether it’s Doc or The Flock, the band wants to elevate each and every member of their audience to the kind of blissful place that only the most ecstatic live music can take you. It’s a place filled with beauty and light, joy and power, love and community, all delivered with a heaping dose of pizazz.


Here Come The Mummies

official band site »

Cursed after deflowering a great Pharaoh’s daughter (or daughters), Here Come The Mummies (HCTM) have been delivering their brand of Terrifying Funk from Beyond the Grave since the year 2000 AD. While HCTM's lyrics leave little to the imagination, their wraps have been the topic of much speculation. Some say they are reincarnated Grammy winning studio musicians, wrapping themselves to escape record contracts. Others claim the band is the brainchild of sexy-man Scott Baio. Regardless, HCTM’s mysterious personas, cunning song-craft, and unrelenting live show will bend your brain, and melt your face. Maybe that’s why the ladies (and some dudes) can’t stop losing their minds and soaking their shorts over these mayhem-inducing mavens of mirth.

 
The Marcus King Band
Ian Noe | @9:30 club | view more info »
sold out
Dec
8

The Marcus King Band

Ian Noe


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


The Marcus King Band

official band site »

Songwriter. Guitarist. Singer. Bandleader. At only 20 years of age, Marcus King’s dazzling musical ability is evident throughout The Marcus King Band, the young phenom’s 2nd full-length LP and first for Fantasy Records. Operating within the fiery brand of American roots music that King calls "soul-influenced psychedelic southern rock," the album highlights King’s gorgeous, rough-hewn vocals, soaring guitar work and heartfelt songwriting all amidst a group of masterful musicians who, together, are quickly becoming one of the country’s most sought after live acts.

Raised in Greenville, South Carolina, King was brought up on the blues, playing shows as a pre-teen sideman with his father—bluesman Marvin King, who himself was the son of a regionally-known guitarist—before striking out on his own. Going beyond the sonic textures of his acclaimed 2015 debut album, Soul Insight; The Marcus King Band broadens his sound, touching upon everything from funky R&B to Southern soul and Americana in the process. His band gets in on the action too, stacking the songs with blasts of swampy brass, a lock-step rhythm section and swirling organ. Ever the multi-tasker, King bounces between several instruments, handling electric and acoustic guitar — as well as pedal and lap steel — while driving each track home with his soulful, incendiary voice.

Having spent the past year tirelessly playing ever-larger venues and festivals to a burgeoning fan base, The Marcus King Band was written on the road and recorded during a series of live takes at Carriage House Studios in Stamford, CT. The album captures the energy of the band's blazing live show, as well as the talent of a rising young songwriter reaching well beyond his years.

"The majority of our songs are specific to situations I've lived," King explains. "I write as a form of therapy, to release my emotions into a musical expression. I want people to know they're not the only ones going through that pain. Music is the true healer. And when we perform, we want the audience to leave feeling as tired and as emotionally freed as we do. It's all about getting the stress of the day off your chest. It's like therapy."

The Marcus King Band features Jack Ryan on drums and percussion, Stephen Campbell on bass, Matt Jennings on keys and organ, Dean Mitchell on saxophone, and Justin Johnson on trumpet, trombone and backing vocals. Joining the band on the new album are a number of mentors and collaborators, including Derek Trucks (who plays guitar on "Self-Hatred").

No guest plays a bigger role than Warren Haynes, though. A longtime champion of King's songwriting and guitar prowess, Haynes produced every track on The Marcus King Band (and contributed his trademark slide guitar on "Virginia"), expertly capturing the group's live sound for a cohesive collection reflecting the band's expansive explorations.

"Marcus is the first player I’ve heard since Derek Trucks to play with the maturity of a musician well beyond his age," Haynes says. "He’s very much influenced by the blues, but also by jazz, rock, soul music, and any timeless genres of music. You can hear the influences, but it all comes through him in his own unique way. He has one of those voices that instantly draws you in, and his guitar playing is an extension of his voice and vice versa.”

A childhood introvert who leaned heavily on music as a way of expressing himself, King fills The Marcus King Band with a mix of biographical tunes and fictional story songs. "At the time I wrote 'Self-Hatred,' says King, "the girl I was seeing really hurt me. Broke my heart, took all of my insecurities and used them against me…she told me she hated herself for what she had said and done to me. I told her I knew exactly how it feels to hate yourself. 'Self-Hatred' is within you and me."

"Devil's Land" is loosely based on his grandfather, who worked on a farm during his younger years, while the story behind the track "Rita Is Gone" was inspired by the television show Dexter. Meanwhile, songs like "Guitar In My Hands" peek into King's personal life — a life filled with highway mile markers, truck stops, and a nightly rotation of stages, all waiting to be filled with the sound of a genre-bending band on the rise.

"This album is a big melting pot of different kinds of music," says King. "It's the sound of everyone taking their own influences and collectively coming together as a group. We're all really hungry to play, and we're so passionate about this music. I want people to feel the same thing we feel — to leave the show feeling some sense of release. It's almost like the show ends, and everyone can take a deep breath together."


Ian Noe

official band site »

Ian Noe draws on the day-to-day life of Eastern Kentucky on his debut album, Between the Country. Recorded in Nashville with unhurried production by Dave Cobb, these 10 original songs introduce a number of complicated characters, diverse in their own downfalls but bound together by Noe’s singular voice.

“I’ve always thought that Eastern Kentucky had a certain kind of sound, and I can’t really explain it any better than that,” he says. “What I was trying to do was write songs that sounded like where I was living.”

The lead track, “Irene (Ravin’ Bomb),” sets the tone for the album, telling the story of an alcoholic woman who fails to conceal her addiction from her family. Throughout the remaining tracks, family relationships are tested, bad decisions are inevitable, and more than a few people meet an untimely end. Titles like “Junk Town,” “Dead on the River (Rolling Down)” and “Meth Head” capture the dramatic situations faced by people in the region.

However, Between the Country is not necessarily an autobiographical album. Instead, Noe absorbed these harrowing experiences through people he’s met or stories he’s heard. Not yet 30, Noe was raised as the oldest of three children in Beattyville, Kentucky, where his parents still live in the house he grew up in. His father is a longtime youth social worker, while his mother has been employed by the same local factory for more than 20 years.

Noe learned to play guitar from his father and grandfather. As a young boy, he adored Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” and spent years trying to emulate Berry’s way of playing guitar. Before long, Noe could pick country standards like “I Saw the Light” and “Wildwood Flower.” By his teen years, he gravitated to Bob Dylan and John Prine after discovering them through his family’s music collection. Neil Young soon became another favorite, along with Dwight Yoakam and Tom T. Hall, who hail from the same part of the state.

Noe says, “There’s a silence about Eastern Kentucky. It’s quiet, at least where I was raised. There are a lot of places you can go and write and listen to music and not be bothered.”

All through his childhood, his great aunt often asked Noe if he’d written any songs yet. By 15 or 16, he decided to try. A family friend, who was also a manager at the Dairy Queen where Noe worked in high school, offered to help him book a few shows and get some songs recorded. Although Noe considers them just bedroom recordings now, the discs gave him something to sell when he started playing coffee shops and other small stages around Winchester and Lexington, Kentucky, and a little bit in Ohio.

“For me it was a turning point just getting a few songs that I was happy with. I didn’t understand anything about making a record, or what that meant, when I was 15 or 16,” Noe admits. “It was the farthest thing from my mind, but once I got a couple of songs that I was satisfied with, I just kept going.”

After high school, Noe took an office job close to home instead of enrolling in college. In his early 20s, he relocated to Louisville, hoping to get a band together and write music, but he had to constantly work odd jobs as a subcontractor to make rent. After a year, he briefly returned to the office job back home before finding work on an Eastern Kentucky oil rig – which he considers the best job he’s ever had, outside of music.

Soaked with oil after his 12-hour shifts, Noe never once considered what a career in music would look like. Yet through a mutual acquaintance, his original songs attracted the attention of an artist manager. Impressed with his raw talent, she sent him an email of encouragement, which ultimately led to a working relationship. Since that time, Noe has opened multiple dates for kindred spirit Colter Wall, tapping into an audience that appreciates the sincerity and austerity in Noe’s original songs, too.

Noe received another stamp of approval in February 2019 after singing at a John Prine tribute concert at the Troubadour in Los Angeles – with Prine himself in the crowd. Staged the night before the Grammys, Noe’s performance led to an offer to open three shows for his musical hero. As Noe puts it, “I’ve sat around my whole life thinking about what that would be like.”

Although touring is imminent, Between the Country serves as a potent snapshot of home. The black-and-white cover photo alludes to a lyric in the title track but Noe believes it also illustrates the album as a whole. It’s the same approach that Lucinda Williams employed on her landmark 1998 album, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, which Noe cites as one of his all-time favorites. “If you have a collection of songs where the subject matter is pretty much the same, and it’s coming from the same place, I think it’s important to have some kind of picture that reflects that. I’ve always felt that way,” he says.

Noe now lives in Bowling Green, Kentucky, about an hour north of Nashville, where his bandmates are based. After years of writing songs alone and playing solo acoustic sets, he now prefers touring with a band, making it possible to carry the overall mood of Between the Country out on the road as well. After all, he and Cobb recorded the album live on the floor, completing the sessions in two days. Amid these uncluttered arrangements and a relaxed vibe, Noe’s evocative voice truly stands out.

“I wanted a warm sound – that analog sound,” Noe says. “When we were getting the rough mixes going, that’s how it sounded, and that’s the direction it went in. You want people to be able to hear what you’re saying and what you’re singing about, and I think analog makes a good song stand the test of time.”

 
Jojo Mayer / Nerve
@U Street Music Hall | view more info »
Dec
11

Jojo Mayer / Nerve



Wednesday Dec 11|doors 6:30 pm|all ages
U Street Music Hall|get directions »
1115 U Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 588-1880


Jojo Mayer / Nerve

official band site »

NERVE evolved out of Jojo Mayer’s legendary party event Prohibited Beatz in NYC during the late 90?s. Initially a platform for experimental interaction between DJ’s, visual artists, musicians and the audience, the collective eventually developed into a fine tuned group that cross-pollinated the premeditated format of programmed electronic music styles with real time, improvised music performance. Within that format, the band assimilated a wide spectrum of electronic styles from old school Jungle, Dub Step or Glitch beats to Minimal and Tech House and anything that could escape genre descriptions yet. In the process, the group managed to acquaint a new audience with improvised music for the first time and ultimately bring the Jazz tradition of improvisation, driving rhythms and stylistic evolution to the digital age. Meanwhile, it embraces the essence of Rock ’n Roll of having a good time and showing the finger to anyone who has a problem with it. NERVE re-examines and transcends the relationship between human creativity and digital technology and created a new form of musical expression which is completely unique in the world today.

NERVE is:
Jojo Mayer: Drums
John Davis: Bass
Jacob Bergson: Keyboards
Aaron Nevezie: Sound and Audio Manipulation

Beyond this core configuration of drums, bass, keyboards and live audio manipulation, NERVE is often augmented by a wide range of guest artists from around the world. Besides longtime collaborators like Roli Mosimann, Jason Lindner or Takuya Nakamura, NERVE worked with Bugge Wesseltoft, DJ Shadow, MC XIS, Sean Pelton, Tim Lefebvre, Karsh Kale, MC Malik Work, Salt Cathedral, Vernon Reid, Moshen Namjoo and many more.


 
SUSTO
Indianola | @The 8x10 | view more info »
Dec
13

SUSTO

Indianola


Friday Dec 13|doors 8:00 pm|18+
The 8x10|get directions »
10 E. Cross St.
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 625-2000


SUSTO

official band site »

Mobility has always helped define America. Don't settle for where you start. Find a new town, new coast, or new state of mind -- then make it yours. "We export this idea of getting in your car and going somewhere, trying to find something new, bouncing around," says Justin Osborne. "We live in some strange, crazy times. There is a sense of darkness. But I'm crisscrossing the country, and people are good and fun. There is a lot of beauty everywhere. I think not forgetting that is important."

Osborne is home in Charleston, South Carolina, reflecting on the personal journey and cultural climate that have led to Ever Since I Lost My Mind, the third record and label debut for his acclaimed project SUSTO. The album is a resounding triumph: a mix of new partnerships and collaborations with old friends, all anchored by Osborne's perceptive songs that explore connection, loss, and transience -- and the pain and joy each brings.

"Ever Since I Lost My Mind is very personal. This collection of songs came together over the course of a couple of years, and they all represent different moments," he says. "It felt cathartic writing all of them, and they were also all fun in different ways."

With a rock-rooted sound that doesn't shy away from radio-ready hooks, SUSTO keeps listeners engaged by refusing to occupy an easily defined space. Produced by Ian Fitchuck (Kacey Musgraves, Ruston Kelly) and featuring key input from Osborne's longtime creative sounding board Wolfgang Zimmerman, Ever Since I Lost My Mind defiantly experiments with synth embellishments, Latin heart, guileless folk, and more. Osborne's mellow vocals comfort without losing the ability to surprise -- delicate croons, growls, and occasional screams take turns.

Osborne wrote his first songs as a 14-year-old in small town South Carolina, sneaking time with his late grandfather's parlor guitar that his parents had actually forbidden him and his three rowdy brothers to touch. "So I'd go steal it out of my dad's closet whenever they were out of the house," he recalls. "It only had like three strings on it. I remember figuring out how to do barre chords, and I wrote a three-chord song about a girl I liked." Drawn to music and supported by parents who just hadn't wanted their boys to break a family heirloom, Osborne played in bands throughout high school, military school, and college.

But SUSTO didn't begin until Osborne thought he was walking away from music for good. Burned out after years of self-booking, self-management, and a relentless grind, he had played a farewell show with his then-band and was prepping for a move to Cuba. He set up an online home for SUSTO as a holding tank for demos he couldn't quite bear to toss.

When Osborne moved to Havana as part of a study abroad opportunity, he thought he was abandoning music for anthropology. But the Cuban musicians and artists he befriended had other ideas. They were among the first to see that SUSTO -- and the music that would ultimately fuel it -- captured him too well to remain an afterthought. Re-energized, he returned to the States half a year later and recorded SUSTO's first album. Just after the release of the band's self-titled debut album, Osborne faced a clear choice. "It was a weird moment. I just had to finally quit keeping one foot out of music and dive in. So, I got knuckle tattoos and haven't stopped trying to make this work since then," he says with a laugh. SUSTO's acclaimed sophomore album & I'm Fine Today made it even more clear that music and Osborne were meant to be.

In Latin American cultures, the word susto describes an intense fear understood as a condition of the soul -- an ongoing, spiritual panic attack. All of the letters of susto also appear in Osborne's full name. "SUSTO was this combination of phonetics and meaning -- it felt like me, like a name for myself," he says. "I chose the name SUSTO for the project because the meaning behind the word -- that deep fright -- was something I was experiencing, and songwriting felt like it was helping me cure it by helping me to process what was happening. Personally, it was a time of so many powerful transitions: abandoning my religion, losing touch with my family, and just having a general sense of being lost, without direction."

That nod to transition reverberates loudly throughout Ever Since I Lost My Mind. While SUSTO began as a band and still benefits from collaboration with peers, the new record also positions the project finally and firmly as what it's really always been: Osborne's vision. "I come from a background of being in bands, so it's hard for me to be comfortable taking complete control," he says. "Even being the only person in a promo photo was a hard thing for me to get used to. It's taken years for me to realize what SUSTO should be -- what it really is."

"Homeboy" kicks off the album. Osborne contemplates friends moving on from Charleston over jaunty acoustic guitar that evokes exploratory rambling before heavier electric guitar adds gravity to all the leaving. He didn't want loved ones to go, but then realized that in many ways -- even though Charleston remains home base -- he'd already left. "The whole album deals with these pulling-apart decisions -- not in a negative or a positive way, but in a reflective way," he says.

Sauntering "If I Was" is a lighthearted stroll through different identities and aspirations, followed by the optimistic yearning of "Weather Balloons," buoyed by punchy percussion and keys. Driving "Last Century" revels in timeless bonds revealed by details: "I can see you in the driveway, smiling, licking your left front tooth," he sings.

"Livin' in America" extols beloved U.S. cities and finding the right people in them. It's a self- aware ode, both gently sarcastic and totally sincere -- a timely love letter to a country whose defining quality today is often turmoil. Stripped down "Cocaine" skulks through dark corners, while "No Way Out" lounges in captivity that Osborne has no urge to escape. Gorgeous album closer "Off You" is bright and honest, an intimate moment of clarity mid-transition.

One of Osborne's favorite tracks, "Manual Transmission," was written on a cold day on tour in Norway when he was hounded by homesickness. He plays lead guitar on the track and relished the opportunity to express himself via aching strings in addition to words. "Esta Bien" soars sweetly and entirely in Spanish. "House of the Blue Green Buddha" is a love song that lands because of its whimsical specificity -- details from the home and closeness Osborne and his wife share.

The title track is a stunner: sad but hopeful, content but restless, nostalgic but progressive -- a beautiful encapsulation of the push and pull that shapes the entire record. Osborne's experiences with psychedelics also play a role, both in "Ever Since I Lost My Mind" and the album as a whole. Warned as a child that drugs would make him lose his mind, he now believes in the freedom and self-discovery that can come with letting go in various ways. He is also convinced that some people from his past think he's insane. "They think I'm a crazy hippie, and really, in a lot of ways, I guess I am," he says with a smile. "I feel more loving and more understanding."

That acceptance of himself and others may be SUSTO's defining trait. "I can lose my mind on stage sometimes -- I will break down and cry or have to keep myself from doing it," Osborne says. "I think about my grandad's guitar, all the bands I've been in, and just seeing these people responding to and connecting with the songs..." He trails off before grinning again and adding, "I just feel so incredibly lucky."


Indianola

official band site »

“There’s a duality present in a lot of these songs,” says Indianola’s Owen Beverly. “There’s a push and a pull that’s constantly going on. The music is modern and retro and optimistic and bleak and carefree and apocalyptic all at once.”

Those juxtapositions lie at the heart of ‘Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye,’ Beverly’s thrilling debut LP under the Indianola moniker. Recorded at Shovels & Rope’s studio in Charleston, South Carolina, the collection stitches together a broad range of genres and eras, gleefully toying with decades of music history in order to create a sonic collage from an alternate timeline, one in which snarling garage rock guitars flare up alongside 60’s girl group melodies and greasers and punks party with velvet-voiced crooners. Beverly mines the past like a found footage artist, seizing on unexpected moments from long-forgotten productions in order to splice them together in a wholly new context. The result is utterly engrossing and infectious, a pop culture Frankenstein that sounds like Roy Orbison fronting The Sonics or Buddy Holly soundtracking a B horror flick.

‘Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye’ follows Indianola’s 2017 debut EP, ‘Zero,’ which Paste praised as “wise beyond its years” and the Charleston City Paper hailed for its “rock ‘n’ roll fervor.” Beverly was named a Southwest Airlines Artist On The Rise, and the collection earned him festival performances from Luck Reunion to Wildwood Revival alongside dates with Josh Ritter, Butch Walker, Langhorne Slim, Matthew Logan Vasquez, Nicole Atkins, and more. The following year, Indianola appeared as a special guest on Shovels & Rope’s ‘Busted Jukebox Volume 2,’ collaborating on a reimagining of The Hollies’ “The Air That I Breathe” that prompted the husband-and-wife duo to describe Beverly as “one of the finest singers and writers out there today” in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.

 
Bumpin Uglies *Bumpin Uglies Sweater Party*
Joey Harkum Band | Joint Operation | @Baltimore Soundstage | view more info »
Dec
14

Bumpin Uglies *Bumpin Uglies Sweater Party*

Joey Harkum Band
Joint Operation

Saturday Dec 14|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
Baltimore Soundstage|get directions »
124 Market Place
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 244-0057


Bumpin Uglies *Bumpin Uglies Sweater Party*

official band site »

Bumpin Uglies spawned from an Annapolis, MD scene awash in musical history over a decade ago. They are rooted in East Coast ska, punk, and reggae, making their mark up and down the Eastern Seaboard. In the past ten years, Bumpin Uglies have worked to carve out their path by relentlessly touring, and releasing one album after another. With each release came more focus, more creativity and more desire to always experiment and try new things with their music. The band is psyched for their latest EP, Buzz, which released on March 22 via Ineffable Music Group based in Oakland, CA. Ineffable is a name synonymous with the likes of Collie Buddz, Stick Figure, The Movement, and many other prominent artists.

Their last album, Beast From The East, is proof positive that Brandon, Wolfie, Chad and T.J. have meshed into a dynamic quartet as the album topped reggae charts, drawing interest from Billboard’s editorial team for their debut in the pole position. With fellow Maryland rocker Howi Spangler of Ballyhoo! working on the production, the alchemy was right for their breakthrough release, so naturally they are keeping that intact with their current album, Buzz, while continuing the trend of evolving their sound, always experimenting in bold ways that keeps everything fresh from beginning to end. Their climb hasn’t always been easy and as Bumpin Uglies have grinded their way to their current place in the music scene, they’ve shown that hard work pays off and by putting your heart and soul into it and by taking risks, you can achieve great things. It’s why they’ve springboarded from The Whiskey in Annapolis (RIP) to slots at major festivals like Firefly, Peachfest, and Reggae Rise Up, and are selling out several markets around the nation. Bumpin Uglies are also proud to have announced their own Headlining Festival, Weekend at Wolfie’s, set for June 13-15, 2019 in Bedford, PA. As a band they are clearly intent on doing things their own way, it’s how it’s always been done. This philosophy has grown Bumpin Uglies into a prolific music-making beast, has devoted fans tattooing Brandon Hardesty’s poignant lyrics on their bodies and has them growing into a nationally recognized touring headliner. Bumpin Uglies is on fire with no end in site.


Joey Harkum Band

official band site »

Through deep, poignant lyrics which tell stories of happiness, love, loss and sadness, Joey Harkum has been traveling and playing his heartfelt songs for over a decade. We would love for you to give him a listen and join our growing music family!

Joint Operation

official band site »

Joint Operation is a powerful reggae-rock band from Baltimore, MD. This explosive four-piece has made quite a presence for themselves in the Mid-Atlantic with dozens of shows with the biggest names in the genre. Life-long friends, Josh Lewis, Jacob Nadeau, Ben O'Brien, and Fabrizio Scotto, have managed to integrate all the genres they grew to love as children into this power group. Whether it be reggae, punk rock or funk, this group rocks the house and shows fans how to party. Influences include Beck, Nirvana, Sublime, and many more!

 
LITZ
Radii | @Pearl Street Warehouse | view more info »
Dec
21

LITZ

Radii


Saturday Dec 21|doors 8:00 pm|21+
Pearl Street Warehouse|get directions »
33 Pearl Street
Washington DC|p: (202) 380-9620


LITZ

official band site »

LITZ brings together a wide array of musical influences ranging from funk, jam, go-go, soul, electronica and just about everywhere in-between to amalgamate a new sound for the ears of the world. Their sound strides to sonically transport it's listeners to another planet free of the stress, struggles, and tribulations of modern day life through the use of funky horn riffs, wah-wah keys, pounding bass, driving/progressive rhythms and melt your face guitar.


Radii

official band site »

Based out of the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area, Radii draws from a diverse range of music to create an explorative experience.

We play a mix of progressive rock, funk, and alternative music -- genres that everybody can get down to. Our goal is to take the listener on an exciting musical journey, and we do this by mixing hard-hitting original songs with groovy takes on some of our favorite covers.

We started this band in 2017 with inspiration from bands such as Umphrey's McGee, Big Something, Papadosio, and we continue every day to find new opportunities that amaze us and make us so grateful. We play funk-infused progressive rock and our goal is to take the listener on a journey through extended jams, heavy riffs, and nostalgic bridges.

 
Lotus
lespecial | @Rams Head Live | view more info »
Dec
30

Lotus

lespecial


Monday Dec 30|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
Rams Head Live|get directions »
20 Market Place
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 244-1131


Lotus

official band site »

Lotus has always been difficult to define musically; an instrumental jamband that has favored groove-based improvisation instead of gaudy solos and noodling. Influences of classic electronic dance music, funk, post-rock and dance-rock have all made their way into the Lotus sound. Over the years, their unique musical blend of electronica with jam music has helped forge a new path in the jamband landscape, influencing many younger bands in the scene. Their latest studio effort, Frames Per Second (December 2018), aims to showcase Lotus in a pure, raw form performing live in the studio. Tracked live at Rittenhouse Soundworks in Philadelphia with cameras rolling, the all-instrumental result is both an audio and video project. Instrumental jazz-funk, Norwegian space-disco and other sounds make their way into the expansive 19-song album and documentary. For Frames Per Second, Lotus aimed to incorporate pyschedelia into the album’s sound by combining hypnotic beats with unexpected harmonic or timbral turns. Approaching two decades together, Lotus has toured actively throughout the US working their way up from dingy basement clubs to world-class venues such as Red Rocks. They've become festival favorites, playing everything from Bonnaroo, Camp Bisco and Outside Lands to Ultra Music Festival and Electric Forest, building a hyper-loyal following along the way. A Lotus live show is an experience, a uniquely crafted and improvised set taking everyone, the crowd and band, on a journey.


lespecial

official band site »

lespecial carve their own sonic path in modern music, creating their signature blend of “heavy future groove”. The power trio’s fresh synthesis of varied and divergent influences doesn’t underestimate the listener, reflecting a post-modern cultural climate in which fans have space on their aural palette for J Dilla, Radiohead, King Crimson and Fela Kuti. Veering from hip-hop to metal, prog to house, pensive indie-rock to apocalyptic dub, leaving room for head banging and hip swaying alike, while still presenting a unified sound and vision.

“…[lespecial’s] sound owes as much to Radiohead and The Mars Voltaas it does Medeski Martin & Wood and Umphrey’s McGee.” – Relix
“That lespecial shit is crazy.” — Akil the MC (Jurassic 5)
“Trap-metal.” — Nikki Glaspie (Beyonce / Nth Power)
“One of the best bands I’ve ever seen live.” — Ott
“My favorite band.” — Space Jesus

These three childhood friends from Connecticut play off of a lifetime of shared experience in their writing and performance. In a power trio, it’s essential that each of the players can utterly captivate you at any given time. Each individual has a lot of weight to carry and is only as strong as the weakest link. In the studio, as on stage, it seems at first blush that Jon Grusauskas—delivering lyrics that call for your attention and seamlessly moving from guitar to keys to samples—is handling the entire upper end of the spectrum… until you consider how broad the melodic embrace of rhythmatist Rory Dolan and low end wizard Luke Bemand: injecting splashes of color and wicked chops into their heavy groove foundations or driving assaults, this dynamic battery simultaneously eases and propels lespecial through fractious changes of mood and tempo. Additionally, whether at the forefront or scattered throughout the mix, all of them use live looping or triggered samples that contribute to a sound that is far greater than that generally created by three people as they seek to tap into a primitive past, distorted through the lens of contemporary technology. The band’s fearless pursuit of a synthesis of the musical idioms that inspire them has, thus far, culminated with the release of their second album, cheen, on October 31, 2017. Pole vaulting over traditional genres, cheen is a snapshot of a band flexing their remarkable creative muscles. In a traditional sense, cheen is a risky album: it asks the listener to suspend a categorical approach and dig into their own eclectic unconsciousness, to adapt a phrase, and appreciate the flow of the record from start to finish, as it moves guided by an unseen plan. If there is an underlying thematic structure, it is one that is anchored—musically and lyrically—by horror flicks, 1980s video games and lespecial’s indictment of the current cultural state of affairs. Not overtly political, angry or morose, cheen seems to observe the zeitgeist and respond to it. lespecial’s willingness to take this risk of presenting an album full of flavors and feels is a reflection of the respect they have for their fans, present and future: they simply don’t underestimate the listener, and that itself is refreshing. Never willing to sit back and settle into a groove, lespecial pivoted quickly from touring in support of the release of cheen into a whole new format: collaborating with and supporting the iconic Bay Area hip-hop emcee and producer, Zion I, on tour dates and a forthcoming album. There are also plans to release remixes of cheen tracks from some of their producer friends who hold lespecial in the highest esteem.

 
Lotus
lespecial | @Rams Head Live | view more info »
Dec
31

Lotus

lespecial


Tuesday Dec 31|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
Rams Head Live|get directions »
20 Market Place
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 244-1131


Lotus

official band site »

Lotus has always been difficult to define musically; an instrumental jamband that has favored groove-based improvisation instead of gaudy solos and noodling. Influences of classic electronic dance music, funk, post-rock and dance-rock have all made their way into the Lotus sound. Over the years, their unique musical blend of electronica with jam music has helped forge a new path in the jamband landscape, influencing many younger bands in the scene. Their latest studio effort, Frames Per Second (December 2018), aims to showcase Lotus in a pure, raw form performing live in the studio. Tracked live at Rittenhouse Soundworks in Philadelphia with cameras rolling, the all-instrumental result is both an audio and video project. Instrumental jazz-funk, Norwegian space-disco and other sounds make their way into the expansive 19-song album and documentary. For Frames Per Second, Lotus aimed to incorporate pyschedelia into the album’s sound by combining hypnotic beats with unexpected harmonic or timbral turns. Approaching two decades together, Lotus has toured actively throughout the US working their way up from dingy basement clubs to world-class venues such as Red Rocks. They've become festival favorites, playing everything from Bonnaroo, Camp Bisco and Outside Lands to Ultra Music Festival and Electric Forest, building a hyper-loyal following along the way. A Lotus live show is an experience, a uniquely crafted and improvised set taking everyone, the crowd and band, on a journey.


lespecial

official band site »

lespecial carve their own sonic path in modern music, creating their signature blend of “heavy future groove”. The power trio’s fresh synthesis of varied and divergent influences doesn’t underestimate the listener, reflecting a post-modern cultural climate in which fans have space on their aural palette for J Dilla, Radiohead, King Crimson and Fela Kuti. Veering from hip-hop to metal, prog to house, pensive indie-rock to apocalyptic dub, leaving room for head banging and hip swaying alike, while still presenting a unified sound and vision.

“…[lespecial’s] sound owes as much to Radiohead and The Mars Voltaas it does Medeski Martin & Wood and Umphrey’s McGee.” – Relix
“That lespecial shit is crazy.” — Akil the MC (Jurassic 5)
“Trap-metal.” — Nikki Glaspie (Beyonce / Nth Power)
“One of the best bands I’ve ever seen live.” — Ott
“My favorite band.” — Space Jesus

These three childhood friends from Connecticut play off of a lifetime of shared experience in their writing and performance. In a power trio, it’s essential that each of the players can utterly captivate you at any given time. Each individual has a lot of weight to carry and is only as strong as the weakest link. In the studio, as on stage, it seems at first blush that Jon Grusauskas—delivering lyrics that call for your attention and seamlessly moving from guitar to keys to samples—is handling the entire upper end of the spectrum… until you consider how broad the melodic embrace of rhythmatist Rory Dolan and low end wizard Luke Bemand: injecting splashes of color and wicked chops into their heavy groove foundations or driving assaults, this dynamic battery simultaneously eases and propels lespecial through fractious changes of mood and tempo. Additionally, whether at the forefront or scattered throughout the mix, all of them use live looping or triggered samples that contribute to a sound that is far greater than that generally created by three people as they seek to tap into a primitive past, distorted through the lens of contemporary technology. The band’s fearless pursuit of a synthesis of the musical idioms that inspire them has, thus far, culminated with the release of their second album, cheen, on October 31, 2017. Pole vaulting over traditional genres, cheen is a snapshot of a band flexing their remarkable creative muscles. In a traditional sense, cheen is a risky album: it asks the listener to suspend a categorical approach and dig into their own eclectic unconsciousness, to adapt a phrase, and appreciate the flow of the record from start to finish, as it moves guided by an unseen plan. If there is an underlying thematic structure, it is one that is anchored—musically and lyrically—by horror flicks, 1980s video games and lespecial’s indictment of the current cultural state of affairs. Not overtly political, angry or morose, cheen seems to observe the zeitgeist and respond to it. lespecial’s willingness to take this risk of presenting an album full of flavors and feels is a reflection of the respect they have for their fans, present and future: they simply don’t underestimate the listener, and that itself is refreshing. Never willing to sit back and settle into a groove, lespecial pivoted quickly from touring in support of the release of cheen into a whole new format: collaborating with and supporting the iconic Bay Area hip-hop emcee and producer, Zion I, on tour dates and a forthcoming album. There are also plans to release remixes of cheen tracks from some of their producer friends who hold lespecial in the highest esteem.

 
Scythian
@The Hamilton | view more info »
Jan
4

Scythian



Saturday Jan 4|doors 6:30 pm|all ages
The Hamilton|get directions »
600 14th Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 787-1000


Scythian

official band site »

Washington DC-based Scythian (sith-ee-yin) began over 12 years ago as a bunch of college buddies playing Celtic music in the streets and has grown to be a headliner on the US Celtic Festival Circuit as well as a name in the Bluegrass/Americana Festival Circuit.

They found that their brand of high-energy folk music found a resonance that led The Washington Post to state: “Scythian’s enthusiasm is contagious, and shows seem to end with everyone dancing, jumping around or hoisting glasses.”

For over 12 years they have found success as an independent band and have played over 1,300 shows all over the united states, Europe, Canada and as far aways as Australia.

Founded by brothers Alexander and Danylo Fedoryka who are first-generation sons of Ukrainian immigrants, Scythian from the start has been a search and love for the "old time, good time music" of many cultures. They were inspired by a tale told by their 92-year-old grandmother of a roving fiddler who came into her farming village every six months or so. Once he was spotted, messengers were sent to all the outlying fields and mills and worked ceased; everyone gathered in the barn where they danced all night and danced their cares away.

This spirit is what has motivated Scythian from its inception and their success as an independent band is due largely to their finding a resonance of soul amongst kindred spirits that span all ages and races. This spirit took them from the streets to playing for the Florida Man on St. Patrick's Day and its the enthusiastic response they receive that has made each of their 1,300+ shows unique.

THE calling card of Scythian is their ability to engage their audience no matter the venue or circumstance and truly every Scythian shows ends with people dancing, smiling and covered with sweat. This is best summed up by The Camel-City Dispatch (Winston-Salem, North Carolina): “[Scythian gives] no quarter in their quest to entertain and bring a joy to their music that gives it an irony-free, wide open feel of manic possibility. The playing is technically brilliant, but it is the energy that carries the day."


 
The Devil Makes Three
Matt Heckler | @Rams Head Live | view more info »
Jan
23

The Devil Makes Three

Matt Heckler


Thursday Jan 23|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
Rams Head Live|get directions »
20 Market Place
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 244-1131


The Devil Makes Three

official band site »

The power of words isn’t lost on longstanding Americana triumvirate The Devil Makes Three— Pete Bernhard, Lucia Turino, and Cooper McBean. For as much as they remain rooted in troubadour traditions of wandering folk, Delta blues, whiskey-soaked ragtime, and reckless rock ‘n’ roll, the band nods to the revolutionary unrest of author James Baldwin, the no-holds barred disillusionment of Ernest Hemingway, and Southern Gothic malaise of Flannery O’Connor.

In that respect, their sixth full-length and first of original material since 2013, Chains Are Broken [New West], resembles a dusty leather bound book of short stories from some bygone era.

“I always want our songs to unfold like short stories,” affirms Bernhard. “You could think of them like the chapters of a book. Of course, they’re shorter and maybe more poetic. This was a much more personal album about what it takes to be an artist or writer of any kind—and what you have to do to make your dream possible. It was really the headspace I was in. It might have something to do with getting older. You start reflecting on life and the people around you. I was doing that in these songs. That’s what makes the record more personal. I’m pulling from these things. Some of it is about drug addiction. Some of it is about the things you sacrifice. Some of it is about the detrimental things we do for inspiration. Nevertheless, they all have some sort of narrative.”

The Devil Makes Three’s journey up to this point could be deemed worthy of a novel. Their self- titled 2002 debut yielded the now-classic “Old Number Seven,” “Graveyard,” “The Plank,” and more as they organically attracted a diehard following through constant touring. Longjohns, Boots and a Belt arrived in 2003 followed by 2009’s Do Wrong Write between a pair of live recordings, namely A Little Bit Faster and a Little Bit Worse and Stomp and Smash.

2014’s I’m a Stranger Here marked their first debut on the Billboard Top 200 as the 2016 “hero worship homage” Redemption & Ruin heralded the group’s second #1 bow on the Billboard Top Bluegrass Albums Chart and fourth consecutive top five debut on the respective chart. The latter garnered widespread acclaim from the likes of Entertainment Weekly, American Songwriter, The Boston Globe, and more. Over the years, they casted an unbreakable spell on audiences everywhere from Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Hangout Fest, and Shaky Knees.

As the band began writing ideas for Chains Are Broken, they veered off the proverbial path creatively. Instead of their typical revolving cast of collaborators, The Devil Makes Three stuck to its signature power trio—with one addition. This time, they invited touring drummer Stefan Amidon to power the bulk of the percussion. The presence of a drummer remains most amplified as the band seamlessly translated the spirit of the live show into a studio recording and busted the rules even more. And for the first time, they retreated to Sonic Ranch Studios in El Paso, TX a stone’s throw from the Mexican border to record with producer Ted Hutt [Gaslight Anthem, Dropkick Murphys].

“We broke a lot of rules in making this record,” smiles Bernhard. “We’ve always done whatever we wanted to, but there were still some things we wouldn’t try. Those fears went out the window. Ted was a big part of that. He stayed with us throughout the whole process from pre-production until the final moment of recording. He pushed us outside of our comfort zone. We’ve never had this experience. So, we got really creative under pressure, which ended up being super fun.”

These songs harness a spirit of freedom. “Pray For Rain” gallops along on a propulsive beat punctuated by a bluesy twang, before a chorus that’s akin to a spiritual uprising singing “I’m praying for some rain tonight.”

“It’s a song about the state of the world now,” says the frontman. “It hopes for some sort of positive change, which I think is totally possible. At the same time, it considers the past and how we got here. You want to wash away what’s there.”

Elsewhere, “Deep In My Heart” hinges on a menacingly melodic admission, “Deep in my heart, I know I’m a terrible man.” “We see it in the news all the time,” he continues. “People’s public personae fall apart, and everybody sees who they really are. We have an ability to choose to be good and evil at any time.”

The simmering groove and hummable hook of “Bad Idea” recounts how “sometimes we know we’re doing something stupid, but we just can’t control ourselves.” Elsewhere, “I Can’t Stop” offers up an elegiac memoriam to a handful of friends who left too soon.

Nodding to a favorite author James Baldwin, “I Can’t Stop” represents an emotional climax for the album. The author’s quote—"Ultimately, the artist and the revolutionary function as they function, and pay whatever dues they must pay behind it because they are both possessed by a vision, and they do not so much follow this vision as find themselves driven by it. Otherwise, they could never endure, much less embrace, the lives they are compelled to lead”—hangs heavy over it. The tune itself centers on a heart-wrenching plea to on old buddy, “I don’t know why you would do what you were doing…” “It’s mostly about a friend of mine who overdosed and died,” sighs Bernhard. “When we were teenagers, we’d get together, get high, and play guitar. I learned so much from him, because he was naturally talented, but he got so deep into doing all kinds of drugs and died. In some ways, it’s what he ultimately wanted, but I miss him so much. He was the primary motivation. It’s also dedicated to our friend Dave from Brown Bird who died of cancer. He and his wife were among our closest touring companions. It’s strange how we all don’t make it or survive to meet up in old age. People die. We keep going. There’s nothing else to do.”

Fitting snug like a ceremonial death mask, the cinematic expanse of “Paint My Face” underscores an oddly uplifting message—there may be something after all of this.

“‘Paint My Face’ talks reincarnation and unlived lives,” he states. “It partially discusses being a musician or an artist. It’s like a letter written to a child I don’t know saying death is not the end, as I believe, it’s the beginning of another life.” In the end, the words and music on the album leave a long-lasting imprint.

“I’d love for people to feel inspired,” Bernard leaves off. “Some of the songs might be sad, down, or depressing, but they inspire me. I feel better through the process. I hope you do too.”


Matt Heckler

official band site »

Matt Heckler is the fiddle player you want to believe still exists. Veering from Appalachia to Romania, Ireland to the Catskills, his music is definitively unsafe and entirely his own.

The Catskills, where he grew up and the Carolina Appalachians he calls home are old mountains, but the kids there are more likely to be raised on punk than old time string bands. Heckler took both with him when he left and sharpened a distinctive sound on banjo and fiddle the scientific way, as a street performer who could measure the days artistic growth in single dollar bills. Attracting the attention of musicians, as well as passers-by, he spent half a decade touring and releasing three albums with the band Deep Chatham. Since then his room silencing solo act has become an exciting yet poorly kept secret in DIY music scenes around the country. After The Flood will be his first full-length release showcasing a songwriting ability that audiences, distracted by his casually virtuosic musicianship, might have previously overlooked. Don’t wait for his next reinvention, find Matt Heckler now and remember what music should be.

 
Too Many Zooz
Birocratic | @Union Stage | view more info »
Jan
23

Too Many Zooz

Birocratic


Thursday Jan 23|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
Union Stage|get directions »
740 Water Street SW
Washington DC|p: (877) 987-6487


Too Many Zooz

official band site »

The curious thing about being a fan of brasshouse? You're pretty much talking about being into one solitary but extremely unforgettable band: the amusingly monikered Too Many Zooz.

The musical style was "branded" by drummer King of Sludge, who recognized that there was no worthy existing classification for the New York trio, whose other two members are the equally unclassifiable Leo P (saxophone) and Matt Doe (trumpet).

"Brasshouse is a high energy musical conversation," Matt insists. "Though I honestly don't think there is a good way to describe it in words. It's about many different feelings and sounds and emotions."

Or as KOS so decisively puts it, "I don't really care about what's happening in music -- I just make art that I enjoy making."

It's exactly this indifference to convention and trend that has garnered Too Many Zooz a fanbase that KOS describes as "wide-ranging and fanatical." One of those fans? In 2016, Beyonce asked them to perform with her at the Billboard Music Awards...and it's quite possible they got just as much attention as did she.

After two years, a gazillion live performances and four EPs, their debut album Subway Gawdz (an unsubtle reference to their birth in the underground stations of NYC), was released to enthusiastic acclaim in 2016. Its sound was truly like nothing else, with inescapable grooves that take in dub, soul, funk and ska, utterly exhilarating horn blasts that shoot right up your spine, and, of course, equal doses of fun and attitude.

And right now, TMZ are riding higher than ever, surely poised for the leap into genuinely widespread international recognition that was likley inevitable since they first set foot in an NYC subway station. Indeed, following a deal with Ministry of Sound, their single "Warriors" racked up major play on Radio One (if you think you haven't heard it, when you hear it, you'll quickly realize you already have), followed by high-profile remixes from the likes of Armand Van Helden and KDA.

Then, UK sensation Jess Glynne penned lyrics and added vocals to morph the song into "So Real (Warriors)," which has been generating massive buzz while climbing the European charts. In the meanwhile, a live video for "Car Alarm" has furtively racked up more than 500K views in one week.

But surely signaling their mainstream "arrival"? A Canadian KFC commercial featured the band and their songs -- so don't be surprised if listening to their music suddenly makes you hungry.

Though they've also been up to more serious matters. Leo, in fact, was asked to play at the BBC Proms Charles Mingus tribute at a sold-out Royal Albert Hall in August 2017 -- certainly no small honor.

Yet for all this, the forward plan for Too Many Zooz, is, as ever, constant touring. The reason is simple: it's their outrageous, electrifying live performances that consistently continue to add the numbers to their growing worldwide legion of fans. Autumn 2018 will take them coast to coast, from Seattle to Houston to Philadelphia, and across Europe, with stops in Krakow, Strasbourg and Marseille, amongst others.

"I don't think there's any recording that can do a live performance justice," reckons Matt. "You'll see people of all different colors, creeds, genders, ages, sexuality at our shows. I really can't find a constant between them...besides liking our music -- haha."

But for everything that's happened in the last couple of years, the trio aren't actually all that surprised by their success.

"I always knew we had something special," Leo enthuses. "Thousands of people everyday loved our music...and I knew it would just continue to spread."


Birocratic

official band site »

producer and multi-instrumentalist. armed with a laptop, an electric bass, and limitless inspiration.
creates electronic tunes with an organic soul.
currently works in his home studio in brooklyn, nyc.

 
Twiddle
@9:30 club | view more info »
Jan
25

Twiddle



Saturday Jan 25|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Twiddle

official band site »

With 12 years of relentless touring behind them, Vermont-based rock band Twiddle has built an impressive resume spanning Red Rocks to Bonnaroo, and multiple sellouts of historic rock venues including Port Chester, NY’s Capitol Theatre, and Washington D.C.’s 9:30 Club. And with the second half of the band’s third studio album, PLUMP, on the horizon, the band’s career continues to catapult forward. Buoyed by the generous support of 359 Kickstarter donors, the 27-song album does more than showcase the group’s beautiful music, but also tells an important story, comprised in PLUMP Chapters 1 & 2.

Recorded during a two-year span with legendary producer Ron St. Germain, PLUMP serves as a reflection of four brothers’ triumphs and struggles, both individual and as a whole. On Chapter 1, songs like “Lost in the Cold” and “Every Soul” detail what it’s like to hit rock bottom and how to rise back up.

“So many fans have shared how these songs carried them through very difficult times, and that alone makes this all worth it,” said Brook Jordan, Twiddle’s percussionist and vocalist.

Comparatively, Chapter 2 contains genre-bending instrumentals, as well as mystifying epics like “Nicodemus Portulay” and “Orlando’s.” More than ten years later, these songs mirror the earliest Twiddle arrangements of 2004-2005 when Mihali Savoulidis and Ryan Dempsey were collaborating in their freshmen dorms at Castleton State College. The completion of PLUMP is timely, coming at a moment when the band’s fervent fan base is at an all-time high and expanding rapidly.

In the live setting, more and more people are invigorated by Twiddle’s community, promoting positivity and the band’s skillful improvisational music. So many like-minded people believe in the greater good, and they find that good in Twiddle.

Twiddle is comprised of Zdenek Gubb on bass and vocals, Ryan Dempsey on keyboards and vocals, Mihali Savoulidis on guitar and lead vocals, and Brook Jordan on percussion and vocals. A more detailed biography of each band member, along with upcoming tour dates and updates, can be found at TwiddleMusic.com.


 
Cory Wong
Scott Mulvahill | @9:30 club | view more info »
Jan
26

Cory Wong

Scott Mulvahill


Sunday Jan 26|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Cory Wong

official band site »

Music motivates at the most primal level.

You instinctually hum a tune in order to get pumped up in the morning, for fuel on the treadmill, to soundtrack your commute, or as the pre-game to a big night out. As much as he treasures his roles as a guitarist, composer, and producer, Cory Wong fashions himself “a hype man,” first and foremost. Living up to this classification, he slings a Stratocaster and hurls “dad jokes” from the stage with the same panache, poise, and power.

Moreover, he consistently translates motivation into seismic six-string transmissions throughout his independent third full-length record, Motivational Music for the Syncopated Soul.

“For me, it’s all about the listener’s experience,” he explains. “I want them to have a visceral response like: ‘I feel better,’ ‘That was really fun,’ or ‘I got to escape for an hour.’ You’ll hear my voice through the guitar, but I’m just a hype man. To uplift audiences with instrumental music that has no singing or lyrics is a fun challenge. I’m trying to solve the riddle. If I can get one person to feel good this way, it’s a success. So, I’m giving you Motivational Music for the Syncopated Soul.”

Straight out of Minneapolis, Cory positioned himself as music’s answer to motivational speakers like Tony Robbins since emerging in 2011. Head-spinning rhythm guitar wizardry, technical ebullience, laugh-out-loud jokes, and radiance on stage established him as both a sought-after collaborator and celebrated solo artist alike. He lent his talents to television programs such as The Voice at the dawn of his career. After an impromptu meeting at the weekly jam hosted by Prince’s rhythm section (where the Purple One often either performed or watched), he crossed paths with Vulfpeck who welcomed him as a frequent collaborator and member of the band. Solidifying a fruitful partnership, the group named their most popular instrumental track “Cory Wong,” in tribute. Lighting up the stage in the band everywhere from Red Rocks Amphitheatre to Madison Square Garden, he remains a cornerstone of Vulfpeck’s storied gigs.

Following a pair of solo albums -- Cory Wong and the Green Screen Band [2017] and The Optimist [2018] -- he delivered a trifecta of 2019 live releases, namely Live in Minneapolis, Live on the Lido Deck, and Live in the U.K. Along the way, he regularly received critical plaudits from NPR, The Current, Music Radar, Live for Live Music who dubbed him, “Stratocaster Master,” and Premier Guitar who predicted, “Wong is currently riding those hooks and his rubbery right-hand technique to modern-guitar-hero status.” His unforgettable shows tap into Gallagher levels of unpredictability as he turns up with self-effacing charm and airtight performances. However, everything paved the way for his third offering.

More than ever, it showcases and spotlights his signature style.

“I try to feature the guitar, but I don’t force myself into being the star of every song,” he says. “The instrument plays an appropriate role. It’s not all flash. I’m bringing rhythm to the forefront where it’s not so shreddy. I refer to it as ‘Covert chops.’ I’m doing things that are sneakily hard, but they lay in the cut. I allow the song to breathe and present myself as more of a composer rather than a guitar player.”

His vision took shape at four different sessions over the course of 2019 in studios across New York, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles. He introduces the album with opener and first single “Limited World” [feat. Caleb Hawley]. Backed by boisterous horns and swaggering keys, his funked-out palm-muting and deft right hand propel the track ahead at lightspeed, hinging on a hummable groove.

“I’m a Minneapolis cat, so I needed it to be a fast, high-energy funk banger,” he goes on. “I’ve got Prince in my water and blood every day. Lyrically, it’s about how we blame things for limitations on our lives. In my experience, I’ve realized we get in our own way. We play mental games and think we’re in a limited world, but it’s all in our heads.”

Following an appearance together on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, he hit the studio with Jon Batiste for the follow-up single “Home.” Delicate piano underscores lyrical fretboard expression as the track crescendos towards a gorgeous and glistening jazz-y break. “I composed this, and I’m leading the charge on the song, but it’s all surrounded by Jon’s piano,” Cory explains. “I’m the leader, yet he’s pulling me in different directions harmonically and in terms of phrasing. It turns into a conversation between parent and child. It’s like I’m speaking to my daughter. It’s the emotional moment on there.”

The ballad “Today I’m Gonna Get Myself A Real Job” merges self-deprecating musings and rich soundscapes into “a personal anthem of what it’s like on the journey as an artist, going between moments of extreme confidence and crippling self-doubt.” On its unofficial sequel “Starting Line,” Emily C. Browning delivers a soulful and spirited cameo, while the record’s denouement unfurls into a technical master class between Charlie Hunter and Cory on “Gumshü.”

In the end, Cory transmits joy in its purest form through the guitar.

“The guiding light is to impart a feeling of joy,” he leaves off. “I want people to experience instrumental music in a different way. This is hype. It’s more than just guitar.”


Scott Mulvahill

official band site »

Frontman. Singer-songwriter. World-renowned upright bassist. Multi-instrumentalist. For thepast decade, Scott Mulvahill has left his unique mark on the intersecting worlds of Americana,bluegrass, folk, jazz, rock & roll, and roots music. Already acclaimed for his work alongside icons like Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby, he turns a new page with Himalayas, a versatile solo album that celebrates the full spread of his abilities.

Raised in Houston, Mulvahill cut his teeth as a member of Ricky Skaggs’ acclaimed band, Kentucky Thunder. The group toured internationally for five years, backed by the bottom-heavy pulse of Mulvahill's upright bass. Along the way, he also composed music of his own, shining a light on the genre-jumping influences — Paul Simon’s sophisticated pop, James Taylor’s folk, Jaco Pastorius’ innovative jazz, and more — that would eventually inspire the material on his solo debut, Himalayas. His performances as part of Skaggs’ nightly shows laid the brickwork for Mulvahill’s transition from hotshot sideman to compelling frontman.

Encouraged by musical mentor Bruce Hornsby, Mulvahill developed a unique approach to his songwriting — one that mixed his chops as an upright bassist with hook-heavy melodies and compelling narratives. Himalayas spotlights that distinctive style. A true “musician’s musician,” Mulvahill fills his solo debut with complex fingerwork and innovative progressions. At the same time, Himalayas is a song-driven record that focuses its attention not upon Mulvahill’s virtuosity, but upon the sheer listenability of his material. This is acoustic-leaning roots music of the highest caliber, shot through with elastic vocals, dobro, fiddle, and the honest, biographical lyrics of a songwriter who gave up an enviable position in Skaggs’ band to pursue his own muse.

“I wanna go over where I’ve never been,” he sings during the sparsely-decorated title track, one of several tracks to deal with the universal themes of facing one’s fears, taking leaps, and chasing down new horizons. Those messages are reflected in Mulvahill’s own career, as he pioneers a sound centered upon his voice and upright bass.

“As important as the bass is to the sound of my music, it’s not a crutch,” he says. “To me, the songwriting, the voice, and the message are what really matter. Himalayas is based upon this idea that there’s more to your life than your current challenge — that any setback is surmountable. There’s a ‘we’re in this all together’ mentality to these songs.”

Although bound together by universal themes, Himalayas also makes room for a diverse range of sounds. “Begin Againers” kickstarts the album with several bars of gorgeous a cappella, while “Gold Plated Lie” nods to the galloping urgency of rock & roll. Elsewhere, Mulvahill duets with Alanna Boudreau during a gospel-inspired cover of Paul Simon’s “Homeless,” then serves as a one-man band during tracks like “Fighting for the Wrong Side” and “Indefensible.” Together, these songs bridge the gap between disparate worlds — roots music, chamber music, free jazz, classic pop, and beyond — with ease and eclecticism.

“For years, I had a split personality to my music career,” says Mulvahill, whose solo career has already racked up a long list of milestones, including a tour with recent multi-Grammy winner Lauren Daigle, an NPR Tiny Desk concert, and a performance on the Mountain Stage radio show. “I was known as a bass player, but I was also a singer-songwriter. Himalayas combines those two halves together. It makes a statement about what can be done with an upright bass, while leaving room for me to explore other sounds on future albums.”

For a lifelong musician like Scott Mulvahill, the climb is never over. Himalayas marks his latest summit, showcasing the work of a songwriter whose songs swoon, soothe, and startle in equal measure.

 
The Wood Brothers
Kat Wright | @Rams Head Live | view more info »
Jan
29

The Wood Brothers

Kat Wright


Wednesday Jan 29|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
Rams Head Live|get directions »
20 Market Place
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 244-1131


The Wood Brothers

official band site »

“It’s the freest album we’ve done, the most independent album we’ve done, and was the most fun we’ve ever had making a record,” says Oliver Wood. “And most importantly, this is the most purely Wood Brothers’ album we’ve ever made.”

Indeed, The Wood Brothers’ sixth outing, ‘One Drop of Truth,’ dives headfirst into a deep wellspring of sounds, styles and influences. Whereas their previous outings have often followed a conceptual and sonic through-line, here the long-standing trio featuring brothers Oliver and Chris Wood along with Jano Rix treat each song as if it were its own short film. The plaintive, country-folk of the album’s opening track “River Takes The Town” gives way to the The Band-esque Americana soul of “Happiness Jones.” The wistful ballad “Strange As It Seems” floats on a cloud of stream of consciousness, standing in stark contrast to “Sky High”—a Saturday night barnburner built upon stinging slide guitar funk. “Seasick Emotions” is rife with turmoil, yet “Sparking Wine” is jaunty and carefree. The end result is undeniably The Wood Brothers’ most dynamic recording to date.

“Often, when you’re making an album in the traditional way, there will be a unifying concept, whether that be in the approach to the music stylistically or lyrically in terms over the overall narrative. And even though there are some themes that revealed themselves later, this one is all over the place,” explains Oliver Wood. “What I really love about this record is that each one of these songs has its own little world. There are diver-se sounds and vibes from one track to the next.”

Building off the success of their previous studio album, 2015’s ‘Paradise,’ which was dubbed “the warmest, most sublime and occasionally rowdiest Wood Brothers release yet,” by American Songwriter, the band found themselves at a fortuitous crossroads. Following a tour with Tedeschi Trucks Ba­­­­­nd, high profile festival dates and sold out headline shows, the band felt free from the cyclical album release, tour, write, record and do-it-all-over-again pressures of the traditional music business. With all three members living in Nashville affording easy access to each other and a wealth of local independent studios at their disposal, they started work in January of 2017 with a new approach.

“Instead of going into one studio and recording it all at the same time, we picked a couple studios, and started to experiment,” says Chris Wood. “Sometimes we’d just make demos of songs to see if we got anything we liked. There was no pressure, and that really freed us up. We just did one or two songs a day, put it aside, let the songs simmer, and then we’d have a fresh perspective on what was working or not working. You need time to go by to gain objectivity.”

The band extended this approach to the mixing process, sending tracks to four different mixing engineers, each selected based on what the song demanded. Scotty Hard (who’s worked extensively with Medeski Martin & Wood, among others) was recruited for the “edgier, funkier tunes,” “Sky High” and “Happiness Jones.” Mike Poole (who worked on The Wood Brothers album ‘The Muse’) mixed “Sparkling Wine” and “Strange As It Seems.” Their old friend Brandon Belle from Zac Brown’s studio Southern Ground took on “Laughin’ Or Crying.” The remainder of the album was mixed by Grammy Award-winning engineer Trina Shoemaker, especially sought after by The Wood Brothers for her work with Brandi Carlile.

While the songs on ‘One Drop of Truth’ achieve the goal of standing on their own, a few common themes did, inevitably, emerge. Water—whether in a teardrop, a storm, a river or a libation—was being used as a metaphor in the search for truth and happiness. Chris Wood’s “Seasick Emotion,” one of two songs he sings on the collection serves as a prime example: “All the blue sky is gone / How can I get out of bed / This hurricane in my head / I’m just a boat in a storm / How can I know where to go / When everything that I know / Is already lost in the wind.”

“That one was written last fall during a hurricane, while at the same time the election was coming up, and there was all this crazy energy in the world,” Chris reveals. “I definitely got swept away emotionally by everything that was going on.”

Album opener, “River Takes the Town,” takes on both figurative and literal meaning. It was completed just as a series of hurricanes were decimating parts of the U.S.: “It's been a few days since I heard any word from you / and I don't sleep easy, I don't sleep easy / and the rain keeps comin’, the rain keeps comin’ / nothin's ever for certain / 'til the levee breaks down / the water comes in and the river / the river takes the town.”

“I remember hearing a news story about a flood in Shreveport, and I wrote the line ‘I hope the levee in Shreveport does what it's supposed to do,’” explains Oliver. “I was writing literally, at first, about how scary it must be when people lose power and communication with those they love. But then the lyrics became a metaphor for something more interpersonal. And by the end of this summer, it seemed to take on new meaning yet again.”

Though emotional struggle is a recurring thread, so is the comforting truth of how much wisdom comes from the hard times. The song “Happiness Jones”, was based on a news article Oliver read about how our society is addicted to happiness, antidepressants, and the distorted “happy” reality social media can depict. As a result, people feel like it’s unnatural to be sad, yet. sadness can be a gift: “All of my wisdom came from all the toughest days / I never learned a thing bein’ happy / all of my sufferin’ came / I didn’t appreciate it / I never learned a thing being happy.”

While the majority of ‘One Drop of Truth’ was written and recorded as a group, the standout track “Strange As It Seems,” described by Chris as, “a classic Oliver song,” was an exception.

“I had recorded it a couple months before Chris and Jano added their parts, so I was excited to see what they would do with it. We talked a lot about it having a dreamlike quality to it. Chris has all these cool sound effects that he can make with the bowed bass, and then Jano played the melodica and the piano on it, and they added exactly the atmosphere that it needed,” explains Oliver. “Conceptually, I almost think of it like a Tim Burton movie, where you go to sleep, and you go into this dream world, to meet your lover, but you do so with purpose. You bring your wallet, you get dressed up, you’re going on a date. The idea being, that you rendezvous in the dream. One of my favorite things about any song is ambiguity, leaving it open to interpretation. Maybe the man and woman in this song are already married, and they’re on separate sides of the bed, and they’re disconnected, so they’re hoping to find a better version of a partner in their dreams. Or, maybe they are two lonely people, in separate places, finding each other in this dreamworld. But at the end of the song, the guy wakes up, and he goes down to the kitchen, and he’s with his wife and it’s a beautiful thing, and they dance in the light. So perhaps there’s also an element of hope, whether they’re lonely, or they’re disconnected, there’s still a connection there, sometimes you have to go to that other level to realize it.”

Fittingly titled, ‘One Drop of Truth,’ the latest entry in The Wood Brothers evolution finds three musicians being true to themselves. At a point in their career where most artists would be looking to strategically position themselves for even greater commercial success, they instead turned to artistic expression in service of the muse. In chaotic times when honesty is in short supply and ulterior motives seem to always be at play, The Wood Brothers put faith in themselves and ultimately their audience by writing and recording a collection of songs that is honest and pure. As they sing on the album’s title track: “Rather die hungry / than feasting on lies / Give me one drop of truth / I cannot deny.”


Kat Wright

official band site »

Kat Wright, whose voice is both sultry and dynamic, delicate yet powerful; gritty but highly emotive and nuanced, has been described as “a young Bonnie Raitt meets Amy Winehouse”. Add to that voice enough stage presence to tame lions, and the combination of feline femininity proves immediately enchanting. There’s soul flowing in and out of her rock ‘n’ roll with a serpentine seduction. Some of soul music’s sweet, grand dames belt, shout, seethe, and succumb, while Wright sings gently like a heartache’s apology. It’s funky in spots and beautiful all over. And it hurts a little … like it should.

 
Greensky Bluegrass
@The Anthem | view more info »
Jan
31

Greensky Bluegrass



Friday Jan 31|doors 6:00 pm|all ages
The Anthem|get directions »
901 WHARF ST SW, WASHINGTON, DC 20024|p: (202) 265-0930


Greensky Bluegrass

official band site »

After 18 years together, up to 175 shows per year, nearly 1,000 different setlists, six studio albums, and a litany of live releases, Greensky Bluegrass embodies more than just music for members Anders Beck [dobro], Michael Arlen Bont [banjo], Dave Bruzza [guitar], Mike Devol [upright bass], and Paul Hoffman [Mandolin]. Truthfully, it embodies an ironclad creative bond, familial brotherhood, and a lifelong commitment to fans. At this point, it goes without saying the band means everything (and more) to the Kalamazoo, MI bluegrass mavericks.

So, with a wink and a smile, they offer up a cleverly titled seventh full-length, All For Money, in 2019.

Hoffman dispels the obvious first: “Clearly, we aren’t a band all for money. We did it for romantic reasons such as love, catharsis, and because it mattered to us and the listeners. We wanted to have fun with the paradox of the title though. We’re truly blessed and humbled to have our dreams come true and do what we do. However, it would be easy to make decisions based on our needs to eat or the desires of others, but that’s not doing it for love. We love what we do, and we’re grateful for the love we receive in return from the people listening.”

As time goes on, the guys continue to do things for the “right reasons,” and that mindset resonates louder and louder amongst a growing fan base. A live force of nature renowned for bringing rock ‘n’ roll showmanship to high-energy bluegrass, the group has sold out hallowed venues such as Red Rocks Amphitheatre and the legendary Ryman Auditorium in addition to igniting stages everywhere from Bonnaroo and New Orleans Jazz Festival to Austin City Limits and Outside Lands. Their unpredictable performances remain the stuff of legend attracting diehard devotees who typically travel far and wide to experience multiple gigs. In 2014, If Sorrows Swim bowed at #1 on the Billboard Top Bluegrass Albums Chart, while the 2016 follow-up Shouted, Written Down & Quoted cracked the Top 3. Along the way, they have also earned praise from Billboard, AXS, Westword, and more.

On All For Money, Greensky once again aimed to progress. This time around, the musicians kept the show top of mind as they composed the music.

“We have a motto where we want every show to be harder, better, longer, and faster,” admits Hoffman. “With All For Money, I felt like we were serving the performance more by writing and arranging material in a way we would intend to play it on stage. We tried to incorporate a lot of what we already do live, which is different for us in the studio.”

They recorded March-May at Echo Mountain Sound in Asheville, NC. In the studio, they worked with longtime friend Dominic John Davis as producer. According to Hoffman, Davis offered a fresh perspective on “how to balance the studio and concerts.” Amplifying the sonic palette, signatures such as dobro tone, bass grooves, and banjo took the spotlight. The first single “Do It Alone” feels equally at home on a festival stage as it does blaring through your soundsystem. Backed by a robust groove, the song transforms traditional bluegrass instrumentation into a rich sonic backdrop highlighted by a mandolin awash in a trio of effects as well as rich echoed vocals and emotive lyrics.

“I’d been trying to write a windows-down rock ‘n’ roll tune for a while,” explains Hoffman. “I got out an old guitar of mine, re-strung it, and immediately spit the song out. It’s meant to be an anthem. I ask myself, ‘Why do I do it alone?’ It’s because I’ve got a whole room of thousands singing at the top of their lungs with me. Whenever I write something emotional that might be difficult to sing, I’m reminded of the fact the crowd is there. Hopefully, it’s a reminder for other people as well and we all have something to chant together.”

Hot on its heels, the intriguing and irresistible “Murder of Crows” takes flight on kinetic performances as it delivers an emotionally charged message and provocative narrative. “This is a song that Aaron and I wrote about disconnection, drifting apart, loss, and remorse,” Dave Bruzza reveals. “It also touches on a cry for help and how it was not heard in time. A friend told me crows had funerals. He explained that farmers used to nail a crow to the fence or barn door to get rid of them eating the crops. Thee birds would gather, pay their respects, and fly off never to return. It was interesting. I began to think why people disappear in our lives. It came together with the mysterious letter someone received, and it all made sense to turn this into a story.”

Also originally penned by Bruzza, “It’s Not Mine Anymore”’ illustrates the group’s virtuosity with a “metal” spirit. Elsewhere, “Wish I Didn’t Know” hinges on a trance-y Mandolin passage that proves instantly hypnotic, and “Do Harm” taps into an upbeat bounce by way of an an off-kilter rhythm. Meanwhile, the title track spirals into psychedelic territory during a head-spinning two-minute midsection before culminating on an important statement.

“It feels liberating to be honest about it,” he remarks. “With the title track, we were asking more of the listeners than we ever have, but the line ‘If you need a voice, I’m yours friend’ is meant for them.”

In the end, all the right reasons continue to drive Greensky Bluegrass.

“As songwriters and musicians, we have a need for people to be on board, and we’re not just regurgitating the same shit,” he leaves off. “We’re pushing ourselves every time. I hope they want to listen to the record and hear the songs live. I hope they know we’re doing this for us and them.”


 
Greensky Bluegrass
Ghost Light | @The Anthem | view more info »
Feb
1

Greensky Bluegrass

Ghost Light


Saturday Feb 1|doors 6:00 pm|all ages
The Anthem|get directions »
901 WHARF ST SW, WASHINGTON, DC 20024|p: (202) 265-0930


Greensky Bluegrass

official band site »

After 18 years together, up to 175 shows per year, nearly 1,000 different setlists, six studio albums, and a litany of live releases, Greensky Bluegrass embodies more than just music for members Anders Beck [dobro], Michael Arlen Bont [banjo], Dave Bruzza [guitar], Mike Devol [upright bass], and Paul Hoffman [Mandolin]. Truthfully, it embodies an ironclad creative bond, familial brotherhood, and a lifelong commitment to fans. At this point, it goes without saying the band means everything (and more) to the Kalamazoo, MI bluegrass mavericks.

So, with a wink and a smile, they offer up a cleverly titled seventh full-length, All For Money, in 2019.

Hoffman dispels the obvious first: “Clearly, we aren’t a band all for money. We did it for romantic reasons such as love, catharsis, and because it mattered to us and the listeners. We wanted to have fun with the paradox of the title though. We’re truly blessed and humbled to have our dreams come true and do what we do. However, it would be easy to make decisions based on our needs to eat or the desires of others, but that’s not doing it for love. We love what we do, and we’re grateful for the love we receive in return from the people listening.”

As time goes on, the guys continue to do things for the “right reasons,” and that mindset resonates louder and louder amongst a growing fan base. A live force of nature renowned for bringing rock ‘n’ roll showmanship to high-energy bluegrass, the group has sold out hallowed venues such as Red Rocks Amphitheatre and the legendary Ryman Auditorium in addition to igniting stages everywhere from Bonnaroo and New Orleans Jazz Festival to Austin City Limits and Outside Lands. Their unpredictable performances remain the stuff of legend attracting diehard devotees who typically travel far and wide to experience multiple gigs. In 2014, If Sorrows Swim bowed at #1 on the Billboard Top Bluegrass Albums Chart, while the 2016 follow-up Shouted, Written Down & Quoted cracked the Top 3. Along the way, they have also earned praise from Billboard, AXS, Westword, and more.

On All For Money, Greensky once again aimed to progress. This time around, the musicians kept the show top of mind as they composed the music.

“We have a motto where we want every show to be harder, better, longer, and faster,” admits Hoffman. “With All For Money, I felt like we were serving the performance more by writing and arranging material in a way we would intend to play it on stage. We tried to incorporate a lot of what we already do live, which is different for us in the studio.”

They recorded March-May at Echo Mountain Sound in Asheville, NC. In the studio, they worked with longtime friend Dominic John Davis as producer. According to Hoffman, Davis offered a fresh perspective on “how to balance the studio and concerts.” Amplifying the sonic palette, signatures such as dobro tone, bass grooves, and banjo took the spotlight. The first single “Do It Alone” feels equally at home on a festival stage as it does blaring through your soundsystem. Backed by a robust groove, the song transforms traditional bluegrass instrumentation into a rich sonic backdrop highlighted by a mandolin awash in a trio of effects as well as rich echoed vocals and emotive lyrics.

“I’d been trying to write a windows-down rock ‘n’ roll tune for a while,” explains Hoffman. “I got out an old guitar of mine, re-strung it, and immediately spit the song out. It’s meant to be an anthem. I ask myself, ‘Why do I do it alone?’ It’s because I’ve got a whole room of thousands singing at the top of their lungs with me. Whenever I write something emotional that might be difficult to sing, I’m reminded of the fact the crowd is there. Hopefully, it’s a reminder for other people as well and we all have something to chant together.”

Hot on its heels, the intriguing and irresistible “Murder of Crows” takes flight on kinetic performances as it delivers an emotionally charged message and provocative narrative. “This is a song that Aaron and I wrote about disconnection, drifting apart, loss, and remorse,” Dave Bruzza reveals. “It also touches on a cry for help and how it was not heard in time. A friend told me crows had funerals. He explained that farmers used to nail a crow to the fence or barn door to get rid of them eating the crops. Thee birds would gather, pay their respects, and fly off never to return. It was interesting. I began to think why people disappear in our lives. It came together with the mysterious letter someone received, and it all made sense to turn this into a story.”

Also originally penned by Bruzza, “It’s Not Mine Anymore”’ illustrates the group’s virtuosity with a “metal” spirit. Elsewhere, “Wish I Didn’t Know” hinges on a trance-y Mandolin passage that proves instantly hypnotic, and “Do Harm” taps into an upbeat bounce by way of an an off-kilter rhythm. Meanwhile, the title track spirals into psychedelic territory during a head-spinning two-minute midsection before culminating on an important statement.

“It feels liberating to be honest about it,” he remarks. “With the title track, we were asking more of the listeners than we ever have, but the line ‘If you need a voice, I’m yours friend’ is meant for them.”

In the end, all the right reasons continue to drive Greensky Bluegrass.

“As songwriters and musicians, we have a need for people to be on board, and we’re not just regurgitating the same shit,” he leaves off. “We’re pushing ourselves every time. I hope they want to listen to the record and hear the songs live. I hope they know we’re doing this for us and them.”


Ghost Light

official band site »

“I think of this album like a bunch of abstract paintings,” says Ghost Light’s Tom Hamilton. “We present the songs as a series meant to be experienced in a certain order, but at the end of the day, whatever that series makes you feel is totally up to you.”

In that sense, Ghost Light’s brilliant debut album, ‘Best Kept Secrets,’ functions much like the band itself, drawing beauty and strength from both its complementary pairings and its unexpected juxtapositions. Formed in 2017, the group brings together five consummately talented artists from across the musical spectrum—guitarists/singers Tom Hamilton and Raina Mullen, pianist Holly Bowling, and drummer Scotty Zwang—and thrusts them into a wholly new context. The result is a record that transcends the sonic contributions and background of any single member, a collection that’s at once gritty and refined, sprawling and restrained, straightforward and psychedelic.

“When we started this band, all I wanted to do was make the most original sounding music we could possibly come up with,” says Mullen. “Everyone’s tastes and histories were so different from each other that I was really excited to see where the five of us could go as a group.”

Hamilton and Mullen began writing the core of the album in the spring of 2017, focusing solely on instrumental arrangements at first as they chased new sounds and experiences with a little bit of chemical assistance.

“We wanted to see what would happen if we opened up some new creative doors, so we got a whole bunch of LSD,” remembers Hamilton with a laugh. “Twice a week for a few months, Raina and I would eat acid and just work in the studio all night.”

The songs they wrote during those sessions were epic and immersive, influenced by a broad array of stimuli from the tense American political atmosphere to classic cinema. They drew on seemingly incongruous influences ("What would it sound like if Sufjan Stevens made a Soundgarden album?") and composed with a filmmakers’ eye, scoring the dynamic scenes in their heads with vivid detail and deep emotion. While many of the tracks would ultimately end up being fleshed out with lyrics, several tunes remained fixed as instrumentals even on the finished album.

“I wanted to approach creating our own world the way a director would,” explains Hamilton. “Most of the songs have lyrics and those are sort of like the dialogue in a film, but in between those moments, you have these instrumental tracks, which are like long, lingering landscape shots. Those are just as important to telling the story because they’re all about context and understanding your surroundings.”

One at a time, the rest of the band began visiting Hamilton and Mullen to delve into the process of fleshing out those early demos. Lyons and Zwang developed bass and drum parts, respectively, and Bowling brought some of her own compositions to the table in addition to contributing keyboard arrangements. The process of artistic cross-pollination proved to be a rich one, and it helped break new ground for all involved.

“It was kind of like working with a new medium or a new palette of paints and starting to figure out how the medium works and what it can do,” explains Bowling. “Our understanding of each other as musicians and what we each bring to the band was falling into place at the same time each of these songs were taking shape.”

With a vision for the album coming into focus, the band headed into the studio in the fall to begin official recording sessions, working out of a 4,000 square foot former Chrysler factory in Philadelphia. The sessions marked the first time all five members had ever been in the same room together, and they leaned into the spontaneity of it, setting up in a large circle to record everything live.

“We were chasing something perfectly imperfect,” explains Mullen. “I’ve always believed that the imperfections in any recording are what make it real.”

“You look at the classic recordings that stand the test of time, and they’re all about the band,” adds Hamilton, who produced ‘Best Kept Secrets.’ “It’s that human element that makes you feel what you feel when you’re listening. There’s a vibe and a mojo you can only get from musicians being present in the moment, creating together and reacting to each other.”

The record opens with the eerie “Elegy,” a scene-setting instrumental tune that experiments with classical guitars and orchestral production underneath a haunting, wordless melody. It’s a bold way to begin an album in this oversaturated age of digital streaming and diminished attention spans, but that’s what makes it such an ideal introduction into the ambitious world of Ghost Light. The music commands your concentration and swallows you whole. The rousing “Don’t Come Apart Just Yet, My Dear” twists and turns through unexpected changes as it flirts with arena-ready classic rock before giving way to Allman Brothers guitarmonies, while the stirring “Diamond Eyes” hints at Fleetwod Mac with its infectious chorus, and the intricate blend of traditional and progressive on “Isosceles” traffics in shades of Fairport Convention. Songs often find Hamilton and Mullen trading off verses only to come together on the chorus, offering up multiple perspectives within the same track.

“We wanted to embrace that duality,” explains Hamilton. “We’d cut our vocal takes at the same time in the same room so we could feed off of each other’s energy.”

That devotion to reading each other’s energy is central to the band’s identity. While much of their album is laser focused and airtight, the group’s live shows are a far looser affair, with songs frequently blossoming into extended improvisational journeys dictated by the emotional temperature of the room on any given night. Performances turn into wordless conversations between all five members, a tide-like give-and-take that makes each show wholly engrossing and utterly unique.

“An album is…a document and snapshot of a particular moment in time,” Hamilton told Live For Live Music in a recent interview, “but when it comes to taking that album and bringing it into the live arena, that’s when we turn ourselves back into the improvisers that we all are. We get to really see what these songs can do and where they can go and how they can change and grow…We just want to get out there and try to do something beautiful and interesting every night.”

 
Spafford
Eggy | @9:30 club | view more info »
Feb
5

Spafford

Eggy


Wednesday Feb 5|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Spafford

official band site »

On New Year’s Eve in 2009, guitarist Brian Moss and bassist Jordan Fairless joined up to play a show in their home state of Arizona and ring in a new decade. Moss and Fairless had been playing the same open mic nights and after their first successful joint effort decided to team up and officially form a band: Spafford. After playing shows in their home state, the pair found themselves on the hunt for a new partner to help them round out their group. They found keyboard player Andrew “Red” Johnson and asked him to voyage out to Las Vegas in the run up to their 2011 New Year’s show in Prescott. Johnson agreed, and has been with the band ever since. Now, with drummer Nick Tkachyk, the band brings their vibrant, dynamic music to the world at large and pushes the boundaries of what a jam band can be.

Spafford is known for their astonishing improvisational ability, which they’ll use to play live off the cuff extended jams. Each song is a blank canvas, and Spafford paints a picture in real time each night with a musical palette known only to each other. It’s a private language comprised of their talent as musicians, and of their formidable catalog of influences - ranging from Steely Dan, electronic acts like The Crystal Method, to 90’s alt rock radio hits. Every show is a sonic pilgrimage – the journey of a team of musicians so in tune with each other that a single note communicates intent and purpose.

Even though the band thrives off the electric pulse of live shows, the same energy also translates into their studio efforts. Their 2018 release “For Amusement Only” hits to the heart of Spafford – tight, inventive, and dexterous musicianship coupled with clever retro-pop inspired songwriting. Songs like “Leave The Light On” highlight their influences – from the melodic styles of Alanis Morissette to the rhythmic bounce of Bob Marley. Other tracks like “Ain’t That Wrong” and “Slip and Squander” are rich with other signature Spafford signs: vibrant vocal harmonies, complex and catchy arrangements, and sparkling, powerful performances.

Since forming, Spafford has achieved what some groups only dream of. The group is in high demand at music festivals like Bonnaroo and Firefly and consistently play sold out shows across the United States. After the successful release of “For Amusement Only” in 2018, they are eager to play new songs and evolve their sound on the road.


Eggy

official band site »

Eggy is the group that brings balance to your musical diet. The band offers timeless songwriting both lyrically and in composition creating works worthy of repeated consumption. Drawing influences from classics like Bruce Hornsby, CSNY, Herbie Hancock, & the like; Eggy is the fresh but familiar music you’ve been craving. Their debut album “Watercolor Days” (released March 2019) reflects the band’s fine palate & musical breadth.

Michael Goodman (bass/vocals), Jake Brownstein (guitar/vocals), Dani Battat (keys/vocals) and Alex Bailey (drums/vocals) work in tandem, sending sizzling musical ideas across the stage from years of sharpening their craft together. The result is an original & organic musical blend inspired by their heroes of the past and present.

In a live setting moving lyrics & four piece harmonies coupled with eclectic improvisations create performances that take on a life of their own. Eggy’s music offers the full pallet of emotion & style and invites you to share in the experience!

 
Fruition
Lindsay Lou | @Union Stage | view more info »
Feb
6

Fruition

Lindsay Lou


Thursday Feb 6|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
Union Stage|get directions »
740 Water Street SW
Washington DC|p: (877) 987-6487


Fruition

official band site »

Fruition’s newest album, Wild as the Night, conveys the emotions of our darkest, and sometimes weakest, moments. Influenced equally by acoustic music as well as rock ‘n’ roll, the eclectic, after-hours vibe comes naturally to the Portland, Oregon-based band, composed of Jay Cobb Anderson (electric guitar, vocals), Kellen Asebroek (piano, acoustic guitar vocals), Jeff Leonard (bass), Mimi Naja (mandolin, electric guitar, vocals) and Tyler Thompson (drums). Their unmistakable vocal blend first revealed itself in 2008 when Anderson tagged along with Asebroek and Naja for an afternoon of busking in Portland. Since that time, they have opened shows for the Wood Brothers, Greensky Bluegrass, and Jack Johnson, and at appeared at festivals like Telluride Bluegrass, Bonnaroo, and DelFest. Wild as the Night follows the band’s acclaimed Tucker Martine-produced 2018 album, Watching It All Fall Apart.


Lindsay Lou

official band site »

Lindsay Lou has been making soulful, poignant music for the last decade. An undeniable powerhouse, Lou’s remarkable gifts as a singer, songwriter, musician and performer demand the listener’s attention. Her singing floats over the masterful playing and deep groove of her band with both a fierce intensity and a tender intimacy.

Lindsay Lou’s fourth album, Southland (released April 2018), is a transformative and heart-wrenching ten-song stunner. Lou’s voice—and its unique ability to create an expansive, almost physically tangible soundscape—carries each song on Southland forward, made even more recognizable and potent by bandmates Josh Rilko (mandolin, vocals) and PJ George (bass, vocals) and special guests.

The beauty with which the sounds on Southland slip into the ether is the product of an emotionally difficult time for Lindsay and her band—who, as musicians often do, entered the studio to “hash it out.” The process, demonstrated by the music on Southland, was sincere and stirring and introspective.

Southland kicks off with “Roll With Me,” an expansive anthem with Lou’s robust vocals on full display. “Go There Alone” was written during an “Immersion Composition Society” experiment that Lou does from time to time, and the sound fully developed with the band a little later on. The lazy, beautiful harmonies pull at your heartstrings in a way that feels like home, despite the lonely and bittersweet message. And though songs like “The Voice” and “Southland” were spurred on by more abstract ideas and words, they transformed as collaborators started freestyling with their instruments and Lou simply sang what came to mind. Impressively enough, Lou plays electric bass, electric guitar, and acoustic guitar on the album’s title track. “Southland” is about the natural beauty of the South, which to Lou, adds a sense of calm and connectedness to a region known too often for its divisiveness. Having recently left her home state of Michigan to put down roots in Nashville with the band, the influence of this change is felt throughout the themes and ideas expressed on Southland.

Born the daughter of a coal miner in middle Missouri, Lindsay Lou’s family moved to Michigan shortly after Lindsay was born. She describes her family as close knit and musical, their lives influenced heavily by her maternal grandmother’s radical ideals and zest for life. In fact, if you ask Lindsay, her grandmother—a woman who was once put in jail during the Civil Rights Movement for teaching a lesson on the “f” word as a high school literature teacher—is one of her greatest influences to this day. Armed with her activist spirit, Lou’s grandmother set up a Christian commune in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for her growing family of twelve, as well as some stragglers. There in a big farmhouse, Lou’s dad was their neighbor.

Raised with this sense of community, Lou recalls always being surrounded by music. So when the time came for her to join a band, for Lou, it felt like finding a home away from home. Her career, like her life, have been full of great moments of kismet. As a youth, Lou built her repertoire by practicing her vocals, and she picked up the guitar so she could play with her Uncle Stuckey, perhaps most musically influential on her of her mother’s siblings. The skills she honed during the days of learning to sing and play with her family led to a wide variety of musical opportunities, singing in choir in high school, attending an elite summer program at Interlochen on scholarship, and winning awards for her talents.

Today, touring nationally and internationally year round, Lindsay Lou and her band continue to collect a mass of friends and fans along the way. Notable U.S. festival plays include Telluride Bluegrass festival, Merlefest, Stagecoach, Redwing, ROMP, GreyFox, and a slew of others. Abroad, they have appeared at Scotland’s Shetland Island Folk Fest and the Celtic Connections tour, Australia’s National Folk Festival, and others. The Boot, who featured Lindsay Lou Band as a “Can’t Miss Act at AmericanaFest 2018, says “...Lou brings introspection and masterful vocal work to her live show.”

In the words of famed bluegrass musician David Grier, who caught Lindsay Lou Band at a recent festival, “Lindsay...sings the way you would want to if'n you could. Phrasing, tone, emotion, it's all there. Effortless seemingly. Simply mesmerizing. Riveting! Don't miss the musical force that is Lindsay Lou.”

 
Dustbowl Revival
@9:30 club | view more info »
Feb
7

Dustbowl Revival



Friday Feb 7|doors 6:30 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Dustbowl Revival

official band site »

Dustbowl Revival has always been about pushing the boundaries of what American roots music can be. In many ways, they could have continued creating joyful, booty-shaking songs and cut-to-heart folk-rock ballads that lift up their transcendent live shows - and mining new energetic material from the place where folk music, funk and soul meet.

But the band’s newest album, Is It You, Is It Me, coming January 31 via their own Medium Expectations label and Nashville’s Thirty Tigers, is something different entirely. Produced by Sam Kassirer [Lake Street Dive, Josh Ritter] and engineered by Brian Joseph [Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens], it represents the latest stage in a band that never stops evolving and refuses to stand still.

After celebrating over a decade of sonic adventuring, playing thousands of shows together in ten countries and counting, and collecting a devoted and growing fanbase coast-to-coast, the six core members -- founder Z. Lupetin, Liz Beebe, Josh Heffernan, Matt Rubin, Ulf Bjorlin and Connor Vance -- knew they had to create something bigger.

The scary novelty of this creative process exposed doubt and tension - but also brought out a new courage in the band to dig deeper than ever. The result is a sonic revelation and a reckoning. Maybe it captures a conversation that hasn’t happened yet: between people on both sides of a divide that simply don’t know how to talk to each other. Many of the songs are like plays unfolding verse by verse. It’s the yin-yang conversational harmony that is the true specialty of Z. Lupetin and co-lead singing dynamo Liz Beebe, who both grew up performing and writing in the theater. With a big brass-and-strings band building the sets around them, Is It You, Is It Me isn’t afraid to explore the personal and political tension that the group may have shied away from facing before.

The album tackles uneasy topics -- often where the political feels personal, especially in the defiant “Get Rid of You,” which was inspired by the student activists who emerged from the tragic Parkland High School shooting in Florida. The ominous driving brass groove of “Enemy,” sung powerfully by Beebe, hones in on a painful generational split between a daughter and her parents who may have voted in a tyrant, and have become strangers to her. This yearning search for common ground pervades the record as a whole.

The group’s signature intertwined vocal leads star on the opening track “Dreaming” which tackles the deep vulnerability of revealing your secrets and your soul every night in front of an audience. But where the band really sets on a new course is on lushly cinematic, orchestrated set pieces like “Mirror,” “Runaway” and, most notably, the current fan favorite and live showstopper “Sonic Boom,” about the struggle to reveal who you really are in the hidden, rose-colored world of social media. There’s a new widescreen expansiveness to these songs that wouldn’t be out of place in a packed arena or orchestra hall with a full neon light show. Acting like a nimble rock orchestra, each member played multiple instruments, and the group brought in new musicians on symphonic brass, and local friends to sing as a spur-of-the-moment choir.

Where does it all lead? If one thing is clear, Is It You, Is It Me represents another large leap forward for Dustbowl Revival, coming after their acclaimed self-titled 2017 album. Produced by Grammy-winner Ted Hutt (Old Crow Medicine Show, Drop Kick Murphy’s), It transitioned the group from a “roots dance party band” that continues to thrive on the festival circuit, to a nuanced ensemble embracing more soulful territory. That self-titled record was a direct bridge to the newest work, rising number to one on the Amazon Americana chart and featuring a funky favorite “Honey I Love You” where the band joyfully teaming up with blues master Keb Mo’. Their heartache folk number “Got Over”, surprised the band by racking up nearly seven million streams and counting online.

Dustbowl Revival’s story started humbly. Nearly 12 years ago Z. Lupetin - a Chicago native who attended college in Michigan came to L.A. to be a playwright and screenwriter, grew disillusioned with his job in advertising, and placed a hopeful ad on Craigslist. He sought to find fellow musicians who shared his roving love of Louis Armstrong, Bob Wills, Old Crow Medicine Show, Paul Simon, Aretha Franklin and the brass bands of New Orleans, but also wanted to write songs like Americana pioneers Wilco, Lucinda Williams and even Bruce Springsteen. There are still players in the group who responded to that initial odd quest.

“Maybe we don’t know where this journey will take us or how long it will last,” acknowledges Lupetin, “That’s my take on the importance of what we try to do. Music elevates us, lifts us up, makes us change our minds, takes us out of our comfort zones. If just one person can be moved by just one song, that’s enough.”


 
Big Something & Andy Frasco & The U.N.
Kyle Ayers | @9:30 club | view more info »
Feb
13

Big Something & Andy Frasco & The U.N.

Kyle Ayers


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


Big Something

official band site »

A 6 piece powerhouse with a sound that is both unique and timeless, Big Something fuses elements of rock, pop, funk, and improvisation to take listeners on a journey through a myriad of musical styles. It's no secret why this group has quickly become one of the most exciting new bands to emerge from the Southeast. Soaring guitars, EWI (electronic wind instrument), synths, horns and alluring vocal hooks rise to the top of their infectious collection of songs and represent a sound that has caught the ears of such revered stalwarts as Umphrey's McGee, Moon Taxi, Galactic, moe., Robert Randolph, and even The B52s, who have all tapped Big Something as direct support.

The band released their 5th studio album The Otherside on April 20th, 2018 as a follow up to their 2017 album Tumbleweed. The Otherside was recorded at Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville, NC with the help of Grammy-nominated producer and Carolina Music Awards Lifetime Achievement recipient - John Custer (Corrosion of Conformity) who has produced all 5 of the bands albums.

Big Something is Nick MacDaniels (vocals, guitar), Casey Cranford (sax, EWI), Jesse Hensley (lead guitar), Ben Vinograd (drums), Doug Marshall (bass), and Josh Kagel (keys, trumpet).


Andy Frasco & The U.N.

official band site »

It felt like time to switch gears.

In 2017, Andy Frasco reached a fork in the road. Renowned for a jubilant jambalaya of rule-breaking rock ‘n’ roll his career kept rolling ahead at full steam. To date, he had released three independent albums, chronicled a German gig in front of 15,000 screaming fans on the recent live opus Songs from the Road, made jaws drop at festivals such as Grandoozy, Firefly, Mountain Jam, Summer Camp, Rock Am Ring, Rock Im Park and Electric Forest, generated millions of streams, launched Andy Frasco’s World Saving Podcast, and performed at festivals alongside icons such as Peter Frampton, Gary Clark Jr., The Revivalists, Snoop Dog, Dr. Dog, Joe Walsh, and Kendrick Lamar, to name a few. After a string of wild shows (and wilder nights) on tour somewhere in the heart of America, one morning sounded a very loud wake-up call for the singer, songwriter, performer, and namesake of Andy Frasco & The U.N.

“I woke up after a five-day bender on cocaine,” he recalls. “This relationship I was in didn’t work out. I bought a house in the Midwest to be close to a girl, but she didn’t trust me. I wouldn’t trust me either, because I was fucking chicks and doing drugs every night on the road. I would take ecstasy just to get out of bed. I was sleep deprived, losing all of my friendships, and fucking overworked. I decided to make a change in my life. I realized that I’m getting older; I couldn’t only be the party guy. I wanted to chronicle my life. I wanted to capture my feelings. I wanted substance in my life and music. I decided to take a step back from this wild life for a second and reevaluate, so I could genuinely enjoy the ride I’m on for the long haul.”

The ride ramps up on his third full-length album, the aptly titled Change of Pace. Andy approached recording from a new vantage point encouraged by iconic Widespread Panic bassist and producer Dave Schools.

At sessions in a remote Sonoma County mountain studio in a converted chicken coop of all places, Schools challenged him as a songwriter and lyricist.

“Dave sat me down and asked, ‘Who do you want to be? What do you want to be remembered by?’,” recalls Andy. “I never really thought of it that way. He dialed things back for me. He’s become a huge inspiration to me as a musician and a friend. The album began there.”

Cutting six songs with Dave, he embarked on something of a “studio tour” to finish Change of Pace. He tapped the talents of Ben Ellman in New Orleans, Charles Goodan in Los Angeles, and Caleb Hawley in New York at Lady Gaga’s Atomic Studios.

As a result, the songs reflect the respective regions.

“There’s a grungy Bourbon street feel, hard-working and moody New York energy, and that indie California vibe,” he goes on. “I’m a traveler at the end of the day. I became a musician to travel and give people therapy through music. As part of this revelation, I realized I don’t need to stay at home when I’m off tour. I decided since I’m most comfortable on the road, so I might as well make this record on the road.”

The first single “Up/Down” slips from a simmering beat and bass line into a horn-driven swoon. Produced by Goodan, its undeniable refrain proves immediately irresistible as he sings, “Your love is up and down.”

“I was just getting through my relationship with that girl from Arkansas,” Andy goes on. “One day, she was happy. The next day, she wasn’t. I speak on the bipolar nature of a relationship. This was the first time I felt that. Normally, I’d be in the next town before things got any further. The song came from an outside point-of-view by a guy who never had a real relationship before this in his life!”

Meanwhile, the boisterous “Waiting Game” features Schools’ touch and thrives on delightful proclamations such as “I wanna be the man you can tell your momma about!” The theatrical piano chords, cinematic accordion, and barroom chant delivery on “Don’t let the Haters get you down” takes dead aim at “online trolls talking shit from their parents’ basements.”

The title track “Change of Pace” gallops ahead on tambourine and organ as Andy’s voice stretches to the heavens and back on the admission, “I’m looking for change of pace. Then, I’ll be on my way.”

“Everyone has an idea of how you should live your life,” he states. “If you’re dealing with something that you’re not into, try something the complete opposite. Instead of always pondering what you could do tomorrow, do it today.” In the end, this change elevates Andy to a new level.

“I’d love for people to connect to the songs in addition to the live show,” he leaves off. “I’m a philosopher and a musician at the end of the day. I want to emulate those aspects in my work. I’m also just a guy trying to find happiness like everyone else is. It’s about being okay with the lows, not getting too high with the highs, and being comfortable in your own skin.”


Kyle Ayers

official band site »

Kyle Ayers is a comedian writer, actor, and producer. He is the creator of Boast Rattle, a Compliment Contest, the head-to-head comedic compliment show, which is now the television series Nice One on Quibi (which Kyle also created and is the Executive Producer on). Boast Rattle is also its own show on SiriusXM, running regularly.

He has appeared on Fuse, Comedy Central, VH1, and more, as well as in the film Box Elder, as Phil Ryerson. He’s been heard on Comedy Central Radio, SiriusXM, Bob & Tom, and more.

He has performed multiple times at the prestigious Just for Laughs Comedy Festival, where Time Out New York heralded him as a “breakout star.” He’s headlined all over the world, including Bonnaroo, The New York Comedy Festival, RIOT LA, The World Comedy Summit in Copenhagen, High Plains Comedy in Denver, and more.

His live show Never Seen It, where comedians rewrite famous movies and TV shows they’ve never seen, is now a top iTunes charting podcast on Starburns Audio, featuring Dan Harmon, Henry Zebrowski, and more, and has been featured at festivals around the US and Canada.

He also founded, constructed and runs the heralded underground sketch-acting-theater production-weirdness comedy show, "First Comes Love," where comedians and actors act out anonymously written adult film scripts from actual aspiring adult film writers, solicited via Craigslist. The show was optioned by MTV for a pilot that Kyle will gladly show you because it should be on TV.

Kyle has written for CBS, Comedy Central, TBS, contributed to Roasts, as well as Huffington Post, CNN, The New York Times, Wired, the weekly sports-comedy show Sports Balls, and more.

He was the tweeter behind the internet sensation #roofbreakup, where he stumbled upon a couple breaking up on his roof in Brooklyn, and the entire world joined in. #roofbreakup was viewed over 10 MILLION times worldwide, appeared on NPR, BBC, Yahoo, Buzzfeed (2+ million views), and was even reenacted by Jerry Springer. The viral sensation haunts Kyle to this day.

If you’re still reading, now we’re into the fun stuff. Kyle created/hosted the viral podcast Faking A Murderer, where he talked with eight comedians for eight hours about the show Making a Murderer, but did not tell his guests that he’d never seen the show. He also wrote and put on the satirical play Glengarry Glenn Beck, which is pretty much what you think it is. He has a dozen more ideas that he wants to sell you, and would be extremely excited to talk to you about.

 
Moon Hooch
@U Street Music Hall | view more info »
Feb
22

Moon Hooch



Saturday Feb 22|doors 6:30 pm|all ages
U Street Music Hall|get directions »
1115 U Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 588-1880


Moon Hooch

official band site »

I’m realizing more and more every day that you can make anything happen for yourself if you really want to,” says Moon Hooch horn player Mike Wilbur. “You can change your existence by just going out and doing it, by taking simple actions every day.”

If any band is a poster child for turning the power of positive thoughts and intention into reality, it’s the explosive horn-and-percussion trio Moon Hooch. In just a few short years, the group—Wilbur, fellow horn player Wenzl McGowen, and drummer James Muschler—has gone from playing on New York City subway platforms to touring with the likes of Beats Antique, They Might Be Giants, and Lotus, as well as selling out their own headline shows in major venues around the country. On ‘Red Sky,’ their third and most adventurous album to date, the band uses everything they’ve learned from their whirlwind journey to push their sound to new heights, bringing together the raw, transcendent energy of their live performances and the sleek sophistication of their studio work into a singular, intoxicating brew that blends elements of virtuosic jazz, groovy funk, and pulse-pounding electronic dance music.

“I think ‘Red Sky’ is more focused than any of our past albums,” reflects McGowen. “We practice meditation and yoga, and I think that we’re more evolved as people than we’ve ever been right now. That evolution expresses itself as focus, and through focus comes our energy.”

It was two years ago that the band released ‘This Is Cave Music,’ an exhilarating thrill ride that earned rave reviews from critics and fans alike. NPR hailed it as “unhinged” and “irresistible,” praising each musician’s “remarkable abilities” and naming their Tiny Desk Concert one of the best in the prestigious series’ history. The album followed their 2013 debut, which had Relix swooning for their “deep bass lines, catchy melodies and pounding rhythms,” while the Wall Street Journal celebrated their “electronic house music mixed with brawny saxophone riffs.” Though the band—whose members initially met as students at the New School—turned heads in the music industry as relative unknowns with a charismatic, unconventional sound (they play with unique tonguing techniques and utilize found objects like traffic cones attached to the bells of their horns to manipulate tone, for instance), they were already a familiar and beloved sight to straphangers in New York, who would react with such joy and fervor to their impromptu subway platform sets that the NYPD had to ban them from locations that couldn’t handle the crowds. NY Mag once referred to their sound as “Jay Gatsby on ecstasy,” while the NY Post fell for their “catchy melodic hooks and funky rhythms,” saying they had “the power to make you secretly wish that the short [subway] wait becomes an indefinite delay.”

While the band’s busking days are behind them now, the lessons they learned from all those platform parties helped guide their approach to recording ‘Red Sky.’

“What we discovered playing in the subway,” McGowen explains, “is that the more focus and the more energy you put into the music, and the more you listen to everything around you and integrate everything around you into your expression, the more the music becomes this captivating force for people.” Recorded at The Bunker studio in Brooklyn, ‘Red Sky’ is nothing if not captivating. The album opens with the tribal urgency of the title track and proceeds, over the next 45 minutes, to utterly demolish any and every possible barrier that could stand between your ass and the dance floor. On ‘Shot,’ Wilbur sings a stream of consciousness vocal line over an airtight groove, while “Psychotubes” channels the apocalyptic fire and brimstone of death metal, and the staccato intro of “That’s What They Say” gives way to a gritty, late-night come-on of a saxophone line that’s far more suggestive than any whispered words ever could be. Though the band is heavily inspired by electronic music, they made a conscious effort to use as little in the way of “studio tricks” as possible on ‘Red Sky,’ aiming instead to capture the sound of their live show, which has evolved significantly from their days underground. “When we were playing in the subways, we were playing entirely acoustic,” explains Wilbur. “It was just two saxes and a drum set. Then Wenzl acquired a baritone sax and we all started getting into music production and incorporating electronic music into our live shows.” At their performances, the band now plays through what they call a Reverse DJ setup, in which the live sound from their horns runs through Ableton software on their laptops to process recorded effects onto the output. In addition, to flesh out their sound on the road, the band began utilizing Moog synthesizers, an EWI (an electronic wind instrument that responds to breath in addition to touch), and other more traditional instruments like clarinets. Wilbur added vocals to his repertoire on some tracks (something the subway never allowed him to do), and Muschler, meanwhile, traveled halfway around the world to expand his percussion skills. “I went to India, and the first morning I woke up, it was like 5am, and I followed this music along the banks of the Ganges,” he remembers. “I eventually ended up finding this amazing tabla player, and after his performance, I asked him for lessons. He agreed, and I went for daily lessons with him and another guy for the next two weeks. After that, I took a train to Calcutta, where I met with the guru that I’d studied with in New York, and I did morning lessons with him and practiced throughout the day. It was an incredible musical immersion experience.” The band members all speak reverently of meditation and consciousness and the role it plays in their music (McGowen believes his introduction to it, spurred on in part by Wilbur and Muschler, saved his life), but equally close to their hearts are the environmental causes they champion. Moon Hooch tries to live up to their green ideals while traveling as much as possible, playing benefit shows, supporting local farmers and co-ops, participating in river cleanups, filming informative videos for their fans, and more. The band even runs a food blog, Cooking In The Cave, in which they highlight the healthy, sustainable, organic recipes they utilize with their mobile kitchen setup on tour. For the members of Moon Hooch, commitments to consciousness and environmentalism and veganism and philosophy and peace aren’t separate from their commitment to music, but actually integral parts of it. It’s all tied into that same core approach that led to their discovery on the subway platform: try, even if it’s just a little bit every day, even if it’s just with the power of your mind, to make the world less like it is and more like you wish it could be. “I’d say all of our songs express the essence of that kind of energy,” concludes McGowen, “because before you can even think any thoughts, there exists the energy that drives those thoughts, and that energy is intention. I feel like we’re putting the intention of positive change constantly into our music. While we’re playing, I often see the future emerging: skyscrapers getting covered in plants, frowns turning into smiles, fistfights into hugs. I can see the energy of love and collaboration and trust replace the energy of fear, hatred and violence.” It’s an ambitious vision, to be sure, but considering the band’s track record at turning their thoughts and dreams into action and reality, perhaps it’s only a matter of time.


 
The Revivalists
@The Anthem | view more info »
Feb
29

The Revivalists



Saturday Feb 29|doors 6:30 pm|all ages
The Anthem|get directions »
901 WHARF ST SW, WASHINGTON, DC 20024|p: (202) 265-0930


The Revivalists

official band site »

Some people say luck is the intersection of hard work and opportunity. On Take Good Care - their fourth full-length album and first for Loma Vista Recordings - The Revivalists chronicle, catalog, and capture an unbelievable ride where ten years of tireless hard work would be unexpectedly revved up by the wrongly dubbed “overnight success” of the gold-selling number one single “Wish I Knew You.” Like any enduring band worth its salt, they reacted the best way possible to newfound popularity - by buckling down and turning up with an album chock full of tunes worthy of even greater success. It’s the result of a trip that unassumingly commenced in 2008 with hundreds of underground shows yearly and culminated 10 years later with not only “Wish I Knew You,” but three years of back-to-back sold out headline tours in their biggest venues to date. In life, like rock ‘n’ roll, some questions get answered while others stay unanswered. Our personal backroads tuck, twist, and turn through ups, downs, and everything in between at light speed, sometimes without explanation or a moment for reflection. Mirroring the push-and-pull of the past few years, the boys -- David Shaw [lead vocals, guitar], Zack Feinberg [guitar], Andrew Campanelli [drums], George Gekas [bass], Ed Williams [pedal steel guitar], Rob Ingraham [saxophone], Michael Girardot [keyboard, trumpet], and PJ Howard [drums, percussion] -- deliver a bevy of anthems marked by moments of sonic complexity, celebration, and catharsis.

“As far as the music goes, sometimes I just have a feeling, and it comes through in a song,” says David. “I don’t know what it is, but it makes me feel something. I wanted this album to be simply about that. Making the new music has been a bit of a cathartic process for me -- just to get some of these feelings out, lose myself in the art, and become someone else. Songwriting is the great escape. It’s where I can be who I want to be. It’s been three years of touring our asses off, writing in between, and honing our craft. Then, Wish I Knew You happened. Everything got even crazier. This album basically came together the way we always make records though. It’s simply a collection of songs from where we were at that point in our lives. We didn’t want to divert too much from what we’ve always been, but we wanted to take it to the next level and continue that trajectory of our artistry and creativity.”

Simultaneously, life was rapidly changing around the band, and the music spoke to that.

“Everything going on these past few years certainly informed the direction,” David continues. “I don’t know if I was ready for some of what transpired emotionally. I got personal on some of the songs. I said some things I might not have otherwise. Thankfully, I have a good family network and an amazing girlfriend to balance all of the changes.”

“We were fortunate enough to have this ‘hit’ on the last record, and things have changed,” adds Andrew. “We had to keep pushing forward.”

For the first time, The Revivalists recorded and co-wrote with multiple producers and writers, enlisting the talents of Dave Cobb [Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton], Andrew Dawson [Kanye West, Fun., Sleigh Bells], and Dave Bassett [Elle King, Vance Joy] for sessions in New Orleans and Nashville, which became a hub for the band. They spent three weeks recording at the iconic RCA Studio B, soaking up the aura of one of the most storied studios in music and the city’s great musical history. Additionally, it would be the first record with drummer/percussionist PJ joining the band in the studio.

Bringing sixty songs to the table, the guys whittled the batch down to the best fourteen of the bunch.

Andrew continues, “On the first few records, we were figuring out what our identity is, so we were really involved in the minutia of recording. After all this time, we have an identity, and it’s more based in our songs. We were able to let go and allow these producers to take us into a direction that we wouldn’t go on our own. We got to explore a little more. Being ten years in empowered us to do that.”

“We had the opportunity to work with more people, which was amazing,” David goes on. “The main difference was having this team and the chance to co-write. It really elevated our craft in a way that I don’t think we ever thought about previously. We were all working together in the studio, while keeping the true heart and soul of the band intact through the whole process.”

The first single “All My Friends” – which became an instant #1 Triple A and Top 5 Alternative radio hit and landed the band on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert as well as numerous key Spotify and Apple Music playlists - speaks to that spirit. Driven by swaggering piano, boisterous horns, and bluesy leads, the track swings towards an unshakable chant, “All my friends take good care of me.” Striking, sharp, and soulful, it introduces this chapter with confidence and charisma.

“I actually wrote those verses when I was 27,” says David. “I met up with Dave Bassett in Malibu, where I did some writing sessions, and I brought the lyrics to the table. It’s a bit of a retrospective look back. You’re in your twenties, staying out for three days, not contacting your significant other, and getting into some bad shit. Looking back, I realized, I had an amazing group of friends who stuck by my side.”

“Musically, it bridges the gap between what we’ve been doing and what you’re about to hear,” explains Andrew.

Illuminating their effortless chemistry, the opener “Otherside of Paradise” came to life in just one vocal take with “no trickery or anything” bolstered by fingerpicked clean guitars and cathedral-size harmonies. Elsewhere, the guttural grooves of “Oh No” spiral towards a fret-burning solo as wild and gritty as David’s delivery. “Hate To Love You” hinges on the kind of confessions typically reserved for holy counsel, and current single, the #1 Triple A and Top 15 Alternative hit “Change,” which the band performed on TODAY, climaxes on a raw howl. Written by Andrew, “You Said It All” illuminates the dynamics at the heart of the record.

“I was going through a point in my life where I was thinking about situations with significant others,” Andrew elaborates. “To me, it was the idea that when you’ve come to the end of something and put it all out there, there’s nothing left to say. You’re in that reflective state of being alone.”

On the anti-gun violence anthem “Shoot You Down,” The Revivalists speak out against the overwhelming gun violence problem in our society. Deeply affected by the frequent mass shootings, the band felt compelled to put pen to paper and address this issue. The result is a powerful song that serves as both an emotional balm and, more importantly, a call to action.

"‘Shoot You Down’ is a song that was written straight from the heart earlier this year,” shares David. “It’s an anti-gun violence song meant to bring awareness to a very serious and increasing issue that we currently have in this country. We believe that music has the power to change minds and lives. This is our pledge to survivors and victims. We love you and we are with you. Together we will make a change. Let’s show each other love, compassion and understanding. Hate has no place in our world.”

Representing a vast swath of the country and defying regional pigeonholes, David’s roots are in the Rust Belt, while Zack, Ed, and George hail from the Tri-States and Michael and Rob from the Southwest. Andrew cut his teeth bashing the drums in the DC scene and newcomer PJ made his bones in Chicago. However, the Crescent City would ultimately bring them together. Since forming in New Orleans, the group quietly grinded towards international ubiquity one gig, song, and album at a time. Seven years in, 2015’s Men Amongst Mountains represented a high watermark. Its lead single “Wish I Knew You” became a slow-burning hit, racking up more than 200 million streams and ascending to #1 on Adult Alternative and Alternative radio. On the latter, it clocked a record for “most single-week spins ever at the format” before eventually receiving a gold certification from the RIAA. A mainstream phenomenon, the song found traction at Hot AC and Top 40 and bubbled up on to the Billboard Hot 100 for nine weeks.

The Revivalists have garnered more than 300 million total streams, have drawn praise from the likes of Rolling Stone, Billboard, Buzzfeed, Entertainment Weekly, Salon, USA Today, Forbes, Huff Post, Alternative Press, Uproxx, Flaunt, Nylon, Interview, Paste and more, and have performed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel LIVE!, Ellen, TODAY and Conan, with an upcoming appearance on Austin City Limits. They were nominated for a Billboard Music Award and two iHeartRadio Music Awards and were named Billboard’s Top New Rock Artist of 2017. Between countless gigs, the musicians also ignited festival stages at Bonnaroo, Governor’s Ball, New Orleans Jazz Fest, Outside Lands, and Pilgrimage, to name a few.

Looking back, David smiles, “It’s been quite the ride.”

In the end, The Revivalists welcome listeners on this journey with them as they set out with a newfound depth and ambition.

“As we went along, we found there are more questions than answers, and we’re all sort of figuring it out,” concludes Andrew. “We’re all doing the same thing. We hope people listen to the record and maybe can go out and keep making connections. That’s what we’re supposed to do. It’s the human experience.”

“We’re in this together,” David leaves off. “We love to take people on an emotional rollercoaster with us. That’s what this record is. It’s who we are. There’s some real magic in that.”


 
The Lil Smokies & Joe Pug
@9:30 club | view more info »
Mar
7

The Lil Smokies & Joe Pug



Saturday Mar 7|doors 6:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


The Lil Smokies

official band site »

Drawing on the energy of a rock band and the Laurel Canyon songwriting of the ‘70s, The Lil Smokies are reimagining their approach to roots music on Tornillo, named for the remote Texas town where the album was recorded. Produced by Bill Reynolds (The Avett Brothers, Band of Horses), Tornillo is the band’s third studio album. Formed in Missoula, Montana, The Lil Smokies have built a national following through constant touring, they have performed at Red Rocks, LOCKN’, High Sierra, Telluride, Bourbon & Beyond and more.


Joe Pug

official band site »

Joe Pug’s new record “The Flood In Color” is nearly four years in the making. But that betrays the fact that the making of the album was one of the most natural and rewarding processes of his career. Produced by Kenneth Pattengale of the Milk Carton Kids and engineered by Matt Ross-Spang, the album started with the goal of focusing on the simplicity of musicians playing together, live, in the same room. Recently relocating back to his childhood home in Prince Georges County, Maryland after many years spent in Chicago and Austin, Pug wanted to take a new approach. The partnership with Pattengale proved to be an irresistible opportunity to do just that.

“The past couple of albums haven’t always been the most enjoyable to record. The process can really bring on all sorts of pressures about what you should be doing and how you should be doing it, both internally and externally. Lots of ‘Songs need to be 3 and half minutes long’ and ‘You need something that will work on AAA radio’. And the end result is this strange gravity that just weighs you down.” Pattengale, a fan of Pug’s music since the days so of his 2010 EP “Nation of Heat”, was eager to try a back-to-basics approach.

“So Kenneth and I sort of had the idea to strip all that away. I was just going to write songs. And I was going to do it in a way that came naturally to me, and that I enjoyed. Get rid of all the external bullshit. Look….music isn’t my entire life. Sometimes I want to write songs. But other times I want to read books. I want to play with my kid. I want to cook. A couple years ago I started a podcast. So that’s sort of how I approached this one. I’ll write songs the way I write songs. And when Kenneth and I had a few that we felt good about, we got together and dialed them in a bit further and worked on arrangements. Almost as friends as much as anything. And when we got them to a place we were happy with, we went to Nashville and recorded them. But through the whole affair there was really no timetable I imposed on it.”

In the studio, the relaxed mood continued. “In the past I’ve been guilty of being a bit too intoxicated with the process of recording, and it sometimes took away from the pure joy of making music. This time we didn’t spend weeks hold up in the studio obsessing over minute details. Kenneth put together an A+ group of musicians. And then we sat around a table, talked about the song for a bit, ran through it, and then pressed record. It was a revelation, and all the credit in the world to Kenneth for recognizing how important that would be. As a musician there are so many things that can get in the way of actually making music. What Kenneth did was to methodically strip those things away. “

In 2015 Pug also launched the aforementioned podcast, which has gone on to enjoy tremendous success. “The Working Songwriter” is a monthly hour-long conversation with some of today’s best songwriters. Recent guests have included Josh Ritter, Amanda Palmer, Steve Earle, Brandon Flowers, Craig Finn, Ian MacKaye, Shakey Graves, Anais Mitchell and John Paul White. While its audience has grown, it’s always been more of a labor of love for Pug. “I didn’t hear the podcast I wanted to listen to, so I went ahead and just created it. From the very beginning I had a pretty clear vision of what I wanted it to be. From there it was just a matter of convincing anyone to be on it! This was 2015, so it was still pretty early days for podcasting, so you’d get a lot of confused replies. ‘Wait, you want to interview me for an HOUR???’

“It’s made me reach out to the small community of people that do this for a living and given me a real sense of community. It started out with lots of friends and colleagues that I already knew, but since then I’ve gotten the opportunity to talk to lots of artists I hadn’t met prior. And it has been this absolutely incredible avenue to learning more about artists across genres. And in the process also learning about these very subtle but undeniable common threads that we all share because of our line of work.”


 
Railroad Earth
@9:30 club | view more info »
Mar
20

Railroad Earth



Friday Mar 20|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Railroad Earth

official band site »


CLICK HERE FOR 2-NIGHT PASSES


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 »
Mar
21

Railroad Earth



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


Railroad Earth

official band site »


CLICK HERE FOR 2-NIGHT PASSES


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!”