This show has been rescheduled from July 12, 2020 - All Tickets honored.
Dar Williams has always followed her muse. When she was up in Somerville, Massachusetts in the early nineties, knowing that she wanted to pursue music or theater, she worked backstage at the Opera Company of Boston and wrote plays on the side. But she was in Boston, and the muse led her into the myriad open mics and tip jar gigs of booming folk revival. She opened a trunk of old songs and started writing new ones.
She went to three or four open mics or song circles a week and recorded two cassettes. Yes, cassettes. When she felt like the noise of Boston was getting to be too much, the muse led her to the cornfields and college towns of Western Massachusetts where she sat on her futon and wrote the songs that would become The Honesty Room, her first CD, which she recorded in the basements and back woods studios of Amherst. She hoped the songs she was writing, with titles like When I Was a Boy, Youâre Aging Well, and The Great Unknown, would lead her into an idiosyncratic part-time music career.
Little did she know that the coffeehouse scene and the beginnings of internet communities were building to a crescendo and eager to receive her warm, witty songs. By the end of 1994, when The Honesty Room came out, she had rock-solid management, the best booking agency in the country for singer-songwriters, and a career-making slot at the Newport Folk Festival. She also signed with Razor & Tie records and penned the material for her next album, Mortal City.
The mid-nineties were a heady time, and Dar did her best to keep up with an exciting mix of concerts in forty plus states, Canadian festivals, and her first British dates. With the release of Mortal City came an invitation to play throughout Europe and the United States with new friend and folk legend, Joan Baez, a tour that changed everything, as Dar was quick to discover by 1997 when she released End of the Summer. She wrote the title track in hotel rooms down the west coast on her tour with Joan. She continued to write about all the eclectic things that inspired her, never questioning the muse. Psychotherapy, veterans with PTSD, and late night radio DJs among other themes.
Booked in large theaters, she went out with her first band on her first tour bus with The End of Summer, playing more colleges and festivals, including Lilith Fair, for which one of her songs became part of the festivalâs gold-selling CD.
Her good friend Richard Shindell joined the official End of the Summer album tour. Somewhere around Portland, Oregon, they decided to make an album that would showcase all the great writing that was happening in their tightknit musical community. They invited Lucy Kaplansky to join them and Cry Cry Cry was born in 1998, with a short tour that kept getting longer, stretching out for over a year and a half. For all three artists, dubbed a Folk Supergroup (not by them), it was both a musical education and huge life adventure.
Dar says, âWe were trying to get this one line for the last chorus of Sweet Sir Galahad that we were going to sing with Joan [Baez]. The bus was careening down the highway from Denver to Aspen, and we spent hours trying to find the perfect notes. We were in heaven. The bus driver was in hell.â
All of this time steeped in the music of her fellow musicians inspired many of the songs for The Green World, Darâs fourth studio album, recorded with seasoned musicians and future bandmates in Woodstock and New York City.
On her return from the ten-week Green World Tour, Dar got a letter from Scholastic books, inviting her to an open-ended lunch discussion about a possible young adult or childrenâs book. Dar said she couldnât imagine it, but the muse said, âJust have lunch.â By the end of the meeting at a Mexican restaurant, where there may or may not have been sangria, Dar was already brainstorming Amalee, a young adult novel about a girl whose fatherâs eccentric friends come forward in all their strange glory when he gets sick. Infused with magical realism and Darâs well-remembered youth, Amalee and the muse took a winding path of creation from 2002-2003.
City living and time spent with the Green World musicians provided the a whole new palette of imagery, and an opportunity to collaborate with Rob Hyman of the Hooters, that became The Beauty of the Rain, released in 2003, her most successful album to date, named People magazineâs album of the week when it came out, and she started her tour with a performance for PBSâs Soundstage. Her song, Closer To Me, written with Hymen, doubled the number of commercial stations that played her music is it went up Billboardâs Heatseekerâs chart, while songs from the whole album were in heavy rotation on Americana stations throughout the United States and Canada.
The following years saw a return of the Green World crew with My Better Self in 2005. While out on tour, Dar edited a sequel, Lights, Camera, Amalee for Scholastic for a 2006 release, which led to a whirlwind two years of concerts, readings, and school visits.
In 2008, Dar headed to Electric Lady studios to record Promised Land. Dar set out with a trio that included keyboardist and jazz composer Bryn Roberts, with whom sheâs been touring ever since.
In 2010, after seven studio albums, Dar released a greatest hits retrospective called Many Great Companions, produced by Gary Louris, with touring companions of the previous fifteen years, including Mary Chapin Carpenter, her best friends Nerissa and Katryna Nields, and Sean and Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek.
It was now that the muse started pointing in some new and unexpected directions. As Dar was writing songs for In the Time of Gods, her eighth album, she was asked to create a college course to teach at her alma mater, Wesleyan University. She toured with In the Time of Gods in the spring of 2012, followed by teaching Music Movements in a Capitalist Democracy in the fall. Teaching a university course was one of the happiest moments of Darâs career. A friend advised her to lead a songwriting retreat. Dar said âI would only lead a retreat if it were called, âWriting a Song That Mattersâ, focused on the process of writing a song, not the industry that brings it to the public.â In 2013, Dar led her first Writing a Song That Matters retreat at The Garrison Institute in the Hudson Valley of New York. It was another highlight of Darâs life and career. The next year, she added another retreat at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. All the while, as Dar wrote songs for the album Emerald and prepared 20th anniversary tours for both The Honesty Room and Mortal City, the mists were swirling for a project that was both a departure and arrival point\in her career.
In the decades that Dar had been touring, she had been seeing how towns and cities, like people, had been coming into their own, becoming more resilient, unique, and prosperous. While so many people said that towns and cities were âdeadâ, she had been seeing them come back to life. She realized that the key ingredient in the success of these places was what she called âPositive Proximityâ, where there was an understanding that living side by side with other people was a good, constructive thing. Positive proximity was a civic state of being that could be built and sustained, and Dar was collecting stories and notes to support her growing theory. She said, âSomeone should write a book about this.â And the muse said, âYouâve written fiction books, you interviewed people for your green blog at Huffington Post, youâve written about towns and cities in your songs since day one. The person who should write this book is you.â
In the spring of 2015, just before setting out on the tour for her ninth studio album, Emerald, Dar signed a contract with Basic Books, now Hachette Publishing Group. In September, 2017, she started touring new venues, speaking in bookstores and at city planning conferences in support of her book, What I Found in a Thousand Towns, a Touring Musicians Guide to Rebuilding American Communities One Dog Run, .... At A Time. 2018 was a time to deepen her connection to these themes of town and city building and planning as Dar gave keynote speeches at the Boise Downtown Association, the Vermont ..., the Southern New England Planning Association conference, and the Congress of New Urbanism, among others. It was also the year for a very emotional and exciting reunion of Cry, Cry, Cry, where the trio returned to sing songs by newer songwriters. Dar still loves every minute of her job and always advises folks to âfollow their muse.â She still goes wherever the muse leads her, which, presently, is right back on her couch, coffee on the coffee table, guitar in hand, writing her next batch of songs.
Fuzz - Presented by Opus One & WPTS Radio (rescheduled from June 28, 2020)
This show has been rescheduled from March 14, 2020 - all tickets honored
Those familiar with Lucy Wainwright Roche are aware of her bell tone voice, her unshakable melodies, and her knack for wise, wry lyrics that clench the heart. Itâs no surprise that Wainwright Roche is the daughter of Suzzy Roche (The Roches) and Loudon Wainwright III, half sibling to Rufus and Martha Wainwright. She grew up steeped in music.
But Lucy has carved out her own career as a touring singer/songwriter and recording artist, having sold over 50 thousand copies of her four critically acclaimed solo recordings released on her own label: Eight Songs, Eight More, Lucy, and Thereâs a Last Time for Everything. Other recordings include a collaboration with her sister Martha Wainwright on Songs In the Dark, a collection of lullabies, and two duet recordings with her mother Suzzy Roche: Fairytale and Myth (winner of Vox Pop Independent Music Awards) and most recently Mud and Apples.
For over a decade, as a solo act, armed with a guitar, a deadpan sense of humor, killer songs, and a voice that makes tough guys cry, sheâs built a solid following across the US and Europe. As an opening act she has often appeared with such luminaries as the Indigo Girls, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Neko Case, and sheâs one of a few who can step out alone in front of a thousand strangers and play an entire set to a rapt audience.
Now, on her new 2018 release Little Beast (2019 Independent Music Award winner, âBest Albumâ Singer-Songwriter/Folk category), Lucy ups the ante with a dynamic, emotional recording masterfully and artfully co-produced with Jordan Brooke Hamlin. This collection of songs is an urgent and poetic call to a world gone awry. The journey from song to song is downright cinematic. One minute she eases us in with her flat-footed authenticity, and the next she lets loose with her wild side, and we imagine her howling at the moon. In Heroin, the first single from Little Beast, Lucy Wainwright Roche is hugging hairpin turns on the outside lane and you know itâs true. Sometimes chasing love is dangerous business:
Itâs the Million Dollar Highway on a snowy day
Itâs why I had to go, itâs why I longed to stay
There are many standouts on Little Beast: Heroin, Quit with Me, In Relation to Disaster, Trouble, Behind the Wheel, and Ohio is for Lovers are a few, but perhaps Soft Line, a wrenching plea to a lost love as it slips away, is the most haunting track. Simply put, the song is a dagger to the heart:
Watch out or the sun will set
On the picture we tried to get
On the story of why we metâ¦
Thereâs nothing âlittle âabout Lucy Wainwright Rocheâs Little Beast. Itâs fierce, unflinching, and will undoubtedly place her squarely at the top of her game.
CANCELED - AJJ with Special Guests Xiu Xiu, Emperor X - Presented by Opus One & WPTS Radio (rescheduled from May 22, 2020)
AJJ frontman Sean Bonnette can summarize the bandâs new album, Good Luck Everybody, in a single sentence: âSonically, itâs our least punk record, and lyrically, itâs our most punk record.â
And indeed, Good Luck Everybody (January 17, 2020), the Arizona bandâs seventh album, stands out in their already diverse catalog. While still rooted in the folk-punk sound AJJ has become known for, the album is unafraid to delve into new territories that test the limits of what the band is capable of.
âI think it explores some of the weirder sides of AJJ, the more experimental leanings that weâve had in the past,â says bassist Ben Gallaty. Good Luck Everybody draws from a wealth of sonic inspirations, from Laurel Canyon folk-rock of the 60s and 70s to avant garde artists like Suicide, as well as some orchestral pop. There is even a piano ballad, the tragic âNo Justice, No Peace, No Hope.â
Lyrically, Good Luck Everybody is a change of pace from the idiosyncratic songwriting style Bonnette has honed over more than 15 years fronting AJJ. It still features his wonderfully weird turns of phrase and oddball word pairings, but this time, his thematic lens is more directly focused on the inescapable atrocities of the world around him. Longtime fans will recognize the albumâs social commentary as a return to their 2011 release, Knife Man, but this time itâs fueled by a more radical urgency.
âI usually try for a timeless effect in songwriting, so that you can hear a song and generally not think about the context under which it was written,â says Bonnette. âBut for this one, I was trying to write, and all the bad political shit just kept invading my brain and preventing me from writing that way. So I decided to fully embrace it and exorcise that demon.â
Much like Woody Guthrie and Phil Ochs pulled their songs straight from newspaper headlines, Good Luck Everybody feels like a long scroll through social media feeds on a particularly volatile day.
The song âMega Guillotine 2020,â for example, came directly from Twitter. It was influenced by Twitter funnyperson @leyawnâs popular tweet depicting a mockup of a French Revolution-style guillotine with one blade and enough headrests for 15 Congress members. Bonnette says the idea inspired him to press record and start playing, and when he did, the entire song came out of his brain fully formed. The final version also features backing vocals by Kimya Dawson.
âThereâs something that comes along with scrolling through your phone on Twitter or Instagram and seeing a puppy, and then a joke from a comedian, and then a young black person being shot by police, and then another puppy, and then your friends announcing a tour, and then children in cages,â says Bonnette. âThereâs something in that that fucks your brain up. I donât know if itâs made me more of a passionate arguer or just made me confused and numb.â
On âNormalization Blues,â Bonnette laments what this never ending deluge of atrocities has done to our humanity: âI can feel my brain aâchanginâ, acclimating to the madness / I can feel my outrage shift into a dull, despondent sadness / I can feel a crust growing over my eyes like a falcon hood / Iâve got the normalization blues, this isnât normal, this isnât good.â
Later, on âPsychic Warfare,â Bonnette takes out some aggression on the man at the root of it all, albeit through his trademark polite aggression: âFor all the pussies you grab and the children you lock up in prison, for all the rights you roll back and your constant stream of racism / For all the poison you drip in my ear, for all your ugly American fear, I wrote you this beautiful song called âPsychic Warfare.ââ
After years of partnering with Asian Man Records and SideOneDummy Records, AJJ is releasing Good Luck Everybody on their own, via their new label AJJ unlimited LTD, with Specialist Subject Records handling the European release. Bonnette and Gallaty also produced the record themselves and, in addition to their usual cast of collaborators (Preston Bryant, Dylan Cook, Mark Glick, Owen Evans), it features guest appearances from Thor Harris, Jeff Rosenstock, and Laura Stevenson.
âOne thing that makes me rather giddy is that without a label or a producer, our listeners will have no one to blame besides us for the way our sound has changed,â laughs Bonnette.
For all of its dark leanings and its pessimistic reflections on modern culture, AJJ hopes that fans will ultimately come out of the album in a hopeful place. By its final track, âA Big Day for Grimley,â it feels like AJJ is holding the listenerâs hand, staring at the looming apocalypse ahead, and whispering a message into their ear: Good luck, everybody.
Cult-indie band Murder By Death is hitting the road this winter to celebrate 20 years since their first show.
Setlists each night will be curated by fans and the band will be playing songs from all 8 records in their catalog. Every ticket comes with a free zine at the show, looking back at the last 20 years of MBD. Don't miss this chance to sing along, stomp your boots, and sip your favorite libations in celebration.
POSTPONED TO SEPT 20, 2021 - Crystal Bowersox with Special Guest David Luning
By most fifth LPs, the bandâs sound is pretty set. Parameters established. Refinement dissipated. You get a to-formula execution of whatâs worked in the past. Fair enough. All Them Witches go a harder route.
In 2017, the Nashville four-piece offered what mightâve otherwise become their own template in their fourth album (second for New West), Sleeping Through the War. It brought a larger production value thanks to oversight from producer Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Shooter Jennings, etc.), found them using choral vocals, expanded arrangements, bigger sounds than anything theyâd done before.
They couldâve easily fallen into a pattern of watered-down clones of that record. Easily.
So naturally in a year theyâve thrown it all to the Appalachian wind, turned the process completely on its head and gone the other way: recording in a cabin in Kingston Springs, about 20 miles outside of Nashville on I-40, with guitarist Ben McLeod at the helm. Self-produced. Take that, expectation.
The result, mixed by Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliott Smith, Kurt Vile), is the most intimate, human-sounding album All Them Witches have recorded and another redefinition of who they are as a band. Introducing keyboardist/percussionist Jonathan Draper to the fold with McLeod, bassist/vocalist Charles Michael Parks, Jr., and drummer/graphic artist Robby Staebler, All Them Witchesâ ATW isnât self-titled by mistake.
Itâs the band confirming and continuing to develop their approach, in the devilâs boogie of âFishbelly 86 Onions,â the organ-laced groove and masterful flow of âHalf-Tongue,â the build of âHJTCâ and the fluid jam in closer âRobâs Dream.â You can hear it in the mellow patience of that last track, never lost but always wandering, and in â1st vs. 2nd,â where they turn from a frenetic shake to some purposefully metal-ish riffing while still holding onto gut-tightening tension.
And what do they do with that? Some overblown payoff? Hell no. They cut it short, drift into noise and then dig into âHalf-Tongueâ ahead of the moodier âDiamond,â which, true to its name, seems to turn any light that touches it into a prism. This is a band who delight in the exploration, in finding new rules to break, and in continually learning new ways to do so.
ATW is a reaction to being a âbiggerâ act. To playing bigger shows, bigger tours, etc. From the sustained consonants in Parksâ vocals, to the sleek basslines that play off the canât-sit-still-wonât-sit-still swing in Staeblerâs drums, to McLeodâs commanding slide in âWorkhorseâ and drifting melancholy at the outset of âHarvest Feast,â ATW is their laying claim to the essential facets of their identity.
And most crucial to that identity is its shifting nature. All Them Witches didnât get to this point by resting on laurels, and if anything, the urgency of these tracks â fast pushers and sleepy jams alike â is among their greatest strengths.
Itâs a rawer delivery, as stage-ready as the band itself, and it captures All Them Witches in this moment. Is ATW who theyâll be tomorrow? Who the hell knows? Check back in and weâll find out together. Thatâs the whole idea.
(Rescheduled from September 16, 2020) - Ratboys with Special Guests Another Michael and String Machine
Upheaval and change are themes spread throughout the songs on Printerâs Devil, the latest Ratboys LP, out February 28, 2020 via Topshelf Records. But all the while, singer-songwriter Julia Steiner embraces moments of uncertainty as a necessary part of growing. Steiner recalls a David Byrne lyric, âIâm lost, but Iâm not afraidâ as inspiration for the transformative outlook, considering the line a personal mantra while writing Ratboysâ third full-length record. âThereâs definitely a lot of uncertainty about whatâs next, but I like to think that, in the midst of creating a lot of vulnerability for ourselves, weâre confident and becoming more self-assured.â
Steiner wrote the record with guitarist Dave Sagan while she was experiencing a dramatic shift in her own foundations, demoing out songs in her Louisville, Kentucky childhood home, which had just been sold and emptied out. âDemoing there was almost too intense,â Steiner says. âI kept writing in my journal that it feels like we shouldnât be there. I donât know if that feeling made its way directly into the lyrics, but to me the songs will always be connected to that sense of home and time passing.â
With years of touring under their belts, Steiner and Sagan have welcomed a newly consistent four-piece lineup, after years of shuffling through drummers. The bandâs comfortable core -- which sees Steiner and Sagan backed by drummer Marcus Nuccio and bassist Sean Neumann -- is tangible across Printerâs Devil. What started as an acoustic duo has finally transformed into a full-scale indie-rock band with a clear identity. The rhythm section brings the band not only consistency, but a jolt in line with Steiner and Saganâs growing sonic aspirations: Printerâs Devil was recorded live at Decade Music Studios in Chicago and was produced by the band and engineer Erik Rasmussen. Big-chorus power pop songs like âAlien with a Sleep Mask Onâ and âAnjâ sound massive and larger than life, while the bandâs dynamics beautifully thread together intimate folk songs like âA Visionâ and devastating alt-country tracks like âListening,â showcasing a rare range that invites listeners to imagine the band blowing out a 2,000-cap room or playing quietly next to you in the living room.
Building off their previous albumsâAOID (2015) and GN (2017), which feature bright, youthful Americana narratives centered around soft vocal cadences and fluid, melodic lead guitarsâRatboys captures the bombastic, electrified fun of their live show in a bottle on Printerâs Devil and showcases their growing chemistry as a tight-knit group. Through all the change that fueled the record, Ratboysâ latest album Printerâs Devil finds a band thatâs truly grown into itself and is just getting started.
Lost Dog Street Band with Special Guest Matt Heckler - Presented by Opus One & PromoWest North Shore (rescheduled from October 12, 2020)
âI wanted to dig under the darkest impulses of humanity for this album, and that is violence, selfishness, and destruction,â says Benjamin Tod, guitarist, vocalist, and primary songwriter of Americana trio Lost Dog Street Band. The Muhlenberg County, Kentucky-based groupâs latest album, its fifth overall, Weight Of A Trigger, out March 29th, is a potent distillation of its outlaw heartache soul.
The dark impulses Ben sings about are simply the demons that have driven him since he was a teen. At 16, Ben left home to play music on the streets. Since then, heâs lived under bridges, slept in jail cells, sought freedom hopping freight trains, battled addiction, and watched many good friends die from the same rambling disease. Some states, he remains a wanted man with active warrants. Though Ben has been aimless, and destructive, heâs always been prolific through exorcising his demons in song. Even if that meant writing songs at 7:00 AM in dank and dark basements strung out on drugs and drunk.
His companion in life and music, Ashley Mae, is an accomplished fiddle player and harmony singer. The pair met in the Nashville punk scene when Ben was 15, and Ashley was 17. They share in a tumultuous love affair thatâs defied adventures, and misadventures. The couple formed Lost Dog Street Band in the winter of 2010. The duoâs vision was to carry on the tradition of the American troubadour with fine Americana songcraft and starkly real storytelling. Today, Ben and Ashley Mae are joined by bassist Jeff Loops of the beloved roots band, Deep Chatham.
The three-piece groupâs latest, Weight Of A Trigger, is a portal into when Americana was peopled by sensitive outlaws who pleaded for salvation in song. The 10-song collection spans old-time music, Appalachian folk, redemptive country blues, and winsome balladry. Each song is elegantly essential, using teardrop pedal steel guitar, delicate fingerpicked passages, emotive harmony vocals, and stately violin touches as delicate dynamic touches. Itâs an album of hard truths themed around a three-part narrative of Thomas Clancy Russell, and stories of fated love, addiction, tragic deaths, and rising demons. The poetic former collaborator Nicholas Ridout, a uniquely gifted musician who left before his time is always honored on their albums. His presence is made all the more poignant by Lost Street Dog performing his sweetly high lonesome song âLazy Moonshiner.â
Ministry: Industrial Strength Tour with Special Guests KMFDM, Front Line Assembly - Presented by Opus One & PromoWest North Shore (rescheduled from July 9, 2020)
Celebrating 30 years of The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste!
Dance Gavin Dance - Afterburner Tour with Special Guests Animals As Leaders, Issues, Veil of Maya, Wolf & Bear - Presented by Opus One & PromoWest North Shore (rescheduled from April 8 and September 3, 2020)
Dance Gavin Dance fully indulges the extremes of creativity. They mine the outer reaches of the rock music landscape with thrilling abandon. Their ambitious blend of heady progressive rock and post-hardcore became something uniquely their own.
Dance Gavin Dance fans have streamed âWe Own the Nightâ nearly 12 million times on Spotify alone, with staple catalog anthems âChucky vs. the Giant Tortoise,â âYoung Robot,â âInspire the Liars,â and âDeceptionâ accounting for another 30 million streams on top of that. Their albums regularly chart in the Billboard 200, each of the last three progressively higher than the last, from Top 40 to the Top 15.
An international touring act for over a decade, Dance Gavin Dance has done Vans Warped Tour three times, toured with the likes of Underoath, A Day To Remember and Pierce The Veil, performed at major festivals, and headlined sold out club tours.
Where most bands erroneously claim wholly distinct identities, Dance Gavin Dance truly defies categorization. The Sacramento based outfit possess the kind of artistic compass shared with broadminded but heavy metal and hardcore-punk rooted iconoclasts like The Mars Volta and Coheed & Cambria, but use it to diverge wildly, charting a new course that incorporates the melodic screamo of Thursday or Taking Back Sunday, with a taste of the earnest pop melancholy of Death Cab For Cutie.
The current and most definitive incarnation of Dance Gavin Dance is responsible for half of the bandâs albums, including their most recent effort, Artificial Selection. The new record is the strongest and most wondrously diverse showcase yet for the lauded post-hardcore experimentalists, equal parts intense, melodic, and unbound.
Thereâs the angelic and R&B infused highs of the sweet voiced Tilian Pearson; the unhinged guttural growls and chaotic screams of cofounder Jon Mess; the dizzyingly unpredictable arpeggio-led guitar crunch of cofounder Will Swan; the soulful poly-rhythmic backbone of longtime bassist Tim Feerick; and the mind-blowingly powerful nuanced foundation laid by drummer and cofounder Matt Mingus.
Itâs all even bigger than ever on Artificial Selection, brought to life by close collaborator and producer Kris Crummett (Sleeping With Sirens, Crown The Empire, Issues). Dance Gavin Danceâs ambitious adventurousness and experimental spirit continues to differentiate them from the pack, from the funkier slow jam of âCount Bassyâ to the heavy screamo of âThe Rattler.â Thereâs a throwback to the Death Star era of the bandâs sophomore album, âShelf Life,â complete with former singer Kurt Travis. âMidnight Crusadeâ and âBloodsuckerâ are guaranteed crowd pleasers. âSon of Robotâ goes on an epic musical journey, from mournful to vengeful full stop.
As the Boston Globe astutely observed, âDance Gavin Dance resists pigeonholingâ¦ heavy, ambitious, and sometimes witty rock that seizes on the past few decades of edge-dwelling music, places it all in a blender, and puts the speed on high.â (Thereâs even Motown, funk, pop, dance, and heaping helpings of indie rock in that blender.)
Now more than a dozen years on from their inception, Dance Gavin Dance celebrates an insurgent career, in the tradition of iconoclastic artists from Frank Zappa to Nirvana who did what they wanted, how they wanted, confident that an audience would catch-up. Eight studio albums deep, a thriving fanbase champions the bandâs irreverent diversity and propulsive power.
Los Lobos with Special Guests Dan Bubien & the Delta Struts - Presented by Opus One & 91.3 WYEP (rescheduled from April 19, 2020)
Los Lobos is unlike any other band, so itâs not surprising that the groupâs first-ever Christmas album â LlegÃ³ Navidad â would break the holiday-album mold too.
Instead of relying on over-played seasonal standards for its latest album, the band, along with some friends, started out by researching and collecting nearly 150 different traditional (and not-so-traditional) Christmas songs from North, Central and South America. After narrowing down the list to 11 songs â and then adding their own original to the mix â David Hidalgo, Louie Perez, Cesar Rosas, Conrad Lozano and Steve Berlin recorded them on their home turf in East Los Angeles.
The band set out to sing new life into these old songs and make the kind of fresh and vital holiday album that only Los Lobos could make. Youâve probably never heard 10 of the songs (âArbolito de Navidadâ and âRegalo de Reyesâ); one youâve absolutely heard (âFeliz Navidadâ); and one youâve definitely never heard (âChristmas And Youâ) â which was written especially for the album.
LlegÃ³ Navidad opens with Rosas singing âLa Ramaâ (the branch), a lively song played in the regional folk style known as son jarocho, which is popular in the Veracruz region of Mexico. La Rama is also the name of the traditional Mexican holiday custom where the community adorns branches from a tree and displays them in a nightly procession through the neighborhood.
Hidalgo sings lead on âChristmas Time In Texas,â a track made popular by Tex-Mex legend Freddy Fender. Lozanoâs distorted upright bass keeps time with his son Jason Lozano on drums, who makes special guest appearance on the song.
âDÃ³nde EstÃ¡ Santa Clausâ fires on all cylinders like a lowered Chevy Impala cruising Whittier Boulevard on the weekend. Berlinâs warm Vox Continental organ and Perezâs potent drumming create a head-nodding groove thatâs miles away from the 1958 original, which was a novelty hit for 12-year-old singer Augie Rios. His version featured a full orchestra and poppy background vocals.
One of the interesting things about LlegÃ³ Navidad is that the rancheras, salsas and son jarochos on the album would sound right at home on the groupâs 1978 debut, Los Lobos del Este de Los Angeles. Itâs a rare full-circle moment for the GrammyÂ®-winning band, which has prided itself on never covering the same ground twice while making music for nearly 50 years.
Their journey began in 1973, when Hidalgo (vocals, guitar, and pretty much anything with strings), Perez (drums, vocals, guitar), Rosas (vocals, guitar), and Lozano (bass, vocals, guitarrÃ³n) earned their stripes playing revved-up versions of Mexican folk music in restaurants and at parties. The band evolved in the 1980s as it tapped into L.A.âs burgeoning punk and college rock scenes. They were soon sharing bills with bands like the Circle Jerks, Public Image Ltd. and the Blasters, whose saxophonist, Steve Berlin, would eventually leave the group to join Los Lobos in 1984.
Early on, Los Lobos enjoyed critical success, winning the GrammyÂ® for Best Mexican-American Performance for âAnselmaâ from its 1983 EP â¦And a Time to Dance. A year later, the group released its full-length, major-label debut, How Will the Wolf Survive? Co-produced by Berlin and T Bone Burnett, the album was a college rock sensation that helped Los Lobos tie with Bruce Springsteen as Rolling Stoneâs Artist of the Year.
A major turning point came in 1987 with the release of the Ritchie Valens biopic, La Bamba. The quintetâs cover of Valensâ signature song topped the charts in the U.S. and the U.K. Rather than capitalize on that massive commercial success, Los Lobos instead chose to record La Pistola y El CorazÃ³n, a tribute to Tejano and Mariachi music that won the 1989 GrammyÂ® for Best Mexican-American Performance.
That kind of sharp artistic turn has become Los Lobosâ trademark, serving to both fuel the bandâs creativity and keep its fans engaged. In 1992, that willingness to defy expectations led them to record Kiko, an adventurous album produced by Mitchell Froom thatâs considered by many to be one the bandâs very best.
Since then, Los Lobos has continued to deliver daring and diverse albums such as Colossal Head (1996), Good Morning AztlÃ¡n (2002), The Town and the City (2006), Tin Can Trust (2010) and Gates of Gold (2015). On top of that, the bandâs live shows never disappoint, as documented on the recent concert recordings Live at the Fillmore (2005) and Disconnected in New York City (2013). Through the years, theyâve managed to keep things interesting with unexpected side trips like an album of Disney songs in 2009, along with countless contributions to tribute albums and film soundtracks. One of those â âMariachi Suiteâ from the 1995 film Desperado Â¬â earned the band a GrammyÂ® for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.
Los Lobos has sold millions of records, won prestigious awards and made fans around the world. But perhaps its most lasting impact will be how well its music embodies the idea of America as a cultural melting pot. In it, styles like son jarocho, norteÃ±o, Tejano, folk, country, doo-wop, soul, R&B, rock ânâ roll and punk all come together to create a new sound thatâs greater than the sum of its parts.
CANCELED - Welcome to Night Vale (rescheduled from September 29, 2020)
WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE is a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriffâs Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events.
Turn on your radio and hide.
Written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. Narrated by Cecil Baldwin. Music by Disparition. Logo by Rob Wilson.
âA geeky cultural gemâ â CBC
âIncredible, spooky, funny, and monumentally charmingâ â BoingBoing
PVRIS - Presented by Opus One & PromoWest North Shore (rescheduled from May 21, 2020)
PVRIS represents the culmination of unapologetic honesty, unbridled artistic passion, and deeply held personal conviction, as evidenced by the devotion of an international fanbase who live and breathe their music. Much in the same way vocalist Lynn Gunn, guitarist Alex Babinski and bassist/keyboardist Brian MacDonald inspire and encourage their audience to explore, embrace, and celebrate their own personal identities, PVRIS creates their own musical lane. The bandâs latest album, All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell, has been earning rave reviews from critics and fans alike. Billboard named it one of the best albums of 2017. NME called it âcatchy as hell.â Q Magazine dubbed it âsensationalâ and said it âconnects the dots between The Cure, Chvrches, and Florence + The Machine.â In their art and creative expression, PVRIS pulls together the harrowing, the surreal, and the urgently personal with shades of Victorian wonder and supernatural awe. As Gunn herself recently declared to a fan on Twitter, the ever-building PVRIS songbook is one that puts âbelonging to yourself and nobody elseâ at the forefront. PVRIS has shared in a communal experience with huge crowds that somehow always feels deeply personal. Theyâve toured arenas with the likes of Fall Out Boy, Muse, and 30 Seconds To Mars, sold out myriad venues on their own, including Londonâs O2 Academy, and drew high praise for performances on festivals like Coachella, Reading and Leeds and Lollapalooza, to name but a few.
(Rescheduled from May 20, 2020) - Slim Cessna's Auto Club / The BellRays
This show has been rescheduled from May 20, 2020 - all tickets honored
Slim Cessna's Auto Club is from Denver, Colorado. Bandmembers are Slim Cessna, Munly Munly, Lord Dwight Pentacost, Rebecca Vera, Andrew Warner, and George Cessna. Our records are released by SCACUNINCORPORATED in the USA & Glitterhouse Records in Europe.
There comes a moment in every Slim Cessnaâs Auto Club show when you realize youâre seeing something youâll never see anywhere else. Itâs Slim Cessna in a white cowboy hat and beard, the lights haloing his ungainly frame, horn-rimmed glasses flashing through the smoke. Heâs trading lyrics and insults with Munly Munly, gaunt and strange, dressed in a shade of black particular to preachers and burnt down barns. Their voices rise and converge in the kind of exquisite harmony usually found in Sacred Harp congregations, and then the band cuts loose, the best live band in the world, and the two men are doing battle, playing out some cathartic war between good and evil on stage. Or trading dance steps. You canât tell.
I said the best live band in the world, and I ainât the only one. No Depression and Spin Magazine have said the same. This is a band thatâs held its own onstage with everybody from Johnny Cash to the Dresden Dolls. But you listen to the recording of âThat Fierce Cow is Common Sense in a Country Dress,â and itâll take you just about four minutes before you realize youâre listening to the best band in the world, period. Itâs Lord Dwight Pentacost leading the lunatic rapture on his Jesus and Mary double-necked guitar; Rebecca Vera playing pedal steel so sublimely that I swear to God you can see the ghost of Ralph Mooney circling the stage; and, holding down the rhythm section like they have with each other since seventh grade, The Peeler on drums and Danny Pants on the doghouse bass, driving the band, making you lose your damn mind.
Theyâve been making music for over twenty years, and there is, quite simply, nothing else like it. Itâs gospel music, is what Iâve decided. Gospel music for a blasted world. A world straining and bursting in constant pain, but one that canât help but overspill with joy â even knowing better. And the songs, Jesus. Songs about Colorado Indian hater John Chivington, alien abductions, patricide, a man born without a spine. This is the wild, bloody and weird America of Harry Crews, the only America worth a damn. Itâs what Flannery OâConnor was trying to say when she wrote of dark romances and the grotesque. If youâve got a heart, these songsâll break it, and if youâve got any laughter left in you, theyâll beat it out of you until you cry.
I probably canât improve on what Jello Biafra said about Slim Cessnaâs Auto Club, that theyâre âthe country band that plays the bar at the end of the world.â But I like to think that as long as theyâre around, they can still save us from that end. Or at least from what currently passes as country music.
â Benjamin Whitmer, author of Pike and Cry Father, and co-author with Charlie Louvin of Satan is Real: The Ballad of the Louvin Brothers
Nada Surf - Presented by Opus One & 91.3 WYEP (rescheduled from May 29, 2020)
With their ninth studio album, Nada Surf -- Matthew Caws, Daniel Lorca, Ira Elliot, and their longtime friend and collaborator Louie Lino -- continue pursuing their humanistic vision of the world through hooky, catchy rock songs with sharply drawn, yet tenderly felt lyrics. Never Not Together, out on TK DATE, is a wide-ranging collection of songs that revel in the group's ability to evoke and reflect grand and intricately wrought emotions, whether through sweeping guitar solos or hushed-whisper vocals.
"Empathy is good, lack of empathy is bad, holy math says we're never not together," Caws declares at the end of "Something I Should Do," a crashing power-pop track with an insistent melody that adds urgency to his thoughts about 21st-century life. The concept of "holy math" which informs that line -- and the album's title -- was inspired by a Justin Vernon appearance on the Song Exploder podcast, where the Bon Iver leader talked about the interconnectedness of humans. "We're all together, and that's just the way it is, and the way it always will be," says Caws. "That's the sacred truth of it."
That idea of being linked and searching for connection is a common theme of the album's lyrics, which depict people hunting down answers by peering within and reaching outward. "Looking For You," which opens with a spectral choir and blossoms into a rock spectacle with crashing strings and two guitar solos -- one played by Caws, the other by frequent Nada Surf collaborator Doug Gillard -- seeks solace in doctor's visits and grand metaphors. "So Much Love," which Caws wrote as part of Hits president Karen Glauber's annual SXSW session, is a driving, yet kind-hearted reminder that love and connection are in the air -- even if, in the immediate, it's lurking in the mists of one's sent-messages mailbox. "Mathilda," meanwhile, shifts time signatures as it switches perspectives on a childhood spent apart from the crowd, mulling over what "masculinity" meant even at a young age.
Youth is also a topic on "Just Wait," a shimmering midtempo song tethered to earth by a fluid bassline. "I wrote 'Just Wait' on a writing trip to Nashville," recalls Caws. During a session with songwriter Gavin Slate, the two got to talking about the current state of youth culture. "I remember how being an adolescent was so scary -- just as it would be for everybody," he says. "You're starting to feel like an adult, but you kind of don't want to be; you're kind of not ready, but you kind of can't wait. It's that kind of fright-delight, like September at school." The end result is empathic and warm, its chiming guitars and background "ooh-oohs" offering a refuge from the pressure to keep up appearances in "love and work and where you live," as Caws sings on the song's bridge.
In 2017, Nada Surf celebrated the 15th anniversary of their 2002 breakthrough Let Go, an experience that energized the early planning of Never Not Together. "I made pretty elaborate demos for the songs -- something I've never done before," says Caws. "I think [the Let Go tour] really boosted my work ethic and made me feel like I really had to go for it."
Never Not Together was recorded at Rockfield Studios in Wales, where artists like Echo & the Bunnymen, the Flamin' Groovies, Iggy Pop and Oasis recorded albums. "I've been seeing the name on albums for so long," says Caws. "It's a working farm, and the founder/owner, Kingsley Ward, would come in and tell us stories when he wasn't farming. I'd walk into town every morning and listen to the sheep talking as I walked by them."
That openness to listening -- to their fans, to each other, to the world -- has helped inform Nada Surf's legacy as down-to-earth rock stars -- musicians who can command festival stages around the world while connecting to audience members on a personal level, conscious of the shared humanity every step of the way.
POSTPONED TO JULY 24 - Bill Toms and Hard Rain (Rescheduled from October 24, 2020 and April 24, 2021)
Girl Talk (aka Pittsburgh's Gregg Gillis) has been constructing meticulous sample-based music since 2000. His early work was known for its raw experimental nature, but by the release of his 2006 album, Night Ripper, that style evolved into genre-smashing, breakneck-paced party jams. Night Ripper consisted of over 300 songs, from wildly disparate Top 40 genres and eras, mashed up and layered together into one cohesive collage. It received critical acclaim, and the attention resulted in a rapidly growing fan base. Gillis ended up quitting his biomedical engineering day job one year later.
Girl Talk continued to develop his signature style with the release of Feed the Animals in 2008 and All Day in 2010. Each album grew increasingly detailed and complex. He steadily toured over the following years, bringing his renowned confetti-covered and sweat-soaked performances to venues ranging from house party basements to major festivals. By 2014, Gillis began focusing on collaborative work producing hip hop for some of his favorite rap artists. That same year, he released "Broken Ankles," an EP with Freeway. Since âBroken Anklesâ, Gillis has steadily earned an impressive list of production credits and collaborations with his artistic contemporaries including, but not limited to, Wiz Khalifa, T-Pain, Tory Lanez, Young Nudy, Bas, Cozz, Erick The Architect (from Flatbush Zombies), Smoke DZA, and Don Q.
Black Pumas with Special Guest Seratones - Presented by Opus One & 91.3 WYEP (rescheduled from June 18 and October 31, 2020)
Sometimes, a mystical, life-changing connection can be closer than you think.
In 2017, Grammy Award-winning guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada had recorded some instrumentals in his Austin studio, and he started looking around for a vocalist -- he knew a lot of singers, but he wanted something different. He reached out to friends in Los Angeles, in London, but nothing seemed right.
Meantime, Eric Burton had recently made his way to Texas. Born in the San Fernando Valley, he grew up in church and then got heavily involved in musical theater. He started busking at the Santa Monica pier, where he brought in a few hundred dollars a day and developed his performance skills. Burton traveled through the Western states before deciding to settle down in Austin -- setting up his busking spot on a downtown street corner, at 6th Street and Congress, for maximum exposure.
A mutual friend mentioned Burton to Quesada, saying that he was the best singer he had ever heard. The two musicians connected, but Burton took a while to respond (âMy friends were like âDude, youâre a mad man, you need to hit that guy back!ââ) Finally, he called Quesada, and started singing to one of the tracks over the phone. âI loved his energy, his vibe, and I knew it would be incredible on record,â he says. âFrom the moment I heard him on the phone, I was all about it.â
The results of that inauspicious beginning can now be heard on the self-titled debut album from Black Pumas, the group that Quesada and Burton assembled, which has become one of the yearâs most anticipated projects. Described as âWu-Tang Clan meets James Brownâ by KCRW, Black Pumas were the winner of Best New Band at the 2019 Austin Music Awards.
Quesada has a storied reputation from playing in bands like Grupo Fantasma and Brownout, accompanying artists from Prince to Daniel Johnston, and producing such acclaimed projects as 2018âs Look at My Soul: The Latin Shade Of Texas Soul. For the tracks that kicked off this project, though, he had a different direction in mind. âI was looking for somebody with their own identity,â says Quesada, âwho liked Neil Young as much as Sam Cooke.â
Burtonâs taste, range, and experience proved to be exactly what Quesada was seeking. âWe just take to the same kind of music,â he says. âI listen to East Coast hip-hop, old soul music, folk music. When Adrian sent me the songs, it was like I had already heard them before. We were on the same wavelength from the get-go.â
The first day they got together in the studio, they recorded the dusty funk that would become the Black Pumasâ first two singles, âBlack Moon Risingâ and âFire.â Quesada had written the music for âBlack Moon Risingâ on the day of the 2017 solar eclipse, and Burton took that concept and ran with it. âRight away, the hair stood up on the back of my neck,â says Quesada. âI knew, âThis is it -- this is the guy.ââ
Burton sensed the potential, as well. âWhen I saw that Adrian played with Prince and had a Grammy,â he says, âthat he was a serious, respected artist, I knew that I would do my best not to squander that. If you can do it on the street, for a long time, without making yourself crazy, you can do it with a guy whoâs won a Grammy.â
The duo also knew that they didnât want their sound to be too retro or imitative. âWe didnât want to just do throwback soul and pretend that hip-hop never happened,â says Quesada, noting that it was listening to Ghostface Killah that initially triggered him to start writing this material. âIt had to feel sincere coming from us. I have a certain aesthetic in the studio, Eric has a voice that evokes a certain era, but I donât think we reference that too directly.â
âAdrian has had the time and the interest to really dive into a specific sound, to recreate something he heard on a Motown record,â adds Burton. âAnd because of that specific knowledge, he provides an interesting sandbox for me, whose background is in theater, to do something super-unorthodox -- to be an art student and play with all the colors I have, but to put it on something thatâs more familiar to listenersâ ears.â
With Black Pumas having evolved from an idea to a session to an album, they decided to put a band together and see how this music sounded live. They booked a residency at C Boys (a sister venue to Austinâs famed Continental Club), initially playing every Thursday for a month. âWe only rehearsed twice, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into,â says Quesada. âBut with the first show, we knew it was unique, special -- the chemistry and fire were there immediately. And what Eric could do as a frontman was like nothing Iâd ever seen.â
As word got out, the C Boys shows turned into a local phenomenon (âthe hottest party in town,â according to the Austin American-Statesman), with lines around the block despite the fact that the band had only released one song. The reaction to the groupâs recent South by Southwest appearance helps explain the mania -- the Chicago Tribune called Burtonâs performance âa whirlwind of movement and gesture,â while Rolling Stone, in naming Black Pumas âOne Of The 30 Best Bands We Saw In Austin,â wrote that âthe hometown six-pieceâs grooves were funky in a thick, viscous way, oozing out in ambitious jams that wandered into heady territory without meanderingâ and praising Burtonâs âtireless, charismatic energy.â
The other, unexpected result of the C Boys residency was that Burton presented more of his own songs to help fill out the set, which led Black Pumas into new territory. âEric had all these other songs based on other styles, going back into what he was doing when he was busking,â says Quesada. âIt was a real spark that we could huddle around him and his songs, too, and get a real sense of what our sound was.â
In fact, the final song recorded for Black Pumas was âOctober 33,â a tense, pleading ballad by Burton. âI didnât feel like we had the right last song,â says Quesada, âwe needed something with more of Eric on guitar. I said âI want to put down one more, do you have anything?â and he texted me back exactly what I was imagining -- it was almost unspoken.â
Quesada and Burton both return, over and over, to this almost mystical connection they felt from the beginning. Itâs this sense of common purpose, of shared vision, that gives Black Pumas its focus and power -- and that points to great things ahead.
âItâs so seamless, itâs like weâre musical brothers to some degree,â says Burton. âIt feels so easy to meld together that whatâs most important for us now is to continue to look for new sounds -- to make sure weâre feeding ourselves the knowledge to continue to evolve. Every time we get together, itâs better than the last time.â