In each song she creates, Nicole Atkins reveals her incredible power to transport listeners to a much more charmed time and space. On Italian Ice, the New Jersey-bred singer/songwriter conjures the romance and danger and wild magic of a place especially close to her heart: the Jersey Shore in all its scrappy beauty. Inspired by the boardwalkâs many curiositiesâthe crumbling Victorian mansions, the legendary funhouse, the Asbury Park rock-and-roll scene she played a key part in revivingâAtkins transforms her neverending fascination into a wonderland of her own making.
For help in capturing the shoreâs kinetic spirit, Atkins assembled a studio band whose lineup feels almost mythical. Recorded at the iconic Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama, Italian Ice finds the Nashville-based artist joined by Spooner Oldham and David Hood (both members of The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, who played on classic records from the likes of Aretha Franklin and Etta James), Binky Griptite of The Dap Kings, Jim Sclavunos and Dave Sherman of The Bad Seeds, and drummer McKenzie Smith (St. Vincent, Midlake). With special guests including Spoon frontman Britt Daniel, Seth Avett of The Avett Brothers, Erin Rae, and John Paul White, the album is a testament to Atkinsâs uncommon talent for uniting musicians of radically different sensibilities. As Atkins explains, the abundance of collaborations on Italian Ice partly stems from a freak accident in which she stumbled into a sinkhole in a Knoxville parking lotâan incident that left her with a profound longing to fill her life with the people and experiences that bring her the most joy.
Co-produced by Atkins and Ben Tanner of Alabama Shakes, Italian Ice makes brilliant use of its A-list personnel, unfolding in a kaleidoscopic sound that Atkins likens to âan acid trip through my record collection.â At turns as opulent as symphonic pop and gritty as garage punk, the album wanders into shades of psych-rock and honky-tonk and girl-group melodrama, endlessly spotlighting the tightly honed musicianship and unbridled originality at heart of Atkinsâs artistry.
POSTPONED TO SEPT 25, 2021 - Bill Toms and Hard Rain
Louis The Child is a Chicago-bred production duo comprised of Robby Hauldren and Freddy Kennett. After landing three singles on the Hot Dance/Electronic songs chart in 2017, they delivered a series of exciting releases in 2018, including collaborations with artists likeÂ JoeyÂ Purp and Quinn XCII,Â as well as âBetter Notâ ft. Wafia â a #1 hit on the US iTunes Electronic charts, featured on their EP Kids at Play. Also in 2018, Louis The Child scored the #58 spot on the first-everÂ Billboard Dance 100Â artist rankings, then moved up to the #46 spot on the 2019 list.
Between the Buried and Me: An Evening With - Presented by Opus One & PromoWest North Shore (rescheduled from May 15, 2020)
The band will be performing two full sets each night, one career spanning setlist and âThe Great Misdirectâ in its entirety.
What if dreams could be broadcast for the purpose of entertainment? Could you consume the innermost thoughts of another person on screen? If you could, what does that say about an attention-starved audience? More importantly, what would become of the dreamer?
Between The Buried and Me pose those questions and more on their two-part eighth full-length and introductory offering for Sumerian Records, Automata. The North Carolina quintetâTommy Giles Rogers, Jr. [lead vocals, keyboards], Paul Waggoner [lead and rhythm guitar, backing and lead vocals], Dustie Waring [rhythm and lead guitar], Blake Richardson [drums], and Dan Briggs [bass, keyboards]âexplore these themes by personally smashing boundaries once again. Automata marks the bandâs first proper double LP-spanning concept. It sees them venture into new territory with visual accompaniment for the entire body of work. Moreover, they continue to expand their ever-evolving style, upholding a tradition of progression in the process.
âWe never want to repeat ourselves,â affirms Paul. âWeâre always trying to do something different, and this album fell right into that sort of pattern. We push ourselves into new places, while retaining our basic sound. Musically, we go somewhere thatâs fun and challenging. We never know how itâs going to turn out. These are uncharted waters for us. Weâve never taken on a visual capacity of this magnitude. Weâve never written an entire piece and presented it in separate parts like this.â
Tommy agrees, âThis many years into our career, we want to continue doing things differently.â
This approach cemented the group as progressive musicâs most unpredictable outlier since its formation in 2000. Among many milestones, they released 2007âs watershed Colors followed by The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues EP in 2011 and The Parallax II: Future Sequence a year later. 2015 saw Coma Ecliptic elevate them to new heights yet again. Not only did it bow at #12 on the Billboard Top 200 (a career high for the band), but it also garnered widespread acclaim from Noisey, Revolver, Alternative Press, and The Guardian who welcomed the album with a rare perfect score. In between, they launched countless sold out headline tours and support runs with the likes of Mastodon.
Now, they break more ground with Automata.
âLyrically, I wanted to write something that I treated as a puzzle until it comes together at the end,â continues Tommy. âFor as deep and dark as it is, thereâs a positive outcome, which weâve never had. The story follow a protagonist whose dreams are used as entertainment broadcasted by a company called Voice of Trespass. Most of the record takes place within that dream. The character thinks itâs all real.â
âEven though it takes place in the future, there are a lot of parallels to modern society,â adds Paul. âOftentimes, we turn athletes, movie stars, and musicians into commodities. We forget that theyâre real people with problems and issues. Theyâre societyâs escape from reality as we use them for entertainment. Hence, society plays a role in their downfall, be it drug dependence, isolation, or even suicide. Society perpetuates mental illness with those expectations.â
Automata â Part I unveils the first six songs comprising the entire body of work. Stretching near seven minutes, âCondemned to the Gallowsâ kicks off this journey. Acoustic guitar builds in epic fashion before sweeping distortion takes hold followed by unpredictable rhythms and a seismic vocal performance which, as Tommy puts it, âsets up the whole story.â
Elsewhere, the trudging eight-minute guitar symphony of âYellow Eyesâ spirals into the melodic bliss of âMillions.â
âThere are a lot of moments where we totally venture away from the traditional formula of what a progressive metal band can do,â states Dan. âThere are all these little moments where weâve done something we never did before. âMillionsâ is the perfect example. Itâs four-minutes of straight melodyâanother first.â
With Automata Part I, Part II, and the myriad of visuals on the horizon, Between The Buried And Me realize their potential to its fullestâand go one step further.
âAll of our music should build up to the newest record,â Tommy leaves off. âThatâs what happens with Automata. You can take little snippets from our past throughout this album. It sounds like Between The Buried And Me, but itâs still new. We hope to keep the music industry on its toes. This is part of doing that.â
Pop Evil: Versatile Tour with Special Guests ZERO 9:36, BRKN LOVE
Formed in 1993, Brownie Mary was one of Pittsburgh's hottest and most beloved acts of the 1990s. Lead by Kelsey Barber (Friday) the band was an instant sensation writing perfect high energy pop songs that would get stuck in your head for days. The bands live performances were equally compelling as they toured non-stop playing shows with the likes of Melissa Etheridge, Hootie and the Blowfish, The Dave Matthews Band, The Smithereens, The Crash Test Dummies, and Rusted Root. Brownie Mary even performed for President Bill Clinton at 1995's Saxophone Club DNC fund-raiser!
Playing only a handful of select shows a year these days, Kelsey and the boys are sounding as tight as ever with an all star line-up including producer and Pittsburgh rock legend Rick Witkowski on guitar, original member and hit writer Mike Marks is back on bass, and on drums is amazing Jay Constable. Playing all of the songs that we have fallen in love with over the years, and with an occasionally guest appearance, Brownie Mary shows always pack the house and leave the audience feeling just as good just as their namesake did!
This show has been postponed to Oct 22, 2021 - all tickets honored
POSTPONED - Parkway Drive: Viva The Underdogs North American Revolution 2021 with Special Guests Hatebreed, Knocked Loose, Fit for a King - Presented by Opus One & PromoWest North Shore (rescheduled from September 2, 2020)
10 years ago this April - April 1st to be exact - Chicago's Ratboys put out their first collection of songs. The RATBOY EP, consisting of five indie-folk dorm room recordings, was free to download on Bandcamp and humbly passed around to friends on social media.
Cut to 2021, and Ratboys would normally be celebrating their 10-year anniversary on the road, playing a mix of songs from their very first release to their most recent, last year's critically-acclaimed Printer's Devil. Instead, just two weeks after the album's February 2020 release and mere days before heading out on their first headline tour, the COVID-19 pandemic forced all touring to a halt. Despite not being able to play in-person shows for the past year, Ratboys has managed to stay busy by performing their music online via their own Virtual Tour series and by finding a different way to celebrate their first decade of being a band.
Lots of time at home last year gave Ratboys a chance to hit the studio, which has led to Happy Birthday, Ratboy, a surprise party of a new album featuring 10 brand new recordings of the band's earliest songs + a newly-written bonus track entitled "Go Outside."
Although written in 2019, the lyrics of "Go Outside" take on a special sense of relevance and yearning today more than ever. "It's this carefree and wistful, totally innocent folk song about wanting to travel and spend time with loved ones," songwriter Julia Steiner says. "We had no idea how much it would mean to us when we wrote it, but hopefully this song will provide a light in someone's day and help us all wait out this weird ride a little bit longer," Julia shares.
Released as a surprise on April 1st, 2021, Happy Birthday, Ratboy comes 10 years to the day since the release of the band's first EP. New recordings of the 5 original RATBOY EP songs make up the A-side of the record, with 5 new versions of rare college-era tracks and the newly-written "Go Outside" on the B-side.
Featuring mainstays from their live show over the years, including "The Stanza" and "Space Blows," pressed to vinyl for the first time and given the full band treatment, Happy Birthday, Ratboy introduces new Ratboys fans to the band's beginnings while also raising a toast to those who've been there from the start.
The Struts - Strange Days are Over Tour - Presented by Opus One & PromoWest North Shore
Faye Webster loves the feeling of a first take: writing a song, then heading to the studio with her band to track it live the very next day. When you listen to the 23-year-old Atlanta songwriter's poised and plainspoken albums, you can hear why: she channels emotions that are so aching, they seem to be coming into existence at that very moment. Webster captures the spark before it has a chance to fade; she inks lyrics before they have a chance to seem fleeting. Her signature sound pairs close, whisper-quiet, home-recorded vocals with the unmistakable sound of musicians together in a room.
I Know I'm Funny haha is Webster's most realized manifestation yet of this emotional and musical alchemy. Continuing to bloom from her 2019 breakthrough and Secretly Canadian debut Atlanta Millionaires Club, Webster's sound draws as much from the lap-steel singer-songwriter pop of the 1970s and teardrop country tunes as it does from the audacious personalities of her city's rap and R&B community, where she first found a home on Awful Records.
In the two years since Atlanta Millionaire Club, Webster's profile has steadily risenâas she played festivals like Austin City Limits and Bonnaroo and found her way onto none other than Barack Obama's 2020 year-end listâand she also fell in love. "This record is coming from a less lonely place," Webster says of I Know I'm Funny haha, which finds her sound fuller, brighter, and more confident. "When I wrote AMC, I was living by myself and on some don't-know-what-to-do-with-my-own-time type shit. But now I'm living with my partner; I'm happy most of the time. I'm in such a different place. These songs aren't necessarily happier, but it's a different vibe."
The album began for Webster with the stirring ballad "In a Good Way," as in "You make me want to cry in a good way"âan instant-classic Faye Webster one-liner. It's beguilingly simple (as is her fantastic self-directed video), the kind of melody and arrangement that seem to have existed forever. "I didn't know that I was capable of being happy right now," Webster sings, and she says her own writing surprised her, too. "When I wrote that song, I was like Damn, I didn't know I could write these kinds of songs! I feel like it set the mood for the rest of the album." A sense of relief charges the neo-psychedelic pop of "Cheers," where Webster experiments with an overdriven guitar tone. She also collaborated, on "Overslept," with the Japanese artist Mei Ehara, who she calls the biggest influence on her new music.
"A Dream About a Baseball Player" is Webster's oldest song on the record, a snapshot of her one-time teenage crush on Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald AcuÃ±a Jr.âwho she actually met when she was invited to sing at a Braves game in 2019. The song is no doubt a testament to I Know I'm Funny haha's brilliantly colloquial title. But more than humor, Webster's music is full of personality. (This also shines through her work as an accomplished photographer of portraits and still lifes.) Many of her songs contain bits of girl-group-esque talk-singing, which color her atypical story-songs. The title track, for example, reflects on a dinner with her partner and his sisters, one of whom told her she's funny.
"One of my favorite things about songwriting is taking thoughts that people don't really think are worthy, or might overlook, and highlighting them," Webster says. (She also comes alive when describing hobbies like chess and yo-yoing.) "I like saying things that everybody thinks, but nobody's saying. Sometimes you can't really sing them, or make them pretty. So I'll just say it, just talk. I've become more purposeful with it."
Webster started recording I Know I'm Funny haha before the coronavirus pandemic, but with the 2020 shutdowns, she had to switch up her typically spontaneous song-by-song studio approach for most of the album. She tried recording with her band for a COVID-safe two-week studio stretch, but ultimately left, recording vocals at home on Garageband: "I did the rest of the vocals in my bedroom, which is what I've done and what I'm used to, and what I prefer," she says of her intimate singing style. The entirety of the album's stunning, acoustic closer "Half of Me" was tracked by Webster alone at home. And the uncertainty of life in 2020 also seeped into some of her lyrics, as on the gorgeous "Better Distractions" (which landed on Obama's playlist), a song about missing a loved one and wondering "What's next?"
Accepting the challenges, Webster says she's in a growth mindset, pushing herself to learn more, to be more vulnerable. "Growth is really important to me," she says. "I hope people will relate to my songs, and not just be like 'this is a good record' but 'this makes me feel something. This is making me think differently, this is making me question things.' I told myself a few years ago that I was going to be more honest in my songwriting, that honesty is the best route to take with music. If I have a voice and people are listening to me, I'm not going to waste it."
Bleachers - Presented by Opus One & PromoWest North Shore
David Sickmen is the songwriter and frontman of legendary Americana band Hackensaw Boys.
For the past 20 years, Hackensaw Boys have been a hard-touring force of nature in the
American roots music world, bringing a punk ferocity to their stringband base and a powerful
sensitivity to their ballad roots. Operating more as a collective than a band, Hackensaw Boys
were around before the O Brother craze kick-started Americana, back in the old alt-country
days. Sickmenâs a man who survived throat surgery to save his voice and endured any number
of hardships over two decades on the road, but nothing hits harder than a crisis of faith for a
man whoâs used his own indomitable will to push past every obstacle. âI realized as a
50-year-old man,â Sickmen says, âIâm too far gone to stop. Iâve waited too long to have another
career. I did a lot of soul searching, trying to figure out what Hackensaw Boys even is at this
point with all the people that have come and gone through it.â Sickmen realized Hackensaw
Boys was more of an ethos, a mission statement to raise a little hell, encourage a more peaceful
world, and bring the music back to its roots in a working-class American vernacular.
Throughout the 20 years of the bands existence, Hackensaw Boys have had the pleasure of
sharing the stage with many amazing and diverse artists such as the Avett Brothers, Old Crow
Medicine Show, Trampled by Turtles, Rambling Jack Elliot, Cake, Cheap Trick, De La Soul and
many more. Once they even served as the legendary country singer Charlie Louvinâs backing
band for a tour. Thankfully, thereâs no sign of the band slowing down anytime soon.
Itâs no secret that great art comes from the margins. From those who are either pushed to create from inner forces, or who create to show they deserve to be recognized. Los Angeles-based street singer, guitarist, and roots music revolutionary Sunny War has always been an outsider, always felt the drive to define her place in the world through music and songwriting. Her restless spirit, a byproduct of growing up semi-nomadic with a single mother, led her to Venice Beach, California, where sheâs been grinding the pavement for some years now, making a name for her prodigious guitar work and incisive songwriting, which touches on everything from police violence to alcoholism to love found and lost.