This show has been rescheduled fro April 25 - all tickets honored
âBill Toms is a poet, a soul-shouter and guitar slinger with one foot in the gutter and an eye on the heavens above. And man, does he front a great rock n' soul band!â - Will Kimbrough/
While itâs hard to put a finger on any one sound that defines âAmerican music,â the compositions of Bill Toms are as close a template as any. The Pittsburgh native, along with his band Hard Rain, delivers a sound that takes the greatest of Americaâs most beloved genres and melds them into a poetic representation of the best the country has to offer.
With his ninth full-length studio release, Good For My Soul (street date October 27), Toms channels a foot-stomping, wall-shaking blend of soul, blues, gospel, and rock vibes, all brought together with his lyrical specialty -- stories of everyday men and women doing their best to stay ahead while still managing to keep a dream or two in their heads.
Soaring horns, gritty licks, toe-tapping rhythms, and Tomsâ own rough-hewn vocals will draw listeners in, as well as well-deserved comparisons to the greats such as Dr. John, Little Feat, Springsteen, Joe Tex, The Blasters, Otis Redding, and Rufus Thomas.
âThe idea of a horn section behind my songs has been something Iâve thought about for a while,â explains Toms. âAlbert King, and all the Stax artists come to mind when I think of what true rhythm and blues can do. I wanted a piece of that; creating dynamics, and drama within the song; and fostering the deep emotion that a great horn section can give. The words also needed this place-- in order to be fully interpreted as the representation of âmy America,â and the people who make up my small part of this world.â
Good For My Soul was recorded in February 2017 by Oscar-winning composer Rick Witkowski, who also co-produced the set with Will Kimbrough (Rodney Crowell, Todd Snider). Both artists have collaborated with Toms frequently on parts of his earlier catalog.
Toms launched his musical career in 1987 as lead guitarist of Pittsburghâs legendary band Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers, During that period, he opened for and played with such legendary names as The Band, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Little Feat, and Stevie Ray Vaughn. While playing guitar, co-writing, and adding backup vocals for the Houserockers, Toms and the band recorded six studio albums and one live concert album. In 1995, The Houserockers released American Babylon, which was recorded and produced by Springsteen himself.
As a solo artist, Toms has opened for the likes of Buddy Guy, Levon Helm, Marshall Crenshaw, The Kennedys, Steve Forbert, and Ellis Paul. Heâs plotting a string of regional east coast dates to support Good For My Soul, as well as a full European tour in 2018.
This show has been rescheduled from April 29 - All Tickets Honored
For nearly two decades, Willie Watson has made modern folk music rooted in older traditions. Heâs a folksinger in the classic sense: a singer, storyteller, and traveler, with a catalog of songs that bridge the gap between the past and present. On Folksinger Vol. 2, he acts as a modern interpreter of older songs, passing along his own version of the music that came long before him.
Southern gospel. Railroad songs. Delta blues. Irish fiddle tunes. Appalachian music. Folksinger Vol. 2 makes room for it all. Produced by David Rawlings, the album carries on a rich tradition in folk music: the sharing and swapping of old songs. Long ago, the 11 compositions that appear on Folksinger Vol. 2 were popularized by artists like Leadbelly, Reverend Gary Davis, Furry Lewis, and Bascom Lamar Lunsford. The songs donât actually belong to those artists, though. They donât belong to anyone. Instead, theyâre part of the folk canon, passed from generation to generation by singers like Watson.
And what a singer he is. With a quick vibrato and rich range, he breathes new life into classic songs like âSamson and Delilah,â one of several songs featuring harmonies from gospel quartet the Fairfield Four. Heâs a balladeer on âGallows Pole,â whose melancholy melodies are echoed by the slow swells of a four-piece woodwind ensemble, and a bluesman on âWhen My Baby Left Me,â accompanying himself with sparse bursts of slide guitar. âDry Bonesâ finds him crooning and hollering over a bouncing banjo, while âTake This Hammerâ closes the album on a penitent note, with Watson singing to the heavens alongside a congregation of Sunday morning soul singers.
Arriving three years after Folksinger Vol. 1 â his first release since parting ways with the Old Crow Medicine Show, whose platinum-selling music helped jumpstart the 21st century folk revival â Vol. 2 expands Watsonâs sound while consolidating his strengths. Several singers and sidemen make appearances here, including Gillian Welch, the Punch Brothersâ Paul Kowert, and Old Crow bandmate Morgan Jahnig. Even so, Watson has never sounded more commanding, more confident, more connected to the music that inspires him.
âIâm not trying to prove any point here,â he insists, âand Iâm not trying to be a purist. Thereâs so much beauty in this old music, and it affects me on a deep level. It moves me and inspires me. I heard Leadbelly singing with the Golden Gate Quartet and it sounded fantastic, and I thought, âI want to do that.â I heard the Grateful Dead doing their version of âOn the Road Again,â and it sounded like a dance party in 1926, and I wanted to do that, too. Thatâs the whole reason I ever played music in the first place â because it looked and sounded like it was going to be a lot of fun.â
Nodding to the past without resurrecting it, Willie Watson turns Folksinger Vol. 2 into something much more than an interpretation of older songs. The album carries on the spirit of a time nearly forgotten. It taps into the rich core of roots music. It furthers the legacy of American folk. And perhaps most importantly, it shows the full range of Willie Watsonâs artistry, matching his instrumental and vocal chops with a strong appreciation for the songs that have shaped not only a genre, but an entire country.
Black Pumas with Special Guest Seratones - Presented by Opus One & 91.3 WYEP (rescheduled from June 18, 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
(Rescheduled from June 19) - A Night of Fine Acoustic Country Music with Brent Cobb with Special Guest Maddie Medley
This show has been rescheduled from March 19 - All tickets honored
With a GRAMMY nomination under his belt and two major label albums to his credit, Brent Cobb is embarking this spring on a stripped back acoustic tour in seated venues with the assist of an accompanist. He decided that it was important for his fan base to hear the songs showcased the way they were written, giving his award winning lyrics their due. The tour will kick off in Austin, Texas this February and run through the month of March.
Cobbâs songwriting career does not begin and end with his solo accomplishments. Brent has also secured cuts with Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, and Lee Ann Womack, and toured with artists like Chris Stapleton and Margo Price. He received a Grammy nomination for Best Americana Album for 2016âs Shine On Rainy Day, and issued his most personal album yet, 2018âs Providence Canyon.
As 2019 was winding down, he dropped the single âFeet Off the Groundâ with Jade Bird, released a three-part video series called Come Home Soon, and completed his headlining Sucker for a Good Time Tour.
He credits his touring history for inspiring the quicker pace of the material on Providence Canyon. âIâve always liked the funkier side of country and the funkier side of rock,â he explains. âThose influences have been a part of me for years, but theyâre really coming to the forefront now. When youâre touring with Chris Stapleton, and youâre performing to a crowd of 10,000 people before he hits the stage, you find yourself wanting to play something upbeat.â
If Shine On Rainy Day felt like a laidback country album for front-porch picking sessions, then Providence Canyon is built for something bigger. This is music for juke joints, pool halls, and roadhouses, filled with electric guitar (performed by Cobbâs touring bandmate, Mike Harris), B3 organ, percussive groove, and co-ed harmonies. Each song was captured in a small number of takes, with Brent and Dave Cobb relying on instinct and spur-of-the-moment ideas.
âItâs in the blood,â Brent says of his connection to his cousin, who has overseen award-winning records for Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, and Chris Stapleton, as well as Shine On Rainy Day and Providence Canyon. âWe didnât grow up together, but weâre so similar in our approaches. Itâs important to me to do this with him, because these songs are about the places Iâm from, the places Iâve visited, and the people whoâve taken me there. My family is all over these songs.â
Cobb doubles down on his commitment to his wife and daughter with âAinât a Road Too Long,â whose mix of Bible Belt boogie-woogie and Southern rock channels influences like the Band. On the drawling, guitar-driven âMorninâs Gonna Comeâ and âSucker for a Good Time,â he battles against the temptations of the road, where the drinks are free and the nights are long. Then, on the albumâs breezy title track, he casts his mind back to his teenage years and trips to Providence Canyon, a 150-feet gorge in the sandy clay of southwest Georgia, less than an hourâs drive from Cobbâs hometown.
âGrowing up, I didnât know the definition of âprovidence,ââ he admits. âI looked it up in my early 20s, and the definition is something like âthe protective power of Godâor natureâas a spiritual power.â When I read that, it inspired the whole song. I was 23 at the time, and I missed the old days and the freedom of youth. Years later, I still try to keep my music honest and somehow sacred.â
A Special Evening Of Music With Nathaniel Rateliff (rescheduled from March 16)
What began as a solo album about the painful slow dance of the unraveling of a relationship turned into something altogether different when Richard Swift, Rateliffâs longtime friend and producer of the Night Sweatsâ two albums, passed away in July 2018. This period jogged something out of his restless subconscious, helping him address some big life questions -- the ones that have stumped philosophers, statesmen and profound thinkers since time began, exploring the unsteady terrain of love and death. But in the end, what he really was doing was creating an homage to his friend. Summing up, Rateliff says, âI think this album is a reminder that we all go through hardship, but regardless of the hardship everything ends up where itâs supposed to. Regardless of where Iâm at after Richardâs death and my divorce, and getting older, I still continue to live and I still continue to find joy. I think thatâs the theme of the record.â The new record, âAnd Itâs Still Alright,â is out February 14th, 2020.
Growing up in rural Missouri, Nathaniel Rateliff got his early music education from his family, who performed in the church band in which Rateliff played drums, and his fatherâs record collection. At 19, Rateliff moved to Denver where he spent the next ten years working night shifts at a bottle factory and a trucking company while testing out songs at open-mic nights. Preceding the emergence of Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Nathaniel released three albums and an EP; Desire and Dissolving Men (2007), In Memory of Loss (2010), Falling Faster Than You Can Run (2013) and the Closer EP (2014). The solo releases received critical praiseâ Vanity Fair proclaimed, âWe were blown away,â while Paste furthered, âRateliffâs rich voice and his bandmatesâ textured harmonies sound like long and comfortable conversations.â and the New York Times declared, âPensive, Rousing, Stark, Eloquentâ¦Cash Echoes.â
An Evening With Guided by Voices - Presented by Opus One & 91.3 WYEP (rescheduled from April 4, 2020)
Iâve been walking two hours a day since March to beat middle-aged inertia, pacing myself exclusively to a playlist of 3,148 songs featuring Guided by Voicesâ Robert Pollard, in his various guises. GBV sets me on fire! The Regentâs Canal towpath melts beneath me and Angelâs pounded pavements evaporate.
For the uninitiated, Pollardâs prolific but private basement four-track recording habit, Guided by Voices, finally found fame on the surface world in the early nineties, by which time the Dayton Ohio schoolteacher was already in his mid-thirties with thousands of completed songs stored in a suitcase.
As a â70s schoolboy, Pollard performed the usual adolescent music fan rituals, scribbling exercise books full of song lyrics and designing imaginary album covers for fictional bands influenced by the classic rock, British invasion and early prog sounds he assimilated as a little kid in the â60s. And then he grew up, and just carried on.
Since 1983, Pollard has been putting his childhood fantasies into action through Guided by Voices, the band he wills periodically into being in various incarnations, a bricolage recreation of millions of remembered rock moves, realised with the assistance of a shifting set of acolytes, and an incurable addiction to the onanistic vice of songwriting.
As I hit the Southern stretch of The New River path those 3148 Pollard songs are endlessly recombining themselves as random and unrepeatable new patterns, in jarring audio-collages accidentally attuned their creatorâs painstaking cut and paste aesthetic.
Pollardâs overflowing artesian well of phonetically seductive phrases are fashioned into thousands of one-in-a-million pop hooks, and then tossed away without any apparent effort, scattered like great careless handfuls of abundant seed. Unleash The Large Hearted Boy! Do Not Devastate! Impossible Octopus!
Guided By Voices is now an unlikely candidate for the most perfect rock band of all time, whilst at the same time being a thoughtful reflection on what a rock bands is, a fantasy that becomes a fact.
3148 songs. Thirty-six years of sound kaleidoscope into an invisibly seamed stream with no obvious entry or exit points, the sound born fully formed and already on its trajectory. By Stoke Newington Iâm blitzkrieged.
Pollard may be endlessly experimenting with the formal limits of the rock song but, at the same time, rooms full of drunken fans in their thousands are chanting âG B V!â, making his conceptual exercise pungently real.
Guided by Voicesâ second album of 2019, Warp and Woof, welded boom-box recordings and on-the-hoof impromptu sessions into a coherently collaged collection. In contrast, their third album of this year, and the bandâs 29th, experiments playfully with stadium sized fidelity and uncharacteristically impactful arrangements.
Ever since producer Travis Harrison worked on Pollard and long-term guitarist Doug Gillardâs 2011 Lifeguards album Waving At The Astronauts, his approach to Guided by Voices was that, counterintuitively, that he didnât want it to sound homemade. Sweating The Plague is constructed as a classic 12 song album experience, made to be played loud.
The grinding techtonic plate guitars of Doug Gillard and Bobby Bare Jr. anchor the opener, âDownerâ, and set out Sweating The Plagueâs stall, before the chunky indie-pop surge of "Street Partyâ, and "Motherâs Milk Elementaryâ, a typical Pollard attempt to squeeze the multiple movements of some early â70s epic into a two and a half minute package, complete with Mellotron-hued outro. Bob had literally dreamed the piece into being, waking with the different sections of a song on an album his subconscious mind had imagined him purchasing humming in his head, and running downstairs to record it.
âHeavy Like The World"âs subliminally seductive earworm hook gives way to "Ego Central High", a stadium-filling slice of hairy riffing; "The Very Secondâ sounds like a produced realisation of the chopped-together compositions of GBVâs late eighties output; âTiger On Top" splices coffee-shop acoustic moments into extended splurges of hard rock swagger, the vibe bleeding through into the similarly strutting "Unfun Glitz", before the Southern jangle-rock sound of âYour Cricket Is Rather Unique" spins long-term listeners back to the aesthetic of the bandâs 1986 debut, Forever Since Breakfast.
Immortals valedictory anthemic upsurge plateaus out into the acoustic chimes of "My Wrestling Days Are Over" before the uncharacteristically substantial closer, "Sons Of The Beard", posits a kind of blue-collar plaid-shirt progressive rock. The multiple tidal phases hoary progenitors like Janus or Gnidrolog spread over the twenty minutes in 1971, are here concertinaed down into a tight four minutes forty-nine, Pollard finally finding a place in GBV itself for influences formerly side-lined into his now abandoned Circus Devils project.
Sweating The Plague is an uncharacteristically concise rockânâroll record, with lush gems tucked in amongst the hooks and hits, and with a sprinkling of prog rock moves. And, as usual with Pollard, the album is sequenced as a whole, a coherent collection, rather than a selection of downloadable content baubles.
Being a fan of Pollard, and Guided by Voices, can feel like standing in a ticker tape parade and reaching out to grab at stray releases as the endless flurry of output from the Needmore Songs publishing house billows around you. But hereâs twelve compatible nuggets of Pollard content in one handy package, all boxed up and ready to go.
Neck Deep - Presented by Opus One & PromoWest North Shore
This show has been rescheduled from April 27 - all tickets honored
The title of Griffin Houseâs upcoming release,âRising Star,â references the first track on the album, which tells the story of a character who moves to Music City, like so many do, with a guitar and a dream. Although not intended to be auto-biographical, the listener gets the sense that this comical and fictitious tale could hardly have been woven by someone without a similar life experience to the protagonist in âRising Star.â
Indeed, Houseâs story began in much the same way. He moved to Nashville in 2003, as a young man, with not much more than a guitar, and a handful of songs. He took a part-time job downtown on Broadway at Legendâs Gifts, biding his time before he caught his big break. That big break came, after just a few months, in the form of a phone call from Island Def Jam records that jumpstarted his career and led to him signing with CAA and Nettwerk Records.
After that, things happened quickly for House. His 2004 debut album âLost and Foundâ was lauded by music critics such as Bill Flanagan (Executive VP MTV/VH1 Networks) who featured House on the CBS Sunday Morning show as one of the âbest emerging songwriters.â House began touring, opening for acts like John Mellencamp and the Cranberries, and found himself meeting people like Bruce Springsteen and Willie Nelson. House seemed poised to be more of an âovernight successâ rather than a ârising star,â but thatâs not exactly how things turned out. âIâve been a ârising starâ for the past 15 yearsâ House jokes, âitâs a slow rise.â
Although House has enjoyed plenty of success as national headliner for over a decade and has earned a great deal of respect as a well-known performer and singer-songwriter, he seems to not take himself or his career in the music industry too seriously. Now married, sober, and a father, House has learned to balance his career by making his family and his sobriety his first priority.
He pays tribute to his wife and children (with) âWhen the Kids are Gone,â a song about watching his daughters grow up and imagining he and his wife as empty-nesters.
Thereâs a lightness in his new record that comes across especially in the first fews songs, such as âMighty Good Friend,â where you can hear his kids on the recording, as well as the sense of humor in â15 Minutes of Fame.â
House acknowledges that his new album is a collaborative effort. âI teamed up with my old buddies Paul Moak and Ian Fitchuk who helped me make my very first record Lost and Found. It was so good to reunite with them and work together again. Itâs amazing that these guys I started out with in the very beginning are now world class musicians and producers being nominated and winning Grammys. This album seemed to come together with a little more grace and ease than records Iâve made in the past, and I think so much of that is attributed to how good the people I got worth with on this record are, they all just happen to be really good friends too.â
Several songs on Houseâs album are also co-writes with friends and fellow Nashville musicians, including Brian Elmquist (The Lone Bellow) and Joy Williams (The Civil Wars).
âI usually lock myself in a room for 8 hours at a time until I have enough songs done,â House says, âBut with touring part time and being a dad part time, that adds up to full time job, so I decided to call in a little help from my friends to write some of these songs. Some songs come easier than others,â says House. âI wrote Mighty Good Friend with Brian (Elmquist) and itâs a song about how Iâd been fighting through writerâs block, and then there are songs like Change that I wrote with Joy (Williams). We sat on her couch one morning and I remember showing her the idea for the verse. We worked on the words for an hour or two, and then out of nowhere she sang this beautiful chorus. We broke for lunch and came back and finished it that afternoon. It was one of those songs that took years to live and only one short day to write.â
âI love making music with friends,â says House. âHindsight was another one with my friend Brian (Elmquist). We share some similarities including our journey into sobriety together. Thereâs a line in the song âIâve been thinking lately, of a boy young and on the runâ that always makes me imagine Brian as a little boy with a dream, both running away from a hard past and on toward a brighter future. Weâve formed a bond and friendship through music and sobriety, and I think you can feel that in the songs we wrote together.â
Just when you think you have Houseâs album pegged, there seems to be a surprise around every corner. Each song is distinct in its own own way. The heavy guitar on âHung Up On You,â a song that House says is a break up letter addressed to alcohol, gives way to the intro of âCup of Fulfillmentâ which starts with a bag pipe solo and leads the listener on an epic journey that crescendos into one of the record's most moving moments.
We catch a glimpse of a much more rock nâ roll side of House than weâve heard before from the Pink Floyd-esque âCrash and Burnâ to the rowdy punk influenced âNatural Man.â
Houseâs new album âRising Starâ is set for release on June 28th 2019. Also set for release in 2019, is a full length film called âRising Star,â in which House stars and co-produces with music video director and film-maker Shane Drake. The film features music from Houseâs new album as well as his previous catalogue and chronicles his life as a musician.
Over the last few years, THE SCHIZOPHONICS have built up a formidable reputation around the world as an explosive live act. Tapping into the same unstoppable combination of rock 'n' roll energy and showmanship that fueled THE MC5 in the heyday of the Grande Ballroom, their wild live show is heavily influenced by artists like JAMES BROWN, IGGY POP, JIMI HENDRIX, LITTLE RICHARD, and THE SONICS. Singer/guitarist Pat Beers and drummer Lety Beers formed the band in San Diego in 2009 and have worked tirelessly since then, playing hundreds of shows around the globe and winning 7 San Diego music awards. In 2013 they were recruited as the backing/opening band for EL VEZ, which helped the band make a name for itself in Europe. Since then, they've played in fourteen countries, and supported tours by like-minded acts like ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT, LITTLE BARRIE, and THE WOGGLES and have opened for the DAMNED, HIVES and CAGE THE ELEPHANT. Shindig magazine described their live show "Like watching some insane hybrid of WAYNE KRAMER, JAMES BROWN, and the Tazmanian Devil". âOne of my favorite live bands ever!â proclaims Tim Mays, who has run the Casbah in San Diego for 30 years and has seen literally thousands of live bands come through his doors. âThe Schizophonics bring the goods every time they play,â he enthuses.
The band is more than just an outstanding live act, theyâre also committed to writing great, memorable songs. After releasing 2 singles and an EP over the last few years on Munster, Ugly Things, and Pig Baby Records, they put out their first full-length album in July 2017 titled Land Of The Living on the label Sympathy For The Record Industry with famed record man Long Gone John. In January of 2019 they started work on their 2nd LP recruiting Dave Gardner (Hot Snakes, RFTC) mixing engineer Stephen Kaye ( JD McPherson, Mike Krol) and Pierre De Reeder (Rilo Kiley) to put their live, raw sound to tape. The album titled People in the Sky will be released on October 31st, 2019 on Pig Baby Records.
Shovels & Rope - By Blood Tour with Special Guest Indianola - Presented by 91.3 WYEP, Opus One & PromoWest North Shore (rescheduled from April 7, 2020)
As the BrontÃ« sister wrote, âThe ties that bind us to life are tougher than you imagine.â Shovels & Rope, the musical duo of Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, embody that bond. Married for a decade, their covenant extends to blood and beyond: as parents, bandmates, and creative collaborators who can now add the pursuits of festival curators, film subjects, and childrenâs book authors to that mighty list. Having released four studio albums and two collaborative projects (Busted Jukebox, Vol. 1 & 2) since 2008, Trent and Hearst have built their reputation on skill, sweat, and, yes, blood. Now, with the tough and elegant new record By Blood, as well as their High Water Festival in their hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, âShovels & Rope: The Movieâ, and the picture book âCâmon Utah!â, Shovels & Rope are primed for their biggest year yet.
Accomplished musicians in their own right prior to dedicating themselves full time to Shovels & Rope in 2011, Trent and Hearst have made a career together by seizing opportunities and never resting on their laurels or being complacent in doing something just because. Carving out a niche in the music world with strong, roots/indie/folk/rock-inspired efforts like 2012âs Oâ Be Joyful, 2014âs Swimminâ Time, and 2016âs inward-looking Little Seeds, as well as their powerful live show, far-reaching tours, and myriad TV and festival appearances, Shovels & Rope have earned the right to follow their own muse. And so, in an effort to satisfy their numerous creative interests and adapt to a changing industry, Trent and Hearst have firmly planted their flag in realms beyond recording and releasing albums.
The third annual High Water Festival curated by the band will be held over a weekend in April and will bring 10,000 fans to a park in North Charleston to witness a lineup of artists comparable to some of the best in the countryâincluding Leon Bridges, The Head & The Heart, Lord Huron, Jenny Lewis, Mitski, and Shovels & Rope themselves. High Water benefits select organizations and water conservation charities in Charleston and aims to avoid the feeling of corporate inundation and discomfort that plagues many big-name music events. Trent and Hearst work with production companies and agencies to book acts, then serve as on-site hosts in addition to performing throughout the weekend.
âShovels & Rope: The Movieâ is a performance film that has been expanded into feature-length with an external narrative weaving through and connecting the live performances. Directed by their frequent visual collaborator, Curtis Millard, the âlive showâ portion of the filming took place over two nights at The Orange Peel in Asheville, North Carolina, during the tour for Little Seeds. The rest of the film was shot in various locations in and around the Southeast. The result can be described as a David Lynch meets John Hughes (a fun, silly, and tongue-in-cheek film for fans to enjoy that also represents the band at the peak of their live power.)
The childrenâs book, âCâmon Utah!â, sets the lyrics from the new song of the same name to illustrations by the artist Julio Cotto. It is an inspirational story, set in the future aftermath of the building and subsequent destruction of the southern border wall. The separated and displaced families are figuring out how to start to put the pieces back together. Communities form to organize and support each other. The parents in these communities tell stories to lift the children spirits and maintain hope through sadness and despair. One such story is about a magic horse named Utah who has the power to help to reunite them with their families on the other side of the devastation. The book is intended as a conversation starter for parents and children to discuss immigration and diversity.
Trent and Hearst have learned to juggle their busy schedules by relying on each other as well as their team, and by seizing every chance for efficiency. They realized one such opportunity by building a modest studio at home, which is where they began to record By Blood in May of 2018. The new space in their back yard provides a sanctuary where their gear can remain at the ready, a luxury conducive to their creative processâespecially when sharing a home with kids.
By Bloodâs ten songs are vignettes that focus on vulnerable, human characters laid bare, while the textures are gritty, sweeping, and profound. These are tales of inherently good yet incomplete people whose faults are on the table in plain sight, a trait that endears the subjects to the listener and that the songwriters recognize in themselves.
The first single âThe Wireâ is about accepting your own faults and learning to say youâre sorry. Its stylishly minimal verses and wall of sound chorus recall some raw, girl-group era drama as well as timeless rock and roll. As the gorgeous, dark lullaby of the title track brings the album to its end, the beautiful, cinematic journey of By Blood has left its mark.
And so, bound by blood, by sweat, and by loveâof creativity, craft, and familyâShovels & Rope are coming out swinging. From the bind in their band name itself to the shared life they have built from scratch, itâs clear that Trent and Hearst are in constant pursuit of their best selvesâtogether.
(Rescheduled from July 12, 2020) - Dar Williams with Special Guest Katie Dahl - Presented by Opus One & 91.3 WYEP
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.
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.
Wishbone Ash celebrates a half-century of live twin-lead guitar power in 2020. Fans can look forward to enjoying repertoire from the band's vast catalog of exactly 101 unique releases with their new (28th) studio album "Coat of Arms" â 24 live albums, 43 compilations and box sets and five live DVDs, along with a DVD rockumentary (âThis is Wishbone Ashâ). Continually pushing their creative process, the band is taking this COVID-19 time of isolation to write their next release! "Music is the great healer and balm for us all," says Andy Powell. "It seems only appropriate, with immediate touring being postponed, for us to join together to reach for what may come in this incredible time."
The first single, âWe Stand As One,â was officially released on Jan. 10. See the video at: https://youtu.be/87_t4ElxEfY.
The U.S. leg of the 50th anniversary tour completed on 13 March in Seattle, a center of the outbreak. The band felt it was important to play on, with all precautions of safety. Now their 2nd Leg of the U.S. Tour in September/October may be their next live concerts. "There will be an important time to come together in body," Powell says. "NOW is the time for us all to come together in Spirit."
WA US20 crop med res.jpg
From left to right: Bob Skeat, Andy Powell, Joe Crabtree, Mark Abrahams.
Formed in October 1969 in London, England, Wishbone Ash is one of the most influential guitar bands in the history of rock. Inspired equally by British folk traditions, American jazz and R&B, the group vaulted to public and critical acclaim, touring arenas, stadiums and theaters throughout Europe and the United States. Power and melody have made the Ash a hard act to follow, while they are currently being discovered by new generations of loyal rock fans.
Through the years the band has delved into various musical genres, from folk, blues and jazz to pedal-to-the-metal rock and electronica. Whatever the style, Wishbone Ashâs signature is the distinctive twin-melodic lead guitar interplay that has influenced such bands as Thin Lizzy, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Iron Maiden and, more recently, Opeth.
âThe blueprint and musical roots that we laid down in the early 1970s must have been really strong to have lasted this long,â says founding member Andy Powell (guitar, vocals). âEvery band needs a plan and most importantly, to find THEIR own sound.â
The 50th-anniversary tour officially kicked off in October 2019 with 31 shows in the UK, followed by January and early-February dates in Europe that included a package tour with Nazareth and Uriah Heep.
True road warriors, each year Wishbone Ash logs around 30,000 road miles, roughly equivalent to circumnavigating the earth.
âThe band basically lives together year-round on the road, so we have a very strong level of communication that translates in our performances and recordings,â says Powell. A key ingredient in the band's recipe for success is a devoted fan base, many who have followed Wishbone Ash from the beginning, and which often includes their children and even grandchildren. âWe value our fan community above all else,â Powell says.
In 2015, Powell released his musical memoir, âEyes Wide Open: True Tales of a Wishbone Ash Warrior,â co-written with renowned Irish music journalist Colin Harper and available in Kindle and Apple iBook formats.
âIâve seen a lot of changes in the music business and the world in general, as you can imagine,â Powell says. On looking back over the 50 years of the band, he muses, âLike all success stories, a career like this has its downs as well as its ups, and and the true ups can only be measured in this way.â
Murder by Death 20th Anniversary with Special Guest Amigo The Devil (rescheduled from July 15 & March 19, 2020)
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.
(Rescheduled from August 3, 2020) - Crystal Bowersox with Special Guest David Luning
This show has been rescheduled from April 20, 2020 and August 3, 2020 - All tickets honored
Crystal Bowersox, a northwest Ohio native currently calling Nashville home, has built her life around music. Crystalâs love for music developed at an early age from a need to find peace in a chaotic world. Through art and creation, Crystal was able to direct her energy and emotion, finding a way to mend a mind in turmoil. For her, music was always the most effective form of catharsis, and she would play for anyone, anywhere. In her own words, âmy guitar was an appendage. I couldnât live without it.â
Dead set on a career in music, Crystal moved to Chicago as a teenager, where she spent her days busking on subway platforms in between working odd jobs. While in the big city, she broadened her musical horizons and shared her talents with a variety of venues, ultimately auditioning for the ninth season of American Idol. Crystalâs time on the show proved to be well spent, as she immediately left the the soundstage for the recording studio. Since her introduction to the world through television, Crystal has released 3 LPâs, two EPs, several singles, and is currently developing an autobiographical, theatrical rock concert titled, "Trauma Queen". Additionally, she has used her talents to benefit several causes close to her heart, and has become an advocate and inspiration for people living with Type 1 Diabetes.
Similar to her beginnings, Crystal intends to make music that has healing power, but at this point, she sees far beyond her own troubles. Her live show is a safe space for concertgoers. Attend a Crystal Bowersox show, and you just might see a grown man cry and a child dance simultaneously. Youâll also likely get the chance to meet her personally; Crystal is typically the first one to arrive and the last one to leave the venue. Meeting with the fans and hearing their personal stories is something Crystal considers a blessing in her life.
By reliving her own painful moments in song, Crystal hopes to transcend that pain, lifting herself and her audience to a higher place. In the opening lines of âA Broken Wingâ she sings, âI know thereâs beauty in the burden / And even on my darkest day that sun will shine.â
All Them Witches with Special Guest Blackwater Holylight (rescheduled from April 24 and July 11, 2020)
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.