- The Groggs, The Atom Age, Grand Tarantula, West Night Core
Event on 2013-08-23 21:00:00
The Groggs from Santa Cruz, CA play an amalgam of vintage rock in the tradition of their wide-ranging influences but tend to favor the early garage-punk spirit of bands such as The Seeds, The Stooges, Them, The Standells, Hasil Adkins and a healthy dose of late '70s street sensibility. A little bleary. They are commonly referred to as a Garage Rock band, but it is known to the band members' girlfriends that The Groggs are a tougher nut to crack. Always the social chameleon, this group adapts to its audience whether slumming it up in punk mayhem or masquerading in the parlors of high society. But at home the sound resembles a rollercoaster ride through the fading annals rock and roll, much like that Aerosmith attraction in Florida.
Embarking in 2007 on a quest for the purest experience possible in music, in the same ironic graffiti-laced bedroom where fellow Santa Cruz alumnus Camper Van Beethoven once ignited their meteoric ascension (yes we can qualify this), The Groggs named themselves after their corner liquor mart (Buy Beer At The Grog Shop in Santa Cruz!) and became more apt to settle for free drinks and gas money.
In 2008 the group self-recorded and released their seminal EP, Up To No Good, and followed up with a tour of the Northwest and Southern California. During this time it became evident that by doing right by rock and roll, rock and roll will do right by The Groggs and audiences on all fronts tend to agree. And when they don't, they aren't too bothered by it.
In their own home setting, The Groggs have shared their favored local stages (and have had foggy encounters) with groups from abroad, starting in no order with groups like The Black Lips, Kid Congo Powers and the Pink Monkeybirds, King Tuff, Starlite Desperation, The Mantles, Crocodiles, The Flakes, Sleepy Sun, Slang Chickens, The Mean Jeans, Shannon n The Clams, Clorox Girls King Lollipop, The Teutonics, Prima Donna, Pink Films, Glitter Wizard, and a whole bevy of other artists who are really quite relevant. Through these so many occasions the gang has distributed records across the pond and beyond Dirty Water Records in the UK and Green Cookie Records down there in Greece, not to mention and up and down the West Coast and across the great US via mailorder. Yes it's really humming along.
As the group's universal appeal became known and it was declared that The Groggs had taken on a life of its own as a spiritual entity, the group's members once again entered the studio, but this time in much nicer digs. Get this, lead guy Keith, still in the prime of his youth, had been slaving away as intern for a top notch recording facility deep in the Santa Cruz Mountains called Compound Recordings where a bevy of vintage and modern gear doth reside. What came out on the other end was drums recorded with ten microphones, squeezing the life out of many an old amp and much reverberal regeneration that resulted in a Wall Of Sound take on early 80's punk not dissimilar to the collision of The Ramones and Phil Spector.
At this time, real working class guy Keith was manning the paper cutter at a copy shop whose only available radio reception was inclined to the ubiquitious Soft Rock KWAV, and those same soft sensibilities undeniably informed the shimmering Wall Of Sound that sizzles a little too hotly off of their 7" record as it plays. Since those days, he'd be the first to tell you that a modest career in production has begun and as an engineer / producer he has delivered several albums for other groups now for sale such as The Wild Ones, Critic (Side Project to Blackbird Raum) and Up All Night. Many other projects lay shelved but the group anxiously eyes its coming studio full length, this time across the reels of analog tape.
The release of their "3D" EP comes packed with digital download and one pair of 3D glasses for the true enjoyment and total fulfillment of a keepsake level packaging experience that has them flying off the shelves worldwide. And all this came delivered on bowling-ball colored vinyl, it was really too good to be true. But it's a darn good spinner at any roller rink, petting party or teenaged doper scene.
It's live and in the ring where The Groggs really pay off – past press has remarked upon the prowess and stature, physical ability, almost fearsome nature and utter omnipotence of the group's bemuscled foreperson, Keith "Jeffrey" Thompson who delights fans of all age groups with high-flying guitar pageantry and only the most careful of crooning to accompany.
Generally while this happens, bassist and think-tank Ryan "The Snake" Allbaugh gazes in approval, assuring any uninitiates that everything is "going to be fine". Known for a big, round and fuzzed out sound, he's just as well equipped in bedside manner and provides a soothing male presence. In his own right, Ryan is a seasoned performer in past outfits such as Glitter Wizard, and currently as front person for Up All Night, delivers a low down Detroit hustle.
Drummer Dom Gullo has a beard and is the same relative height as his cohorts. This gives the group a striking, proportionate image on stages of any size. And on the drums, he's no slouch. He can play the cymbal faster than a lambs tail. He maintains is mainstay as drummer / vocalist to the progressive two-piece outfit Smokin' Ponies, who are available for parties and functions of any size.
An early encounter between band members Ryan Allbaugh and Keith Thompson laid a hard rock stone in the foundry of the popular Bay Area Psych Rock Band Slash Cult that calls itself Glitter Wizard, fronted by longtime cohort Micah Warren. The band currently resides on in neighboring San Francisco and these old mates frequently reunite to toss one out.
Since those days, The Groggs have become a people's favorite in the Bay Area and beyond, commanding a wide swath of rock and roll lifer's from all corners and out of all woodworks. If you love rock and roll, you will love The Groggs. Or, you won't much dislike them if they are coming to play at your place of business.
When asked about their future, as they are so frequently pestered with their newfound favor in press outlets such as Shindig! UK, Performer Magazine, Maximum Rock N Roll, and an outcropping of esoteric online shanty rags, The Groggs mostly think about the next gig, what's wrong with the van and how to trick someone into releasing their upcoming 12" LP which stands to put a lot of smart record collecting people over the moon upon its inevitable release.
Yes, it's clearly no better time to give this group exactly what they are asking for, and to know that the promise of rock and roll will be fulfilled to you, and in person if you choose by The Groggs.
What the Critics Say :
"A very excellent band" – RVCA.com
"A return to good ol' dingy, hard hitting rock & roll for all the hungry purists" – Good Times Santa Cruz
"Scuzz Rock Luminaries" – Metro Santa Cruz
Formed in 2008, this shaggy local trio continues to electrify venues alongside the likes of the Black Lips and Kid Congo Powers; but dont think for a second the Groggs are rock stars. We have no false aspirations to make it, says singer Keith Thompson, Make it all the time, I say. With this motto in hand, the Groggs deliver a staggering blast of new garage rock, with hints of punk and power-pop sing-alongs, all wrapped up in a gritty package for a classic sound that spans decades. With openers from Olympia, Western Hymn, Wednesday promises to be a true experience in the lost art of rock n roll with steady beats and audience interactiongiving anyone in earshot a sense that the show is less about the bands and more about everyone leaving with a good time; just as the gods intended.
Since its inception, the hard-hitting garage rock trio known as the Groggs has given new hope to the Santa Cruz music scene. Lead singer and guitarist Keith Thompson's slightly surfish licks blend beautifully with punch-packing power chords and grungy, soulful singing. All the while, he struts onstage with more swagger than a rooster in the hen house, backed up by the bountiful bass rifts of Ryan Allbaugh. Justin Ward rounds out the group, hammering away on the skins and keeping the beat for the infectiously catchy yet dingy tunes. Overall, the Groggs are a band to be reckoned with, and they put on a show not to be missed. Crepe Place; ; 9pm. (Brian Harker)
Its 6:30 p.m. and I feel out of place hitting up the Blue Lagoon so early. Its black walls and empty stage stand quiet as red lights pulsate overhead in the vacant band room, flickering hints of what will come alive later in the evening. Im sitting at a table as Keith Thompson, the sound engineer, speedily preps the room for the nights concert. Finally, irked by the quiet, he puts on The Seeds Satisfy You as background music for our chat about his own band thats riled up the very room were in many times over, the Groggs.
Its working class, Thompson says of the Groggs sound, after joining me with a can of Pabst nestled in his hand, his Golden Boots T-shirt peeking out from his denim jacket. Most people can relate to it. If we showed up at a veterans VFW bar we could probably not get killed. The singer adds, Its not about how intellectual we are, its about how we can connect, write kick-ass songs and get everyone pumped and moving.
Having quaked stages alongside Bob Log III, Kid Congo Powers and the Black Lips, the Groggs have stepped up as one of Santa Cruzs premier rock acts, delivering on a promise of classic rock and big-hit songwriting based around basic chords. Thompson may claim an aversion to over-intellectualizing art rockers, but dont be fooled: the Groggs dont lack introspection. Along with gritty, high-adrenaline garage rock and plenty of nods to 70s guitar punches and punk rock, the trio delves into country and soul influences (think Townes Van Zandt and the Byrds) and current crowd favorites include some nearly-shoegaze-infused pop rock ballads.
We want to show that everyone should have a band in Santa Cruzeven the guy who cuts my hair can have a band. Theres no line or distinction between who can play.
Keith Thompson, The Groggs
Throughout our conversation, Thompson affectionately refers to his girlfriend and primary source of inspiration, Luxury Sweets bassist Rachael MacKenzie Chavez, as my chick, and Groggs bassist Ryan Allbaugh as my bro, and the 27-year-old talks about his songwriting intentions with the same unabashed candor and casual confidence.
Were trying to unite the reverb-drenched Wall of Sound with classic songwriting and punk energy, the frontman says of the bands upcoming debut album, recorded at Compound Recordings where Thompson labored as an intern in exchange for studio time. I hope its a great rock record. Like one for the ages, to put on the shelf next to your Clash and Ramones records. You could put on the Ramones Rocket to Russia and then you could put on our album and draw a line to it.
Twenty minutes into our talk, Allbaugh rushes in. Sporting long hair and a black Pestilence hoodie, the bassists death metal background is obvious. Apologizing for being late due to a water pipe bursting on River Street, Allbaughs darkness seems to end with his attire. Smiley and lighthearted, the Chico native chimes in to describe his rising band with Thompson and drummer Justin Ward as unpretentious and enjoyable and a little in your faceold fashioned bar rock in the best sense of the term. Then he laughs with an afterthought, Well, maybe we dont want to emphasize the beer too much!
We dont play to any specific class or social group, Thompson states. Its something to bring all those people together. We want to show that everyone should have a band in Santa Cruzeven the guy who cuts my hair can have a band. Theres no line or distinction between who can play. Allbaugh agrees, Yeah, why not? Its just fun.
So whats next for the Groggs in their searing rock plight for the everyman?
Were going to attempt another West Coast tour
in the spring once we have the record out, Thompson says. Thats if we can get our van to smogwhich is not looking good.
For more information on The Groggs, check out myspace.com/thegroggs.
Written by Linda Koffman
Tuesday, 20 January 2009 – gtweekly.com
"The purists of the local rock scene"
Having a MySpace is a necessity for every band these days. Having a MySpace without any music on it will likely get a band nowhere. Unless youre The Groggs. Peruse their site and youll find show dates, plenty of retro black and white photos, and a quirky little bio that so insightfully begins, Many years ago, three men were born. Music for a quick listen? Nope. Im kind of a purist, explains singer and sound engineer Keith Thompson about the curious absence of tunes, I want it to sound like the nuggets of the psychedelic 60s. In the meantime, through the local network, weve been doing all right. More than all right, the trio has found its niche playing heavy, wall-trembling shows for audiences of all kinds. Thompson, formerly of psych outfit El Sonido, started the band with visions of Gram Parsons and Townes Van Zandt in mind. That plan was soon ditched, and theyve instead been procuring a set encompassing stoner rock, grinding punk, and the softened edges of power popwith some Billy Bragg and Sam Cooke thrown in. Theyre as accessible as that initial country rock, but as fiercely adrenaline-rousing as Raging Bull. The origin was that we were going to be the sweethearts of the rodeo, but then we realized that might be a little limiting, the singer reflects. So far we get the hipsters diggin us, the old folks diggin us, and its pretty cool. More like sweethearts of the corner store, the bands hoping to cement a grassroots sponsorship from their infamous namesakeThe Grog Shop, which he calls a notoriously dingy liquor store that were so proud of. Tacking on that extra g as a nod to The Troggs, the threesome pays homage to its neighborhood beverage outlet, and may soon just sport the stores T-shirts onstage in exchange for, yep, that DIY rock gold: beer. Were happy to pay for our beer in the meantime, but itd definitely be nice to save a little money that way, the frontman muses with hope. And, if were lucky, those savings will lead to some official recordings for the rest of us.
at Crepe Place
1134 Soquel Avenue
Santa Cruz, United States
- Jesse Ruben / Caitlin Crosby
Event on 2013-09-06 20:00:00
Philly-bred singer-songwriter Jesse Ruben freely confides that hes done a bit of obsessing over his second album, The Ones That Matternot that such anxiety is evident on the highly accomplished disc, the follow-up to Rubens self-released 2008 debut, Aiming for Honesty. Adding full-band accompaniment to his lush, soulful pop-rock, Ruben also stretches impressively as a writer on new album, achieving a near-novelistic sense of character and setting on finely hewn tracks like A Lack of Armor, Bleeker and Sixth, and Unbreakable. His relentless attention to detail pays off handsomely.
With its sophisticated, smoky sonic palette crafted by producer/co-writer Boots Ottestad (Robbie Williams, Macy Gray) singer-songwriter/actress Caitlin Crosbys new seven-song set is a marked departure from her 2009 release, Flawz. I have a couple of breakup songs, Crosby says of the material on her evocative new EP. But the ones Im most passionate about are about issues that could have an impact on someones life, maybe make them feel less alone. And this record doesnt sound like anything Ive ever done.
The EPs diverse, cinematic musical backdrop adds edge and intrigue to Crosbys lyrics about women who give themselves to undeserving men (the soulfully sad Save That Pillow), the emptiness of L.A.s party-hard club scene (the strutting Is This the Good Life?), redemption in the midst of despair (the smoldering, syncopated Gasoline; the mountain gospel of Cracked Me Open), and, yes, a former flame (the spare, spooky Boy in the Benz; the vintage sounding buildup of Consolation Prize).
at Cafe 939
939 Boylston Street
Boston, United States
- Newport Folk Presents WAY OVER YONDER – Saturday
Event on 2013-10-05 14:00:00
Way Over Yonder
The Newport Folk Festival, Americas original music festival, follows route 66 all the way across the country this fall to Santa Monica, CA for the inaugural edition of WAY OVER YONDER. WAY OVER YONDER brings the same spirit west and will take place on the historic and picturesque Santa Monica Pier, a perfect bookend to Newport Folks primary location on the New England shore. Way Over Yonder will have two stages: the Main Stage outdoors on the deck, where the headliners will appear and the Carousel Stage, inside the historic carousel building, where acoustic acts will perform. The venue will also have food and drink readily available within its footprint.
There's a special challenge to being an artist in this increasingly fractured cultural age; a delicate balancing act, between being of your time, and striving for timelessness. Few contemporary artists even try. Neko Case is an exception. Case's last album, 2006's Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, brought her to that nexus where critical acclaim meets commercial success. But Case's impact can't be measured merely in chart placements or press plaudits. It's her ability to connect – on an uncommonly deep and meaningful level – with her audience. She's one those artists, you see: the kind whose songs linger in your head, your heart and soul long after the record has stopped spinning. While Case's creative evolution has made for an impressive story so far, she's about to write the most remarkable chapter in that continuing saga with the release of her sixth studio album, Middle Cyclone. The tornado that blows through the title and several songs on Middle Cyclone is an apt metaphor. Neko has famously taken her own twisted route, lighting for a time in the South, in the West, in the Northwest, in Canada, flirting with as many musical styles as homes. She is settled-or unsettled-in Tucson for the moment, with dreams of moving full-time to the former dairy farm she owns in Vermont. She recorded the new album in both locations, as well as studios in Toronto and Brooklyn. For Case, the beauty of making music, of creating, is that it remains a mysterious, confounding and, occasionally, contradictory process. 'When I toured for Fox Confessor one of the things I said in interviews about that record was that I don't like writing love songs, that I can't write them,' she recalls. 'Of course, as soon as I said that, I ended up writing a bunch of love songs.' It should be noted here that Case's 'love songs' are not the typical boy- meets-girl variety, as the opening track, 'This Tornado Loves You,' dramatically attests. 'What would it be like to be pursued by a force of nature' asks Case. 'That's a frightening and exciting prospect.' Case resists the temptation to see the tornado as metaphor for something more personal, like a destructive relationship from her past. 'Of course, I'm fine if people want to interpret it that way, but for me, the song is very literal,' she says. Neko is equally earnest when she sings exultantly about the revenge of caged animals on their keepers, in the polemic 'People Got A Lotta Nerve.' The lyrics we're tempted to read as ambiguous and layered ('But you seemed surprised when it pinned you down/ to the bottom of the tank… I'm a man-eater, and still you're surprised when I eat you') are in reality the plainest. Neko's killer whales and elephants really are killer whales and elephants. But with a magician's gift for misdirection, she keeps us off balance, questing and questioning. Like the old tale of the scorpion and the frog, Case's message here seems to be that instinct is immutable. It's an idea she explores further on the anthemic 'I'm An Animal.' 'I feel like one of the real tragedies is that, as a species, human beings are constantly trying to deny or sublimate our natural instincts,' says Case. 'And I've made a conscious effort not to do that, but to trust myself, both in my life and in my work.' Instinct runs through Middle Cyclone as a theme and a goal, most often and most forcefully as the instinct for love. 'But,' notes Case, 'only in the sense that the songs are about the need for love — no matter how cool you think you are. What other people might call 'love songs' I think of as homages. They can be to a person, a region, a feeling, even sad feelings.' That notion is captured vividly on 'Pharaohs' – a kind of cousin to Fox Confessor's 'That Teenage Feeling' – as Case's character pines wistfully for an idealized romance that seems to exist only in the imagination: 'You kept me wanting…like the wanting in the movies and the hymns,' she sings, 'I want the Pharoahs, but there's only men.' As you listen to the album, Case's evolution as a writer is, at times, almost overwhelming. The modest lyrical aims of her debut LP – - released just over a decade ago – - have been continually outstripped with each successive effort, and Middle Cyclone continues that trend in spectacular fashion. And then there are the songs she didn't write. Having covered everyone from Bob Dylan to Aretha Franklin, Case's ability to re-make the material of others has long been celebrated. On Middle Cyclone she again flexes her interpretive muscles re-imagining a pair of early-'70s gems: Sparks' 'Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth' and Harry Nilsson's 'Don't Forget Me.' Sparks' 1974 song was an obvious choice, fitting perfectly into the foreboding nature-oriented theme of the album. 'Plus, I just love Ron Mael's lyrics,' says Case. 'Sometimes I go to the Sparks website and just read their songs as poetry. 'Cause they're bizarre and really controversial, and tongue-in-cheek and funny – all at once.' With the Nilsson tune – an emotional farewell to his ex-wife originally included on his 1974 party album Pussycats – Case felt a deep tug in funny-sad couplets like: 'I'll miss you when I'm lonely, I'll miss the alimony too/Don't forget me…just for a little while.' 'The song has a Roger Miller and Ray Davies quality to it,' says Case. 'That heartbreaking comedy line that punches you in the gut and makes you cry that much harder.' Case decided the only way to record 'Don't Forget Me' was to turn the original's grand orchestral arrangement on its head. She began answering ads on Craigslist advertising free pianos, gathered half a dozen of them up in her disused Vermont barn, and invited a group of friends and fellow musicians to form a ragtag 'piano orchestra' to play on the song. Middle Cyclone is awash in similar moments of sonic inspiration and homespun creativity. In one magical interlude we hear the sound of birds chirping, just as Los Lobos' Steve Berlin begins a midi sax solo. 'Which I think is so hilarious,' says Case of the charmed collision. 'We've got natural robins and unnatural midi sax. But somehow they work perfectly together.' With Neko's indefatigable touring band (guitarist Paul Rigby, bassist Tom V. Ray, vocalist Kelly Hogan, multi-instrumentalist Jon Rauhouse and drummer Barry Mirochnick) building the bedrock of the tracks, Case was able to bring in a collection of friends and fellow travelers including M. Ward, Garth Hudson, Sarah Harmer, and members of The New Pornographers, Los Lobos, Calexico, The Sadies, Visqueen, The Lilys, and Giant Sand, among others. 'Everyone who worked on the record had their input and sculpted things,' says Case. Ultimately, for Case, the songs and themes on Middle Cyclone express a long internal struggle, a pitched battle between nature and nurture. 'Things like animals and nature, they're located in the tender receptor of my brain. And I'm just now trying to come to terms with the notion of loving people as much as I love those other things – because I grew up in a way that made me love the one but not the other.' 'So, I guess I've been working that out for myself, and these songs are my way of reconciling those feelings.'
"In many ways this is my first album," Brett Dennen says of his fourth record, Loverboy, out April 12th, 2011. "On my previous albums I said what I needed to say. I evoked every different mood and sentiment and emotion. Now I don't really have anything to prove. I've been the new kid on the block and now that phase is over. I get to start all over again, relax, and refocus." He pauses and flashes a laidback grin. "And what I'm focused on is having fun." Dennen's wunderkind rise has been impressive. In 2004 Dennen released his self-titled debut, followed quickly by his sophomore LP So Much More (2006,) which spent months on the Billboard Heatseeker chart. The release drew the attention of John Mayer, for whom Dennen opened in 2006 and 2007. In 2008 the artist released his follow-up, Hope for the Hopeless, which debuted at #41 on the Billboard Top 200 and firmly established Dennen as a definitive new voice in modern songwriting. He's worked with Femi Kuti, Natalie Merchant, and Jason Mraz; he's toured with Dave Matthews, Rodrigo y Gabriela, and The John Butler Trio; and he's played Bonarroo, Austin City Limits, Coachella, Outside Lands, and Newport Folk Festival. He's also become the go-to guy for some of the best and most artfully soundtracked contemporary TV shows. His songs have appeared on Scrubs, Grey's Anatomy, Parenthood, Brothers & Sisters, and House among others. Considering his bold-name collaborators, association with hot TV shows, and impressive early chart and radio success, Brett Dennen could be living in the Hollywood hills, gallivanting around with starlets and hanging out in hotel bars. Nope. The bohemian artist, whose major in college was Community Studies for Social Change, lives with a roommate in Santa Monica and rides his bike to the grocery store. Dennen has never been into the ephemeral thrills of the rock star life, he's after something else: a real career, and with the release of Loverboy, he's ready to ascend to his rightful place as one his generation's most inspired, authentic, artists. "Neil Young, Paul Simon, Van Morrison, they're artists, you know? True artists," he explains. "And even when they have ups and downs, which is inevitable over a long career, they're still playing with passion. They're still chasing greatness. They've let their craft change over time. Let it evolve. That's what I want to do." Dennen first started playing guitar and mandolin to amuse the kids while working as a camp counselor. Once Dennen got the feel for writing his own material, he couldn't stop. "It was suddenly like, I kind of need to do this," he remembers. Dennen spent the next few years touring, and it wasn't until December of 2009 that he had a chance to think about a fourth record. "I had two weeks off from the road, my housemate and I built a studio in our living room and we made demo versions of a bunch of songs," he remembers. "The plan was to crank this album out in early 2010. Turns out we didn't end up recording until July of that year." Dennen was frustrated. He likes to keep things moving. But the break turned out to be the best thing possible for the record. "Sometimes when you're put against a wall you do your best work," he muses. "While we were waiting to figure out what we were doing with this album I kept writing new songs. One of them was "Sydney (I'll Come Running,)" one of them was "Comeback Kid" and one of them was "Only Rain." And those are the tracks that will really pull people in." He's right. Several of the songs Dennen wrote last are the first ones you really hear on Loverboy. "Sydney (I'll Come Running)" is a defiant testimony to the endurance of deep love, set to intricate but forceful guitar and mandolin arrangements and accented by choral call-and-response. "Only Rain" is a delicate, moody meditation, the sonic equivalent of a pensive rainy day at the beach. And songs like opening track "Surprise, Surprise" swing with an impressive, easy confidence. That self-assurance comes in part from Dennen's half-decade of experience and part from the fact that he's finally solidified a relationship with the right musicians. "If you want to have a forty-year career you'd better surround yourself with people who will take a bullet for you and for whom you'd do the same," Dennen says. "If you choke you want to look around and see guys that you trust. You want guys you can fail with. And at the same time, if you do something triumphant, you want to be able to look around and see people you really want to share that with too." The extra time Dennen took making Loverboy also had another unforeseen benefit; instead of touring around the world, Dennen was, for the first time in a while, really home in Los Angeles. With no bus to climb on first thing in the morning, no soundcheck to worry about, he started reconnecting with his most basic (and precious) feeling about music: joy. "People get this amazing opportunity to play music but after a while they figure out their routine and they stop going out to see music live, they stop listening to the radio, they stop exploring music," he muses. "I go out and I see live music and I love it and I try to jam with people or just get out and play in a bar somewhere, just to be out and be involved and be a part of something." The chance to retrench and be a part of a local scene inspired Dennen's overall vision of Loverboy as one of those classic albums that becomes the soundtrack for our lives. "I want people to feel instantly attached to a feeling or memory from the music," he explains. "And ten years from now, they'll put on Loverboy and feel like, aww it reminds me of my childhood or of this person in my life." Brett Dennen has the right guys backing him up, the right vision for his future in mind, and the right album to get him where he wants to go. "In college I took this one course in mountaineering," he remembers. "And the professor would always say you can't start counting how many peaks you've bagged until you've bagged ten peaks. At the time I was like 'what the fuck is he talking about!?' But now I get it. I used to feel like I had to put everything into every album. Like it was a race. But now I realize that's not the point. In these last two years I've really been thinking, if this is what I want to do then I have to do it in a way that keeps me healthy and happy. I need to take care of my body with nutrition and exercise. I need to take time off, even if I don't want to, and actually appreciate and enjoy it. And I want to bring all of that balance to my fans. That's what this record is really about. I want people to put on Loverboy and feel good. I want to make people dance!"
Justin Townes Earle
On a rainy Nashville Thursday last October, Justin Townes Earle leapt onstage at the famed Ryman Auditorium to accept the 2011 Americana Music Award for Song of the Year. The triumphant evening capped a turbulent twelve months for the gifted young musician categorized by significant hardship as well as notable achievement including debut performances at New York's Carnegie Hall and on The Late Show with David Letterman. Just one week later, Earle retreated to the western mountains of North Carolina to record his next album, Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now an intriguing title given the importance of change in Earle's approach to art. "I think it's the job of the artist to be in transition and constantly learning more," he says. "The new record is completely different than my last one, Harlem River Blues. This time I've gone in a Memphis-soul direction." Those who've followed Earle's growth since releasing his debut EP Yuma in 2007 won't be surprised he's shooting off in another direction. For an artist whose list of influences runs the gamut from Randy Newman to Woody Guthrie, Chet Baker to the Replacements, and Phil Ochs to Bruce Springsteen, categories are useless. "Great songs are great songs," Earle says. "If you listen to a lot of soul music, especially the Stax Records stuff, the chord progressions are just like country music. And just like country music, soul music began in the church, so it has its roots in the same place." Perhaps then it's also not surprising Earle chose a converted church in Asheville, NC to record Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now. Recorded completely live (no overdubs) over a four-day period with Harlem River Blues co-producer Skylar Wilson, the album sheds the rockabilly bravado of previous records in favor of a confident, raw, and vulnerable sound. Says Earle, "the whole idea was to record everything live, making everything as real as it could be, and putting something out there that will hopefully stand the test of time and space." The result: songs like "Down on the Lower East Side" and "Unfortunately, Anna" are equally timely and timeless. The former finds Earle channeling Closing Time era Tom Waits while the latter echoes the dirges of Springsteen's Darkness on the Edge of Town. That said, gentle heartbreakers like the album's title track and "Am I That Lonely Tonight" are uniquely Earle, solidifying his role as one of his generation's greatest songwriters. Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now comes out March 27th via Bloodshot Records.
They call New Orleans a melting pot. When one thinks about it like that, it's hardly surprising that this is where CALEXICO reconvened to record their seventh full-length album, ALGIERS. Joey Burns and John Convertino have long called upon an extended range of musical influences, blending them together so distinctly that the results have almost become a genre of their own. Nonetheless, the choice of New Orleans may still come as a surprise to many. CALEXICO are, after all, associated with a style that their name – borrowed from a small town of less than 40,000 inhabitants on the border between the US and Mexico – has always defined with an unusual precision. Their work has spoken of dusty deserts and the loners that inhabit them, mixing America's country music heritage with that of a Latin persuasion. In other words, it isn't obviously affiliated with the sounds that have made New Orleans one of the premiere tourist destinations in the US. What's emerged as a result of this decision, however, is arguably the most exciting and accessible record CALEXICO have made. It's a fact emphasised by the band's decision to name the album in tribute to the neighbourhood where they worked: Algiers. "When I say New Orleans, you think…. 'what?'" Burns elaborates. "Preservation Hall Band, Wynton Marsalis, Treme, Satchmo, Dr John, The Funky Butt, The Meters, Fats Domino, Boswell Sisters, Quintron, Trombone Shorty, Galactic, Harry Connick Jr, Brad Pitt, Daniel Lanois. And so do I. But when you are there, on Algiers Point or on the river or standing outside the chain link fence at Congo Square, you go back across the water to Haiti, Cuba, Africa. Some strange circles down there resurface." The feel of ALGIERS is recognisably classic CALEXICO, but their style been revitalised and reborn by the experience of recording in the city. Its influence isn't necessarily sonically evident, but there's a strange, powerful connection to the sounds that have always coloured their own, influences Burns has previously identified as including "Portugese fado, 50's jazz, gypsy or romani music and its offshoots, 60's surf and twang from Link Wray to country's Duane Eddy, the spaghetti western epics of Ennio Morricone and dark indie rock singer songwriters." You can hear ample proof of this in the dozen songs that make up ALGIERS. 'Epic', the magical opening track, swoons with an unexpected, easy-going romance and boasts a strangely calming, emotive chorus, and 'Para' – which Burns admits nearly didn't make the record as "it felt too confessional" – is dark and brooding. 'Hush', featuring Paul Niehaus on both his trademark pedal steel and Moog synth, meanwhile finds Burns at his most sensitive, echoes in his delivery of Bruce Springsteen at his most melancholic, a comparison one might also draw, for other reasons, when confronted by 'Splitter''s uplifting rumble. Then there's 'No Te Vayas', a collaboration between long-term CALEXICO member Jacob Valenzuela and Jairo Zavala of Depedro, and the trumpet-embellished drama of 'Sinner In The Sea', which reflects Burns' desire "to map out a song that embraced our west coast roots to our experience working in Havana with Amparo Sanchez a few years ago" and which he flippantly describes as, "LA Woman heads to the Florida Keys and drives across the water to Cuba". One can't ignore the majestic closer, 'The Vanishing Mind', either, arguably as powerful as anything they've ever written. New Orleans, it seems, agrees witb CALEXICO. "I've always loved New Orleans," confirms John Convertino, who first met Joey Burns in 1990 when they began playing together in Giant Sand with Howe Gelb. "I knew that just by being in that place, with all that history that is so rooted in music, things would be different. You can't help but pick up the vibe. The air itself moves you in a way that is very different from anywhere else." Of course, it's not the first time CALEXICO have worked away from their hometown base of Tucson, Arizona (and the city's Wavelab Studios) since they first started recording under the name in 1996. Garden Ruin was recorded in Bisbee and mixed in Brooklyn, for instance, and their cover of Love's 'Alone Again Or' was laid down in Nashville. But, after their initial attempts to start work on the new record proved troubling, Burns and Convertino were on the hunt for fresh perspectives: "I remember the first day Joey and I got together in our little studio to start," Convertino recalls. "It was a cold, cold morning in Tucson, and we both played about two notes each and got the hell out of there." "I was looking for a renewal of energy and to wake up in a different environment," Burns adds. "I didn't have too many expectations, but was hoping we could tap into a creative vibe and find that balance of our striving for newness and remaining true to our aesthetics. Working out of town not only opens up the musical palate, but gives you a perspective of the emotional landscape back home." The choice of New Orleans was largely down to long time collaborator, producer Craig Schumacher. "We were talking about wanting to go to Europe and record," Burns says, "but we never get our shit together in time to make plans that far in advance. So where do you go that is nearby and has a European feel? New Orleans. The place is strong and bold, soulful to the core, but surrounded by a sea of darkness. There is a heaviness there that I like, and in some way Tucson shares a similar vibe. There's something creepy and old on the edge of town and written throughout the town's histories. Those kinds of aesthetics help with the writing and chipping away at the abstract shapes and colours." Conscious of the clichs that can sometimes afflict acts working in a city with such a strong identity, Burns, Convertino and Schumacher chose to avoid the bigger, better known studios in favour of a smaller, more intimate setting. The Living Room Studio in Algiers, owned by Chris George and Daniel Majorie and situated across the Mississippi River from the main city, was perfect for their needs. "There's always vinyl playing either on an old jukebox in the garage or on the turntable near the kitchen," Burns fondly recalls. "Their roommate, Kevin Barrios, cooked lunch and dinner everyday, so come noontime you couldn't help but be drawn into the kitchen to see what he had going on. It always smelled and tasted good. Shrimp Creole, Jambalaya, Fried Frog Legs, Root Beer BBQ Pork Chops, Red Beans and Rice. Our senses were awakened." Their musical diet was equally wild and eclectic, ranging from The Boswell Sisters – "creepy shit!" Burns laughs – to Jackie Mittoo, from Duke Ellington to The Band. Their working methods, however, changed, with Burns putting aside his nylon string guitar when he was writing in favour of either an electric guitar or even the piano, and Convertino in turn inspired to play with sticks more than his trademark brushes. And, because they were resident in the studio, they collaborated more closely than for some considerable time, with Convertino adding lyrics and playing a greater role in the song's arrangements. "The Living Room studio wound up being the perfect place to set up camp," Burns concludes. "Not only is the design and restoration of the old church structure done tastefully, but the feel of the place, with its high ceilings, helped make John's vintage Ludwig and Gretsch drums sound massive, very different to Tucson, which has concrete floors. I don't why, but the fact that we were in this old wooden chamber of a church really worked well with our acoustic instruments. The fact that we were surrounded by water, the Mississippi River, also gave us some new light and depth." So, some 22 years since they first met, Joey Burns and John Convertino – joined as ever by a cast of musicians from across the globe – add yet another successful musical adventure to their list. You might think that, after six studio albums and a suitcase of tour CDs, collaborations with the likes of Victoria Williams, Iron & Wine, Willie Nelson, Roger McGuinn and Nancy Sinatra, and soundtrack work to boot, there wasn't much more they could achieve. But you'd be wrong. New Orleans clearly inspired them to make an album that sees them stretch out more effortlessly than ever but, while you can take the men out of CALEXICO, but you can't take CALEXICO out of the men…
Dave Simonett (Trampled by Turtles)
Supercharged songs with a hooky playfulness and white-knuckle power Esquire Lit up and chargedfour-part harmonies that are close to being crystalline. Daytrotter Acclaimed band Trampled by Turtles continue to receive praise for their new album Stars and Satellites available now on Thirty Tigers/RED. Since forming in Duluth, Minnesota in 2003, Trampled by Turtles always felt they were able to attain an energy on stage that cant be found in the studio. For Stars and Satellites, however, Trampled by Turtles didnt want to simply try to recreate a live show. We wanted to make a record that breathes, explains Dave Simonett (guitar/vocals), musically we wanted to step out of our comfort zone. You know how sometimes they say less is more, notes Erik Berry (mandolin), thats what Stars and Satellites is about.
Shovels & Rope
Shovels & Rope is a Charleston, South Carolina-based duo consisting of Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent. They perform as an energetic two-piece band, stirring up a righteous racket with two old guitars, a handful of harmonicas, the occasional keyboard, and a junkyard drum kit harvested from an actual garbage heap and adorned with tambourines, flowers and kitchen rags. The songs are the deadliest arrows in this bands quiver. Raw and imagined, effortless and insightful, the pairs panoramic songwriting and raucous performances drive Shovels & Ropes newest release O Be Joyful. Recorded in the twosomes house, backyard and van, as well as various motel rooms across America, the 11-song set offers a compelling encapsulation of Hearst and Trents unique approach, channeling their creative chemistry. Since 2010, Shovels & Rope has been traveling the highways and back roads of North America, logging hundreds of shows and performing for crowds large and small. On stage, Hearst and Trent trade vocals and switch instruments in an instinctive, organic manner thats simultaneously loose and tight, driving their compositions home with a resonant mix of pensive introspection and celebratory passion. In 2011 alone, they were invited to tour with a wide array of acts including Justin Townes Earle, Jason Isbell, the Felice Brothers, Hayes Carll and Butch Walker, and have accumulated a fiercely loyal fan base along the way, building an audience the old-fashioned way. Mississippi-born, Nashville-bred Cary Ann Hearst and Coloradan by way of Texas Michael Trent had each accumulated a good deal of musical experience prior to their current partnership. By 2005, they were both residing in the unsung musical mecca of Charleston, SC, and began informally making music together. I would show up at CAs house with a twelve pack and wed make recordings of Ramones songs. Michael says. The next day wed check it out and say hey!.. not bad. In 2008, the pair teamed up to record an embryonic album under their individual names. They titled that project Shovels & Rope, in acknowledgement of its high concentration of murder ballads in which many of the characters ended up burying their secrets with shovels or hanging from ropes. Subsequently, Hearst and Trent who had both released solo albums and were also in other bands at the time began performing low-key local gigs as a duo. That impromptu collaboration soon proved to be as efficient as it was inspired. They decided to take their act on the road. The whole thing was an accident, Michael admits. We never meant to become a band; we were just playing in bars to make some money. It just sort of evolved out of necessity, and out of the tools we had lying around at the time. We used to put a mic on the floor for foot stomping and both play guitar, or one of us would play a tambourine or harmonica or both. One day our friend Jack gave us a kick drum he found in a garbage heap outside of his apartment. Neither of us knew how to play the drums (still dont) but we tried it in the show anyway and it started to become a part of the band. After we felt like we were getting the hang of it, we borrowed a snare from another friend which we have yet to return (sorry Jamie). The way we perform live has always been somewhat of an experiment, teetering on the edge of complete disaster. It keeps us on our toes and keeps the show fresh for both us and the audience. We adopted the concept of Creatio Ex Nihilo, which is the idea of creating something out of nothing, Cary Ann adds. That kind of became our mantra. Hearst and Trent recorded much of O Be Joyful at home in 2011 during the rare downtime between touring jaunts. Additional tracking took place during their travels. The synthetic bass on the records opening track Birmingham was recorded next to the sink at a Red Roof Inn near New Haven, CT. The organ solo on Shank Hill St. was tracked in the van at approximately 70 mph somewhere on I-10 between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. And while sharing a bill in Louisville, KY, the electric Amanda Shires was wrangled into the duos van to add fiddle parts to Keeper and This Means War in between soundcheck and showtime. While Hearst and Trent are both songwriters individually, O Be Joyful finds them still discovering new strengths as a collaborative unit. The songs on this album, Michael points out, are the most weve ever written together. Many of them were birthed on the road. One of us would come up with a verse and say, Im gonna drive for awhile, why dont you try to put a chorus on this? And then wed switch kind of like our shows.
Frank Fairfield is a young man and old time folk musician who plays fiddle, guitar and banjo while singing and hollering. An unbelievable word of mouth sensation who channels the spirit of another era in his spellbinding live shows. From California, USA, Frank sings tunes he has worked hard to collect from around the world as well as his own well-dusted ditties. His eclectic sets feature soaring hillbilly ballads, arcane rambling songs and murder ballads delivered in a reedy tenor with that irresistible American Primitive quality. Still in his twenties but steeped in the pre-War Americana of Mississippi John Hurt and Dock Boggs, he cut his teeth as a street performer in LA and has the raw intensity and quick-fingered technique to make your hairs stand on end. Alternating between banjo, fiddle and guitar, he performs a different set of traditional songs and originals each night, drawing on his encyclopaedic knowledge of the American folk canon.
At the tail end of his three-year stint as the piano player for the Los Angeles ensemble Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Aaron Embry finally found the voice for which he'd been searching. He discovered this voice captive in an arch top tenor guitar, a harmonica, and a small stack of moleskin notebooks. Travel-ready and now equipped with his new discoveries, Embry found a current and the songs came up like a flood. He wrote at a prolific rate while on tour throughout the late spring and fall of last year, a body of songs born among communal, creative atmospheres of life on the road with Sharpe and of time on the rails with the numerous musicians of 2011's Railroad Revival Tour. As a songwriter, Embry cut his teeth by recording and touring with greats such as Elliott Smith, Willie Nelson, and Daniel Lanois, among plenty of others. In April 2012 he began recording, and the outcome is Tiny Prayers: a 10-track collection that explores a wide range of emotions while anchored in the cardinal folk tradition of simplicity. Elemental s ong structures and spartan acoustic arrangements bring Embry up close and in focus as a songwriter, singer, and musician. Lyrics such as "Is my happiness dependent on its own design? Am I only waking up to leave my dreams behind?" are evidence of his love for emotional complexity, while his voice and bare instrumentation carve melodies that are built like something low to the ground yet wide as the sky. Tiny Prayers was recorded at the Embry's family home in Ojai, CA. It is set for release in Fall 2012.
Automechanic is the appropriately titled debut full-length by Los Angeles artist Jenny O. A great distance from her Long Island, New York beginnings on the now critically praised EP "Home," Jenny O. has refined her songwriting to a well-oiled machine. With touches of noteworthy Los Angeles mile-markers like Harry Nilsson, Ricky Lee Jones, Randy Newman, and Carol King, her playful attitude towards life shines here in sweepingly poignant songwriting and lyrical delivery. Honest diatribes and insightful glances of life, love and the adventure of Los Angeles radiate in her songs. Automechanic is metaphor for taking the wheel, self sufficiency and the courage of artistic honesty. Jenny O. weaves through spirited guitar jams a la Neil Young like the album's title track "Automechanic" or the kindred J.J. Cale-styled number "Good Love." She delivers songs like "Sun Moon and Stars" with bravura and clarity; "And when I get to crying instead over something you saidI'll stand by the blues I'm gonna use em I'll make a note not to abuse em." Jenny O. taps fearlessly into a bevy of styles here. The 70's R&B-inspired "Lazy Jane" is a tale of relationship dissolution leaving one immobile with heartbreak and regret. "Get Lost" rolls with a modern folk and country throwback: arpeggiated chords under a slow-burned melody that offers the safety in letting go. "Come Get Me" may be Jenny O.'s most adventurous tune of all, delving into far-out guitar tones, unabashed drum fills, and joyous background harmonies. Produced by Jonathan Wilson (Father John Misty, Dawes, Will Oldham), and recorded to 2" analog tape, Automechanic hosts a cast of musicians aside from Jenny O.'s brilliant guitar and piano duties. The album features Jonathan Wilson, James Gadson (Bill Withers), Jake Blanton (The Killers) and Benji Lysaght (Father John Misty). This eclectic mixture of musicians brings a well-honed yet rag-tag ramble feel to her masterful and charged assembly of songs. Jenny O.'s wistful spirit has kept her constantly writing, recording and touring, and with the release of Automechanic on Holy Trinity / Thirty Tigers on February 5, 2013 there are no plans to slow down, only speed up.
Random Publishing Campaign dealing with Vintage Boots -
at Santa Monica Pier
200 Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica, United States
- Jesse Ruben, Caitlin Crosby
Event on 2013-09-09 20:30:00
Jesse Ruben is a Philly-bred singer/songwriter currently living in Brooklyn, NY. He has independently sold over 10,000 albums, gotten song placements on TV shows such as "One Tree Hill," "Degrassi," and "Teen Mom" and toured with some amazing artists including Jewel, KT Tunstall, Rick Springfield, and Hanson. His song "We Can" is in regular rotation on the XM/Sirius Coffeehouse channel, which called him "the next generation of singer/songwriter." Ruben has sold out venues across the US with deeply personal performances that combine well-crafted pop songs with the stories they came from. Most recently, he achieved one of his greatest life goals when he hit the 5,000 Facebook friend limit, because it makes him feel cooler than he actually is. Beyond musical endeavors, Ruben is highly involved with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, the largest non-profit focusing on spinal chord injury and paralysis. He is a co-chair of their Champions Committee, and has represented them three times in the NYC.
"I have a couple of breakup songs," singer-songwriter/actress Caitlin Crosby says of the material on her evocative new EP. "But the ones I'm most passionate about are about issues that could have an impact on someone's life, maybe make them feel less alone. And this record doesn't sound like anything I've ever done." With its sophisticated, smoky sonic palette crafted by producer/co-writer Boots Ottestad (Robbie Williams, Macy Gray) Crosby's new seven-song set is a marked departure from her 2009 release, Flawz. "While recording, Boots and I talked a lot about vintage artists and the warmth of their sound, I was then inspired to go in the direction of an artist like Dusty SpringfieldI really wanted a departure from my previous work." That meant velvety, Phil Spector-ish orchestration, grooves in the Memphis/Muscle Shoals mold, spy-movie guitars, swoony background vocals and more. Ottestad's approach made sense to Crosby, who'd fallen in love with the retro-soul vibe of Adele and the folk revivalism of Mumford & Sons. The EP's diverse, cinematic musical backdrop adds edge and intrigue to Crosby's lyrics about women who give themselves to undeserving men (the soulfully sad "Save That Pillow"), the emptiness of L.A.'s party-hardy club scene (the strutting "Is This the Good Life?"), redemption in the midst of despair (the smoldering, syncopated "Gasoline"; the mountain gospel of "Cracked Me Open") and yes, a former flame (the spare, spooky "Boy in the Benz"; the vintage sounding buildup of "Consolation Prize"). It also showcases colors and nuances in her singing that will surprise even her longtime fans. While she's proved her ability to navigate exciting new musical territory, Crosby who plays guitar and piano on the album in addition to handling vocals has stayed true to the themes she's explored throughout her work as a solo artist: loving yourself despite your flaws; the struggle to protect your soul from a predatory, materialistic world; the power of love and spirit to lift us out of even the direst circumstances. As ever, for Crosby, these aren't just ideas to weave into lovely songsshe has committed herself to providing uplift in other ways, notably with two websites, thegivingkeys.com (which uses jewelry made from vintage keys to help spread positive messages and has proved "key" to helping participants transition out of homelessness) and loveyourflawz.com (which encourages visitors to celebrate their flaws rather than trying to live up to impossible, unfair standards). It's reasonable to say Crosby has showbiz in her genes. Her dad is a manager of actors, and her mom was a model and actress before becoming an agent. "Acting was just a natural thing to do," she recalls. "I did musical theater, played Sandy in Grease." She was in a production at Beverly Hills High when she auditioned, at the director's urging, for all-girl pop group Foxy Nova. She got the gig, and the group signed with producer-writer-star-label owner Babyface. At 17, she got an eyeful of the star-making machinery. Crosby co-wrote material for the group from the outset, ultimately participating in some 150 tunes during her tenure. But the songs that meant the most to her ones urging self-esteem and self-empowerment didn't fit the pop-vixen pigeonhole. "The label was always, like, no! Write songs that are racy and sexy and push the envelope," she remembers. "I couldn't do it. It went against everything I stood for." After a few years of the "drama and scandal" that surrounded that world, she'd had her fill; having deferred attending Loyola Marymount once for the band's sake, she finally said her goodbyes and headed off to school. "I swore off the music business after that," she explains. "I quit and everyone was mad. I was just done." The portrait of frenzied but unfulfilling nightlife in her new song "Is This the Good Life?" echoes that period. Alongside her studies she focused more on acting over the next few years, and appeared on an array of TV series, including Malcolm in the Middle, That '70s Show and Seventh Heaven. Without really consciously shifting gears, she found she'd changed her career's direction. But she continued to write songs, mostly as a creative outlet. And when she got up and sang "Finding Feelings" (which, she notes, was inspired by a break-up) at a friend's club show, she drew the attention of producer Eric Robinson, who worked with Marshall Altman (Marc Broussard, William Fitzsimmons). Robinson and Altman asked to work with her, and she found herself back in the studio. "I thought, 'Oh, Lord, I can't believe I'm getting back into this,'" Crosby notes. This time, though, all the material reflected her beliefs, emotions and priorities. "Finding Feelings" struck a chord with online listeners (it even earned MySpace props from Kelly Clarkson, who also turned up for one of Crosby's gigs), and Flawz was released in 2009. "A lot of those songs I'd written so long ago that by the time I recorded them they were old to me, she relates. "It was more pop-rock. But the songs were about trying to be confident with our flaws, and that's what my website is about. I wanted to put out songs that would help people." As she began to craft the material that would eventually form the new EP, Crosby met with producer Adam Anders and signed with his Deep Well Records. Adam hooked her up with Ottestad and their co-writing proved fruitful thus resulting in an exciting new creative partnership resulting in an EP that will be in the Summer of 2013. Though she hasn't ruled out further TV and film work, Crosby is focused on her music now and on spreading the positive messages in her songs. With those themes placed in fresh musical settings, they're likely to resonate with a whole new listenership.
at Local 506
506 West Franklin Street
Chapel Hill, United States