Jun
24
Backbeat Underground | Spark Arrester

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Monophonics
Backbeat Underground | Spark Arrester | @The 8x10 | view more info »
Jun
24

Monophonics

Backbeat Underground
Spark Arrester

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


Monophonics

official band site »

Monophonics are just hitting their stride as one of the premier soul bands in the country. The Bay Area band delivers cinematic songs with timeless hooks anchored by Kelly Finnigan’s soulful organ and powerhouse vocals. Their sound is inspired equally by classic soul, heavy funk, psychedelic rock, and classic American songwriting.

The band’s main members live just North of San Francisco, CA in Marin county, a place revered among artists, surfers, hippies and musicians; three of them grew up here. The band members simultaneously revere and honor the Bay Area’s colorblind and highly diverse musical tradition that dates back to Haight/Ashbury’s psychedelic revolution and Sly Stone and the Family Stone’s multiracial, funky grab-bag. Soulful vocals, funky drum-breaks, psychedelic guitar licks and fuzz bass intermingle effortlessly across the band’s catalogue, most effortlessly on their newest EP: “Mirrors”.

Mirrors delivers a six-song fix to fiending fans and curious newcomers in advance of a new Monophonics full-length later in 2018. The release is all cover tunes with some well-known songs mixed in with some seriously deep cuts, all band favorites. “Sound of Sinning” (Transistor Sound Records, 2015), the band’s second full-length album since lead singer, producer and keyboard player, Kelly Finningan joined the band. Evolving from their psychedelic soul roots with “In Your Brain,” (Ubiquity, 2012), “Sound of Sinning” displays the bands’ appreciation for classic song craft and Summer of Love pop-soul-psychedelia.

Monophonics’ meticulous, yet raw recordings start just like their raucous and soulful live shows, “in the same room, cutting live as a rhythm section together,” Finnigan explains. Ryan Scott and Mike Rinta’s horn and string arrangements add accents and sonic colors to the tracks, completing the soul symphony. In the tradition of Stax, Muscle Shoals, Daptone and Dunham, Monophonics’ sonic approach is equal parts classic analog gear, (everything’s recorded to an old Tascam eight-track 1/4” tape machine), old-fashioned woodshedding, and Ian McDonald and Kelly Finnigan’s late night overdubs and studio wizardry. “We’re from the same school as the producers from the studios we love. We use the tools that we have to make the best records we can.”

Baked-in to any Monophonics record there’s a vibe, that elusive element that lesser bands can’t fake, as Kelly Finnigan put it: “I think it’s having people who are all on the same page, striving to capture that musical moment and being honest in their playing and being thoughtful and putting their ego to the side to serve the song.” Monophonics is Austin Bohlman (Drums), Ian McDonald (Guitar/Background Vocals), Ryan Scott (Trumpet/Back- ground Vocals/Percussion) & Kelly Finnigan (Keys/Lead Vocals) along with Max Ramey (Bass).


Backbeat Underground

official band site »

Born in the depths of subterranean groove gatherings, Backbeat Underground is a Washington, DC based instrumental funk group with soul jazz influences. Bringing their years of collective experience in the DC and NYC music scenes, the band delivers tight, energetic sets steeped in fresh improvisation and head-bopping, booty-shaking pockets. Backbeat Underground recently released a pair of singles on DC's own Fort Knox Recordings, performed at the Kennedy Center and has been honored to perform at all five annual Funk Parades. Through their music and funky performances, the band is quickly gaining notoriety for their organic and smoldering blend of soulful funk and jazz.

Spark Arrester

official band site »

 
Nicki Bluhm
Peter Oren Trio | @The Hamilton | view more info »
Jul
20

Nicki Bluhm

Peter Oren Trio


Friday Jul 20|doors 6:30 pm|18+
The Hamilton|get directions »
600 14th Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 787-1000


Nicki Bluhm

official band site »

Compass Records is excited to announce the release of renowned singer/songwriter Nicki Bluhm's new album, TO RISE YOU GOTTA FALL out June 1. To celebrate the announcement, Rolling Stonepremiered the tle track yesterday, hailing the song as "a blast of Memphis soul." TO RISE YOU GOTTA FALL as recorded in Memphis at the legendary Sam Phillips Recording studio and features two co-writes with Ryan Adams and a Dan Penn cover. For these live band analog sessions, Bluhm brought in producer Matt Ross-Spang (Margo Price, Jason Isbell), and the studio band included Will Sexton (guitar), Ross-Spang (guitars), Ken Coomer (drums and percussion), Al Gamble(Hammond B3), Rick Steff (piano) and Dave Smith (bass), with Reba Russell and Susan Marshall (background singers), Sam Shoup (string arrangements) and various special guests.

"It was the very first song we tracked," Bluhm told Rolling Stone, "and Ken just started playing the groove and the band slowly started to drift in. Ken is such a present musician, and he's listening to the words and reading the room and the vibe...There's a line in the song that says, 'I went looking for some perspective, so I knocked on my mama's door,' and he just hit the drum -- the rim -- like a knock, which brought a playfulness and lightness to the song. I love Will's guitar playing, too. It's so understated, but he makes himself known. It's like the old saying goes: 'The young bull charges down the hill, but the old bull takes his time.' These musicians were tasteful; they're all old bulls full of experience and class. Having a string section arranged by Sam Shoup was the icing on the cake. Memphis had melted into my California soul."

After six years with her band the Gramblers, and recent high-profile collaborations (Phil Lesh, Infamous Stringdusters, Ryan Adams), Bluhm wrote the life-chronicling songs for TO RISE YOU GOTTA FALLover a two-year period, during which she got divorced and moved to Nashville, TN. The album is a chronicle of her state of mind following these deep and fundamental life changes.

"These songs are quite personal," Bluhm says. "They are the conversations I never got to have, the words I never had the chance to say, and the catharsis I wouldn't have survived without." 

Bluhm's divorce, along with the need to challenge herself, inspired the West Coast native to make her spur-of-the moment, cross-country move to Nashville in 2017. 

"Nashville was inspiring because of all the songwriting going on here," Bluhm says. "When I would come to Nashville on writing trips it was just percolating... it was intoxicating. So I very hastily, in a matter of days, decided to move. I just had this gut feeling."

Ross-Spang happened to be mixing a record in Nashville at the time and they met up and hit it off immediately.

"I really needed someone who was going to take the reins and have a vision for the album and he really did," Bluhm says of meeting Ross-Spang. "My ex-husband had been my musical director, co-writer, and producer on all my records except one and I was looking for someone to step into that leadership roll, which Matt did very gracefully. I was looking for a clean slate; the only baggage I wanted to bring into the studio were the words to the songs I was singing. I wanted it to be a fresh experience; I didn't want to even have history with anyone in the room that would pull me into old habits or ways of thinking. So we agreed we'd record in Memphis."

Once settled in Sam Phillips Recording, the sessions revolved around tracking live with an ace band assembled by Ross-Spang.

"We really just recorded live and we didn't do that many takes of each song," Bluhm says. "The final versions we ended up with were all one take. It was really refreshing to go analog. It minimized over thinking and second guessing, forced us all to stay in the moment and play from the heart. Sam Shoup did all the string arrangements and when he walked in the room I thought he was a housepainter; he was the most understated, unlikely suspect. That was the thing about Memphis that was cool... not a lot of egos, just people making music for music's sake. Throughout the session there was a lot of listening and trusting. Matt really spends me curating his sessions and who he decides to bring in; he knows how to keep the vibe right. What you are hearing is, as Jerry Phillips would say, 'not perfection but captured moments in time.'

"I had lost my partner in so many ways," Bluhm continues, "my musical partner, my life partner, my creative partner, and all of a sudden I was left on my own, to start my own engine. It was really intimidating and scary," she says "but I had support from my management, my agent, my friends and family, and ultimately I just had this guttural drive that I didn't even know I had in me. I was on autopilot, ready to move forward and take the steps I had to take to keep moving forward. When the album finally comes out it's going to be like setting a caged bird free."

Bluhm will be touring this year and beyond in support of TO RISE YOU GOTTA FALL. The confirmed tour dates are below with more to be announced soon. 


Peter Oren Trio

official band site »

Indiana-born, everywhere-based singer-songwriter Peter Oren possesses a remarkable singing voice, low and deep and richly textured: as solid as a glacier, as big as a mountain. Similar in its baritone gravel to Bill Callahan, a hero of his, it rumbles in your conscience, a righteous sound that marks him as an artist for our tumultuous times, when sanity seems absent from popular discussions. His voice is ideally suited to confront a topic as large and as ominous as the Anthropocene Age.

 
Larry Keel Experience
@Pearl Street Warehouse | view more info »
Jul
26

Larry Keel Experience



Thursday Jul 26|doors 7:00 pm|21+
Pearl Street Warehouse|get directions »
33 Pearl Street
Washington DC|p: (202) 380-9620


Larry Keel Experience

official band site »

Larry Keel is described by music critics and reviewers as the most powerful, innovative and all-out exhilarating acoustic flatpicking guitarist performing today. Keel has absorbed the best lessons from his Bluegrass family upbringing, both sides deeply steeped in the rich mountain music culture and heritage of Southwest Virginia. From there, he has always integrated that solid musical grounding and natural-born talent with his own incomparable approach to playing amplified, acoustic guitar and composing original music. He’s also got a knack for choosing interesting and appealing material from all realms of music with guts, whether it’s a tune written by a fellow song-writer/musician friend, or a surprise cover from any number of musical acts all over the map. The combination is pretty irresistible, and has earned Keel the highest respect and billing among the top acoustic and jam rock musicians alive, and some now gone: Tony Rice, Chris Thile, Steve Martin, Tim O’Brien, Vassar Clements, Sam Bush, Del McCoury, John Hartford, Bill Monroe, Peter Rowan, and Danny Barnes to name a few. And his fierce, high-spirited energy also appeals to young rockers, jammers and alt-country pickers and fans who are equally drawn to Keel’s blazing guitar power, the deep rumbling voice, his earthy and expansive song-writing, and his down-home-gritty-good-time charm. Keel convenes and collaborates with JamBand and Rock giants Greensky Bluegrass, Infamous Stringdusters, Yonder Mountain String Band, Keller Williams, Jorma Kaukonen, David Nelson, Little Feat, Railroad Earth, String Cheese Incident, Fruition and Leftover Salmon, amongst others.

Keel has a variety of musical formats he presents throughout the year; look out for his core band The Larry Keel Experience (featuring award-winning and highly accomplished Jared Pool on mandolin and penetrating vocals, and wife Jenny Keel with her rock solid bass lines as well as tenor vocal harmonies), Larry Does Jerry (Keel performing the music for Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead), Larry and the Smokin’ J’s (featuring Jon Stickley, Jay Starling and Jared Pool), Keller Williams and the Keels, and steady swirl of pairings with Keel and Drew Emmitt, Andy Thorn, Danny Barnes, members of the Del McCoury Band, Steep Canyon Rangers, just to name a few. Of note for early 2017 is Keel’s top billing at New York’s Carnegie Hall, where he will headline along with Al Di Meola, Stefane Wrembel and Stochelo Rosenberg at the Django A Go-Go concert, celebrating Django Reinhardt’s influence on the world of guitar music.

Throughout his career, Keel has released 15 albums and is featured on 10 others. The most recent release, March 2016, is EXPERIENCED, an entirely original work that showcases Larry’s and banjo virtuoso Will Lee’s exceptional songwriting, singing and jaw-dropping instrumental performances, accompanied by Keel’s equally talented wife Jenny Keel on upright bass and harmony vocals. This Americana Radio charting album exemplifies the raw sophistication of Keel’s progressive acoustic style, and features musician-friends who appear as guests on various tracks of Experienced; the artists include Sam Bush, Del McCoury, Peter Rowan, Keller Williams, Jason Carter (Del McCoury Band), Mike Guggino (Steep Canyon Rangers) and Anders Beck (Greensky Bluegrass). Quotes about Keel and his music from these artists themselves capture the essence of what this album and Keel’s artistry represents:

“Larry Keel is a triple threat… songwriter, guitar player, entertainer. He can do it all.” — Del McCoury

“Larry is a true original, be it traditional, progressive, improv.. he does it all, and with such joy. I love jamming with Keel. Enjoy the music. Larry does.” — Sam Bush

“Larry is the yin and the yang.. he will break your heart with a waltz, but he can also scare the hell out of you in the next song. He plays on the edge.. no, strike that- he creates genius guitar solos while staring over the edge and laughing maniacally.” — Anders Beck, Greensky Bluegrass

For Keel the musical mission is always clear: to let natural ability, finely-honed skill, honest emotion and fearlessness connect the playing and singing to audiences, to entertain and to thoroughly enjoy the experience of creating and sharing in music.


 
The Dirty Grass Players
Two Ton Twig | @Pearl Street Warehouse | view more info »
Jul
27

The Dirty Grass Players

Two Ton Twig


Friday Jul 27|doors 7:00 pm|21+
Pearl Street Warehouse|get directions »
33 Pearl Street
Washington DC|p: (202) 380-9620


The Dirty Grass Players

official band site »

The Dirty Grass Players are an up and coming band with their own spin on bluegrass. They use traditional style vocal harmonies and mix it with a jammy improvisational feel to keep listeners on their toes. They have been playing regionally in Maryland, DC, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Coming from areas all around Baltimore, each player brings a different set of influence to the table. Alex Berman: banjo/vocals, Ben Kolakowski: guitar/vocals, Alex Tocco: fiddle/vocals, Ryan Rogers: mandolin, Colin Rappa: bass fiddle

Ben, Ryan and Colin and their friend Steve Gallagher had started playing bluegrass together in early 2015. By summer Steve was planning on moving to Nashville and Ben had met Tocco and Berman at Dear Jerry (tribute to Jerry Garcia) and invited them to jam. Once they joined the band, they really began to shape the sound. You can hear influences of traditional bluegrass like Flatt and Scruggs, Bill Monroe, Del McCoury band, as well as some heavier newgrass like Tony Rice, Infamous String Dusters, and Travelin McCourys. We also have some music that includes jazz style improvisation as well as some group improvisation similar to the Grateful Dead or Railroad Earth.

As they start to play more, their versatility shows in their original compositions and by playing tributes ranging from Old and in the Way to Iron Maiden to James Brown.


Two Ton Twig

official band site »

Founded in 2013 by two roommates in their Alexandria, VA basement, Two Ton Twig has evolved from its punk roots to incorporate traditional influences from Appalachia, Red Dirt, Eastern European folk, Bluegrass, and other forms of American Roots music to create their own unique sound. Two Ton Twig is Brandon Boling (banjo, vocals), Donnie Riggs (guitar, dobro, vocals), Alexandra Touzinsky (fiddle, keys, vocals), and Ryan Thomas (bass, mandolin, vocals).

 
Pink Talking Fish
@The Soundry | view more info »
Aug
11

Pink Talking Fish



Saturday Aug 11|doors 10:00 pm|21+
The Soundry|get directions »
10221 Wincopin Circle
Columbia, MD


Pink Talking Fish

official band site »

Pink Talking Fish is a Hybrid Tribute Fusion Act that takes the music from three of the world's most beloved bands and creates a special treat for fans of the music.

Pink Floyd, The Talking Heads and Phish are all more than just bands... they are Phenomenons. Their creations have artistically inspired people and their mind-blowing live performances have brought people together to form a special sense of community around the love for their favorite band.

Although the music from each act is different, Pink Talking Fish has discovered that fusing the material together creates an amazing story. The epic emotion of Pink Floyd.... The funky, danceable layerings of The Talking Heads.... The multitude of styles, unique compositional structures and pure fun of Phish.... to merge these three into one gives music lovers a special experience.

Pink Talking Fish features Eric Gould on bass, Richard James on keyboards, Zack Burwick on drums and Dave Brunyak on guitar. This is a band created by musicians who love the music of these acts. It's purpose is to heighten people's passion for this music by creating something fresh and exciting for fans.

Discovering connections is part of the fun: Pink Floyd's "On The Run" seamlessly fitting in the middle of the composition of Phish's "You Enjoy Myself". Perfectly placing Phish's "Sand" into the groove of The Talking Head's "Slippery People". Segued collections from all three acts such as Run Like Hell > Making Flippy Floppy > Piper > Run Like Hell or Mike's Song > Have A Cigar > Once In A Lifetime > Weekapaug Groove. These ideas are the spirit behind Pink Talking Fish.

The story is ever evolving. The experience is always exciting. Come join Pink Talking Fish for the ultimate fusion tribute and celebrate the love of this music in unique fashion.


 
Pink Talking Fish
@The Soundry | view more info »
Aug
12

Pink Talking Fish



Sunday Aug 12|doors 10:00 pm|21+
The Soundry|get directions »
10221 Wincopin Circle
Columbia, MD


Pink Talking Fish

official band site »

Pink Talking Fish is a Hybrid Tribute Fusion Act that takes the music from three of the world's most beloved bands and creates a special treat for fans of the music.

Pink Floyd, The Talking Heads and Phish are all more than just bands... they are Phenomenons. Their creations have artistically inspired people and their mind-blowing live performances have brought people together to form a special sense of community around the love for their favorite band.

Although the music from each act is different, Pink Talking Fish has discovered that fusing the material together creates an amazing story. The epic emotion of Pink Floyd.... The funky, danceable layerings of The Talking Heads.... The multitude of styles, unique compositional structures and pure fun of Phish.... to merge these three into one gives music lovers a special experience.

Pink Talking Fish features Eric Gould on bass, Richard James on keyboards, Zack Burwick on drums and Dave Brunyak on guitar. This is a band created by musicians who love the music of these acts. It's purpose is to heighten people's passion for this music by creating something fresh and exciting for fans.

Discovering connections is part of the fun: Pink Floyd's "On The Run" seamlessly fitting in the middle of the composition of Phish's "You Enjoy Myself". Perfectly placing Phish's "Sand" into the groove of The Talking Head's "Slippery People". Segued collections from all three acts such as Run Like Hell > Making Flippy Floppy > Piper > Run Like Hell or Mike's Song > Have A Cigar > Once In A Lifetime > Weekapaug Groove. These ideas are the spirit behind Pink Talking Fish.

The story is ever evolving. The experience is always exciting. Come join Pink Talking Fish for the ultimate fusion tribute and celebrate the love of this music in unique fashion.


 
Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad & The Movement
@The Hamilton | view more info »
More Info
Sep
7

Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad & The Movement



Friday Sep 7|doors 6:30 pm|all ages
The Hamilton|get directions »
600 14th Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 787-1000
On Sale Soon


Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad

official band site »

Formed in 2001 in Rochester, New York, GPGDS first received praise for their live show, which combined world beats and reggae rhythms within jamband aesthetics. In recent years the band’s studio recordings, which showcase their songwriting and musicianship across all genres of roots music, have further cemented their legend as master innovators and artists. “There is a lot of intention in this release. We had a purpose to prove to ourselves recording this album [MAKE IT BETTER]. We wanted to know that we could put our heads down and do good work fast. It was a great release artistically. It uniquely sounds the most progressive of anything we have ever done while also sounding the most like our first album.” -James Searl, Bassist/Vocalist


The Movement

official band site »

The Movement’s new single “Loud Enough” was released May 18 on Rootfire Cooperative, kicking off their summer tour in support of Dirty Heads and Iration. This is their third single since 2016’s #1 Billboard reggae album, GOLDEN, and will be included on the forthcoming full-length album produced by Johnny Cosmic.

Formed in 2003 by a trio of Sublime and Pixies fans, Joshua Swain, Jordan Miller, and John Ruff, aka DJ Riggles, launched The Movement with their "alternative reggae" debut album, ON YOUR FEET. In 2008, the group met Chris DiBeneditto, a Philadelphia-based producer who had worked with like-minded acts such as Slightly Stoopid and G. Love & Special Sauce. Relocating to Philadelphia, they recorded SET SAIL at DiBeneditto’s Philadelphonic Studios. The Movement expanded with the addition of Jason "Smiles" Schmidt on bass and Gary Jackson on drums. In 2012, they released SIDE BY SIDE, debuting at #2 on the Billboard Reggae Chart. In 2014 The Movement released BENEATH THE PALMS, a surprise acoustic album as a free gift to their fans. Shortly thereafter they began working on what would become their finest album to date, GOLDEN (Rootfire Cooperative), which hit #1 on iTunes and Billboard Reggae charts and was voted 2016 Album Of The Year by Surf Roots Radio. Keyboardist Ross Bogan joined the group in Spring of 2016.


 
Leftover Salmon
@State Theatre | view more info »
Sep
28

Leftover Salmon



Friday Sep 28|doors 7:00 pm|18+
State Theatre|get directions »
220 N. Washington st.
Falls Church, VA|p: (703) 237-0300


Leftover Salmon

official band site »

For any band to thrive on the road for nearly thirty years, there needs to be a constant source of renewal, a fresh spring of creativity at the center of the music that brings each member back for more. For Leftover Salmon, one of the great purveyors of Americana, this source came first from the American roots music traditions they came up with: bluegrass picking, Cajun two-stepping, the country blues. For all these years–over the course of their rise to become one of the biggest bands on the roots music circuit today, with legions of fans and routinely sold-out shows–Leftover Salmon have picked up many more influences. Much of this comes from the interactions between the founding members’ roots and the newer band members, who bring refreshingly different influences and ideas to the songwriting process. With their new album, Something Higher, due out May 4, 2018 on LoS Records, Leftover Salmon taps into everything from horn-blasting R&B to reverb-drenched desert noir, from the cosmic roots music sound they helped create to neo-New Orleans-meets-Appalachia liquefaction. There’s an unmistakable evolution to Leftover Salmon’s sound, and Something Higher has an edge to it that feels entirely new.

To create Something Higher, Leftover Salmon returned to long-time producer Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) with a new mission: to record at the famed Wavelab Studio in Tucson, Arizona, and to go all analog. The warmth of analog, coupled with Berlin’s uncommonly attuned ear for the dynamics of larger bands, brought a more focused sound to the group and challenged them as well. “He’s always looking for that thing in a song or a groove that he hasn’t heard before,” says bassist Greg Garrison about Berlin, “which is tricky because he’s heard a lot of stuff already! He pushes the band to do something different, to surprise him.” Over 10 days in Tucson, Leftover Salmon laid out the new music, each songwriter bringing a songwriting kernel and letting the rest of the band work out new improvisations to craft the final song. The key to Leftover Salmon’s music, now more than ever, is the way they marry technical precision with easy groove. It’s a trick that old jazz players used to pull, a dance between virtuosity and the illusion of ease. In crafting the new music, founding members Vince Herman and Drew Emmitt provide a foundational focus and guiding spirit, while banjo player Andy Thorn keeps the band close to their original roots in backstage picking parties. The rhythm section–bassist Garrison, keyboardist Erik Deutsch, and drummer Alwyn Robinson– was a key focus point for Berlin, who drew out members’ backgrounds in jazz and hip-hop to zero in on the heart of Leftover Salmon: the groove.

For the past quarter-century, Leftover Salmon has established itself as key to the Americana genre, digging deep into the well that supplies its influences; rock ‘n’ roll, folk, bluegrass, Cajun, soul, zydeco, jazz and blues. They are the direct descendants of bands like Little Feat, New Grass Revival, Grateful Dead and The Band, born of the heart and soul of America itself, playing music that reflects the sounds emanating from the Appalachian hills, the streets of New Orleans, the clubs of Chicago, the plains of Texas, and the mountains of Colorado. They’ve endured over all these years, earning their unequivocal stature as a truly legendary band.


 
Joe Russo's Almost Dead
@The Anthem | view more info »
Oct
20

Joe Russo's Almost Dead



Saturday Oct 20|doors 6:30 pm|all ages
The Anthem|get directions »
901 WHARF ST SW, WASHINGTON, DC 20024|p: (202) 265-0930


Joe Russo's Almost Dead

official band site »

Joe Russo's Almost Dead is Scott Metzger, Tommy Hamilton, Dave Dreiwitz, Marco Benevento & Joe Russo.

"Not only does this quintet play tight and vicious versions of some of the most complex songs in the Grateful Dead's repertoire, but they play them with a rawness & energy absent from the stage since the 'Live' Dead era. More importantly, all of the jams are wild and incredibly adventurous. Russo's a beast behind the kit who's in the peak of his career. Metzger is a criminally underrated guitarist who has a chameleon-like ability to alter his sound to compliment any situation. Dreiwitz's intensity is unmatched by anyone, while Benevento spouts these crazy tones and layers of sound that mix the best of what each keyboardist in GD history brought to the band. Finally, add Hamilton, whose voice and biting leads help push this ensemble over the top." - Scott Bernstein, Jambase 9.12.13


 
Lake Street Dive
@The Anthem | view more info »
Nov
9

Lake Street Dive



Friday Nov 9|doors 6:30 pm|all ages
The Anthem|get directions »
901 WHARF ST SW, WASHINGTON, DC 20024|p: (202) 265-0930


Lake Street Dive

official band site »

The title of Lake Street Dive’s Free Yourself Up is both an exhortation to listeners and a statement of purpose for the band. The songs have an infectious swagger, even when dealing with awkward breakups or the unsettled state of our world. Free Yourself Up is Lake Street Dive’s most confident album yet, seriously soulful and exuberantly rocking. And, in many ways, it is Lake Street Dive’s most intimate and collaborative, with the band itself taking over the production reins and working as a tightly knit unit to craft these ten songs. In addition, the quartet drafted touring keyboardist Akie Bermiss to join them in the studio, literally freeing the band up to explore a wider range of instrumental textures, construct more full-bodied arrangements, and build stacks of lively background harmonies.

On Free Yourself Up, the sound is influenced by late sixties-early seventies R&B, AM pop, and FM rock while the lyrics are informed more by contemporary events. The album opens with “Baby, Don’t Leave Me Alone With My Thoughts,” which envisions a lover acting as a “human shield” against the anxiety of our Twitter-ravaged age. It’s funny, sweet, a little angry, and definitely right up-to-the-minute in its sentiment. Singer Rachael Price says, “I thought about that song as the thesis of this record. It’s a disco-dance fun song but it’s also a person talking about needing comfort from another person, and it has a reference to the political climate.”

The lyrics to the guitar-driven “Shame, Shame, Shame,” which feels like undiscovered, transistor-radio-ready AM gold, bravely speak to an unnamed person: “No I’m not getting caught in your little spider web/Won’t let an angry dog get me down/Don’t you think it’s time we put this dog out of his misery?/Change is coming, oh yeah…” Bassist Bridget Kearney explains, “This album is based in the realities in our time, which have inevitably become part of everyone’s daily life. It’s something you think about and obsess over—and write songs about. Free Yourself Up is about empowering yourself, emboldening yourself, no matter what’s going wrong.”

Adds drummer Mike Calabrese, “This time around, we were changing so many things anyway, we felt freer to go deep into various subjects, to explore a multitude of emotions to a background of music that is a different direction in and of itself. It’s a juxtaposition of new subject matter and new musical developments. We’re not just this happy go lucky band anymore.”

The band clearly enjoyed itself in the studio as the rhythmically propulsive “Dude” indicates. As the singer complains about a lover who is always out with the guys, a steady beat builds to a big, defiant chorus and then the song veers to the left, culminating in a kind of psychedelic duel between trumpet and guitar, its conclusion marked by echoes of the band’s laughter. The percolating “Red Light Kisses” is highlighted by call-and-response vocals between Price and her band mates (doing their best falsettos) and a classic percussion-and-handclaps breakdown towards the end. “Musta Been Something” is a more stripped-down slow-dance ballad, a showcase for Price’s voice and Mike “McDuck” Olson’s guitar.

“I Can Change” is an even more pensive ballad. “We were watching the news in the summer of 2017 and seeing people trapped in these cycles of hate that humanity can’t seem to find its way out of,” Kearney explains. “And it’s easy enough to look at that from the outside and criticize, but the really hard part is striving to understand your own weaknesses and biases and prejudices and learning to do better. ‘I Can Change’ is us summoning the courage to do that.”

Lake Street Dive was for many years a self-reliant unit. After forming in 2004, while all the members were studying at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, they assiduously built a following through a series of independent album releases, countless club tours, and a few lucky breaks. In 2013, producer T Bone Burnett invited them to join a star-studded lineup at a New York City concert where they practically stole the show—and wound up with a deal from Nonesuch Records. The band’s label debut, Side Pony, was greeted with raves. Rolling Stone called it “irresistible” and the Boston Globe said, “Side Pony is a confident, expertly played statement from a band that’s been honing its approach for more than a decade, and it clearly shows that Lake Street Dive is ready to make itself known to whatever audiences have yet to succumb to its many charms.”

Lake Street Dive spent eighteen months on the road in support of Side Pony. Despite the hectic pace, the band mates started brainstorming about their next album whenever they found a spare moment. As guitarist McDuck recalls, “We remembered how things worked before we added the crew and the bus and the manager. All of that support is great, but it left us with less time to sit around and listen to music together. So when we had a day off, we made a point to sit on the tour bus and play records for each other, the way we used to when we’d drive ourselves in a van.”

Free Yourself Up is the sound of a democratic party, organized by a band that has bolstered its deep well of talent with a healthy supply of mutual trust. Though the individual band members had traditionally written separately and then delivered meticulously rendered demos to the group, the process began to change while recording Side Pony. This time Lake Street Dive took that idea further, helping each other out on nascent songs and ultimately deciding to produce the album itself, with the ample help of engineer Dan Knobler, a former Brooklynite now based in Nashville.

That wasn’t the original plan. As the Lake Street Dive team was deliberating about which producers to reach out to, they decided to book a demo session on their own at Knobler’s tiny Goosehead Palace studio, a modest but very welcoming garage space. Recounts Price, “We go in the studio every two years for a concentrated period of time and then we go on the road and perfect what we do. But we don’t have that same practice in the studio. So we said to ourselves, ‘Let’s practice what recording feels like.’ We found out that a) we could have so much fun and b) we work very quickly in a specific way and we collaborated perfectly together.” She continues, “I think we were quite scared that without having that fifth neutral voice we would endlessly be in the decision-making process—because we are so democratic. Our fears were assuaged after that session, though.”

They sent the results to Brooklyn-based mixer Joe Visciano and, says Kearney, “he was able to do incredible things, making the record really pop and sound like it was recorded in a multi-million-dollar studio. That seemed like the perfect solution, to do it in a place that was really comfortable.” So they returned to Knobler in Nashville to complete the album, forgoing previous notions about moving to a different studio for the next step.

Kearney continues, “The process felt really natural. We had a good amount of tunes to work with, some of which we had played live, some we’d never played at all, and we kept writing during the recording process. We found tools that were fun and worked well in the studio. For instance, a friend had left a Korg synthesizer in my apartment; we tried it on one song and loved it, so we put it on a couple of other tracks,” she says. “And Akie was a huge part of the sound of the record as well; the way he plays and chooses to voice things elevates the song.”

“There was a fearlessness to the process, an open-mindedness. Collaborating allowed us to feel freer; we were sharing the songwriting burden. Some of these songs almost died in our voice memo apps but were revived—or Frankenstein-ed—in the process of collaborating,” adds Calabrese. “Dan Knobler became more than just an engineer; he was an arbiter. He was very important to the sound of the record and to certain artistic choices that helped to polish things to perfection.”

Kearney summarizes the experience of the band’s collaborative, flexible approach to making Free Yourself Up, explaining the origins of lead album track “Good Kisser”: “I had thought of the chorus or at least the opening, it was a lyrical idea I had plus a little tiny bit of a melody. Then we were on stage in North Carolina playing this cool funky groove we had started using on ‘How It Feels To Be Alone’ and I thought, ‘That’s it! That’s the perfect thing for this song idea I have. It really needs to find a home.’ I got off stage, went to the dressing room, and wrote almost the whole song—in the moment, inspired by the strength of the band that I experienced on stage that night.”

Bringing the process full circle, Price adds, “When we heard Joe’s first mix of that song, I stood up and said, ‘I can’t believe we made this in a garage!’”

—Michael Hill