Jun
16
The Southern Belles | Bencoolen

all good news

 
Atlas Road Crew
The Southern Belles | Bencoolen | @9:30 club | view more info »
Jun
16

Atlas Road Crew

The Southern Belles
Bencoolen

Thursday Jun 16|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Atlas Road Crew

official band site »

Named for the road in front of their original practice space in Columbia, South Carolina, Atlas Road Crew now calls Charleston, South Carolina home; it's an appropriate base of operations for a group that has perfected a classic rock 'n' roll sound shot through with southern soul accents. On a foundation of Allman Brothers Band riffs and Black Crowes attitude mixed with Memphis blues, soul and the Rolling Stones, Atlas Road Crew has been building a fan base through constant touring.

Atlas Road Crew, often abbreviated to “ARC”, started while students at the University of South Carolina; they like to say that they were friends first, then a band. Singer and guitarist Taylor Nicholson has developed into a swaggering powerhouse of a vocalist with plenty of natural soul; the band has grown up as well, into a road-tested example of the resurgence of classic southern rock and soul.

Atlas Road Crew can jam and they like to stretch things out in their live shows when the groove is right, but they are focused on perfecting the four-minute radio-ready pop and rock hit whether that means a slow burning, soulful ballad or a get-up-and-dance groove.

“We've improved our songwriting over the different recording sessions the band has done and developed the ability to boil the songs down into their essence,” Says bassist Max Becker. “We're more interested in writing a great song first, then we'll take it on the road and mess with it live.”

The band likes to refer to themselves not as southern rock but “Southeastern Rock,” an appropriate designation since their popularity in college towns across the country began in the Carolinas and Georgia and spread to the deep south and up the East Coast before going nationwide; they have a sound that transcends region by traversing diverse styles. The result is something that's familiar yet new, the kind of twangy, swampy southern rock 'n' soul that one might expect to come out of a Muscle Shoals session in the 1970's but it's as immediate and fresh as anything on the contemporary scene.


The Southern Belles

official band site »

The Southern Belles are Adrian Ciucci (guitar/vocals), Tommy Booker (keys/vocals), Aaron Zarrow (drums/vocals) and Andrew Carper (bass/vocals). Playing a high-octane mix of funky southern psychedelic Rock & Roll, the Belles perform hundreds of shows and festivals each year. Their ability to instinctively communicate with one another was apparent right from the start, but as they've continued to play together this cultured ability has grown exponentially. The Southern Belles road-tested sound has earned them a devout following, with fans traveling far and wide to catch the show. With their new album "Close To Sunrise," released in July of 2015, the Southern Belles are picking up steam and gaining national notoriety for their original compositions and song craft. Their songs are both fun and moving, with lyrical stories evoking familiar emotions and complex musical journeys. Wherever the Southern Belles are, they are sure to bring the party with them.

Bencoolen

official band site »

Known for their live act, Bencoolen defines their sound as maximalist rock with soaring vocal lines, massive guitar tones, and swift saxophone solos. The band was credited as the best Washington DC college band of 2015, was featured in USA Today, closed an Arlington Virginia festival, and opened for Cold War Kids.

 
Rebelution
The Green | J Boog, Stick Figure, Through The Roots | @Pier Six Pavilion | view more info »
Jun
17

Rebelution

The Green
J Boog, Stick Figure, Through The Roots

Friday Jun 17|doors 5:30 pm|all ages
Pier Six Pavilion|get directions »
731 Eastern Ave
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 783-4189


Rebelution

official band site »

“Too blessed to be stressed,” is one of many key song lyrics from Rebelution’s new album Count Me In. The California band’s fourth full-length release on its own label 87 Music, and partnering for the first time with Easy Star Records, marks its tenth year together. And while surely every band has its share of stress, Rebelution feels they have been “too blessed” to have much time to worry about it.

Said guitarist/singer Eric Rachmany about the band in its decade milestone, “we still have the same energy as we did as a young band, if not more. The more experience we had doing this, the more inspired we became.”

The songs on Count Me In show that as they combine ever-youthful energy with a mature perspective. For every hopeful “Count Me In,” there’s a worldly-wise “Counterfeit Love.” For every message of positivity, as in “More Love” (“You’re in a dream, wake up and now gear up/Come on”), there’s a look at the hard edge of history: “Invasion” recounts the plight of the oppressed as Eric sings, “No time for questions/Don’t ask for reasons/Washed of their faith/Thrown in the fire.” “Every song has a story,” the singer explains matter-of-factly. The acknowledgement of injustice that deepens some of Rebelution’s stories draws on the roots-reggae tradition that inspired the band in the first place. Indeed, their love for the inspirational roots of modern Jamaican music have culminated in a collaboration with Don Carlos himself, on the jam-anthem “Roots Reggae Music.”

Count Me In, released on June 10th, 2014, debuted on the Billboard Top 200 at #14 and marked the band’s third consecutive #1 Reggae album.

The seeds of Rebelution germinated in Santa Barbara’s college town of Isla Vista in 2004. A student named Marley D. Williams had recently switched from baseball to bass guitar when, walking to choir practice one night, he heard strains of roots-reggae coming through a door. The fellow reggae enthusiast turned out to be Rachmany, a devotee of roots-reggae and dancehall, and especially the music of Don Carlos and Black Uhuru.

The nucleus of a new and innovative “California Reggae” band got rock-solid when Marley heard percussionist and drummer Wesley Finley’s impressive solos on a big African drum in a World Music class. At the same time, the bassist had befriended a local band featuring keyboardist Rory Carey, who soon became another cornerstone of the budding Rebelution.

Fate? Good luck? Some combination of forces had stirred in Isla Vista to bring these boys together. Guerilla-style cover gigs led to bigger local shows, original songs, and a homemade five-song EP that surprised everyone by becoming a radio hit in Hawaii, quickly leading to a tour there. The eye-opening thrill of headlining a show in front of 600 fans, all singing along, told the young musicians that even though they were still college kids, they were onto something big there on the Big Island.

Back home, it was time to invest in recording a full album. After a few growing pains, Courage to Grow hit the airwaves, and of course the internet – it was the heyday of Myspace, and the band took full advantage. The album’s title expressed their fearless energy, and the same kind of organic underground surge that had created their early Hawaiian fan base propelled Courage to Grow to #4 on the Billboard Reggae chart and earned it the nod as iTunes’ Editors’ Choice for Best Reggae Album of 2007.

Bright Side of Life, released on their own 87 Music label in 2009, hit #1 on the iTunes Reggae chart, and was the third most downloaded album in the U.S. in all genres while reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Top Reggae Albums chart and #34 on Billboard’s top 200.

As if that weren’t enough, their third LP, Peace of Mind, released in 2012 with additional acoustic and dub versions of all twelve songs, marked an even higher chart debut: #13 on the Billboard Top 200, not to mention #1 on the Reggae chart and #1 on the Independent chart – and it was the #4 iTunes album overall.

All very different, but always musical brothers, these tireless pioneers of California Reggae now play 100-120 shows a year. Tours have taken them to South America, Guam, Aruba, New Zealand and Europe. They’ve performed at Bonnaroo, Outside Lands, Glastonbury, Lollapalooza, and Austin City Limits. They’ve headlined and sold out Red Rocks and the Santa Barbara Bowl, and done all this with no backing from any major label and very little media support.

Marley explains: “Our music is meant to move people physically and mentally at the same time. When people are really dancing and really thinking, that’s a double threat.” Among other things, he adds, it evokes “It’s a ‘one love’ spirit and we’re doing it in our own style, influenced by the diversity in California and the people we were surrounded by growing up.”

Still, at heart, the story of Rebelution is a pretty easy one to understand. As the band embarks on its second decade, Eric explains, “Rebelution is a great example of four friends who got together to play music for the fun of it, and still do that today. We just play music that we really enjoy.”


The Green

J Boog, Stick Figure, Through The Roots

 
Grace Potter
Con Brio | @9:30 club | view more info »
Jun
22

Grace Potter

Con Brio


Wednesday Jun 22|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Grace Potter

official band site »

This is the rescheduled date from Friday, January 22, 2016.
All original tickets for 1/22/16 will be honored.
Refunds available at place of purchase until 3/1/16.


Grace Potter’s epic musical journey reaches a new milestone with the arrival of her solo debut, Midnight (released August 14 on Hollywood Records), an inspired work that is surprising, revelatory and wildly original.

Midnight was recorded and mixed at Barefoot Studios in Hollywood with producer Eric Valentine, whose own diverse discography—from Queens of the Stone Age to Nickel Creek—evidences a similarly adventurous spirit and openness to possibility. If Valentine’s studio work has a distinguishing characteristic, it’s his hard-hitting sonic signature, which is on display throughout Midnight’s dozen tracks. The core studio band consisted of Potter and Valentine on most of the instruments, with Burr on drums and percussion. In addition, members of Potter’s longtime band The Nocturnals: guitarists Scott Tournet and Benny Yurco and bassist Michael Libramento contributed to the sessions, as well as former tour-mates and friends including singer-songwriter Rayland Baxter, Audra Mae, Noelle Skaggs of Fitz & the Tantrums, Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, and Nick Oliveri of Queens of the Stone Age.

“This album is about embracing life as it comes at you – with all its unexpected twists and turns,” says Potter. “I took a much more open approach to songwriting than I have in the past – probably because it was unavoidable. I’ve experienced a huge amount of growth and change in the past two years - both personal and professional, and it can be overwhelming for an artist to find ways to express that in a vacuum. So I tried to strip away the confines of other people’s expectations. I started tapping into some of the deep-running themes that have shaped me into the human I’ve become, and as I went deeper and deeper, I found the results to be insanely satisfying.

“This music means so much to me because it was hard-won. It was a terrifying yet fulfilling process of boiling down what I really wanted to say – peeling back all the protective layers of lyrical metaphor and sonic padding that I’m so used to leaning on. Ultimately the process has fueled` me to share more, learn more, listen carefully, work harder, love harder... Our time on earth is far too short to be resistant to beautiful opportunities as they come our way, so when my inspiration took me somewhere new, I did what I always do: stripped buck-ass naked and ran straight into the fire.”

Citing Miles Davis, Dylan, the Beatles, Bowie, Blondie and Beck as prime examples, Potter says she is drawn to artists who make sonic leaps from record to record—a notion she has explored throughout her career. For an artist who has built a devoted fan base through her electrifying live show, Potter seems hell-bent on breaking out of the box when it comes to studio work. She refuses to be defined by a single genre. Over the last three years, she has seamlessly transitioned from collaborating with the Flaming Lips, for a Tim Burton film, to songwriting and producing for soundtracks and theme songs for film and TV, to multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated country duets with her friend Kenny Chesney, to most recently joining The Rolling Stones on stage for an inspired rendition of “Gimme Shelter.”

“The bands and artists that captivate me,” Potter explains, “are the ones who are always pushing it, always taking risks. A great musician can shine in any genre. I refuse to make the same kind of record over and over—that’s not how art works for me. The worst thing an artist can do,” she asserts, “is what is expected of them.”

The seeds for what would become Midnight were planted by Potter at home, in Vermont, in the fall of 2013. “I had been messing around for a few weeks with making really wacked-out home demos - lots of sounds, beats and melodies that I had never tried before,” she recalls. “It was a dark, stormy, moody day and I could hear the thunder in the distance — these big ominous clouds were rolling in fast. There was something about that threat of inclement weather beyond my control that just made me vibrate with anticipation and adrenaline, so I channeled it into this heavy boogie song—it goes right for the throat and says ‘Own your existence on earth, because who knows what’s gonna happen next.’ That solitary moment guided everything that followed, and “Alive Tonight” was the beginning of it.”

Fittingly, “Alive Tonight” is Midnight’s lead single.

Valentine was intrigued by Grace’s sonic experiments in her work-tapes, so much so that they formed the blueprint for a number of the arrangements that made the final cut. “Her demos had an incredible vibe that really captured a groove or mood that would immediately grab your attention,” he notes. “So it seemed like that was the way to chase down this record as an honest representation of what Grace wanted to say and how she wanted these tracks to feel—because she had done such a good job of laying it out herself.”

“Hot to the Touch,” the aggressive, hook-heavy rocker that Grace chose to open the album, was the last song written for it. “When you’re making an album, you rarely have the opportunity to look at the whole thing and ask yourself what’s missing,” she points out. “And “Hot to the Touch” was the song that tied the whole thing together—the culmination of how I felt about making this entire record. It has a sexy, fiery, James Bond kind of vibe to it, and I came up with this snippy, edgy guitar part that fit really nicely. Lyrically, it’s about the tempestuous nature of love and attraction. That type of songwriting doesn’t happen very often when you’re making an album, so it felt like the cherry on top.

“The song “Delirious” was the tipping point of the album in many ways. I was in a really prolific stage of the process. The heart of the record had really taken shape in my mind. I was desperate to get everything down on paper before it left my mind and sleep felt like a distraction - but strange things happen when you haven’t slept in days. I reached a moment where finally, all my pretensions, judgments and preconceived notions vanished. I’d had so many sleepless nights trying to crack the code that my defenses were down, my nerves numb and I needed a real-deal freak-out dance party - an implosion of all the walls I had built around myself.”

Looking at some of Midnight’s other key songs, the stirring “Look What We’ve Become” began with a borrowed premise yet wound up as the album’s autobiographical centerpiece. “The label was really pushing me to do co-writes, which I’ve always tried to avoid, but Eric and I quickly developed a creative trust and symmetry that allowed me to feel more open to the possibilities...a few weeks later he set me up with a guy he’d worked with for years, who does a lot of co-writing, who played me a great demo,” she remembers. “When I heard the chorus, I knew I had to sing it—I found myself really attached to the melody and the message. I love the universality of it; everyone has been made to feel that they are unworthy in some way. So I wrote the verses and the bridge about my own experience with the music industry and the band. It turned out to be an excellent example of how co-writing can expand an artist’s field of play.”

Grace undertook the writing of “Your Girl” with the aim of coming up with a new take on a classic love triangle on this 70’s tinged soul gem. “In one way or another, we’ve all gone through the struggle of wanting something we can’t have...but this particular cliche? has been so overdone. If I wanted it to work, I needed a plot twist that was true to personal experience. Then we basically treated it a lot like a hip-hop track and just set it over an undeniable groove with some awesome quirky hooks,” she says. “In chasing down an originality in the confines of a heavily tread genre, Eric and I landed on one of my favorite sonic and lyrical moments of the album.”

With its rippling guitar riff and gospel-choir payoff, “Empty Heart” is one of the catchiest songs on the album. “I wrote “Empty Heart” in the hotel room of a casino in the mid-west somewhere; bored out of my mind after a show. I had a crappy guitar with two broken strings and as I started banging away, hooting and howling, my neighbors one room over started BUMPING Usher... That’s when it hit me: ‘How cool would it be to put a super hi-fi urban beat against this janky- twangy acoustic sound?’ I never expected that it would become the feel-good song that it did...but it just goes to show that you never know where inspiration will come from – or where it will take you. You just gotta take the ride and hang on for dear life.”

The release of “Alive Tonight” was shrouded in mystery, and word of Potter’s creative leap sans the Nocturnals hit the blogosphere quite suddenly causing many devoted fans to wonder if this record signaled the end of an era. Fans and friends had lots of questions, but Potter remained silent. “Yeah. People kinda freaked out, some in really good ways, some...not so much. I knew they would and I understood why; this is a bold new sound and for a hardcore fan, it’s a big deal. Loyalty has always been really important to me and so has evolution. It’s hard sometimes to understand that they don’t need to be at odds. The band is an extension of me. They are my family and a huge part of my life. I have no intention of burning bridges or leaving it in the dust.

“I’ve been a Nocturnal for a decade....but I’ve been a musician forever. I’ve got a lot of different influences and creative impulses and I can’t always use my band as my springboard. Sure, I could’ve called this a GPN record, but why would I slap a sticker on an apple and call it an orange? Just to keep a few people from freaking out? Shit no! I have a responsibility to the legacy we built. It was hard. It was scary, but it was the right time to jump off with my own momentum – to open the door a little wider so the world can see another side, see what else turns me on. I’m mixing it up, doing something different...feels fucking awesome,” Potter says with a smile and a defiant shrug.

“In many ways, Midnight feels like a new beginning, but really, it’s a continuation of my story. I’ve always taken chances and sharp turns. So here I am again wandering into completely uncharted waters—just laying it all out there because ‘why the fuck not?’ I have absolutely no control over how this music will be received, and that’s OK. The risk is mine, and I'm taking it with all my heart.”


Con Brio

official band site »

The night before Con Brio headed into the studio to record their first full-length album, 23-year-old Ziek McCarter had a dream. In it, the singer received a visit from his father, an Army veteran who died at the hands of East Texas police in 2011. His father delivered an invitation: Come with me to paradise.

McCarter woke up with a song in his bones. “It was one of the most spiritual moments of my life,” he recalls. It was up to him, he knew, to rise above injustice, and to perform in a way that lifted up those around him as well. To make Con Brio’s music a place of serenity, compassion — even euphoria — right here on earth.

Paradise, which saw the San Francisco band teaming with legendary producer Mario Caldato Jr. (Beastie Boys, Beck, Seu Jorge), is the result: a declaration of independence you can dance to; an assertion of what can happen when the human spirit is truly free.

Formed in 2013, Con Brio is the offspring of seven musicians with diverse backgrounds but a shared love for the vibrant Bay Area funk and psychedelic-soul sound pioneered by groups like Sly & the Family Stone.

By 2015, when the band self-produced their debut EP, Kiss the Sun, Con Brio had already become a West Coast institution on the strength of their magnetic live show, with McCarter’s swiveling hips, splits and backflips earning him frequent comparisons to a young Michael Jackson or James Brown.

After a busy 2015 spent touring the U.S. and Europe, playing alongside veterans Galactic and Fishbone, and racking up critical acclaim on proving grounds like Austin City Limits — where PopMatters declared Con Brio “the best new live band in America” — they headed home to parlay their momentum, chemistry and tight live sound into a full-length record.

In an era when much has been made of the “death of the album,” there’s no question that Paradise, released internationally in summer 2016, is a fully-formed journey — a trip made all the more immersive by Caldato’s raw, live style of production. “We tried to create a narrative in the studio, in the same way that we segue between songs live,” explains McCarter of the record’s arc.

From the first primal wail of Benjamin Andrews’ electric guitar on the title track — Paradise is bookended by intro and outro versions — the album tells a story about modern life through its contradictions: “Liftoff” speaks of an urge to fly, to transcend the day-to-day with a starry, bird’s-eye view. “Hard Times” brings us crashing back to earth with the struggles of city life, inequality, and a fractured society desperate for healing. “Money” is a revolution, a rejection of societal pressure to equate success with a paycheck and abandon one’s dreams in the process.

“Free & Brave,” the band’s most overtly political anthem, is also arguably its most infectious. Over a driving R&B groove courtesy of veteran rhythm section Jonathan Kirchner and Andrew Laubacher (bass and drums), McCarter name-checks Trayvon Martin and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Clearly inspired by his own personal relationship with police brutality, the song is equal parts heartbreaking and hopeful.

“‘Free & Brave’ is in part a response to the Black Lives Matter movement, but it was also created to serve as a reminder — to myself and to whoever finds joy in that song — that there is a light there. We don’t have to get bogged down, we don’t have to feel helpless,” says McCarter. “We might not see it on a daily basis, but we are still ‘the land of the free and home of the brave’…I still take pride in that, in what pieces of joy and happiness we can create here with our actions.”

Of course, songs about love and passion remain Con Brio’s native tongue. (At a recent Australian festival in which the band shared a bill with D’Angelo, one journalist told McCarter his sex appeal had eclipsed that of his longtime idol. McCarter continues to have no comment.) So it’s a refreshing surprise that the strongest love song on Paradise, in fact, is “Honey,” a sweet, spacious and vulnerable tune that allows the band’s horn section, Brendan Liu and Marcus Stephens, to shine. Though the band’s built a reputation on sonic bravado, it’s choices like these — moments in which the music’s power flows from its subtlety — that truly highlight where Con Brio is going.

As for where they’re literally going: The second half of 2016 will see Con Brio embarking on an ambitious international touring schedule, including stops at the lion’s share of major American music festivals (Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Summerfest and San Francisco’s own Outside Lands); Fuji Rock, Japan’s largest annual music event; Montreal Jazz Fest, the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, the Netherlands; London; Paris; and more.

Which is not to say they’re intimidated. After performing most of these songs live throughout the past year, the team is running on adrenaline, and they’re thrilled to finally put this record in people’s hands. To bring old fans along for the journey, to help new fans lose themselves in a beat or a message. To spread music that, hopefully, shakes away the daily grind — and nurtures listeners’ dreams about what their version of paradise on earth might look like, even for the duration of a song.

Ziek McCarter already knows what his looks like, because Con Brio’s building it. And from where he’s sitting, they’re well past ready for liftoff.

“We don’t want to walk, we don’t want to drive,” he says with a laugh. “We want to fly. We want to levitate.”

 
Grace Potter
Con Brio | @9:30 club | view more info »
Jun
23

Grace Potter

Con Brio


Thursday Jun 23|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Grace Potter

official band site »

This is the rescheduled date from Saturday, January 23, 2016.
All original tickets for 1/23/16 will be honored.
Refunds available at place of purchase until 3/1/16.


Grace Potter’s epic musical journey reaches a new milestone with the arrival of her solo debut, Midnight (released August 14 on Hollywood Records), an inspired work that is surprising, revelatory and wildly original.

Midnight was recorded and mixed at Barefoot Studios in Hollywood with producer Eric Valentine, whose own diverse discography—from Queens of the Stone Age to Nickel Creek—evidences a similarly adventurous spirit and openness to possibility. If Valentine’s studio work has a distinguishing characteristic, it’s his hard-hitting sonic signature, which is on display throughout Midnight’s dozen tracks. The core studio band consisted of Potter and Valentine on most of the instruments, with Burr on drums and percussion. In addition, members of Potter’s longtime band The Nocturnals: guitarists Scott Tournet and Benny Yurco and bassist Michael Libramento contributed to the sessions, as well as former tour-mates and friends including singer-songwriter Rayland Baxter, Audra Mae, Noelle Skaggs of Fitz & the Tantrums, Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, and Nick Oliveri of Queens of the Stone Age.

“This album is about embracing life as it comes at you – with all its unexpected twists and turns,” says Potter. “I took a much more open approach to songwriting than I have in the past – probably because it was unavoidable. I’ve experienced a huge amount of growth and change in the past two years - both personal and professional, and it can be overwhelming for an artist to find ways to express that in a vacuum. So I tried to strip away the confines of other people’s expectations. I started tapping into some of the deep-running themes that have shaped me into the human I’ve become, and as I went deeper and deeper, I found the results to be insanely satisfying.

“This music means so much to me because it was hard-won. It was a terrifying yet fulfilling process of boiling down what I really wanted to say – peeling back all the protective layers of lyrical metaphor and sonic padding that I’m so used to leaning on. Ultimately the process has fueled` me to share more, learn more, listen carefully, work harder, love harder... Our time on earth is far too short to be resistant to beautiful opportunities as they come our way, so when my inspiration took me somewhere new, I did what I always do: stripped buck-ass naked and ran straight into the fire.”

Citing Miles Davis, Dylan, the Beatles, Bowie, Blondie and Beck as prime examples, Potter says she is drawn to artists who make sonic leaps from record to record—a notion she has explored throughout her career. For an artist who has built a devoted fan base through her electrifying live show, Potter seems hell-bent on breaking out of the box when it comes to studio work. She refuses to be defined by a single genre. Over the last three years, she has seamlessly transitioned from collaborating with the Flaming Lips, for a Tim Burton film, to songwriting and producing for soundtracks and theme songs for film and TV, to multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated country duets with her friend Kenny Chesney, to most recently joining The Rolling Stones on stage for an inspired rendition of “Gimme Shelter.”

“The bands and artists that captivate me,” Potter explains, “are the ones who are always pushing it, always taking risks. A great musician can shine in any genre. I refuse to make the same kind of record over and over—that’s not how art works for me. The worst thing an artist can do,” she asserts, “is what is expected of them.”

The seeds for what would become Midnight were planted by Potter at home, in Vermont, in the fall of 2013. “I had been messing around for a few weeks with making really wacked-out home demos - lots of sounds, beats and melodies that I had never tried before,” she recalls. “It was a dark, stormy, moody day and I could hear the thunder in the distance — these big ominous clouds were rolling in fast. There was something about that threat of inclement weather beyond my control that just made me vibrate with anticipation and adrenaline, so I channeled it into this heavy boogie song—it goes right for the throat and says ‘Own your existence on earth, because who knows what’s gonna happen next.’ That solitary moment guided everything that followed, and “Alive Tonight” was the beginning of it.”

Fittingly, “Alive Tonight” is Midnight’s lead single.

Valentine was intrigued by Grace’s sonic experiments in her work-tapes, so much so that they formed the blueprint for a number of the arrangements that made the final cut. “Her demos had an incredible vibe that really captured a groove or mood that would immediately grab your attention,” he notes. “So it seemed like that was the way to chase down this record as an honest representation of what Grace wanted to say and how she wanted these tracks to feel—because she had done such a good job of laying it out herself.”

“Hot to the Touch,” the aggressive, hook-heavy rocker that Grace chose to open the album, was the last song written for it. “When you’re making an album, you rarely have the opportunity to look at the whole thing and ask yourself what’s missing,” she points out. “And “Hot to the Touch” was the song that tied the whole thing together—the culmination of how I felt about making this entire record. It has a sexy, fiery, James Bond kind of vibe to it, and I came up with this snippy, edgy guitar part that fit really nicely. Lyrically, it’s about the tempestuous nature of love and attraction. That type of songwriting doesn’t happen very often when you’re making an album, so it felt like the cherry on top.

“The song “Delirious” was the tipping point of the album in many ways. I was in a really prolific stage of the process. The heart of the record had really taken shape in my mind. I was desperate to get everything down on paper before it left my mind and sleep felt like a distraction - but strange things happen when you haven’t slept in days. I reached a moment where finally, all my pretensions, judgments and preconceived notions vanished. I’d had so many sleepless nights trying to crack the code that my defenses were down, my nerves numb and I needed a real-deal freak-out dance party - an implosion of all the walls I had built around myself.”

Looking at some of Midnight’s other key songs, the stirring “Look What We’ve Become” began with a borrowed premise yet wound up as the album’s autobiographical centerpiece. “The label was really pushing me to do co-writes, which I’ve always tried to avoid, but Eric and I quickly developed a creative trust and symmetry that allowed me to feel more open to the possibilities...a few weeks later he set me up with a guy he’d worked with for years, who does a lot of co-writing, who played me a great demo,” she remembers. “When I heard the chorus, I knew I had to sing it—I found myself really attached to the melody and the message. I love the universality of it; everyone has been made to feel that they are unworthy in some way. So I wrote the verses and the bridge about my own experience with the music industry and the band. It turned out to be an excellent example of how co-writing can expand an artist’s field of play.”

Grace undertook the writing of “Your Girl” with the aim of coming up with a new take on a classic love triangle on this 70’s tinged soul gem. “In one way or another, we’ve all gone through the struggle of wanting something we can’t have...but this particular cliche? has been so overdone. If I wanted it to work, I needed a plot twist that was true to personal experience. Then we basically treated it a lot like a hip-hop track and just set it over an undeniable groove with some awesome quirky hooks,” she says. “In chasing down an originality in the confines of a heavily tread genre, Eric and I landed on one of my favorite sonic and lyrical moments of the album.”

With its rippling guitar riff and gospel-choir payoff, “Empty Heart” is one of the catchiest songs on the album. “I wrote “Empty Heart” in the hotel room of a casino in the mid-west somewhere; bored out of my mind after a show. I had a crappy guitar with two broken strings and as I started banging away, hooting and howling, my neighbors one room over started BUMPING Usher... That’s when it hit me: ‘How cool would it be to put a super hi-fi urban beat against this janky- twangy acoustic sound?’ I never expected that it would become the feel-good song that it did...but it just goes to show that you never know where inspiration will come from – or where it will take you. You just gotta take the ride and hang on for dear life.”

The release of “Alive Tonight” was shrouded in mystery, and word of Potter’s creative leap sans the Nocturnals hit the blogosphere quite suddenly causing many devoted fans to wonder if this record signaled the end of an era. Fans and friends had lots of questions, but Potter remained silent. “Yeah. People kinda freaked out, some in really good ways, some...not so much. I knew they would and I understood why; this is a bold new sound and for a hardcore fan, it’s a big deal. Loyalty has always been really important to me and so has evolution. It’s hard sometimes to understand that they don’t need to be at odds. The band is an extension of me. They are my family and a huge part of my life. I have no intention of burning bridges or leaving it in the dust.

“I’ve been a Nocturnal for a decade....but I’ve been a musician forever. I’ve got a lot of different influences and creative impulses and I can’t always use my band as my springboard. Sure, I could’ve called this a GPN record, but why would I slap a sticker on an apple and call it an orange? Just to keep a few people from freaking out? Shit no! I have a responsibility to the legacy we built. It was hard. It was scary, but it was the right time to jump off with my own momentum – to open the door a little wider so the world can see another side, see what else turns me on. I’m mixing it up, doing something different...feels fucking awesome,” Potter says with a smile and a defiant shrug.

“In many ways, Midnight feels like a new beginning, but really, it’s a continuation of my story. I’ve always taken chances and sharp turns. So here I am again wandering into completely uncharted waters—just laying it all out there because ‘why the fuck not?’ I have absolutely no control over how this music will be received, and that’s OK. The risk is mine, and I'm taking it with all my heart.”


Con Brio

official band site »

The night before Con Brio headed into the studio to record their first full-length album, 23-year-old Ziek McCarter had a dream. In it, the singer received a visit from his father, an Army veteran who died at the hands of East Texas police in 2011. His father delivered an invitation: Come with me to paradise.

McCarter woke up with a song in his bones. “It was one of the most spiritual moments of my life,” he recalls. It was up to him, he knew, to rise above injustice, and to perform in a way that lifted up those around him as well. To make Con Brio’s music a place of serenity, compassion — even euphoria — right here on earth.

Paradise, which saw the San Francisco band teaming with legendary producer Mario Caldato Jr. (Beastie Boys, Beck, Seu Jorge), is the result: a declaration of independence you can dance to; an assertion of what can happen when the human spirit is truly free.

Formed in 2013, Con Brio is the offspring of seven musicians with diverse backgrounds but a shared love for the vibrant Bay Area funk and psychedelic-soul sound pioneered by groups like Sly & the Family Stone.

By 2015, when the band self-produced their debut EP, Kiss the Sun, Con Brio had already become a West Coast institution on the strength of their magnetic live show, with McCarter’s swiveling hips, splits and backflips earning him frequent comparisons to a young Michael Jackson or James Brown.

After a busy 2015 spent touring the U.S. and Europe, playing alongside veterans Galactic and Fishbone, and racking up critical acclaim on proving grounds like Austin City Limits — where PopMatters declared Con Brio “the best new live band in America” — they headed home to parlay their momentum, chemistry and tight live sound into a full-length record.

In an era when much has been made of the “death of the album,” there’s no question that Paradise, released internationally in summer 2016, is a fully-formed journey — a trip made all the more immersive by Caldato’s raw, live style of production. “We tried to create a narrative in the studio, in the same way that we segue between songs live,” explains McCarter of the record’s arc.

From the first primal wail of Benjamin Andrews’ electric guitar on the title track — Paradise is bookended by intro and outro versions — the album tells a story about modern life through its contradictions: “Liftoff” speaks of an urge to fly, to transcend the day-to-day with a starry, bird’s-eye view. “Hard Times” brings us crashing back to earth with the struggles of city life, inequality, and a fractured society desperate for healing. “Money” is a revolution, a rejection of societal pressure to equate success with a paycheck and abandon one’s dreams in the process.

“Free & Brave,” the band’s most overtly political anthem, is also arguably its most infectious. Over a driving R&B groove courtesy of veteran rhythm section Jonathan Kirchner and Andrew Laubacher (bass and drums), McCarter name-checks Trayvon Martin and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Clearly inspired by his own personal relationship with police brutality, the song is equal parts heartbreaking and hopeful.

“‘Free & Brave’ is in part a response to the Black Lives Matter movement, but it was also created to serve as a reminder — to myself and to whoever finds joy in that song — that there is a light there. We don’t have to get bogged down, we don’t have to feel helpless,” says McCarter. “We might not see it on a daily basis, but we are still ‘the land of the free and home of the brave’…I still take pride in that, in what pieces of joy and happiness we can create here with our actions.”

Of course, songs about love and passion remain Con Brio’s native tongue. (At a recent Australian festival in which the band shared a bill with D’Angelo, one journalist told McCarter his sex appeal had eclipsed that of his longtime idol. McCarter continues to have no comment.) So it’s a refreshing surprise that the strongest love song on Paradise, in fact, is “Honey,” a sweet, spacious and vulnerable tune that allows the band’s horn section, Brendan Liu and Marcus Stephens, to shine. Though the band’s built a reputation on sonic bravado, it’s choices like these — moments in which the music’s power flows from its subtlety — that truly highlight where Con Brio is going.

As for where they’re literally going: The second half of 2016 will see Con Brio embarking on an ambitious international touring schedule, including stops at the lion’s share of major American music festivals (Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Summerfest and San Francisco’s own Outside Lands); Fuji Rock, Japan’s largest annual music event; Montreal Jazz Fest, the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, the Netherlands; London; Paris; and more.

Which is not to say they’re intimidated. After performing most of these songs live throughout the past year, the team is running on adrenaline, and they’re thrilled to finally put this record in people’s hands. To bring old fans along for the journey, to help new fans lose themselves in a beat or a message. To spread music that, hopefully, shakes away the daily grind — and nurtures listeners’ dreams about what their version of paradise on earth might look like, even for the duration of a song.

Ziek McCarter already knows what his looks like, because Con Brio’s building it. And from where he’s sitting, they’re well past ready for liftoff.

“We don’t want to walk, we don’t want to drive,” he says with a laugh. “We want to fly. We want to levitate.”

 
Merryland Music Fest Kick-Off Concert featuring
Papadosio
ELM | @Rams Head Live | view more info »
Jul
8

Merryland Music Fest Kick-Off Concert featuring
Papadosio

ELM


Friday Jul 8|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
Rams Head Live|get directions »
20 Market Place
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 244-1131


Merryland Music Fest Kick-Off Concert featuring
Papadosio

official band site »

Tickets for this show are only available as an add-on following the purchase of a Merryland Music Fest ticket. Visit www.merrylandmusicfest.com for complete details.


Mesmerizing, spellbinding and genre-defying: With their fourth full-length studio release Extras In A Movie, Papadosio reveals a striking cinematic cornucopia of sounds: orchestral, electronic, organic, acoustic, psychedelic and celestial. The 16 selections that comprise the song cycle are concise and structured – launch pads for the improvisational excursions that are a hallmark of the band’s celebrated concert performances.


ELM

official band site »

Electric Love Machine (ELM) is best described as an outer space adventure through sound, infused with doses of electronic funk, traditional Americana and improvisational jazz, and whose foundation is built on a sense of community. Their first full-length album, XenofoneX, touches upon the aural sense, and travels through one’s heart, makes a stop in the brain, all while travelling across the cosmic plane.

 
Merryland Music Fest Kick-Off Concert featuring
Soul Rebels
People's Blues of Richmond | @9:30 club | view more info »
Jul
8

Merryland Music Fest Kick-Off Concert featuring
Soul Rebels

People's Blues of Richmond


Friday Jul 8|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


Merryland Music Fest Kick-Off Concert featuring
Soul Rebels

official band site »

Tickets for this show are only available as an add-on following the purchase of a Merryland Music Fest ticket. Visit www.merrylandmusicfest.com for complete details.


THE SOUL REBELS are riding high into 2016 after recently touring four continents including Europe, Australia, debuting in China and Japan, selling out shows, collaborating live with artists spanning from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Marilyn Manson, Joey Bada$$, Big Freedia, Lettuce, Umphrey’s McGee, Robert Glasper, Kool & The Gang, Rakim, Slick Rick, The String Cheese Incident, Black Thought of The Roots, Pharoahe Monch and opening for Bruno Mars. The Soul Rebels start off the year strong with a tour featuring special guest Talib Kweli, complimented by a three night residency at New York’s Brooklyn Bowl featuring special guests Big Freedia, Talib Kweli and other iconic artists.


People's Blues of Richmond

official band site »

People’s Blues of Richmond brings a carnival-like mayhem to their dark, blues-infused psychedelia. The power trio’s new single “Gone Gone Gone” b/w “Outta My Mind” was produced & engineered by the highly sought-after Mark Neill, the man behind The Black Key’s platinum-selling, Grammy-winning Brothers record.

 
Merryland Music Fest Late-Night Concert
Hosted By Kung Fu
with guest appearances by Karl Denson and more!
@Rams Head Live | view more info »
Jul
9

Merryland Music Fest Late-Night Concert
Hosted By Kung Fu
with guest appearances by Karl Denson and more!



Saturday Jul 9|doors 10:30 pm|all ages
Rams Head Live|get directions »
20 Market Place
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 244-1131


Merryland Music Fest Late-Night Concert
Hosted By Kung Fu
with guest appearances by Karl Denson and more!

official band site »

Tickets for this show are only available as an add-on following the purchase of a Merryland Music Fest ticket. Visit www.merrylandmusicfest.com for complete details.


Proud to be firmly installed in the new-funk movement, KUNG FU is quickly popularizing their unique sonic contribution, blurring the line between intense electro-fusion, and blistering dance arrangements. Making fusion music "cool" again, the band draws on influences such as early Headhunters and Weather Report, and merges those ideas with a contemporary EDM informed sensibility. Imagine 70's funk-fusion meets a modern dance party!


 
All Good Presents
Merryland Music Fest
The String Cheese Incident, Lotus, Stephen "Ragga" Marley and more!

@Merriweather Post Pavilion | view more info »
Jul
9

All Good Presents
Merryland Music Fest
The String Cheese Incident, Lotus, Stephen "Ragga" Marley and more!



Saturday Jul 9|doors 1:00 pm|all ages
Merriweather Post Pavilion|get directions »
10475 LITTLE PATUXENT PARKWAY
COLUMBIA, MD|p: (410) 715-5550


All Good Presents
Merryland Music Fest
The String Cheese Incident, Lotus, Stephen "Ragga" Marley and more!

official band site »

All Good Presents is stoked to announce our first-ever Merryland Music Fest at one of the nation’s most beautiful and legendary outdoor amphitheatres, Merriweather Post Pavilion.

Merryland Music Fest will include an expanded footprint featuring a second stage and an interactive space amongst Symphony Woods, with unique local artisans, philanthropic organizations, and crowd performers. For microbrew fans, Flying Dog Brewery will be serving up our very own All Good ISA (India Seasonal Ale) along with other selected brands.

Beyond Merryland’s two days and nights of music at Merriweather Post, All Good Presents is offering those hard-core music enthusiasts their choice of Kick-Off and Late-Night Concerts at premiere venues in Baltimore and DC.

Bring your fellow music lovers and join us in celebrating music and life.


 
All Good Presents
Merryland Music Fest
Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Grace Potter, Greensky Bluegrass and more!

@Merriweather Post Pavilion | view more info »
Jul
10

All Good Presents
Merryland Music Fest
Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Grace Potter, Greensky Bluegrass and more!



Sunday Jul 10|doors 1:00 pm|all ages
Merriweather Post Pavilion|get directions »
10475 LITTLE PATUXENT PARKWAY
COLUMBIA, MD|p: (410) 715-5550


All Good Presents
Merryland Music Fest
Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Grace Potter, Greensky Bluegrass and more!

official band site »

All Good Presents is stoked to announce our first-ever Merryland Music Fest at one of the nation’s most beautiful and legendary outdoor amphitheatres, Merriweather Post Pavilion.

Merryland Music Fest will include an expanded footprint featuring a second stage and an interactive space amongst Symphony Woods, with unique local artisans, philanthropic organizations, and crowd performers. For microbrew fans, Flying Dog Brewery will be serving up our very own All Good ISA (India Seasonal Ale) along with other selected brands.

Beyond Merryland’s two days and nights of music at Merriweather Post, All Good Presents is offering those hard-core music enthusiasts their choice of Kick-Off and Late-Night Concerts at premiere venues in Baltimore and DC.

Bring your fellow music lovers and join us in celebrating music and life.


 
Raging Fyah
Nappy Riddem | Dub City Renegades | @Jammin' Java | view more info »
Jul
11

Raging Fyah

Nappy Riddem
Dub City Renegades

Monday Jul 11|doors 6:00 pm|all ages
Jammin' Java|get directions »
227 Maple Ave E
Vienna, VA|p: (703) 255-1566


Raging Fyah

official band site »

Raging Fyah is an authentic, soul-filled, roots rock reggae band, with a fresh contemporary flare, that will literally set your soul on fire! That’s what makes Raging Fyah one of hottest spreading, most captivating and powerful entertainment packages in a long awaited Jamaican Reggae Renaissance!

The “Fyah” was ignited in 2006 by Anthony Watson (drummer), Demar Gayle (keyboardist) and Delroy Hamilton (bassist); then they were later joined by Courtland White (guitarist) and Kumar Bent (lead singer) as they set out to rekindle a flame of positivity in the music industry. Fueled by passion, purpose and life experiences, their lyrics touch the soul of the listener, uplifting and motivating people from all socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. Whether the message is love, peace or empowerment, Raging Fyah burns through barriers of time age, race or class and has songs for everyone to love.

In 2011, they released their debut album, “Judgement Day”, and gained popularity and presence locally and internationally, with a few of the songs - su ch as the title track “Judgement Day” and hit single “Far Away” - receiving rotation on the air waves and even found their way onto a few charts. With conscious roots reggae on the rise, the “Fyah” continued to spread into 2012, and there was a heavy demand for the band’s thrilling live performances at various shows. Their talent and versatility enables them to aptly adjust the intensity of their flame. So whether at an intimate acoustics set or a large stage shows such as Rebel Salute and Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, they steadily captured the hearts of the Jamaican listeners. In that same year the band hit the road to perform on the international stages of South America as well as to headline several major reggae festivals in Europe such as Summerjam, Rototom Sunsplash and Garance.

Since then the band has been doing shows locally and returned for another tour in in Europe in Spring of 2013. They have also released three new singles “Dread” , “Naah Look Back” and “First Love” are they currently in studio working on their second album.


Nappy Riddem

official band site »

Since releasing their debut album on Fort Knox Recordings in 2011, NAPPY RIDDEM has been busy touring nationwide and releasing a string of remixes, transforming itself into an uplifting and conscious reggae band that is funky enough to pack the dance floor. Started by Mustafa Akbar and Rex Riddem, Nappy Riddem has expanded into a six-piece band, whose live show is engaging and compelling, getting the crowd moving and grooving with a smile on their faces.

In 2013 Nappy Riddem released “The Rock Steady EP” and was awarded “Best Reggae Recording” by the Washington Area Music Association, in 2014. Nappy Riddem stepped out of the studio to focus on touring. They’ve toured up and down the East Coast as well as Texas, Colorado and California. Nappy Riddem has headlined world famous venues like the 9:30 Club and Brooklyn Bowl. This band of brothers has had the pleasure of supporting the English Beat, Go-Go rockers Experience Unlimited, The Original Wailers, Lee Scratch Perry, and Bob Marley’s Legendary Guitarist Junior Marvin. Junior Marvin also selected Nappy Riddem to mentor and tour with him as his backing band during their 2014 California tour. The highlight of which was headlining the prestigious Joshua Tree Music Festival. Nappy Riddem’s performances meld Reggae, Rock, and Soul together into their unique brand of “Dancehall Funk”.

Dub City Renegades

official band site »

Washington DC based Reggae Rockers, Dub City Renegades, are a high energy yet spliffed out band that brings the positive vibes and gets the crowd moving! DCR is an 8 piece band lead by our front man, Akshan, a soulful horn section, and a tight rhythm section. Dub City brings the seamlessly blended sounds of Reggae, Dancehall, Roots, Rock, Jazz and more all to create a unique sound we call, Island Rock. Be sure to look for Dub City Renegades full length album out Jan 2015, also called….ISLAND ROCK! One Love from the DCR crew and look forward to see you out rocking with us!

 
G-Nome Project
@Jammin' Java | view more info »
Jul
23

G-Nome Project



Saturday Jul 23|doors 9:30 pm|all ages
Jammin' Java|get directions »
227 Maple Ave E
Vienna, VA|p: (703) 255-1566


G-Nome Project

official band site »

G-Nome Project is Israel’s premier Livetronica band. Formed in September 2012, G-Nome Project is rapidly building one of the most loyal fan bases in the country, packing venues to capacity in their home city, Jerusalem, and expanding rapidly to the heart of the artistic scene in Israel’s center in greater Tel Aviv. The band is comprised from a super group of four nationally renowned musicians – Yakir Hyman, Zechariah Reich, Chemy Soibelman, and Eyal Salomon – who each bring a distinctive flavor to the dynamic electro-funk palate of this Jerusalem-based quartet. G-Nome Project is the product of their longstanding musical vision to form an ensemble focused heavily on improvisation while blending elements of electronica, dance, and funk into progressive original compositions – a style that has been coined “Grilled Cheese Funk at its finest.” Fans of many backgrounds flock to the band’s shows for the music, good vibes, and hardcore dancing that exemplify the character of the G-Nome community. Building on their national success in the Middle East, the band recently returned to Israel following its first international tour across the U.S. in August 2014.


 
Dark Star Orchestra & The Bridge
@Pier Six Pavilion | view more info »
Jul
29

Dark Star Orchestra & The Bridge



Friday Jul 29|doors 5:00 pm|all ages
Pier Six Pavilion|get directions »
731 Eastern Ave
Baltimore, MD|p: (410) 783-4189


Dark Star Orchestra

official band site »

Performing to critical acclaim worldwide for nearly 17 years and over 2200 shows, Dark Star Orchestra continues the Grateful Dead concert experience. Their shows are built off the Dead's extensive catalog and the talent of these seven fine musicians. On any given night the band will perform a show based on a set list from the Grateful Dead's 30 years of extensive touring or use their catalog to program a unique set list for the show. This allows fans both young and old to share in the experience. By recreating set lists from the past, and by developing their own sets of Dead songs, Dark Star Orchestra offers a continually evolving artistic outlet within this musical canon. Honoring both the band and the fans, Dark Star Orchestra's members seek out the unique style and sound of each era while simultaneously offering their own informed improvisations creating a sound that truly encapsulate the energy and the experience.


The Bridge

official band site »

The fearless leaders of The Bridge have traveled an enormous distance to get where they are; all the way from living off-the-grid on a remote Hawaiian farm—in Kenny Liner’s case—and chafing in the buttoned-down corporate world—in Cris Jacobs’—to making a formidable album that’s fed by hometown roots and laced with wanderlust. It’s called National Bohemian, a nod to both the Baltimore-based sextet’s beloved local brew and their creatively rewarding but often unglamorous hard-touring lifestyle. It’s also the work of a dexterous band of players to be reckoned with.

From the eleven new, original tracks, this much is clear: Jacobs (vocals and guitar), Liner (mandolin and beatboxing), Dave Markowitz (bass and vocals), Patrick Rainey (saxophone), Mike Gambone (drums) and Mark Brown (keyboards)—otherwise known as The Bridge—have come into their own, covering unbounded musical territory with no shortage of verve and striking a rare balance between high-quality songs and sharp instrumental interplay. They have the tools to see their expansive musical vision through, starting with the unorthodox nature of their lineup: string band elements powered by a plugged-in R&B- and roots rock-ready rhythm section, heated by keyboard and horn and, here and there, seasoned with syncopated beatboxing.


 
Galactic
@Flying Dog Brewery | view more info »
Jul
30

Galactic



Saturday Jul 30|doors 5:30 pm|21+
Flying Dog Brewery|get directions »
4607 Wedgewood Blvd
Frederick, MD|p: (301) 694-7899


Galactic

official band site »

It’s been more than 20 years since Ben Ellman, Robert Mercurio, Stanton Moore, Jeff Raines and Rich Vogel began exploring the seemingly limitless musical possibilities born out of their work together as Galactic. Since then, the seminal New Orleans band has consistently pushed artistic boundaries on the road and in the studio, approaching their music with open ears and drawing inspiration as much from the sounds bubbling up from their city’s streets as they do from each other.

A key part of that creative spark comes from the teamwork of Mercurio and Ellman, whose ever-evolving production and arranging skills helped usher the band into a new phase of studio work beginning with the loop-centric “Ruckus” in 2007. A series of albums focused around specific concepts like Carnival followed, as did collaborations with guests hailing from worlds outside the one Galactic calls its own.

On “Into the Deep,” the band members look within themselves instead, drawing inspiration from people and ideas that have long been close to their hearts – and, in turn, close to the development of their unique sound. Shot through with soul, funk, blues and rock, the result is an organic riff on elements of Galactic’s past, filtered through the lens of where they’re headed in 2015. “I see this album as a kind of culmination of all of our collaborations or experiences, from [trombonist] Corey Henry to the people we met on the road, touring,” says Mercurio, referencing Ellman’s first full-time gig in New Orleans, which kicked off when Henry hired him into the Little Rascals Brass Band in 1989. “The previous albums took us in the opposite direction,” Mercurio says. “We collaborated with rappers that we had never dealt with and even on the New Orleans tracks, we didn’t have working experience with most of those artists before the recordings.”

In contrast, “Into the Deep” contributors like JJ Grey, David Shaw and Maggie Koerner spent significant time touring with Galactic. A few years ago, Mavis Staples sat in with the band, all of whom are longtime fans of the legendary singer’s R&B-meets-gospel soul style. They caught up with Macy Gray when she performed a memorable concert at Tipitina’s where Ellman says he could see from the outset “how much she cares about the music.” And each of the players had also developed a deep appreciation for the Honorable South’s Charm Taylor, whose contribution, “Right On” was written specifically to suit her vibe.

“Quint Davis [the producer of] Jazz Fest always has a couple people he books at the festival that aren’t big names but that Quint knows are going to be super cool,” says Ellman. “That’s how we met Brushy One-String. We originally wanted to bring him in to do anything, just to see what would happen. But when we heard his song ‘Chicken in the Corn,’ we really wanted to do our version of it.”

In the end, he joined them on the road for over a month, collaborating with the band onstage at each show.

For the instrumental tracks, Galactic mined the interests and tastes they’ve cultivated together for years in New Orleans. “Buck 77” was written via improvisation, a long-standing cornerstone of their live shows. The funky bass line and tumbling guitar part on “Long Live the Borgne,” meanwhile, represents an updated, more composed take on some of the concepts that made early albums like “Coolin’ Off” so strong.

As for the opener “Soogar Doosie,” Ellman points out Galactic tends to record at least one track on each album that speaks to the band’s collective love of brass band music.

“We write [those songs] with the idea of how awesome it would be to hear the Rebirth going down doing the street in a second line playing one of our songs. We try to think of a real second line song that would get people slapping stop signs and dancing on cars,” he says.

The album, Ellman says “is all about people. It’s these connections we’ve made over 20 years. They’re people in our orbit that have come into our little world and affected us in some way.”

It’s also about how the individual musicians within Galactic have grown over time. When it comes to trying new approaches as players, producers, songwriters and arrangers, Ellman muses, “it’s an evolution.”


 
The Claypool Lennon Delirium
Marco Benevento | @9:30 club | view more info »
Sep
1

The Claypool Lennon Delirium

Marco Benevento


Thursday Sep 1|doors 7:00 pm|all ages
9:30 club|get directions »
815 V Street NW
Washington DC|p: (202) 265-0930


The Claypool Lennon Delirium

official band site »

Two worlds have collided, and what glorious and odd worlds they are. After a successful summer tour pairing Primus with Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, Les Claypool and Sean Lennon have decided to combine their abstract talents into a project called The Claypool Lennon Delirium. Their efforts thus far have spawned the upcoming, full-length release called “Monolith of Phobos.”

“Sean is a musical mutant after my own heart,” said Claypool. “He definitely reflects his genetics—not just the sensibilities of his dad but also the abstract perspective and unique approach of his mother. It makes for a glorious freak stew.” After some impromptu, backstage jams and an epic live sit-in on Primus’s psychedelic opus, “Southbound Pachyderm,” Claypool approached Lennon about doing a recording project. “I was trying to wrangle up an Oysterhead reunion since Primus was taking a rest for 2016 but the planets just wouldn’t align for that,” said Claypool. “I don’t like sitting around, so when Sean said he didn’t have plans for this next year, we started kicking around the notion of making an old-school, psychedelic/prog record. Next thing I know, he’s staying in my guesthouse, drinking my vino and banging on my drums.” Lennon responded, “I told Les that I was Neil Diamond’s nephew. I think that is what really sold him on the idea of working with me.”

Over the course of six weeks or so, the two wrote and recorded a total of ten songs with both of them sharing various vocal and instrumental responsibilities, going beyond their core instruments of bass and guitar. Claypool explained, “Usually I play the drums and percussion on my records but Sean has such a different feel than I do, it just made more sense for him to man the kit on most of the tunes on this project. I took the helm at my old vintage API console and let him bang away. He was happy as a piggy rolling in shit every time he grabbed the sticks…his drumming is like a cross between Ringo and Nick Mason. But I think folks will be most surprised by what a monster guitar player he is, especially when you prod him a bit.”

“Monolith of Phobos” is just how the title implies—an old-school approach to a psychedelic space rock record. Lennon added, “It’s been an honor and a challenge playing with someone of Les’ caliber, but luckily the Gods of Pinot Noir shone favorably down and granted us a bundle of devilish tunes about monkeys, outer space and sexual deviancy.”

The Claypool Lennon Delirium “Monolith of Phobos” record is slated for a spring release and the band will be touring through the summer.


Marco Benevento

official band site »

Marco Benevento is used to doing a lot of things for himself: Since he launched his solo career six years ago, Benevento has co-founded the label that releases his music, The Royal Potato Family, and built the studio, Fred Short, where he works every day that he’s not on the road. And in the past, of course, he’s written, arranged and played his largely instrumental anthems, leading a band from behind his customized piano and a tiny armada of drum-machines and sequencers, keyboards and pedals.

But until Benevento set out to complete his fifth album under his own name, he’d never sung his own songs, a strange omission for music that’s so often been lyrical. That changes—decisively, assuredly, triumphantly—on Swift, the boldest and most bracing album of Benevento’s career.

“I never really liked the sound of my singing voice. I have a low voice. I can’t really sing too high. It’s nasally,” Benevento confesses. “But I had to get over it. And now, singing is awesome.”

Sure, 2012’s TigerFace opened with two vocal gems, the greasy “Limbs of a Pine” and the gorgeous “This is How It Goes.” But Rubblebucket’s Annakalmia Traver had handled those melodies, and Benevento assumed for months that she’d handle these, too. At one point, though, he decided that he liked the way his voice was sitting in the songs he was building; that it felt not only interesting, but surprisingly intuitive. His wife, Katie, would join him in the studio and sit with him at the piano, helping him to shape strings of nonsense syllables into words he liked. And in November 2013, he invited Ween’s Aaron Freeman, a nearby neighbor and longtime friend, to visit the studio and offer criticism of what he was singing and how he was singing it. Freeman had specific quibbles and improvements, but he largely approved of the work Benevento had done, providing the boost that powered Swift toward completion.

“It was nice to be tested and prepared by a singer I really like. It was validating,” Benevento explains. “I’m surprised it took me this long to sing, but growing older, getting into music by The Band and James Booker and the Grateful Dead, the singing door has opened. It’s a new instrument.”

Benevento’s urge to commandeer the microphone and fill the record with his thoughts isn’t a mere power grab from a bandleader. To the contrary, bassist Dave Dreiwitz (Ween) and drummer Andy Borger (Tom Waits, Ani DiFranco, Norah Jones) flex more than ever before on Swift. Dreiwitz dances atop the start of “If I Get to See You At All,” his rich fuzz-tone affording the melody the feeling of a sinister carousel. And on “The Saint,” he and Borger emerge as powerhouse, the viscous bass line rumbling over drums that slow and spring, stutter and stomp. A minute into the track, Benevento has to wait for just the perfect moment in which to slide his silvery piano. Swift is an unselfish album, then, guided more by a sense of giving songs maximum impact than proving the incontrovertible worth of the players who made it.

That directness is due in large part to Richard Swift, the esteemed indie rock producer who invited the trio to his Oregon studio to record the album that, in turn, Benevento named for him. Benevento’s sister-in-law lived nearby, so he’d gotten to know Swift through years of touring. He’d also fallen in love with his work thanks to Swift-helmed albums such as Foxygen’s We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic and his own song “Lady Luck.” Benvento says that several mixtapes Swift compiled and put online—humid spheres of vinyl static and rubbery bass, woozy soul and swerving rock—saved his life on several long, late-night tour drives. He trusted Swift’s ears, and he wanted to put this record in his hands—to go to Oregon, record for three days, let the producer produce, and do as little tinkering to the results as possible.

“I was sick of going back to my studio and turning a session into something else. I wanted my process to be different. I wanted someone else to say, ‘Leave it like that,’” Benevento says. “I was surprised how easy it was going to be. I made two or three edits, and it was done.”

That comfort and energy radiate throughout Swift, an album that’s every bit as delightful and kinetic as its title suggests. Opener “At the Show” is a handclap invocation, the big-bottomed drums and Benvento’s fleet keyboard line motioning toward the dance floor. “Eye to Eye” moves with an indomitable, street-smart swagger, while closer “Free Us All” prompts eyes-closed, mouths-open bliss. Even “No One is to Blame,” the album’s ostensible down-tempo drift, can’t suppress the excitement of the new setting, the new singer or the new approach. Its climax offers arching catharsis, Benevento’s multi-tracked harmonies curving like a rainbow.

“To finally make a record that feels and sounds like a record; something that is musically consistent and almost thematic, whereas my other releases have been so stylistically diverse,” says Benevento, “is, for me, an accomplishment.” He did it himself, you could say—and then some. The Royal Potato Family released Swift on LP, CD and Digital on Tuesday, Sept. 16.

 
Beats Antique
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Oct
14

Beats Antique

Too Many Zooz
Thiftworks

Friday Oct 14|doors 8:00 pm|all ages
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Beats Antique

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Celebrating its tenth anniversary with its tenth studio release, the Bay Area’s wildly innovative performance dynamo Beats Antique emerges from the studio with a brand new album and stage show to mark the milestone. With legendary sets at some of the most iconic venues and festivals around the world and collaborations with superstars from Les Claypool to Bassnectar, the next chapter in the trio’s story takes them back to a mysterious world.

When multi-instrumentalists David Satori and Tommy Cappel and choreographer Zoe Jakes dove into development of the new Beats Antique era, the concept of Shadowbox emerged. Driven by the infinite wonders of the deceptively simple design, the narrative of shadows and light, of darkness and contrast, of reality and surreality propelled the music and vision into new territory.

Capturing the heart of the Beats Antique sound means skirting that divide between the electric and the acoustic. Balkan melodies strung over crashing cymbals and marching band horn lines run smack into contemporary electronic grooves. It might be the drums and brass or the sweeping psychedelic strings that will take you for a ride down the rails of a steampunk circus. It’s chaos and cacophony on a very tight leash.

All three members shared production duties to harness the sound they first stumbled upon a decade ago: far east meets wild west. Bringing in sarod master Alam Khan (son of Ali Akbar Khan) Jakes was able to take her study of Indian classical dance from the stage to the studio. Russian singer Tatiana Kalmykova resurrected an ancient folk language to evoke a haunting fairy tale that feels at home in the shadows. Beats Antique also recruited rising stars of brass house TOO MANY ZOOZ for the horn-fueled funk and punk central to their sound.

As always, Tommy Cappel focused his efforts on the beats and bass production, while David Satori assembled an armory of stringed, plucked, and bowed instruments from far-flung lands to adorn the low-end foundation. All samples were created live in the studio—a hallmark of the lush warmth of a Beats Antique record.

The Shadowbox stage show will be teased at Red Rocks and Electric Forest before its full unveiling this fall. Taking the theme of shadow play and expanding the concept forward and backward in time, the core members dove deep, influenced by ancient practices of Indonesian shadow puppetry, falling into the world of wayang kulit, the eons long tradition of storytelling where epic tales unfold into the wee hours of the morning.

Enormous lanterns adorn the stage, casting light upon a maze of curtains where playful new characters dance and fight and rejoice and mourn. Beats Antique is breaking the boundaries of conventional wisdom. Why can’t an electronic music performance encompass a range of emotion?

This isn’t a nuclear-powered laser light show from the ever-intensifying optical arms race of the EDM industry. This is one of the earliest methods of storytelling brought from the past into the present. “The digital is there to enhance the analog,” notes Jakes. “We’re here to tell a story,” Satori adds.

Bringing an album from the shadows of the studio to the brightly lit stage is what Beats Antique does best. These are storytellers for a digital age—equipped with the newest technology and ancient traditions. This is where the Beats meet the Antique.


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