New Updates Weekly & Ticket Giveaways
Sun 05/03 at Mr. Smalls Theatre
Dance Gavin Dance
Tue 05/19 at Mr. Smalls Theatre
The Psychedelic Furs
Sat 04/04 at Mr. Smalls Theatre
Tue 04/07 at Club Cafe
Wed 04/15 at Brillobox
William Elliott Whitmore
Mon 05/04 at Mr. Smalls Theatre
Fri 05/15 at Mr. Smalls Theatre
Mon 05/18 at Mr. Smalls Theatre
Thu 05/21 at Club Cafe
Thu 06/18 at Stage AE
Fri 06/19 at Mr. Smalls Theatre
Wed 07/08 at Mr. Smalls Theatre
Wed 05/06 at Club Cafe
Tue 05/26 at Mr. Smalls Theatre
Ensiferum and Korpiklaani
Wed 06/10 at Brillobox
Fri 06/12 at Stage AE Outdoors
Flogging Molly / Gogol Bordello
Fri 04/17 at Mr. Smalls Theatre
"The interplay is as sleek as ever." The Times (London)
"The hot jazz is what Hot Club do best, and this is a staggering return to form for the band I once said I could listen to forever. That still stands." Country Music People
You'd think a band from Austin, Texas with the word "Cowtown" in its name spends its time off from touring herding cattle at a West Texas ranch or maybe in Nashville writing songs about whiskey and loose women. Not the HOT CLUB OF COWTOWN. "We recently took a band vacation to the Gypsy Festival at St. Maries de la Mer in the South of France," says the band's fiddler and vocalist, Elana James. Whit Smith, Hot Club's guitar player and vocalist, is a regular at the prestigious Djangofest Northwest in Whidbey, Island, Washington, and bass player Jake Erwin has the Hungarian folk band Csokolom in regular rotation on his home stereo.
"Our band is fiddle, guitar, and bass, and they can do anything together. We've always played a combination of hot jazz and Western swing, but it's been really a joy to finally distill part of our essence and serve up a record that is purely jazzy," says James, who in fact was once a horse wrangler in Colorado, as well as a former student of classical music at the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau, France. Says Smith, "Once Elana became aware that in jazz music and swing, you could express yourself more in improvisation, I think that attracted her to it. She still likes classical, and I do too." Smith grew up hearing his parents play lots of folk music, especially acoustic blues, but as a teenager he naturally rebelled and turned sharply toward hard rock, which still informs his approach to hot jazz and Western swing. The impression that the band is in some way a country act, especially in the current climate of American popular music, is somewhat misleading since the Hot Club's influences have always been as much the musette music of the smoky bistros of 1930s Paris as they are the hoedowns and Western swing of the mythic American West.
Perhaps it's no surprise, then, that the Hot Club of Cowtown, on their seventh studio album, is finally releasing Rendezvous in Rhythm, a thrilling display of this Texas trio's virtuosity and its elegant, more European inspirations. "We had lots of people asking us to make a record of standards," says Smith, "So there you go, here's a record full of swing standards. We're not trying to compete with anyone who's writing the songs. It's more of a vehicle for one way we really like to play - starting with familiar ground and then improvising from there." By way of inspiration James adds, "One of the most thrilling nights of my life was when Gheorghe Anghel (the violinist from legendary Romanian Gypsy band Taraf de Haidouks) came over to my house and he and Whit and I jammed on songs like Avalon' and Exactly Like You' in my living room with him 'til four in the morning. And then he asked if he could use my phone to call home to Romania. It was the coolest thing ever."
We can all be grateful then, for whatever inspiration a visiting Romanian fiddler may have sparked, for Rendezvous in Rhythm is a superb collection of traditional material, the Hot Club's most polished and sophisticated work to date. From the first hypnotic phrases of the lead track "Ochi Chornye" (a Russian folk song, "Dark Eyes"), which builds into a frenzy à la Ravel's "Bolero," Rendezvous in Rhythm takes us on a lively journey of raw joy and authentic energy.
Disarmingly intimate ballads ("If I Had You," "I'm Confessin'") give way to instrumental virtuosity in the extreme ("Dark Eyes," "Minor Swing," "Douce Ambiance"). Pre-WWII influences abound throughout, as with "Back in Your Own Backyard," a classic made famous by Billie Holliday, Al Jolson's "Avalon," and Fred Loesser's "Slow Boat to China." "Crazy Rhythm," through which James sings and swings with sassy authority first appeared in 1928 but sounds as current as any of the band's original material. "The Continental," a Reinhardt and Grappelli showpiece, has been intricately rearranged by Smith, whose vocal and hot twin lines warn of the dangers of dancing and the spells it can cast. Smith's lush treatment of the Fields and McHugh masterpiece "I'm in the Mood for Love" is alone worth the price of admission.
Though many songs in this collection have been revisited in recent years by well-known artists, Rendezvous in Rhythm is the first release by a major touring act to ignite this material with the danceable, swinging vivaciousness that first put it on the map. In order to capture lightning in a bottle, says Smith, "We went back to our way of having everyone in the room together. We recorded it live, right there next to each other so we could hear each other play. I play acoustic on it - not big news, but usually in the past, I would play a mixture of electric and acoustic and sometimes overdub the electric guitar or vice versa. The majority of this album is the three of us there and playing acoustic. We tried to capture the feel of our live shows as much as possible."
Since its beginnings in the late 1990s, Hot Club of Cowtown's star has continued to rise as its reputation for jaw-dropping virtuosity and unforgettable live shows has become the band's global brand. Lauded for its "down-home melodies and exuberant improvisation" (The Times, London), the Hot Club has always woven a combination of seemingly disparate styles together to its own magical effect, setting up camp "at that crossroads where country meets jazz and chases the blues away" (The Independent), and "conscious always that above all else, the music is for dancing and an old-fashioned good time" (New York Times). The band's musical alchemy has been described as "another breathless journey in the Texas tardis" (The Times, London), while American Songwriter observed that "The excellent three players of this band could be doing anything but have chosen to honor the greats of jazz and swing with their sound." The Belfast Telegraph calls them "a pretty much perfect country trio at the very top of their game," while the New York Times, reviewing a live performance in New York City in 2011, describes the trio as armed with "an arsenal full of technique and joy."
Along with the Hot Club's dedicated cult following worldwide - they have toured for the U.S. State Department as musical ambassadors to Azerbaijan, Armenia, the Republic of Georgia and the Sultanate of Oman - certain titans of the industry have also taken notice. Bob Dylan, with whom the band toured and with whom James has toured and recorded, is a continuing inspiration. The Hot Club has opened several shows for Willie Nelson, toured with Nelson and Dylan during a summer-long stadium tour, and recently opened seven nights of Roxy Music's sold-out "For Your Pleasure" U.K. stadium tour in early 2011. In the U.K. the Hot Club of Cowtown continues to tour extensively and has been featured at the Glastonbury Festival and has also been a returning guest on Later With Jools Holland, the Cambridge Folk Festival, and BBC Radio 2's Radcliffe and Maconie and Bob Harris Country shows.
EARLY YEARS & DISCOGRAPHY
In 1994 in New York City, Elana James placed an ad in the music section of the Village Voice looking to join a band, and Whit Smith answered it. Since then the music these two have made has always been a secret brew of energy, joie de vivre, and a respect for tradition that is often imitated but never equaled. By 1997, after founding a much larger Western swing orchestra in NYC, Elana and Whit pared back down to their essential elements and the duo that began as "Whit & Elana" grew - with the addition of a bass player and a lot of optimism and naïveté - into Hot Club of Cowtown. The trio moved to Austin, Texas, and released its first album, Swingin' Stampede, in 1998 after signing with American roots label HighTone Records. Tall Tales (1999) and Dev'lish Mary (2000) soon followed, but it wasn't until 2001 that the band's lineup solidified with the arrival of bassist Jake Erwin, who cemented Hot Club's larger-than-life, earth-shaking rhythmic foundation. Ghost Train (2002) showcased a significant shift toward original songwriting and Continental Stomp (2003) is a live testament to the thundering authority of the band in concert and proof positive that it remains one of roots music's most formidable touring acts. In 2008 American label Shout Factory released a 20-track Best Of retrospective, followed by another critically-acclaimed album of largely original material, Wishful Thinking (2009), and, in 2011, a collection of Western swing standards made famous by Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys, What Makes Bob Holler (Proper).
With the release of Rendezvous in Rhythm, Hot Club of Cowtown invites us to join in once again on a journey through its musical inspirations, where the campfire is still burning, but this time the lights of Paris twinkle in the distance, the Gypsy caravans are gathered round, and the night air is filled with magic and romance. You'd think a band from Austin, Texas with the word "Cowtown" in its name spends its time off from touring herding cattle at a West Texas ranch or maybe in Nashville writing songs about whiskey and loose women. Not the HOT CLUB OF COWTOWN. "We recently took a band vacation to the Gypsy Festival at St. Maries de la Mer in the South of France," says the band's fiddler and vocalist Read More
Ellis Paul's songwriting credentials are unassailable. They are as genuine as the fifteen Boston Music Awards he has earned, as indelible as the tattoo of Woody Guthrie that adorns his arm, and as authentic as the musical roots he draws upon with every note he plays. He emerged out of the Boston music scene during a time when contemporary folk was beginning to come into the mainstream. Now, with 20+ years of playing 150 to 200 shows annually, 19 record releases, a documentary film, a book of poems/short stories, an award winning children's book project, as well as songs featured on Hollywood soundtracks, he makes Bostons music scene proud. Ellis Paul's songwriting credentials are unassailable. They are as genuine as the fifteen Boston Music Awards he has earned, as indelible as the tattoo of Woody Guthrie that adorns his arm, and as authentic as the musical roots he draws upon with every note he plays. He emerged out of the Boston music scene during a time when contemporary folk Read More
G. Love & Special Sauce are a Philadelphia-based trio whose laid-back, sloppy blues sound is quite unique, as it encompasses the sound/production of classic R&B and recent rap artists. The group — G. Love (born Garrett Dutton) on guitar/vocals/harmonica, Jeff Clemens on drums, and Jim Prescott on upright bass — released their self-titled debut in 1994 on OKeh/Epic. They followed with the more mature Coast to Coast Motel in 1995. On tour, the group decided to take a break from each other, while G. Love worked on a new album with three different bands and special guest Dr. John. Soon, though, G. Love & Special Sauce made amends, and the next album featured Special Sauce plus combinations of the three other groups. Yeah, It's That Easy was released in October 1997, and it turned out to be a soul-inflected effort, more similar to their debut than their second album. G. Love & Special Sauce returned in 1999 with Philadelphonic. Released in 2001, Electric Mile was another solid release, but it was also G. Love's most schizophrenic album yet.
By 2004 The Hustle LP, G. Love had eased up a little on the kitchen sink approach, offering instead a cohesive, dry groove reminiscent of his earliest efforts. Hustle was also the first G. Love release under Jack Johnson's Brushfire Records banner. His move from Sony spawned The Best of G. Love & Special Sauce, but G. Love wasn't done. The live album A Year & A Night with G. Love & Special Sauce appeared in 2007. The studio album Superhero Brother followed in 2008. After a six-year break, the original G. Love & Special Sauce lineup (feat. Clemens and Prescott) reunited for 2014's Sugar. G. Love & Special Sauce are a Philadelphia-based trio whose laid-back, sloppy blues sound is quite unique, as it encompasses the sound/production of classic R&B and recent rap artists. The group — G. Love (born Garrett Dutton) on guitar/vocals/harmonica, Jeff Clemens on drums, and Jim Prescott on upright bass — released their self-titled debut in 1994 on OKeh/Epic. They followed Read More
CHARLIE PARR: Some of the best music is the kind that isn't necessarily meant to be massproduced and mass-consumed. Minnesota based folk artist Charlie Parr stays true to that philosophy, as he did again when he approached the recording of his eleventh studio album, Barnswallow, due out in February 2013. The album, named for a banjo instrumental Parr once recorded with the Black Twig Pickers, features ten songs-eight original and two traditional-and was recorded live to tape at the Winona Arts Center. Charlie's longtime collaborator, Tom Herbers of Third Ear Studios in Minneapolis, engineered and mastered the project; and the cover art was done by Winona, MN based artist Jamie Harper. As with all of Charlie's projects, Barnswallow has that same distinctive timeless feel, steeped in traditional folk and blues.
The album, bookended by the foot-stomping opener "Jimmy Bell" and closer "Rattlesnake" as well as "Motorcycle Blues," offers picturesque counterpoint with the pretty folk numbers "Badger" and "Jesus is a Hobo" (the latter featuring Emily on backing vocals). The songs on Barnswallow also reflect a lot of the personal struggles Charlie has had since 2010. They are mostly in the same vein as his earlier material, but Parr claims that with the more personal songs, "it helps to sing them." It's that type of honesty that makes Parr a truly special artist- he's just like you and me, yet he makes extraordinary music.
To help him make that music, Parr employed his trademark National NRP wood-body resonator guitar; he also used a Fraulini 12-string made by Todd Cambio of Madison, and a Kevin Enoch fretless banjo. Rounding out the players, Barnswallow also features Mikkel Beckmen on washboard, Dave Hundreiser on harmonica, and Charlie on vocals (with Emily Parr adding harmony on one track). "It's a kind of return to the feel of older recordings I've done (King Earl and Jubilee, mostly) in that I had Mikkel and Dave and recorded the whole thing as a trio," said Parr. "It was also live to tape, with no tracking and using all first and second takes."
All in all, Barnswallow is vintage Parr, and will surely go down as one of his best works yet. But there are no illusions with Charlie Parr about making it in music, so to speak. To Parr, his view on it is much different. "I hope folks like the new album," he said. "But honestly I've gotten what I wanted from it, which was a really good few days with some of the best friends I've ever had, in a beautiful town, making music that I'm happy with and would've been just as happy with if we'd just played it and took nothing with us." He paused before adding, "But yeah, I do hope folks like it, and I'm happy to be playing those songs now." Indeed, and Parr fans will be happy he is, too.
Many people play roots music, but few modern musicians live those roots like Minnesota's Charlie Parr. Recording since the earliest days of the 21st century, Parr's heartfelt and plaintive original folk blues and traditional spirituals don't strive for authenticity: They are authentic. It's the music of a self-taught guitarist and banjo player who grew up without a TV but with his dad's recordings of America's musical founding fathers, including Charley Patton and Lightnin' Hopkins, Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly. With his long scraggly hair, father-time beard, thrift-store workingman's flannel and jeans, and emphatic, throaty voice, Parr looks and sounds like he would have fit right into Harry Smith's "Anthology of American Folk Music."
Parr's forthcoming album, Barnswallow will be his eleventh studio release. Most of his recordings, including Roustabout (2008), Jubilee (2007), Rooster (2005), King Earl (2004), 1922 (2002) and Criminals and Sinners (2001) eschew typical studio settings. His inspiration is drawn from the alternately fertile and frozen soil of Minnesota. Parr grew up in the Hormel company city of Austin, Minnesota (population 25,000) where most of the world's favorite tinned meat, Spam, is still manufactured. And he hasn't moved far, drawing sustenance from the surprisingly large, thriving and mutually supportive music scene of Duluth: Parr's 2011 album of traditional songs, Keep Your Hands on the Plow features locals including Charlie's wife, Emily Parr; old-timey banjo/fiddle band Four Mile Portage; and Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker of the renowned alternative rock band Low.
J.D. WILKES: Wilkes is known as the founder and only remaining original member of the Legendary Shack Shakers, formed in Murray, Kentucky (and later relocated to Nashville, TN) in the mid ‘90s. The band rose to prominence when their "C.B. Song" was featured in a long-running Geico commercial. After signing with Bloodshot Records, the band toured nationally and internationally with acts like The Black Keys and Robert Plant.
Wilkes' contributions to visual art include many sideshow banners and comic strips. His "Head Cheese" strip was seen in the Nashville RAGE (Metromix) weekly from 2005-2008. Other works by Wilkes have been seen in Juxtapoz, Snicker, U. Magazine, ALARM Magazine, Twisted South and TopShelfComix.com. Wilkes illustrated the book Spookiest Stories Ever for the University Press of Kentucky, released in 2010. In 2011 he released Grim Hymns, a comic hymnal/graphic novel featuring some of his work for TopShelf. In 2013, he completed work on another comic book that accompanies Shooter Jennings' album The Other Life.
Wilkes holds a Bachelor's degree in Studio Art from Kentucky's Murray State University and A.A. from Paducah Community College (now WKCTC).
In 2006, Wilkes, along with Blake Judd, Todd Tue, and Jacob Ennis, began work on a documentary film titled Seven Signs that explored "music, myth, and the American South." The film premiered on December 30, 2007, at the Belcourt Theatre in Nashville, Tennessee. After winning "Best Featurette" and "Best Documentary" awards, the film screened at London's prestigious Raindance Film Festival. Seven Signs also traveled to the Cannes Film Festival where it was presented in the official catalog.
Eventually tiring of the perils of playing punk rock tours, Wilkes formed The Dirt Daubers, an old-time, roots-influenced side project with his wife, Jessica, (featuring "Slow" Layne Hendrickson or Mark Robertson on bass). In 2012, the band expanded their sound to incorporate more rockabilly and blues material. The Dirt Daubers' self-titled debut was released in October 2009. The Districts are a four-piece indie rock band from the small town of Lititz, Pennsylvania. The group formed in 2009 while members Rob Grote, Mark Larson, Connor Jacobus, and Braden Lawrence were all still in high school. The energetic rockers released their first EP, Kitchen Songs, in 2012 followed by Telephone, their debut full-length, the following year. Their mix of indie Americana and blues-inspired rock Read More
moe. is the preeminent progressive rock band on the music scene today—a quintet of world class musicians, whose creative output equals that of their longevity. In a remarkable career that has touched three decades and produced a discography of 24 albums, the Sugar Hill Records recording artist of Al Schnier and Chuck Garvey on guitars and vocals, Rob Derhak on bass and vocals, Jim Loughlin on percussion and vibes, and Vinnie Amico on drums, continue to push the standard for performance art higher and further.
Whether touring around the globe, headlining music festivals, or sharing the stage with such diverse acts as the Allman Brothers, Dave Matthews Band, The Who, Robert Plant, Government Mule, or Blues Traveler, among many others, what keeps moe. at the forefront of the music scene is not only the energy and vitality of their music and songwriting, but the showmanship in which it is delivered. Their music is clever, melodic, refined, filled with “ferocious guitar riffs” and “intricate rhythms” (Relix); their performances are entertaining, mesmerizing, and epic.
From their humble, inconspicuous beginnings as a local bar band in Buffalo, NY, to headlining Radio City Music Hall on New Year’s Eve, moe.’s journey has been one of hard work, perseverance, and dedication. Critical acclaim and a solid national and international fan base has resulted in a dedicated following that grows each year. Rolling Stone magazine named Chuck and Al among the top twenty new “guitar gods,” The pair have been featured in Guitar World and Modern Guitar, Jim and Vinnie in Drum!, and Rob in Bass Player. The renowned guitar play between Al and Chuck has become the stuff of legend. The exceptional vibe and percussion work by Jim is brilliant. The understated bass play by Rob is masterful. The seamless, efficiency of Vinnie’s drumming is extraordinary. Together, the five create a musical synergy greater than the sum of their parts.
The news about moe. keeps getting better, too, in the studio and on tour. A new album, their second on Sugar Hill Records, is set for a 2014 release. It follows the critically acclaimed 2012 release, What Happened To The LA LAs, and the 2010 Smash Hits, Volume One—a rerecording of some of moe.’s most endearing classics. The band’s tour schedule is extensive, playing in venues, intimate and grand, from NYC to LA, San Fran to Atlanta, Chi Town to Bean Town, from Tokyo to Toronto, and across the Atlantic to Paris, Amsterdam, London, Hamburg, and Milano. Long a featured act at music festivals, they’ve performed and headlined at the likes of Bonnaroo, All Good, and High Sierra, in the US, and Fuji Rock Festival in Japan, and Burg Herzberg in Germany, to name a few; yet made time to promote and perform at their own festivals—Summer Camp, Snoe.down, and moe.down.
By all accounts, for this “legendary jam band,” as Rolling Stone described them, moe. represents rock and roll at its best. Welcome news for the moe. faithful and the band’s ever-expanding fan base. Even better news for the world of rock and roll, for moe. is just hitting their creative stride. moe. is the preeminent progressive rock band on the music scene today—a quintet of world class musicians, whose creative output equals that of their longevity. In a remarkable career that has touched three decades and produced a discography of 24 albums, the Sugar Hill Records recording artist of Al Schnier and Chuck Garvey on guitars and vocals, Rob Derhak on bass Read More
Los Angeles four-piece Cold War Kids elevate their passionate take on indie rock with their emotionally-raw fourth album Dear Miss Lonelyhearts. Formed in 2004, the band's breakthrough debut Robbers & Cowards was released to considerable acclaim in 2006. The darker Loyalty To Loyalty followed two years later, and 2011's Mine Is Yours introduced deeper anthemic qualities to the eclectic group's catalog.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts, which features the rollicking, energetic single "Miracle Mile," is Cold War Kids' first release with former Modest Mouse and Murder City Devils guitarist Dann Gallucci, who also handled its production alongside Lars Stalfors. Dear Miss Lonelyhearts was released April 2, 2013 via Downtown Records. Los Angeles four-piece Cold War Kids elevate their passionate take on indie rock with their emotionally-raw fourth album Dear Miss Lonelyhearts. Formed in 2004, the band's breakthrough debut Robbers & Cowards was released to considerable acclaim in 2006. The darker Loyalty To Loyalty followed two years later, and 2011's Mine Is Yours introduced deeper anthemic qualities to the eclectic Read More
It’s incredible that GALACTIC has never made a carnival album yet, but now it’s here.
To make CARNIVALE ELECTRICOS, the members of GALACTIC (Ben Ellman, harps and horns; Robert Mercurio, bass; Stanton Moore, drums and percussion; Jeff Raines, guitar; Rich Vogel, keyboards) draw on the skills, stamina, and funk they deploy in the all-night party of their annual Lundi Gras show that goes till sunrise and leads sleeplessly into Mardi Gras day.
GALACTIC was formed eighteen years ago in New Orleans, and they cut their teeth playing the biggest party in America: Mardi Gras, when the town shuts down entirely to celebrate. CARNIVALE ELECTRICOS is beyond a party record. It’s a carnival record that evokes the electric atmosphere of a whole city – make that, whole cities – vibrating together all on the same day, from New Orleans all down the hemisphere to the mighty megacarnivals of Brazil. Armed with a slew of carnival-ready guests from high-school students to 72-year-old AL “CARNIVAL TIME” JOHNSON (who remakes his all-time hit), GALACTIC whisks the listener around the neighborhoods to feel the Mardi Gras moment in all its variety of flavors.
CARNIVALE ELECTRICOS begins on a spiritual note, the way Mardi Gras does in the black community of New Orleans. On that morning, the most exciting experience you can have is to be present when the small groups of black men called Mardi Gras Indians perform their sacred street theater. Nobody embodies the spiritual side of Mardi Gras better than the Indians, whose tambourines and chants provide the fundament of New Orleans carnival music. These “gangs,” as they call them, organize around and protect the figure of their chief. The album’s keynote singer, WAR CHIEF JUAN PARDO, is, says Robert Mercurio, “one of the younger Chiefs out there, and he’s become one of the best voices of the new Chiefs. Pardo grew up listening to the singing of the older generation of Big Chiefs, points out Ben Ellman, and “he’s got a little Monk [Boudreaux], a little Bo Dollis, he’s neither uptown nor downtown.”
On “Karate,” says Ellman, the band was aiming to “capture the power” of one of the fundamental musical experiences of Mardi Gras: “a marching band passing by you.” The 40-piece KIPP RENAISSANCE HIGH SCHOOL MARCHING BAND’s director arranged up GALACTIC’s demo, then the band rehearsed it until they had it all memorized. The kids poured their hearts into a solid performance, and, says Mercurio, “I think they were surprised” to hear how good they sounded on the playback.
Musical energy is everywhere at carnival time. “You hear the marching bands go by,” says Mercurio, moving us through a Mardi Gras day, “and then you hear a lot of hiphop.” There hasn’t been a Mardi Gras for twenty years that hasn’t had a banging track by beatmaker / rapper MANNIE FRESH sounding wherever you go. “You can’t talk about New Orleans hiphop without talking about MANNIE FRESH,” says Ellman. His beats have powered literally tens of millions of records, and he and GALACTIC have been talking for years about doing something together. On “Move Fast,” he’s together with multiplatinum gravel-voiced rapper MYSTIKAL, who is, says Ellman, “somebody we’ve wanted to collaborate with forever. It was a coup for us.”
GALACTIC is part of a diverse community of musicians, and in their own studio, with Mercurio and Ellman producing, they have the luxury of experimenting. Out in the streets of New Orleans, you might well hear a funky kind of samba, reaching southward toward the other end of the hemispheric carnival zone. There has for the last twenty-five years been a smoking Brazilian drum troupe in town: CASA SAMBA, formed at Mardi Gras in 1986. They’re old friends of GALACTIC’s from their early days at Frenchmen Street’s Café Brasil, and the two groups joined forces for a new version of Carlinhos Brown’s “Magalenha,” previously a hit for Sérgio Mendes.But the Brazilian influence on CARNIVALE ELECTRICOS goes beyond one song. “When we started this album, we all immersed ourselves in Brazilian music and let it get into our souls,” says Mercurio. The group contributed three Brazilian-flavored instrumentals, including “JuLou,” which riffs on an old Brazilian tune, though the name refers to the brass-funk Krewe of Julu, the “walking krewe” that Galactic members participate in on Mardi Gras morning. After creating the hard-driving track that became “O Côco da Galinha,” they decided it would be right for MOYSÉS MÁRQUEZ, from the São Paulo underground samba scene, who collaborated with them and composed the lyric.
If you were GALACTIC and you were making a carnival album, wouldn’t you want to play “Carnival Time,” the irrepressibly happy 1960 perennial from the legendary Cosimo Matassa studio? Nobody in New Orleans doesn’t know this song. The remake features a new performance in the unmistakable voice of the original singer, AL “CARNIVAL TIME” JOHNSON, who’s still active around town more than fifty years after he first gained Mardi Gras immortality.
The closing instrumental, “Ash Wednesday Sunrise,” evokes the edginess of the post-party feeling. The group writes, “There is the tension you feel on that morning—one of being worn out from all of the festivities and one of elation that you made it through another year.”
But, as New Orleanians know, there’s always another carnival to look forward to, and GALACTIC will be there, playing till dawn and then going to breakfast before parading.
GALACTIC is a collaborative band with a unique format. It’s a stable quintet that plays together with high musicianship. They’ve been together so long they’re telepathic. But though the band hasn’t had a lead singer for years, neither is it purely an instrumental group.
GALACTIC is part of a diverse community of musicians, and in their own studio, with Mercurio and Ellman producing, they have the luxury of experimenting. So on their albums, they do something that’s unusual in rock but not so controversial an idea in, say, hiphop: they create something that’s a little like a revue, a virtual show featuring different vocalists (mostly from New Orleans) and instrumental soloists each taking their turn on stage in the GALACTIC sound universe.Mostly the band creates new material in collaboration with its many guests, though they occasionally rework a classic. Despite the appearance of various platinum names on GALACTIC albums, they especially like to work with artists who are still underground. If you listen to CARNIVALE ELECTRICOS together with the two previous studio albums (YA-KA-MAY and FROM THE CORNER TO THE BLOCK), you’ll hear the most complete cross-section of what’s happening in contemporary New Orleans anywhere – all of it tight and radio-ready.
Despite the electronics and studio technology, GALACTIC’s albums are very much band records. Mercurio explained the GALACTIC process, which starts out with the beat: “The way we write music,” he says, “we come up with a demo, or a basic track, and then we collectively decide how we’re gonna finish it.” The result is a hard-grooving sequence of tight beats across a range of styles that glides from one surprise to the next.
What pulls all the diverse artists on CARNIVALE ELECTRICOS together into a coherent album is that one way or another, it’s all funk. GALACTIC is, always was, and always will be a funk band. Whatever genre of music anyone in New Orleans is doing, from Mardi Gras Indians to rock bands to hardcore rappers, it’s all funk at the bottom, because funk is the common musical language, the lingua franca of New Orleans music. Even zydeco can be funky—and if you don’t believe it, check out “Voyage Ton Flag,” the album’s evocation of Cajun Mardi Gras, in which Mamou Playboy STEVE RILEY meets up with a sampled Clifton Chenier inside the GALACTIC funk machine. It’s incredible that GALACTIC has never made a carnival album yet, but now it’s here. To make CARNIVALE ELECTRICOS, the members of GALACTIC (Ben Ellman, harps and horns; Robert Mercurio, bass; Stanton Moore, drums and percussion; Jeff Raines, guitar; Rich Vogel, keyboards) draw on the skills, stamina, and funk they deploy in the all-night party of their annual Lundi Gras show Read More
With over 80 years’ experience collectively, Simon Posford and Raja Ram are more than qualified for the exploration into the unclassifiable music frontiers they have ventured into; ‘SHPONGLE’ is a new world of traditional sounds, acoustic guitars, Moroccan drums, Turkish operatic singing, cello, double bass, backing vocals and silver flute blended together with the computer wizardry of Simon Posford's studio production.
Simon Posford (aka Hallucinogen) has long had a reputation as the, 'Hallucinogenius,' a imitable pioneer in sound experimentation, from his seminal first album, 'Twisted' which reached No.28 in the French charts selling over 50,000 copies worldwide, up to his recent Millennium hit, 'Mi-Loony-Um' with its up-to-the minute modem melodies. His international fan base has flowered from country-wide to world-wide in the last ten years, since his humble beginnings at Youth's Butterfly Studios in Brixton. This year alone he has played over 16 sell out gigs around the world, each with a capacity of over 1500 people, in Australia, Israel, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Moscow, Geneva, Montreal, Tokyo to name just a few.
Raja Ram is the innovative sonic co-pilot producing alongside Simon and providing inspirational artwork for the album covers and the website. as well as his unmistakable flute solo's in C Major. A founding member of the band Quintessence in the sixties. Raja has many years of band experience in the music industry. Not only a band member but also the creator of TIP Records along with their infamous party sound and energy, he is not only a brilliant flautist but the inspirational man behind the ‘Shpongle’ concept. With over 80 years’ experience collectively, Simon Posford and Raja Ram are more than qualified for the exploration into the unclassifiable music frontiers they have ventured into; ‘SHPONGLE’ is a new world of traditional sounds, acoustic guitars, Moroccan drums, Turkish operatic singing, cello, double bass, backing vocals and silver flute Read More
alt-J follow up their debut album An Awesome Wave with This Is All Yours. The debut sold over a million copies worldwide and was the 2012 Mercury Prize winner, and the band found themselves at the outset of making a follow up in a new position of recording an album that was actually anticipated, and having gone from a four piece to a trio.
This Is All Yours opening song, “Intro” start’s with Joe’s voice, a pointillist, percussive “la-la-la-la”, Philip Glass-like in its hypnotic simplicity, before Gus joins in with an answering counterpoint. This is not, as its title might imply, a brief throwaway before the album proper begins. Its middle section, introduced by Thom’s thundering snare pattern, suddenly asserts itself before the song returns to its becalmed opening theme, only to be once again overwhelmed, by a brutal burst of martial drumming and battle cries. But these four minutes 39 seconds do so much more than open This Is All Yours.
“There was an element of mourning for the conditions we made the first album in,” Gus admits. “Before we started making the new record, I was personally quite freaked out by the thought of getting together in some sort of anonymous rehearsal room. I can’t imagine us being able to write an album in that setting. There was a real innocence to how we did things in the beginning, it was very much a case of us just having fun and enjoying each other’s company. And I was worried that, with the new album, it was going to be a case of, ‘Ok, book this place for six weeks, we have to get it done’.” The solution the band arrived at was a combination between a rented space in Hackney where they could write and then a studio space in Brixton where they would record with the producer Charlie Andrew, who had helped bring An Awesome Wave to life, “It was sort of like a cross between somebody’s flat and a photographer’s studio,” Gus continues, “and we really relaxed there; we could pretty much treat the place as our own. You didn’t feel like you were clocking in, walking past someone sat a desk. We could start work at midnight if we wanted to.”
Where (and when) they wrote and recorded new songs was one thing; how they did so quite another matter. As mentioned earlier, four became three, when Gwil Sainsbury decided to leave the band. It was a disarming event for the band and one they found challenging to adjust to: “Even if you start from the base of being 100% committed to the thing you’re making,” says Thom, “the tiniest little things start to build this quite different momentum. There is interest from outside, then the internet gets involved, and before you know it – and I think this is what happened with Gwil – you’re in a dressing room full of people you’ve never met before, who don’t care about what you care about. If you’re not aware of that, then you’re in danger, and I think that happens to a lot of bands.”
All four remain friends, and it’s clear that Gus, Joe and Thom miss having Gwil by their side. “This is the core of our beings,” says Thom. “It’s what we are. So it was pretty hard at the time, but I feel proud of him for his decision now. He has his own vision. I think he just decided that he didn’t want to waste his life on the things that weren’t important to him. All the stuff he was required to do, even the touring, he never liked it. The teenager in me thought, ‘Why would you do that? You’ve left this amazing band.’ I was angry with him at first. But then, when I spoke to him, he sounded the happiest I’ve ever heard him.”
It has to be said, Thom and his bandmates seem in a pretty good place, too. Joe may say, referring to the making of the album: “We were definitely more aware that it was going to be listened to, and that did feel strange.” But when you listen to new tracks such as “Every Other Freckle” or “Choice Kingdom,” which are somehow disciplined and anarchic, taut and limber, at the same time, it’s clear that that awareness didn’t hamper the band’s writing. This Is All Yours is emphatically, even defiantly, alt-J. When An Awesome Wave came out, the seemingly contradictory duality the band’s music contained baffled some, who heard only the complexity and missed the beauty. The band, Joe says, were conscious of this, too – and, he admits, have sometimes struggled with the issue themselves. “We work incredibly hard to craft our sound, but at the same time we are running on gut. It’s hard to work out which is instinct and which nurture.” “But both are all right,” interrupts Gus. “I sometimes feel pressure to go one way or the other,” Joe continues. “But actually, that’s right: both are good.”
Perhaps this perception developed because the band met as university students. “I wonder about that,” says Joe. “And sometimes you can start thinking in that way, too; that people expect to see you as being identical to the music you make. It’s strangely persuasive,” he adds, “the myth of the artist. To the point where you sometimes feel you’re meant to live up to those expectations – as though you’re reading Nuts magazine, but you’re hiding it inside the New Statesman.” Gus: “That’s always happening to me.” The band’s use of a Miley Cyrus sample on the song, “Hunger of the Pine,” further subverted this “myth”. The American singer had been using An Awesome Wave’s “Fitzpleasure” to soundtrack an interlude on her world tour (she is a big fan of the band), and Thom approached Miley to do a remix of her song 4X4. His work on this coincided with the writing of “Hunger of the Pine” and, when the idea occurred to him to sample Miley’s “I’m a female rebel” vocal line, he didn’t hesitate. “The main reason it’s there is because it sounds good,” he says. “That’s the boring answer, but it’s the honest one, too. I’m not saying we’re not happy that it’s her, because we are. Ok, if you look at alt-j and Miley Cyrus on paper, it just doesn’t make any sense at all. But it made complete sense at the same time; that’s why we left it there.” Thom’s view that Miley is fundamentally misunderstood as an artist was only strengthened by seeing her perform at the o2 arena earlier this year. “I have a lot of respect for her, and for those who respect what she does. It winds me up when people get in a right lather about her, though I can see why they might do. Look, she’s winning, she’s in control.”
Control is an apt word to apply to This Is All Yours, too. The multiple and diverse elements the band work with on the album might, in the hands of other musicians, so easily have resulted in something unwieldy or overblown. All three band members admit that the temptation to constantly add new layers, or yank a song in a radically different direction, was a constant one. That said, you couldn’t listen to the structural abandon of “Bloodflood II” – its mournful piano intro giving way to sonorous brass, distorted vocals, interjecting static, euphoric falsetto backing vocals, huge, leaden-legged percussion, soaring strings and swelling crescendos – or the madrigalian sections of “Every Other Freckle” and conclude that the musicians responsible for them were holding themselves back in the studio. “We like to try to tantalize listeners,” laughs Joe, “giving them the right amount of something, just before they start craving it. You sort of want to drive people crazy, but not overuse the idea. That’s the only form of self-censorship. You want to give them the idea but not ram it into their earholes.” “We do add a lot of layers in the latter stages of recording a song,” adds Gus, “and we certainly don’t worry about how we’re going to play it live – we probably should, actually. We tend to just go for it. Our attitude is much more, ‘Let’s worry about this later.’”
Three of the song titles reference the Japanese city of Nara, whose huge public park is filled with deer, which roam at will. “I see that as a metaphor for having the freedom to do what you want,” says Gus. “And that’s a freedom I really think we have,” says Joe. “Kind of like Grand Theft Auto, where you have this city to run around in, as opposed to Super Mario, where you can only move forwards or backwards or jump up. I think we can have access to this whole big world by toggling round this space, but also walking around punching anyone you want to punch.” Beside him, Gus is fighting to hold back laughter. “I’m laughing appreciatively, not mockingly,” he insists.
Lyrically, the album balances the cryptic with the sensuous (the erotically charged “Warm Foothills,” whose central character, Joe teases, “could be Iris Murdoch, but probably isn’t”, is a prime example of the latter). “On the first record,” Joe explains, “most of the lyrics and the narratives had a meaning. But on this one, there are moments where I sing words, but I’m not aware what those words are, if that makes sense. When we actually sat down to do the lyrics, I had to really listen to what I was singing on the tape. You know, ‘Ok, I’m saying pharaoh here, and then I think I’m saying bone’. Sometimes, they don’t make any sense; I suspect that people are going to come up with some fairly interesting interpretations of those moments.”
In other words, over to us. Which is, Joe says, the point of the album title. “That’s sort of what it means. Once the record is out, it’s yours. You own it.” alt-J follow up their debut album An Awesome Wave with This Is All Yours. The debut sold over a million copies worldwide and was the 2012 Mercury Prize winner, and the band found themselves at the outset of making a follow up in a new position of recording an album that was actually anticipated, and having gone from a four piece to a trio. Read More
The iconic and incomparable Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member and diamond-selling artist ART GARFUNKEL is back on tour and making his return to Pittsburgh for an intimate performance at the Carnegie Lecture Hall.
"The voice is back. I'm in flight again," says GARFUNKEL. "I believe I have grown through adversity. A new creation has emerged that is truly exciting me--my stage show."
GARFUNKEL performed a series of intimate warm-up shows in late 2013 and is excited to be back in action. These concerts included a stripped-down band, as well as a post-show Q&A with the audience. The Columbus (OH) Dispatch said, “His achievement was considerabl...One of the evening’s singing highlights came as he added a beautiful vibrato to the rich mid-range part of the lovely original ‘Perfect Moment.’ More often, the singer concentrated on the song, scoring with a romantic take on Antonio Carlos Jobim’s ‘mature love song’ ‘Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars).’ ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’ displayed the continuing rightness of Garfunkel’s interpretation of durable standards (12/13/13).”
The Cleveland Plain-Dealer addressed the show’s format, saying, “Garfunkel enthralled the capacity crowd with songs, stories and even a question-and-answer period. Some of the tales and questions focused on the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s partner, Paul Simon. Some were about his young son, Beau. Some were about his party days in California. Some were about his distaste for texting and technology, and all elicited rapt, hear-a-pin-drop attention…It’s a joy to hear and share the contentment in his songs and stories (12/14/13).”
Check out an interview with ART here, where he appeared on “CBS This Morning” reading a “Letter To Myself,” where he looked back at his younger self: http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/art-garfunkel-writes-a-note-to-his-younger-self/.
You can also dig into ART’s website, where he chronicles--in order--every book he has read since 1968, his 60 favorite songs of all time, acting credits, poetry and discography: www.artgarfunkel.com
Blessed with what the New York Times described as a “beautiful countertenor,” singer ART GARFUNKEL has made an indelible mark on the music world as both a solo artist and half of the unrivaled Simon & Garfunkel. He has also enjoyed a successful film career, published a book of poetry and released 12 original solo albums, the most recent being SOME ENCHANTED EVENING in 2007. Since then, he has been busy as a husband and father to his two sons, 23 year-old Arthur Junior and eight-year-old Beau Daniel. He is also an avid walker who has walked across Japan, the US (celebrated in the 1997 concert DVD ACROSS AMERICA and now Europe. The iconic and incomparable Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member and diamond-selling artist ART GARFUNKEL is back on tour and making his return to Pittsburgh for an intimate performance at the Carnegie Lecture Hall. "The voice is back. I'm in flight again," says GARFUNKEL. "I believe I have grown through adversity. A new creation has emerged that is truly exciting Read More