11/25

Dawn & Hawkes

The Blackbird Review

$8 | All Ages | 9 pm

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Dawn & Hawkes

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    The Blackbird Review

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      11/28

      Mouth

      3 Son Green

      All Ages | 8 pm

      Mouth

      "Kansas City band Mouth combines the elements of guitar, bass and drums to form a delectable musical stew... The band adds the fresh spices of jazz, funk, dance and hip hop to create an eclectic mix." - Ink

      Formed in late 2008 by guitarist Jeremy Anderson, bassist Zach Rizer and drummer Stephen Gunn, Mouth plays original "cyberfunk" music: bass-heavy, deep funk grooves that combine rhythmic elements from funk, house, dubstep and hip hop with the improvisational approach of a jam band.

      Having quickly established a name for themselves in their hometown with their exhilarating live shows, Mouth is now branching out with tour dates and festival performances throughout the Midwest.

      "Fans wanting to pigeonhole Mouth's music, do so at their own risk. The three-piece Kansas City band combines elements of funk, jazz, hip hop, electronica and progressive rock in their unique, dance-friendly instrumental songs." - The Daily Record

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      3 Son Green

      Since 2007, 3 Son Green has been interweaving their vast web of sound, sense, and solidarity into the ever‐evolving architect it has become. Their RockJamJazzFunk style breaks genre bylaws, and pulls crowds out of their seats everywhere they play. 3 Son Green’s intricate songwriting combined with their natural improvisation is guaranteed to satisfy every music lover’s palette. Their well fueled, expanding flame has, even now, lapped at the feet of the music world at all manner of festivals across the Midwest. These Kansas City grown virtuosos are vaulting to new heights, and leaving no slack behind.
      Jamie Anderson – Guitar/Vocals
      Evan Carlson – Guitar/Vocals
      Steven Pearson – Drums
      Trey Green – Bass/Vocals

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      12/8

      Blackalicious

      Daniel Bambaata Marley
      Approach & The Boogaloo Odyssey

      $17 - $19 | All Ages | 8 pm

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      Blackalicious

      In a hip-hop career that has stretched past a decade, Blackalicious has earned respect the old-fashioned way–rising through honesty, commitment, and artistry. Blackalicious is an American hip hop duo from Sacramento, California made up of rapper Gift of Gab (born Tim Parker) and DJ/producer Chief Xcel (born Xavier Mosley). They are noted for Gift of Gab’s often “tongue-twisting”, multisyllabic, complex rhymes and Chief Xcel’s “classic” beats.

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      Daniel Bambaata Marley

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        Approach & The Boogaloo Odyssey

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          12/31

          Split Lip Rayfield

          DeWayn Brothers
          Loaded Goat

          $26 - $28 | 18 & Over | 7 pm

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          Split Lip Rayfield

          The Kansas-based post-punk progressive bluegrass outfit Split Lip Rayfield was comprised of vocalist/banjoist David Lawrence, guitarist/dobroist Kirk Rundstrom, and one-string bassist Jeff Eaton, whose instrument was fashioned from the gas tank of a 1965 Ford. An outgrowth of the group Scroat Belly (though it didn't take long for them to outlive the band that spawned them), the trio debuted in 1998 with a self-titled LP issued on the Bloodshot label. In the Mud followed a year later; by this time, singer and mandolin player Wayne Gottstine had expanded the lineup to four pieces and Eric Mardis had replaced Lawrence on banjo. The new millennium saw the release of a third effort, Never Make It Home, which arrived in stores in late 2000. After three years of touring, which saw the group opening for everyone from Del McCoury to Nashville Pussy, Split Lip Rayfield recorded and released a fourth long-player, Should Have Seen It Coming, in 2004. In early 2006, Rundstrom (who had also released a few solo records) was diagnosed with cancer. He continued to perform with the band for months as he fought and underwent treatment, but Rundstrom ultimately succumbed to the disease in February 2007, just about a week after playing what would be his last show. ~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide

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          DeWayn Brothers

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            Loaded Goat

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              1/14

              Rebelution

              Katchafire

              $20 - $25 | All Ages | 7 pm

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              Rebelution

              Hailing from Santa Barbara, California, Rebelution has developed into the front runner for grassroots, independent and touring driven music groups representing the Cali-Reggae scene. Originally formed in 2004, members Eric Rachmany (vocals / guitar,) Rory Carey (keyboards,) Wesley Finley (drums,) and Marley D. Williams (bass) met in college, while residing in Isla Vista, a popular beachside community in Santa Barbara. It was there that the seeds to Rebelution’s future would be planted-- and would instill their kick back, “worry free” vibes, catchy refrain, and optimistic, inspiring, and engaging music that would leave their listeners with the sense that they have the power to make this world a better place.

              Throughout 2004-05, Rebelution began to build momentum through consistently playing local shows and by independently releasing an EP. Before they knew it, they were one of the biggest drawing bands, not just in the reggae genre, but in the entire area. “It definitely went to the next level when we literally had thousands of people watching us perform in Isla Vista on Friday nights,” shares Rachmany. The band’s upbeat, highly danceable grooves were charting a direct course for bigger and better things.

              Rebelution released their first full-length album “Courage to Grow” in June 2007, which would become the breakthrough album for the band. The album was praised for its crafty melodies, socially-conscious lyrics, and savvy musicianship. Rebelution quickly became known for sticking strongly to the roots of vintage reggae sound, all while appealing not only to reggae listeners, but also to music fans of all genres.

              “Courage to Grow” went on to garner mass downloads and radio play on monster stations such as San Francisco’s Live 105 where their single “Safe and Sound” was played on heavy rotation, with spins on San Diego’s 91X, and Los Angels’ KROQ. The album hit an all time high when it was selected as iTunes Editor’s Choice for Best Reggae Album of 2007. In addition, “Courage to Grow” has been in the top 10 iTunes Reggae album sales since its release two years ago. It remained in the Billboard Top Reggae Album Chart for 36 weeks, and peaked at 4.

              Now, two years since their last album, Rebelution is ready to give their fans their long-awaited, sophomore full-length album “Bright Side of Life” on August 4, 2009. Recorded in their home town of Santa Barbara at Santa Barbara Sound Design, entering the same studio the day after Depeche Mode completed their sessions for Sounds Of The Universe. “Bright Side of Life” features 12 new signature tracks blending the band’s cohesive mix of reggae, rock, and hip-hop influences in a calliope awash of front man Eric Rachmany’s Santana-esque guitar flurries, Marley D. Williams’ solid and attacking bass lines, the psychedelic and tasteful piano, keyboard and Hammond b-3 stylist of Rory Carey, and the jazz rock fusion of Wesley Finley’s finesse drumming and percussion.

              Of the new album, Rebelution shares, “After the positive response from fans and critics for ‘Courage to Grow’ and touring in support of it for the last few years, we are glad to finally reveal our new material to the fans who have waited so patiently. We’ve played many of the new songs live, but the recorded versions will have that ‘studio magic’ from all the time we’ve put into them.” The band notes that their second album will show their growth in maturity musically, with a more polished sound with flares of new styles that fans and future fans have yet to hear. “Bright Side of Life” also has an overall theme of encouragement. The band shares, “Though it was important for all of us in the band to be motivated to continue with what we do best, which is making music, we feel people in the world could use some encouragement in this time to stay motivated as well, which is what we drew a lot of inspiration for this album.”

              The release of “Bright Side of Life” marks the first release under Rebelution’s newly founded record label 87 Music, in association with Controlled Substance Sound Labs, the California based music collective, which is also home to artists Slightly Stoopid and Pepper, and their respective artist imprints.

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              Katchafire

              Reggae is one of the bloodlines of New Zealand music -- which accounts for the extraordinary success of Hamilton's Katchafire who, two years ago, emerged as the hardest working band in the country. Their astonishing debut album, the prophetically named Revival, sold in excess of 30,000 copies (double platinum) and they scored massive hits with songs like Giddy Up, the biggest selling single of 2002. Katchafire had tapped into that bloodline of New Zealand and people, being reacquainted with what they had lost, loved it all over again. Katchafire's music was uplifting and celebratory, and their gigs were joyous singalong affairs where people of all cultures and affiliations were welcomed.

              Their audiences are still the most cross-cultural, cross-generational in the country. Katchafire were, and remain, unique in New Zealand music. They are a viable, touring eight-piece band which can work the length of the country without exhausting the place. They can return to a venue they played just a few months before and pack it out all over again. That is rare for any band. The success of the band was evident in album sales, opening shows for the likes of Michael Franti and Spearhead, gigs all across the country (three in one day on Waitangi Day 2004, in Hamilton, Manukau and Nelson), three tours to Australia and New Caledonia, and most recently a stadium-filling headlining show in Fiji. And now they are stepping up again with a cracking new album Slow-Burning which shows them reaching a new level.

              From the terrific cover slip -- a cheeky homage to the classic Bob Marley album sleeve from which the band took its name -- to the eleven diverse tracks within Slow-Burning is a leap forward, both musically and lyrically. The title is again appropriate; you will feel the fire from this for a long time to come. Produced by Chris Macro (of Dubious Brothers) and with international guests, this is a new level of consciousness music from Katchafire which moves effortlessly from classic JA-sounding roots-reggae to material which could be located nowhere else other than in Aotearoa: when they say "don't frisk me down because of my brown skin" they also bring dignity to bear, "we must hold our head up high". The deeply felt and fiery I And I stands proudly in the local lineage of politicised reggae that was kick-started by Herbs.

              More than on their debut they pull in threads of dub and toasting, there are musical references to the sound of classic Trojan records (Close Your Eyes, Hey Girl Version) but, courtesy of the French horn section Mister Gang whom they met in New Caledonia, you can also hear echoes of DD Smash-styled pop. And on Rude Girl, with toasting by Tuff Enchant, the band open with a tricky rhythm and a nod to the music of Cuba. However Katchafire haven't sacrificed their pop sensibilities and songs like Hey Girl, I Got Ya Back and Close Your Eyes should be all over radio this, and every, summer. With Slow-Burning, Katchafire have fulfilled the promise of their debut that here was a band schooled in roots reggae, which has honed its professionalism on the road, and has within its ranks songwriters who can take their place alongside the best Aotearoa has had to offer. Katchafire shows are always celebratory affairs and with Slow-Burning the band have even more to be joyous to be about. Be prepared to celebrate with them.

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              1/23

              The Devil Makes Three

              Joe Pug

              $17.50 - $20 | 18 & Over | 7 pm

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              The Devil Makes Three

              The Devil Makes Three is an American band. They formed and remain based in Santa Cruz, California. They play a brand of acoustic music known to some as folk punk. It encompasses a blend of bluegrass, old time music, country, folk, blues, ragtime, and rockabilly. The group's members are guitarist Pete Bernhard, upright bassist Lucia Turino, and guitarist and tenor banjo player Cooper McBean.
              Career

              The band has released four full-length albums. They independently released a self-titled album in 2002. Another independent release followed in 2004, Longjohns, Boots, And A Belt. The band recorded two shows in April 2006 in Felton, California with guest fiddler Chojo Jacques. The recordings were later released as a live album, A Little Bit Faster And A Little Bit Worse.

              After the release of their live album, the band signed with independent label Milan Records, which specializes in film scores and soundtracks. Their first album on Milan was a re-release of their debut album, The Devil Makes Three. In 2009, they followed with an all-new album, Do Wrong Right.

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              Joe Pug

              “If my thoughts are hard to gather
              if I don’t know where to start
              it ain’t my mind that matters
              for I have an unsophisticated heart.”
              — Joe Pug, “Unsophisticated Heart”
              For the moment, Joe Pug has it figured out, career if not life: Just write the songs that have to be written,
              play them for anybody who will listen, tour as if you had no home. Oh, and give your music away. Which
              isn’t to say he won’t be selling his debut full-length offering, Messenger (released 2/16/2010 on Lightning
              Rod). But free is how he came to make it, more or less.
              It worked like this, for Joe Pug anyhow: The day before his senior year as a playwright student at the
              University of North Carolina, he sat down for a cup of coffee and had the clearest thought of his life: I am
              profoundly unhappy here. Then came the second clearest.
              Pug packed up his belongings and pointed his car towards Chicago. Working as a carpenter by day, the 23
              year-old Pug spent nights playing the guitar he hadn’t picked up since his teenage years. Using ideas
              originally slated for a play he was writing called “Austin Fish,” Pug began creating the sublime lyrical
              arrangements that would become the Nation of Heat EP.
              The songs were recorded fast and fervently at a Chicago studio where a friend snuck him in to late night
              slots other musicians had canceled. He was short on money, but his bare-boned sincerity didn’t require
              much more than a microphone and it dripped off of each note he sang.
              The early rumblings of critical praise for the EP were confirmed when his first headlining gig sold out
              Chicago’s storied Schubas Tavern in 2008. As word spread, Pug struck upon an idea that would later prove
              to be one of the most significant in his young career. He offered his existing fans unlimited copies of a free
              2-song sampler CD to pass along to their friends. He sent the CDs out at his own expense, even covering
              the postage. Inside each package was a personal note thanking the fan for helping to spread the word. The
              response was overwhelming, and to date he has sent out over 15,000 CDs to 50 states and 14 different
              countries. Without access to radio, Pug managed to turn his fans into his very own broadcast system. The
              offer still stands, and to this day it’s featured prominently on www.joepugmusic.com.
              “Look, in the end, I just trust my fans, and the nature of people in general. I need to pay my bills like
              anyone else does. But I also don’t think it’s right to ask someone to pay $15 when they don’t know what
              they’re getting. So in a way by sending out these CDs, I’m wagering that they’ll like my music, and that if
              they do they’ll come to shows, buy CDs, and help me spread the word even further. And so far I’ve been
              proven right. Without question, the more sampler CDs I send out, the more music I sell.”
              Nation of Heat took on a life of its own, passing from friend to friend and iPod to iPod. The crowds swelled
              and the media took notice. Tours with Steve Earle, M. Ward, and Josh Ritter followed, as did invitations to
              Lollapalooza and the Newport Folk Festival. He crisscrossed the country incessantly, traveling mostly
              alone in his 1995 Plymouth Voyager with no stereo or air conditioning. As the tours went on, he became
              closely linked to the burgeoning indie-folk scene that was coalescing loosely around Pug and his young
              contemporaries in bands such as The Low Anthem, Langhorne Slim, and Horse Feathers.
              After over 200 shows, Pug took a brief respite to record his full-length debut. If Nation of Heat heralded the
              arrival of a talent to watch, Messenger assigns Pug a deserved spot among the finest songwriters of his
              generation. From the opening notes of the title track that leads off the record, it’s clear that the artist has no
              intention of retreating to the comfortable or the familiar. While the scathing war indictment “Bury Me Far
              (From My Uniform)” and the sparse, poetic “Unsophisticated Heart” illustrate that Pug is still a master of
              the guy-and-guitar song, it’s the supporting cast Pug brought on board that truly brings out the record’s
              subtle beauty.
              From the haunting, ethereal pedal steel guitar that sneaks delicately under “The Sharpest Crown” to the
              barrelhouse rhythm section that propels “The Door Is Always Open”, it’s clear that Pug is as comfortable
              exploring this new territory as he is solo. “The first record, it was a breeze,” he says. “Didn’t even know we
              were making it, just me and a guitar…the songs completely unadorned. This one, it’s like that thing where
              there’s an explosion and you realize how many options there are in the world.”
              With his debut album now released, the options only get more numerous for the 25 year-old-singer. The
              remainder of 2009 was spent touring Europe before he returned home to hit the road in support of
              Messenger.

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              1/27

              John Doe (of X)

              $16 - $19 | All Ages | 8 pm

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              John Doe (of X)

              John Doe was born in 1977 when he arrived in Los Angeles. His previous life in Tennessee, Wisconsin & Baltimore was a great & fertile time but new music and social changes led him to events that created a life in art. He graduated from Antioch College in Baltimore in 1975, worked as a roofer, aluminum siding mechanic, and ran a poetry reading series. Ms. Meyers was his landlord in the rural black community of Simpsonville , MD.
              John met Exene Cervenka at the Venice poetry workshop Nov 1976 and he started working with Billy Zoom around the same time. When DJ Bonebrake joined X in mid-1977 the line up was complete. They released six studio records, five or six singles and one live record from 1978-1993. Five of X’s records have been re-issued along with two compilations. The Unheard Music documents their lives and progress as a band from 1980-83. In 2009 the film was included in the Sundance UCLA Archive of greatest films of all time. They appeared several times on American Bandstand, Solid Gold and David Letterman. As one of the last original punk rock bands standing, they continue to tour. The day that X played a free noontime concert in Fullerton, CA, they caused Orange County’s greatest high school truancy rate to date.
              In 1988 John started a family and lived in the Tehachapi Mountains, near the “Grapevine” of Highway 5, which separates southern and central California. He has recorded 8 solo records w/ numerous renowned singers and players, more recently including Patty Griffin, Dan Auerbach, Aimee Mann, Don Was, Kathleen Edwards and Greg Liesz. He has appeared in over 50 films and television productions, with some of his most notable roles in Road House, Georgia, Roadside Prophets, Great Balls of Fire, Pure Country and Roswell. He continues to act these days but more sporadically as his touring schedule has become more demanding.
              Other musical side projects include work with the Knitters, Jill Sobule and The Sadies. He continues to write poetry and has even taught workshops from time to time. He currently lives north of San Francisco, California.

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              2/6

              Ben Howard

              $25 - $7.25 | All Ages | 7 pm

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              Ben Howard

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                2/12

                That 1 Guy

                $13 - $15 | All Ages | 8 pm

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                That 1 Guy

                'What guy'? The inevitable question always comes up when That One Guy pops into town. Let's make this clear: That One Guy is the name of a kick-ass one-man band. There are many aspects that separate this musical act from others besides the line-up; one thing in particular is his unique musical apparatus, The Magic Pipe. Imagine, if you will, a massive plumber's pipe, six or seven feet tall, equipped with a long-ass bass string and a series of MIDI triggers routed to various sequencers and samplers. Now picture the top of the pipe elbowing downward, housing another bass string tuned to a higher pitch. "I'd say it (looks) like an elephant with a parrot sitting on its head," elaborated Silverman. Placed in front of the Pipe are two kick pedals that trigger drum loops, and surrounding the rig is an impressive array of effects pedals. I swear, Inspector Gadget has nothing on this musical mastermind. "I built it in a kinda jam. I was supposed to do this really big gig at the Troubadour. I was opening up for Fantômas, and I just couldn't tighten up my sound; there was a lot of different things I couldn't do. I had a few textures, but I needed more. I also couldn't turn up loud enough, 'cause all my stuff was feeding back. I couldn't push it as hard as I wanted to, so I built the pipe 'cause I needed to." After a whirlwind trip to Home Depot and a little brainstorming, The Magic Pipe came to fruition. The show is a big part of his music, but it is clear that there's more behind That One Guy than simply a big ol' mess of gear. "I had a ton of ideas back in the day to make the show bigger and crazier, but I've come around full circle because I'm really enjoying playing music on the instrument and you can really get lost in that stuff. If you're not really careful all the time, it goes in the wrong direction." His songs do nothing to envelop him in the world of pop conformity. Cameo covers aside, That One Guy prides himself on the ability to make music that meshes the diversity and technicality of his set-up with the core simplicity of a catchy, quirky song. Silverman learned the lesson that a good song should be "so simple that it stands on its own." "I record everything I think of; rhythmic ideas are the first things that hit me, and possibly melodic ideas. If I find a riff or an idea, I stockpile it 'till I have some time to work on it, and when I work on it, it inspires something else like a lyrical rhythm or melody. Once I start demo-ing things, it becomes really easy to finish the song." That One Guy's music lies somewhere between the not-too-distant future and the long forgotten past. Combining elements such as funk, rock, jazz, and sparse electronica may get you an interesting sound, but filter those influences through certain minds and you get something totally original. Growing up on the Bee Gee's version of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" may have also had some impact. "I saw the movie on Showtime and I loved it. This weird Bee Gees disco and Peter Frampton version of Beatles cuts, that was a total big influence on me in a weird way." Last year, That One Guy captured his sound on the self-recorded, self-produced album, Songs in the Key of Beotch. With swirling samples, amusing lyrics and multiple layers of music and rhythm happening all at once, it's hard to believe the album was recorded live in the studio. "People who haven't seen me play yet definitely always ask. Most people don't understand it. When they get to see it they realize it's all live. It's hard for me to explain it to them." That One Guy's musical exploits have recently been taking him places far and wide, including a brief stint in Hong Kong. Like he's done so many times before, he took the audience by surprise. "It was hard to judge their reaction at first; they were very curious, checking it out, but they were really genuinely into it," recalled Silverman. "By the second gig they were getting a lot more expressive, getting kinda wild and stuff, screaming, but for the first gig they were kinda subdued, checking it out. Getting his massive load of equipment overseas was a feat in itself. "Basically, every single piece of gear I have is too heavy to fly with, and I would have had to pay over-weight on everything. I completely deconstructed my rig and rebuilt it into these suitcases so I could carry some of them on and check some of them in. It was actually a total nightmare. I'm never going to do that again; I'm building a travel rig as we speak, just for flying purposes." Luckily, That One Guy understood the glories of caffeine. "I didn't sleep for three days straight. I kept rebuilding; I kept drinking Red Bulls, man. It really worked well for a long time, but then I just completely started freaking out. You gotta be careful with that shit." It is obvious from Silverman's laid-back attitude and keen sense of humor that he's a good spirit, and not in music for stardom and throngs of scantily clad seventeen-year-old girls (not that that's a bad thing). That One Guy exists for one reason: Mike Silverman needs it to exist. "It all stems from necessity. It's like somebody built a house 'cause they need something to live in. Music to me is the same way — it has to serve a purpose. Not like change the world or anything, but some kind of expression. It allows you to express something that you can't get out in words, or it reaches somebody on the same level." - Maurice Spencer Tellman

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                2/18

                The Wood Brothers

                $19 - $21 | All Ages | 7 pm

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                The Wood Brothers

                Ways Not To Lose, the 2006 debut from the Wood Brothers had, in a sense, been a lifetime in the making—the first public collaboration between vocalist and guitarist Oliver Wood, who fronts Atlanta-based blues band King Johnson, and upright bassist Chris Wood, of the long-running, genre-blasting trio Medeski Martin and Wood. As players, they displayed an easy-going virtuosity; as siblings, they had an extraordinary rapport. Their folk and acoustic blues tunes, tinged with gospel hopefulness and country melancholy, were welcomed like old friends by both fans and pundits. National Public Radio named their debut disc one of their top ten discoveries that year. Rolling Stone declared, “The flip, easygoing party music on ‘Lose’ disguises sneakily deep inquiries into what it means to be alive, struggle with temptation, and every once in a while seek some truth.”

                With the 2008 release of Loaded, the Wood Brothers engage in a more expansive musical dialogue that commenced well before they hit the studio; they collaborated for the first time on writing material together. John Medeski, returning as producer, got into the mix as the songs were just taking shape, and he plays keyboards on several tracks. The crew, working at a studio near Woodstock, New York, opened up the sessions to other musicians and friends—singers Amos Lee, Pieta Brown and Frazey Ford, steel guitarist Darick Campbell, violinists David Mansfield and Jennifer Choi, cellist David Eggar, drummers Billy Martin and Kenny Wolleson, and percussionist Donnie McCormick—making this a more fleshed-out, multi-layered band effort compared to the spare, live-in-the-studio approach of Ways Not To Lose.

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                3/2

                Houndmouth

                $13 | All Ages | 8 pm

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                Houndmouth

                That first November 2011 night, when it all fell together at the Green House, was nothing more complicated than four friends playing music, armed with something to drink and a curiosity about what might happen. They were the generation who has come of age in the new economy, already adept at shuffling jobs and get-bys, firmly acclimated to the diminished expectations that come with growing up somewhere the rest of the world assumes is nowhere. Which, in this case, is New Albany, Indiana.

                Houndmouth, then, knew each other from…around. Matt Myers and Zak Appleby had played in cover bands together for years, schooled in blues and classic rock and Motown, toughened by indifferent audiences and the clatter of empty bottles. Matt and Katie Toupin had worked as an acoustic duo for three years, when she wasn’t on the road tending to a straight job. Katie and Shane Cody had gone to high school together, before Shane disappeared off to Chicago and New York to study audio engineering. In the beginning it was Shane and Matt who’d started knocking around at first, just drums and guitar, once Shane got home and free of a brief bluegrass flirtation.

                The rest happened in a tumble, Zak and Katie switching from guitars to bass and keyboards, respectively. Four months later, their homemade EP in hand, Houndmouth made the pilgrimage to South By Southwest. Their booking agent convinced Rough Trade’s Geoff Travis to come have a listen. Of such things are dreams made. Months of conversation and a proper studio later, their debut album, From the Hills Below the City, will be released by Rough Trade.

                “We lucked out,” Matt says. “We knew we were making good music. We knew we had something. But we didn’t know it would escalate so quickly. Always the element of luck.”

                Before and after that bit of luck, Houndmouth have been on the road, building their audience. Working. Opening for the Drive-By Truckers, the Lumineers, the Alabama Shakes, Lucero, and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Headlining on their own. Turning heads.

                “You know good art when you see it,” says Newport Folk Festival booker Jay Sweet, an early adopter, “and you know good food when you taste it. Well, you also know good music when you hear it, and when I first heard Houndmouth it was like freshest tasting art I had heard in many moons. A true musical omnivore’s delight.”
                “I’m going down where nobody knows me,” they sing during the jaunty chorus of “On the Road.” The opening track to From the Hills Below the City, which is more or less the relationship New Albany has to Louisville, across the river: “I had a job had to leave behind me…I had to move to another city.” A two and a half minute slightly bent pop confection, conscious of all kinds of music which went before. Self-conscious about nothing, not even the neo-rap cutting contest that snaps across one break. A blues for now, then.

                The older heads are noticing, the ones who are hardest to convince. “Houndmouth is a great young band,” testifies Patterson Hood of the Truckers. “They toured with us last month and brought it each and every night. They were extremely popular with our fanbase and our band. I look forward to hearing what they do next.”
                Rolling Stone’s David Fricke joined the chorus of praise after seeing Houndmouth during SXSW ’13: “They are all singers, leading with individual character and harmonizing in saloon-choir empathy. The music is earthy melancholy with a rude garage-rock streak.”

                Houndmouth’s songs emerge with a loose-limbed swing, anchored by a sturdy rhythm and a cagey melodic sensibility. “Penitentiary,” revived from Matt and Katie’s acoustic days, is all dressed up as a rock anthem. It’s dark, yet fun, with all those voices singing, “come on down to the Penitentiary/oh mama, the law came crashing down on me.”

                Matt sketches the origins of his song, which became their song. “I met a guy in Reno on a road trip before we started the band, and he was super down on his luck,” he says. “We met him at a gas station, bumming money. He told me a few details that are probably in the song, but I made most of it up. I changed the setting to Texas, because it sounded authentic.” And then he mentions that he was listening to Jimmie Rodgers at the time.
                Hard-luck songs, to be sure, betraying a certain criminal bent. Not their stories, Katie is careful to note, but the world they’ve watched walk on by. “We grew up in Southern Indiana,” she says. “It’s not always the classiest place. So all that is not unfamiliar even if we haven’t personally been through the darkest parts of it.”

                And yet, as she also says, “No matter how much anyone wants to write a completely fictional or narrative song, there’s ALWAYS part of you in it. I think that it is important, even when writing narrative songs, that there is something real about them. That there is part of yourself in them.” Houndmouth’s truths, then, are emotional. For the most part.

                “The dealers and the bootleggers/Got me hooked on freebasing/And I can’t trust my government/So I looked into the other dimension,” Katie sings, tough and innocent. “And now they got me doing bad things.” “The song is a story,” Katie says. “I didn’t get hooked on freebasing. Yet there is part of me in it…It’s also maybe about me wanting to escape, loosen my morals, not opening my heart to people.”

                So are the songs. Deeply emotional, that weird, powerful, essential thing the blues does that makes you feel better through the tears. Especially the songs which are deeply personal, like “Halfway to Hardinsburg” or “Palmyra.” Or the sad, slurring loss of “Long as You’re Home,” on which they sing, “Who am I supposed to be?”

                Themselves, of course.

                Four musicians from New Albany, Indiana, across the river from Louisville. Where Will Oldham, Jim James, and Freakwater’s Catherine Irwin live. A fecund place, and place
                matters. Not a sound, not a scene, but a place. A real place. “There is a familiar element about My Morning Jacket that I can’t really pinpoint,” Katie says. “It’s kinda like what I can’t pinpoint about what Houndmouth is that we all sort of get. It just makes us feel at home.”

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                Young the Giant

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                  4/8

                  Yonder Mountain String Band

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                  Yonder Mountain String Band

                  Yonder Mountain String Band has always played music by its own set of rules. Bending bluegrass, rock and countless other influences that the band cites, Yonder has pioneered a sound of their own. With their traditional lineup of instruments, the band may look like a traditional bluegrass band at first glance but they’ve created their own music that transcends any genre. Dave Johnston points out “What could be more pure than making your own music.” Yonder’s sound cannot be classified purely as “bluegrass” or “string music” but rather it’s an original sound created from “looking at music from [their] own experiences and doing the best job possible.” The band continues to play by their own rules on their new record The Show.

                  The Colorado-based foursome has crisscrossed the country over the past eleven years playing such varied settings as festivals, rock clubs, Red Rocks Amphitheater in the band’s home state, and recently the Democratic National Convention in Denver at Mile High Stadium opening for Barack Obama. Their loyal fanbase has been built from this diverse setting of music venues as fans latched on to their genre-defying original sound.

                  In between tours the band spent time this last year working on its fifth studio album. Set for a September 1 release on the band’s own label, The Show is the second album with rock producer Tom Rothrock (Beck, Elliott Smith, Foo Fighters). While some might scratch their heads as to why a string band would want a rock producer, this decision was a natural choice for the band. “We don’t have a lot of nostalgia for the past,” says banjo player Dave Johnston. “You shouldn’t try to recreate the 1940s. I like to think of us as informed by the past and all the great performers before us. But we also want to look forward rather than give people something that has already been perfected.”

                  The Show has the similar acoustic instrumentation (Adam Aijala on guitar, Johnston on banjo, Jeff Austin on mandolin and Ben Kaufman on bass with all four singing) as many of its classic bluegrass forefathers. Though once again drums are present (as with the self-titled fourth album) with the great Pete Thomas of Elvis Costello’s bands adding a rhythmic backdrop to Yonder’s still-acoustic sound on six of the tracks. The record consists of thirteen songs all written by Yonder.

                  The band has long cited such varied influences as the bluegrass of Del McCoury, Johnson Mountain Boys, Jimmy Martin, Bill Monroe, Osborne Brothers as well as the punk rock of Bad Religion, Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys. Somewhere in between these two tent poles are early 20th Century composers and alternative rock bands like Grandaddy and Postal Service. It’s all funneled through the band’s unique chemistry, honed since they first met at an informal club performance in 1998. With band members writing individually, in different pairings and as a collective, the album proves that this group is a collection of creative peers and you can hear it in the rich tapestry of music that makes up The Show.

                  Here Yonder offers such traditional bluegrass sounding fare as “Out Of The Blue” and “Casualty.” The band has explored its country roots in the past and does so again this time on “Steep Grade, Sharp Curves,” a song that describes the roads around its home base in Nederland as well as a particularly dangerous femme fatale. A little further from the roots is the impressionistic “Isolate” with its simple but ominous bass line and minimal arrangement. There is also a bevy of rockers like “Complicated,” “Fingerprints” and “Belle Parker,” a gem of a song about a hard-hearted woman. The band even finds some excellent middle ground between bluegrass and rock on “Fine Excuses” thanks in part to a scorching guitar solo from Adam Aijala. There is also the extended “Honestly” -- at eight-minutes, the longest song on the album, with a middle section that is an excellent platform for lengthier live excursions that are as improvisatory as any electric band on the live music circuit.

                  The band is a regular at bluegrass festivals like the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and the band's own Northwest String Summit as well as massive multi-stage events like Austin City Limits Festival, Bonnaroo and Rothbury. Fans are no doubt drawn to Yonder’s anything goes attitude, its humor and passion about music, and the band’s ability to stretch out live. “We love that people come to see us,” Johnston points out. “Everyone appreciates good music. Some people want to go to a recital and some people want to party.”

                  But as its fans know, Yonder Mountain String Band does something a little different, more than just a musical party. The Show is the band’s most varied and versatile album to date, and the summation of the journey that these guys are on together. It’s bluegrass for the masses, acoustic tunes filled with dazzling chops, and it’s fun to boot. The humble Johnston sounds as surprised as anyone by the band’s success, but knows that it all boiled down to chemistry, which has never changed. “Somewhere down there we all kind of recognized that we had something unique,” he explains. “But there is no way I could have imagined the amount of success that the band has had.”

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