Live Music Fans,
Willy Porter made some gorgeous original music for us last night on an early Sunday evening. The room was full and Willy put on a masterful display of guitar playing and creating another original song on the spot with the line “The Church of Steve” in it. He’s a true musical genius in our book and I hope you got to enjoy this fantastic musician in our little space that sounded so sweet because of Ralph Pitt. Bradman was filming the performance with a high quality camera for GrassRootsTV so you just might be albe to catch the show at home. Not quite the same as live but still well worth seeing and hearing. One of my all time favorite shows. Can’t wait for the next visit.
But, like always, the most important show is the next good one, right? And it starts tomorrow for this week with a special Tuesday Night show. This booking came from one of our talented music scouts, Renee Ramge, who told us about Sam Weber. Knowing her refined musical taste, I’m willing to bet that Sam puts on a great performance for us on a sleepy weeknight. And, I hope you know that many of our best shows happen on “off nights”. Check him out.
Then on the weekend, we have four excellent touring bands in the room starting on Friday with the talented band, Upstate, coming from New York. You may have seen them at the Wheeler last Fall. Here’s your chance to hear them again in an instimate room with great acoustics. Wonderful harmonies.
And, we have a special two act night on Saturday. Putting on local, Jack Tolan’s, band for a special early 7pm set so we can all hear what he has been creating with his talented trio. Following willl be another cool act that features beautiful vocals and a cello. The music-packed weekend ends on Sunday with another great touring act. Can’t miss this week. Come out and hear all five of these sweet sounding musicians. Why not? Can’t hurt, for sure.
See you at the shows!!
TUESDAY NIGHT – APRIL 2ND – SAM WEBER – 8:30PM – www.samweber.me
“Through the characters and anecdotes in his songs, Sam Weber sings about the truths of love, life and family. He has been touring independently and internationally with his band since 2013. Years spent refining songs at home in North Saanich, BC and working in studios in Los Angeles have honed Weber’s craft to a fine point. His live show pairs heartfelt songwriting with world-class musicianship and 3-part harmony.”
“Sam Weber’s expansive blend of roots influences is a testament to fierce ambition.” – Anil Prasad, Guitar Player Magazine, July 2012
“I think the song of the year is Ex-Lover by Sam Weber” – Afie Jurvanen, Bahamas, December 2018
Sam usually plays with Marshall Wildman on drums, Jacob Weil on bass and sometimes Chris Van Sickle on piano.
“Sam Weber is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist in the vein of Jackson Browne, The Band, The Wood Brothers and Gillian Welch. He has been touring independently and internationally with his band since 2013. Years spent refining songs at home in North Saanich, BC and working in studios in Los Angeles have honed Weber’s craft to a fine point. His live show pairs heartfelt songwriting with world-class musicianship and 3-part harmony. He has released two LPs to date, Shadows in the Road (2014) and Valentina Nevada (2016). Through the characters and anecdotes in his songs, Weber sings about the truths of love, life and family. He and his band are releasing and touring a new EP, New Agile Freedom, this summer.”
Sam was born into a musical family. He started piano lessons when he was 6 years old but made a swift transition to the electric guitar the fist time he heard the Aerosmith song “Dream On”. When he was 14 he began teaching guitar at his community music school to make money and started playing cover gigs at Mary’s Bleue Moon Café and other restaurants around his hometown in a family band.
In the summer of 2011, Sam attended a summer program at the Berklee College of Music on scholarship. He was one of ten other young songwriters chosen to perform in front of his class at the Berklee Performance Center. During that time he shared private songwriting classes with pop-star Maggie Rogers; the two have remained friends ever since.
While at school in Boston, he snuck out of his dorm after curfew and rode the train to Cambridge to hear Adrianne Lenker (Big Thief) play a show at a small art gallery. In interviews, he cites Adriannes performance as one of the most compelling he’s ever seen.
Despite being offered a scholarship to attend Berklee full time, he returned home to North Saanich and began learning how to record himself properly. During his last few yearsof high-school, Sam met and started playing shows with likeminded classmates at school. It was during this time he met long-time drummer and collaborator, Marshall Wildman. While the two were still underage, they would go out to bars on school nights and play shows until 2 AM.”
FRIDAY NIGHT – APRIL 5TH – UPSTATE – 8:30PM – www.upstatelovesyou.com
MELANIE GLENN, MARY KENNEY, ALLISON OLENDER – VOX, GUITAR – HARRY D’AGOSTINO BASS – RYAN CHAPPEL – MANDOLIN – DEAN MAHONEY – CAJÓN
“For Upstate, the last few years have been a time of profound exploration and self-discovery. As the band knocked off milestone after milestone on the road, their sound, their lineup, and even their name all underwent dramatic metamorphoses. Challenging and thrilling all at once, those changes have finally culminated in the band’s dazzling new self-titled album, a collection that showcases both their remarkable growth and their adventurous blend of folk, R&B, jazz, gospel, and rock and roll.
Recorded primarily over six days at the Clubhouse studio in Rhinebeck, NY, ‘Healing’ is the band’s first release with new member Allison Olender, their first with four contributing songwriters, and their first since shortening their name from Upstate Rubdown. It’s also their first project to be produced by Wood Brothers percussionist Jano Rix, who helped the group embrace their transformation and lean in to their unique lineup (three female vocalists, upright bass, mandolin, sax, and cajón) without sacrificing any of the gorgeous harmonies, eclectic arrangements, and unforgettable performances that have defined the band since their earliest days.
Upstate first emerged from New York’s Hudson Valley in 2015 with their critically acclaimed debut, ‘A Remedy.’ The Poughkeepsie Journal raved that the group “need[s] nothing more than their voices to channel rhythm and stoke your emotions,” while Chronogram hailed their “infectiously sunny organic stew,” and The Alt called them “toe-tapping, contagious, and fun.” The album earned the band festival performances from Mountain Jam to FreshGrass, as well as a slew of national headline dates and support slots with everyone from The Felice Brothers and Phox to Marco Benevento and Cory Henry.”
SATURDAY NIGHT – APRIL 6TH – THE TWO TRACKS – AT 8:30PM – OPENING ACT AT 7PM – BIRDS OF PLAY – www.twotracksmusic.com
“Americana covers a broad spectrum of music these days, and it’s easy to get lost in trying to define its particular parameters. If one was to determine an overreaching definition as music that reverberates with heart-felt emotion, and songs that speak to the listener with honesty, conviction and integrity, then The Two Tracks, a band based out of Sheridan Wyoming clearly fits the bill. Their recently released album, Postcard Town (self-release, May, 2017) further affirms the promise and determination shown on their eponymous debut, which No Depression described as “creating an instant connection…in truth there’s not a single offering here that doesn’t engage the listener practically from the get go,” and by The Alternate Root as “rural warmth…infusing their tunes with a feel for the open spaces of The West.”
Postcard Town continues this trajectory and confirms, both in songwriting and delivery, that this enticing ensemble has something special to offer. Produced by Will Kimbrough, and recorded at the legendary Butcher Shoppe Studio in Nashville by Grammy winner Sean Sullivan, the band laid down 11 tracks in just 4 days.
No Depression writes: “There is just enough twang in the music to make it country, and just enough rock to make it interesting. Lay the voices of Szewc and Huebner on top and it is a musical banana split of consequence…the harmonies neither too strong nor too light but just right.”
The band features Julie Szewc on vocals and acoustic guitar, David Huebner on cello and electric guitar, Fred Serna on drums and percussion, and Taylor Phillips on bass. From rock to country, bluegrass to folk, the music helps define the sound of superbly crafted, fully assertive Americana. Their harmony-rich songs often add cello to a solid groove, creating a unique ambiance that’s all their own. Throw in a journeyman’s attitude and a penchant for affecting storytelling, and here again, The Two Tracks create a sound that typifies a style birthed in the heartland, with all the sentiment and sensitivity that does justice to that timeless sound.”
“Vibrant harmonies and a knack for writing eager, infectious melodies guarantee them an ability to lock on to their listeners without any hesitation whatsoever…The Two Tracks’ music serves as a reminder that the ability to tap tradition can pay off with a sound that’s still contemporary in its delivery and insightful in its conception.” – Country Standard Time
“There is just enough twang in the music to make it country, and just enough rock to make it interesting. Lay the voices of Szewc and Huebner on top and it is a musical banana split of consequence. You can hear it on the upbeat opener, “Eyes On the Road.” You can hear it on “Four Wheels,” each verse ending with the plaintive “I am alone…,” the harmonies neither too strong nor too light but just right.” – No Depression
“With “Postcard Town,” The Two Tracks reach down into our collective souls with a batch of well-crafted songs that are delivered from a storyteller’s point of view, and the musicianship and harmonies are as sweet as honey in the rock.” – Nashville Blues Society
“Rootsy folk rockers…They know how to turn it up and they know how to lay out, all in the right measures practically making this a set that’s in synch with your own body rhythms. Solid stuff throughout hat’s loaded with real music for real, hungry ears. Well done throughout.” – Midwest Record
“It’s clearly a tightly-knit band with comfortable harmonies and a fun approach.” -Americana Music News
“Their eponymous debut album finds them creating an instant connection. Julie Szewc is one of the main reasons why; an effusive vocalist, she turns nearly every song into a moment worth savouring…in truth there’s not a single offering here that doesn’t engage the listener practically from the get go. The sprightly, spunky “Old Victoria,” the good natured “Bird’s Eye View” and the lively take on the traditional standard “Wayfaring Stranger” finds them accelerating the energy, but even so, there are ample ballads that convey more sobering sentiments as well. Huebner’s cello playing injects an especially poignant element into the proceedings…” – No Depression
“The Two Tracks record rural warmth into the album as the four-piece, infusing their tunes with a feel for the open spaces of The West…from western breeze rhythms as “Railroading” waits for love’s return, on Folk rambles as “Going Somewhere” reminisces of mountain roads, stepping across percussive patters that take flight on cello strums with “Bird Eye’s View”, and picking up the pace on a stuttered beat as she chases love with “Faded Lovers”.”- The Alternate Root
SATURDAY NIGHT – APRIL 6TH – 7PM TO 8PM – OPENING SET OF THE NIGHT WITH THE BIRDS OF PLAY – www.birdsofplaymusic.com
ALEX PAUL – GUITAR, MANDOLIN, VOCALS, SONGWRITING, FELICITOUS FACILITATOR
“Alex is a Southern Colorado based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with a playful, insightful approach to music and composition. Born and raised in Colorado, his musical stylings reflect his approach to living a vibrant, positively silly life. His musical journey began at a young age with an utter disdain for piano lessons and wasn’t fully embraced until age 13 when he asked his dad for a guitar. The two immediately hopped in the car and drove to a local music store in Littleton, CO, with no way to know how substantially that first guitar would shift his path toward a life of poverty and idealism. He’s been performing solo and with a number of band projects throughout the greater Rocky Mountain region for the last decade. With a diverse repertoire of original material and a contagious energy to his live performance, Alex will bring you into his musical world for as long as you’d like to attend. He also likes soup and could talk, or not talk, for hours.
ERIC SHEDD – BASS, MANDOLIN, VOCALS, MUSICAL DIRECTOR, BASS JUMPER
“Eric grew up in Northern Idaho, where he attended the University of Idaho School of Music as a percussion and guitar major. It was there he honed his musicality by participating in just about every ensemble that he could fit into his schedule, from Orchestra to Jazz Choir to Percussion Ensemble. After sneaking out of school with a degree in General Studies, Eric put music on a side burner to pursue his passion for the outdoors, a path that has led him through being a river guide, ski patroller, wilderness therapy guide and general ski bum. But that side burner kept on burning, with Eric playing and singing around many a campfire, to the joy and surprise of his river guests. More recently, Eric decided to shift the focus back to music and started up the Birds of Play, a project with his longtime friend Alex Paul. They met in Durango around five years ago and decided now that they live ten hours apart, what better time to start a collaboration?
JACK TOLAN – GUITAR, MANDOLIN, VOCALS, CULTURAL LIAISON, RESIDENT SCIENTIST
“Playing music in a social setting began on a soccer field in Carbondale, CO on the CRMS campus to the sound of pounding hand drums. Along with djembe, Jack started playing guitar in high school, learning from peers and teachers and anyone else who would show him a new chord or lick. Attending Colorado College proved to be a natural extension of this musical journey. At CC Jack minored in music, took private guitar lessons, and played in several bands including The Nomadic Bastards, Suspiciously Crispy, and The Dudes of Brohan. Since moving to Jackson, WY in 2012, Jack has been a member of the funk outfit Sneaky Pete & The Secret Weapons.
Alex and Jack have been playing music for years. From the campfires of the Utah desert to the hostels of Argentina, Jack and Alex have shared a special musical compatibility. Once described as “a blossoming bromance,” Alex and Jack’s music has been central to how they interact with and understand one another. Jack had the privilege of playing with Eric Shedd around a campfire at Alex’s birthday soiree two falls ago. It was around that fire, somewhere deep in a canyon on the Colorado Plateau, the Birds of Play were born.”
“The Birds of Play is a musical collaboration born from a mutual love of desert canyons, raging rivers, rocky mountaintops, and juice picnics. After many years of gatherings that have revolved around adventuring by day and playing tunes around campfires by night, the time has come for the birds to leave the nest and share their music with the world. With a dynamic mix of sentimentality and playfulness, the Birds of Play’s original music will take you on a joyous journey filled with tales of love lost and found, ballads of wild places, and the radical idea that being happy for no reason at all is reason enough. Add in an eclectic blend of covers and crowd-inclusive banter and an evening with the Birds of Play will surely leave you feeling all the feelings and wanting more.”
SUNDAY NIGHT – APRIL 7TH – THE FRONT COUNTRY – 8:30PM – www.frontcountryband.com
“One day in late February, the five members of Front Country were warming up for their record release show at the renowned bluegrass club the Station Inn, in their new home base of Nashville, Tenn. They’d never played most of these songs live before. It wasn’t a given that these musicians would wind up in anything remotely resembling a bluegrass band. Singer Melody Walker got into world music and belted out roots-rock. Bassist Jeremy Darrow studied jazz. Leif Karlstrom trained as a classical violinist, and still prefers that title to “fiddle player.” Mandolinist Adam Roszkiewicz studied classical guitar at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
The actual guitarist in the band, Jacob Groopman, did his share of exploring after college, too. “I was in an Afrobeat group for about five years, touring around in this 10-piece kind of hippie Afrobeat band,” Groopman says.
In the bluegrass world, musicians tend to define themselves by their relationships to tradition — specifically, the tradition of high-and-lonesome singing and a hard-driving sound. There are regional variations from Virginia to Colorado. The West Coast has its own freewheeling tradition, and that’s where Front Country started out: at a monthly jam in San Francisco. Then its members heard about a band contest at a bluegrass festival.
“And we ended up winning that band competition,” Walker says. “The very next day, I made a website for the band because I thought maybe people will be Googling Front Country at that point, possibly. From that point on, Front Country was a serious band. The group made a mixtape reimagining songs by Don Henley, King Crimson and the indie-pop band tUnE-yArDs.
Front Country does play traditional tunes on the new album, like the Carter Family’s “The Storms Are On The Ocean” — though Roszkiewicz admits their arrangement makes it sort of unrecognizable.
“It’s not so much to ruin it on principle with the rock music,” he laughs. “We might be doing things differently, but at the heart of it, it’s just songs, good songs we like that we can get behind.”
Most of the new material, though, is original. Walker is the band’s primary songwriter, and for the album, she submitted 20 songs to her bandmates for a vote. One, called “Good Looking Young People,” seemed an especially unlikely candidate.
“When I wrote it, I had an iPad drum machine app that I was using,” she explains. “So I had this beat that was kind of this super 808-sounding thing… Like, very Phil Collins, ‘In the Air Tonight.’ “
The group decided to keep the rhythmic ideas and ditch the drum machine. And while Front Country’s members are more than capable of using traditional techniques on their instruments, they often choose not to.
“We’re always trying to do things we’ve never done before on our instruments,” Roszkiewicz says. “I’ll be listening to the song, we’ll be working on the song and I’ll hear a synth line. All of the musicians in Front Country also actually listen to, and respect, music made with beats, samples and electronic effects.
“I think sometimes, when people dismiss pop, one of the things they’re dismissing is the craft aspect of it. Because obviously bluegrass and string-band music requires an enormous amount of craftsmanship,” Darrow says. “I think one of the things that we put on display is [that] rather than an element to be dismissed, the craft of pop music is just as intricate as it is in any other style. And maybe that’s a little clearer to see when we’re playing it on wooden instruments.”
At this point, they realize it’s probably a stretch to call what they’re doing bluegrass at all. String-band pop is more like it. [ from NPR All Things Considered, by Jewly Hight.”
Well, once again, we have given you some excellent live music options this week. Now, it’s up to you to take advantage of it. Way beyond my control at this point. Hope to see you out enjoying wonderful live music with your friends and neighbors.
Steve, Mary Margaret and Shannon