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After a one-album sojourn away from their band-built recording studio Philadelphia’s Dr. Dog returned home to Meth Beach to self-produce their latest collection of gloriously ramshackle rock ‘n’ roll reveries. Out February 7, Be The Void (Dr. Dog’s second release on Anti-Records) showcases the critically adored band’s renewed commitment to cultivating a stripped-down live sound. “This record comes from our pushing toward a rawer, more powerful, somewhat jittery competence,” explains guitarist-vocalist Scott McMicken. “We drew a lot of inspiration from soul music and the Rolling Stones and the Velvet Underground—music that’s got its roots in live expression rather than that studio-perfected sort of vibe.”
While Be The Void bears the same style of scrappy yet hook-packed rock served up by Dr. Dog for more than a decade, the six-member outfit (McMicken, bassist-vocalist Toby Leaman, rhythm guitarist Frank McElroy, keyboardist Zach Miller, drummer Eric Slick and multi-instrumentalist Dimitri Manos) seems newly emboldened by its deepened devotion to a bare-bones aesthetic. A marked departure from the soaring pop of 2010’s Shame, Shame, the album also finds Dr. Dog revitalized by the recent addition of Slick (who’s previously played with Ween, Adrian Belew, and Project Object) and Manos (also a member of Arizona-based alt-country band Golden Boots).
Recorded in the summer of 2011, Be The Void seizes that vibrant spirit and transforms it into a 12-track song selection that’s at turns deadly catchy and dance-worthy (the shuffling swagger of “Big Girl”), wistful and bittersweet (the lovely, languid sigh of “Get Away”), and earthy-earnest (the twangy troubadour folk of “Turning the Century”). Though each track feels richly textured and intricately layered, the band made a conscious effort to keep the recording process fast and loose. “We worked quicker and trusted our gut more than ever before, and at times it was scary and almost panic-inducing,” says McMicken. “All of a sudden you’d be aware of a feeling like, ‘This is really working, so don’t mess it up.’ And then the song ends and your heart’s pounding and you realize you haven’t taken a breath in three minutes. It was like riding a rollercoaster and wishing you could get right back on again.” As a result of that newfound abandon and surrender to intuition, “there’s so much on the record that I could never have imagined us being able to come up with,” McMicken adds.
Perhaps the album’s most epic moment, “Warrior Man” makes for one of Be The Void’s most thrilling surprises. Both sprawling and beautifully bombastic, the track attacks with lead-heavy beats, pseudo-futuristic sound effects, and psychedelic back-up harmonies. “‘Warrior Man’ was born out of a joke—it started as some silly phrase that Toby was singing, then turned into a jam, and ultimately became this monster of a tune that was recorded live,” says McMicken. “Everything about its origin reflects that freedom and confidence to own a weird idea and just let it live.”
Another deviation from Dr. Dog’s more summery and sleepy material, “Vampire” slaps a snarling guitar riff against ragged, howling vocals that perfectly capture the song’s pained refrain about love gone evil (“You’re a vampire, baby/No reflection at all”). “Heavy Light,” meanwhile, mutates from a percussion-driven dream-pop pastiche to shimmering piano ballad to freewheeling experiment in blissed-out psychedelia—all in just three minutes and 41 seconds.
All throughout Be The Void, Dr. Dog delights in a playfulness that lends a refreshingly oddball feel even to the record’s more true-to-form tracks. “These Days,” for instance, backs its bouncy bassline with a dizzying swirl of sunny guitars, while the handclapping and hollering on the album-opening “Lonesome” help twist a downer of a refrain (“What does it take to be lonesome? Nothing at all”) into a sweetly anthemic stomper of a song.
At the same time, Dr. Dog’s rugged, rough-and-tumble disposition and razor-sharp wit preclude Be The Void from ever nearing mindless whimsy. Possibly the album’s most deceptively breezy offering, “That Old Black Hole” sets its sly lyrics (“Take this thorn from my side/Fix this chip on my shoulder/Time is racing with the clock/And I ain’t getting any older”) to a smoldering groove that turns frenetic and urgent in the song’s final seconds. By the same token, the disarmingly desperate “Do The Trick” pairs its woozy disco beat with a barrage of flirty wordplay that’s relentlessly clever (“I’ve burnt the candle on every side/I’ve long since run out of wick/Will you be my flame tonight?/Will you do the trick?”).
The first album recorded away from Meth Beach, Dr. Dog’s 2010 Anti- debut teamed up the band with Rob Schnapf (a producer who had previously worked with Elliott Smith, Beck, and Guided By Voices). Although that partnership yielded the much-acclaimed Shame, Shame, the band opted against bringing in an outside co-producer again for Be The Void. “We did try out a few songs with another producer, but we then we stepped back and asked ourselves, ‘Do we really need that?’” recalls McMicken. “Part of our growing aesthetic is to find the simplest approach that works best, and the decision to produce this one ourselves was sort of the first gesture toward recognizing our confidence in our experience and ability and sense of playfulness.” Indeed, that dedication to keeping it playful was key to shaping the sound on Be The Void, says Leaman. “Back when Scott and I first started making music together, there was a period of time when we just recorded and recorded constantly—just for our own pleasure, not even to try to get shows or anything,” he says. “Making this album felt like that again. It was like we were just putting a bunch of tunes together, just to have a good time.”
Vince Gill says it simply, and maybe best: "I'd rather hear Del McCoury sing ‘Are You Teasing Me' than just about anything." For fifty years, Del's music has defined authenticity for hard core bluegrass fans-count Gill among them-as well as a growing number of fans among those only vaguely familiar with the genre. And while the box set Celebrating 50 Years of Del McCoury, like its distilled companion, By Request-both in stores on May 12th-provides an opportunity to look back on a unique legacy, it's also one that Del McCoury's rolling past with a wave and a grin and some of the best music he's ever made.
"It gives hope to everybody-fifty years is a long time to be playing music in any field," says another fan, Elvis Costello. "But to keep the purity that you need to do this kind of music, and the drive and the energy takes a special kind of guy." And indeed, McCoury is something special, a living link to the days when bluegrass was made only in hillbilly honkytonks, schoolhouse shows and on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, yet also a commandingly vital presence today, from prime time and late night talk show TV to music festivals where audiences number in the hundreds of thousands. "Here's a guy who has been playing for fifty years, and he's still experimenting-still looking to do things outside the box, to bring other kinds of music into bluegrass form," says Americana music icon Richard Thompson, who saw his "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" turned into a bluegrass standard when McCoury brought it into the fold. "I think that's the best bluegrass band, period. That's it."
Born in York County, PA seventy years ago, Del McCoury would once have seemed an unlikely candidate for legendary status. Bitten hard by the bluegrass bug when he heard Earl Scruggs' banjo in the early 50s-"everybody else was crazy about Elvis, but I loved Earl," he says with a chuckle-McCoury became a banjo picker himself, working in the rough but lively Baltimore and D.C. bar scene into the early 1960s. He got his first taste of the limelight when he joined Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys in early 1963; the Father of Bluegrass moved McCoury from the banjo to guitar, made him his lead singer, and gave him a lifetime's worth of bluegrass tutelage direct from the source in the course of little more than a year. But rather than parlay his gig with the master into a full-time career of his own, he returned to Pennsylvania in the mid-60s to provide steady support for his new and growing family.
Within a few years, McCoury had settled into work in the logging industry-and formed his own band, the Dixie Pals. For the next decade and a half, he piloted the group through a part-time career built mostly around weekend appearances at bluegrass festivals and recordings for labels ranging from the short-lived and obscure to roots music institutions like Arhoolie and Rounder Records. And while there were the inevitable personnel changes and struggles to contend with, McCoury was also building a songbook filled with classics remade in his own image and a growing number of originals-songs like "High On A Mountain," "Are You Teasing Me," "Dark Hollow," "Bluest Man In Town," "Rain And Snow," "Good Man Like Me, "Rain Please Go Away" and more-that would become an important part of his legacy in years to come.
The first big sign of change came in 1981, when McCoury's 14 year old son, Ronnie, joined the Dixie Pals as their mandolin player. Banjo playing younger brother Rob came on board five years later, and by the end of the decade, the three McCourys were ready to make a move. "We came to Nashville in 1992," Ron recalls, "and it was dad's idea. He'd been watching bluegrass on TNN-Bill Monroe, the Osborne Brothers, Jim & Jesse-and thought that it was the place to be, that we'd have a new outlet there, where we could get some more attention. And without a doubt, moving to Nashville and just going for it turned out to be really big."
If anything, the younger McCoury's understating the case. Armed with a new Rounder Records association-and a newly named Del McCoury Band that soon included not only his sons but a complete cast of youngsters-Del McCoury's career soared. Del himself got the ball rolling early in the decade with three consecutive Male Vocalist of the Year awards from the prestigious International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), and in 1994 the quintet began an astonishing streak of top Entertainer of the Year honors that would net them 9 trophies in an 11 year stretch-along with ongoing honors for Ronnie (8 straight Mandolin Player of the Year awards), fiddler Jason Carter (3 Fiddle Player of the Year trophies), and a wide array of projects featuring Del and the ensemble.
But though the 90s propelled the Del McCoury Band to the top of the bluegrass world, they also gave birth to a more startling phenomenon: the emergence of the group onto the larger musical scene as a unique torchbearer for the entire sweep of bluegrass and its history. For it turned out that the unmistakable authenticity of McCoury's music-along with his good-natured willingness to keep alert for new sounds and new opportunities-had bred fans in some unlikely places.
That bluegrass-bred stars like Gill and Alison Krauss (who first met Del at a bluegrass festival when she filled in for a missing fiddler of his) would sing his praises wasn't surprising, but who would have expected country-rock icons like Steve Earle or jam bands like the supremely popular Phish to have joined in the chorus? "Jon Fishman, the drummer for Phish, told me that they did an article on him for a drum magazine," Del says. "They asked him what were some of his early influences, and he told them that one of them was Don't Stop the Music, a record I put out back at the beginning of the 90s."
By the second half of the 90s, the acclaim-and Del's open-mindedness-put McCourys in onstage jams with Phish and on the road and in the studio with Earle, bringing the Del McCoury Band's fierce musicianship and its leader's instantaneous, easygoing connection with listeners to new arenas. The group appeared on prime time television and began an ongoing series of visits to popular late night TV talk shows, toured rock clubs and college campuses, and found itself welcome at country and even jazz-oriented music festivals and venues.
Yet even as they reach out to almost unimaginable audiences, Del's music retains its signature characteristics. "What I most admire about someone like Del," says Gill, "is that he's one of the last patriarchs that really played the music in its authentic way. And even though he's willing to bend a little bit, to be out there playing at jam band festivals and things like that, it doesn't sound like what the new people do with bluegrass. He's done a great job of bringing new songs into the fold, but when he sings them they sound like 1959 or 1962 again. It still has the element of his voice, and the authenticity of it never goes away, never changes. And even after doing it for fifty years, he's at the top of everybody's list of what's going on today with bluegrass."
The fifth decade of that half-century of music making has been filled with new and ongoing triumphs. The Del McCoury Band has shown unprecedented stability, with but a single change in membership in fifteen years; their namesake earned membership in the cast of the legendary Grand Ole Opry in 2003, and the Band earned their first Best Bluegrass Album Grammy award two years later; they traveled with the groundbreaking post-O Brother "Down From The Mountain" tour, performed and recorded (on his Grammy-winning These Days) with Gill and with country star Dierks Bentley; they've made multiple appearances at the spectacular Bonnaroo Music Festival (and will appear there again in 2009) and launched an impressively popular annual New Year's Eve show at the Ryman Auditorium, where Del first appeared on the Opry with Bill Monroe some 46 years ago. Perhaps most importantly, McCoury took an almost unprecedented step in 2003 when he took control of his own music by creating the McCoury Music label, home to that Grammy-winning album along with a select set of releases by the Del McCoury Band, country icon Merle Haggard and more.
There's no doubt that Celebrating 50 Years of Del McCoury is just that-a life's work-but it's no swan song. As far as that goes, Del's already said it himself, and said it best; he may be 70, but as he sings in one of his own songs, co-written with country hit writer (and second generation bluegrasser) Harley Allen, "Don't ever let it be said darling, that what I do don't bring me joy I'm a guitar-picking, bluegrass-singing, never grow up boy."
As an outlet to further explore electronic music production, Conspirator was formed in 2004 by Aron Magner and Marc Brownstein (keyboardist and bassist for The Disco Biscuits), and DJ Omen. After performing with some of the festival scene’s most notable live artists, the band solidified into a 4-piece touring lineup with the additions of Chris Michetti (RAQ), and KJ Sawka(Pendulum) in 2012.Conspirator had a phenomenal rise with the release of Unlocked – Live from the Georgia Theatre (April 2012, SCI Fidelity Records) and action-packed tours in 2011 and 2012 with groundbreaking performances at venues across the U.S. and festivals such as Ultra Music Festival, Nocturnal Festival, Electric Forest Festival, Starscape Festival, Gathering of the Vibes, and CounterPoint Music Festival.
With their utmost experience and mastery of the craft, Conspirator pushes into 2013 with more raw power and drive than ever, starting with the release of their new EP Unleashed on January 29 followed by a 28 city U.S. tour.
Unleashed is a crystal clear demonstration of Conspirator’s heavy, electronically produced core coupled with a skillful and melodic homage to live instrumentation. Electronic rock sensibilities are gracefully smashed into jaw dropping, dance-floor shaking dubstep rhythms to create an effortless fusion of all things deep. This high-impact collision creates an all encompassing, energetic spectacle which will no doubt be used to shock their devoted crowds from coast to coast.
Karl Denson has led a storied career as a multi-faceted recording and performing artist who first came to prominence as a member of Lenny Kravitz’ band debuting on his first release, Let Love Rule, and staying on for the next five years. While developing a following overseas, he joined Fred Wesley’s band, touring and recording with him on multiple releases. This led to five straight ahead jazz albums by Denson on Minor Music, the last of which was released to rave reviews and featured Karl in a trio setting with Miles Davis alumni Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette. In 1993, Denson joined DJ Greyboy in creating Greyboy Records and released the legendary acid jazz staple, Freestylin. Out of that collaboration, Denson formed The Greyboy Allstars, which became world renowned as the ultimate groove band, spreading their “West Coast Boogaloo” style worldwide.
Denson took this formula to the next level by putting more emphasis on vocals and adding some funk, R&B and hip hop elements. It turned out to be a winning combination, which set KDTU on the top of the heap in the touring world from 1999 through 2005, selling over 250,000 records to date. “My style is based in dance” shares Denson. “ I love the idea of creating something that naturally makes people want to move.” KDTU has headlined and performed at US Festivals including Bonnaroo, Bumbershoot, The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, All Good Music Festival, Wakarusa Music Festival, Playboy Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Newport Jazz Festival and many more. Global festival appearances include the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan, North Sea Jazz festival in Holland, Moscow Jazz Festival in Russia, East Coast Blues and Roots Festival in Australia and the Montreux Jazz festival in Switzerland. Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe has shared the stage with acts as diverse as Jack Johnson, D’Angelo, James Brown, Dave Matthews Band, Michael Franti & Spearhead, The Allman Brothers, Keene and Maroon 5.
Denson’s latest release, Brother’s Keeper, continues his artistic evolution fusing sounds from Rock to Funk to Afrobeat. Meshell Ndegeocello (bass) and Marc Ford (guitar, Black Crowes, Ben Harper) are just some of the special guests on the album. Denson notes, “I’m not one to live in the past. I am very much a forward thinker. Brother’s Keeper is a continuation of my general worldview, which is that we should be loving each other, having fun and taking care of one another.” He concludes, “This record is the culmination of all my life’s work up until now.”
A master of improvisation for nearly four decades, Steve Kimock has been inspiring music fans with his transcendent guitar speak, voiced through electric, acoustic, lap and pedal steel guitars. While one can say that his genre is rock, no one niche has ever confined him. Instead, through the years, he’s explored various sounds and styles based on what’s moved him at the time, whether it’s blues or jazz; funk or folk; psychedelic or boogie; gypsy or prog-rock; traditional American or world fusion.
Threaded through this expansive and highly nuanced musical landscape is Kimock’s signature sound, the prodigious product of his ability to articulate crystal-clear tone, melody and emotion into intricately woven music crafted with technical brilliance. His passion and devotion to performing live is matchless, and his unparalleled ability to embrace and capture his audiences musically is the stuff of legends.
Kimock co-founded the jazz/rock band Zero in the ‘80s and KVHW in the ‘90s; since then, he has recorded and toured in various outfits under his own name. His collaborations with assorted bandmates and groups have provided an endless wellspring of inspiration for the guitarist, and he has shared the stage with a seemingly endless array of international musical luminaries. After almost 40 years on stage, Kimock is more committed than ever to a jubilant spirit of musical diversity — the same spirit that has fed his desire to pursue an authentic relationship with the guitar since the day he realized his calling.
In recent years Kimock has played with groups such as Banyan, Jerry Joseph’s Little Women, the Everyone Orchestra, ALO, and post-String Cheese Incident electronica bands PRAANG (with EOTO) and Holy Kimoto! Once touted by Jerry Garcia as his “favorite unknown guitar player,” Kimock has also performed as part of Bob Weir’s Kingfish and RatDog, in addition to post-Grateful Dead ensembles including The Other Ones, Phil Lesh & Friends, and the Rhythm Devils featuring Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann. The guitarist has recorded and toured with Bruce Hornsby and worked extensively with Merl Saunders. Additionally, he has shared the stage with The Allman Brothers, Angélique Kidjo, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Miles, Derek Trucks, Elvin Bishop, Grace Potter, Grace Slick, Jorma Kaukonen, Keller Williams, Little Feat, Nicky Hopkins, Norton Buffalo, Papa John Creach, Peter Frampton, all members of Phish, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Stephen Perkins, Steve Winwood, Todd Rundgren and Warren Haynes, among many others.
Though he still devotes countless hours refining his craft, playing his instrument has never been enough for a man coined “The Guitar Monk” by Relix magazine. The result onstage is the culmination of Kimock’s dedication to the technical intricacies of both guitars and amplifiers. Going all the way from the fundamentals of musical theory to the most scientific details of the sound-production process, there are few stones Kimock has yet to turn. Driving him forward is the knowledge that there is always more to discover; that and the fact that he loves guitar too much to do anything else.
Best known as a celebrated guitar virtuoso who has made major technical and musical contributions to the guitar world, Stanley Jordan has earned a name for himself as one of the most significant guitarists in the 20th century. After seeing him perform with his trio at the Montreal Jazz Festival, Los Angeles Times jazz critic Leonard Feather was prompted to write, “Genius is a word too often tossed around in musical circles, but it has been rightfully applied to Stanley Jordan.” With a digital music composition degree from Princeton University, performances alongside Benny Carter, Quincy Jones and Dizzy Gillespie, four Grammy nominations and film and television appearances, Jordan’s two-handed tapping technique has made him a legend, weaving classical, jazz, pop and world textures. Equally at home with performing his original music or paying homage to Stevie Wonder, Mozart, Ray Charles or Maurice Ravel, this concert will simultaneously stimulate your senses while massaging your mood.
bio coming soon!
Self-described as high performance rock n roll, RAQ has been touring as a four piece band for over a decade now. Their unique sound featuring complex song structure and quirky-yet-accessible lyrics has their older fans wishing the band was still full time and the younger generation wondering what they have missed. There is little doubt after the first reunion shows that RAQ still delivers tremendously when it comes to live improvisational rock.
The band met in Burlington, Vermont, where they first called themselves "Shadraq", but decided to shorten the name to RAQ before cutting their debut album “Shed Tech” in March of 2001. In 2002, the band saw original keyboard player, Marc Scortino, leave the band and replaced by Todd Stoops. Stoops joined Chris Michetti (guitar), Jay Burwick (Bass) and Greg Stukey (drums) to make up the band for the remainder of the decade. The band went on to release “Carbohydrates Are the Enemy” later that year and set out for their first national tour. In 2006, RAQ released their third album “Ton These.” In 2013, Adrian Tramantano replaced Greg Stukey to comprise the band’s current roster.
One of the reasons behind RAQ's highly successful tour past is due to their compositions being grounded in solid song structures, but still being malleable enough to go in infinite directions in the live setting. This keeps the quartet's devout following and first time listeners yearning for more as the audience is taken along on the collective journey. Their extensive repertoire of original compositions and eclectic selection of covers give the band the freedom to create a unique set list for every show.
The wait is over, RAQ is back!
The foothills of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York, also known as "The Leatherstocking Region" is home to Floodwood, the northeast's new progressive string band. Made up of veteran musicians who've performed on stages around the world over the last 20 years, the band breathes fresh life into timeless acoustic music and plays with the dexterity and chops of seasoned pros.
Floodwood is Al Schnier and Vinnie Amico of moe.’s second side collaboration, having played together in the American group Al & The Transamericans for over a decade as well. Joining Al and Vinnie is Jason Barady, who spent over ten years recording and touring with the Bluegrass group Wooden Spoon from Taos, until returning to his hometown in central NY. Nick Piccininni is a largely self-taught violinist, who learned his bluegrass chops the old fashioned way - in festival picking circles and Bluegrass Festivals. He's an award winning banjo player and fiddler in high demand on the bluegrass circuit and also spent two years on the road with The Abrams. Bass player Zachary Fleitz is a Berklee Graduate & Hypnotic Clambake alumnus. Zach joined forces with Wooden Spoon & has played with J and Nick for the last few years.
If you missed the quintet at this year’s Snoe.down Winter Music and Sports Festival, make sure you catch them as they make their triumphant return to moe.down!
Mike Dillon is one of the most dynamic and multifaceted percussionists in the country, best known for his unforgettable live performances, unorthodox percussion rig and distinct original sound.
After emerging in late 1980’s as the first to lead a rock/funk band as a vocalist and vibraphone player, contributing to its evolution by his use of effects, Dillon has become well-known for producing genre-bending music that transcends categorization. Over the last 27 years, his creative song-writing and the repertoire of artists he has worked with - - on tour, stage or in the studio - - reveal his eclectic musical inspiration and skillful versatility. Artists such as: Les Claypool, Ani DiFranco, Polyphonic Spree, Brave Combo, Sex Mob, Galactic, Secret Chief’s 3, Karl Denson, Steven Bernstein, Charlie Hunter, James Singleton, George Porter Jr., Johnny Vidocavich and Bob Schneider. His individual projects include: Critter’s Buggin’, Garage A Trois, Billy Goat, Mike Dillon’s Go-Go Jungle, Hairy Apes BMX, Malachy Papers, the Dead Kenny G’s, who regularly open for Primus, and his latest, The Mike Dillon Band.
As a touring musician and prolific song-writer, Mike Dillon has continuously pushed his distinct sound in new and inventive directions. On stage, Dillon is a powerful force, with boundless energy that hails a punk rock/hardcore edge and the seamless ability to play multiple percussive instruments at once. For nearly three decades, fans have been draw to Dillon’s organic style, creative musicianship and the way his music never fails to stir the crowd into a big dance party from start to finish. After taking a brief hiatus from solo projects, Dillon is back at the helm with his latest quartet, The Mike Dillon Band, which delivers a cache of his new songs, infuses fresh life into his classics, and features Mike Dillon (vibraphone, percussion, lead vocals), Adam Gertner (drums), Cliff Hines (guitar, bass and keyboards) and Carly Meyers (trombone, vocals), whose raw talent, enthusiasm and infectious dance moves have created quite a stir among music goers in the past year.
Eastbound Jesus don’t fit well under any one genre, and choose to call what they do “Northern rock”. They shred on the banjo, they have sweet sounding vocal harmonies, they play ballads, they play fast paced rocking tunes, and it all comes from a real, genuine place that makes for a sound all their own. These six guys from Greenwich have recently put out an incredibly well-crafted album entitled Northern Rock and have been packing venues with an infectious energy that gets people dancing, hollering, smiling and finding a new appreciation for a sound that is both traditional and refreshing.
One day a band was needed, WOLF! arrived.
Taking their cues from a soul, blues, boogaloo, country and rock background, Wolf! seamlessly merge styles to create a party where everyone's welcome...one that you don't want to miss! This Brooklyn-based trio continue to find new and exciting ways to evolve and push what's possible with the classic guitar, bass, and drums formula while maintaining a fundamental groove that's both irresistible and undeniable. Wolf! strives to make great music, and life is too short to listen to bad music.
Conehead Buddha is not your average jam band. For better or worse, even after their 6th album (released summer 2012) their sound still remains indefinable. Each song has a little something for everyone, be it rock, ska, salsa, or funk sprinkled with subtle elements of jazz. Their live show is infectious, even raucous, and it’s obvious they are enjoying each other’s company on stage. Out front you’ll see horns, percussion, and real voices that blend like they’ve been doing it together since the womb. A fresh new rhythm section including the addition of keys really holds down the fort and lets the jams flow freely.
The Stepkids are futuristic electro soul recorded on a reel-to-reel; soaring harmonies sung by three singer/songwriters; Kandinsky-esque visuals that make for enigmatic live performances. "A lot of what excites us about this band is this band itself," says bassist and keyboardist Dan Edinberg. "It's not either of us; it's about creating an entity where the entity itself is what's important." It's an approach that comes from more than a decade of musical experimentation.
Raised on the East Coast jazz and R&B circuit, individual band members went on to share stages with 50 Cent and Lauryn Hill, tour internationally with indie punk band Zox, score movies and commercials, and produce solo albums. However, it was an interest in creating an aesthetic identity which supersedes conventional pop notions of stardom and self-importance that ultimately drew them together.
The Stepkids groove is a startling, yet sexy, fusion of punk, jazz, West African traditional, 1960s folk, neo and classic soul, classic funk and 20th century classical; think T.Rex meets Sun Ra, Sly Stone meets Stravinsky, and Dylan meets Dilla. Philosophy and literature provide a conceptual schematic, from existential musings ("Legend in My Own Mind"), to the work of Charles Bukowski ("La La") and Plato's theoretical "Allegory of the Cave" ("Shadows on Behalf").
Add to this a vested interest in the recording process, and you have an imaginative album of Technicolor brilliance expertly self-engineered and self-produced. Live, kaleidoscopic projections by experimental video artist Jesse Mann consume the stage with light for a multi-sensory experience. And every song on the Stepkids self-titled debut album is written with equal input from each member. "All three of us write and all three of us sing," says Jeff Gitelman, who resigned from touring as Alicia Keys' guitarist to concentrate full-time on recording the Stepkids self-titled debut album. "There's an equal split in the creative process, and we're really happy about that," says drummer Tim Walsh. "Any lyric, any melody, any idea could have been done by any of us." There's no singular icon, no singular sound, and no singular way of making it happen for the Stepkids. It's psychedelia for the 21st century, where the focus is on the whole.
Pennyshine is a warm and earthy, newly formed, musical project based in Central NY. With a sound that weaves in and out of various genres such as Americana, folk, indie, rock, singer-songwriter, blues, punk, and funk, they present with a style of their own.
The band features the music of Diane Schnier, formerly of "Before Cowboys", and is uplifted by the musical talents of Tim Herron of the "Tim Herron Corporation" — a well known singer/songwriter, musician, producer, instructor, in the Upstate NY area; Corey Colmey — one of Upstate NY's premier drummers, percussionists, instructors, and musical innovators; and Sean Peters supplying the low notes with taste and style.
Simple. Heartfelt. Soulful.