Academy of Music - Northampton, MA
with Mount Moriah
The Indigo Girls (Emily Saliers and Amy Ray) release their sixteenth studio album, One Lost Day, on June 2nd. Vast in its reach, but unified by the traveler’s sense of wonder, gratitude, and empathy, One Lost Day moves like a centrifuge, pulling the listener close to linger in the small moment, then casting out onto sonic currents. This is music of the past, present, and future — a boundlessness earned and not bestowed. One Lost Day has a feeling of music composed across time, not just in time. These songs are rooted in tradition and inventive, too: nourished in dark soils, leafing and luminous. Memories here are more than specters; they are evolutions. The album maps the dim corridors of the heart and mind, lifting and landing the listener across state lines and continents. Place is a character rich in the universal specific: “Boots on a board in a barn” in “Texas Was Clean,” boys “under the bridge on the river shoals off GA 9″ in “Fishtails,” the New Orleans’ 1788 fire and the fence around the St. Louis cemetery in “Elizabeth,” the “sunny twist of Venice Chez Jay” in “Southern California is Your Girlfriend,” and the devil-spawned Angola prison in Louisiana where three black men sat wrongly convicted for decades, confined in solitary. The dirge-like ballad “Findlay, Ohio 1968″ opens with a searing string and piano arrangement that feels like slipping through a tear in the space-time continuum. After we reach the violin’s held high-C and the heartbeat drums, and before Saliers kicks in with her chilling vocals, we hover, suspended in time, before landing gently on the hot asphalt of Grammy’s driveway in 1968, “poking hot tar bubbles with a stick…the smell of the trash and leaves burning in the can.” What unfolds is pure narrative intuition, wherein the stuff of life, life’s inventory — the pall of the impending Kent State massacre, Sexton’s poetry, Cathy’s grief-stricken, beer-drinking mom, the dad who never returned from Vietnam, the fence-scaling girl ripping jeans, the boy with wandering heart and hands, the smell of Trenton’s refineries and the slapping of the station wagon’s wheels — are the metaphoric legs that carry the story and this song across time and distance. “Fishtails” tackles similar themes — loss of innocence, coming of age — but through a much different lens. Here, the narrator is the observer reflecting on the tender recklessness of neighborhood kids, killing time in an abandoned copper mine, waiting to flee the confines of their small world, raging and hoping and “fishtailing in the dark from the time that they are born.” But the song is infused with new meaning in the juxtaposition of the boys’ lives with Ray’s father’s long-ago Florida boyhood — so similar in its restlessness, its sweet violence. Circularity rings like a keening bell, dazzling and devastating. A multi-layered instrumentalism allows the long notes of the past to cradle the mid-tempo of the present, a lush but understated orchestration. Regarding the aching ballad, “If I Don’t Leave Here Now,” Saliers says, “The song explores the terrible affliction of addiction and was partly inspired right after Philip Seymour Hoffman died. I was deeply affected by his death, but also know that addiction seldom spares the user. It is a song about the desperate attempt to leave a bad situation where no amount of anything is ever enough.” The elegiac, stripped-down sound pairs beautifully with tender lyrics that recognize addiction not as a denial of life, but as a dangerous insatiability for life (“Killing yourself to keep from running out of life”) — turning the conventional addiction narrative on its head. “I’d rather have the strength to see through the lens of reality than rose-colored glasses,” Ray says in reference to the raucous, rollicking “Happy in the Sorrow Key.” “Musically, I was inspired by the feel of Paul Weller and The Jam, but then I also wanted this big orchestral bridge to mirror the feeling of lying in my bunk at night on the tour bus and drifting off to sleep — scared but in awe of the process of life.” The dissonance between the plaintive lyrics and the quick-tempoed, lush instrumentalism nails the ambiguity of the emotion, while also managing to create a rock song that is both fun and dirty. A majority of the songs in this collection explore a time and place endemic to the narrator’s sense of self. “Texas Was Clean” is a plucky, whispery elegy to lands loved and left behind. “It became about how a place gets reinvented and defined by your experiences over time,” says Ray. “When I was young, Texas seemed so far away and remote, but now it feels like it is part of me — for the lives it’s claimed and for the life it’s given to me.” “Elizabeth,” the album’s joyful opener, takes place in New Orleans, “with its ghosts and underbelly,” explains Saliers. “It’s the story of kinship and music and whiskey, L’il Queenie and the Big Easy whose bloody print is indelible. It’s denying Facebook and simply allowing someone from your past to remain in all her splendid glory.” In fact, much of this album seems to argue against our culture’s obsession with immediate gratification, both a musical and lyrical affinity for the journey and not the journey’s memento. Venturing further north, “Alberta” is about the indelible impressions of a place and its history, those that we keep close and those that we leave behind. “Olympia Inn” pays homage to a bus driver named Johnny who called everyone “darling” and shared his lost loves, triumphs, and failures late at night as the band toured the UK and Ireland. It’s a wild, rocking ride of a song. “It’s meant to be romp with some swagger and self-deprecation thrown in for good measure,” says Ray. “Emily experimented with different guitar sounds and vocal approaches to bring her parts to life, and then Jordan [producer and contributing musician] put the organ down at the end and used The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion as an inspiration.” Like a good book, One Lost Day builds to the climactic “The Rise of The Black Messiah” about two-thirds of the way through the album, imbuing the whole with a structural integrity inherent to the best storytelling. This hard-hitting rock song is chilling, a battle-cry for victims of institutional racism. “My friend I heard you tell of slavery’s end but have you heard of mass incarceration/That ol’ Jim Crow he just keeps getting born with a new hanging rope for the black man’s scourge,” bellows Ray. The song was inspired by a letter Ray received about seven years ago from Herman Wallace, one of the so-called “Angola 3″: a trio of young black men framed for the murder of a prison guard as punishment for speaking out about the horrifying conditions in the Angola prison in Louisiana. Wallace spent decades in solitary confinement before finally receiving “compassionate release” just days before his death from cancer. In his letter, he asked Ray to share his story, and “The Rise of The Black Messiah” is Ray’s anthemic response; a slowbuilding, thunderous rock song anchored by Brady Blade’s spirited, soulful drums. On One Lost Day, the Girl’s signature harmonies are in full display: rolling, recursive, hot and capacious as prayer. Through dynamic soundscapes created in tandem with producer Jordan Brooke Hamlin, the album reveals structural innovations that enhance meaning. A classicallytrained horn player, Hamlin contributed “layered ethereal horn parts and a strong vision and ear,” says Saliers. With Hamlin, the Girls took new risks that paid huge dividends. The collaborative spirit is loud here, utilizing a host of musicians both familiar and new to the duo. One Lost Day was recorded in studios in Nashville, TN and mixed by Brian Joseph at Justin Vernon’s (of Bon Iver) April Base Studios in Fall Creek, WI and at the Parhelion Recording Studios in Atlanta, GA. Amy and Emily brought in Lex Price (k.d. lang, Mindy Smith), Butterfly Boucher (Ingrid Michaelson, Katie Herzig, Mat Kearney), Fred Eltringham (Sheryl Crow, The Wallflowers, Gigolo Aunts) and Chris Donohue (Dave Matthews, Patty Griffin, Lucinda Williams, Robert Plant) to bring a good dose of infectious energy and creativity to the scene. Additionally, musicians Brady Blade and Carol Isaacs — longstanding studio collaborators and live-show band members with the Girls — returned, along with the current Indigo Girls’ touring band. Isaacs contributes haunting piano parts on songs such as “Come a Long Way,” “If I Don’t Leave Here Now,” and “Fishtails,” and sonorous accordion parts to “Spread the Pain Around” and “Findlay, Ohio 1968.” Blade offers his free-wheelin’, Louisiana drumming style to “Fishtails,” “Elizabeth,” “Texas Was Clean,” and the “The Rise of The Black Messiah.” The inputs of many of the contributing musicians are captured in a series of videos by the talented Kathlyn Horan, who filmed the crew during the recording of the album. The videos are available on the Indigo Girls’ website and in them we glimpse the ferocity and attention to detail that has helped the Indigo Girls thrive through the various capitulations of a changing music industry. Starting with 2009’s Poseidon and the Bitter Bug, their eleventh studio album, the Girls formed their own label, IG Recordings, which is now distributed by Vanguard/Concord Music Group. The move aligns with their long held commitment to creative freedom, energy they’ve also devoted to various social and environmental causes. The Indigo Girls have spent thirty-five years performing together, produced fifteen albums (seven gold, four platinum, and one double platinum), earned a Grammy and seven Grammy nominations, and have toured arenas, festivals, and clubs the world over. It is rare to find musicians together so long, rarer still with such profound successes. Their music lives in the hearts of generations of dedicated fans and continues to inspire young musicians. This loyalty is not accidental. Perhaps their relevance over three decades can be credited to the mighty collisions of distinct aesthetics forging new paths over time. The Girls’ refinement — not only of style and skill, but of their own creative processes — allows access to ever new and liminal spaces. A long creative marriage fosters its own scrappy beauty, though, and theirs grows more nuanced, weatherworn, and lovely in each successive album. Saliers and Ray live separate lives, take on independent projects, but share “the same set of values,” says Saliers. “We both embrace the struggle, share the same energy. We are sisters in our embrace of life. Observers.” That sort of artistic kinship is rare and cosmic. Here, then, are the stars of that labor, the next chapter.
Brewery Ommegang - Cooperstown, NY
with very special guest Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
Side Pony, recorded in the winter of 2015, has an exhilarating feel from start to finish. For listeners familiar with Lake Street Dive, it’s a natural evolution of the band’s sound. The arrangements offer a knowing nod to the past while the lyrics tackle the pitfalls of modern romance in a manner that’s often more playful than rueful. And lead singer Rachael Price’s vocals have a teasing swagger to them. Neither her heart nor her hairstyle will be messed with.
A side pony, for Lake Street Dive, is really a metaphor for their philosophy and personality as a band, one that seamlessly incorporates R&B, pop, ’60s era rock, and soul into a unique, dance party ready mix. As bassist Bridget Kearney puts it, “When we were settling on the album title, that one just stuck out to us as embodying the band’s spirit. We’ve always been this somewhat uncategorizable, weird, outlying genre less band. That’s the statement we wanted to make with this record: be yourself.”
The members of Lake Street Dive—named after an avenue of seedy bars in guitarist and trumpeter Michael “McDuck” Olson’s native Minneapolis—met in 2004 as students at Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music. Powerhouse singer Price fronts the quartet while Kearney and drummer Michael Calabrese comprise the rhythm section.
Lake Street Dive’s major label debut, Side Pony, will be released by Nonesuch Records on February 19th, 2016
The Dock - Ithaca, NY
with Anthony D’Amato
"It's been a long night if that's what happened," Valerie June laughs when asked about her seemingly overnight breakout in the UK. By the time she released her debut album, Pushin' Against A Stone, the Tennessee native had already performed on Later... with Jools Holland, sung a stunning duet with Eric Church at the ACM Awards, toured with Jake Bugg, graced spreads in top music and fashion magazines, and earned some of the year's most glowing reviews. But June traveled a long road to the remarkable moment at which she now finds herself. "I feel like my whole life I've always had a stone I've been pushing," she says, explaining the record's title. "Some days it's a good thing to have, like a best friend, and sometimes it's your worst enemy. In the case of this record, I had so many friends helping me move the stone." Those friends include the album's producers, Kevin Augunas (Edward Sharpe, Florence + The Machine), Dan Auerbach, and Peter Sabak, along with an all-star cast of fellow musicians ranging from Booker T. Jones and Jimbo Mathus to some of Hungary's top session players. Recorded at Easy Eye in Nashville, Fairfax Recording in Van Nuys, CA, and Studio H in Budapest, Pushin' Against A Stone is a showcase for June's astonishing and singular sound, a blend of rural roots and country that bridges Alan Lomax's acoustic field recordings with biting, electric indie-blues.
The Dock - Ithaca, NY
Grace Stumberg is a creator of friendly original music that grabs the ears of any listener. Born in Buffalo, NY, Stumberg is inspired by raw simple songwriting that really rocks out, and her music is a genre that can be explained as pop/rock/funky and sometimes folk; never fully understood until experienced. She has learned the ways of the “touring world” by serving as folk legend Joan Baez’s personal assistant since November 2011, and back-up singer since 2012. This experience has led to other opportunities in the music industry, such as singing with the Indigo Girls, and opening up for Josh Ritter. Stumberg has also opened for Baez in Lowell, MA, and performed her own show in Dublin, Ireland during a Baez tour. Stumberg’s voice and songwriting style shows that she has a maturity well beyond her years, which has resulted from her many career and life experiences. Throughout her days touring with Baez, she has gained an insatiable hunger to share her music with others. Stumberg has toured with musicians such as Left On Red and Pete Mroz, singing songs to bring awareness to fair-trade purchases and raising money for local food banks. She has accomplished a lot in her hometown, such as singing Buffalo’s “Good Feet” jingle and opening for bands such as Rusted Root, Hawksley Workman, and Haiku.
The Haunt - Ithaca, NY
Since the band’s beginnings The Mutron Warriors have been dedicated to heavy, raw, adrenaline fuelled funk and sweat dripping soul. Formed in 2006 as a trio the band has steadily expanded its roster and evolving its sound deeply rooted in funk, soul, and afrobeat. Over the past several years The Mutron Warriors has become a staple in regional festivals and clubs, and has built a reputation of being the go to band for those seeking music delivered with the punch and fiery that this band delivers night in and night out. The Mutron Warriors cut its teeth playing it’s own takes on cuts from the likes of The Meters, P-Funk, James Brown, and many more. Originally built around the vocal styles of Ithaca dj Brian Mlodzinski, aka djGourd, the group explored genres and drew inspiration from the road already paved by the rich history of the 60’s and 70’s funk and soul movement. Now, with the soulful and powerful vocals of Stephanie Agurkis, the band has tirelessly crafted its sound to be the live juggernaut that can do it all. Weaving seamlessly between old soul, funk, and afrobeat, creating a dynamic sound and experience that has continuously left audiences wanting more, and coming back time and time again to share in the experience of a Mutron show.
The Dock - Ithaca, NY
Haven’t Got the Blues (Yet)--or HGTB(Y), for short—is the 26th album in the long and illustrious career of Loudon Wainwright III. It follows his acclaimed Older Than My Old Man Now album from 2012—“my death n’ decay opus,” as Wainwright calls it. In HGTB(Y) he broadens his scope with a 14-song, genre-bounding set (“eclectricity,” he calls it) dealing with varied subject matter including depression, drinking, senior citizenship, gun control, heartbreak, pet ownership and New York City’s arcane practice of alternate side-of-the-street parking. Uproariously rocking lead track “Brand New Dance,” which evokes The Big Bopper’s classic “Chantilly Lace,” is “me moaning and groaning about the horror and embarrassment of personal physical diminishment in the wider context of the world in which we live today,” Wainwright states. Continuing this theme, “The Morgue,” which Judd Apatow originally commissioned for Wainwright’s dysfunctional dad character to sing to Adam Sandler in an episode of Undeclared, finds “death and decay meeting shit love,” he says. Likewise, “Harlan County” was written as a theme song for the TV show Justified, and also like “The Morgue,” was rejected. Wainwright’s version on HGTB(Y), however, features the beautiful vocal harmonies of singer-songwriter Aoife O’Donovan. The backup vocals of Wainwright’s daughter Martha, meanwhile, appropriately grace “I Knew Your Mother.” Other cuts of special Wainwright interest include “Man & Dog,” which was motivated by his dog Harry (the inspiration of other Wainwright ditties, including, he says, his yet-to-be-recorded “Puppy Hate”), and “Spaced,” a klezmer/Balkan gypsy-styled look at that alternate street parking theme. He takes a typically topical turn on “God & Nature” (“A bit of Episcopalian gospel composed after watching the 2012 Vice Presidential Debates”) and his new seasonal favorite, “I’ll Be Killing You This Christmas.” Wainwright notes that he toyed with the idea of calling the album Town & Country, then saw the cover photo of the famous forlorn clown Emmet Kelly, after which “Haven’t Got the Blues (Yet)” became the title track. Another standout track, “Depression Blues,” invokes such great blues men as Blind Lemon Jefferson and Sleepy John Estes, not to mention Shakespeare and “old Sigmund.” Producing HGTB(Y) was Wainwright’s long time musical collaborator David Mansfield, who has backed him on numerous previous recordings as instrumentalist/arranger, including the 2010 Grammy Award winning High Wide & Handsome-The Charlie Poole Project. “I got to know L’il Davey about 23 years ago, on a flight back from Vancouver—I think—to New York,” Wainwright recalls. “I’ve worked on and off with him ever since, on TV, in the recording studio, and on the road. He’s been featured as a player and arranger on some of my best records including History, Grown Man, Last Man on Earth, and High Wide & Handsome.” Other top players grace HGTB(Y), and include ace banjoist Tony Trischka, saxophonist Steve Elson, drummer Sammy Merendino, bassist Tim Luntzel, and another longtime musical cohort, Chaim Tannenbaum, on background vocals. Born in Chapel Hill, N.C. in 1946, Loudon Wainwright III came to fame when “Dead Skunk” became a Top 20 hit in 1972. He had studied acting at Carnegie-Mellon University, but dropped out to partake in the “Summer of Love” in San Francisco, and wrote his first song in 1968 (“Edgar,” about a lobsterman in Rhode Island). He was soon signed to Atlantic Records by Nesuhi Ertegun, and was lured by Clive Davis to Columbia Records, which released “Dead Skunk.” His songs have since been recorded by Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Cash, Earl Scruggs, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, his son Rufus Wainwright, and Mose Allison, among others. In 2011, they were commemorated by the comprehensive five-disc retrospective 40 Odd Years. Additionally, Wainwright has co-written with songwriter/producer Joe Henry on the music for Judd Apatow’s hit movie Knocked Up, written music for the British theatrical adaptation of the Carl Hiaasen novel Lucky You, and composed topical songs for NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered and ABC’s Nightline. An accomplished actor, he has appeared in films directed by Martin Scorsese, Hal Ashby, Christopher Guest, Tim Burton, Cameron Crowe and Judd Apatow. Wainwright has also starred on TV in M.A.S.H. and Undeclared, and on Broadway in Pump Boys and Dinettes. Most recently, he appeared in the film Pleased To Meet You (with fellow music legends John Doe, Aimee Mann and Joe Henry), and created a one-man theatrical show, Surviving Twin, which combines his songs and the writings of his late father: Initially developed as part of University of North Carolina's Playmakers series, it focuses on fatherhood—both being a father and having one—and also explores the issues of birth, self-identity, loss, mortality, fashion, and of course, pet ownership. Surviving Twin is currently being performed in limited theatrical engagements.
The Haunt - Ithaca, NY
Big Mean Sound Machine Presents:
The Big Mean I-Town Revue Pt. 2
Big Mean Sound Machine teams up with some of the region’s best vocalists to bring you a night of new and uncharted musical territory. Expect a mix of originals, covers, and debauchery from Ithaca’s biggest and baddest band.
Performances By (In no particular order):
Tenzin Chopak of Rockwood Ferry
Maddy Walsh of The Blind Spots
Elliot Martin of John Brown’s Body and Blackcastle
Matt O’Brien of Thunder Body
Rochelle Mathews of the Crucial Reggae Social Club
Jay Spaker of J-San, John Brown’s Body, Club Rub a Dub
Stephanie Agurkis of Mutron Warriors
Mike Brindisi of The New York Rock
Dan Keller of Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Sqaud
Evan Friedell of JImkata
The Ghost of Electricity
Doors at 9pm
Showtime at 10pm
$10 advance, $12 day of show
The Haunt - Ithaca, NY
with Los Colognes
In the last four years, Houndmouth have learned what it means to be a band. On their second album, Little Neon Limelight, they wear that wisdom like a badge of honor. Less than a half-decade ago in the small Indiana city of New Albany, four pals were crafting tunes on their own, with few ambitions of turning those songs into a spectacle. That all changed when these friends crossed paths, and joined forces. Matt Myers, Shane Cody, Katie Toupin, and Zak Appleby became the drums and keys, guitars and harmonies of Houndmouth, and those personal numbers became the irrepressible core of an outfit turned magnetic. Recorded by Dave Cobb in Nashville, Little Neon Limelight pairs the energy and nerves of raw first takes with the accents and moods of a more contemplative, thoughtful unit. Hearts are broken and friends are exiled, love grows cold and drugs do damage, leaders make mistakes and money turns tricks. On the acoustic “Gasoline,” one of the most poignant moments of Houndmouth’s catalog, Toupin barbs the confessions of a perennial party girl with the specter of mortality. “Maybe I’ll meet my maker on a bedroom floor,” she sings, her voice fighting against its own existential fade as bowed cello traces her words. Haunted by samples of the buoyant opener and single “Sedona” and the noisy filigree of a Moog, the beautifully downcast “For No One” stalks through personal blues with conviction. Its world-weariness has been incubated by the world it surveys.
The Dock - Ithaca, NY
Joan Osborne has rightfully earned a reputation as one of the great voices of her generation — both a commanding, passionate performer and a frank, emotionally evocative songwriter. Osborne is widely known for her beloved hit song,“(What If God Was)One of Us,” as well as her live performances of “What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted” and “Heat Wave” in the GRAMMY Award-winning documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown. A multi-platinum selling recording artist and seven-time GRAMMY Award nominee, the soulful vocalist and noted song interpreter is a highly sought-after collaborator and guest performer who has performed alongside many notable artists, including Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Luciano Pavarotti, Emmylou Harris, Taj Mahal, and Patti Smith to name a few.
The Haunt - Ithaca, NY
The World/Inferno Friendship Society, a gang of dangerous loonies who like to break things, is coming to your town. Bringing their newest album, “This Packed Funeral” released on California based Alternative Tentacles Records in the band's unique punk rock cabaret style, the ten tracks on the LP feature their signature critically acclaimed romantic tangoing/violent break up inducing mayhem while expanding previously unexplored territory combining contrapuntal fugue, the rhythmic percussion of a New Orleans Funeral March and classic the hardcore punk sounds of Code Of Honor, TSOL and The Damned.