Category Archives: Columns

Country Devils: A Modern Day Back-Porch Party

Pilgrim Profiles: Your guide to the freshest faces in grass-roots music

 

By: Tim Newby

Country Devils Press by Nina BrooksBand: The Country Devils (Country Devils – FB Page)

Hometown: Harford County, Maryland

Members:  Michael Beresh (Guitar, Vocals), David Hubbard (Banjo,Vocals), Jason Harkins (Mandolin), Bob Brooks (Bass,Vocals), Jon Harvey (Guitar, Vocals), Adam Miller (Harmonica, Vocals)

Sounds Like: A modern day back-porch party that will make you laugh, cry, and dance your butt off.

For Fans Of:  Todd Snider, Hackensaw Boys, Devil Makes Three, Violent Femmes

Bio:  Formed in 2000, after the demise of Michael Beresh’s previous band the Everything Bagels, when Beresh first met mandolin picker Jason Harkins and the two quickly bonded over their shared musical tastes.  Over the past fifteen years the band has established themselves as a musical institution in Maryland and the surrounding area.  The band is built upon the strength of Beresh’s quirky, imaginative songwriting that showcases a good-time versatility that moves from ranging cow-punk to thoughtful ruminations on life.  In addition to his work with the Country Devils, Beresh is also prolific solo artist releasing a number of albums over the years, including 2015’s Wives Tales.

Albums: The Quick and the Don’t Get Any (2014), True Tall Tales EP (2012), You Don’t Wanna Know Me (2011), 40 Miles Outside the City (2009), Country Devils (2004), A Shotgun Named Lucy (2002),

Key Tracks:

Dopa-Blog: The Road Journal of Dopapod – #6, Jake or Brendan?, cargo-shorts, and “White Room”

As Dopapod hits the road in anticipation of their upcoming album, Never Odd or Even, (due out November 11), they have agreed to be our eyes and ears on the front-line of Rock-n-Roll and report to Honest Tune about what life on the road is really like for a touring band.  The band will periodically be checking in and delivering their thoughts and musings from the road.   This week Rob Compa comes to us after a string of shows opening for Umphrey’s McGee.

 

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Hey everybody! I’m sitting in the van headed home for a night before we meet up for rehearsal, and I thought I’d check in. We just finished up a two night run at one of our favorite venues to play, the Spot Underground in Providence RI, and I realized that the route back to where we were going to rehearse goes right by the exit for my apartment. I’m super excited to get a night home with my lady, my cat, and my dog before we meet up to get some tricks and treats together for our Halloween show next week. Should be a good time. But LOTS of stuff happened this week, so let me start from the beginning.

 

We arrived at the House of Blues in Cleveland filled with excitement to be opening for Umphrey’s McGee. I’ve been listening to that band for the last ten years of my life, so getting to play some shows with them is a real “pinch me” kind of moment. We arrived just in time to catch Umphrey’s rehearsing some tunes during their sound check. Even watching them sound check is a seriously inspiring experience. It’s cool to see a band that’s been doing it for so long who still works so hard and gives everything they have every night.

 

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The band walked offstage and I immediately threw myself into awkward Rob mode by shaking Brendan Bayliss’ hand and accidentally calling him Jake. Shit. What are you gonna do, huh? Oh well, onward and upward. Regardless of that, all the UM band and crew members made us feel right at home, which was a good feeling.

 

 

Our set was pretty standard procedure, but what can you expect when you’re playing a 45 minute opening set? It was definitely an adjustment for us to give people an idea what we’re all about in such a short time frame. As an improvising band, I think time is a really important factor into making a nice tasty improv casserole, so to speak. It needs time to bake, and then cool off and coagulate. And although 45 minutes is enough time to make some good moments happen, we definitely had to keep a careful eye on the clock and it was a little distracting at times. Even still, I think we got the point across. Mission accomplished, IMO.

 

[Check out the full show from the House of Blues]

 

 

jumanjiThe next day we pulled into Niagara Falls (the U.S. side) to open for Umphrey’s again at the Rapids Theatre. The town itself was pretty desolate. You know in the movie Jumanji (RIP Robin Williams) when he finally gets out of the game and walks around his town and everything’s boarded up and covered in graffiti and the movie theater has been turned into a porno theater? It was kind of like that. Except that this theater wasn’t a porno theater, it was absolutely beautiful and giant inside. It gave us a nice warm and fuzzy feeling to play in such a nice joint. Also, my Mom made the trip from Rochester to see the show, so it was nice to have her see us perform in a nice big place in front of a big fat crowd.

 

The set was pretty much the same vibe as the night before. Pretty standard and short. Knowing that two guitarists who I’ve grown up listening to could potentially be watching somewhere in the room was a little scary, and I think it made me play a little differently. Not to say in a better or worse way, but I think I played a little more showy than usual, and felt a little less focused on melodies or motif-y types of approaches. Whatever the case, though, I think I played some stuff I might not have played under normal circumstances, and in this line of work anything different is good.

 

20141024-_DSC0816The next day we arrived at Stage AE in Pittsburgh to open for Umphrey’s yet again. The AE in the aforementioned venue’s name stands for “American Eagle.” I figured we would all get short haircuts with spiked up bangs and frosted tips like a 90’s middle-schooler, and maybe wear some brand new but somehow pre-tattered and worn in Cargo shorts, but alas it was not to be. Anyhow, the venue was HUGE. I couldn’t even believe it. It may have been the biggest indoor venue we’ve played to date. I felt much more comfortable during our set than I had the previous two nights. I guess I had finally adjusted to playing a shorter set. I think it’s important to be a patient improviser, but it’s super important to know how to say what you need to say without unnecessary bullshit if needs be, too; definitely something to keep in mind.

 

[Check out the full show from Stage AE]

 

Check out Honest Tune’s photo gallery of Umphrey’s McGee’s show at Stage AE

 

 

I was truly excited to play the next two nights at the Spot Underground. We’ve been playing there for years, and its run by some Jack Brucereally great people who always make us feel right at home. And the crowd is always super energetic, without fail. Besides that, I was excited to get back to our normal two set format for a couple nights.

 

For the first night, we decided to pay tribute to Cream’s bassist Jack Bruce who had passed away that morning by covering “White Room.” We all listened to it at sound check and gave it a quick run through. It went over really well, and the rest of the set contained some fun Cream teases in a few jams. We really took our time and had some good moments. And the crowd was just nuts man. People always get rowdy at the Spot. I had a couple drinks in me for the second set, which made me feel a little loopy, but hey man, that’s rock and roll.

 

[Check out night 1 from the Spot]

 

Thanks to the two night run, we got to enjoy the rare and wonderful experience of not having to pack up any of our gear after the set, and not have to set any of it up the next morning. It was bliss man. We pretty much just hung at the hotel all day and then went to the venue and made sure everything still worked. The first set was a little mellow to me, but I dug it because of that. It had a little bit more of a grown up vibe, and it seemed appropriate for a Sunday. The second set, on the other hand, was much more aggressive and adventurous. Really good times. My only issue was that my amplifier was messed up and kind of sounded like crap. Oh well. Sometimes ya gotta roll with what you’ve got.

 

[Check out night 2 from the Spot]

 

Anyhow, that’s it for now. Halloween looms ahead of us like a giant jack o lantern with an evil grin beckoning us, so I should have some good stories the next time I get in touch with whoever is reading this. Til next time!

Dopa-Blog: The Road Journal of Dopapod – #5, “Flying,” Dirty Hotels, and Michigan

As Dopapod hits the road in anticipation of their upcoming album, Never Odd or Even, (due out November 11), they have agreed to be our eyes and ears on the front-line of Rock-n-Roll and report to Honest Tune about what life on the road is really like for a touring band.  The band will periodically be checking in and delivering their thoughts and musings from the road.  This time around Rob Compa comes to us after finishing a run of shows through the Midwest.

 

 

15423570792_6219bf1c92_oAhoy!!! Ahoy… Did you guys know that the term “Ahoy” was the word that Alexander Graham Bell (ya know that old dead dude that invented the telephone) originally wanted use as the universal greeting when someone picked up the phone? Apparently Thomas Edison (that other dead guy) changed it to the hello that we know and love today. I just learned that today. I always thought that was just some shit pirates or sailors said to each other. Whadya know?

 

Alright, on to business.

 

After leaving the beautiful state of Colorado, we headed to Omaha Nebraska for a Tuesday show at The Waiting Room. The show started off fine, but a couple minutes into the second tune Eli and I completely lost power on stage. After years of playing shows, I’ve learned that the worst thing you can do in situation like that is stop having fun. You just have to roll with it and take whatever the rock gods throw your way. That being said, I had a hard time shaking my frustration for the next couple tunes. I finally was brought out of my funk when we brought Matt from Tauk up to play some guitar on one of our newer songs, “Dracula’s Monk.” I had a great time playing music with him, and it was definitely the highlight of my night.


The next day we headed to The Bottleneck in Lawrence, KS. Early in the day, I settled down to restring my guitar and watch the Orioles and Royals ALCS game. I was an Orioles fan when I was a kid, so it would’ve been cool to see them win, but I also enjoy rooting for the underdog, so I was happy to see the Royals win. Very cool. {editor’s note: The Honest Tune editor of this piece is from Baltimore and does not find this very cool.} As for the rest of my day, I can’t really say that anything else too noteworthy happened. The show was a good time, for sure, but after so many shows I can’t necessarily remember details from every single one.

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We arrived in St. Louis on Thursday to discover that 13 bands had had their trailers broken into just that month in that same neighborhood. Yikes! That’s not exactly news we’re happy to get. Anyway, we appreciated the heads up and took some extra precautions. Before show time, I got some chicken and vegetable Tikka Masala that totally blew my mind. Best meal I’ve had this tour. The show went well and I personally felt really good about my playing that night. I felt like I had a lot to say and my hands were letting me say it.

 

15420739531_b171874a07_oBecause of all the theft problems in St. Louis, we drove for a couple hours to get out of town. By the time we got to the hotel, it was somewhere around 5 AM. As Luke (our lighting designer) and I walked into our hotel room to finally get some Z’s, we discovered that our bed had been slept in, and our toilet was filled with old shit and it wouldn’t flush. I personally would’ve preferred a mint on my pillow or something. Well anyways, we quickly got a new room and got what sleep we could manage.

 

We all woke up the next morning needing way, way more sleep than we had actually gotten, which isn’t at all abnormal. We arrived in Chicago the next morning fatigued, but stoked to play one of our favorite cities. The set contained some really great improvising. We even found ourselves playing an impromptu covers of “Flying” by the Beatles and “Brain Stew” by Green Day. Ya gotta love finding yourself in some cover that you’ve never played or talked about before, just via improvisation. We had a great time.

The next day was a little bittersweet for us because our long time manager, Jason Gibbs, flew out that morning to finally get off the road with us and become our, well, just plain manager -that means not touring with us anymore. I’m gonna miss my Pep Pep. He’s a good Pep Pep and I’ll miss sitting on his lap and hearing whimsical bed time stories about settlement, back end deals, and radius clauses. But luckily, our buddy Aaron Hagele took over the duties of road management, and has since then been doing a great job for us. Thanks Aaron!

 

I arrived to the Mousetrap in Indianapolis filled with excitement, not because of the show so much as the anticipation of eating the delicious beef stew that the venue regularly serves. I look forward to it every time we tour in the Midwest. The Mousetrap is a tiny little place, but the crowd there always goes nuts, which we just love. This time was no different. It felt great to play our songs and see people singing the words along with us, and it made our day to start a song and see people in the crowd cheer with glee because they got to hear the one song they were hoping we would play. We even had one dude crowd surfing! Good times.

 

Grand-Rapids-MIAnd finally, we ended our run in Grand Rapids, Michigan, at the Stache. After our sound check, we all headed to the Founders Brewery down the street to grab a bite and try some good beer. Gotta love Michigan’s abundance of beer. The show was a good time, but that old feeling of playing the sixth show in row was definitely apparent to all four of us, so the next two days were spent at our good friends Rick and Pam VandeKerkhoff in Rockford. We make sure to spend a few days with Rick and Pam every time we’re in town. They’re the parents of one of our good friends from Berklee, Kyle, and they’re two of the coolest people on the planet. We’ve spent the last two days filling our bellies with beer, whiskey, chorizo strata, seven layer dip, and meatloaf sandwiches. It just doesn’t get any better.

 

Anyhow, that concludes our journey for now! Tomorrow we’ll embark on three shows with one of our favorite bands, Umphrey’s Mcgee, so I’m sure I’ll have some good road stories for all of you lovely folks. Later!

Super City: A Glorious Assault

Pilgrim Profiles: Your guide to the freshest faces in grass-roots music. 

By: Tim Newby

Super City 2Band: Super City ( Super City – FB Page)

Hometown: Baltimore, MD

Members:  Dan Ryan (vocals & guitar), Greg Wellham (vocals & guitar), Jon Birkholz (keyboards), Brian Brunsman (bass), Mike Gambone (drums)

Sounds Like: A glorious assault of thundering guitar-driven indie-pop full of catchy hooks and sing-able melodies.

For Fans Of:  Wye Oak, Spoon, Surfer Blood, Cloud Nothings

Bio:  Super City formed in 2013 around the song-writing duo of Greg Wellham and Dan Ryan while they were attending Towson University.  The pair had known each other and jammed occasionally since first meeting in high-school, but had never actually been in a band together until forming Super City.  They recruited Jon Birkholz, Brian Brunsman, and former Bridge drummer Mike Gambome to round out the line-up.  Due to the the prolific song-writing of Wellham and Ryan – which benefits from the friendly competitiveness between the two which helps fuel the bands’ fast-growing catalog – Super City released its self-titled EP shortly after forming and is working on their full-length debut which will be released early 2015.

Albums: Super City EP (2014)

Key Tracks:

What They Do Live:


 

 

 

Dopa-Blog: The Road Journal of Dopapod – #4, Breaking Bad, Charlie Parker, Clowns with Scissors

As Dopapod hits the road in anticipation of their upcoming album, Never Odd or Even, (due out November 11), they have agreed to be our eyes and ears on the front-line of Rock-n-Roll and report to Honest Tune about what life on the road is really like for a touring band.  The band will periodically be checking in and delivering their thoughts and musings from the road.  Rob Compa checks in this time from Denver, C0lorado after finishing Season 1 of Breaking Bad.

 

15423916345_19455a4e41_oHey guys! Blog number 4 for your reading pleasure here, straight from the Double Tree Inn in beautiful Denver, CO. Get it while it’s hot. I think I may have made the mistake of waiting a little too long to start a new blog entry, so there may a little too much information to sort out. But I’ll do my best. Get cozy and be ready for a long read!

 

Let’s see. Well according to my previous entry, I left you guys hanging while we were on our way to Columbia, Missouri for our first time. The venue was a fun little bar called Mojo’s, although the stage’s small size presented a bit of a challenge as far as fitting a light rig, all our equipment, and all of Tauk’s equipment. But in four years of touring, we’ve yet to encounter a situation that we couldn’t make work, so I knew we’d figure it out. Also, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love playing small venues. It’s just so easy to hear every little detail, so we can interact with each other way more and be more adventurous in our improvisation. Honestly, it was some of my favorite playing we’ve done so far on this tour. Not only that, but considering it was our first time even playing in the state of Missouri, we had a really great crowd. We definitely appreciated it. When we’re in a market for the first time, we’re happy if 2 people show up as long they have a good time, so we were more than happy with the turnout.

 

Breaking-Bad-Season-51The next day was spent entirely in the van, which was pretty uneventful, with the one exception being that we stumbled upon the most epic DVD store we’ve ever encountered. I opted to get something I’d never seen before, so I bought Stargate and the first season of Breaking Bad. I feel like I might be the only person in the western hemisphere who hasn’t seen Breaking Bad, so I figured it was about time to get educated. Great shit so far, its way better than The Mummy.

After a full twelve hour day of travel, we were all chomping at the bit to get to Hodi’s Half Note in Fort Collins. Before the show started, myself and Tauk’s guitarist, Matt, spent a little time jamming on Charlie Parker’s classic jazz tune “Donna Lee.” If any of you don’t know much about jazz music, “Donna Lee” is sort of the jazz standard equivalent of Van Halen’s “Eruption.” It’s really challenging, but a lot of fun to play, and is sort of an essential tune to have in your back pocket if you want to have some jazz vocabulary in your playing. Anyhow, I’m always eager for a great player to shed with, and Matt is certainly an amazing guitarist. We had a great time trading solos and trying not to mess up the melody and chord changes; definitely a great way to warm up before the show.


The show was easily twice as packed as the last time we were in Fort Collins. Sometimes a packed show results in us playing a little more safely, I think because we’re just more inclined to play a solid, entertaining show. This night, however, was a nice example of us having our cake and eating it, too. The room was packed out, yet we still played as if no one was paying any attention to us and we didn’t have a care or inhibition in the world. I want to feel like that on stage every night; definitely a great time.

 

American Horror StoryThe next day we drove over to Denver to play the first of two nights at Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom as part of Sonic Blossom, which is a sort of indoor festival thrown by the same folks that put on Sonic Bloom every summer. Our set wasn’t until 12:30 A.M., so I passed the time by downloading the season premiere of American Horror Story: Freak Show. If you’re not cool with being scared, don’t watch it. There’s a clown who kills people scissors. Really fucking scary.

 

At the stroke of midnight, it was officially my 28th birthday. Not only that, but it was also the one year anniversary of Scotty’s first show with us. And what better birthday/anniversary present than a sold out crowd of 1200 people waiting to for us to walk on stage! I can’t really put into words how excited I was. The show went great. My personal goal for the evening was to take as many major key melodies as I could think of and play them in minor key jams. It was a fun experiment, and I think I did it with “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” “When You Wish Upon a Star,” and “Happy Birthday.” Lately, I’ve been really into the chords and melody for “When You Wish Upon a Star.” Check out the solo guitar version by one of my favorite guitarists of all time, Jim Campilongo. It’s really beautiful.


It felt grew to wake up on my birthday already in the city I was gonna play in that night. We woke up and got a bite, then headed over the venue to sound check. Once were finished, we headed out to a Thai restaurant to get some grub and some Sake. Afterward we headed over to the Ogden Theatre to catch some of Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. I hope I don’t offend any deadheads here, but I’ve gotta be honest: I don’t know jack shit about the Grateful Dead, but I know I really enjoyed the show. The whole band looked like they were having a great time, and Tom Hamilton, the guitarist, really sounded fantastic. I actually saw Tom with his other band, Brother’s Past, years ago when they were opening for Umphrey’s Mcgee at the Avalon in Boston, and I really dug what he did back then, too.

 

We had to head back to the venue much sooner than I would’ve hoped, but hey man, duty calls. We arrived to behold another sold out crowd, which was obviously not bad news at all. The only down side of a sold out crowd is that walking around the venue is a nightmare. But that’s a small price to pay to play for a packed room.

image002The show started off fine, albeit a little standard at first. Things really picked up once we brought out a good friend of ours, Jaden Carlson, to play guitar with us. Jaden’s an amazing player; incredibly mature phrasing, great tone, awesome chops, all while being a humble, down to earth person… oh, and she’s only thirteen years old. I couldn’t believe the playing that I was hearing coming out of this tiny, unassuming kid. She’s got a bright future ahead of her!

 

The rest of the set really picked up after that. I had a really good time. Afterwards, though, I was so exhausted that I immediately fell asleep on the couch in the green room. You know you’re truly wiped out when you can sleep soundly even with twenty people partying in the same room. I guess I’ve just reached that inevitable point of the tour when my body realizes how much shit its being put through. Oh well. Luckily I’ve got the day off in a nice, cushy hotel room. Maybe I can take a walk and track down season 2 of Breaking Bad. I literally just finished the last episode of season 1 while I was typing this paragraph, and I’m feeling a strange, empty feeling knowing that it’s over. Dammit.

 

Anyhow, It’s been a pleasure rambling about nonsense to all you beautiful people, as always! Stay safe. Over and out.

Dopa-Blog: The Road Journal of Dopapod – #3, Consider the Source, Sharts, and The Mummy.

As Dopapod hits the road in anticipation of their upcoming album, Never Odd or Even, (due out November 11), they have agreed to be our eyes and ears on the front-line of Rock-n-Roll and report to Honest Tune about what life on the road is really like for a touring band.  The band will periodically be checking in and delivering their thoughts and musings from the road.  After a stretch of six shows in six days, guitarist Rob Compa checks in while watching The Mummy (spoiler alert, it’s not as good as he remembered it was).

 

11698433333_a519e77b85_oHey guys! It’s me, Rob, again. I originally envisioned this blog thing being a little more of a collaborative effort wherein each week a different band member would type something up, but I just can’t stay away from all you lovely folks out there on the information super-highway, so I’m being greedy and just taking care of it myself. I don’t know how many of you have ever been on tour, but any task at all is a welcome occurrence when you’re sitting in the van anywhere between 3 to 7 hours each day for months at a time. So here I am again!

 

The last time I spoke of our epic adventure, we were on our way to Morgantown, West Virginia to play at 123 Pleasant Street. Well lemme tell ya, that was a hell of a night. We’ve played in Morgantown a handful of times and have always had a blast, but this marked the first time that we played for a sold out crowd. There’s no better term in this industry than “sold out,” so we were all walking on air.

 

Gabe MarinThe first set was solid and tight, with my personal highlight being when Gabe Marin from Consider the Source came up to play some guitar with us during our song “Bahbi.” We don’t play that tune very often anymore, and the studio version on our album Drawn Onward actually has Gabe on it, so I always enjoy hearing what he adds to the song. That being said, this particular version was easily my favorite one that we’ve played with him so far. All of the CTS guys are just about the coolest dudes you could ever find. You’ll never meet three cooler, more down-to-earth people anywhere. And as a guitar player, I just can’t stress enough how brilliant Gabe is. Honestly, every time I’m on stage with him, I can’t help but appreciate that I’m lucky enough to be playing guitar with someone who does things that I’ve honestly never seen anyone else do on the instrument. He is, for lack of a better word, a total motherfucker.

 

If the first set was solid and tight, then the second one was the exact opposite, but in the best way possible. We threw caution to the wind and played whatever we wanted. We took a lot of chances, some which worked and some of which didn’t, but man did we have fun. And the crowd did, too. We definitely put all of our energy into that second set, which was totally worthwhile, although the load out afterwards was a pretty agonizing endeavor.

Listen to Dopapod’s full show from 123 Pleasant Street here:


Finally, and most notably, the evening ended with easily one of my favorite tour stories of all time. Be warned, however; this tale is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. We all packed up and left for the hotel, with the exception of our monitor guy, Tim Foran, who stuck around to hang out with some friends he had in town. The next morning, he told us a riveting tale. After everyone had left, he had gone to a friend’s apartment next to the venue to hang out with some people. When they arrived, there was a person lying on the couch passed out, as is often the result after a rowdy concert. After a few minutes, this said person awoke to lean over the side of the couch and barf everywhere. That’s not horribly out of the ordinary, except that while in the process of spewing, the person let out a huge, wet fart and pooped their pants…They barfed and pooped their pants simultaneously…You heard me right.

So anyway…

Resonance FestAfter that, we headed to the great state of Ohio to play the Resonance Music Festival . We arrived to discover that it was extremely cold, although how could we be surprised when we’re pulling up to an outdoor music festival in the northern U.S. in October? We’ve dealt with colder, so we were ready. And despite the frigid temperature, we were warmed down to our plums with an abundance of good friends. As had been the case with every show of the tour up to that point, our buddies in Consider the Source were there when we arrived. But we were also greeted by our good friends in The Werks, Papadosio, the Main Squeeze and many more as well. It’s always good to get to a gig and have it be teeming with your best buds.

 

Our set was pretty standard, but definitely a good time. And we were honored to have our friend Dino from the Werks come up to play bass on our song “Black and White” with us. That tune definitely requires a little homework, so we were flattered that he took the time to study it, and he nailed it to the wall. After that, we brought up Gabe and John from CTS to play one more version of “War Pigs” with us before our bands parted ways for the rest of the tour. I’m gonna miss those dudes, but we always cross paths pretty frequently, so I’m sure we’ll see them again soon.

Listen to Dopapod’s full set from the Resonance Music Festival:

 

Sunday took us to the great land of Lincoln: Illinois, at the Canopy Club in Urbana. Now that we had parted ways with Consider the Source, we met up with another terrific band, Tauk . If any of you haven’t heard this band yet, they are absolutely fantastic and worth every ounce of hype about them that you may have come across on the internet.

 

15423570672_ee3b963291_oAfter sound check, I made my way over to the local college’s music building to teach a guitar lesson. I honestly love teaching when I have the time to do it. Before we started touring full-time, I actually made my living teaching in Boston at the School of Rock. It was a great time and although I would much rather play than teach, I miss it and the people I met doing it. My student for the day was a nice dude named Jonah with a really gorgeous Gibson ES-335. Really nice guy and he sounded great. Before we started the lesson he gave me a bit of a warning that he had already studied some of my playing, and had even learned a couple of our tunes. As soon as we started jamming, I could hear what he was talking about. A bunch of the lines he played were definitely similar to ideas that I often have when I’m playing. I’ve read some interviews with guitar players who say they don’t like it when someone copies their playing and feel they’re being ripped off or something. I, however, can honestly say I was moved that someone took the time to learn some of what I do. I know that when I hear one of my favorite players do something that really hits me, I immediately want to sit down and study it, so the fact that I played anything that meant enough to another player to dedicate their time to picking it apart was very, very cool to me. He even learned the fast middle section to “French Bowling” and the intro melody to “Vol. 3 #86,” although I can’t take credit for either of those since both those parts were written by Eli.

 

I headed back to the venue and listened to Tauk’s set for a little while, and man do I dig them every time I hear them play. They are a really cool blend of funk music that’s still forward thinking and unique, and they all play the shit out of their instruments while still leaving space for each other and being great listeners. I’m psyched to be able to listen to such great music before we play for the next few shows.


Our set was pretty fun, although I think we were all a little winded from playing six(?) shows in a row that week. Nevertheless, we persevered and had some good moments in the set. Since I was teaching before the show, Scotty made the set list for the night, which led to some really cool, different things.

 

mummy_ver2

So here were are now, making our way to Columbia, Missouri for the next show. I’m watching The Mummy as I type this, and it’s a way shittier movie than I remember it being. But whatever, I’m just down for anything to pass the time. After Columbia, we’ll be making our way to the great state of Colorado for one show in Fort Collins and two in Denver at Cervantes. Should be a blast. Til next time!

Green Rock River Band: A Rollicking, Rambunctious Ride

Pilgrim Profiles: Your guide to the freshest faces in grass-roots music

 

By: Tim Newby

GRRB

Band: Green Rock River Band (www.greenrockriverband.com)

Hometown: London, UK

Members: Jeremy Sachs (Banjo /Vocals), Matt Markwick (Fiddle), Paul Freeman (Guitar), Mark Duddy (Drums), Adam Bowden Smith (Bass), Rich Stillman (Washboard & French Horn), Sarah Mann (Trombone), Rebecca Freeman (Vocals)

Sounds Like:  A piss-drunk Tom Waits bashing away on a banjo while his mates from New Orleans provide a boozy, horn-laden atmosphere complete with flourishes of jazzy trombones and clacking washboards.

For Fans Of:  Devil Makes Three, Trampled by Turtles, Leftover Salmon

Bio:  Formed in 2008 by Jeremy Sachs, Matt Merwick, and Paul Freeman who had been playing with a variety bands in London.  They slowly filled out their line-up over the years until they settled on the eight-piece version they have today.  They released a pair of well-received EPs 2010’s Soaking to the Bone and 2012’s Good Times, before releasing their full-length debut, Rhinoceros, in May 2014.

Albums:  Rhinoceros (2014), Good Times EP (2012), Soaking to the Bone EP (2010)

 

Key Tracks:

 

What They Do Live: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dopa-Blog: The Road Journal of Dopapod – #2, Friendly Canadians, War Pigs, and BBQ.

As Dopapod hits the road in anticipation of their upcoming album, Never Odd or Even, (due out November 11), they have agreed to be our eyes and ears on the front-line of Rock-n-Roll and report to Honest Tune about what life on the road is really like for a touring band.  The band will periodically be checking in and delivering their thoughts and musings from the road.  Guitarist Rob Compa checks in from Morgantown, WV this week.

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Howdy, everybody!!! I just couldn’t stay away from all you wonderful folks (whoever you are), so I’m hitting you guys with another blog. I also figure that if I wait any longer than three shows to type something, I’ll have too much information to make sense out of and it’ll just be a long, confusing piece of tripe. So this seems like a good way to chew slowly, exercise some portion control, and stay regular…

 

We started our week off in Toronto and Lee’s Palace, and lemme tell you, Canadian folks are the warmest, kindest folks you could ever hope to meet. I knew I wasn’t in Kansas anymore when I accidentally elbowed a cop on the street who, after I apologized, pleasantly said it was no problem. I can’t help but assume that if I did that in New York City, it’d be a different story.

 

The venue was a really cool, old club that seemed like it might’ve been a pretty opulent movie theater decades ago. I love getting to old venues and examining its blemishes. I enjoy making up my own theories about what those blemishes are a result of, even if they’re incorrect. The place was relatively small, but the stage was probably one of the tallest ones I’ve ever come across, which gave us a pretty cool feeling once the show started. It was fun to be an entire person higher than everyone else in the room.

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The show went great, although I can’t really recall any musical highlights, although maybe that’s just because it was all so fun I can’t distinguish any one positive moment from another. At the end of the night a handful of folks stuck around to help us pack up, which we really appreciated. Those Canadians sure know how to be hospitable.

 

 

 

The next day took us to Hamilton, which was only about 40 minutes away from Toronto, which was pretty relieving for us compared to how much driving is involved on the average day. We played at a nice little Irish bar called the Corktown Pub, which was a riot. I think I can speak for everybody else in the band when I say that playing small rooms is immensely fun. The sound is always so tight and dry, which we love because we can hear everything little thing going on onstage, which leads to some really cool interaction. I also dig it because a small room puts us in the mood of not taking ourselves too seriously, which is important to me. If you use that mentality the right way, some really great music can come out of it.

 

rochester     The following day was one that I’d been looking forward to for quite a while, because we were headed to my hometown of Rochester, NY to play at Water Street Music Hall! We hadn’t played the ole’ 585 in almost two years, so I was pretty stoked. We were also excited because this was the first time that we were booked in the big concert hall side of the venue instead of the smaller (but still very cool) club side. It was cool to load into that great big room that I had seen so many amazing bands in as a kid.

 

After sound check, we all took a walk through some extremely suspect neighborhoods and made our way to Dinosaur BBQ to fill our bellies with meat and our souls with greasy, smoky bliss. I got the Cuban sandwich. A wise choice if I do say so myself. I also recommend the catfish strips. Eating there was a cool walk down memory lane, too. I used to beg my Dad to take me to open blues jam over there on Tuesday nights. However, on one of the rare occasions that he did take me over there, I was petrified when I encountered a crack head who said to me “Give me your fucking phone number.” I think I was too scared to go back to that joint for a good two years!

 

The show was, at least in our humble opinions, the best show of the tour so far. We had a blast. I felt really warm and cozy from start to finish; great vibes from the crowd, not an ounce of nervousness. It was awesome. For the first set closer, we brought up Gabe and Jeff from Consider the Source to play a cover of “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath. That was a great excuse for Gabe and I to wield our battle axes together in reverence of rock’s oldest Deity, good ole’ Lucifer. What a guy. We were a little flustered after the fact when we discovered that we had forgotten to put a mic on Gabe’s amp, but every said that he was plenty loud anyhow, so fuck it. The recording might sound a little strange if it every gets released, but what are ya gonna do?


So that brings us to now, three shows deep in a six show run. I guess you could say that this our hump day. We’re making our way to Morgantown, WV to play at 123 Pleasant Street tonight. I, personally, come to Morgantown for the music but I stay for the black bean burritos across the street from the venue! Tonight is the local college’s homecoming, so I for one am hopeful for some drunken college kids doing crazy shit tonight. Should be a rowdy time.

Dopa-Blog: The Road Journal of Dopapod – #1, From New Haven to Toronto with Garbage Plates In-Between

As Dopapod hits the road in anticipation of their upcoming album, Never Odd or Even, (due out November 11), they have agreed to be our eyes and ears on the front-line of Rock-n-Roll and report to Honest Tune about what life on the road is really like for a touring band.  The band will periodically be checking in and delivering their thoughts and musings from the road.  In this installment guitarist Rob Compa explores the highs and lows of shows from New Haven to Toronto and the glory that is a Rochester Garbage Plate. 

 

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Hey there everybody! I’m gonna come right out of the gate here and give all of you a disclaimer: I’m not actually totally sure what a blog is. I get the impression that it’s more or less a public journal entry. But I’m always looking for something to help pass the time in the van, and this ought to pass a whole lot of it. If anyone actually goes out of their way to read it, then good for you. And if not, then at least I killed a little time. I apologize for whatever grammatical errors might be lurking in the following paragraphs, but hey, I’d rather it be honest than be perfect.

 

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So where do I begin??? Well for starters, we’re three shows into fall tour, which started off with a bang right out of the gate. We started out at Toad’s Place in New Haven, Connecticut with our good buddies and one of our favorite bands, Consider the Source. Our good friend Adrian Tramontano from Kung Fu came out and played percussion with us for the whole show. During the encore, Chuck and I both had Adrian play some guitar and bass, which he just slaughtered. What an amazing musician. And I got to play a little bass, which is always a fun time for me. And he really took the music to a new place. Lots of tours start off with one or two “dust of the cobwebs” shows, so when the first show in is as exciting and fun for us as the Toad’s show was, that’s a good sign for how the rest of tour is gonna go.

Higher Ground The next day brought us to Higher Ground in Burlington, Vermont. Burlington is easily one of our favorite cities to play in, and Higher Ground is one of the coolest, most hospitable venues in the country. We were especially psyched because Adrian had such a great time with us that he decided to cancel a couple other gigs and drive out to the next two nights to play with us again. It meant the world to us that such a great dude and amazing musician went out of his way just so he could play some more music with us. The show went great, minus a slightly embarrassing moment during my guitar solo in “Upside of Down” when I broke a string on my guitar. Normally I’d just play through a broken string, but I was using my solid-body PRS, which has a really sensitive whammy bar, so when I broke my string, all the other strings went completely out of tune. But shit happens, and the best you can do is laugh about it.


The next day we played at Putnam Den in Saratoga Springs. My dad and a few family friends made the trip out, which really Putnam Denmade my night. He’s a retired drug counselor, and anyone who’s ever been to a Dopapod show knows that the audience is not without it’s debauchery and other various shenanigans on any given night, so it always gives me a chuckle to see what kinds of characters he runs into when he comes out to a show. Despite that, though, it always feels good to have the guy who bought me my first guitar and showed me the first chords I ever learned in the room cheering us on. And my Dad was especially tickled when a fan asked him to autograph his poster. Rock on, Dad.

 

garbage-plate-300x202After a couple days off, we all met up in my hometown of Rochester, NY and crashed at my parents’ place. We all went out for a few drinks and then got the idea to fill our bellies with a Rochester tradition: garbage plates. For anyone who doesn’t know what that is, lemme give you the lowdown; A Styrofoam takeout box, with one half filled with macaroni salad, and the other filled with home fries (you can also swap either of those out for French fries or baked beans). Then you put either 2 cheeseburgers or 2 hotdogs on top of that, cover it in Chili, ketchup, mustard, and diced onions. Then you eat all of it. Then you go to bed. Then you wake up. And then you feel bad about it. Then you kind of want another one. It’s glorious. Lemme tell ya, if you’re ever in Rochester and want to do something totally irresponsible to your body, get a garbage plate.

 

So that brings us to now. I’m sitting here in the van, chugging some coffee. We’re headed to Toronto today, which should be cool. I haven’t been to Toronto since I was in the 7th grade, when I went there on a field trip to see Phantom of the Opera at Pantages Theatre. Maybe we should tease some tunes from that show… Andrew Lloyd Webber writes some pretty badass shit! We’ll see…

Anyhow, I’m officially out of stuff to talk about out, so until next time! Take it easy, everybody!

Review: 2013 Forecastle Music Festival in Louisville, KY

In the decade since it”s inception, the Forecastle Festival in Louisville, Kentucky has grown from a single small stage in the park into one of the premier music events of the year, with host band the String Cheese Incident joined by rap superstar Big Boi, rock gods The Black Keys, local hero Jim James and so many more. Born from founder J.K. McKnight”s wish to unite live music and the spirit of activism on the community level, this annual get together has found a home on the banks of the Ohio River with a widely varied slate of acts on the four stages from the biggest rock bands in the land to the homegrown sounds of bluegrass and everything in between. Partnering with Ashley Capps, one of the founders of Bonnaroo, the massive concert spectacle against which all other fests are measured, McKnight saw his seeded dream grow beyond his wildest imaginings and truly become a showcase for the city he loves, the causes he believes in and the music that has given his life joy.

Since its humble beginnings Forecastle”s focus has been squarely on giving a voice to roots and national level causes, in an effort to demonstrate what could be accomplished from working together. The music was the bait, but illustrating how easy it is for us all to pitch in and steer our lives away from the environmentally and philosophically self destructive course on which we have blithely followed for far too long. Environmentalism, fairness and a wide range of political causes from both sides of the aisle are given prime space along the main concert area, each booth filled with eager minds sparked by the exposure to new ideas, musical and social. With the largest attendance on record for the 2013 edition of Forecastle, more people than ever had the opportunity to learn about responsibility and the rewards of joining in to make the world a better place, and it”s hard to think of a better reason to gather together.

Friday

The Pimps of Joytime

To draw as wide a variety of souls as possible, nearly every musical taste was catered to over the three days of fun in the cities resurrected downtown and it”s green-space jewel, Waterfront Park. Slinky, percussive funksters Brooklynites The Pimps of Joytime opened the Mast Stage on Friday with a dancey sound that had the five o”clock on a Friday crowd ready to shake off their work week doldrums and boogie down.

On the second stage, DIY legend Bob Mould showed why, from his days of founding punk icons Husker Du to today”s hard charging solo work, he is a force to be reckoned with. Prowling the stage like a caged tiger, barely contained rage at the microphone Mould was constantly exploding into wild guitar bursts as he broke free from any tether and let his soul blare from his instrument.

Old Crow Medicine Show

Local rising stars Houndmouth, from just across the river, showed the songwriting and performing skill that earned them slots on the David Letterman show and top tier playlists across the country. While Moon Taxi showed that there are quality rock bands still forming across the country, Dj acts like Salva and Griz illustrated the power of modern machinery in the hands of minds that can compose and create in and of the moment, making reactionary beats that fed off the crowd.

Old Crow Medicine Show, known for their Americana feel and tight live performances brought the first taste of the Bluegrass state”s signature music, and had the crowd twirling an tapping their toes from front to back of the packed lawn at the main stage. Meanwhile Young The Giant poured every iota of energy the possessed into each and every song they played on the Boom Stage, amping the crowd into a frenzy just in time for the weekend”s host band, The String Cheese Incident.

Hailing from Colorado, the String Cheese Incident is a musical chameleon that perfectly represents the modern festival dynamic with a range of styles and influences that make each song both unique and somehow still of a whole. From wide open ballads, dense jams and even a organic homage to the modern dub/electronica movement, Cheese nimbly darts wherever their combined muses take them. The six members of the band, Billy Nershi on lead guitar, multi-instrumentalist Michael Kang on Mandolin, violin and guitar, Kyle Hollingsworth on piano, keyboards and organ, Keith Moseley on bass and the one-two percussive punch of Jason Hann and Michael Travis.

With each member actively involved in creating distinct music of their own, Cheese has become almost a clearing house for ideas distilled from each player”s personal sensibilities. The range of a modern SCI show features an almost relay race dynamic, with each member stepping up to lead tunes that showcase their personal sensibilities, which the rest of the band doing all they could to make each song as rich and diverse as possible. The final product is a blend of music that has led to the String Cheese Incident”s amazing enduring popularity which led them to being asked to play the role of “Host” over the weekend. Playing an epic closing set on Friday, performing a after show at the storied local venue the Louisville Palace, then bringing forth their bluegrass roots for a special Sunday set, Cheese owned the city and the festival itself over the weekend, and under their stewardship people reveled in a state of musical bliss, the best feeling in the world.

Saturday

The 23 String Band

With one of the strongest public radio platforms in the nation, Louisville is blessed to have three stations of music and information operating around the clock, with the wide ranging WFPK leading the way. Home to dozens of programs that showcase everything from blues to punk, as well as free ranging hours left up to their DJs, WFPK regularly hosts one of the stages, giving up and coming artists a chance to show the crowd what they do and how well they do it. Local bluegrass act The 23 String Band drew an impressive crowd to Saturday”s Port stage, some their faithful fans and some just eager to see what the buzz was about. Freakwater and the always artsy Rubblebucket added to their loyal following with fresh converts, all thanks to a station that works around the clock to keep the spirit of music alive in a time of commercialization and homogenization, a truly noble endeavor for which their listeners and the festival patrons thanked them with cheers and out stretched arms.

Alabama Shakes

All around the rest of the festival, Saturday”s line up featured everything from current music darlings like Dawes and Alabama Shakes, Kurt Vile and the Violators, and The UK”s The Joy Formidable all showed why those worried about the state of modern music should not be too concerned. While prepackaged pop does dominate the charts, original bands are working their way into the hearts and minds of the listening public, enticing them to go beyond the norm and seek out the new and original. And, closing out the Boom stage was a band that somehow, even after almost two decades, remains the newest and most original outfit on any platform…the Flaming Lips.

With a long history of epic shows full of weirdness, any chance to see the Flaming Lips perform is an opportunity to peer into the raw, creative world of the band”s off-putting but heartfelt vibe. Their music is a wild mish-mash of crashing drums, layered synthesizers and effect, sub sonic bass and melodic acoustic guitars. The legends and lore that have sprung up around them and their challenging presentation, including entire shows performed to short wave broadcast”s only listenable on headphone, recording a CD that was sectioned off and could only be heard by listening to four separate sound systems at the same time, precede them and make the anticipation build to a fever pitch for their devoted followers.

The Flaming Lips

Eschewing what has, of late, become their trademarks, such as the dancing girls, confetti and day-glo insanity, the band toned down not only their visuals, but offered a few stripped down versions of their songs as well, notably their most anthemic tune, “Do You Realize.” “Realize” went from a bubbly pop ditty with a deeper meaning to a plaintive begging…urging the crowd to make the most of every moment. Tracks from their new release, The Terror were prominently featured in the set list, and were as well received as classics like “She Don”t Use Jelly.” For the initiated true believers who lined up as soon as the gates opened and held down their spots all day to the interested onlookers who wandered towards the show to see what the hype was all there was a wide variety of reactions, from instant love to disdain. From a darkened, mirror ball and smoke filled stage a sense shredding overload was emitted, and those who observed it were changed for the experience, a result provacateurs like the Flaming Lips couldn”t help but appreciate.

Sunday

Tift Merrit

It would be hard to find two more different opening acts than the home spun rock stylings of songstress Tift Merrit and Nigerian born Goumar Almoctar”s Bombino. Though born worlds apart, both acts shared a spirit and underlying theme of overcoming adversity that linked them philosophically, if not musically. NYC rapper El-P and his partner Killer Mike led the folks at the Ocean stage into a furious state, fists pumping in time to their serious rhymes about the state of the world.

Due to an unfortunate cancellation, the schedule for Sunday was remixed, and a more natural paring of styles resulted with masters of the new breed of modern, rock influenced bluegrass Greensky Bluegrass no opening for festival hosts String Cheese Incident”s much hyped instrumental “Bluegrass Incident” set on the Boom Stage. Greensky has built themselves into one of the most well regarded bluegrass bands in the field through their mastery of their respective instruments, with Anders Beck leading the way on his drop steel guitar, heart felt and emotive songwriting by mandolinist Paul Hoffman and a willingness to explore the darker territories of the musical spectrum.

The Bluegrass Incident

You”d be hard put to find any band willing or capable of following the show put on by Greensky Bluegrass, but, as luck would have it, the guys from String Cheese brought a few friends along to help them in their cause. True pioneer of the seventies wave of mixing modern music with classic bluegrass trapping, Sam Bush joined the Incident, banjo player and all around happiest guy at the festival Andy Thorn from Leftover Salmon, along with multi-year award winning “Mandolinist of the Year” Ronnie McCoury and fiddle virtuoso and Kentucky born and bred Jason Carter. Running through classic from both Cheese”s catalog like “Rivertrance” and the bluegrass songbook, the joy of sharing one of the oldest traditions in music, the picking party, was plain to see and a joy to watch, as well as a testament to the competence and confidence of the band. A fitting tribute to the state and the music it has spawned.

Grace Potter & the Nocturnals

Over on the main stage, we were treated to a burst of old school rock with a heap of sex appeal, with the next two acts. First up was Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, bringing their high energy mix of classic rock stylings and satisfyingly original takes on genre conventions, all while being fronted by one of the most beguiling figures to lead a band since the likes of Tina Turner and Janis Joplin. Grace Potter”s charisma and beauty belie her talent, and her comfort onstage in any situation, be it at her organ, with a guitar in her hand s or simply belting out her songs from some unknowable depths kept all eyes riveted to her, a power she used to playfully toy with the fans with a smile and a wink. Potter was following in the wake of a classic archetype, that of a singer using a mix of raw sex appeal and talent to take over a show that was perfected years ago by the man who followed her on the main stage, rock and roll legend Robert Plant.

Robert Plant

Robert Plant“s career is as storied and well known as any in the modern era of music. From fronting Led Zeppelin to his solo career in the eighties, small scale reunion tours with Zep guitarist Jimmy Page, to recent collaborations with Allison Krauss and his current band, The Strange Sensation Plant has shown a longevity that defies logic. Tales of his partying in the past have moved into folklore territory, while his new clean living lifestyle has shown him to be in a healthier state than men half his age marking him as a man more than capable of delighting crowds beyond simple nostalgia. Though Zep classics were on hand, they blended seamlessly with hits from his solo career, world music infused new material and a playful smile and spirit that echoed his most famous of questions…”Does anyone remember laughter?” Forecastle closed with a short rain delayed set from the Avett Brothers, another of many returning acts like the Black Keys, who in the past were part of the daytime festivities now grown to the point of headliners. McKnight openly remarked that bands enthusiasm for returning to the festival made him positive he was doing something right, and the filled sign up sheets in the variety of activists booths bode well for the next generation and their commitment to taking the reigns in the fight to make the world a better place.

Click the thumbnail(s) to view more photos from the show by Rex Thomson…