Calendar of Events
A band should never stop progressing.
Forward motion belies creativity and evolution. A staunch and unwavering commitment to progression is how an unassuming group of five friends can collectively become a GRAMMY® Award-winning force of nature. That’s exactly how it happened for The Infamous Stringdusters. Within thirteen years since their 2005 formation, the band—Travis Book [bass, vocals], Andy Falco [guitar, vocals], Jeremy Garrett [fiddle, vocals], Andy Hall [dobro, vocals], and Chris Pandolfi [banjo, vocals]— have consistently forged ahead, relentlessly exploring the musical possibilities of a “bluegrass ensemble” and breaking down boundaries in the process.
In a genre known for traditionalism, the ‘Dusters have consistently covered new ground, inspired fans, and redefined what a bluegrass band can be. 2018 represented a high watermark for the quintet as they took home a GRAMMY® Award in the category of “Best Bluegrass Album” for their 2017 release Laws of Gravity.
Even with such milestones, the members feel like they’re only getting started.
“I’m most inspired by the evolution of the music,” agrees Book. “The band is reaching new heights with our exploration and jamming. The repertoire is deep, and our crew is so entwined in the music and presentation of the show. It’s all come together in the last year or so.”
Hall adds, “Releasing three recorded projects this year has been artistically exciting. Mostly, the band has taken a huge leap forward in our live show with our improvisation blending from one song into the next. It’s made everything that much more fun.”
The motion includes a prolific output that rivals any act in music. In 2017 alone, they released three projects: Laws of Gravity, Laws of Gravity: Live, and Undercover Vol. 2 through Lumenhouse Recordings. Impressively, the band’s eighth full length record, Laws of Gravity, received a 2018 GRAMMY® Award nomination in the category of “Best Bluegrass Album”, bowed in the Top 10 of the Billboard Heatseekers Chart, and marked their third debut at #1 on the Bluegrass Albums Chart with Undercover Vol. 2 becoming their seventh Top 10 entry. Recognized by some of the top names in the game, they teamed up with Ryan Adams for performances of “Sweet Carolina” on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and at Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and Newport Folk Festival. Phil Lesh also tapped them as his band for Phil and Friends at Lockn alongside members of Phish.
Another tenet of that progression, the second installment of the Undercover series exemplifies the exploration ethos, transforming various recognizable anthems into raw and rootsy gems. “Jessica” by The Allman Brothers Band, rollicks and rolls, “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk maintains its dancefloor energy, and Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” adopts newfound urgency. The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” undergoes a bluegrass makeover with galloping banjo and blistering solos.
Along the way, The Stringdusters have won three International Bluegrass Music Association Awards in 2007 for their debut record, Fork in the Road, in addition to snagging a nomination for “Instrumental Group of the Year” by the International Bluegrass Music Association in 2010. Meanwhile, Things That Fly’s “Magic No. 9” garnered a 2011 GRAMMY® nod in the category of “Best Country Instrumental.”
The Infamous Stringdusters are grateful for the recognition, but they continue to move forward full speed ahead.
“I just hope that our music gives people a chance to feel free; free from the burdens of everyday life that we all have, free to just be themselves and be happy,” Falco leaves off.
“It's an amazing gift to play this music, to share this journey with these guys,” concludes Book. “I wouldn't trade it for anything, there's no other gig I'd rather have, no other place I’d rather be than in the moment making this music. This band, our organization and crew, we’re a family and I think I speak for everyone when I say I hope we can do this for years to come.”
New Zealand roots reggae ambassadors Katchafire have announced a run of club shows around their festival slots on One Love in California and Arizona Roots Festival.
Katchafire’s “Fyah In The Trenches” tour will celebrate the release of a new video/single scheduled to hit YouTube in January.
“Fyah In The Trenches” will be the 5th video/single from Katchafire’s acclaimed 5th studio album (released June 2018).
21 and Over
Doors: 7 pm
$25 in advance / $30 day of show
Get tickets at Immortal Spirits in Medford (when available), and Music Coop in Ashland (when available), or online below
Mostly standing room with limited seating
They’ve become one of Brooklyn’s freshest exports - nine charismatic men and women brightly outfitted to have their colorful nature match their expressive voice.
Blazing out of the North Coast of California with a diverse assemblage of hypnotic rhythms to spark up any dance floor, Object Heavy delivers a uniquely heavy sound that fuses Progressive-Soul, Rock and R&B in a strikingly fresh way.
After spending the past two years touring throughout the pacific northwest, Object Heavy’s contagious sultry funk has garnered a momentum and buzz that shows no sign of letting up. In it’s short time Object Heavy has had the honor of sharing the stage with heavy hitters like George Clinton and P Funk, Cheech & Chong, Orgone, Flobots, Polyrhythmics, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Afrolicious, Delhi 2 Dublin, March 4th Marching Band and even backed up legends like Fred Wesley, Chali 2na, Raashan Ahmad, John Popper, DJ Logic and more.
Tickets: $30 in advance / $35 day of show
21 and over / limited seating (mostly standing room)
Performing to critical acclaim celebrating over 21 years and over 2800 shows, Dark Star Orchestra continues the Grateful Dead concert experience. Their shows are built off the Dead's extensive catalog and the talent of these seven fine musicians. On any given night, the band will perform a show based on a set list from the Grateful Dead's 30 years of extensive touring or use their catalog to program a unique set list for the show. This allows fans both young and old to share in the experience. By recreating set lists from the past, and by developing their own sets of Dead songs, Dark Star Orchestra offers a continually evolving artistic outlet within this musical canon. Honoring both the band and the fans, DarkStar Orchestra's members seek out the unique style and sound of each era while simultaneously offering their own informed improvisations.
Dark Star Orchestra offers much more than the sound of the Grateful Dead, they truly encapsulate the energy and the experience. It's about a sense of familiarity. It's about a feeling that grabs listeners and takes over. It's about that contagious energy...in short, it's about the complete experience and consistent quality show that the fan receives when attending a Dark Star Orchestra show.
Dark Star Orchestra has performed throughout the entire United States, plus Europe & the Caribbean touching down in seven different countries. DSO continues to grow its fan base by playing at larger venues for two and even three night stands as well as performing at major music festivals including Bonnaroo, Milwaukee's SummerFest, The Peach Music Festival, All Good Festival, Gathering of the Vibes, Mountain Jam, and many more.
In addition to appearing at some of the nation’s top festival, Dark Star Orchestra hosts its own annual music festival and campaign gathering, titled the “Dark Star Jubilee”, currently in its sixth year where DSO headline all three nights and are joined by a mix of established and up and coming national touring acts. Beyond the shores of the United States, DSO has taken its internationally-acclaimed Grateful Dead tribute to the beaches of Jamaica in the dead of winter for the past five years, with their event appropriately titled 'Jam in the Sand'. Featuring an ocean-side stage, DSO sets up camp to perform shows for four nights along the tropical sands of an all-inclusive resort, selling out the event each year for hundreds of lucky attendees.
Fans and critics haven't been the only people caught up in the spirit of a Dark Star show. The band has featured guest performances from six original Grateful Dead members Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Donna Jean Godchaux-MacKay, Vince Welnick, Tom Constanten and even toured with longtime Dead soundman, Dan Healy. Other notable guests have included Mike Gordon and Jon Fishman of Phish, Keller Williams, Warren Haynes, Steve Kimock, Peter Rowan, Ramblin Jack Elliot and many more.
"For us it's a chance to recreate some of the magic that was created for us over the years," keyboardist and vocalist Rob Barraco explains. "We offer a sort of a historical perspective at what it might have been like to go to a show in 1985, 1978 or whenever. Even for Deadheads who can say they've been to a hundred shows in the 90s, we offer something they never got to see live."
An Evening with Stephen Marley
With Special guest Mystic Marley
Doors 8:00 pm
$35.00 Advance/ $45.00 day of show
(Children under 10 free when accompanied with an adult)
Tickets will be available at:
Music Coop in Ashland
Immortal Spirits in Medford
Listen Hear Records in Grants Pass
Experience an intimate evening with Stephen Marley - son of Bob Marley - 8 time grammy winner, songwriter, producer.
Stephen will be performing selections from his newly released album One Take: Acoustic Jams,
21 and over. Get Tickets Here
Guys and Dolls...are you ready to celebrate the New Year with the glitz and the glamor of a classy Bootleggers Ball?
This year, we’ve got a special NYE lined up for you!
Three live bands will be playing throughout the night, featuring everything from the greats of early jazz to gypsy swing. It’s true! We’ve got canaries that can sing...and when your getaway sticks can’t bear to dance anymore, join the excitement at the casino floor!
Poker, roulette, or blackjack if that’s your thing. Sure, it’s funny money, but it surely is fun, and there’ll be prizes for the ones with the fat stacks at the end—so bring your A game!
Did we mention we’ve got circus acts with juggling, vaudeville and comedy? AND a countdown culminating in a REAL BALL DROP? Yes, we have our ARMORY WIZARD constructing the glittery, light spectacle as you read this, that will luminesce when the clock strikes midnight and descend in radiance to celebrate the birth of 2019!
THE BATHTUB GIN SERENADERS
Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, Django Reinhardt, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin all the greats of early jazz and blues!
BAND DU PAYS SWING
Band du Pays Swing is a five piece Ashland, Oregon-based swing band featuring playful, danceable renditions of jazz classics from the 1920s through the 1980s set in an East Coast Swing style. We’re fronted by the wonderfully skillful vocalist Kacie Garner, and feature Merrill Smith on bass and vocals, Tony Brussat on guitar and vocals, Stephen Gagné on saxes, clarinet and keyboards, and Jenny Gray on drums.
Gypsy Jazz, Delta Blues, electric blues & beyond.
Circus, juggling, vaudeville and comedy performances in a wild and wonderful wonderland of infinite imagination.This innovative troupe specializes in entertainment without boundaries. Enter a vaudeville vision quest across the time-space continuum where cartoon like “proppets,” take life in an ultraviolet universe of infinite imagination. Featuring a nouveau fusion of LED juggling, poetry, aerialists, burlesque, live music, and high times, the psychedelic stylings of Circus Luminescence is a treat for the eyes, ears, and soul.
The Ashland Christian Fellowship will offer its 36th annual public Christmas feast, which, says Pastor Mark Anderson, is for homeless and needy people, but, in the spirit of Jesus, welcomes all types and creates an atmosphere where all can meet and mingle.
The gala dinner, cooked and served by up to 200 volunteers, will be enjoyed from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 25 (Christmas Day), at the Historic Ashland Armory at Oak and B streets.
It features the usual holiday fare of turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, veggies and, he says, very yummy pies baked in the church’s kitchen at Oak and Hersey streets. Local bakeries are donating bread. Church members will start making the pies on Saturday before Christmas.
“We love this dinner and do it to give back to the community in such a crazy way that it tells them about the love of Jesus, who was born on this day — and that’s the whole message of Christmas,” said Anderson, “that God loves us and gave his only son Jesus, to save us.”
Anderson, who has been pastor of the church for 18 years, said the event “welcomes the homeless, the very wealthy and that’s one of the beauties of it, that Ashland can have a true community dinner with people from all walks of life who actually talk to each other.”
To volunteer to help with the dinner, go to www.acfweb.org or call 541-482-8539.
From an article by John Darling, an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
$32 in advance / $32 at the door
21 and Over
BUY TICKETS EARLY. THIS SHOW WILL SELL OUT!
Alternative, Decades, 80s, Ska, Pop, Reggae, Rock, New Wave
Hometown: Birmingham, United Kingdom
Upfull dance band on a mission to mek ya move ya likkle feet. Dave Wakeling, a rock icon as frontman for brings an amazing all-star backing band to The Armory in Ashland, OR to play three-plus decades of hits from his chart-topping bands, along with some of his latest solo tunes. The Beat were one of the most successful bands of the early '80s, and had hits with "Mirror in the Bathroom," "Save It for Later," "I Confess," "Stand Down Margaret" and their cover of the Smoky Robinson classic "Tears of a Clown." It's sure to be a rock-steady night of hits both old and new with the electrifying King of Ska.
Tickets: $18 advance / $23 day of show
doors @ 7 pm
Available at Immortal Spirits in Medford and Music Coop in Ashland , or
Twiddle, a Vermont based quartet, spins tall tales over an intricate soundscape of hi-def shred. Their fresh multi-genre approach conjures up jazz, classical, and bluegrass, but above all, masterfully blends reggae and funk. Obliterating laws of improvisation, their complex arrangements never fail to leave crowds lusting for more.
Doors open at 7:00PM
Physical Tickets at Magic Man & Music Coop
Local support to be announced.
“You can kill the lights and the amplifiers/But dreams don’t care if you’re tired,” “No Rest”
With his sixth studio album, the aptly named Love Hope Faith, his follow-up to 2014’s Thanks for Listening, Colt Ford continues to live out his boyhood dream – the one where you “wake up on a mission/to buy that beat-up Gibson,” as he sings on “No Rest.” Love Hope Faith is exactly that, a message to to his loyal fan base, and a strike against the divisiveness plaguing our country, celebrating the things that bring us together – friends, family, our faith in a better future.
Featuring such guests as Music City stalwarts Brad Paisley (“Lookin’ for a Hand Out”), Toby Keith (“Time Flies”), Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley and brother Josh (“Young Americans”) and veteran rockers Lit (“I’m Mud”); promising newcomers like Waterloo Revival’s Cody Cooper and George Birge (“Dynamite”), Tyler Farr (“My Truck”), Taylor Ray Holbrook (“Reload”), Javier Colon (“No Rest”) and Granger Smith (“Keepin’ It Real”), Love Hope Faith is the ultimate populist country record, featuring a little something for everyone.
“I’m just trying to bring people together,” says the Georgia native, a one-time golf pro who still frequents the links and the co-founder/owner of his own Average Joes Entertainment. “There’s so much conflict out there, it’s hard to decide who’s right and who’s wrong.”
And while he admits to a populist fan base and down-to-earth, “Keepin’ It Real” attitude, Colt cautions, “I’m not a politician. I’m a musician, a performer. We have to get past our differences and find a common ground.”
And what better way to do that with Colt Ford’s groundbreaking hybrid of country, blues, rock and rap rhythms, who has built up a following that started with mud trucker events and graduated to arena status sharing the stage with the likes of golfing buddy Toby Keith.
From the statement of beliefs in “Reload” (“We can agree to disagree. That doesn’t make you a bad person, I’m just telling you what I think. If you pet that dog, you might get bit”) and the adolescent dreams of “trying to live big in a small town” in “Young Americans,” singing “Free Bird” and “Free Falllin’ to the country/EDM mash-up of “Dirt Road Disco” (“Can there be a more fun song than that?”) and the ode to the joys of running your fingers in the wind of an open car window (“Lookin’ For a Handout”) or “one more shot of Baccardi” in “Time Flies,” Colt Ford breaks boundaries and mends fences along the way.
“I feel more confident than ever as an artist,” says Ford, and while he numbers some of the most important supporters in Music City, his lack of country radio acceptance and award show accolades continues to drive him. “I’ve given it my best shot. Some of that outsider thing is tongue-in-cheek, but some of it is true. I’m unbelievably accepted by artists and songwriters. There’s no one I can’t work with. They know I’m real. I’ve built those relationships over time, and I feel I’ve created a body of work.”
“Love Hope Faith” was created with some of the leading songwriters in music today, Jeff Hyde (“Lookin’ for a Hand Out”) and Jeffrey Steele, Jeremy Popoff, Shane Minor, Vicky McGehee (Bad Day Feat. Rizzi Myers), to Jaren Johnston, Neil Mason and Jesse Frasure (“Dirt Road Disco”) to Walker Hayes and Thomas Archer (“No Rest”), Eric Dodd & Alex Hall (“Dynamite”) and Rodney Clawson, Chris Tompkins, David Lee Murphy (Keepin’ It Real Feat. Granger Smith). Still, it is the sturdy persona of Colt Ford that gives them their consistency.
“There are a lot of different styles on this album, but I think my fans will hear it’s just me,” he says. “As long as I remain true to myself, I can delve into all of them.”
Songs like the rock/hip-hop “Dynamite” reference the Scorpions (“rock like a hurricane”), Marvin Gaye (“let’s get it on”), Michael Jackson (“Billie Jean on the radio”) and Jay Z, while the first single, “4 Lane Gone,” sports a full-blown rock intro before settling into a lament for a lost romance in which the individuals are on their separate paths. “My Truck” is a hilarious “can you top this” playground rank-out session, while the anthemic “I’m Mud” is just that, a self-deprecating, but in-your-face song from the perspective of the dirt below (“I’ve been played on, spit at, kicked until I turned to dust”). “Keepin’ It Real” is just that… Colt on staying the distance, “headlights on the highway/just keep going… Beer is cold and life is good.”
“No Rest” probably sums up Colt’s ambitions on Love Hope Faith, his tribute to being a working musician, what he calls “my version of ‘My Way.’”
“I’m proud of that song,” he says. “I think it’s one of the best I’ve ever done. It’s not just about being a rock star, but accomplishing your dreams, a passion that can’t be stopped. Anyone who has that drive will appreciate it. Everybody’s got fears, but when you hear that song, it’s me.”
“I built walls… and I’ll be here when they’re gone,” he says, taking the role of “I’m Mud,” but you know he might as well be talking about himself.
Love Hope Faith is Colt Ford’s musical message, one so universal it tears down those walls, then invites everyone into the tent.
Available at the Music Coop in Ashland, or Immortal Spirits in Medford, Or online, link below
“One of the best live soul bands I have ever seen!” – Al Bell (Record producer, songwriter, executive, and co-owner of legendary Stax Records)
Monophonics are just hitting their stride as one of the premier soul bands in the country. The Bay Area band delivers cinematic songs with timeless hooks anchored by Kelly Finnigan’s soulful organ and powerhouse vocals. Their sound is inspired equally by classic soul, heavy funk, psychedelic rock, and classic American songwriting.
The band’s main members live just North of San Francisco, CA in Marin county, a place revered among artists, surfers, hippies and musicians; three of them grew up here. The band members simultaneously revere and honor the Bay Area’s colorblind and highly diverse musical tradition that dates back to Haight/Ashbury’s psychedelic revolution and Sly Stone and the Family Stone’s multiracial, funky grab-bag. Soulful vocals, funky drum-breaks, psychedelic guitar licks and fuzz bass intermingle effortlessly across the band’s catalogue, most effortlessly on their newest EP: “Mirrors”.
Mirrors delivers a six-song fix to fiending fans and curious newcomers in advance of a new Monophonics full-length later in 2018. The release is all cover tunes with some well-known songs mixed in with some seriously deep cuts, all band favorites. “Sound of Sinning” (Transistor Sound Records, 2015), the band’s second full-length album since lead singer, producer and keyboard player, Kelly Finningan joined the band. Evolving from their psychedelic soul roots with “In Your Brain,” (Ubiquity, 2012), “Sound of Sinning” displays the bands’ appreciation for classic song craft and Summer of Love pop-soul-psychedelia.
Monophonics’ meticulous, yet raw recordings start just like their raucous and soulful live shows, “in the same room, cutting live as a rhythm section together,” Finnigan explains. Ryan Scott and Mike Rinta’s horn and string arrangements add accents and sonic colors to the tracks, completing the soul symphony. In the tradition of Stax, Muscle Shoals, Daptone and Dunham, Monophonics’ sonic approach is equal parts classic analog gear, (everything’s recorded to an old Tascam eight-track 1/4” tape machine), old-fashioned woodshedding, and Ian McDonald and Kelly Finnigan’s late night overdubs and studio wizardry. “We’re from the same school as the producers from the studios we love. We use the tools that we have to make the best records we can.”
Baked-in to any Monophonics record there’s a vibe, that elusive element that lesser bands can’t fake, as Kelly Finnigan put it: “I think it’s having people who are all on the same page, striving to capture that musical moment and being honest in their playing and being thoughtful and putting their ego to the side to serve the song.” Monophonics is Austin Bohlman (Drums), Ian McDonald (Guitar/Background Vocals), Ryan Scott (Trumpet/Back- ground Vocals/Percussion) & Kelly Finnigan (Keys/Lead Vocals) along with Max Ramey (Bass).
Tiffany Wilson is a true musical artist and songwriter whose voice speaks to something real and soulful. Not content with writing only standard love songs, her latest album "#SeeSharp" also speaks of inner and outer change, politics, and vision of a brighter future.
As a solo artist, Tiffany released her first original project "Music Therapy" in 2009 and her sophomore album “#SEESHARP” in July 2016. With this project, Tiffany's plan is to use her voice, pen and outlook to shed some light and love on what's taking place in our shared world.
The production of her sophomore release is a conscious blend of the sounds of the past and the future. It is a mix of classic live soul & funk music filtered through her contemporary R&B roots and sensibilities. Eschewing the retro soul fad and moving towards a unique combination of past, present, and future-
Ms. Wilson is a true original.
Note: This show is in the LATA Lounge, Upstairs at the Armory (room 302). This is a small, intimate space (49 people), so get your tickets for this up-close show while they last!
Doors: 8 pm
Dan Bern has released some two dozen studio albums, EPs, and live recordings since his first CD on Sony/Work in 1997. Either fronting various bands or as a solo performer, he is convincing, funny and timely, with an unassuming tip of the hat to the spirits of the past greats, all while sounding fresh and original. Dan’s songs pack a punch, and are engaging and often cinematic.
Bern’s singular songwriting has led to work on such projects as the Judd Apatow features Walk Hard—the Dewey Cox Story and Get Him to the Greek. His songs have appeared in countless TV shows and independent films, been covered by The Who’s Roger Daltrey, and lately, comprise all the songs for Amazon Prime’s The Stinky and Dirty Show, a cartoon for youngsters, now in its second season.
In addition to the music, Dan Bern is a prolific painter, with works hanging in The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and The Bobby Feller Museum. He has published several books, the latest being a collection of poems, “encounters,” which recount his real-life encounters with, among others, Wilt Chamberlain, Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Carter and Hunter S. Thompson.
Exciting new projects in the works include new recordings with his much beloved band, “The International Jewish Banking Conspiracy” (IJBC).
Listen to Radio Free Bernsteinn – free from the app store
Ages 16 and over
Doors open at 8:00 p.m.
Limited early bird tickets available!
Physical tickets available at Music Coop in Ashland and Immortal Spirits in Medford
Local support to be announced.
208 Oak St, Ashland, OR 97520
Doors open at 7 p.m.
Local support to be announced.
Tickets: $18 advance, or $23 day of show
Available online (see link below), at the Music Coop in Ashland, or at Immortal Spirits in Medford
The Lacs are an American musical duo that combines southern rock with southern rap, that consists of Clay Sharpe and Brian King.
You and I both know that America has been through a lot these past few years. Clay “Uncle Snap” Sharpe and Brian “Rooster” King know it better than most. But as The Lacs, they’ve had a unique view of where we’ve been, where we’re going — and what parts of our identity haven’t changed at all.
On American Rebelution, their aptly titled sixth album, The Lacs take all that they’ve witnessed, roll it up in a unique sound they call “dirt rock” and lay down the truth as they see it. Yes, these 12 tracks stand on the hip-hop/country/Southern rock bedrock Clay and Brian pioneered along with a handful of other innovators. But that’s just the beginning of this story.
Nearly 20 years ago, these proud sons of Baxley, Georgia, unleashed their first beats and ripped through their first rhymes. Since then they’ve headed down highways far from the hometown dirt roads, watching landscapes roll past on the way to their next shows. Over time their venues got bigger, their audiences more diverse. They still play the mud parks for their longtime fans, but lately they’ve noticed differences in the crowds they’re drawing.
“We’ve really noticed how our crowds are growing. That’s awesome,” Brian rumbles over the phone from their bus, en route to wherever joint he and Clay will be rockin’ in a few hours. “It feels great when people come up and say that because of our music they went to a mud park for the first time. I’m like, ‘Don’t you wish you’d done it years ago?’”
He laughs, a gully-deep chuckle as Clay jumps in. “It’s definitely no disrespect for anybody that don’t live our lifestyle, but this is us and everybody who comes to our shows is just like family. We’ve learned a lot from our fans over the past few years.”
Much of what they’ve learned courses throughout American Rebelution. The soul of The Lacs is right where it’s always been, front and center in their music, infused by pride in their country, love for their family, an inclination toward rowdy celebration and an unexpected tenderness when it comes to the ladies in their lives. What’s different is how they color these qualities, with a wider palette than they’ve ever used before.
“This album was different because we used four different producers for the first time,” Clay explains. “We realized that you can’t just stay with the same sounds forever. You can’t stay one-dimensional. You’ve got to evolve. It’s a fine line to walk while still being true to yourselves.”
They walked that line without a misstep. A stinging electric guitar lick and mellow electric piano on “Redneck As Me,” old-school steel and fiddle on the romantic “One More,” retro organ and front-porch banjo on “I’m Good,” an electronic pulse punctuated by the ominous click of a gun being cocked on the title cut — The Lacs have widened their scopes but stayed focused on what they believe.
“For the most part, we write about home,” Brian says. “That’s why we do our writing back in Georgia. We’ll write about things we’ve seen on the road but even then it’s about how we see them because of who we are and where we’re from.”
Home, on American Rebelution, is where you kick it with your friends, on a mellow afternoon in “Lake Somewhere” or a wild Friday night in “Drink as a Team.” It’s spending time with your family where you grew up, in their “white trash trailer on a dirt road” (“My Kinfolks”). It’s the satisfaction you feel when you can persuade an “uptown girl” to reconsider her ways (“Now I’ve got her listening to Merle and I think she might be changing her mind,” Brian slyly suggests on “Redneck As Me.”) It’s that edgy underside of braggadocio when comparing the size of your truck to someone else’s on the metaphorical “Mine’s Bigger.” Sometimes home is where you’ve passed your limit and drunkenly improvise the latest chapter of The Lacs’ ongoing epic, “Great Moments in Redneck History.”
It’s also a place where you invite your fellow artists to challenge you, inspire you and let them feel the energy bounce back from you in the studio. Cympleman and Hard Target trade verses with Brian on “Happens Every Time” in a volley of sizzling rhymes. Hard Target returns with another fiery guest shot on “Her Way,” a reflection on love lost delivered over a snapping beat and sweetened by rhythmic mandolin. And on “Jack in My Coke” The Lacs welcome two longtime heroes for the first time.
“We’ve been fans of Montgomery Gentry for a long time,” Brian points out. “We first opened up for them five or six years ago before a NASCAR race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. We’ve always wanted to work with them but we didn’t have the perfect song until now.”
“It’s not like we wrote this with them in mind,” Clay adds. “It’s just that when we wrote this, it was like, ‘Man, they would sound great singing on this!’”
Above all else, home is where everything The Lacs do begins and ends. They still live near where they were born; you can sense it in every note the sing and word they say. “You want to make the folks back home proud when they listen to you,” Clay says.
This means not trading in what you know and who you are for something glitzier or trendier. It’s being true to yourself and trusting people will notice. That’s been borne out so far, as The Lacs have already passed half a billion streams on Pandora.
“None of that has come from radio or big publicity campaigns,” Clay insists. “It’s all from our fans telling other people about our music.”
“And those new fans have been coming around,” Brian says. “People are starting to get tired of this so-called pop country. They want something a little more hard-core, something that comes from rock ’n’ roll and the kind of country we had back in the Nineties.”
“There’s always gonna be old-school country fans that ain’t ever gonna accept rap,” Clay notes. “But the people who do give this music a chance, it can touch them in a way they’ve never experienced before.”
Which takes us back to the top: America has been through a lot recently. But all of the changes we’ve weathered have only sent us back toward the things that endure, the beliefs that anchor us and tie us together. The Lacs have always known that. That rings truer than ever throughout this American Rebelution.
Tickets: $25 advance / $30 day of show
Available online (see link below), at the Music Coop in Ashland, at Immortal Spirits in Medford, or at Music Man in Medford
18 and over
Limited seating, mostly standing room
Must bring your valid ID to enter Beer Garden
Mark Farina has solidified himself in the world of Dance Music as a trailblazing DJ, Producer, tastemaker and bona fide House Music icon. After 3 decades crisscrossing the globe, he shows no signs of slowing down remaining innovative, humble, and firmly rooted in the underground.
“I look at my job as a ‘modern day traveling minstrel’ bringing new music to as many places as I can and exposing audiences to obscure records that otherwise might go hidden.”
As an early House Music pioneer in the late 80’s, Farina’s history includes an impressive long standing residency at Smart Bar Chicago and a job at the legendary Gramaphone Records. In the 90s, Mark pushed musical boundaries and blended genres to create “Mushroom Jazz”. Eventually, Mark made San Francisco his home as his signature sound created a strong demand for his DJ sets. The Bay Area proved to be a perfect match for Mark’s musical vision and he released a string of major mix compilations including his Mushroom Jazz series. With a tireless passion for playing extended sets, B2B shows with fellow House Music icons, or playing both of his signature styles on 2 stages on the same night, Farina continues to entertain his incredible fans all over the globe with over 100 shows per year.
Currently, Farina is the head honcho at his record label, Great Lakes Audio Recordings. Next up in 2018 are residencies at House of Yes (NY), Grasshopper Underground (MI), and Site 1A (MKE).
18 and Over
Doors at 8 pm
It’s impossible to describe Beats Antique using just a single genre. One listen to their forthcoming album, Shadowbox (released on their own Beats Antique Records imprint), and their unique hybrid of sound makes perfect sense; their ability to blend so many different kinds of music in to an incredibly vibrant, distinctive and peerless album is what this band has been doing for the past ten years.
Based in Oakland, California, Sidecar Tommy, David Satori and Zoe Jakes make up Beats Antique, who released their 10th album on October 5th 2016 to commemorate their tenth year as a band. They’ve mounted a larger-than-life cross-country tour that will take their vision to theaters across America. “Shadowbox is both the title of our new album, the theme of our tour, and our new store front in Berkeley CA. We decided to bring it all together on this release.“
Mostly recorded at their studio in Oakland (which has been around since the 50s), the Bay Area band also recorded in Russia and Israel. “We were lucky to record in both Moscow and Tel Aviv, because we had shows there and wanted to connect with the local artists. We had amazing sessions in both locations; In Moscow we recorded on the outskirts of the city in a wild Industrial complex. We ended up going through strange corridors into this plush bamboo-floored-Hare-Krishna-owned recording studio with state of the art gear. When we were in Tel Aviv, we gave a call to a local legend Yossi Fine and he helped us get time at Pluto Studios, which is one of the best in the city. We recorded with Talya Solan and her amazing group of musicians. We used elements of the Tel Aviv session to create our track “Bdna Salam,” which is raising money for Syrian refugees.”
Along with Talya other features on Shadowbox include Lafa Taylor, Alam Khan, Tatiana Kalmykova, brasshouse trio Too Many Zooz (who are touring with Beats Antique), Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Dana Elle, Madoline Tasquin and Medium Troy Orchestra. Shadowbox is a retrospective of sorts, with Beats Antique pulling from all of their previous work as almost a homage to the first ten years of their career. “This will be our first full album produced in Beats Antique’s recording studio/dance performance space. We feel like Shadowbox touches on all our styles from down-temp Middle Eastern influences to cinematic orchestral arrangements. The songwriting process is also different for every song. Sometimes David will come in with a melody and Sidecar will add the bass and beats, and vise versa. One thing that always makes the songwriting process unique is that Zoe creates and arranges music based around stories she wants to tell though dance, so sometimes the performance aspect influences the creation of the music.”
In June, the group premiered the first single, “Killer Bee,” featuring Lafa Taylor, on Billboard.com. The track is “about standing up to prejudices. Just because someone calls you a killer bee, doesn’t mean you need to kill. We want people to define themselves and not be defined by what people think they should be.” In addition to being a ‘killer’ track, with a compelling music video directed by Kyrian Bobeerian, Beats Antique donated a percentage of the proceeds from their July 1st show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre to The Honeybee Conservancy, a non-profit dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of bees.
An enthusiastic touring band, a new album also means a new tour, and since Beats Antique is all about the ‘concept,’ Shadowbox (the album and the idea) is another opportunity for them to get the creative juices flowing for the live shows. The band plan to use shadows, light, Indonesian shadow puppetry, custom-created lanterns, dance, story telling, crowd participation and more to make sure this is an unforgettable visual spectacle for their audience.
Shadowbox, an album that is an amalgamation of the history of Beats Antique, merged with a tour that will both tease and excite the senses, shows off what this band does best.
A Fundraiser Concert to Bring the Wold Peace Flame to Ashland
$15 advance /$20 door
Doors 5 pm
- Ashland Culture of Peace Commission: http://www.ashlandcpc.org/
- Info about the World Peace Flame: http://www.ashlandcpc.org/ashland-world-peace-flame-monument
Insane Clown Posse is an American hip hop duo composed of Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope. Founded in Detroit in 1989, Insane Clown Posse performs a style of hardcore hip hop known as horrorcore and is known for its elaborate live performances.
Thursday, August 9th, 2018--Prominent Event Production brings you Immortal Technique and Chino XL, along with local and regional hip hop openers.
Doors 8:30 PM
Bistro food available for purchase, catered by local favorite Plancha.
Immortal Technique (NYC) is a Peruvian-American hip hop recording artist and activist. Most of his lyrics focus on controversial issues in global politics. His lyrics are largely commentary on issues such as politics, socialism, class struggle, poverty, religion, government, imperialism, economics and institutional racism.
Chino XL (NJ), is an American rapper and actor, known for his "technically" accomplished style, consisting of self-consciously over-the-top punchlines, exaggerated egotism, complex rhyme schemes, and use of multiple similes, puns, metaphors, and word play. He has collaborated on various projects with some of the most well known in Hip Hop. Chino is also an avid bodybuilder. Chino started rhyming in 1986, as said in his song "Don't Say A Word". He has released four solo studio albums, in which his most recent Ricanstruction: The Black Rosary - won the 2012 HHUG Album of the Year award.
local/regional openers TBA
All persons subject to search. No weapons. No outside food or beverage. No large bags. No dogs. Visibly intoxicated persons will be refused service. No refunds.
NOTE: This show is in the Lounge upstairs. Limited capacity! So get your tickets while they last.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those who love Diego’s Umbrella and those who don’t know them yet. Celebrated as San Francisco’s ambassadors of Gypsy Rock, these world-renowned entertainers have created an irresistible mélange that is entirely their own.
A Diego’s Umbrella show is a singular, ecstatic experience. One concert is all it takes to becoming a believer. Night after night they effortlessly blend eastern European sounds, marching drums, beautiful harmonies and catchy hooks with a showmanship that has all the fire and unpredictability of youth, marked by a chiseled refinement of years of experience on the road.
The group’s uncanny gift for pleasing crowds, from standard clubs to huge festivals such as High Sierra and Outside Lands, has earned them a zealous and ever-expanding following across the United States and Europe. Continuously touring abroad has always fed their aesthetic, and has resulted in incorporating the scales of klezmer, the strings of flamenco, and the energy of punk rock.
Their new material is some of the most exciting to date, tipping a hat to the raucous Croatian dance parties the band played in their early days. With a quest to fulfill and broadcast the true meaning of Gypsy Rock, Diego’s Umbrella continues to tour the world.
$20 in advance, $25 day of show
21 and Over
Tickets available online (link below), Immortal Spirits in Medford, and at the Music Coop in Ashland.
MarchFourth is a joy-inducing force of entertainment. The colorful explosion of brassy funk, rock, and jazz is all about the groove. This larger-than-life group of musicians and acrobats tours the country year-round, bringing a spirit of celebration wherever they go. MarchFourth is, in a word, FUN!
Fifteen MarchFourth musicians traveled from Portland, Oregon to New Orleans, Louisiana to record their fourth studio album, MAGIC NUMBER, self-released in September 2016. With Producer Ben Ellman (Galactic) and Engineer/Producer Mikael “Count” Eldridge (DJ Shadow, Tycho, Trombone Shorty) at the helm, the album is full of the captivating grooves and brassy swagger you’d expect from MarchFourth, plus a healthy dose of New Orleans magic, with guest appearance by Trombone Shorty, Stanton Moore (drums), and Matt Perrine (sousaphone). The album was fan-funded through Kickstarter.
“Perfectly merging the artistic spirit of Portland with the musical spectacle of New Orleans, MarchFourth put on one of the most complete shows of any band on any stage. From rocking big band jam tunes, choreography and feats of strength that need to be seen to be believed, MarchFourth entertains on every level every second they are on the stage…or off!” ~Live for Live Music
“From the first note to the last, the sound was pumping and the fun never stopped… It’s worth noting that there are serious musicians behind all the fun. It’s obvious these guys (and gals) have had lots of training and formal practice. Talented band geeks turned rebels.” ~USAToday
“Just when you think you’ve heard it all, suddenly a band crosses paths with your ears and changes everything… Full of auditory goodness...” ~NYS Music
“Mighty, Explosive, Carnivalesque Brass Band Funk” ~New York Music Daily
Born in SoCal and raised in the North West, RuKuS aka. Chad Lopez is deeply rooted in the Hip-Hop culture and West Coast lifestyle . After developing a strong passion for music and the art of Hip-Hop at the age of 18, he discovered the way of the turntablist was his calling soon there after.
RuKuS really honed on his craft while making an impact on the underground hip-hop scene in Boise, ID in 2010, sharing stages with acts like Chali 2Na, Mac Lethal, Suppose, Mickey Avalon, Rehab, Turqouise Jeep and also performing with local artists Charles Engles and the family matters, P-Dirt, Oso Negro, Movement Music, Actual Depiction, Evolucid and more....
Currently residing in Medford, OR, he continues to take the stage performing all over the Rogue Valley, while spreading the true art of Hip-Hop and emerging into the EDM cultures of Trap, House, and Future Bass music.
His goal is to keep the art of DJing alive while sharing the experience of what the culture is truly about.
Ticket: $20 / $25
The SugarBeats Live Band takes the cross between funk and bass music to the next level. Complete with an arsenal of live instruments and stacks of subs, the live band blends elements of trap, funk, & soul to create a unique & high energy experience. Showcasing their new record "Stereo Midnight", the live band is set to make moves in 2018 on their debut west coast tour.
BAMBOOZLE has appeared to carry the burning, stinking torch of funk deep into the dark night of your soul. Having given birth to itself in a fit of pain and ecstasy in the year 2016, Bamboozle has quickly rocketed its way to becoming the band you never knew you wanted - but always knew you needed
nown for combining elements of funk, jazz, and blues with live instrumentation and electronic music production, Grid Division has a unique, well developed sound that’s guaranteed to get you out on the floor, movin’ and groovin’ in a whole new way. ince arriving on the scene two short years ago, Grid Division has been making some of the funkiest tunes in the electronic music scene. You're guaranteed to bust some groovy moves and walk away with a few new tricks up your sleeve after getting down with Grid Division.
18 + / Doors at 8 pm
Tickets: $25.00 Advance / $30.00 Day of Show
Special Guest Leon Four Star
Los Angeles, CA- (October 16, 2014)- Grammy Nominated Artist, Afroman is remaking his hit single, “Because I Got High.” The new song will feature a video that will highlight the positive side of marijuana; taking the song from cool party anthem to real-time legalization anthem!!
The focus of the new version is a result of the pairing of Afroman with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and Weedmaps. The updated song will promote the medical and economical benefits of marijuana in order to make educate the public and push for legalization.
Afroman says, "The remake of "Because I Got High" is a collaboration that evolved from passion on all sides. I’m still living in prohibition while my fellow comrades across state lines are living legalized. I had to take a stand."
The successful app, Weedmaps.com also joins as co-sponsor and hopes that the song will help engage and enlighten people about the goals in order to strive for more lenient policies in regard to marijuana in America.
Weedmaps is the most heavily trafficked dispensary locator and digital marijuana resource in the world – essentially, Yelp! for pot. It was founded in 2008, and has become the go-to destination for medical marijuana patients and recreational cannabis smokers to find dispensaries or recreational centers in their area. Weedmaps also offers members the ability to view menus, view weed photography, watch dispensary tours, and interact socially with one another.
Sabrina Fendrick, NORML's Director of Strategic Partnerships says, "NORML is thrilled to be part of this unique cultural collaboration merging art, entertainment, and activism into a single campaign to highlight some of the positive benefits of cannabis, and raise awareness for marijuana law reform."
Justin Hartfield, CEO of Weedmaps says, "Afroman's cult classic "Because I Got High" was nominated for a Grammy and crossed over to have mass appeal and viral spread. Working with NORML and Afroman to update the song, this time showing the positive effects of marijuana, is a great example of how far we've come in the last 10 years to educate and improve things."
The new version of "Because I Got High" is set for release in mid-October on WeedmapsTV. Please check www.ogafroman.com and WeedmapsTV for more information on the exclusive video.
In partnership with Red Light Productions Presents
Doors at 7:00 PM PDT
Tickets: $25 / No Refunds
Country music trailblazer, Granger Smith, is the flagship artist on BBR Music Group’s imprint, Wheelhouse Records. Over the course of his groundbreaking career, Granger Smith has amassed a massive and rabid audience now known as "Yee Yee Nation" built through heavy touring and grassroots fan engagement. He now has a social media following of over 6 million and over a quarter of a BILLION online video views. Smith broke onto the national scene with Remington, an album that garnered him the No. 1 single "Backroad Song" (Billboard Country Airplay, Mediabase and Music Row charts). Smith also received a BMI Country Award for writing, producing, publishing (Climbing Windmills) and performing “Backroad Song.” “Backroad Song” was one of the Top 10 Most Played country singles of 2016 according to Mediabase and has been certified RIAA GOLD. The follow up smash, “If The Boot Fits,” reached the Top 5.
Smith was nominated in the Best New Country Artist category for the 2017 iHeartRadio Awardsand was also included in the 2017 crop of artists honored to perform at the 2017 CRS “New Faces” show.
Smith recently released his new album When The Good Guys Win on October 27, 2017. The lead single “Happens Like That” was the #1 Most Added at Mediabase the week of release and has already entered the Top 20 at country radio.
He just got off the road with Luke Bryan on the "Huntin', Fishin', And Lovin' Every Day Tour" and began his headlining “Don’t Tread on Me Tour” this year to support the new album.
Smith just released his own Podcast titled “Granger Smith Podcast” and it soared to the #1 spot on iTunes the day of release.
Granger’s comical country boy alter-ego, Earl Dibbles Jr., has its own fanatical following and garnered him a weekly segment called “Dip ‘Em and Pick ‘Em” on CBS Sports Network’s “Inside College Football,” in which he has appeared for the past four seasons. Granger has even been recognized by Variety for being the brainchild behind Earl Dibbles Jr. (among other character alter-egos including Donny Cowboy and Live with Lionel) and named one of their annual and lauded “10 Comics to Watch for 2016.”
Smith has been lauded by outlets like People, New York Times, Variety, Forbes, Fox News, Rolling Stone, Billboard, Huffington Post, Taste of Country, Rare Country, CMT, MusicRow,among many others. He has also performed and appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the Today Show and Fox & Friends.
For the past quarter-century, Colorado's Leftover Salmon has established itself as one of the great purveyors of Americana music, digging deep into the well that supplies its influences; rock 'n' roll, folk, bluegrass, Cajun, soul, zydeco, jazz and blues. During their twenty-five plus years as a band they have headlined shows and festivals from coast to coast, released nine albums, and maintained a vibrant, relevant and influential voice in the music world. The evolution of Leftover Salmon's music is influenced by Leftover Salmon co-founders Drew Emmitt (mandolin/vocals) and Vince Herman's (guitar/singer) keen musical instincts, and follows a musical path that adheres to the deep tradition the duo started when they first formed the group along with deceased banjo player Mark Vann. The addition of new band members over the years has nurtured an unmistakable evolution and freshness in Leftover Salmon's sound, and has added an edge to the long-lasting power of the band's music. Fueled by the rhythm section of long time bassist Greg Garrison, drummer Alwyn Robinson, and Salmon's newest member, keyboardist Erik Deustch, the band is currently enjoying a creative renaissance. The front line trio of Emmitt, Herman and prodigious banjo player Andy Thorn are continually challenged and pushed in new directions as the band collectively searches for new spaces and sounds within their extensive catalog of songs.
Keller Williams released his first album in 1994, FREEK, and has since given each of his albums a single syllable title: BUZZ, SPUN, BREATHE, LOOP, LAUGH, HOME, DANCE, STAGE, GRASS, DREAM, TWELVE, LIVE, ODD, THIEF, KIDS, BASS, PICK, FUNK, VAPE, SYNC and RAW, , those who have followed his career will know this. Each title serves as a concise summation of the concept guiding each project. GRASS, for example, is a bluegrass recording cut with the husband-wife duo The Keels. STAGE is a live album and DREAM is the realization of Keller’s wish to collaborate with some of his musical heroes. THIEF is a set of unexpected cover songs, KIDS offers Keller’s first children’s record, PICK presents Keller’s collaboration with royal bluegrass family The Travelin’ McCoury’s, and RAW is a solo acoustic album. Each album showcases Keller’s comprehensive and diverse musical endeavors and functions to provide another piece of the jigsaw puzzle that is Keller Williams. Keller’s collaborative and solo albums reflect his pursuit to create music that sounds like nothing else. Unbeholden to conventionalism, he seamlessly crosses genre boundaries. The end-product is astounding and novel music that encompasses rock, jazz, funk, and bluegrass, and always keeps the audience on their feet.
Since he first appeared on the scene in the early ’90s, Williams has defined the term independent artist. And his recordings tell only half the story. Keller built his reputation initially on his engaging live performances, no two of which are ever alike. For most of his career he has performed solo. His stage shows are rooted around Keller singing his compositions and choice cover songs, while accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. With the use of today’s technology, Keller creates samples on the fly in front of the audience, a technique called live phrase sampling or looping, with nothing pre-recorded, the end result often leans toward a hybrid of alternative folk and groovy electronica. A genre Keller jokingly calls “acoustic dance music” or ADM.”
That approach, Williams explains, was derived from “hours of playing solo with just a guitar and a microphone, and then wanting to go down different avenues musically. I couldn’t afford humans and didn’t want to step into the cheesy world of automated sequencers where you hit a button and the whole band starts to play, then you’ve got to solo along or sing on top of it. I wanted something more organic yet with a dance groove that I could create myself.”
Williams’ solo live shows—and his ability to improvise to his determinedly quirky tunes despite the absence of an actual band—quickly became the stuff of legend, and his audience grew exponentially when word spread about this exciting, unpredictable performer. Once he began releasing recordings, starting with 1994’s FREEK, Williams was embraced by an even wider community of music fans, particularly the jam band crowd. While his live gigs have largely been solo affairs, Williams has nearly always used his albums as a forum for collaborations with fellow musicians. An alliance with The String Cheese Incident on 1999’s BREATHE marked Williams’ first release on the band’s label SCI Fidelity Records, DREAM, Keller’s 2007 release, found him in the company of such iconic musicians as the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir, banjo master Béla Fleck, bass great Victor Wooten, American musician/poet Michael Franti and many others.
“That album took, from start to release time,” says Williams, “about three years. The object was to get people that I admire musically to play my stuff, so when I’m old I can crank this album in my pimped-out golf cart and have something that I’m really proud of. I was going for the historical effect for my own personal listening pleasure.
“Each record,” he continues, “is a little snapshot of history. I like to think of it as a period piece for an artist. Each record is a little bit different but all of them have some kind of common thread, which is my musical ability as far as I can take it. I enjoy making records. In some people’s eyes, they’re a dying breed, but I’m very passionate about it. They document where my head is at that time in my career and where I am in my songwriting.”
Williams’ story begins in Fredericksburg, Virginia, just south of Washington, D.C. There he was exposed to a wide variety of music at an early age, starting with country and bluegrass and working his way up through hip-hop and go-go, a brand of funk particular to that part of the country. Once he began playing guitar, Williams’ sphere expanded to what he calls “the post-pseudo-skateboarder punk-rock rebellious type of thing, Black Flag and Sex Pistols and Ramones, Dead Kennedys, things like that. That slid into the more melodic college rock, like the Cure and the Cult, the Smiths, R.E.M.’s first five or six records.
Then came the Grateful Dead, a seminal influence on Williams’ own music. “I studied and learned their music and went to the shows,” he says, adding that the impact of Jerry Garcia on his attitude toward music remains incalculable. Another major influence was Michael Hedges, the late virtuoso acoustic guitarist. “He was really excelling in a whole different world from what I knew,” says Williams.
After relocating to Colorado, further exposure to bluegrass music and progressive acoustic artists such as Béla Fleck and the Flecktones also had a major impression on Williams. As he began to develop his own distinctive compositional and performing style, Williams incorporated all of the lessons he’d learned from the long list of artists who’d found their way into his world, then filtered their music through his own experiences until something wholly unique emerged. The list of artists whose music he has covered either in concert or on his recordings constitutes a mind-blowing spread: songs originally performed by everyone from Pink Floyd and Ozzy Osbourne to Ani DiFranco and old-school rappers the Sugar Hill Gang!
When he first started out, Williams played in regional bands but also performed as a solo artist, “me sitting on a stool playing covers, like a happy hour situation,” he says. “I’d get dinner and maybe tips. There were bands in high school and in college. But it turned out I could get the same money playing solo that I was getting with the band. Around that time I was also doing temporary jobs and I was making the same amount playing music as I was scraping mortar out of the cracks of cinder block walls for eight hours in the summertime at minimum wage. So it seemed like the obvious choice was to play music. I started to work and over the years I incorporated more technology. The looping thing started to happen and tickets were sold and people came to shows, so there wasn’t any reason to fix something that wasn’t broken.”
What Williams calls “the looping thing” is actually a big part of what has made him such a compelling live performer. “Basically, I have these machines that are essentially delay units,” he explains. “What I do is step on a button and sing or play something. Then I step on the same button in time and it repeats what I just played or sang. Once that initial loop is created, I can layer on a bass line or a drum line and then have this layer that I just created in front of an audience that I could sing over and solo over. Nothing is pre-recorded. Everything is created onstage in front of the audience.”
If it sounds complicated, it is: but the basic thrust is that the technology has allowed Williams to go out on tour week after week, year after year, and play music by himself—without limiting his sound to what we most often associate with the solo singer-songwriter: a guy strumming a guitar and singing. With his arsenal of tech toys, Williams can expand his reach onstage by, in essence, jamming with himself.
As years have gone by and Keller has continued to evolve he has created more and more unique projects and collaborations with fellow musicians. In 2007 Keller formed a band of his own, Keller Williams with Moseley, Droll and Sipe which featured Keller on rhythm guitar and vocals, Jeff Sipe on drums, Keith Moseley on bass and Gibb Droll on lead guitar. After touring throughout 2007 - 2008, they subsequently released a double live record with a companion DVD, in true Keller Williams fashion, it’s called Live.
The summer of 2010 found Keller sharing a bus with two of his biggest heroes, former Grateful Dead drummers Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, as a member of their powerhouse assemblage the Rhythm Devils. “That was a very surreal experience,” Williams says. “We rehearsed for a few days and then we were on a bus with 12 people, two of them being the original drummers from the Grateful Dead.” On that tour, Williams was put in the enviable position of singing many songs from the Grateful Dead catalog for audiences that loved every minute of it. Inspired by this experience and his admiration for The Grateful Dead, Keller added two Grateful Dead projects to his repertoire: Grateful Grass and Grateful Gospel. With an ever revolving cast of Jam, Bluegrass, and Gospel musicians, Grateful Grass and Grateful Gospel have become fan favorites and festival staples. Keller’s Grateful Grass tunes can be heard on two live digital releases, REX and DOS. Keller’s guests on these recordings include: Jeff Austin (Jeff Austin Band), Keith Moseley (String Cheese Incident), Michael Kang (String Cheese Incident), Reed Mathis (Tea Leaf Green), The Keels and many more.Following the Grateful Dead theme, keller also released KEYS, a digital only release on which Keller is at the piano singing a collection of Dead tunes. All three of these releases donate proceeds to the Grateful Dead’s Rex Foundation.
Williams has also toured as part of a string trio with fellow Virginians, singer/guitarist Larry Keel and his wife, singer/bassist Jenny Keel, dubbed Keller and the Keels. You can find them hitting key stops on the bluegrass festival circuit playing songs from their two releases GRASS AND THIEF.
If it seems as if this is a man who never stops, that would be about right. Keller released the amusingly titled THIEF—his all-covers project with the Keels—early in 2010, and KIDS, his sixteenth album, in the fall of that same year. A father of two himself, Williams was, of course, inspired by his own offspring but, he says, some of the songs were written before his children were born. “When Not For Kids Only by Jerry Garcia and David Grisman came out, I knew that there was hope for me with kids music,” he says. “I was really attached to that record.” The songwriting for Kids, Keller says, “was not necessarily singing to the kids. A lot of it was me singing from the perspective of the kids. That was my plan, to get on their wavelength, on their level, and be one of them, so it’s kind of like one of their friends singing to them.”
In 2011, BASS found the multi-instrumentalist only playing bass guitar. BASS was also the first album to be recorded with Keller’s live reggae-funk band Kdubalicious, which in addition to Keller on bass and vocals, features Jay Starling on keyboards and Mark D on drums. On the other end of the spectrum – but just as tasty – is Keller’s 2012 release PICK. This collaboration featuring Keller Williams with The Travelin’ McCourys is a classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts—although the parts are rather massive on their own, to be sure. “Performing with The Travelin’ McCourys is one of my favorite things to do in the world,” Keller explains. “This project has struck a special chord with me [pun intended]. It is very addictive.”
Indeed, Keller always enjoys working with a band. For 2013 he stepped out with a new muse, a 6-piece funk band dubbed More Than a Little. Williams drew from the Richmond, VA R&B/gospel scene including a pair of show stealing female singers. FUNK – a sexy live recording that pays deep homage to the genre’s roots, Keller style – hit the streets in November 2013 and More than a Little made its way around the country becoming a festival staple all their own.
Early 2015 found Keller back in the studio working on his 20th release, VAPE. While mainly a solo endeavor, it does feature a few special guests such as Sampson Grisman, John Kadlecik and a track with the Travelin’ McCourys. In Keller’s own words “Imagine taking these songs and blowing high pressured life through them in a low pressured atmosphere. Out comes highly concentrated music that can be heated up and inhaled through your ears...Vape”.
In 2016, Keller assembled yet another band, Keller Williams’ KWahtro. KWahtro, featuring Gibb Droll, Danton Boller and Rodney Holmes, toured the country throughout the winter and fall of 2016. The first KWahtro album, SYNC will be released in January of 2017. According to Keller, SYNC began as acoustic dance music but with the help of Droll, Boller and Holmes and special guests Mike Dillon and The Accidentals, the album “morphed into a type of acoustic acid jazz that draws on imagery in both the lyrics and the music.”
As if one album release wasn’t enough for 2017, Keller’s first all solo acoustic album, RAW, will also be released in January of 2017. Keller started working on RAW in 2011 but got sidetracked by a number of other projects that began to take form. It was when Keller’s 2017 winter tour, Shut the Folk Up and Listen with Leo Kottke, started to take form, that he jumped back into it and completed the album. For Keller this album and tour represent his roots; all solo acoustic guitar and vocals, no looping, pedals or bands.
Two albums at once, why not! Something different. That, we can assume, is how it will always be with Keller Williams.
Unlike rock 'n' roll, bluegrass music's boundaries are often defined in very narrow terms and that has caused some bands to carefully consider their place within the genre. But, in order to survive, everything must evolve... even bluegrass. Enter the Infamous Stringdusters, the very model of a major modern bluegrass band.
“At a certain point in our career, there was hesitation in calling us a bluegrass band,” guitarist Andy Falco admits. “These days, we’re much more comfortable with that label.” Banjo man Chris Pandolfi echoes the point: “We love bluegrass, but we have been influenced by other genres as much, if not more. When it comes to making music, we always try to be a blank slate and give new songs whatever they need to come to life. We just try to make something good, something that is true to who we are.”
On Laws of Gravity, that's exactly what the Infamous Stringdusters — Andy Hall (dobro), Jeremy Garrett (fiddle), and Travis Book (double bass), in addition to Falco and Pandolfi — have done. Their seventh studio set further proves that the band's collective whole is far greater than the sum of its individual parts, as the song selection and pitch-perfect performances weighs the Stringdusters' appeal to traditional fans against their musical quest to attract new listeners. It's a balance that comes naturally to the band.
Here, trad-leaning tunes like “Freedom,” “A Hard Life Makes a Good Song,” “Maxwell,” and “1901: A Canyon Odyssey” pick hard and soar high, letting trade-off solos and layered vocal harmonies work their magic. As it continues on, Gravity reaches its roots deep and wide, but never sacrifices the wings of the band, as exemplified in tracks like “Back Home” and “This Ol' Building” which pull from the blues and R&B strands of the Stringdusters' musical DNA.
“The specific feelings in those songs lend themselves to a soulful sound,” Hall explains. “The longing of 'Back Home,' the passion of 'This Ol' Building.' Slowing things down a bit, but still having a real edge and passion is the essence of that. And probably a bit of maturity on our part brings out a more authentic soulful sound.”
Indeed, the Stringdusters have worked hard to become the band they are or, perhaps, the band they wanted and knew themselves to be — a self-discovery process to which Laws of Gravity bears witness. “Once you start to move out of that, a lot of good things happen,” Pandolfi says. “You know who you are, and how to do your thing with confidence and experience. This colors the songwriting process as much as anything. We work so hard on the music, but it's not hard work. It's really the payoff, and it comes more naturally with time.”
Letting the past inform and the present propel, the Stringdusters' style and substance are uniquely Infamous. Since 2007, the band's ever-evolving artistry and boldly creative collaborations — including Ryan Adams, Joss Stone, Bruce Hornsby, Joan Osborne, and Lee Ann Womack — have pushed them past the edges of traditional acoustic music and carved out a musical niche all their own in the hearts of fans and critics, alike. Over the past couple of years, they released 2015's Undercover, a covers EP, followed by 2016's Ladies & Gentlemen, an album featuring multiple female guest vocalists. Those projects may have seemed like artistic tangents, but they actually proved to be a pretty direct route from there to Gravity.
“Being singers and songwriters, we were really ready to put some of our own songs out with us singing them,” Falco says. “In the same way solo projects can take you away to be able to come back and feel refreshed, the last two records have done that and we were ready to hit the studio with our songs sung by us.”
“We had much more of a vision for how we wanted this album to come together than we did with past projects,” Pandolfi adds. “We got the music, including all our individual parts, to a place where we knew we could go into the studio and just let it happen live. We are a band. We play live together and, more than any one song or achievement, this is what we do. Now we have an album that captures that.”
Part of Gravity's vision involved not road-testing and adapting the songs before taking them into the studio. That's a new step in the Stringdusters' process which starts with filtering through and whittling down a wealth of material to the best of the batch. “We take those 20 or so songs and take them to the next level as a band,” Pandolfi explains. “So much gets accomplished in this writing/arranging stage. It's where songs become Stringduster songs. In the end, we share the songwriting credit because of all the collective work that goes into this (and every other) aspect of being in a band.”
“We may try the song in a number of different feels before landing on something that works for the sound of the band. If a song is good, it usually comes together fairly quickly,” Halls says, adding, “But we’re writing more diverse stuff these days, so some experimentation is always welcome.”
While the new record boasts a single instrumental track, “Sirens,” where the five fellas really cut loose on their respective strings, the vocals across the other dozen tracks tie this music to the bluegrass tradition in an even more profound way. “Singing is a big part of bluegrass music,” Falco says. “It’s an important part of the sound and I think that part of music gets overlooked a lot. The singing should convey the emotion of the song. That's what we aim to do. One could argue that it's more important than the playing.”
Out beyond Laws of Gravity, the Infamous Stringdusters have an even broader vision. “We just want to keep making original music, keep evolving as people and musicians, and continue to help our amazing community of fans grow and enjoy this experience together,” Pandolfi says. “When we hear from people that our music or the community around our music has helped them find joy in life, it makes everything seem very worthwhile.”
Falco adds, “We love playing together and that’s the reason we’ve been doing it for as long as we have. We want to able to do this until we’re old and grey. That’s really it — making music together and continuing to evolve our brand of bluegrass music.”
Please note that this show is in the LATA Lounge upstairs at the Armory. Capacity is 49 people, so there are limited tickets.
Tickets: $10 in advance / $15 day of show
Doors: 8:30 pm
LOCATION: upstairs in Suite #302 in the Lounge, at the Historic Ashland Armory
Zach Deputy was raised in the South Carolina heat, all cooked up in his Puerto Rican, Cruzan and Irish heritage. The Calypso rhythms and folk songs of St. Croix competed with the R&B / soul of pioneers like James Brown and Ray Charles for space on the family stereo. As Deputy honed his craft, a unique hybrid of these influences emerged, ultimately creating the signature Zach Deputy sound. To bring this sound to the stage, the big, impossibly upbeat South Carolinian with the infectious smile puts on a solo show– enhanced by looping technology– that is essentially a one man dance party offering up what he calls “Island-infused, Drum ‘n’ Bass, Gospel-Ninja-Soul” to the enthusiastic crowds of dancers who flock to clubs from coast-to-coast. Over 1000 shows in the past 4 years have made Zach Deputy one of the most in-demand performers on the grassroots festival circuit and a big hit on the national club circuit.