A few weeks ago at the Summer Hoot, I finally got to meet up with Jeremy Quentin, the Flint, MI-based folk singer who performs under the banner of Small Houses. I first heard about Quentin a few years ago at the launch of a Kickstarter campaign for a documentary about folk music that didn’t pan out.
Early last year, Quentin released Exactly Where You Wanted to Be (Amazon & Spotify) – an album of songs distinctively set in the Northern Midwest. Since then, he’s jumped around from town to town – even living the last few months in his car in Atlanta. It’s that nomadic Guthrie-like life that has inspired his forthcoming album, Revel, which is due out in early 2015. After an early listen, I’m pretty pumped about this one. For an early taste, check out the two videos below pulled from a recent Chapel Session by the fantastic Fuel/Friends Music Blog. Both tracks are on the album.
Small Houses also performs upstate this week: Rochester on Wednesday and Binghamton on Thursday.
Show calendars are back with a vengeance after a health-reprieve, and here’s a quick unloading of what you need to see this weekend. Because I’d feel pretty guilty to not let you know.
Of note is the gravely Joe Fletcher’s record release show, happening Saturday night at Rockwood Music Hall. Come by and camp out, because there are a bunch of cool things happening between the three stages that night.
Friday, September 5
8:30 p.m. — The Honeycutters at Hill Country BK
Saturday, September 6
7:00 p.m. — The Sea The Sea at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3
10:00 p.m. — Bridget Davis and the Viking Kings at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 1
10:00 p.m. — Frank Fairfield and Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3
11:00 p.m. — Joe Fletcher and the Wrong Reasons Record Release at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 1
Orchestral folk bands, which seemed to start popping up everywhere a few years back, are interesting to me for a bunch of reasons. Partly, I’m just blown away at the fact that bands with tons of members can split a check so many ways and keep going. But also because there’s something about the sheer volume of choral harmonies and the power of so many different instruments playing freely without a conductor that’s just entrancing. It’s candy-store like.
Audiotree, the Chicago-based music company with tastefully curated live performances and recorded sessions, recently released sessions with two of my favorites in this category (if you can really call this a category). Just yesterday they released a session with the twelve-member Portand-based act, Typhoon, which includes a great performance of “Artificial Light” – one of my favorite songs of 2013 off of one of my favorite albums of 2013. Audiotree also recorded a session earlier this summer with San Marcos, TX-based The Oh Hellos, which one ups Typhoon with 13 members. The band’s set at Newport this summer was a top moment for me.
Classic country singer J.P. Harris has a classic country tale. He left his California home on foot before he was even old enough to drive, hitchhiking across the country for four years and settling in the northeast where he worked on a farm. That’s a history that most of the hipster alt-country folks we write about can’t claim (even if they want to hide or forget their suburban silver spoons).
Harris’ life on the road inspired some damn fine songs. On September 23rd, he’ll release on Home Is Where The Hurt Is, his sophomore album which he recorded in Ronnie Millsap’s Nashville studio. Check out two tracks from the album below from the good folks at Live & Breathing.
NYC can catch Harris and his band, The Tough Choices, on Sept 3rd and 4th at Skinny Dennis in Williamsburg.
On Tuesday night, Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Anthony D’Amato, who turned heads back in 2010 for his Princeton dorm-recorded debut, celebrated the release of his New West Records debut, The Shipwreck from The Shore (Amazon & Spotify), with a release party at Manhattan’s Mercury Lounge.
Like countless other folk albums, there’s a breakup that set the tone of The Shipwreck. But the honesty in songs like Ludlow” and “If It Don’t Work Out” set D’Amato apart. The lyrical progression of “If It Don’t Work Out” brings up all kinds of memories for me (for better or for worse) in a way that few songs do. And musically, the song draws you in with its simple acoustic verses in between moving choruses layered with subtle keys and percussion. While I like “Ludlow,” another song on the album, just the same, “If It Don’t Work Out” is my new favorite song (MNFS).
P.S. While folks like the WSJ and NPR are just catching on to this dude, let’s not forget that it was this blog that broke the epic, epic news of D’Amato’s bloody finger at the 2012 Newport Folk Festival where we first met.
Last week, the good folks at The Bluegrass Situation debuted a phenomenal short film that chronicles the Japanese tour by our friends in Mipso. The fifteen-minute film, which was shot, produced and edited by the band’s fellow UNC alum Jon Kasbe, features some stellar cinematography, loads of awkward Asian interactions and some righteous Japanese musicians. But more than anything, it will make you appreciate what damn fine people these guys are.
P.S. This is PG-13. Hide your kids, hide your wife.
Last weekend, I made it upstate for one of three days at the 2nd Annual Summer Hoot – a fun little festival with a big lineup put together by my friends Mike + Ruthy on a gorgeous piece of land near the Ashokan Reservoir (a.k.a. NYC’s tap water). Brilliantly curated with strong old legends like Jay Ungar & Molly Mason and David Broomberg, as well as some diverse modern flavor from folks like Brooklyn rock pianist Marco Benevento, who absolutely blew my mind, Spirit Family Reunion who got folks dancin, Small Houses and Kirstin Andreassen who rocked the Pewter House and much more, the Hoot was appropriately named. Check out a few Instas of the day below.
Between the two main stages, a video session house in the Pewter House, a damn fine food village and zoned camping (rowdy folks and decent folks), this is worth three days y’all. Next year I’m camping.