Archive for the ‘Garret K. Woodward’ Category

Garret’s Winter Survival Pack

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Winter Survival Package – Pearl Jam, Cake, Gregg Allman, etc.

Contributing Writer – Garret K. Woodward

There is only one way to kill cabin fever and that’s with good music. Though the unrelenting snowfall and harsh winds of winter have left some of us frustrated and many of us ready for sunnier days, below are a handful of releases chronicling the finest recordings of the last few months.

Pearl Jam – Live On Ten Legs

Once again Pearl Jam proves why they are the only relevant reminder of the grunge era. Yet, it seems almost an insult anymore to clump the Seattle rockers with the rest of the bottom-of-the-barrel forgotten faces and overplayed melodies of a time yellowing within the pages of history.

Live On Ten Legs provides the perfect sequel to Live On Two Legs (1998) and puts the band where it belongs, which is in the upper echelon of rock royalty. Where the rest of their peers faltered, entered rehab, or met horrific demises, PJ pushed forward by isolating themselves from the madness, ultimately finding their niche of unparalleled creativity and a formula for evolution we constantly marvel at with each subsequent release.

Key Tracks: “Just Breathe” / “Alive” / “In Hiding” / “The Fixer”

Cake – Showroom of Compassion

Just when you think they’re ready for the “Where Are They Now?” label, rock misfits Cake crack the whip and unleash another batch of radio-friendly jingles dealing with the usual societal shenanigans- mustaches, teen pregnancy, government control, and the eternal struggle between males and females.

One wonders how the group is able to truly keep a unique sound without ever once coming across like a cookie cutter ensemble. It is a true testament to the Sacramento alternative darlings that their intent, approach, and final product in the studio are routinely executed to perfection.

Key Tracks: “Sick of You” / “Federal Funding” / “Mustache Man (Wasted)”

Gregg Allman – Low Country Blues

With a never-ending tour schedule and constant health issues nagging him, it is an inspiration Gregg Allman even finds time for himself, let alone the unveiling of his latest recordings.

In his recent endeavors, he taps legendary producer T Bone Burnett for his first solo outing in almost 14 years. The entire album, except for the Allman/Warren Haynes melody “Just Another Rider”, is an array of Delta blues covers, ranging from Muddy Waters to Sleepy John Estes, Skip James to B.B. King.

Each piano stroke and vein-busting howl exposes and ultimately silences any personal demons. Allman seems like a man at the end of a long, arduous journey, one that has put wrinkles on his face and left him aged and weary. But, if anything, Low Country Blues shows he is ready another go-around because only the weak lie down and fade away.

Key Tracks: “Devil Got My Woman” / “Just Another Rider” / “Floating Bridge”

Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band – Legacy

Like whiskey and Demi Moore, the Bostonian bluegrass boy only gets better with age. On Legacy, Rowan calls upon a Rolodex of old friends, which includes Del McCoury, Ricky Skaggs, Gillian Welch, David Rawlings, and Tim O’Brien.

Within these collaborations bubbles up the beauty of bluegrass, a beauty that resides in the friendship, solace, and ultimate fruits that emerge when pure intent and natural talent combine forces into a genius work of art, something Rowan knows all too well.

Key Tracks: “Jailer Jailer” / “The Family Demon” / “So Good”

Railroad Earth – Railroad Earth

Harnessing the finest elements of bluegrass, folk, and rock, the band seamlessly weaves them together into an Americana gumbo hearty enough for even the most hungry of music enthusiasts. One begins to piece together the shared notion that Railroad Earth is crisscrossing the country with such vigor, talent, and harmony, could they be the current torchbearers of a legacy founded by the Grateful Dead?

Key Tracks: “Jupiter and the 119” / “Spring-Heeled Jack”

Top Albums of 2010

1. Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs – God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise

2. Drive-By Truckers – The Big To-Do

3. John Mellencamp – No Better Than This

4. The Black Crowes – Croweology

5. Blues and Lasers – After All We’re Only Human

6. Sam Amidon – I See The Sign

7. Dead Confederate – Sugar

8. White Pines – The Falls

9. 7 Walkers – 7 Walkers

10. Cotton Jones – Tall Hours in the Glowstream

Long Way To Climb | Interview with The Bridge

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Long Way To Climb – The Bridge

Contributing Writer – Garret K. Woodward

Few and far between one crosses paths with an album that immediately provokes an honest reflection and blissful sentiment.

These are records the listener cannot run fast enough to share with the nearest human being, manically shouting and waving their hands into a frenzy, begging the anonymous stranger to take a glimpse at what splendor their ears can become easily acquainted with.

It is these exact symptoms that occur while perusing National Bohemian, the latest from The Bridge- a rock n’ roll entity quickly becoming a sought-after institution.

Molding southern rock, honky-tonk blues, freewheelin’ jazz, and moonshine bluegrass into a fortress of melodic potency, the sextet only seems to get stronger with each trip into the studio and subsequent trek across the country.

While Cris Jacobs (guitar) and Dave Markowitz (bass) split vocal duties throughout, it is also the solid foundation of Kenny Liner (mandolin/beatbox), Patrick Rainey (saxophone), Mike Gambone (drums), and Mark Brown (keyboard) that justifies the stop-you-in-your-tracks presence of a band thirsty for the industry respect they rightfully will garner as this year unfolds.

Garret K. Woodward: What is The Bridge?

Cris Jacobs: The Bridge is a little band from Baltimore, Maryland.

GKW: How would you describe the sound? Who are the influences?

CJ: I’d say rock and roll with a heavy dose of soul and Americana music. Kenny and I originally found our common musical ground with American roots music, bluegrass and folk stuff like Bill Monroe, Doc Watson, Norman Blake, and Hank Williams. We also share a love for classic rock bands like the Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers Band, and Little Feat. Personally, I love soul music and blues, people like Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Bobby Bland, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Freddie King. But when we put it all together, we just like to write soulful songs and rock out.

GKW: What was the approach towards this record, compared to your last release?

CJ: The main approach we took was to record the band playing live as much as possible. In the past we’ve basically worked without time constraints and produced ourselves. We used to think that recording piecemeal style, one guy at a time, was the best way to capture performances because we had complete control and analysis. On the contrary, it actually just led to us overanalyzing and scrutinizing and not considering the synergy of the band as being the most crucial element.

This time around, we had only 10 days to record the whole album, which actually helped, because there was a sense of urgency throughout the process that really elevated everyone and brought out some intense and soulful energy in the performances. We didn’t have time to be perfectionists. Instead, we just had to dig in and take care of business and I believe the end result is much more real and natural sounding. It sounds like a band playing together rather than a bunch of pieces carefully placed together.

This record was also the first time we brought in an outside producer. We worked with Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) and really followed his vision for the entire process. Kenny and I sent him a bunch of rough demos of new material we were working on, of which he chose the songs he wanted to include on the record. After that, we had several rounds of discussions with Steve on arrangements and what needed to be developed more. He really challenged us in that way. We had never really had anyone critique or change our songs before. Certain ideas seemed strange or uncomfortable at first even, but in the end all made sense and really brought out the best in the songs. So, from the time we started putting the first ideas together, through the entire recording process, this was a completely different experience for us.

GKW: Who else worked on the project with you? Where was it recorded?

CJ: Pre-production was done at The Bunker Studio in Cockeysville, Maryland with our longtime friend and original sax player Chris Bentley, who has engineered and played on our last three records. We recorded the actual record at Jackpot! Studios in Portland, Oregon with Jeff Stuart Saltzman engineering. Jeff is one of the most talented people I have ever worked with. He has amazing recording know-how that really captured some amazingly different tones than we’ve ever had on record before. Our good friends Vorcan, who are two extremely talented painters that specialize in live music painting, did artwork for the record. They’ve joined us on tour many times, where they start a blank canvas at the beginning of our show and collaboratively finish a painting by the end.

GKW: What is your process when recording? Melody first, then lyrics?

CJ: I often come up with the melody first and then fit the lyrics in. I go for sounds first and foremost. Ideally, the song lyrics will write themselves within the sounds of the vowels and consonants that I hear in my head. Usually I’ll try to know the story or context before writing the lyrics, but sometimes I’ll just work the sounds into words and something will pop through that gives me a good idea for lyrical content.

GKW: How did the band come about? When? Where? Why?

CJ: The band came about very casually. About 10 years ago, I ran into my old buddy Kenny at the grocery store he was working at. We got to talking about what we’d been up to since we last saw each other in high school. He told me he started playing mandolin. I mentioned that I had been playing a lot and had been heavy into bluegrass and knew about a house concert going on that night with guitarist David Grier and mandolinist Matt Flinner. We went to the show together and had our minds blown, then went back to his place and hung out, picking for a few hours. I’m pretty sure neither of us thought we were on the verge of starting a band.

We started getting together casually for a few months and just playing for fun, eventually getting enough tunes between us to hit an “open mic” night. Then, one night, we invited a few buddies who played bass and drums over to the backyard, had a huge crab feast, put our acoustics down, and plugged in some electric instruments, recording an hour or two of impromptu jamming. Somehow it got into several people’s hands and next thing I knew people were telling me they “loved my band”. Soon, we got a gig and a bunch of people came out. Next thing we knew we had a band. At that point Kenny and I realized we had some special chemistry going on. We were having a blast, so we ran with it.

GKW: What are you thoughts on the current music industry? How do you want to be different, or contribute to the evolution?

CJ: I feel like technology and over saturation have had positive and negative effects. Anyone can record on their computer these days and easily distribute it on the Internet, which is positive in that it’s taking the control out of the hands of the big record labels that have ripped artists off for so long. And it’s really creating a buyer’s market because of the abundance of options and resources available to seek out music. The problem the artists face now though is how to actually make money off of their work. People have so many options readily available to them now, and can basically get music for free. So, concert tickets have always been seen as the saving grace for bands to make their money, but concert sales are way down as well. I attribute that to the economy and a change in culture. Concerts are thrown in with a slew of other options now for entertainment, whereas when I was a teenager it was the thing to do.

With all of the options and stimuli out there, attention spans are decreasing. The days of sitting down and putting on an album and listening to the whole thing all the way through, I fear, is over for the next generation. It’s all about iPods and shuffling songs and finding that next stimulus to entertain our instant gratification hungry minds. Engaging people enough to get a fair listen is becoming increasingly difficult. I think artists are going to have to get creative to get people’s attention.

At the end of the day though, music still should stand on its own merit and I do believe it will. The challenge is getting people to listen to it amongst all of the chaos. So, we’ll have to keep an awareness of that and really try to come up with creative ways to market our music. Models change faster than ever these days. I think the goal should be to stay ahead of the curve as best we can and hopefully create something that others can look to as an example. I wish I could say I already had the answer. For now, I’ll just try to keep writing good songs and playing a decent guitar.

GKW: How receptive have audiences been to your creation onstage?

CJ: They have been very receptive, especially in our hometown of Baltimore. We’ve been a band for over nine years and the music has evolved tremendously in that time. We sound completely different now than when we started, but still have many of the same fans. They’ve enjoyed the journey and evolution with us and have encouraged us along the way to change it up and keep pushing forward. It’s really the fuel for our fire to go out there and pour our souls out and be received so warmly. It’s what we do it for.

GKW: What do you want the listener to ultimately witness or walk away with when they see you perform?

CJ: Ultimately, I want them to have a good time and feel cleansed or lighter in some way. I’d like them to see us having fun and putting our all into the music. To watch someone put themselves out there like that, whether it be in music or sports or any other kind of art, is inspiring. I’m not up there to tell people what to think or to say, “hey, look at me”, but rather to kind of let them in on the same journey I’m on when I’m playing. I’m striving for that feeling of bliss and connectedness and inspiration and ultimately I’m trying to bring everyone in the room with me.

GKW: How has your stage presence or confidence changed onstage since the last release?

CJ: Obviously we become more confident the more we play. The band has been playing together with the same personnel for quite a while now and we’ve become very confident in one another and in the band’s sound as a whole. We’ve really honed in on our sound much more than ever before, and that brings a swagger and comfort to all of us that really comes through when we hit the stage. We know we’re going to go out there and kill it, even if someone is individually having a bad night. The band has become much greater than the sum of its parts. It’s knowing that which allows us to feed off of the energy as a whole and step out of our own personal insecurities.

GKW: What are your hopes for your music and touring in 2011?

CJ: I hope our new album touches listeners as much as it touched us when we made it. We feel more proud of this record than anything we’ve ever done and we hope people respond to that. Making the record was a huge learning experience for us as a band, as songwriters and as performers, and I hope we continue to feed off the lessons learned from that. And, as always, we hope to continue growing our fan base. We’re going to be getting in the van and traveling all over the country and hope to see more people in every city than were there last time.

Winter 2011 Tour Dates

February 4 | 9:30 Club | Washington, DC (w/ Tea Leaf Green)

February 5 | World Cafe Live | Philadelphia, PA (w/ Tea Leaf Green)

February 8 | Strand Capital Performing Arts Center | York, PA (w/ Tea Leaf Green)

February 9 | Westcott Theater | Syracuse, NY (w/ Tea Leaf Green)

February 10 | Higher Ground | Burlington, VT (w/ Tea Leaf Green)

February 11 | Paradise Rock Club | Boston, MA (w/ Tea Leaf Green)

February 12 | Highline Ballroom | New York, NY (w/ Tea Leaf Green)

February 16 | The Cabooze | Minneapolis, MN (w/ Galactic)

February 17 | Majestic Theatre | Madison, WI (w/ Galactic)

February 18 | Park West | Chicago, IL (w/ Galactic)

February 19 | Beachland Ballroom | Cleveland, OH (w/ Galactic)

February 20 | Mr. Small’s Theater | Pittsburgh, PA (w/ Galactic)

March 3 | Southgate House | Newport, KY

March 4 | Max’s | Bloomington, IN

March 5 | Trouser Mouse | Blue Springs, MO

March 6 | Bourbon Theatre Rye Room | Lincoln, NE

March 11 | Cervante’s Masterpiece Ballroom | Denver, CO

March 15 | The Canopy Club | Urbana, IL

March 16 | Canal Street | Dayton, OH

March 17 | V Club | Huntington, WV

March 18 | Dante’s | Frostburg, MD

April 16 | Old Settler’s Music Festival | Driftwood, TX

June 4 | Crawfish Fest | Augusta, NJ

Maintaining the Focus | White Pines Interview

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Maintaining the Focus – Joseph Scott of White Pines

Contributing Writer – Garret K. Woodward

The beauty of music is its ability to approach you like a long lost, old friend or hit you with such a dizzying state of déjà vu, one must give a second look and listen at the sound of possibility and promise spilling into their ears.

Amid the embracing, joyous, and sometimes melancholic tones, White Pines seamlessly rises from the depths and mesmerizes the listener with a blend of Midwestern folk, psychedelic rock, and ambient acoustic melodies.

Drifting across our emotional spectrum with an array of cosmic journeys (“Churchyard”), sonic blasts (“Hinterlands”), restless thoughts (“Half Beast”), and youthful nostalgia (“Warriors”), the Akron, Ohio project paints an honest portrait of humanity, one containing brushstrokes of disappointment, beauty, desire, and the pursuit of happiness.

The latest album, The Falls, showcases the continuing curiosity of singer/songwriter Joseph Scott, which in turn provokes a childlike wonder in any who get caught in his cozy and intricate musical web.

Garret K. Woodward: What was the approach towards this record, compared to your last release?

Joseph Scott: This record was very different for me. In past recordings, I’d try and make the songs sound more or less as if they were being played live. With this one, I just tried to make as many sounds as I could, without any ambition beyond the recording itself. I used way more tracks, more instruments, more effects, etcetera. I wanted to do something that scared me a little, do things that I wasn’t sure would work. I think I grew a lot in the last year, personally, and the music kind of reflects that growth.

GKW: Who else worked on the project with you? Where was it recorded?

JS: The two people who played, besides me, were Stephen Clements (drums, piano), and Joseph Minadeo (piano, synthesizer). We recorded their parts at Joseph’s house, down the street from mine. Other than that, all the other instruments and voices were done by me, recording in the spare bedroom of my apartment.

GKW: What is your process when recording? Melody first, then lyrics?

JS: I like to write as I record. I write lyrics all the time and keep them in a notebook. Then, when I have a song worked out structurally, I dig through the notebook and see what lyrics work. Sometimes, though, I’ll just write lyrics as I’m playing guitar, singing whatever comes into my head. As far as the actual recording is concerned, I try to keep things influx as long as possible, before calling something “done”. I’m constantly deleting and reworking parts, to make sure I’m always responding to what the song needs. It’s my way of making sure everything stays spontaneous.

GKW: The Falls feels like it has a fuller, more direct sound than with previous releases. How are you evolving as an artist? Are you starting to come full-circle with your art and pursuit of your true calling as a musician?

JS: I don’t know if I’d say that specifically, but I definitely feel like I’ve turned a corner in the last year. Songs are coming more quickly and I’m starting to understand how I want to present them. I’ve always wanted my music to be more than “folk”, so I’m trying to expand my vocabulary a bit, in terms of the sounds I’m able to make.

GKW: How has your stage presence or confidence changed onstage since the last release?

JS: Playing live has become a lot easier. I have a band now, with Stephen and Gabe Schray, and we’re really making these songs into something that, I feel, is more interesting than what I’ve done before, lots of echoes, lots of volume, but still soulful. I’m more excited when we play live now, because we’re doing something I’ve never done before.

GKW: How’s the reception been from others?

JS: Everyone seems to really like it, which is a relief. It’s so different than other things I’ve done. I was nervous that people might think it was confusing. Luckily, though, people seem to be getting onboard with it.

GKW: What are your hopes for 2011?

JS: I want us to tour as much as possible. I’m also recording a lot, so hopefully I’ll have the next record done by this spring. I’m writing songs very quickly right now, so I think our release schedule should be pretty prolific over the next year.

GKW: What’s your state of mind right now?

JS: I feel focused in a way that I haven’t felt before. I’m trying to maintain that focus for as long as I can.

Our Own Worst Enemies | Animals Interview

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Our Own Worst Enemies – Eric Burdon of The Animals

Contributing Writer – Garret K. Woodward

photo : Marianna Proestou

It is a voice that is not only haunting, it is also the essence of rock-n-roll.

What came out of the mouth of Eric Burdon, as lead singer of The Animals, ultimately settled the score between the American Delta blues forefathers and those across the pond trying to showcase their best interpretation of what true blues and the nitty-gritty really was.

The Animals created a string on unforgettable melodies (“We Gotta Get Out of This Place”/“The House of the Rising Sun”/“It’s My Life”/“Sky Pilot”/“Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”), which have stood the test of time, in sound, in showmanship, and in the pure vindication of the personal demons we all must evoke from our souls

Burdon remains the sole inheritor of the bayou blues. His presence and influence, to the music which rings loudly and soundly through our ears, casts a long shadow upon the meager contributions of the present.

By all accounts, modernity needs a crash course in the beauty and chaotic turmoil of those who walked tall, and walked before them with such swagger and elegance, we must recoil in the attempts any may try to present to the judges of style and grace.

Garret K. Woodward: How did 2010 treat you?

Eric Burdon: 2010 was a very busy year. To me, it was representative of the end of an era before the start of another. In the summer, I toured in Europe and it was a long, arduous tour. Sometimes, toward the end, it was a bit stressful because of the weather. Although it was summer, it felt like winter, especially in Germany. Some of the shows that stick out in my mind are Amsterdam, which was an excellent show with a great crowd, and the Edinburgh Festival in August. Also, we explored new territory by going to Russia for the first time and we had a great response from the Russian fans. A great finish for the year was my show at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, California. The show was close to my home, so I had a chance to play for a crowd full of familiar faces.

GKW: What groups influenced, and continue to influence, the direction of your music?

EB: Some of the older blues cats like Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley have always influenced me. Something a little bit newer, to me anyway, is Dire Straits. I often feel like they’re chronicling my life from living in Newcastle, to leaving Newcastle, and coming to America.

GKW: Do you listen to modern radio, and if so, what recent groups are currently catching your eye?

EB: I guess “modern radio” would be satellite in my car. I get Sirius in my car and I like the ecclectic mix of music that they have available, including bands like Calexico and Solomon Burke. Is that new?

GKW: What’s the difference between a rock guitar riff and a blues guitar riff?

EB: I think the blues riffs are much lighter in their approach, but stronger in their delivery. Rock riffs are louder, but have less impact.

GKW: Do you have to experience the blues to sing them?

EB: What can I tell you? I was born during an air raid so maybe that did something to my psyche and changed something in my DNA, but I don’t think that you necessarily have to live them to sing them. I do, however, think that to sing the blues you have to have soul and heart.

GKW: “We Gotta Get Out of This Place”. One of the rock-n-roll’s most cherished melodies. How did that song come about?

EB: It came from the Brill Building in New York. It was passed by the publishers to Mickey Most, then he passed the song on to us. We felt like it was made for The Animals. “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” was recently selected to be inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. It’s a song that never seems to die.

GKW: At what moment did you know The Animals would forever be a household name in rock music?

EB: I think it was when my mother started singing, “Baby Let Me Take You Home”, while she was washing the dishes, that I realized we had something.

GKW: Brian Jones (The Rolling Stones) once said you were “the best blues singer to ever come out of England”. Your voice is one of the most distinct vocals in all of rock music. I always felt The Animals were underrated, in comparison to The Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin for example, in terms of a true blues frontman with a Delta blues voice. Do you feel The Animals got the attention they deserved or were pushed aside in the spotlight by others in British Invasion?

EB: I can only say that The Animals got what they deserved and we were our own worst enemies. Having said that, we did manage to make some memorable recordings and lets leave it at that.

GKW: The Animals played the Monterey Pop Festival. I recently had a conversation with Jim Yester of The Association. We had a fantastic talk about his experience there. What were your memories of that event and your performance? What was running through your head when you witnessed Jimi Hendrix set fire to his guitar?

EB: I thought that the Monterey Pop Festival was one of the most enlightening and enjoyable weekends of my life. I can still remember it like it was yesterday. I spent quite a bit of time with Jimi. In fact, we took the same plane over the Atlantic and through New York with Brian Jones. We partied all the way to the West Coast and we partied when we got there. I did see Jimi’s set. In fact, we were all waiting for it to come to the stage because it was Jimi’s first performance in the U.S. for a long time and with the Experience line-up. I spent time with young kids telling them to make sure that they got a good seat to see him because they wouldn’t be disappointed. I was standing right beside the stage when the gasoline was poured over the white Fender. I knew what was going to happen, but it’s a completely different experience when you can feel the heat on your face.

GKW: You played at the Newport Pop Festival in 1969 alongside Hendrix. This year, as in every year, more material of his is being released and the conversation continues over his place in rock-n-roll. What are your thoughts on him?

EB: That was a really bad festival. It was not a Monterey or Woodstock, which it was supposed to be. Jimi was not comfortable and he messed up. Actually, the next day he went back to play again for free, just because he wanted to say he had done his best. It took me a long time to realize that the first time I met Jimi, I didn’t even know that we were in the same room. It was backstage at the Paramount Theatre in New York. Jimi was playing guitar for Little Richard. Little Richard was flipping out backstage because he had gone into overtime for his set, which cut into The Animals time. There was this young black kid running around trying to cool him down and I didn’t realize that it was actually Jimi Hendrix. Later, we spent time together in London. He would quite often come over to my apartment and listen to classical music. I wouldn’t say that we were “close”, but we did enjoy some down time away from the madness and I treasure those times we had together. I thought he was a very strange, but beautiful guy.

GKW: You turned 69-years-old this year. What does that number mean to you?

EB: It means that I’ll be 70 soon, which means that I don’t really give a damn about much anymore. There’s a great thing about turning 70 and it’s that you don’t have to pretend to care about things you don’t care about anymore.

GKW: What would your older self say to that teenage Eric Burdon, a kid just starting out in his music career in the early 1960s? What would your teenage self say to you in response?

EB: I think I would say to a younger me, “Listen, slow down and stop drinking so much, get straight.” But I think that a teenage me would just say to that, “Piss off!”

GKW: How do you avoid becoming a nostalgia act, like many of your radio peers?

EB: When I go on stage, I realize that I’m dealing with a collective wild animal, the crowd, and if you make even one mistep, they’ll devour you. I have to be on my toes. I take every song that I sing and live it. I become my songs. It’s up to me to be in front of the band and deliver the word. I’m fortunate to have a good catalogue of songs, most of which have now become anthems for peoples lives.

GKW: What do you like and dislike about being on the road?

EB: The road, while you’re young and full of booze or drugs, when all you live for is the gig and the roadies need to drag you out of bed to get on the bus or plane, it’s okay. These days though I’m up at four or five o’clock. I’m always on time and it’s mostly about business. It’s even hard to look at the cost of a plane ticket today and know that at the airport is just going to treat you like a criminal. Traveling is getting harder, but luckily I’ve got a great band and we have a lot of fun while we’re going around the world and doing what we do.

GKW: When all is said and done, what is the legacy of The Animals? What is your legacy as a lead singer and storied performer?

EB: I don’t know what The Animals legacy is, so much as me as a singer. Chris Barber said to me recently, when I met him in Scotland,  “You’re the blues man”. I can’t say it any better than that. I may sing songs that are not blues, but there is always a blues element. Nina Simone said the same thing. There are two great people that have pegged me as being a blues guy, so I take their comments and say that I guess that would be my legacy.

GKW: What’s your state of mind right now?

EB: Crowded, as usual.

Bell-Bottoms and Wigs | Roadside Mystic

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Bell-bottoms and Wigs – Roadside Mystic

Contributing Writer – Garret K. Woodward

Often within the origin of unbreakable bonds forged through musicianship resides a unique circumstance coming to fruition from the strangest of places.

“We came about because of a project that we were invited to play in about five years ago called That ‘70s Band,” said guitarist Brad Hurlburt. “After wearing skin-tight bell-bottoms and wigs and literally seeing the band implode on stage during a double bachelorette party, we had caught the bug for playing live and developed a really solid friendship.”

Taking that friendship ball and running with it, Hurlburt, alongside Derek Lavoie (bass), Scott Renderer (drums) and Russ Cook (guitar/vocals), formed Roadside Mystic, a Keene Valley (Upstate New York) group finely tuned in the early styles of the Delta blues and backwoods melodies of haunting musical ghosts.

“Our sound is pure raw rock ‘n’ roll,” said Hurlburt. “We use tube amplifiers turned way up, vintage drums and a minimum of effects. Our influences range from the Mick Taylor era of The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers and Led Zeppelin. We also draw from a heavy base of country-blues artists like Mississippi Fred McDowell and R.L. Burnside.”

The quartet (which also molds itself into the acoustic side project Back Porch Society) evolved simply with a few passionate people playing music in their own time, in their own space.

“Brad and I both live in Keene Valley, and our houses are only about half a mile apart, so we spend a lot of time together,” said Cook. “Brad’s back porch became our home base. Once we had the chance to start our own project, we began to study as many early blues masters as we could get our hands on, including Willie Johnson, John Hurt, Elmore James, Willie McTell and the Reverend Gary Davis.

“Out of this eclectic mix, both of the projects were born, which have given us a chance to continue to explore both of our passions — acoustic blues and full-tilt electric blues-rock.”

Currently, the band is in the process of recording their first album at Bullfrog Audio in Vermont, a studio owned by Victor Forbes of Fine Art Magazine. The release date is tentatively set for next summer, with several live shows to be sprinkled around the region until that time.

“Our approach is a no-compromise attempt to make music that we love and believe in,” said Hurlburt. “We are motivated by the challenge of taking the project as far as we can with both the quality of our recordings and live shows. We try to make music that we are excited about, and hopefully, that will translate to our listeners. As a band, we thrive on the interplay between the band and the crowd and the energy that is shared between the two.”

Renderer looks at the project as a chance to make a difference in a diluted industry.

“The music industry in its current state is pretty sad,” he said. “Let’s get back to rock ‘n’ roll and listening to a complete album, start-to-finish, on a turntable. Digital downloading has sucked the magic out of music. We all love opening a real album and checking out the artwork, reading the liner notes, and, most importantly, hearing how a complete work flows from one song to the next.

“In our genre, taking from the past and making it relevant in the present is a time-honored tradition. We try to be a worthy link in that chain.”

Roadside Mystic will be performing at the Monopole in Plattsburgh, New York on February 25 and the Cascade Cross-Country Ski Area in Lake Placid, New York on March 26.