After having retired as a touring musician in 2003, Baker came to find Lynn through the production of her previous project in Austin,Texas. Over the course of working together on other musical efforts, the two are now able to describe themselves as being “cut from the same thread,” and “rarely on different pages.” This made it not only easy, but essential that Baker and Lynn begin writing and producing music that satisfied their own ever-evolving creative spirits.
“All of our songs truly come from the heart,” Lynn says. Baker and Lynn can dive head-first into serious conversation topics and quickly burst into laughter. “We try not to take anything too seriously,” says Baker. “It’s definitely work, but it’s the best kind of work. There’s no sense in doing it unless you’re having fun.” It’s obvious this duo is doing something they love. Baker and Lynn are preparing to release their first album, From The Wreckage, in which they wrote together before they even intended to call it their own.
“We were just writing to write, then half way through it dawned on us that we had to perform these songs live, as a band; that it was the only way we could see these songs realized,” says Lynn.
Even the band name was a happy accident, but ‘the words sounded good together’ and meant something to them, much like the music they had created. Thus, The Wind and The Wave came into being in late 2012
All I know is this: the trumpet sounds in the distance and I must stumble towards its plaintive, soprano song. How long has it been blowing without my responding? I do not know. The exodus from my last musical boxing match left my ears dull from thrown stones and plugged with tossed flowers. But, now, their weathering and wilting has given way to resurrection and I hear the beckoning serenade. So, I’m waking my musical legs up from their slumber. Who knows what my tingling, aching, somewhat atrophied appendages will find as I fight thru the charlie horse of comfortable mattresses and familiar perfume. Penicillin, teflon, LSD, popsicles,…America….were all accidental discoveries. Some more great than others (popsicles>America)….Its all very uncertain.
But yet I, forge on in what is either a fool’s march or a faithful pilgrimage across this invisible, swinging bridge. Why follow the brass bellowing? When risk seems to be its one reward? One sacred certainty arms my soul. One sacred certainty continues to push back the whispers of the ever-advancing, ever-retreating army of uncertainties. The unyielding truth that the whistles and the bells is not my identity- even for all the evidence stacked up against my claim in the way of banjos and mandolins and southern fried british electric guitar sound waves dancing with left-footed, knee-buckled lyrics that were the tattered silk soundtrack that scored my awkward youth. Their audible conglomeration points its fingers at me but I am an allusive target to myself. So is it a piece of the pie? yes, but not the pie. I can’t imagine the whole of the pie myself so how can I feed it to you?
And so it will not be my wrecking ball. I intend it to be a wrecking ball. But my buildings’ foundation is indestructible. It is other-wordly. Supernatural. And that certainty leads to fearlessness. And so the whistles and the bells is the chubby child plunging himself into the deep waters of the rec center pool because he knows his father’s rescue is his undeserved reward should his dog paddle prove ineffective.
To capture the new sounds on The Last Bison’s upcoming album titled VA (pronounced Virginia,) the band spent many days and nights in an old A-frame cabin. The cabin, called “the Wigwam” sits on a summer camp on the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp near the band’s home in Chesapeake, Virginia. The pine-lined walls and high-lofted beams became home to a temporary studio where front man Ben Hardesty says, “We had freedom to explore and create without the time constraints we lived under on previous projects.” Out of this rustic cabin emerged a collection of music with booming organic drums and energy beyond anything on their previous work.
Having drawn comparisons in the past to indie superstars the likes of Mumford & Sons, The Decemberists, and Fleet Foxes, their most recent project harvests a more dynamic, and anthemic sound from the soil of their folk roots. The addition of electric bass and keyboards to their extensive collection of acoustic instruments has been compared to Bob Dylan going electric at Newport in 1965. After a performance at Norfolk, Virginia’s Harborfest, the The Daily Press commented on the new musical direction saying, “The result is a more rocking sound, though the band still remains true to its folkie roots.”
Ben Hardesty, who is the primary songwriter and vocalist, recorded the drum tracks on the new album. Andrew Benfante, who has played a 1930s reed organ on previous works, adds piano to the layers, and Amos Housworth has expanded from cello to offering all the bass tracks on the project. Dan Hardesty alternates from banjo to mandolin to guitar, while he and Annah Housworth, who plays bells, provide the lush backing vocals. Teresa Totheroh’s violin is the thread that sows the myriad parts together.
The 11 songs on VA reveal a band relishing in the struggle for and the discovering of freedom. When Hardesty sings, Take me with you, I can’t stay here, from “She Always Waves At The Gate,” and, Into the den of the shadows I’ve come / Far beyond what is shallow I’ve swum, from the dark and atmospheric “Sleep,” he reveals the emotional tension of desperately desiring something beyond, while treading in new territory both thrilling and threatening. In the mysterious piano driven song “By No Means, “ Hardesty proclaims, I’m lost in caves that have no end / Astray in caverns that begin / Yet when explored, disorient / And I have waited patiently / To see such grace and mastery / Personified to this extent, declaring he has found something that satisfies his longing, and finds rest as he rejoices with the words, “All who are weary, come lay your burdens down” in the song “Burdens”.
Following their first independent release, Quill, in 2011, The Last Bison was signed to Universal Republic Records and created the Inheritance album in 2013. The most recent project finds The Last Bison returning to their independent roots, having self-produced the project in collaboration with Media House Music. The Last Bison album, VA, is due for release September 30, 2014 with a tour to follow.
Emerging fully-formed from the desolate heart of Central Florida, Roadkill Ghost Choir make unsettling, powerful American rock, Tom Petty by way of Radiohead and Cormac McCarthy. Set against Kiffy Meyer’s ghostly steel pedal, singer and main songwriter Andrew Shepard triumphantly conjures an allegorical American landscape of drifters, specters and violent saints. Andrew’s brothers Maxx (drums) and Zach (bass) Shepard round out the rhythm section, and Stephen Garza handles lead guitar.
The band released their debut EP ‘Quiet Light’ in 2013 in the midst of a touring run that saw them opening for Band of Horses and 2013 festival slots at New York’s Governor’s Ball, Austin City Limits and Shaky Knees in Atlanta, GA. In January 2014 the band was invited to perform on the David Letterman Show, where they performed standout track “Beggar’s Guild.” Their debut full-length, “In Tongues,” recorded in Athens, Georgia and in their home studio in Deland, Florida with producer Doug Boehm, will be out August 19. The band will be touring supporting the new album, including stops at Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza.
Unexplained phenomena of all kinds can be attributed to magic. Music is among those marvels. When a group of unrelated individuals of different backgrounds gets together and locks into a sonic unity, there must be some sort of mysticism at work. That’s the only way to properly explain it. The members of Nashville’s All Them Witches would agree too. That energy even courses through their moniker, which unsurprisingly comes from Roman Polanski’s 1968 masterpiece Rosemary’s Baby.
“The name can be interpreted in many different ways,” explains singer and bassist Michael Parks, Jr. “It could be a person’s view on what the forces of good and evil are or even how we interact with each other as human beings. There’s a little bit of witchcraft in everybody’s life. Just waking up is pretty magical—you’re alive another day. In terms of the music, we’re so loose, and that’s where the magic comes from. There’s no controlling factor. We do exactly what comes naturally. We go in a room without any idea about what will happen, get in the groove, and it works. That’s supernatural.”
All Them Witches began conjuring up music together in 2012. Foregoing theater school to focus on songwriting, Parks traded New Mexico for Nashville at 19-years-old. The Shreveport, Louisiana native met drummer Robby Staebler while the two shared a shift at a “corporate hippie store”. Robby showed Parks some music he and guitarist Ben McLeod had written, and it inspired the singer to jam—which he adds, “I usually never do. It made sense though”.
Adding Robby’s longtime friend Allan Van Cleave to the fold on Fender Rhodes, All Them Witches cut their debut Our Mother Electricity. Almost immediately after, they began working on its follow-up 2013’s Lightning At The Door. Recorded live in a matter of days with producer and engineer Andy Putnam, the boys tapped into a distinct energy, mustering bluesy soul, Southern swagger, and thunderous hard rock all at once.
The first single “When God Comes Back” swings from a Delta-dipped groove into a striking riff juxtaposed with Parks’ transfixing delivery. It’s as hypnotic as it is heavy.
“Sometimes, I get visions, for lack of a better word, that lead to songs,” the frontman admits. “I’ll be doing a mundane task at work, walking somewhere in the woods, or driving, and I’ll get these narrative flashes in my head. Personal experiences play into those narratives. This song is about our egos coming to break us down and destroy everything. We try to govern each other and turn the only landscape we have to live in into a parking lot. There’s no room for anybody. So, when God comes back, he’s going to be really mad.”
Ultimately, everything comes back to that certain magic for All Them Witches. “Not to sound too much like hippie, but I hope everybody can ride our vibe,” Parks leaves off. “We’re very simple people doing something we really love. We have such a short amount of time on this earth. Everybody should be doing what they love. If there’s a message here, it’s that.”