Lightning 100 brings you our critically acclaimed weekly concert series featuring national, regional and local artists. The show broadcasts live from 3rd & Lindsley on Sundays from 8-10 PM.
Firmly a phenomenon in their home country of Iceland, the four-piece band Kaleo is set to descend upon foreign shores in 2015, bringing their gorgeous blend of folk, blues, country, and rock to a wider mainstream audience in America. Their isolated heritage inspires a unique take on familiar sonic elements, resulting in diversity and freedom on each and every breathtaking track.
Best friends since attending elementary school in the small town of Mosfellsbaer outside of Reykjavik, bandleader JJ Juliusson, drummer David Antonsson Crivello, and bassist Danny Jones began playing together at the age of 17. Honing their skills, they played countless shows around the nation’s capital for a few years before adding guitarist Rubin Pollock to the mix in 2012. They named the band Kaleo, which means “the sound” in Hawaiian, and started their career in earnest with a handful of well-received shows at the 2012 Iceland Airwaves music festival.
They recorded their first pair of original songs in early 2013, the fiery “Rock N Roller” and laid-back, bluesy “Pour Sugar On Me,” which earned Kaleo some radio airplay and press in Iceland. Then, that spring, their cover of the traditional Icelandic ballad “Vor í vaglaskógi” during a live radio show was videotaped and posted to YouTube, where it quickly went viral. The band recorded a studio version of the song in June, which went straight to Number One in virtually every radio station in the country. “It’s a different kind of cover, more dramatic and the tempo is taken down,” says JJ. The buzz for Kaleo had begun.
The band signed to Iceland’s largest record label, Sena, in the fall of 2013 and recorded their full-length debut, Kaleo, in just six short weeks. Five singles would reach Number One and the album would go Gold, receiving high praise and sending the band to shows and festivals in Europe over the next year, including an appearance on the biggest stage in their home country, Culture Night, where they played to 100,000 people and reached 90 percent of Iceland’s population in broadcast. Then, in the spring of 2014, Kaleo recorded the lush, introspective song “All the Pretty Girls” and in one night their destiny to outgrow their small, island nation was cemented.
Twenty-two years ago, in the rolling plains of northern Ohio, a strange and fortuitous gathering occurred. Ed Helms, Ian Riggs, and Jacob Tilove, then students at Oberlin College, were drawn together by a mutual love of fine whiskey and bluegrass. In short order, music was happening. With Riggs on bass, Helms on guitar, Tilove on mandolin and all three melodically shouting, a distinctive musical voice took shape. Soon other friends joined up on all manner of banjos and fiddles and a loose-knit ensemble called Weedkiller was born. They played back porches, front yards, and basement keg parties all over Oberlin for a few great years, but when college ended, so did Weedkiller. As the universe would have it, Ed, Jake, and Ian all landed in New York City to pursue their individual hare-brained passions of comedy, architectural history, and jazz bass studies respectively. City life was exciting and chaotic, but their friendship and musical bond endured, and their regular, informal jam sessions kept everyone’s feet on the ground. Over time those informal sessions became songwriting sessions and even a casual recording session or two. Soon invitations rolled in to play at a friend’s party or a cousin’s wedding and before they knew it, The Lonesome Trio was a fixture on the NYC bluegrass scene, playing regular shows at the Parkside Lounge, Rockwood Music Hall, and other depraved haunts of the old-time crowd. Despite active careers in various fields, The Lonesome Trio soldiered on, a constant in the topsy-turvy lives of its dedicated members. The particular sound and voice of The Lonesome Trio might be described as rootsy, bluegrass-ish, Americana, or even a little bit cowboy. But a more accurate description might be the peculiar mind meld of three old friends who’ve been through 22 years of life, love, loss, and laughter together, working it all out through raw and honest acoustic music.