The Staves: “You cut my roots and now my leaves are dead. They tumble down in pools of all the blood I bled” – The Great American Music Hall in in SF (Feb 20, 2017)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

About a year an a half ago when I moved back to California and was jobless, homeless, and “sleeping in a car” (crazy coincidence that their newest EP has this title) – the Stave’s album, ‘If I Was,’ was one of the only things keeping me afloat in a sea of frustration, anxiety, and despair. It was so freaking surreal to FINALLY see them live (after nearly 4 years of waiting) and watch them loop and layer their angelic vocals into a musical masterpiece – one that makes you STOP DEAD IN YOUR TRACKS. Steady, Damn It All, Sleeping in a Car, Sadness Don’t Own Me, No Me No Yo No More, and Let Me Down nearly had me shedding some tears. It’s no wonder the musical GOD that is Justin Vernon has invited them in his studio to test the limits of their innate talent and indescribable vocals. Once their harmonies hit, you are done. Just DONE. Warning: STAVES THAT SLAY.
 ❤
And, although I first discovered the Staves back in 2010, it wasn’t until watching them in the ‘Austin to Boston‘ music documentary (filmed alongside Bear’s Dean, Ben Howard, Nathanial Rateliff, and Gil Landry of Old Crow Medicine Show during their pre-SXSW tour from Austin to Boston) that I really fell hard for these sister sirens. I do love to to see that their fondness for touring in America and recording with Justin Vernon in Iowa (Ex Claire) has convinced them to move here and plant some temporary roots in Minneapolis. These “tired as fuck” “outlaws” know how to “make it holy” anytime, anywhere, and their singing about Mexico has us wanting “to see the colors of another sky.” It’s no wonder then that the Communion Music is trying to temp them back to London with a headlining slot for London’s Bushstock festival this summer. I sure hope to catch as much of them as I can while they’re still here. No staving off when it comes to the Staves!
 ❤

I also wanna give mad props to Dave Powers, the man responsible for keeping The Staves “STEADY STEADY STEADY” with this proficient percussion and damn-good drumming. It’s actually pretty surreal that I first discovered him at the same venue a year back when drumming for Aero Flynn. Crazy how things come full circle!

And at BottleRock Napa in May…

 

 

Passport to Stockholm: “Don’t tell me that we can’t try, Our imperfections define us.”

Passport to Stockholm– Communion’s Bushstock, London

(June 14, 2014)

You MUST CHECK OUT this talented London-based folk-indie quartet (Chris, Tom, Sophie, Henri) that turned heads at Communion’s Bushstock and Barn on the Farm festivals back in June: Passport to Stockholm. Despite the name, this band is NOT from Sweden, and you will just have to ask Chris what inspired it…(I certainly did!). Chris ‘Barny’ Barnham’s vocals are slightly reminiscent of Bastille’s frontman (who certainly did well for himself), and Henri’s percussion and glockenspiel remind me a bit of Freelance Whales (one of my favorite bands from back in the states). Also, I fall weak at the knees for any band with a cello, and Sophie’s bowing/plucking of this beautiful instrument gives this band extra depth, adding fullness to their sound. Of course we can’t forget about Tom, who’s guitar and loops serve as the band’s backbone. Everyone’s talent shines through, and their chemistry is something we can’t ignore. Luckily you CAN’T ignore this if you buy their debut EP, which happens to be CALLED ‘Chemistry.’ I have already put some of my favorite tracks (What Have We Done, Chemistry, Reality, Carousel) on a recent playlist titled ‘What Have We Done,’ but there some other unreleased gems that you can only pocket LIVE, when you see them IN THE FLESH…which you SHOULD and CAN at upcoming summer festivals: Brownstock, Weyfest, Feastival, Southsea fest. Even though I’ve been lucky enough to see this band THREE TIMES in ONE MONTH (Bushtock, Soho House, Hoxton Square Bar & Grill),  there’s not doubt I’ll be at their next gig in a heartbeat. They continue to impress me the more I see them, and now that I finally know their entire catalogue of songs, I can finally sing along!..(not TOO loud, of course). Here’s a near perfect indie-folk track (Imperfections) that they just announced and will have a launch gig for at the Barfly on Sept 16th. SEE. YOU. THERE. https://soundcloud.com/passporttostockholm/passport-to-stockholm-imperfections

First off, I can never get ENOUGH glockenspiel in my life, and so their peppy opener of Wanted It More made for a pretty powerful first impression. Go Henri! The catchy melody and glockenSPEEK leaves you WANTING IT MORE just as Barny wraps up the last verse: “All that we are left with is the bittersweet taste of of life, love and lust…”  Glad I now know it’s “wanted it more” instead of “once you need more.” Oh, that BRITISH ACCENT…

Next up was the STELLAR title track (Chemistry) of their debut EP.  A beautiful mix of cello, percussion, and vocals, that will have you swaying along and soon chiming in on the chorus:  “And you wanted, to reason, an escape route, to leave in…was I selfish, letting you choose, when you had everything to lose.” Not only does Barny’s voice SOAR in this one, but Sophie (the cellist) adds some lovely backing vocals toward the end. See the videos below.

Then came Carousel, which I teased Barny about being such a HARD WORD TO SPELL. He totally disagreed, saying it was “soooooo easy,” but we all know he just spent too much time the carnival as a kid, haha. This one is another lovely track off Passport to Stockholm‘s debut EP, and the chorus is very fun to belt out (esp. the first line):

“You get what you want….but not what you need
Cause you tear my soul and you spin me around…
What a man to do?”

Following the “hard to spell song” was a track (All I Seek) that Barny introduced as his “personal favorite,” and I COULD NOT AGREE MORE. The drum part in this one is WICKED, and reminds me a bit of Bastille (which is not a bad thing!)…What’s also wicked is Sophie’s gnarly picking of her cello. Tom furiously strums, Barny vehemently vents: “All I see, all I need from you, is TRUTH.” (indeed)  I can’t wait when they finally release this gem so I can have it in the palm of my hand….All I seek, all I need…is THIS TRACK. x

Passport to Stockholm are new band discovery that I’m REALLY PROUD and EXCITED and about, and who I know are destined for bigger stages and bigger carousels. Besides having awesome CHEMISTRY (literal and song) with each other, they have awesome chemistry with the crowd, and are some of the most genuinely appreciative and humble bunch of music makers that I know. Do yourself a favor and CHECK THEM OUT. You’ll thank me later!  🙂

VIDEOS:

Wanted it More:

Chemistry:

Carousel:

What Have You Done: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LdrTQR78LA

All I Seek:

PICTURES:

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Passport to Stockholm– Hoxton Square Bar & Grill, London

(July 11, 2014)

VIDEOS:

Chemistry:

Carousel:

All I Seek:

Wanted It More:

PICTURES:

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Passport to Stockholm– The SOHO House, London

(July 7, 2014)

PICTURES:

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Jack Garratt: “Let me be something you use up for one night…Burn the remnants of my youth.”

Jack Garratt– Oslo, London

(July 22, 2014)

If you’re a fan of the talented Alex Vargas, then you’ll sure to be a fan of Jack Garratt. They have slightly different vocal ranges and musical styles, but are both are some of London’s finest. They also just HAPPEN to be roommates and very good buddies. Having played with few jazz/funk bands before flying solo, Jack Garratt threads alot soul and funk into his ambient melodies, and it’s a bit tricky to describe his genre. Delicate keys, soulful vocals, rippling beats, and funky guitar…all served up fresh by this multi-taleneted (hilarious and humble) BEARDY BRO.  I remember Alex Vargas specifically telling me that I had to check Jack out at Communion’s Bushstock, and since I missed his performance because of a clashing artist, I figured I would have to catch him at his sold out EP (‘Remnants‘) release  gig at The Waiting Room. Funny enough, Jack gave a shout-out to Alex, telling the crowd that he felt like greeting them the same way that his buddy (Alex) did at his Lexington gig a few months back: “What the hell is everyone DOING HERE?!” Jack kicked off the set with his EP’s title track, Remants, and I enjoyed watching him first ATTACK THE BASE at 15 sec in, and then smooth it out with delicate chords right after: “Let me be something you use up for one night…Burn the remnants of my youth.”  Next up was Water, which happens to be one of my favorites. I love the quivering, trippy sounds at the beginning, followed by the wobble base FLOODING IN (perfect timing) when Jack sings “Drown me in the water…Drown me in the sea…Let your water, wash over me.” Right after Water, Jack panics because he realizes that he did not have his Macbook charger up on stage with him, and he would need it for his next fews songs. At first he joked that “everyone could go home now,” but then soon begged someone help him find his charger. While Jack was waiting for one of his buddies to save the day, he added levity to the situation by teasing himself and saying things like, “If I look down, you are all NOT HERE.” Haha.

Armed with the Macbook charger, Jack continued on with set, playing three songs that are not yet released or on his EP: Youth, a cover (whose name I’m not sure), and Grow Older. I remember really liking the Grow Older song, and I hope he releases it as a single soon. He followed these songs up with I Wouldn’t Want You Anyway, the first track on his Remnants EP.  It’s a slow one, but the POWER OF HIS PIPES at 6 min in is sure to KEEP YOU AWAKE. His voice in this one reminds me a bit of Hozier, one of my favorite new artists of this year. Plus, the intro line is definitely one to entire: “Bad times are coming…And good friends are gone.”

Right before wrapping up his set, Jack thanks a good lot of people, including a music producer could came all the way from Denmark, as well as his parents, who “make it to almost every gig.” (I LOVE THAT.) After hearing his encore of Worry, I confidently say that Jack Garratt has nothing to WORRY about…A KILLER PERFORMANCE all around. Not only does this trak commence with a siiiiiiick opening line (“My nights are broken up by then sounds of women I’ll never meet…”), but it follows with a hot, cheeky jab that you can’t help get chills from: “You came around to say, that you’ve been away, like I hadn’t known… As if I haven’t felt your breathe in every step when the wind blows.” Then, all of this tension and “worry” brewing in the first 4 min just suddenly EXPLODES, and Jack cuts all hell loose on his electric guitar. “DON’T YOU WORRY ‘BOUT IT…” He definitely unleashes the beast on this one, and you can definitely see how he used to be ripping in jazz/funk band before this.

A week later, I had the fortune of seeing Jack again because he happened to be opening (3 nights in a row) for The Temper Trap, for which I already had tickets. I was able to get some great videos from this gig (see below), even those I was a bit close to the speakers. I suggest that everyone check out his debut EP (‘Remnant’s) and see him whenever he rolls into your town. He’s sure to leave memorable REMNANTS that will leave you wanting MORE. x

VIDEOS:

Remnants:

I Couldn’t Want You Anyway: [e/bed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lSQkVAePTk[/embed]

Worry:

PICTURES:

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Jack Garratt– The Waiting Room, London

(July 16, 2014)

PICTURES:

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Bear’s Den: “I didn’t know when I started runnin’…I’d be runnin’ my whole life.”

Bear’s Den– Nice N’ Sleazys, Glasgow

(Feb 10, 2013)

I first saw this London-based indie/folk trio (Andrew Davie, Kev Jones, Joey Haynes) with my friend Mairi at a popular, tiny venue in Glasgow called Nice N’ Sleazy’s. We we pretty much ON STAGE for that gig (super close up), and simply mesmerized by their beautiful folk ballads, especially Bad BloodPompeiiA Year Ago Today, and Don’t Let the Sun Steal Your Heart Away. When I first heard Bad Blood that night, I knew it would become one of those few (and very powerful) LIFE ANTHEMS that I would revisit on a regular basis. An then to later hear a stripped down reincarnation of it at the Village Underground (see video below) with no amps or mics was pure divinity. Brutally honest lyrics that I can remember always remember in a heartbeat: “Forgive me for I am not acting myself, I’m just trying to rid all this bad blood. All this baaaaad blood.” 

It was at this Glasgow gig that I first met the Bear’s Den drummer, Kevin Jones, who also happens to be the founder of the record label and music community Communion (along with Ben Lovett of Mumford and Sons). I saw him again at their next London gig (St. Stephen’s Church) a month later and ended up sitting next to his cousin! Haha. It really is a small world when you consider the loyal fan base of many UK bred bands. 

I later went on to see Bear’s Den SIX more times, my favorite gig being the one at Village Underground. This was right after the release of their new EP, ‘Sahara,’ and  the title track was my anthem for a good month. Sooooooo freaking good. Opening as a slow, mournful ballad, this song suddenly breaks out into a joyful, folk-drive shuffle that oozes all sorts of empowerment. YES. Hands down my favorite track on the new Bear’s Den EP, ‘Without/Within.’

“All of my life
I wasn’t honest enough
and I thought I would never get over you.
I’ll never get over you.

You said that I’d always feel alone
Well it’s the life that I chose
You said I could never be happy with anyone
Well I found looooove. 
I found looooooove.”

I saw this gig was my friend Belle, another music junkie who had first spotted the incredible talent of Andrew Davie when he was the frontman for a Cherbourg in 2010. Again, SMALL WORLD! Good music doesn’t just come and go. It sneaks back up on you with a vengeance! 😉

Here are some of my favorite Bear’s Den lyrics that still slay (or claw) me:

“Sever the ties, Cut me up. Fill up the hole that I tried and I tried and I tried to fill.         
Forgive me for I am not acting myself, but these B’s in my breath have to come out…
I’m just trying to drain all this bad blood. All this baaaaad blood.”   (soooo good)
*

“Don’t let the sun steal you away,
Don’t let your mind speak louder than your heart.”  –Don’t Let the Sun Steal Your Heart Away

*

“I didn’t know when I started runnin’
I’d be runnin’ my whole life.”  –Sophie
(very relevant to my  nomadic postdoc life right now)

*

Check out the live videos and pictures of the SEVEN  (insane, I know) Bear’s Den gigs I’ve seen (Nice N’ Sleazys, St. Stephen’s Church, Great Escape, Bushstock, Village Underground, Green Man, Electric Brixton). You need to see these BEARS then they come GROWLIN’ INTO YOUR TOWN. 🙂

 VIDEOS:

Brother:

Hard Life:

Stubborn Beast:

Pompeii:

Don’t Let the Sun Steal Your Heat Away:

Isaac:

The Writing’s On The Wall:

PICTURES:

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Bear’s Den– St. Stephen’s Church, London (March 20, 2013)

 VIDEOS:

Bad Blood:

 PICTURES:

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Getting myself in the BEAR DEN.  😉

Bear’s Den– Great Escape (May 18, 2013)

 VIDEOS:

Bad Blood:

PICTURES:

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Bear’s Den– Bushstock (June 1, 2013)

 VIDEOS:

Davy (new song?):

PICTURES:

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Bear’s Den– Green Man (May 18, 2013)

Motherhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jqn-wG2-fIg

Isaachttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qypTDZGHvSU

Bad Bloodhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXdNJyQwUyM

PICTURES:

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Bear’s Den– Village Underground (Nov 6, 2013)

 VIDEOS:

Sophie:

Writings On The Wall:

Sahara II:

Bad Blood:

PICTURES:

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Bear’s Den– Brixton Electric (May 13, 2013)

 

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Hozier- “The only heaven I’ll be sent to, Is when I’m alone with you.”

Hozier– Bushstock, London

(June 14, 2014)

I first heard about Hozier from a friend back in the states who saw him in Los Angeles (sold out gig) and fell in love…with the music of course! Andrew ‘Hozier’-Byrne is from Wicklow, Ireland, and had been exposed to Celtic, soul, jazz, and blues music growing up; he then studied music at Trinity College in Dublin, teachingt himself to play guitar and piano. Partway through college, he dropped out to focus on his nourishing his craft full time. He realized that the best environment for writing music was at “home,” where he could properly reflect on the world and reflect THOSE REFLECTIONS back onto the world through song. 

When asked about this topic, he says: “Listen to any song, from any era; and you’re looking through a keyhole into the artist’s world as seen through their eyes. Art is, in it’s simplest form, the reproduction of the world around us. All artists reproduce their vision of the world, and in doing so create a document that reflects the times they live in”.

The first songs that Hozier ever released were through his first EP,  ‘Take Me To Church.’ This included Take Me to Church (the lead track), Angel Of Small DeathLike Real People Do, and Cherry Wine. He apparently recorded all of these songs LIVE, meaning outside on a rooftop amidst nature (yes, that bird chirping in Cherry Wine is REAL), and played all of the instruments.

That ‘Take Me To Church’ EP alone had me itching to see him live, but then the release of his ‘Eden‘ EP…and from that point, I was head over heels. As a singer/songwriter, Hozier’s impressive vocal range and his adroit guitar skills enable him to embody elements of folk, blues, and gospel. Now, with a backing band (bassist, drummer, keyboardist, cellist), he is able to blur the lines between those music genres even more. Within only a few months from releasing his debut EPs, Hozier was announced to headline Communion’s Bushstock festival on June 14. With him and Alexi Murdoch as the main acts, I IMMEDIATELY got tickets.

Having planted myself on the ground in front of the stage for Alexi Murdoch, I had prime real estate for Hozier‘s set (immediately following Alexi). Hozier and his band kicked off the set with Like Real People Do, a song that makes me melt like butter:

“I will not ask you where you came from
I will not ask you and neither should you

Honey just put your sweet lips on my lips
We should just kiss like real people do..” (DYING)

The sound wasn’t the greatest for the first few songs (where was the sound engineer?!), but it was still AMAZING…(see video below)

Next up in the set was Angel of Small Death, another Hozier gem (video below) that has such a fun chorus to sing along to.

Hozier‘s band then left the stage for the next one, To Be Alone, and DAAAAAMN it felt good TO BE ALONE with the Irishman with PIPES THAT PULSE: “It feels good, girl, GIRL it feels good…To be alone with you…”
His howling at 2 min in sent instant shivers down the spine. DAMN. What a VOICE. (the sexy guitar ditty was pretty hot too…)

The band came back and joined Hozier for what he introduced as Work Song, explaining that it was very much a “work in progress for a long time,” and “we couldn’t think of a better name.” Well, it was surely worth the wait. What a beaut.

“When, my, time comes around
Lay me gently in the cold dark earth
No grave can hold my body down
I’ll crawl home to her..”

BUT, the song that had us PRAYING FOR MORE was the popular crowd pleaser,  Take Me to Church“The only heaven I’ll be sent to, Is when I’m alone with you.” SLAYED. Following up on this was a cover of Amerie’s One ThingHozier introduced this as something “fun” that they tried out for a radio show. Would have never expected him to cover a pop song like that! So funny!

Then, it was time for the magic to end. Hozier‘s CHILLY ENCORE of From Eden left us all weak at the knees leaving St. Stephen’s Church. I was the googly-eyed chick in front with my jaw dropped (and probably drool…) I know for sure I wasn’t the only one!

“Babe, there’s something tragic about you
Something so magic about you
Don’t you agree?

Babe, there’s something lonesome about you
Something so wholesome about you
Get closer to me.” (YES)

For this gig, I definitely got as close as I could (aside from being ON STAGE), and I don’t think it will be easy to get this close again. His fan base is just going to keep EXPLODING more and more, ESPECIALLY when he releases his first debut album. x

VIDEOS:

Like Real People Do:

Angel of Small Death:

To Be Alone:

Work Song:

Take Me to Church:

One Thing (Amerie cover):

From Eden:

PICTURES:


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George Ezra- “Give Me One Good Reason Why I Should Never Make a Change”

George Ezra– The Electric Ballroom, London

(June 18, 2014)

Ever since I saw George Ezra at last year’s Communion Bushstock festival, I knew this young chap was BOUND FOR STARDOM. With a voice very much beyond his years and a bit reminiscent of the legendary Johnny Cash, George and his guitar are enough to DROP JAWS and TURN HEADS. Following up on Bushstock, I was lucky enough to catch George at tiny venues (Queen of Hoxton, Nottinghill Arts Club) within the next few months, and even got to hang with him after the Queen of Hoxton gig (which was FREE and pretty much a personal gig since only a few people came!)…I remember telling him how much I enjoyed his recent performances and how I predicted that he would BLOW UP within the next year, especially after snagging a slot on the BBC introducing stage at Glastonbury 2013. My prediction proved to be SPOT ON, and within a year George was headlining SOLD OUT Europe/UK tours, and topping the UK charts. Just recently I saw George Ezra featured in the London Metro, and I couldn’t help but pat myself on the back a bit for spreading the word about him A YEAR AGO during his TRAVELING TROUBADOUR days. I remember him talking about not having a place to stay in Paris when his hostel was full and how he never wanted to HEAR THE RAIN again because he caught in a storm all night. I guess it’s ironic that his song, ‘Did You Hear the Rain?‘ is now a top hit on the radio and his other song, ‘Budapest‘ (one of my favorites), climbed to #4 on UK charts. I feel pretty lucky to have caught him when he was just starting out and I could watch him from arms-reach away in a tiny venue (see pics/videos below). And I must admit…I like his raw, Johnny Cash-esque style of his troubadour days much more than his studio produced/band-backed sound, but at least he’s GETTING THE CREDIT HE DESERVES. After George’s epic set (see full set list below) at the Electric Ballroom this month (June 18), We are all excited for the release of his debut album (Cassio) in August.

Set List: Blame It on Me, Drawing Board, List to the Name, Casio, Barcelona, Over the Creek, Leaving it Up to You, Stand By You Gun, Spectacular Rival, Budapest, Benjamin Twine, Did You Hear the Rain

PICTURES:

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George Ezra– NottingHill Arts Club, London

(Oct 8, 2013)

 VIDEOS:

Blame It On Me:

Drawing Board:

Did You Hear the Rain:

PICTURES:

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George Ezra– The Queen of Hoxton, London

(July 1, 2013)

VIDEOS:

Breakaway:

Budapest:

Stand By Your Gun:

Benjamin Twine:

Did You Hear the Rain:

PICTURES:


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George Ezra– Bushstock, London

(July 1, 2013)

 

VIDEOS:

Stand By Your Gun:

Budapest:

Did You Hear The Rain:

PICTURES:

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