I am a mixed-media painter, a visionary, a Grey Gardens fan, the mother to a super calm long haired chihuahua mix who thinks he’s a cat/human. Picking him up off the street changed my life. My current work touches on the human body, health, maps and sexuality. I’m taking a road trip through my body, acknowledging it’s pains, the scoliosis, my mind, and exploring the connection of sexuality and the physical body in today’s society. Feminism is a theme that has surfaced in my realm and I’m beginning to speak about that in my work.
2. How did you get your start?
With crayons in a round cookie tin my Grandmother kept in the kitchen closet. I knew when I was 5 that I wanted to be an artist as an adult. In first grade I cried at recess because I was afraid of the wind and a group of 4th grade boys would make fun of me, calling me Windy. This was in Catholic school. One day I drew E.T. and they saw I could draw much better than them. They never bothered me again. It was probably then I knew I had some kind of art talent.
3. What inspires you?
The philosophy and art of Frank Lloyd Wright, the work of Woody Allen, and the constant desire to create. Every moment is a conscious moment of creation; the way I hold myself when I walk, my voice and the words I use, the way I hold utensils… I can always be better. Life inspires me. Life is art.
4. What do you like about AZ?
I’ve met some of the most amazing, kindhearted people in Arizona. I enjoy the desert landscape and the neurotic little lizards that scamper in front of my feet. I’m not a fan of snow after growing up in it in Wisconsin, so that’s the main reason I’m here.
6. What would you like to accomplish before you die?
Live in a Frank Lloyd Wright home. Do work for Burberry, Prada, Kate Spade, and Louis Vuitton. Have my work in movies by Woody Allen and Louis CK. Basically I want to create with and for those who have inspired me. I want to give back.
Every song is different. Ask Tucson group Sun Bones, and they will tell you all four members had a big role in writing different parts of the songs on their debut album, Sentinel Peak.
“It’s really different from song to song, from person to person,” said Sam Golden, vocalist and lead guitarist for Sun Bones. “It feels very comfortable writing for our group. We’ve been together for so long, we can play to our strengths and vocal harmonies. We can read each other’s body language, and even just listening to each other. We know each other and the songs so well, it’s easy to go off the beaten path of how we do our songs… It keeps us on our toes.”
Golden said once the group writes a new song, it is only the beginning – they also continually change older songs to play them in new ways.
“I would not want to be in a band that plays the same songs gig after gig,” he said. “It’s constantly evolving… I hope to give fans a fun new experience every time they see us.”
The group has already gone through changes leading up to this point, from a young band, hastily named to make the deadline of a high school battle of the bands, to recording a new album at the studios inside the University of Arizona.
“We recorded that album ourselves,” said Seth Vietti, Sun Bones drummer and vocalist. “Our ambitions were much greater than our actual talent. We had so many great ideas, and we forced them into the recording, but we had no idea how to re-create it live.”
Then under the name Boreas, the group went out on one tour, but by the time they returned, the music had changed so much from all they had learned from their time performing live onstage, the group evolved once more. Besides, the trio of Golden, Vietti, and bassist Rob Hanshaw had recently added guitarist and percussionist Evan Casler to their roster.
“He brought something new, this punky swagger,” Golden said of Casler. “It changed our songs and changed our sound. We are known for our energy, and Evan brought a lot of that energy. He is always dancing with crowds; jumping off stage… he’s great.”
Vietti said it seemed as if the name Boreas was holding them back, and with Evan now in the group, the sound changed considerably. And when the name “Sun Bones” came to Golden in a dream… it all fell into place.
“It was a good move,” Vietti said. “It was a good name. Sun Bones works. We wanted to sort of evoke the local desert vibe as a part of our sound, and we were so grateful to Tucson, so it worked out.”
Golden also commented his dream-inspired band name has a very Tucson sort of resonance – a very desert-like name, so they wear it with great pride, showing homage to their hometown and its fantastic music scene.
“I like Tucson’s musicians,” Golden said. “There’s a lot of stylistic diversity in Tucson’s sound; a lot of open-mindedness in the Tucson scene. I’m really excited to see where it’s going from here.”
Casler agrees with Golden, and admires how mutually supportive – as well as mutually ambitious – the Tucson music scene can be.
“And it keeps on getting better and better,” Casler said. “The musicians in town are here to support one another, while in other towns we’ve seen, it’s dog-eat-dog: if your band succeeds, it is taking gigs away from my band. In Tucson, bands support each other, and recommend groups to similar groups so they can perform together, and in turn, succeed.”
Casler said Sun Bones, as well as most every group in Tucson, truly values their city’s music ecosystem.
“In order for there to be a really healthy music scene, there has to be good local music playing all the time. It just makes sense to make sure this happens – for them, and for us. All you have to do is keep your ear to the ground, and you’ll find great music. It’s a really great time to be a musician in Tucson.”
Sunday evening, Sun Bones proudly announced they were welcoming one such great Tucson musician into the Sun Bones ranks as the group’s fifth member: Laura Kepner-Adney.
“I’m really excited,” Golden said of their new fifth member. “We toured together with her about a month ago. She adds something new and awesome to the Sun Bones – it’s really rewarding and fun.”
Vietti agrees, and looks forward to the talent Kepner-Adney brings to the group.
“Her voice is amazing, it really cuts through our 4-man group,” he said. “Her musical references and talent for melodies are fantastic. She’s been great to play alongside.”
Together with Kepner-Adney, Sun Bones will soon begin work on their second album. Casler said their debut album, Sentinel Peak, was very eclectic, and did a good job representing the varied tastes of the members of the band.
“We are very proud of that album, but some songs didn’t quite fit,” he said. “It accentuated each voice individually. But in our new album we are working on, we are trying to make one musical statement; something someone can listen to front to back and gain one story from the album.”
Casler said with their upcoming album, Sun Bones are working to find their own sound.
“There was a different sound for every song before, but now we are trying to find the Sun Bones sound,” he said. “We are becoming less and less a group of individuals, and more one being with multiple limbs. We know enough about our own musical styles that we talk less, and it just happens more naturally. It’s a process, but a fun one.”
The group has begun recording their new album, and producing songs they can really be proud of.
“It’s a good problem to have, where we have too many songs to record,” Casler said. “Then we just get to decide what to do with the others. We choose only the best, the ones that best fit with our voice as a group. It’s good news that every time we come up with a new song, that becomes my new favorite song. That is further proof of why I love doing what I do.”
Meanwhile, the group plans on heading north to the Phoenix area in the near future, including a show at the Yucca Tap Room in Tempe on September 21 with Kepner-Adney, under the group name Laura and the Killed Men.
We’re really just there to interact with the audience, and have a positive impact on the crowd,” Casler said. “We really like having this mutual support: we like to entertain you, but you support us in return. If you’re ready to participate – dance, snap, and clap along – you’re pretty much assured to leave the audience smiling.”
Vietti said Sun Bones tries to head up to Phoenix once a month, and the group is excited to play for new crowds in a different city.
“We just want to make our music with appreciative people,” he said. “We have a lot in common, Tucson and Phoenix: we’re all desert rats. I’d encourage everyone to check us out, listen to us, and feel some warm desert heat coming off the stage.”
Visit their webpage for more info. You can listen and purchase Sentinel Peak on Bandcamp.
“You’re appropriating me? I’ll take it. I think of myself as a Tucson musician now.” So says Matt Rolland, a founding member, composer, fiddler and manager for the acclaimed acoustic group Run Boy Run. And Tucson is happy to have him.
“For a while, I considered myself more an Arizona musician… I felt pretty connected to Phoenix, obviously, being from Mesa, and traveled around Arizona a lot going to fiddle contests when I was growing up. So I felt more connected to the Arizona music scene as a whole.” But now his heart is in the Old Pueblo. After Run Boy Run returned from its first national tour, Rolland (and his wife and bandmate Bekah, née Sandoval) decided to settle down in the Armory Park district near downtown. He is increasingly making waves with a variety of side projects, integrating himself more and more into the musical community in Tucson, and looking on with great interest as it grows.
GROWING UP: RED SHIRTS WITH WHITE FRILLS
Rolland comes from a dynasty of acoustic musicians – his grandfather, Paul Rolland, was a renowned classical string pedagogue, his mother Gail is a classical cellist who recently retired from teaching orchestra in the Mesa School District, and his father Peter is a full-time professional fiddler and a standby in the Arizona folk scene. “I’ve been doing music basically since I was a wee babe,” he laughs. “We had a family band growing up called the Rolland Family Band, which is probably what you expect in your head when you hear [of] a family band. We all had matching red shirts with little white frills… and I wore cowboy boots and danced and played washboard.”
It was mostly country-western music that they played. Cowboy music, in other words. “[That] was a really big genre for a long time. And it’s still around, but it’s not nearly as popular now. It’s kind of rolled into [commercial] country music.” It made its mark on Rolland’s playing, though. Until the time he went to college, “my musical world was consumed by Texas fiddle style and by classical.”
The classical side was provided by his mother, and – albeit indirectly – by his grandfather. When Rolland was in his early teens, he began taking lessons from Patricia Cosand. “She had studied with my grandfather. Which was cool for me, because my grandfather died before I was born… [and] he was really influential in the string teaching world… It was neat to have someone from his legacy teach me classical technique and all that. So I feel like I absorbed his thinking and playing, even though I never knew him.”
The fiddling side was, if anything, even more deeply ingrained. “My dad got me competing in fiddle contests pretty much right away,” Rolland says. This was at age 6 or 7, when he and his brother Michael both took up the fiddle. They began at the same time, learned at the same pace – “we really pushed each other. We were able to challenge each other in a really good way.”
The brothers continued seriously fiddling through high school. “We would spend the whole summer traveling. We would pile into our minivan, as soon as we got our drivers’ licenses, and went to fiddle festivals around the country.” Those experiences also planted the seeds for what would eventually become Run Boy Run’s distinctive amalgamation of acoustic genres – folk, bluegrass, old-time, classical, and all across the spectrum. Rolland met musicians on the road whose work he particularly admired, “because it was neither contest fiddle music, nor classical music, but somewhere in that wide world of in-between zones.”
Rolland was particularly struck by Darol Anger, a founding member of the Turtle Island String Quartet; Matt Glaser, a jazz violinist; and Mark O’Connor, an American fiddle superstar. He ended up getting instruction from all three. And along the way, he won the Arizona state fiddle contest two years in a row.
COLLEGE: YOU’RE LOOKING GOOD, CHARLES DARWIN.
“Then I got to college, and I was just burned out on music,” he says. Given his intense lifelong involvement with the fiddle, it makes sense. “So I didn’t want to study music, I just wanted to step back from it a little bit.” But even though he was focused on getting his degree in economics (and even earned a Fulbright scholarship for his pains), he kept up the music. It was more diverse, more lighthearted, more fun. Rolland went deeper into Irish music, started learning the guitar and playing more Americana, and also became involved in the old-time scene in Tucson.
A side note: Acoustic music has divisions of genre that many people don’t realize even exist. There’s bluegrass, which tends to be fast, is often instrumental, and focuses on technical virtuosity. Then there’s folk, which emphasizes simple, clear songwriting and moving lyrics, often eschewing complex music entirely. There are various national styles: traditional Irish music has a large following, and Scottish music (for example) is quite distinct from it; and they too have their own internal divisions.
Then there’s old-time music, also called Appalachian music. Simple melodies, often instrumental, often very old (hence the name). Well-suited to beginners, as well as to advanced musicians, who might improvise elaborately around the original melody. And above all, beautifully suited to making music with friends. It’s the original “kitchen music.” (Full disclosure: I have had the privilege of sitting in on one or two kitchen jam sessions with Matt Rolland and the people he’s about to talk about.)
This story is “one of those things that I feel like [could] only happen in Tucson,” says Rolland. “I was a sophomore in college. By that point I’d started playing Irish music with Daniel Sullivan on drums. We would play really regularly at a farmer’s market… We were out on the lawn one day and I heard fiddle music, which you never hear, so I went to check it out. And it turned out to be a celebration planned by [the Biology department] for Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday, and there was a trio of people wearing large beards and floppy hats on stage playing great music – 2 fiddles, a banjo, really legit… both of the fiddlers were PhD students in the Bio department.”
These were none other than Mary Jane Epps, Michele Lanan, and Carolyn Camp. Two of these may sound very familiar to fans of Arizona acoustic music: Camp is an influential organizer of the acoustic community in Phoenix, and Epps a prolific performer when she was here. “It was exciting to meet [Mary Jane] because it’s just like – I hadn’t heard fiddle that good, randomly, in a long, long time, basically outside of a fiddle contest. So it was sort of like ‘[I have] so much to talk to you about, but you’re wearing a beard and a floppy hat, maybe this isn’t the right time.’” They connected later, and Rolland began playing regularly with Epps.
(Incidentally, Rolland – who sported a real beard at the time – entered the Charles Darwin Look-Alike Competition and won. “Maybe that’s why it’s such a happy memory for me!”)
Through Epps, Rolland got to know most of Tucson’s old-time community. Also, “with old time music, it’s a lot about sharing recordings, so she gave me hard drives full of old-time music recordings. I mean these are things that have been passed around, musician to musician.” It was a huge influence on him musically. And Epps’ efforts also helped to knit the fragmented old-time scene together, as she and Rolland ended up playing with just about everyone in it. “I think she did as much as one person could do without actually trying to do it.”
TUCSON SCENE: THINGS ARE JUST STARTING TO COOK
Rolland’s father Peter “was a Tucson musician back in the day, in the 70s.” Back then, “there were folk musicians everywhere. Tucson was the hotspot in Arizona. And the Cup Cafe was a big meeting ground, even though it was called something else at the time. Every Sunday… even non-musicians would come and hang out, [at] kind of a hootenany.”
Things have changed. “There’s still a couple folks that were around back then who are still doing a lot,” but on the whole, acoustic music is not Tucson’s main passion. The community has aged, and there aren’t many younger entrants. Matt Rolland and Run Boy Run may be bringing it back – “There’s an older folk crowd who are really excited to see a young band doing something acoustic,” he says, and their packed headlining performance at the Tucson Folk Festival last year stands as a testament to that. But there are other young acoustic acts that get Rolland excited.
“Sweet Ghosts definitely have an acoustic bent to them.” Astral Folk is another group that Rolland loves to see perform, and he also cites The Missing Parts, “a great busking trio… very much like folk punk.” Then there’s Ryanhood, an acoustic guitar duo that’s long been a staple here.
And Rolland himself is working with Ryan Green (Ryanhood) and Ryan Alfred (Sweet Ghosts) on a new project they’re currently just calling The Trio. “We’re all excited to start working on challenging acoustic music… Bela Fleck-type stuff, weird instrumentals, things that take a little bit more effort to learn.” We all won’t have long to wait. “The plan is to do a concert at Harlow Gardens next spring… and by that time we should have a name.”
Rolland is particularly excited by all the commercial development in Tucson. “There’s all this new energy with downtown, new restaraunts, new bars, new coffeeshops, that I think can only spill over into the music scene. I don’t think it’s really happened yet, but all these venues… when they start competing with each other and wanting to get more business, I think they could turn to musicians. Even though a lot of them don’t have live music now, they could go that way.”
He sees potential for more venues, more music series, more music festivals – “With so much energy, it’s only a matter of time before things start building in an exciting way.”
Rolland even has ambitions to start an acoustic music festival here in Tucson, at a venue he didn’t want to name. More on that later. “I haven’t been talking to them yet, because I don’t want to offer anything I can’t follow through on.” Run Boy Run takes too much of his time right now for him to consider pursuing such a big side project, but he’s looking at next year.
Once he’s more settled, Rolland wants to “bring together that age-wise split… you have young people interested in folk music right now, and you have some rocks stars of the acoustic world that young people don’t even know about.” They’re all playing at Old Town Artisans, Monterey Court, the Unitarian Universalist Church, and so on: venues that don’t draw a particularly young demographic. But there’s room to change that.
“That’s a dream of mine… when I have a little more time, [I’ll] try to make that happen.”
RUN BOY RUN
Matt Rolland’s main claim to fame is also Tucson’s flagship acoustic ensemble of the moment: Run Boy Run. The group has enjoyed massive success on the folk circuit since its inception in 2011, with two appearances on NPR’s Prairie Home Companion and multiple festival appearances across the country. Their music combines aspects of old-time, bluegrass, folk, Irish and classical styles, executed with tight precision and absolutely pure harmony. It’s something very new, yet so rooted in traditional sounds that it seems like it’s been around forever.
The group consists of Matt and Bekah Rolland, Matt’s sister Grace Rolland, Bekah’s sister Jenn Sandoval, and their friend Jesse Allen. (It’s a family band all over again!) Matt manages the ensemble, and a recent move of his was to create a “vanity label” called Sky Island Records. But it has further potential, beyond the vanity part.
“We built this infrastructure [of production, distribution and promotion], and I could see down the line wanting to do something more with it. Like if another band came to us and wanted to be on the label, I would totally consider it… We’re calling it an Americana label, so it’s flexible enough” to put out a range of styles. “Acoustic oriented,” to be sure, but accommodating of the wide range of genres that acoustic music entails.
Rolland has ideas about what a label means these days. “I sort of see a label as a way to do projects.” Not just recording and releasing music – “To me it wouldn’t be that strange to see a label sponsoring a festival, or a t-shirt line.” He has turned a keen eye toward Tucson’s small labels: Funzalo, Topaz, Baby Gas Mask, Fort Lowell, PIAPTK, Diet Pop, Commercial Appeal. He wants to see what they’ll do next.
TUCSON SPIRIT, PHOENIX SPIRIT
“People, when they like something, reach out about it.” That, for Rolland, is one thing that separates Tucson from the rest.
“I think Tucson is just small enough that people feel like a family. Whereas, Phoenix is physically more spread out, venues are more spread out.” He recalls his experiences living in each city. “Tucson is small enough that people know each other. Feels like a small, tight circle – literally every person who I’m excited to meet and get to know, already knows [the people I already work with] – now I just expect it.”
He has some optimism for Phoenix as well, mentioning the new vibe in the Roosevelt district, the new group of bands and labels and promoters coming out of that area. “It seems like there’s a lot [more] friendly collaborations going on.”
But Tucson is his adopted home, and he’s dead set on making it an even better place to make music. And between his upcoming trio, his new label, and Run Boy Run’s already excellent contribution to the scene, there’s much to look forward to.
Run Boy Run will be performing at the Rialto Theatre in Tucson on September 5th, supporting Ryanhood. Their next album, Something To Someone, will be out on October 28th. Listen to their new song “Under the Boughs” here.
Bob Hanshaw is a writer and musician based in Tucson. He plays bass for Sun Bones. You can follow #TucsonPortraits on Facebook here.
The Rifle’s profile reads, “Making music (secretly) in Tucson”, but after listening to Rib to Rib, the secret will soon be out about Nelene DeGuzman and her
writing and musicianship.
Sparse is how I would describe this record. Lo-fi is another way to characterize this blues-in-nature record. Also, there’s a wonderful aura of ambiance to each of the songs on this 7 track CD. In fact, the slight waterfall behind a couple of the tracks adds a very nice serene vibe and perfectly compliments the vocals.
“Kill your darlings”, the first track, could have been recorded at the Crossroads. The vibrato guitar and beat of a tambourine captures the Memphis sound and The Rifle’s voice resonates far above the music even though it is light and airy. This is one of the things I truly enjoy about the music: the tug of war continues throughout the entire album and little by little it burrows into your ears – and then The Rifle’s lyrics find its target, your soul.
On, “The ground”, harmonica takes the lead in front of the train-like rhythm of the song Again, the storytelling is great, and that’s good, because truth be told, the music isn’t all that complicated, and it doesn’t have to be. There’s a quiet contemplation to her song structure, and she masterfully uses that quality to its fullest extent.
“Down deep down” is funeral dirge for the deepest part of her soul. Moody and bleak, it is awesome. “Rib to rib”, the title track, is a heart-to-heart talk while lying in bed with someone and, well, it isn’t going so well…
“Settle down” “Albany” and “Delta of Venus”, finish out the album and are all wonderful tunes – and rather than go into details, I’ll simply recommend you take a listen.
This just hit me: There’s a Kim Deal haunting quality to The Rifle’s vocals and I believe that is why I dig the sound so much. That, and it’s a pretty damn good album. Listen to The Rifle and her Rib to Rib EP here.
Daniel Shepherd: I am a father, an artist, a husband, a DJ, an advisor, a dreamer, a friend, a hopeless optimist , a trouble maker, a cat lover, a son, a grumbler, a mammal, a record collector, a non- musician, a problem, a solution, a good talker, a handful. What I do: make art in the areas of collage and minimal abstract paintings, but I’m also working on my continuing series of organic creatures and spacemen figurative works for some future exhibit. I look after my kids, [and] page endlessly through old books and magazines for images that interest me. I tend to be rather insular and don’t pay any attention to the things going on around me. some might say I live in a dream world, but, whatever.
2. How did you get your start?
My first memory of doing anything with art was sitting on my great grandmother’s lap and we’d play a game she called squiggles . I’d draw some random shape and she’d turn it into something. i loved doing it and continued from there, i was like maybe 5 years old i guess. It showed me at an early age and gave me the freedom to think that art could be anything. I could draw anything I could think of, I didn’t have to be real. It didn’t have to be anything but what i wanted it to be. i really liked that idea. It’s basically stuck with me to this day.
3. What inspires you?
The simple answer is everything. It could be really anything. A blank canvas: if i stare at it long enough sometimes i see things appear. I can find beauty in a old worn scrap of paper torn from a water damaged book. The Arizona clouds, a crack in the sidewalk, a certain memory, the laughter of children, a deep breathe, 1972-1977 issues of penthouse magazine, jazz. But i think mainly girls in Hot Dog on a Stick uniforms.
4. What do you like about AZ?
I love love love the desert landscape. I have very fond memories of being curled up in the front seat of the family ’64 mustang with my dad driving from California to Texas to visit relatives and loving what it looked like here. I was maybe 10 years old at the time. It looked so different to me. Martian like, just something i had never seen and I thought it was beautiful, plus the clouds here are better than any other clouds I’ve ever seen anywhere. I had the opportunity to move here in 1989 and jumped at the chance.
6. What would you like to accomplish before you die?
My answer is, I really don’t know. I don’t think that far ahead. But I guess it could all be over tomorrow huh? Who knows. I like that I’ve made a lot of art that will be around long after I’m gone from this world, so maybe I live on through that? I don’t really know or give it much thought. I do hope my skull ends up some place nice. I’ve always wondered where my skull will end up.
7. What is your mantra?
breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out………
Their band page states, “Oh no, not another indie/folk band.” And yes, the world doesn’t need another. Really, it doesn’t. I’m serious. But you know what? The world does need a band like Ozark Pappy. Really, it does.
Yes, If Our Boat Begins To Sink has acoustic guitars. Yes, it has a kick drum up front and center. And I’m sure there’s a violin buried somewhere in the mix, but there are some things that this band has that the other bands that we don’t need anymore has: Honesty, wonderful harmonies and lyrics and most especially a synthesizer, yes, synthesizer, that is the focal rhythmic key to “Dust In the Dirt”, the first track on the album and runs its course throughout the record.
Dear bunch of folk bandwagoners and coatailers, all you did was basically rip off that idiot Mumford and his regressive sons, who ripped off and bastardized the wonderful music of Irish immigrants and the like – but Ozark Pappy, gets it.
OK, OK, “Eugene”, the second track, follows a very familiar template, an empty one string rhythm and harmonies, but again, it doesn’t disintegrate into that loud, fast and pounding overused outro that is so terribly annoying. It stays quiet, reserved, and allows us the listener to bask in that familiar template and at the same time, convinces us that it is new.
“Fidel”, is an ode to the late dictator. The history nerd in me loved it just for the title, the music lover found the guitar and the distorted guitar. See what they did there? A welcome surprise and, there again, the band gets it – take what’s been done and make it your own. And then, the bridge features a breezy female vocal pitted against a ferocious lead electric guitar solo, take note folkers.
The middle of the album featuring, “Ben”, “Blue Jeans”, and “Waiting for My Time to Come” are strong compositions – the band goes back to its folk roots without burying itself in irony. I like them, I really do, but they don’t have that spark of ingenuity the first half of If Our Boat Begins To Sink possesses. But you know what? It didn’t matter to me because it gives my ears a chance for a respite and relax into the music. They’re folk through and through, and a good choice by the band – like any good concert – up, down, up and get out of there.
And that’s what the final two tracks, “Blood to Bleed” and “75”, do. You know that spark I just referred to? Yeah, it’s here, especially on “Blood to Bleed” – a song that brings in traditional accordion and tambourine. But instead of over-featuring them like so many bands do, they give them a tiny space to play and set them against an open snare and childlike keyboard riff. Add to that, the fine storytelling, and there you go – originality.
As far as “75” goes, this delicate song featuring an over-vibratoed guitar, mandolin, and xylophone is the perfect way to end the record. It allows the listener to float out of their body and into a dream-like state and then, poof, we’re wanting to replay every one of the songs over again.
All in all, I really enjoy this record. And, I can totally see how this will translate onto stage.
Yes, Ozark Pappy: Jon Cain, Chris Bean and Heather Nyhart, as well as all of the contributing musicians the band recruited, the world doesn’t need another indie/folk band. Thank goodness we got you.
Visit Ozark Pappy’s website here. Listen to Ozark Pappy on Spotify or buy If Our Boat Begins To Sink on iTunes.
Kevin Loyd – vocalist, guitarist and banjo extraordinaire for Phoenix rock group Banana Gun, firmly believes songwriting can happen in a variety of different ways. But if you ask Loyd and the rest of the Banana Gun crew, there is only one way for them to record a truly great album… live.
“We are still perfecting our studio recordings,” Loyd said. “But playing live, that’s easy for me. There’s no wrong way or right way to record an album; we just did what worked for us. I love the experience of this last record.”
Banana Gun’s bassist, Ross Troost, said the group had talked about doing things a little differently when they went into the studio to record their latest album, Love.Instinct.
“We wanted to bring more of the live element, do as much of the songs as possible live,” Troost said. “We are a high-energy, grind-it-out band. I’d love to say we stepped up our game with this record, but we really just played to our strengths – playing live. We talked to the record label about doing this record live, and they told us, ‘If there’s a band out there that can do this, it’s you.’”
Another of Banana Gun’s strengths is everyone has a part, and additional members Ian Breslin (drums), Nic Dehaan (guitar and vocals) Kyle Scarborough (sax and vocals) get a say in what the group does, and how the songs are performed.
“We’re all big fans of music,” Troost said. “We hang out, even when we’re not playing – talking about music, talking about new ideas. I like creating. I love practicing, creating new things… working on something new. Everybody in the band contributes, and I think because of that, we’ve put together some really great stuff.”
Loyd said the group loves to try their songs in new ways to make something new.
“The best idea wins,” he said. “We’ll try any song 15 different ways to see what works best. When you create, you are super excited about it, but you’re never sure what other people will think. And performing live – seeing them move, connect; to spark some form of real emotion from them… your ego can be very fragile. We hope they love music as much as we love doing it. It’s a weird thing: you play for yourself, but not entirely. You’re never completely satisfied – that’s why you keep doing it.”
Banana Gun has something in their album for every fan in the crowd, from blues to funk, and plenty of rock and roll.
“I’m willing to bet there’s something for everybody in what we do,” Loyd said. “I feel like I’ve done my job if someone leaves our show and is humming one of our songs the next day. I want to make music I would go out and listen to. If it ever becomes a grind, I don’t want to do that.”
Not only is Love.Instinct a fantastic display of the powerful live energy Banana Gun brings to the table, it shows a great versatility for the group. There is plenty of harder, faster rock to go around, like “Don’t Gimme No” and “Got Time,” as well as a quick rhythm with a ‘baby, please come home’ message in “Cats and Dogs.” The group also adds slower, more emotional ballads, like “Broken Arm” and “Dynamite the Mountain.” The album even ends with a fun, lighter ukulele sound with “Never Quit Loving You,” complete with kazoo interludes for the melody.
This album, and all the variety and energy it brings to the table, is a powerful example of what Banana Gun is capable of. Go check out their album. Better yet, go check them out live.
Banana Gun has plenty of shows coming up where you can see them live. They play the Apache Lake Music Festival October 24-25, as well as the 2014 Summer Ends Music Festival Friday, September 26 in Tempe. You can also see them at Oktoberfest by Tempe Town Lake October 10-12. Banana Gun’s 5-year anniversary show will be at Last Exit Live December 6, when they also plan to record new music, as part of that celebration. But for now, check out Banana Gun this Saturday, August 23rd at the Tempe Center for the Arts, where they take the stage for the evening along with Pistoleros, Tenia Sanders, and Old Jack City.