Shows statewide canceled Thursday!

We've never been big on April Fools Day pranks, but yeah there are a coupla rockin' shows lined up around the state, and no, despite what you read in the title of this post, the shows will still go on...

Morgantown's Billy Matheny makes the short drive to Huntington for a show at Shamrock's with Shepherdstown's Prison Book Club and the Bud Carroll Band Thursday night. The Huntington Herald-Dispatch had a pretty neat artikel on Matheny (well, at least it didn't have any typos) by some handsome devil, with a haircut that makes Jim Traficant look like Rod Blagojevich. Cool lineup. Check out our Q&A with PBC here, and revisit our recent chat with Carroll here.

Up in Magic Town, Lake and Ocean is set to play 123 Pleasant Street with Depresbyterians and David F. Bello. Read our very sober (like there's any other kind) review of Lake and Ocean w/J Marinelli at the Sound Factory here, and check out our lame attempt at reviewing Lake and Ocean's debut EP Pull right here. Sounds good to us if yer up that way.

Update: Just heard from L&O's Nick Bradley that Depresbyterians had to cancel...and, this just in: our friends in Thick As Thieves have jumped onto the bill; nice.

more to come...


The WVRockscene Roast of Jeff Ellis

So, you’ve seen him live, heard the CDs and/or read the reviews. But what do the people who know Jeff Ellis best have to say about him? We asked a few notable friends and fellow musicians to spill the beans on him, from being in the studio, to hanging out…

What can you say about Jeff Ellis? Jeff is one of the best friends I’ve ever had. He can drink more than just about anyone I know. As far as his progression as a musician, dude’s been writing great songs since forever, he can sing like a motherfucker, and he knows exactly what he wants in the studio. He can really hear where something is headed, and knows how to get it there. I think his writing is always progressing, and this new disc is definitely a testament to that.

To say I’ve been in a lot of recording sessions over the years is putting it mildly. But I have to say I’ve only been in one where I was sure that we were hearing a dead ringer hit song come back off the speakers.

I know a few people who have written hit songs, now they’ll probably never actually get to be hits in the real world, but I know them when I hear them, and they do exist outside of the mainstream. When we heard the playback of “I’m Not Leaving This Time” I knew it was a fucking hit song. People may think I’m an idiot, but it is, and I’ll fucking fight anyone who claims differently. “I’m Not Leaving This Time” is a hit, but in an industry full of stupid motherfuckers who wouldn’t know good shit if it kicked them in the nuts, it’ll probably never be a hit.

As far as the good times are concerned, we’ve had a few to say the least. I wish I had the secret drunken footage that Phil Dog took of us getting wasted after the sessions for the first record we did with him, that would alleviate the need for any discussion on the subject. I can say I’ve never tracked a record more hung over than with Jeff Ellis. I know that Jimmy Lykens hasn’t.

The new disc is great, the songs are great, the playing is great, it sounds great, and I’m very honored that Eddie and Jeff gave me an executive producer credit. Apparently all you have to do to produce a record is give Steve Barker a bunch of shit during the sessions. J/K He played great, all the guys did, and we’re all real proud that we could be a part of it.

The thing that was most notable to me about the record is the fact that there were hardly any rehearsals before it. We tracked most of it live in the same room together, with very few fixes or overdubs. Hell, some of the takes on the record are the first time I had even heard the songs. But when you are playing on great stuff, it’s easy to hear your part if you know what your role is. And when you’re working with Jeff, it’s rare that what you are ever playing on is anything less than great.

--- Bud Carroll

Jeff Ellis is a natural born superstar. One of the all-time great tightrope walkers. Hemmingway would count him both as friend and nemesis. Both great writers, and great drinkers.

--- Steve Barker

Jeff’s favorite accommodation in the whole world is the Highlander Motel, otherwise known as “The Second Worst Motel In Athens, Ohio.”

Not sure why this is.

Perhaps it is the constant smell of curry that wafts from the office (where the owners live) and seems to permeate every room in the establishment. Or the din of out-of-town partiers who frequent the place on weekends, when Jeff and the crew are most likely to stay there. Or the noisy HVAC that is too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer. Or maybe it is just the allure of the free HBO.

All I know is, when asked by a band member why he ALWAYS stays at the Highlander when in Athens, when there are other, only slightly more costly, and much more, uh, clean establishments to spend the night, Jeff’s answer was “I freakin’ LOVE this place!!!”

--- Eddie Ashworth

I have known Jeff since he was about seven years old. We grew up not five miles from each other in Chapmanville, and have been very close for over 15 years now. I really cannot think of any one individual in my generation that will have more of an impact on the landscape of WV music than Jeff Ellis. Period.

He has already at the ripe old age of 30 delivered a wealth of good, independently produced music. I myself own at least 10 releases going back to Harvest. I envy Jeff for the volume of great material he seems to so effortlessly put out. But, Jeff doesn’t come by it easy. He has forced himself into hard situations, into wars, into fending for himself at a young age, just so he could write from the heart. A lot of musicians, including myself, have taken a path more traveled.

Although Jeff and I have very different musical tastes and went different directions with them, we have always shared a certain admiration for our differences. He has had me guest vocal on his albums, Byzantine has had Jeff guest vocal on ours. It might stem back from knowing Jeff since he was in 10th grade, but I pull for Jeff more than anyone. He does it his way. If you don’t like it, there’s the door. He orchestrates whole albums in his head. He gets off a plane from Afghanistan and immediately books shows. You tell me who does that. I couldn’t do that.

--- Chris Ojeda, Byzantine

I was around Jeff quite a bit when he was writing many of the songs that ended up making the cut for The Forgetting Place. There were a lot of nights, consuming a lot of beer, where we exchanged stories about our similar situations in the female department. If you’ve listened to the CD, then there’s no need for me to tell you what those situations were -- ha!

I saw Jeff perform a good amount of those songs acoustically around the Tri-State and was super pumped to hear that some of them made the cut for the actual disc. I always told him I was ready for another Jeff Ellis heartbreak CD -- he delivered with a CD that hit me in the heart pretty hard. Even though he wrote the songs for someone else, about 75% of them could have been written about a girl who was once in my life.

It was disappointing when Jeff said he was getting shipped back out before the CD came out. I’m really looking forward to having Jeff back in town and hearing the full band versions of the new tracks!

The last time Jeff was overseas he came back with what is his best material in my opinion. Although I connect with The Forgetting Place, I still feel overall A Front Seat [for the End of the World] is his best quality CD, maybe even better than any of the Guinness Clarke’s Wine works.

There’s been plenty of wild times with Jeff over the past couple years. I can’t wait to have him back over here for good -- although my liver isn’t really ready for him just yet!

--- Brandon Woolum, X106.3

--- photo: Taylor Kuykendall


CD Review: "The Forgetting Place"

CD: The Forgetting Place
ARTIST: Jeff Ellis

Looking at things one way, it seems like Jeff Ellis just can’t catch a break.

Back home from serving in the Middle East in the Army Reserves, the 29-year old Huntington resident and Marshall University student barely seems to have time to make great records in between work, school, and, most importantly from a songwriting perspective, getting his heart trampled on by female love interests.

Hey, if he wasn’t getting his heart broken, what would he write songs about? Gold rims, platinum grills and worshipping Rockefellers and the Illuminati? It just wouldn’t be the same if he did.

On his new CD The Forgetting Place, Ellis, despite all the personal upheaval, lays down 13 songs worth of his own version of rockin’ Americana; folk, bluegrass, alt-country and blues, and, like most songwriters worth their salt, turns the things that suck for him, and weaves them into touching, personal stories inside great well-structured, memorable songs.

On another level, on the new CD, Ellis, on first listen to longtime followers, may seem to be a victim of his own past success; following up 2007’s epochal A Front Seat for the End of the World (mainly a recounting of Ellis’ time in the Gulf) and 2008’s Covering The Distance (his alt-country trip home) would be tough for anybody, but Ellis pulls it off nicely on The Forgetting Place.

Having had a burned copy of the CD for a few months now, and hearing it at first, it is, to longtime fans of his, no big surprise how good it is, just a bit softer overall than the material on his last two releases. Only letting it digest over many plays, can you appreciate how solid it is, and his talents as a songwriter.

Yeah, it’s another great CD from Jeff Ellis; ho hum.

Regardless of Ellis’ success in the relationship department, or how and where The Forgetting Place stacks up to, or fits in with his last two releases, Ellis has taken his music to the proverbial next level; he has caught his (relatively) big break, as it were, as his fourth overall solo release (this after his work in Guinness Clarke’s Wine) is put out on the New York-based NewSong Recordings. Since we last heard from him on Covering the Distance, Ellis has impressed some of the right people, winning the Mountain Stage NewSong competition in 2008.

Ellis is joined on the new CD by his longtime cohorts Bud Carroll and the Southern Souls (Jimmy Lykens, Steve Barker & Jon Cavendish) in the studio, along with longtime friend and GCW bandmate Phil James on piano. Anybody who’s heard Ellis’ last two releases, with Carroll’s soaring, bluesy solos, knows how powerful the duo is. If you haven’t or you don’t, now you do.

The Forgetting Place opens with “If He’s So Good To You,” jangly, twangy Americana with layered organ and awesome solos, which catches us all up on what’s happening with Ellis -- the whole relationship thing. Long story short, he’s trying to move on, but getting jerked around. The nerve of that girl!

“Russell & Honeybee” is Ellis’ stripped-down, shuffling, somber and dreamy-yet heartbreaking ode to a heartless lost love, sung from the perspective of a homeless romantic. It’s got kind of the same vibe as Distance’s beach song, “Sleepyhead,” but nowhere near as good from the singer’s perspective.

Ellis’ dynamic, powerful voice takes a softer backseat along with delicate backing vocals, showcasing his range (and writing) as he sings on the chorus:
And it’s been a long life of waiting for some change to come
It might take a long time/but that’s something he’s got plenty of
He searches for some comfort/But never finds relief
And out there on the streets he dreams of Honeybee
So you’re only two songs into the record and you’ve got a nice encapsulation of Ellis’ songs: touching, painfully honest poetic balladry (“You can barely call it livin’/Oh, but dying’s too extreme. And somewhere in between he dreams of Honeybee.”) inside of well-arranged, catchy songs with Ellis’ harmonica thrown in for the Dylan effect. A great song.

Ellis breaks out the rockin’ Americana on “Don’t Let Me Go” and the Wilco-esque Being There bar-balladry of “Still Ain’t Over You Yet,” one of the standout tracks, and at two-and-a half minutes long, it doesn’t take long to rock out.

The thing about Ellis’ songwriting is that he can write songs geared toward a big, full band lineup, or songs made more for solo rocking; either way, at this point you get the idea that Ellis is one of the best songwriters in the state, and maybe beyond.

“Is Something The Matter” is Ellis’ slow, road weary, piano-flaked ode to love, with cool sounding e-bow type guitar parts on it. For Ellis, who listed R.E.M. as an influence, this is a song that would fit well on New Adventures in Hi-Fi, maybe. When it comes to “the battles of love” and dealing with women, is something the matter? Something’s always the matter.

Ellis is joined on the stripped down alt-bluegrass hit “Can’t Stop Me From Loving You” by members of Huntington’s Wilson Creek, for the nice female backing vocals and delicate mandolin runs. You want more broken hearted, poetic lyrics? Okay, here is the chorus:
You can’t make someone feel something they don’t
Make ‘em love you if they won’t
Change the way things are/no matter what you do
Just like you could never stop me from loving you
The song has great progressions, delicate, hushed vocals, and with Ellis’ harmonica parts, is one of the best songs on the CD. It’s a tribute to Ellis that he would invite female guest vocalists on his songs, to complement his vocals, like he did (most famously in our mind) on “Time Slips Away” on Front Seat.

“Fooled” shows off Ellis’ bluesy side, (it’s good that he’s got Carroll with him) and his ultra-powerful, belt-it-out vocals as he takes the fight to his ex’s strategic disinformation as he builds the song to the awesome chorus:
Well I thought if I run and hide
I might escape the things I’ve done
But I’ve come to find hurt and time,
Are the only things that’ll heal someone
Symptoms may include goosebumps, as it’s one of the more powerful parts on the entire CD.

Ellis is again joined by Wilson Creek members for the fun bluegrass feel of “Jealousy,” again with the female backing vocals, a nice touch. But while the song has the fun bluegrass feel, Ellis sings about the bad times suspicious minds can bring about:
Like a cancer it crept in and took its toll on me and you
Eating at the little parts til it tore our hearts plain through
“Mama Dear” sounds like a bit of a post-script to, or at least would’ve fit well on Front Seat, with its Eastern, Sitar sounding guitar parts (ala the band Live) over marching snare, and the post-traumatic, war themed lyrics:
I have seen destruction and I have seen its toll
I have seen the works of men
I have seen their wealth, their power and control
And I don’t want no part of them

These men have crushed my spirit, these men have crushed my soul
These men have made my hands to sin
They’ve stripped me of my conscience and left this empty hole
This darkness deep within
The sprightly, almost haunting fireside folk of the title track may evoke “House of the Rising Sun” for some reason, as Ellis continues his efforts to get women off his mind at the pub, but no, he can’t stay there.

“Fade” opens with rockin’ muted riffage, sounding like Weezer or something in parts, (not much like anything on Ellis’ previous releases) as he recalls running from his strong feelings.

The swaying acoustic of “I’ll See You Soon” closes the CD, with Ellis yearning for a long lost love, with the hope of a reunion.

Ellis, for The Forgetting Place, returned to Athens, Ohio’s Tracking Station and re-enlisted Eddie Ashworth to produce the new CD, with solid, rich results. And, Carroll snagged an associate producer nod on it; nice. Throughout the CD, before and after the songs, Ellis can be heard cutting up in the studio with Ashworth and his bandmates, giving the recording a more fun, informal feel. Come to find out, the songs were recorded in one or two takes, on the fly.

For newer fans of Ellis, it might behoove them to go get their hands on his prior releases. Wrapping all his music up into one package, you can get a feel of his talent and why Ellis has now impressed the important people, who will hopefully help him get the audience he deserves.

And, without a doubt, you’ll be glad you got turned on to the music he’s been making the past couple of years.

mp3: “Can't Stop Me From Lovin You” by Jeff Ellis

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Morgantown salutes the Clinton Years 3.20

This Saturday night a who’s who of Magic Town luminaries will come together at 123 Pleasant Street to relive the glorious nineties, playing some of their favorite songs to help raise money for the Mountaineer Boys & Girls Club. ‘85 Flood frontman Aaron Hawley, engineer of so many benefit shows up there, told us what he thinks about this one…

We’re really excited for the show, for a wide variety of reasons! ‘85 Flood will be covering a couple tunes that had a big impact on me back in the halcyon days of the mid-nineties, so that’ll be fun.

I don’t really want to reveal too much about who’s playing what, but I do know there’s going to be a large and diverse cross-section of 90’s music represented. From really innovative, underground rock like Dinosaur Jr. to cheesy ball country artists like Garth Brooks, to MTV buzz clips the whole gamut will be presented. It’s going to be a blast!

It’s a great opportunity to support the Mountaineer Boys & Girls Club. I worked for the MBGC for about five years when I moved back to Morgantown and it had a profound influence on me. It was an eye-opening experience that really taught me to appreciate what I have in life and made me realize how important it is to offer support to those who don’t. Some of the kids at the Boys & Girls Club are some of the most entertaining, engaging and inspiring people I’ve ever met, regardless of age.

From a show standpoint, I love the big tribute nights since they serve as a sort of ‘State of the Scene’ by getting a lot of bands together for one night only. This year we’re playing with a lot of band's we’ve played shows with in the past and a lot of bands who we haven’t. I’m particularly excited to see what Fletcher’s Grove and Square the Circle have in store. They’re a couple of bands who haven’t had the easiest time cracking into the Pleasant Street scene, so I’m excited to have them get up in front of a full house and do their thing.

Also on the bill is a band called The Sawngs who will be making their debut at the show. The band has Mikey Iafrate from the Priesthood, Walt Sarkees from the Morgantown Rounders, Chris Russell from the Argument and Aaron Crothers from the Emergency, so it’s a pretty all-star lineup to begin with, and I know they’ll deliver the goods.

I’m also pumped about Karate Balboa. It’s another All-Star group featuring Joe White from 8-Bitz, Ryan and Jeff from Descension Rate and Kevin Post from the Emergency. For 80’s night they came out and did three songs featured in 80’s movie montage scenes, hence the name Karate (as in Kid) Balboa (as in Rocky). For this show they’re doing three more songs that are thematically-linked, though I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

And as for that sick flyer, it was done by Brian Pickens, of course.


It's a Q&A w/Brian Spragg of It's Birds

Morgantown’s It’s Birds will release their new CD My Bloodless Wife Friday at 123 Pleasant Street. We caught up with singer/guitarist Brian Spragg (far right) in time for the show to see what’s up…

WVRS: How satisfying is it to get the new CD out? How much total time went into the recording and just getting it done?
BS: Very satisfying. We tracked most of the drums in early November, then we did all the guitars and bass whenever we could after that on weekends and evenings. By the end of November we had all the basic tracks and were then able to track vocals with David Klug. We had to go up one other time in I think mid January to finish some little overdubs and that was it. It would have been done a little sooner but there were some things like FOX Japan had some shows in December, the mastering engineer’s email account kept sending my emails to his trash folder, and let’s not forget the bullshit snowstorm(s) that happened.

WVRS: You mentioned being burnt out musically, what’s up, just staying busy with other stuff?
BS: I love playing and writing and booking shows but those combined with getting things arranged for some benefit shows coming up, starting another project called Pat Pat, and recording various bands was wearing me out a little, but I think after April or so, I should be a lot better and not so stressed out.

WVRS: This is It’s Birds sophomore release, what if anything’s changed since 2007’s Horses Love Me Yes I Am? You’ve got a new drummer obviously, still recording in your bedroom?
BS: Yeah, the drummer we have is Jason Birch. He’s also from Wheeling like Andrew [Slater] and George [Zatezalo]. We tracked drums for 7 of 8 songs in a warehouse in Morgantown, then did all the main guitars and bass in my bedroom again. At the end of November, we went up to Pittsburgh to track vocals with David Klug. I feel like Bloodless Wife is just so much more interesting and challenging, and I’ll throw in the cliché, more mature. Obviously not that mature because we have songs about AIDS, Twix bars, and stalking.

WVRS: How do you and Slater split up and/or share singing and songwriting duties, smoothly or painfully?
BS: I think smoothly, I’ve never thought of a time when it was a problem. Usually we sing what we write and depending on what’s being played. If it’s easier for one of us to sing and play a specific part, that’s when we’ll make exceptions.

WVRS: You had Dave Klug in Pittsburgh do mixing; satisfied with the results?
BS: Extremely satisfied. David knows so much about recording and mixing. I plan on working with him a lot in the future not just with projects of my own, but for bands that I’ve started recording to hopefully go through him for mixing.

WVRS: You mention the track listing not being really set in stone when you shipped the tracks to Klug, how much thought went into just arranging the songs on the CD?
BS: It’s similar to our live show actually. It wasn’t real hard to figure out a way they seemed to fit the best together, but through a few emails with the other members it was settled on quickly.

WVRS: You’ve helped a few cool bands record; how neat is it to help other bands get their music out, and how does your experience being in a band help?
BS: It’s really cool. Most of them are my friends and I may have seen them perform live and know what they’re going for and try my best to recreate that. FOX Japan is a lot of hard work, but it’s usually fun. They like to try to get cool/new guitar sounds. I’ve recorded one and a half of their records so far. Also, I’ve been tracking for The Resonators full length, which I imagine they’d release sometime this Fall.

WVRS: Is there an actual bloodless wife? Or is that more of a metaphorical thing? Any other ideas for alternate titles that didn’t make it? Where is the cover art from?
BS: I was with my family at Christmas, and my sister had a few blankets on her and asked for another because she was still cold, then my brother-in-law said “My bloodless wife, everyone.” I think it’s a title that doesn’t sound too absurd or too serious. We kicked around a few different ideas like It’s Birds is Stalking You, Spaghetti Stay Water Go, and Bare Hug.
The cover art actually is from a mural in one my favorite restaurants in Morgantown called Rio Grande. We just went in late one night and asked if we can take pictures, but they never told us who the artist was. Whoever they are, I hope they don’t find out and I hope they don’t get mad at us. WHOOPS.

WVRS: Who is Warren Forrest, and why do you have a song about him on the new CD?
BS: Andrew’s father dreamt a musical, and in it, the main song and the name of the musical itself was “I’m in Love with Warren Forest.” We’re not aware of someone in real life with that name, but I think Andrew’s father read an article or saw on a TV documentary about the MC5, and they lived in an area or district or something called Warren Forest.

WVRS: Is the CD out on any particular label? Self-released? How important do you think a label is to a band these days?
BS: We’re just releasing it ourselves. It’d be great to be on a label especially to get better distribution and maybe help in the cost of pressing/mastering but we’re doing fine.

WVRS: You’re playing this Morgantown Salutes the Clinton Years show 3.20, what songs/bands will you be playing, and how neat is it to play for such a good cause?
BS: Yeah, I’m excited for it. It’s fun to cover songs every once in a while. I’m playing with members of It’s Birds and members of Russian Tombstones and a few other friends as one band, and I’m also playing in Pat Pat that night. Some of the songs we’re doing include Foo Fighter’s “Everlong,” Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” and Lisa Loeb’s “Stay.” This night should be a lot of fun. Or really stressful, who knows.

WVRS: The release show, how cool is it to be playing with FOX Japan, and what can you say about Christmas Lights?
BS: It’s always great to play with FOX Japan, and I’m going to get to hear some new songs. Christmas Lights come from Frostburg, and I really like their live show. It’ll be fun playing with them and seeing them again, last time was in December.

WVRS: Do you guys have any additional shows or plans for promoting the release? Big plans or just let it ride?
BS: Right now, no, but we want to. We’re going to see what happens after the release. Also I hope Furnace MFG doesn’t screw me over. Ever since this one guy left a year ago, their customer service has been total shit. Here’s hoping it all works out.

video: DJAndvil


Cardoons release Thundermug 3.11

Our good friend Brian Pickens snapped this pic of Staggering Cardoons frontman Chris Herrington and Erik Rieder at 123 Pleasant Street Thursday night, as the Cardoons released their debut CD Thundermug. We're still looking forward to hearing the CD, which the Cardoons got just in time for the show.

If you recognize the name Brian Pickens from somewhere, maybe it's from his time in Thred, or, if you look up at the top of the blog here, at our WVRockscene banner, he made that for us. Yeah, nice.

Check out Pickens' pics of other notable Magic Town acts on his flickr page, see his pics of the Cardoons here, and, look for the Cardoons CD for us. They play McClafferty's Irish Pub in Morgantown on St. Patrick's Day; good deal.


St. Patty's Day w/The Gentlemen @ 123

Continuing with the "way more Irish than you" theme here at the blog...

Morgantown's resident Celt punks The Gentlemen are set to play a pair of St. Patrick's Day bash shows at 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown over the weekend; one Friday, and an all-ages show on Sunday.

One of our favorite bands, and Stick To Your Guns, their CD, was rockin' enough to finish at or near the top of our top 10 CDs from 2009. We're going to stop mentioning that now.

But you don't have to be Irish, or even Scottish to like The Gentlemen; check 'em out online (see the video for their version of "Country Roads") and catch 'em at a show if you don't believe us. Oh, and get your kilt out!


Stagger this way w/The Staggering Cardoons

Morgantown’s Staggering Cardoons release their debut CD Thundermug Thursday at 123 Pleasant Street

Stagger: (noun) From Old Norse “stakra” (to push) -- An unsteady movement of the body when walking or standing, often in the plural: the stagger of the drunken man.

Cardoon: (noun) From Latin “carduus” (“thistle“) -- A belligerent, drunken fool with a music problem.

As St. Patrick’s Day draws near and the beer gets dyed green and your alcoholism seems a little less raging, The Staggering Cardoons, six guys from Morgantown, prepare to celebrate by releasing their debut CD Thundermug at 123 Pleasant Street Thursday night.

While their name may come from old Nordic and Latin, their version of traditional acoustic-driven Celt rock -- closer to Flogging Molly than Dropkick Murphy’s -- evolved out of their love of bands like CCR, Johnny Cash and Social Distortion, and they say, fits right in here in Appalachia.

“It gives people a chance to hear the music from their heritage in a new and exciting form,” singer Chris Herrington said. “Pride of where you come from should always influence you and that’s why we call it Appalachian rock.”

The important role of the Scots-Irish in settling our fair region, and the concordant outgrowth of bluegrass, is well established. Something else that is well established is the mythical tendency of the Irish to both drink and fight in Herculean fashion. That, and sing rousing sing-alongs in the pubs.

“The thing I can tell you is that it’s difficult to not like Irish music, be it traditional or in modern punk,” drummer Alex Baker said. “There’s just something about it that truly drives you, from your drinking fist down to your soul.”

Baker’s not ready to get all Ken Burns on us though.

“I don’t think that the settlers history has as much of an impact as does the fact that we play in a college town. The music is often fast, always strong, speaks to the heart, and definitely motivates people to do the one thing college students excel at nationwide: Drinking!”

Herrington described the nebulous and casual formation of the Cardoons, which started with Erik Rieder and Michael Brown hanging out jamming. “…in all honesty we’re all friends, and played together at parties on back porches and camping. So we decided to commit to writing and playing our own music for people.”

The Cardoons, together for three years now and having settled into their Appalachian/Celtic acoustic pub rock sound, took their act into Mark Poole’s Zone 8 Studios in Granville last year to record Thundermug.

“Mark was awesome, and took great care of us throughout the entire process,” Herrington said. “We recorded in three sessions (two in August and one in December) adding up to about 20 hours. There will be 11 songs on the album, nine being ours and two traditional.”

“Never have I sat at a drumset with so many microphones,” Baker said. “He put three on my snare alone because, as he explained to me, ‘There are many a night that I lie awake in bed obsessing about how I can better record a drumset’s sound.’ The man is a genius in his art, and definitely produced a fine recording for us.”

The Cardoons have honed their sound in smaller, more quaint venues in Magic Town, like McClafferty’s Irish Pub and Gene’s Beer Garden, fittingly enough.

“McClafferty’s, like many in the band joke about, is our living room,” Baker admitted. “We practically live and even eat there. McClafferty’s is one of our favorite venues, because most of our friends hang out there, and any night we play there, we play to a packed house. Gene’s has become a new favorite for us, too. Al Bonner has been pursuing us to play there again since we last did during Gene’s Bonneroo-Fest, and when we played there recently with our good friend Billy Matheny, we not only packed the house, but kicked three kegs (that means we did well!).”

“Playing at Gene’s was a different experience, putting us dangerously close to the crowd which proved to be one of the most exhilarating experiences. I also had to play on a drumset half the size of my normal one due to stage size limitations, and while it proved to be one of the most challenging shows I’ve done, it also proved to be one of the most fun shows, too.”

Their friend Matheny is scheduled to join the Cardoons for the 123 release show, along with Columbus, Ohio stoner rock outfit Lo-Pan. So throw out the names and get ready to raise your glass, Baker said.

“Bands come and go, and names are not really important, but the thing that’s important is being a part of the Cardoons is a freakin’ blast! Never has my liver taken quite a beating!”


Arms and Sleepers spring 2010 update

As subscribers to the Arms and Sleepers email updates, and as fans of Max and Mirza's music, we thought we'd repost their update we got today, so you can help keep tabs on what the Cambridge, Mass. dudes are up to...


It's time for the first update of 2010---we hope that everyone's doing well and that you're off to a fantastic beginning in this new year! We have a bunch of news to report to you, so this is a bit of a lengthy update...

It's hard to believe that our European tour is now long finished, but we wanted to sincerely thank everyone involved for making this the most successful tour that Arms and Sleepers has ever been on. We played 25 shows, and almost all of them ended up being some of the best shows we've ever been a part of. The European audiences continue to be some of the most passionate, energetic and enthusiastic folks out there, and from the perspective of a small independent band that is constantly fighting through various obstacles, these shows were some of the most rewarding and memorable moments in our days as Arms and Sleepers. However, it's not just the audiences that made this experience special, but also the venues, promoters, booking agents, and all the other people involved. Never before have we been greeted with such kindness, generosity and warmth on such a consistent basis. It was overwhelming, and our heads did not have enough time to process it all---we're still thinking about it and trying to absorb as much as possible. No matter what happens to Arms and Sleepers in the future, these moments and people that made those moments possible will be some of the most precious things we've experienced as part of this band, and for that we are eternally grateful. A big thank you from the bottom of our hearts, and see you again in May!

Thanks to you, we've achieved the goal of raising $2,500 to help Arms and Sleepers continue making music! This money comes at a time when we need it the most---paying back for previous debts but also funding future endeavours. To be honest, we were unsure whether we'd be able to raise this much money. Not that we doubted our fans, but times are tough for everyone and certainly our cause is not the most pressing issue in the world. We wanted to experiment with this and see if alternative ways of surviving from music are actually possible in today's utterly confusing and highly unfair music business. Thanks to you, we are reassured that some people do still care about independent, underground music, and are passionate enough about it to financially support small artists like us. Thank you so much for pledging to Arms and Sleepers through Kickstarter---we can't express enough just how grateful we are for your continued enthusiasm and willingness to help whenever help is needed. For those that pledged, you should have received a message by now letting you know that your order has been shipped, as well as a link to download the "Matador Alternate Versions/B-Sides" release. We hope that you'll like the items that you pledged for. Again, thank you thank you THANK YOU for supporting our cause!

We have some new bundle deals available from our BigCartel merch store. 3 CDs for $20, 2 CDs + Matador t-shirt for $30, or high-quality mp3 downloads of 9 releases for $35. We now also have the "Matador Alternate Versions/B-Sides" release available for purchase as a high-quality mp3 download, and it will be up on iTunes soon as well. About 20 physical copies remain---if you want one, send us an e-mail (wearearmsandsleepers@gmail.com), it's $8 + shipping. We'll ship out a few and save the rest for future special occasions. Finally, now until March 9th, if you buy any of our t-shirts online, we'll send you a free copy of the "From The Inland Sea" CD. Check out all this by visiting our merch store. Even with Kickstarter, money is tight and any purchase you make directly from us always helps us out greatly. Thank you as always for continuing to support Arms and Sleepers.

We have 2 big tours coming up. The first one takes place in North America from March 9 (this Tuesday!) until April 17. All dates except for the last one are with our good friends Caspian. We are excited to be sharing the stage with them night in and night out, and look forward to coming to a city near you. This will be the last full North American tour for us for a very long time, so if you're around for one of the dates below, don't miss out! The second one takes place in Europe from May 5 to June 4. We'll be playing some big festivals there, which we are very excited about!

(ed: Check the A&S online for details)

The "Matador Remixes" album will be out on vinyl/digital in May via Expect Candy. We got some sweet remixes by Boy In Static/Consulate General, Lymbyc Systym, The American Dollar, Amanda Rogers, Uzi & Ari, Nolens Volens, Thisquietarmy, Jatun, and Elika. More info about pre-ordering and other release info coming your way soon.

We've done a few remixes ourselves. We'll be putting up our remix of Consulate General's (aka Boy In Static) track "Make A Church Movie" and Tape Deck Mountain's (Lefse Records) track "80/20" on our myspace page soon for you to hear!

The vinyl edition of our split EP with The American Dollar "From The Inland Sea" has been slow coming, but it is on the way. Expect it in late spring/early summer via Ericrock.

Work on our 3rd full-length album has begun, and we hope to have it released in the fall. This one's going to be very different from the last few releases, to say the least. We'll post some short clips and video teasers at some point in the near future.




Thanks for reading, and hopefully see you soon at one of the upcoming shows!

Be safe.


Related: Our review of Matador and our chat with Max and Mirza