Tickets to The Bluestone
September 28, 2022 7 PM
at The Bluestone
“Country music was the voice of the people. It wasn’t always the prettiest voice, but it was an honest voice,” says American Aquarium founder and frontman BJ Barham. “I think that’s where country music has lost its way.” He pauses, then adds, North Carolina accent thick and voice steady: “I operate in the dark shadows of what we don’t want to talk about in the South.”
These days, those shadows are tall and wide, making it hard to recognize a neighbor, family––even yourself. On American Aquarium’s new album Lamentations, Barham shines light on dark American corners with heartbreaking conversations, long looks in the mirror, and empathetic questions, all through songwriting that is clear without sacrificing its poetry, and direct without losing its humanity. “As a songwriter, my number one job is to observe and then translate what I observe into a song, a story, a lesson,” Barham says. “I’d be doing myself and the listener a huge disservice if I didn’t talk about the things I see, which is a country, divided.”
As much as Barham appreciates an indignant protest song or one-sided anthem, he isn’t writing them. Instead, on Lamentations he’s making the political personal, reaching out to humanize folks with opposing viewpoints, and offering dignity instead of demonizing. The result is the strongest writing of Barham’s already stout career. “I’m still very much standing up for what I believe in––I don’t think anyone can question what side of the aisle I stand on,” he says. “But hopefully people listen and at least try to understand why their Sunday School teacher wears a Trump hat.”
Barham has built a fiercely devoted fanbase hundreds of thousands strong, fortified with 15 years of sold-out American Aquarium shows across the country and Europe. The band’s 2018 release Things Change strode confidently into that distinct territory where rock-and-roll and politics meet, prompting Rolling Stone to announce Barham “earns every bit of his Southern Springsteen cred.” In 2019, the American Aquarium lineup also shifted again: Shane Boeker remains on guitar, and bassist Alden Hedges, keys player Rhett Huffman, pedal steel ace Neil Jones, and drummer Ryan Van Fleet joined the group.
A beloved live band known for consistently playing at least 200-250 dates a year, American Aquarium chose to be more selective in 2019, winnowing the schedule to 92 shows. For Barham, sober for six years now, is a dad to a toddler and still happily married, the adjustment was a must. “We’re learning how to balance being in our mid-30s and being rock-and-rollers,” he says. “Being home was the most rewarding experience. It allowed me to be creative and write about things that really matter.”
Lamentations reflects that elevated focus. Barham, who is no longer religious but was raised Southern Baptist, wrote down the word “lamentations” in 2018, and knew it’d be his next album title before he’d written a single song for the record. He felt an anchoring connection to the word itself––defined as “the passionate expression of grief or sorrow”––but also to the Old Testament book in the Bible. “Lamentations is one of the few books in the Bible where there’s this doubt of God––this guy, crying out to the heavens, like, Why? If you love us so much, why did you let Jerusalem fall to Babylon?” Barham says. “I saw a direct correlation between that and a Southern man today who voted for Trump. I wanted to write about a broken America and all the things that lead a human being to doubting something. Every song on this record touches on something a little different.”
Album opener “Me and Mine (Lamentations)” is brooding and stormy, plaintive acoustic guitar undergirding Barham’s weathered vocals. Searching, frustrated, and sad, the song was written from the perspective of a conservative Southern voter who feels unseen, unheard, and short on hope. The broader message is immersive and immediate: Settle in and listen closely. Times are hard, and this record is going to talk about it. Barham, who doesn’t agree with the song’s protagonist politically, imbues him with respect and sympathetic fatigue. “There are so many people who come out nowadays and say, If you voted this way, you’re a racist. You’re a misogynist. You’re a nationalist,” he says. “But that was my teacher, my librarian, my uncle. I know they aren’t bigots. So instead of saying, You’re a bad person because you did this, I want to know why you did this. I want to talk to you about this.”
Upbeat guitar rocker “Dogwood” follows, with a tragic story wrapped up in singalong lines. Barham points to the song and “Luckier You Get,” with its Springsteen vibes and an ear-worm chorus, as two of the album’s more lighthearted moments. “Bright Leaf” is another musical moment ready for a crowd, offering a clear-eyed look at the tobacco farms and industry of Barham’s home through sharp lyrics that thousands will shout-sing right back at him.
Featuring wry pedal steel and a shuffling back beat, “Better South” is an alternative anthem, written and sung by a native Southerner who believes in change. Line after line, “Starts with You” shows off Barham’s self-deprecating wit: “They say you’re only as sick as your secrets / If that’s the truth then, friend, I’m dying / Spent a lifetime salvaging shipwrecks, / Falling so long I thought I was flying.”
Throughout the record, the only victim of Barham’s harsh tongue is himself. Heartbreaking “How Wicked I Was” pleads for narrative omissions when it comes to explaining the past to his little girl. Album highlight “Learned to Lie” cuts just as deep: Barham delivers a gut-wrenching confession over lonely piano. Raw and intimate, its look at how we hurt the ones we love evokes the unblinking candor of 60s and 70s Loretta Lynn––that extreme honesty Barham first valued in country music, and now misses. “That was one of the first songs I played for the boys in the band, and they were like, ‘Are you sure you want to record that?’” Barham says. “It’s a hard song to talk about. It’s a heavy song. For better or worse, I’m going to be real with you live. I’m probably going to make you uncomfortable. And that I think that’s a beautiful part of rock-and-roll.”
“Six Years Come September” is another heartbreaker, masquerading at first as a familiar story before a sobering plot twist. “As a songwriter, that’s the best feeling in the world––ruining someone with lyrics and a well-executed story,” Barham says. He points to album closer “Long Haul” as a frontrunner for his own favorite track. Perhaps the closest the record comes to jubilation, “Long Haul” rolls through three steadfast commitments Barham holds true and dear.
Ultimately, Lamentations is a thrilling portrait of an artist and his band reaching new levels of skill, consciousness, and potential after 20 years in the trenches. Unruly and sincere, Barham emerges as an important American voice––and an unlikely peacemaker. “I’ve had to work really hard to carry water as a songwriter,” he says. “It feels really good to be in my mid-30s, writing songs that I think matter. I think when you listen to this record, something is going to change in you. You’re going to feel something. That’s the most important part of songwriting: making someone feel.
The Cadillac Three
Hillbilly Hypnotize Tour
w/ Ben Chapman
September 30, 2022 7 PM
at The Bluestone
Spending their formative years playing music together in basements and garages laid the foundation for THE CADILLAC THREE to put their own spin on each new record. They open a time capsule of their musical history together and expand on some of the grooves from COUNTRY FUZZ release with a new offering titled TABASCO & SWEET TEA via Big Machine Records. Dropping the sonic swirl with little warning, the new album is a welcome interruption to the mundane and stress felt around the globe.
“As we finished the last record, we knew we were only tapping the surface with songs like ‘The Jam’ for where we could go next musically and found ourselves inspired to dive into these sounds that we had never explored before as a band,” explains drummer Neil Mason. “We’ve always had a lot of influences, but ultimately found ourselves thinking about what we were listening to in high school — The Meters, Stevie Wonder, Medeski Martin & Wood and John Scofield.”
Lead singer and guitarist Jaren Johnston continues, “this album is a science project … constantly moving in different directions but keeping one cohesive feel throughout. We kind of have this innate thing going after all these years so it’s cool to kind of stretch into some new musical spaces with elements of a DJ set that flows from track to track, but mixed with 80’s Funk vibes and jam-band flow over hardcore Country lyrics.”
TABASCO & SWEET TEA explores hybrid sounds throughout the 11 modern-meets-nostalgia tracks. Connecting with their fans and creating no matter the obstacles, TC3 launched this new project at $3.99 for the first week so it is more accessible during a time when many are not spending as much on music, but need it now more than ever.
“We wouldn’t be where we are without our fans,” shares bassist Kelby Ray. “We lost the ability to tour and know many of our fans have also lost their ability to work consistently this year so we wanted to find a way to provide this album as cost effectively as we could. Our hope is that everyone who wants TABASCO & SWEET TEA can get it without breaking the bank.”
Jaren’s gritty vocals explode over unexpected guitar riffs as Kelby pounds out taut yet voluptuous bass lines mixed Neil’s gnarly, syncopated rhythms. Their boisterous, yet good-natured freewheeling vibe erupts with the title track and caps off the sequence with a calling-card biography, “Sabbath On Cornbread to reinforce the electricity of their live show:
These 3 longhairs born and raised here
Gonna keep on changin’ the game
Sticks and skins, slide and steel
Guitar man 3 hippie hillbillies from Tennessee
Keepin’ it heavy, keepin’ it real
Best damn band in Country, you best believe
You ainʼt never seen nothinʼ like The Cadillac Three
Known across the globe for their unpredictable concerts – equally impressive and amped in a sweaty club or festival main stage – TC3 delivers.
Maybe it’s a sign of the times this project is released now, as playlists reflect listeners finding comfort in old favorites when times are tough. TC3 finds the common ground interweaving traditions of American popular music and proving that new can still feel classic without being derivative yet simultaneously casting a vision for good times ahead.
Black Buffalo Presents
with special guest Megan Moroney
Saturday, October 1st, 2022
Larry Fleet | About
Don’t let Larry Fleet’s humble demeanor fool you: the Chattanooga-based Country singer-songwriter is the real deal, with fans in contemporary heavy-hitters like Jake Owen and living Country legends like Willie Nelson. He’s a thoughtful songwriter with a knack for a one-liner, an ear for a good hook and a powerhouse voice that strikes the perfect balance of soul and twang.
You can hear all this and more on Fleet’s new single “Where I Find God.” Written alongside award-winning songwriter Connie Harrington, “Where I Find God” is a beautifully heartfelt ode to family, fishing and Fleet’s unyielding faith. “Sometimes, whether I’m lookin’ for him or not / That’s where I find God,” Fleet sings, with his soul-drenched twang adding an element of gospel to the track’s stripped-down Country arrangement.
“Where I Find God” has already received an immensely positive response from fans, many of whom have shared their own experiences of faith and finding God. Some fans even count hearing the song itself among their life’s religious experiences, a life-changing phenomenon that gets right at the heart of why Fleet writes songs in the first place.
“I’ve had older people tell me, ‘I found God in 1982,'” Fleet says. “They’re telling their stories. Then other people tell me they fought with addiction. They heard this song and turned their truck around and tried to mend some fences with their family and go to Alcoholics Anonymous. To me, as a songwriter, that’s about as good a compliment that you can get: a song you wrote has changed someone’s life, for the good. I’m so proud of this song.”
Lost Dog Street Band
With The Local Honeys
October 8, 2022 7 PM
at The Bluestone
About Lost Dog Street Band
Returning to the stripped-back, string band sound of their busking years, Lost Dog Street Band’s new album Glory is a searing testament to recovery, redemption and resolve. Fronted by songwriter Benjamin Tod and his wife, fiddler Ashley Mae, the DIY band began out of desperation on the sidewalks of Nashville roughly a decade ago, but now sustains a significant national audience that’s drawn to their authentic songwriting, old-time instrumentation, and hard-won independence.
“I wanted to make an album with the specific intention of being raw but full at the same time and to get back to our roots,” Benjamin Tod says. “Everyone on this album has been a busker. Douglas Francisco, who plays slide guitar — I met him on the streets busking. Jeff Loops, our bassist, was in a busking band, too. That flavor was important to me, just getting back to the root of things.”
By centering the songs of Glory around acoustic arrangements, without the drums or steel guitar of prior albums, these harrowing personal stories become even more graphic. It’s a feeling that Benjamin Tod himself describes as “a logical glimpse of climbing out of hell.” He observes, “Something that was shocking to me was realizing that as soon as I got sober, that was really the beginning of the journey. Choosing to get sober was barely even a milestone.”
Leading the album, “Until I Recoup (Glory I)” vengefully demands justice and describes the fight for glory after it’s been unjustly taken away. The lyrics read like a mission statement of redemption.
Similar to Steve Earle’s influential Train a Comin’ album from 1999, Glory conveys the hard work that goes into getting clean, particularly in tracks like “Fighting Like Hell to Be Free,” “Beautiful Curse” and “Jalisco Bloom.” Calling to mind the skillful writing of Guy Clark or Townes Van Zandt, “What Keeps Me Up Now” views that phrase from multiple angles, from sleepless nights to a suicide attempt, where “the belt was a noose when I came to on the ground.” It’s one example of the “dark country” description that the band occasionally uses to describe their sound. In contrast, “End With You” finds Benjamin Tod feeling damn glad that he’s found a relationship that’s sustained him for a decade, through the achievements as well as the obstacles.
Raised in Sumner County, just outside of Nashville, Benjamin Tod was primarily raised by his grandmother and grandfather. However, at age 7, his mother surprised him with a cheap electric guitar –then his competing father bought him a pawnshop classical guitar. With nobody to show him how to play, they were little more than toys. However, at 14, he and a friend each received a Fullerton parlor guitar from his friend’s father. The boys started getting interested in folk music and protest songs, which led Benjamin to the streets of Nashville to busk.
Meanwhile, Ashley Mae was spending more and more time in Nashville, where her mother worked the overnight shift at rock station WKDF. She’d already tapped into the small punk scene in Rapid City, South Dakota, where she grew up, but found an even deeper community in Music City. At 20, she taught herself to play fiddle, shedding as much of her classical violin training as she could. When she met Benjamin Tod at a punk show, introduced by a mutual friend, they bonded immediately.
At 17, they left Nashville together for a life of street performance, hopping trains, and scraping by on less than $300 a month. After four years of terrible gigs and almost no traction, Benjamin Tod decided in 2016 to abandon the band. “I’d been a hardly functioning drug addict and alcoholic for over a decade. I was sick of the lifestyle and it seemed like it was going nowhere,” he admits.
An invitation from the band Devil Makes Three came out of the blue in 2016. Benjamin Tod found out about it in a train-yard, about to hop a train from Asheville, North Carolina, to Knoxville, Tennessee. “Without that, Lost Dog never would have moved forward from that point,” he says.
Lost Dog Street Band gained traction through that tour, but when Benjamin Tod and Ashley Mae separated for a year and a half, the momentum evaporated. Instead of going back on the road, they filmed performance videos of songs from Benjamin Tod’s solo album, I Will Rise, and posted them to YouTube without much expectation other than promotional use. However, that decision proved to be the turning point, as curious listeners discovered the band and their ticket sales skyrocketed.
Those early fans especially will embrace the spare but spirited sound of Glory, applied to tracks like “Cost of the High,” which directly addresses the fallout of addiction, as well as “Hayden’s Lament,” where the choice is given between “getting dead or getting tough.” Right after the plaintive country ballad, “Losing Again,” Benjamin Tod brings out the banjo for “I Believe (Glory II),”which basks in the emotion of finally finding that glory.
Without touring in 2020, Benjamin Tod and Ashley Mae settled on a parcel of land in rural Kentucky that they bulldozed themselves, building a cabin with well water and solar panels. Every week, even now, Benjamin Tod says he takes account of his situation as a recovering addict.
“In society as a whole, there’s a real lack in examples of actual recovery,” he says. “There’s not a brutally honest take on how painful the process is, but how rewarding it is at the same time. Every step that you make helps encourage you to meet the next milestone. It’s like a punch in the face and the kiss on the cheek every day. It’s very personal for me, the concept of digging out of hell, because I had to do that in order to gain my own dignity back. Everything follows after that. You have to earn your own respect of yourself before you earn it from anybody else.”
Maddie & Tae October 14, 2022 7 PM
Tickets purchased before postponed date are still valid.
- Website: www.maddieandtae.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maddieandtae
- Twitter: @MaddieandTae
- Instagram: @maddieandtae
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/MaddieandTae
About Maddie & Tae
Award-winning duo Maddie & Tae are drawing praise for their No. 1 debuting The Way It Feels album release with Rolling Stone saying the new music is “anchored around their stellar vocal pairings and some of the tightest harmonies on Music Row.” Together as longtime friends and music collaborators, Maddie Font and Taylor Kerr co-wrote 14 of the album’s 15 tracks including the Platinum-certified No. 1 country radio hit, “Die From A Broken Heart,” which Esquire calls “their finest moment yet.” The pair also co-wrote two brand new holiday songs to join a collection of classics for their first ever holiday project- We Need Christmas.
Maddie & Tae first broke out in 2013 with their brilliant counter to bro-country, the Platinum-selling smash, “Girl In A Country Song,” which took Country radio by storm, skyrocketing to the top of the charts and quickly going PLATINUM. The duo became only the third female duo in 70 years to top the Country Airplay charts, also earning trophies from the Country Music Academy and Radio Disney Music Awards along with multiple ACM, CMA and CMT Award nominations. Maddie & Tae have received widespread praise from Associated Press, Billboard, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, The Tennessean, The Washington Post, Glamour and others. The celebrated duo has toured with country music’s hottest stars including Carrie Underwood, Dierks Bentley, Brad Paisley and more.
Making a name for herself in the U.S. and Canada since the release of her EP The Best Thing in July 2020, SACHA is one of country music’s fastest rising stars. Becoming an iHeartRadio’s “Future Star” following the success of her latest single “Standards”, SACHA has since been named as a member of CMT’s Next Women Of Country 2021 class and earned her first GOLD single alongside The Reklaws with their viral hit track “What The Truck,” which was the the fastest-ever Canadian country song to go GOLD in the streaming era (under 16 weeks). She recently performed the track alongside The Reklaws to close out the national broadcast of the 2021 Canadian Country Music Awards.
Featured in major television, print and online press including CMT, Music Row Magazine, American Songwriter, Rolling Stone Country, Billboard, The Boot, Hello! Magazine, US Weekly and Bustle, SACHA has also appeared on A-list editorial playlists (U.S. and Canadian) on Spotify, Apple & Amazon Music. Fans can catch her recent music videos on CMT, including “Cheers,” “Standards” and “What The Truck”. SACHA recently premiered her music video for “Pretty Please” in New York City with a takeover of the Paramount Times Square billboards and on CMT. The track can be found on SACHA’s sophomore EP WE DID, which is available everywhere now.
The Prince Experience
Friday, October 21, 2022
Since 2002 Gabriel Sanchez has been portraying Prince in his critically acclaimed show The Prince Experience. What started off as a small local theatre production of Purple Rain, has expanded into what has become a night of unbelievable entertainment, that keeps anyone who has seen it, talking long after the last encore is played.
Here Come the Mummies
October 23, 2022 6 PM
at The Bluestone
Here Come the Mummies is an eight-piece funk-rock band of 5000 year-old Egyptian Mummies with a one-track mind. Their “Terrifying Funk from Beyond the Grave” is sure to get you into them (and possibly vice versa).
Since their discovery HCTM has been direct support for P-Funk, Al Green, Mavis Staples, KC and the Sunshine Band, and Cheap Trick; rocked Super Bowl Village; become a regular on The Bob and Tom Show; played massive festivals like Summer Camp, Common Ground, Voodoo Fest, Musikfest, Suwannee Hulaween, and Riverbend; and sold tickets by the thousands across large swaths of North America.
Maybe that’s why the ladies (and some dudes) can’t stop losing their minds over these mayhem-inducing mavens of mirth.
Some say they were cursed after deflowering a great Pharaoh’s daughter. Others claim they are reincarnated Grammy-Winning studio musicians. Regardless, HCTM’s mysterious personas, cunning song-craft, and unrelenting live show will bend your brain, and melt your face. Get ready, for Here Come The Mummies.
- HCTM “‘KILLED’ it… Not only did they pack their stage – they were the hit of the night when they jumped on stage with moe. in front of 20,000.” – Jay Goldberg, Summer Camp Music Festival
- “Here Come The Mummies are one bad-ass band, a hybrid of Idris Muhammad, George Clinton, Ohio Players, and Earth, Wind & Fire.” -Blurt Magazine
- “A band unlike any other.” -examiner.com
- “That’s the most fun I’ve had in 20 years.” -Bob Kevoian, The Bob & Tom Show
- “Cock wobbling brilliant.” -Joe Elliott of Def Leppard
Disco Donnie Presents and My Best Friends Party present:
October 29, 2022 9 PM
at The Bluestone
Cooped Up Fall Tour
with David J
November 3, 2022 7 PM
at The Bluestone
About Cooper Alan
If you like country music and you’re on any social media app, you’ve probably seen Cooper Alan on your screen in the past two years. The country singer has independently built a fanbase of over 8.5 million followers and has earned over 80 million streams on his music. Originally from Winston Salem, NC, he spent his high school and college years playing bars, college campuses, and Honky Tonks all across the Carolinas. He and his band became the “go-to” for great music and a high-energy, all-night throw-down performance.
After graduation, Cooper packed up his guitar and moved to Nashville as fast as he could, where he had the incredible luck of meeting hit songwriter/producer Victoria Shaw who signed him within weeks to a publishing deal. He is fortunate and proud to have the opportunity to write songs with people like Rivers Rutherford, Seth Mosley, Matt Nolen, Skip Black, Kent Blazy, Desmond Child, Jeffrey Steele, and of course, Victoria Shaw.
with Dalton Dover
Welcome to the Block Party World Tour
November 11, 2022 7 PM
at The Bluestone
About Priscilla Block
Country artist Priscilla Block draws listeners in with her unfiltered, relatable songwriting and catchy melodies. Pegged as an Artist to Watch by Amazon Music, PANDORA, Spotify, CMT, The Boot, MusicRow, HITS, Sounds Like Nashville, Country Now, Music Mayhem and more, Priscilla’s honest and upfront approach promotes self-love, empowerment, and acceptance through her own blend of country pop and southern rock, dubbed the Block Party sound.
Early in the pandemic, Priscilla was struggling to make ends meet after losing her job and her apartment. Unable to get out and play in person due to Covid-19, Priscilla began experimenting on TikTok and quickly developed a rabid fanbase with songs like “Thick Thighs,” “PMS” and “Just About Over You.” Fans rallied together to independently fund Priscilla’s recording and since its release, “Just About Over You” peaked both the iTunes Country and All-Genre song charts, the song was named one of The New York Times Best Songs of 2020, and it recently reached Top 15 on country radio. “Just About Over You” along with “Wish You Were the Whiskey,” “I Bet You Wanna Know” and more expected on Priscilla’s upcoming debut album.
Originally from Raleigh, NC, Priscilla moved to Nashville to pursue music shortly after high school. In Nashville, the affable, hardworking, student of life worked multiple jobs to make ends meet, then a chance encounter with her idol – Taylor Swift – was the sign she needed to dive all the way in on her music. Priscilla is a seasoned performer sharing the stage and opening for artists including Dierks Bentley, Jon Pardi, Kelsea Ballerini, Rodney Atkins and more. She is currently on the road with Ashley McBryde.
Follow Priscilla on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok for more on her music journey.
November 13, 2022 7 PM
at The Bluestone
There is a closeness at the heart of Turnover’s aptly titled new album, ‘Altogether.’ Though it’s the first collection the trio has written while living on opposite coasts, the record actually represents the group’s most collaborative and connected work to date, showcasing the intuitive, near-telepathic relationship frontman Austin Getz has developed over the years with his bandmates.
“Instead of making things more difficult, being far apart helped us learn to appreciate each other even more,” says Getz. “As a band, we’re closer now than we’ve ever been before.”
Recorded at Philadelphia’s Studio 4 with longtime creative foil Will Yip at the helm, ‘Altogether’ finds the group breaking new ground on a number of fronts. Pop sensibilities inform the writing for the first time, with elements of funk, jazz, lounge, and disco mingling alongside the band’s trademark indie grit and punk energy. Lush melodies and infectious hooks reflect the newfound freedom and confidence that have inspired Getz since his cross-country move to northern California, while adventurous recording techniques and instrumentation lend a fresh perspective without sacrificing the kind of precise detail and rich intricacies that have come to define the band’s recent studio output. The result is an album that boasts both sonic sophistication and emotional accessibility in equal measure, a major leap forward in sound and vision that reveals time apart as the true key to togetherness.
The title is fitting in another way as well, according to Getz. “On this record, more than in the past, we wanted to keep in mind the beauty of writing ‘popular music,’” he explains. “By that I mean music for people who don’t have the time to delve into the niches and find fringe artists, music for those of us who are busy with work or our families or whatever problems might be around. Music is real magic that can change people’s days and lives, and the more people listening and loving, the better.”
Turnover first emerged roughly a decade ago in Virginia Beach, VA, but the group’s critical and commercial breakthrough didn’t arrive until six years later, when they cracked the Top 5 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart with their acclaimed sophomore album, ‘Peripheral Vision.’ The band—which consists of Getz, his brother Casey on drums, and their childhood friend Danny Dempsey on bass—followed it up in 2017 with ‘Good Nature,’ a streaming smash that racked up roughly 40 million plays on Spotify alone and which Vice proclaimed to be “their best album yet.” Reviews were similarly glowing around the world (Pitchfork praised the record’s “rhythmic propulsion and harmonized guitar sparkles,” while Exclaim! hailed its “shimmering instrumentation and luscious harmonies,” and The Line of Best Fit swooned for its “plush production” and “subtle maturity”), and the album earned the band headline dates everywhere from Brooklyn Steel to The Fonda Theatre along with their first appearance at Coachella.
“With ‘Peripheral Vision,’ I was starting to experiment with psychedelics, and I was feeling alienated from a lot of the things I’d been raised to believe and accept,” Getz reflects. “That album asked a lot of questions, and I felt like ‘Good Nature’ was my attempt to find the answers to those questions. This time around, though, I found myself in a very different place, both literally and metaphorically.”
Starting over from scratch somewhere new, particularly somewhere as rural and isolated as Getz’s new home in northern California, proved more challenging than he had anticipated.
“The move was great in a lot of ways,” he explains, “but the experience also de-romanticized a lot of the notions I had about leaving everything behind and relocating to the woods. I realized I’d been undervaluing a lot of things that were actually really important to me, like having friends and family close by. I had to come to terms with being a stranger and learn how to trust new people and make new connections all over again.”
For the first time, Getz found himself looking inwards instead of outwards for inspiration, writing as an act of self-exploration rather than in response to any external stimuli.
“There was a deepening of my relationship with music that came out of the whole experience,” he explains. “Instead of waiting for some revelation to arrive, I would make myself sit down with a guitar or at the piano and just play until something interesting happened. Often what came out surprised me.”
Sometimes an entire song would reveal itself in ten minutes; other times, Getz would land on a guitar riff or a chord progression that he’d revise for months. The band spent time writing together in-person on tour and during time off in New York and Portland, with Yip flying out to join the band for the latter.
“Will’s much more than just a producer for us at this point,” says Getz. “He’s a close friend and a reliable piece of what our sound has become.”
That sound is the product of a remarkably wide range of influences and tastes, which Turnover synthesizes on the album into a whole far greater than the sum of its parts.
“Working remotely for the most part, everybody was able to send ideas around on their own schedules, and nobody felt too protective of anything, so the new songs started to reflect each of our personalities more than ever before,” says Getz. “Collectively we like everything from jazz to folk, disco to rock and roll, and a lot in between, and it’s where we all intersect that things start to feel special. With the three of us and Will all contributing to the writing together, the songs turned out better than anything any of us could have done on our own. That’s what makes the experience of being a band really unique as opposed to just one artistic mind.”
‘Altogether’ demonstrates the band’s eclectic mix of personalities from the very start, opening with a lo-fi, jazzy intro that quickly gives way to the driving drums and delay-drenched guitar of “Still In Motion.” Like much of the album to come, the song is a meditation on change and perspective, on learning to quiet your mind and appreciate the moment before it’s gone. The bittersweet “No Reply” reckons with guilt over failing to be present with a loved one, while the effervescent “Much After Feeling” recognizes the sacrifices we make to stay connected across geographical distance, and the breezy “Parties” grapples with the kind of self-consciousness that can leave us prisoners of our own design.
“There’s a part in that song where the tone completely changes,” says Getz, “and that represents the moment when your walls finally come down and you start to just appreciate where you are. The lyrics go from describing the nervousness you feel in a particular moment to just describing the moment itself because you’re finally out of your head and able to recognize the beauty that’s all around you.”
Getz taps into that beauty throughout the record, stopping to smell the roses and ground himself in ways that might have seemed impossible even just a few years ago. “Starting to feel at home in the country,” he sings on the hazy “Valley of the Moon,” while the sultry sax of “Ceramic Sky” hints at the simple and sensual pleasures of falling in love, and the playful “Plant Sugar” channels 80’s Britpop as it makes a case for mindfulness.
“I was stressed out when I first started writing that song, but then I looked up at the sky and saw the constellations and felt ridiculous for being worried about anything,” he laughs.
“It reminded me that sometimes you just need a little change in perspective to appreciate how lucky you really are.”
Turns out, that’s all Turnover needed, too.
with George Birge
November 17, 2022 7 PM
at The Bluestone
About Matt Stell:
THE COUNTRY MUSIC INDUSTRY HAS LONG BEEN FILLED WITH ITS SHARE OF CHARACTERS. FROM WILLIE TO HANK AND DOLLY TO WAYLON, EVERY LEGEND STARTS OUT AS JUST ANOTHER ARTIST THAT DOESN’T FIT EASILY INTO SOME PREDETERMINED BOX. AND AS HARD AS COUNTRY MUSIC MAY TRY TO FIT MATT STELL INTO ONE OF THOSE TRIED AND TRUE BOXES, IT’S DARN NEAR IMPOSSIBLE.
Heck, he’s 6’7.
But more so than the massive physique that helped Stell become a collegiate basketball standout, the Platinum certified singer has proven via the songs he sings and the shows he puts on that he is far too powerful of an artist to ever fit into some sort of singular category. In fact, to describe Stell in a few words would be a complete disservice to the man he is and the artist he looks to become as he releases his new EP Better Than That on October 16.
“If you cut a groove too deep, it’s hard to get out of it,” he remarks with a chuckle. “I’ve never wanted to be some one-dimensional artist, and with this new EP, I think I’m determined to show that there is much more to me than just a guy who can sing a love song.”
Indeed, the Arkansas native comes from a long line of self proclaimed badasses. He can spin a romantic verse as easy as he can rock out an anthem. He can overanalyze a word as easily as he can let the melody ride a lyrical wave. And yes, he gets as much enjoyment out of discovering a hook in the writing room as he does hooking a fish.
“When you step out into that river and the salmon are still swimming upstream like they have for thousands of years, it’s a real cathartic, therapeutic thing for me,” he says of a recent fishing trip to Alaska. “It’s a great reset.”
In everything he does, it’s evident that Stell is reflective and adventurous and funny and pretty damn smart. And if he’s being totally honest with himself, he’s never been one to love a love song.
Yep, you heard that right.
Granted, it was in fact a love song that catapulted Stell to country music success in 2019 via his massive hit “Prayed for You,” a life-changer of a song that spent two weeks at the number one spot. As the only debut single to top Billboard’s Country Airplay chart in 2019, and one of NSAI’s “10 Songs We Wish We’d Written,” the hit has gone on to rack up some impressive stats with over 270 million streams, his first RIAA Platinum certification and more than 20 million views of its official music video to date.
But there’s a catch.
“If the only thing you’ve heard is ‘Prayed for You,’ you would have a different idea of who I really am,” Stell explains. “Knowing that you are making music that means something to people is the ultimate compliment, but there is so much more to me.”
A few more of the many facets of Stell are currently on display via his current top 10 and rising single “Everywhere But On,” a song that Stell calls ‘autobiographical’ in the way that it tells the story of a man trying to escape the memories of a long lost love.
“Having two songs on the radio is an incredible thing, but what’s even more incredible is finding your own voice and your own identity,” he says.
Stell showcased a whole bunch of identities in another Better Than That EP standout – “If I Was a Bar.” At a time when some of his fellow artists were perfectly content in simply sitting down with their guitar and playing their songs during the pandemic that Stell lovingly refers to as a ‘damn biological hurricane,’ Stell and his rather relentless work ethic turned out a music video that had him playing thirteen different roles in the span of a 3-plus minute song.
“I threw every stitch of clothing I have ever owned into my truck for that video shoot,” laughs Stell of the somewhat restrictive project. “Sometimes creativity benefits from constraints.”
Yet, there were few constraints on Stell’s songwriting during the creation of the new Better Than That EP, which was co-produced by Stell alongside Ash Bowers. Via songs co-written by Stell such as “I Love You Too,” “Chase It Down” and the title track “Better Than That,” the listener can still hear Stell’s distinctive way of wrapping a lyric around a memory and the twist he can put on a phrase.
“Songwriting is a craft that can get better the more time you put into it,” remarks Stell, as he laments to himself about how much he hates clichés.
But for the first time in his still evolving career, Stell relied on outside writers on three of the eight tracks of the Better Than That EP in an effort to fill in the blanks of the overall project.
One of those cuts is “Sadie,” a melodic brain-buster of a song that offers ‘a sparse lyric but one in which every word means something.’ Another outside cut is “Look At Me Now,” perhaps one of the most earth-shattering love songs in recent memory. Yes, the guy who says love songs aren’t his thing just might make history with yet another love song.
But before Stell looks too far into the future, he finds his soul planted deeply in the present. He is praying for the day he can plug his amp back in and jump on the bus with his band and play these new songs for a live crowd.
This new chapter in his journey leaves Stell with a whole bunch more ammunition in the writing room and a unique vantage point to view the characters in his songs…and the character he might ultimately turn out to be.
We Were Cowboys Tour
December 10, 2022 7 PM
at The Bluestone
Sometimes he can’t even believe it.
With over 165 million on-demand streams, believers at country radio and the support of over a dozen digital tastemakers – Spotify, Amazon Music and Pandora among them – Kameron Marlowe has exploded onto the country scene, emerging as the big-voiced authentic talent modern fans crave. But if you ask the humble everyman himself, he’ll tell you straight up: He never saw this coming.
“I didn’t think I had what it took to be an artist,” says the all-natural singer-songwriter, blessed as he is with a tender, dynamic vocal growl. “So, I took a different route at first.”
Lucky for everyone, all roads lead to destiny. Now singed to Columbia Nashville and standing on the verge of a bright future, the North Carolina native is right where he belongs – in the spotlight. It just took a few twists and turns to get here.
Growing up, Marlowe lived in the Charlotte-area suburb of Kannapolis, and his path was indeed headed elsewhere. He did love music from a young age – schooled by his grandfather on the ‘90s country giants, and captivated by high-energy rockers like Stone Temple Pilots, Puddle of Mud and Kings of Leon. Plus, he sang in church and loved classic vocalists like Ray Charles and BB King, even forming a teenaged cover band that turned heads (the wrong direction, he jokes).
But after starting college in hopes of studying music, life intervened, and Marlowe left to help his family, taking a steady job selling car parts in his hometown instead.
A hint of what could have been came in 2018, with a Top 24 appearance on Season 15 of NBC’s The Voice. But even with a resonate baritone as inviting as a Southern breeze, and a genuine small-town swagger, Marlowe left with nothing more than some new friends in Nashville – plus an interest in songwriting. It seemed like music had passed him by, and to be honest, he was fine with that.
By 21, he was back home and back on the job, ready to settle down with a white-picket future. He was ready to put a ring on his girlfriend’s finger. But when she abruptly ended the relationship, telling him she wanted a different future, his whole world shook. Suddenly adrift and questioning the path he’d chosen, Marlowe put pen to paper for just the third or fourth time in his life … and that musical therapy session changed everything.
“It was a really hard break-up situation, and I didn’t know what I wanted to say,” Marlowe explains, thinking back to that fateful night. “So I came home, and just tried to write something down for myself to get over it.”
Over a day-and-a-half, Marlowe wrote and revised, whittling the track down to a tight, classic heartbreak ballad with a modern edge, totally by himself. Full of raw emotion and vivid, heart-on-the-floor storytelling, it became “Giving You Up,” and for most people the story would end there. He’d scratched the itch to express his pain.
But not Marlowe. He was raised to finish what he started, and decided instead to get it recorded – after all, it’s not like he had a wedding to pay for. Once again, he had no idea it what was coming.
“I just felt like I was supposed to finish that song,” he says now. “It was my ‘If I am ever going to try music, now is the time ’moment. My life had just been flipped upside down, and the whole plan I had made with trying to get married was gone. So I spent a little money to get recorded, and figured I’d see what happens. … After that? I’ve just been blessed with the reaction to it.”
Showcasing his easy Carolina croon, equal parts velvet and vinegar, and built around the done-mewrong devastation, fans flocked to the song in the millions, feeling for Marlowe as he kicked the habit of loving his ex for good. He soon made the move to Nashville full time, and now just a few short years later, the real work has begun.
After signing with Columbia and releasing a self-titled EP in 2020, Marlowe tapped another electrifying power ballad as his single debut, sending the buzzed-and-broken “Sober as a Drunk” to country radio. In response, he was named to more than a dozen “ones to watch” lists, opened for stars including Lee Brice, Dustin Lynch, and Chris Young, and sold out headlining club shows throughout the Southeast. He’ll join Brad Paisley for his TOUR 2021 beginning in July. And now by working with mega-producer Dann Huff (Keith Urban, Thomas Rhett, etc.), he’s being challenged to believe in himself like never before.
“I think the next batch of music is going to be a lot better,” he says. And by early accounts, he’s right. Matching a muscular mix of country’s timeless and trendy with a hardwired connection to his heart, these fresh songs show an artist who’s just beginning to tap his from-the-gut potential – and find a home for that show-stopping voice.
His vocal shines through a wide grin in the first new release, easy going “Tequila Talkin’,” as Marlowe matches the fun of Friday-night flirting with an upbeat, summertime sway. He co-wrote the tune with Dan Isbell and Ray Fulcher, and makes no apologies for the good natured pick-up line – or its fiddle-laced sound, pulled straight from his ‘90s favorites.
“Honestly, it kinda just came from trying to meet girls at the bar,” he says with a laugh, thinking back to his earliest days at Nashville’s Red Door. “It was like ‘Man, I always get a little extra confidence from tequila, I don’t know about you! ’And I’m such a sucker for a fiddle in a country song that I just decided to go for it.”
It was Marlowe’s love of music, and the steady tug of destiny which pulled him into the spotlight. And now that he’s here, he’ll see it through to the end – just like his first hit. With a debut album in the works, he’s living a life he never thought possible, and it’s all because he gave his dream a shot. Now he’s hoping fans will do the same.
“It feels really weird, because my life was completely different a couple of years ago,” he admits. “But I really put in a lot of effort to write these songs from the heart, so check out the lyrics. See what you think on a deeper level.”