club cafe

pittsburgh, pa
Girls Guns and Glory with Special Guest Thieves and Lovers

Love and Protest: two concepts that seldom go hand in hand. Until you think about it a while.
That's what singer, guitarist and songwriter Ward Hayden did as he began mapping out plans for Girls Guns & Glory's next album, which happens to be called Love and Protest.
"That title sums up this album and it sums me up very well too," he says. "We've done 10 years of touring, living, learning and growing, maturing and developing a broader world view, a view outside of the small town where I grew up."
That decade began with Hayden and several like-minded musicians getting together. Their love for early rock 'n' roll, true country, raw blues and pretty much any kind of authentic American music branded them quickly as anomalous — and electrifying. Since that time they've barnstormed far beyond their Boston hometown, playing honky-tonks, beer joints and more recently concert venues throughout the U.S. They've amassed a loyal legion of fans along the way. The media have noticed too, including Rolling Stone, which heralds them as a "modern-day Buddy Holly plus Dwight Yoakam divided by the Mavericks."
Now, in this milestone year, with Girls Guns & Glory recording for the first time on its own label, the group has channeled all it's experienced into its most personal and, paradoxically, hardest-rocking release to date.
"Love and Protest is the name of the album because its songs explore the emotion of love," Hayden explains. "And when love is faced with opposition, it's the protest of that emotion. It's alpha and omega — love and protest. There's a lot of ground to cover between those two extremes."
They begin with the album's first single and opening track. "Rock 'n' Roll." With bassist Paul Dilley and drummer Josh Kiggans laying down a no-nonsense, backbeat-driven groove, lead vocalist and guitarist Hayden sings, "I'm a hunter, a collector of things. I keep holding onto bad memories." And yet, when the chorus hits, he proclaims that he's "ready to rock 'n' roll."
Like much of Hayden's work, these lyrics run deeper than they seem at first listen, with a sub current of heartbreak and obsession. "I don't just collect physical trinkets," Hayden notes. "This song is more about experiences and memories, the things you can't see but they stay with you in your head and your heart.
Similar spirits haunt the bitterly self-destructive "Wine Went Bad," the loneliness of "Reno, Nevada" ("I might as well be a world away"), the exquisitely pure honky-tonk lament "Empty Bottles," the painful introspection of "Memories Don't Die" and "Stare at the Darkness," and "Diamondillium," a dystopian meditation shaded by noir guitar and incongruously inspired by an episode of Futurama — really, everything on the album, including its one cover, a resurrection of Gram Parsons' "Hot Burrito No. 1."
"The growth and maturity of Girls Guns & Glory as a band is what led us to take on this song," Hayden says. "Lyrically, I think it's a song that would make Hank Williams proud. Love was, and is, there in the person telling the story, but his love interest has taken the things she's learned from their relationship and moved on to someone else. The storyteller is left to pine over it. It's love and protest exemplified.
To complement the immediacy of Hayden's words, Girls Guns & Glory elected to cut Love and Protest entirely in analog, with Drew Townson, an acknowledged master of that format, recruited to produce with the band.
"There's a nostalgia to working with analog," Hayden says. "There are also limitations — no editing, making sure you don't run out of tape. But those limitations force you to let things go, let things happen. The anxiety begets beauty and makes the band do its best every take, firing on all cylinders and working together as a cohesive unit.
"It's as stripped-down as we've ever been. Even going into it, I didn't imagine it would turn out as pure as it did."
Going back to analog parallels the band's return to its earliest days as an independent act, in control of its career. "This is the first album in eight years where we did everything ourselves," Hayden says. "It's the first album we've co-produced. We don't worry about appeasing a label anymore. We're creating music only for ourselves and our fans."
To illustrate, he points to one track, "Man Wasn't Made," an affirmation that "man wasn't made to just lie down and die," set to a rollicking rockabilly beat and ignited by sparks of steel guitar. "When we were working with a label, they kept telling me that protest songs don't sell so they didn't want to put this kind of cut on a record. Well," he says, smiling, "now we can sneak in a couple of actual protest songs, in a not-so-sly way."
"With this record, we feel almost like a brand new band," he continues. "We take things in a different direction. A lot of that is because a shift has occurred on our tours. We're getting out of the bars and playing more in theaters and listening rooms. Instead of just trying to keep people on the dance floor for three hours, we're crafting songs for people who really like to listen. That's allowed us to dig deeper lyrically, to make more mature music with a higher level of musicianship. We're making the music we want to make. We're not limiting it to any genre in particular. We're willing to do whatever feels right."
"You could say," Hayden concludes, "we're a bigger part of the music itself than we've ever been."
Nothing could be better news for those who have loved Girls Guns & Glory. Nothing can give more hope to all still waiting for their faith in real, honest-to-God American music to be restored.

Love and Protest: two concepts that seldom go hand in hand. Until you think about it a while.
That's what singer, guitarist and songwriter Ward Hayden did as he began mapping out plans for Girls Guns & Glory's next album, which happens to be called Love and Protest.
"That title sums up this album and it sums me up very well too," he says. "We've done 10 years of touring, living, learning and growing, maturing and developing a broader world view, a view outside of the small town where I grew up."
That decade began with Hayden and several like-minded musicians getting together. Their love for early rock 'n' roll, true country, raw blues and pretty much any kind of authentic American music branded them quickly as anomalous — and electrifying. Since that time they've barnstormed far beyond their Boston hometown, playing honky-tonks, beer joints and more recently concert venues throughout the U.S. They've amassed a loyal legion of fans along the way. The media have noticed too, including Rolling Stone, which heralds them as a "modern-day Buddy Holly plus Dwight Yoakam divided by the Mavericks."
Now, in this milestone year, with Girls Guns & Glory recording for the first time on its own label, the group has channeled all it's experienced into its most personal and, paradoxically, hardest-rocking release to date.
"Love and Protest is the name of the album because its songs explore the emotion of love," Hayden explains. "And when love is faced with opposition, it's the protest of that emotion. It's alpha and omega — love and protest. There's a lot of ground to cover between those two extremes."
They begin with the album's first single and opening track. "Rock 'n' Roll." With bassist Paul Dilley and drummer Josh Kiggans laying down a no-nonsense, backbeat-driven groove, lead vocalist and guitarist Hayden sings, "I'm a hunter, a collector of things. I keep holding onto bad memories." And yet, when the chorus hits, he proclaims that he's "ready to rock 'n' roll."
Like much of Hayden's work, these lyrics run deeper than they seem at first listen, with a sub current of heartbreak and obsession. "I don't just collect physical trinkets," Hayden notes. "This song is more about experiences and memories, the things you can't see but they stay with you in your head and your heart.
Similar spirits haunt the bitterly self-destructive "Wine Went Bad," the loneliness of "Reno, Nevada" ("I might as well be a world away"), the exquisitely pure honky-tonk lament "Empty Bottles," the painful introspection of "Memories Don't Die" and "Stare at the Darkness," and "Diamondillium," a dystopian meditation shaded by noir guitar and incongruously inspired by an episode of Futurama — really, everything on the album, including its one cover, a resurrection of Gram Parsons' "Hot Burrito No. 1."
"The growth and maturity of Girls Guns & Glory as a band is what led us to take on this song," Hayden says. "Lyrically, I think it's a song that would make Hank Williams proud. Love was, and is, there in the person telling the story, but his love interest has taken the things she's learned from their relationship and moved on to someone else. The storyteller is left to pine over it. It's love and protest exemplified.
To complement the immediacy of Hayden's words, Girls Guns & Glory elected to cut Love and Protest entirely in analog, with Drew Townson, an acknowledged master of that format, recruited to produce with the band.
"There's a nostalgia to working with analog," Hayden says. "There are also limitations — no editing, making sure you don't run out of tape. But those limitations force you to let things go, let things happen. The anxiety begets beauty and makes the band do its best every take, firing on all cylinders and working together as a cohesive unit.
"It's as stripped-down as we've ever been. Even going into it, I didn't imagine it would turn out as pure as it did."
Going back to analog parallels the band's return to its earliest days as an independent act, in control of its career. "This is the first album in eight years where we did everything ourselves," Hayden says. "It's the first album we've co-produced. We don't worry about appeasing a label anymore. We're creating music only for ourselves and our fans."
To illustrate, he points to one track, "Man Wasn't Made," an affirmation that "man wasn't made to just lie down and die," set to a rollicking rockabilly beat and ignited by sparks of steel guitar. "When we were working with a label, they kept telling me that protest songs don't sell so they didn't want to put this kind of cut on a record. Well," he says, smiling, "now we can sneak in a couple of actual protest songs, in a not-so-sly way."
"With this record, we feel almost like a brand new band," he continues. "We take things in a different direction. A lot of that is because a shift has occurred on our tours. We're getting out of the bars and playing more in theaters and listening rooms. Instead of just trying to keep people on the dance floor for three hours, we're crafting songs for people who really like to listen. That's allowed us to dig deeper lyrically, to make more mature music with a higher level of musicianship. We're making the music we want to make. We're not limiting it to any genre in particular. We're willing to do whatever feels right."
"You could say," Hayden concludes, "we're a bigger part of the music itself than we've ever been."
Nothing could be better news for those who have loved Girls Guns & Glory. Nothing can give more hope to all still waiting for their faith in real, honest-to-God American music to be restored.

Charlie Parr with Special Guest Dan Petrich

Fans who have been following Charlie Parr through his previous 13 full-length albums and decades of nonstop touring already know that the Duluth-based songwriter has a way of carving a path straight to the gut. On his newest record, Dog, however, he seems to be digging deeper and hitting those nerves quicker than ever before.
"I want my son to have this when I'm gone," Charlie sings not 10 seconds into the opening song on Dog, "Hobo." His voice sounds weary but insistent, his accompaniment sparse and sorrowful. By the second line, the listener has no choice but to be transported on a journey through the burrows of his troubled mind, following him through shadowy twists and turns as he searches for a way out.
It turns out Charlie's been grappling with quite a bit over these past few years. As he prepares to release his new album on Red House Records this fall, he's just as candid about discussing his experiences in
person as he is while singing on the heat-rending Dog.
"I had some really, really bad depression problems over the last couple years," Charlie explains. "I've been trying to get fit, trying not to drink so much, trying not to do the rock 'n' roll guy thing. And then I got depressed. Really depressed. And to me, depression feels like there's me, and then there's this kind of hazy fog of rancid jello all around me, that you can't feel your way out of. And then there's this really, really horrible third thing, this impulsive thing, that doesn't feel like it's me or my depression. It feels like it's coming from outside somewhere. And it's the thing that comes on you all of a sudden, and it's the voice of suicide, it's the voice of ‘quit.'"

"These songs have all kind of come out of that. Especially songs like ‘Salt Water' and ‘Dog,' they really came heavily out of just being depressed, and having to say something about it."

Sometimes I'm alright
Other times it's hard to tell
Like finding light in the bottom of the darkest well
- "Sometimes I'm Alright"
In the album's quieter moments, Charlie confronts these issues head-on, using only an acoustic guitar or banjo to light the way. But the incredible thing about Dog is that it digs into dark matter and contemplates serious topics like mental illness and mortality while embracing a pulse of persistence and forward motion; throughout the album, more and more musicians seem to be joining in the fray as the tempo builds, keeping the overall vibe upbeat.
"I was going to do it completely solo," Charlie says. "I was going to go to this barn in Wisconsin, sit there and play my songs. And I was practicing them and I thought, this is devastating. These songs are hard to
hear in this format. I would never be able to listen to them again. And then my friend Tom Herbers, he
saw something was wrong. We talked, booked time at Creation" Audio, and made a plan to flesh out the album with a backing band.

So Charlie called on some longtime friends who he's collaborated with throughout his career: the experimental folk artist Jeff Mitchell, percussionist Mikkel Beckman, harmonica player Dave Hundreiser, and bassist Liz Draper, who traded her typical upright bass in for an electric at Charlie's request. The group found an instant chemistry in the studio, capturing some of the tracks on the first take.
"I wrote all the lyrics on these giant pieces of paper, and I had highlighters, and I assigned them each a color. I was going to be super organized," Charlie remembers. "And then we started playing, and all of a
sudden none of that even mattered. These stupid highlighters, the pieces of paper - I should have just
trusted in the beginning that these friends would know how to take care of my songs."
You claim the bed lifted up off the floor
Well, how do you know I'm not as good as you are? A soul is a soul is a soul is a soul
- "Dog"
In the album's more raucous moments, Charlie turns from contemplating his inner struggles to examining his connection to other living creatures. The album's title track, "Dog," and the blistering "Another Dog" were inspired by some of the lessons he's learned from his own pet, and wondering about the way dogs interact with humans and the outside world.
"I have a dog, her name is Ruby but I call her Ruben, and we go for these long, crazy, chaotic walks," Charlie says. "Because I decided a long time ago that I get along really well with this dog, and I was
taking her for walks, and she wanted to go this way, and I wanted to go that way. And then I thought, why
are we going to go this way and not that way? Maybe I should be the one getting walked. Maybe I'll learn something. So I follow the dog."

Despite the album's darker moments, the listener is left hearing Charlie in a more optimistic and defiant headspace, reflecting on how far he's come - and how content he is to accept that some things are simply unknowable.

Fans who have been following Charlie Parr through his previous 13 full-length albums and decades of nonstop touring already know that the Duluth-based songwriter has a way of carving a path straight to the gut. On his newest record, Dog, however, he seems to be digging deeper and hitting those nerves quicker than ever before.
"I want my son to have this when I'm gone," Charlie sings not 10 seconds into the opening song on Dog, "Hobo." His voice sounds weary but insistent, his accompaniment sparse and sorrowful. By the second line, the listener has no choice but to be transported on a journey through the burrows of his troubled mind, following him through shadowy twists and turns as he searches for a way out.
It turns out Charlie's been grappling with quite a bit over these past few years. As he prepares to release his new album on Red House Records this fall, he's just as candid about discussing his experiences in
person as he is while singing on the heat-rending Dog.
"I had some really, really bad depression problems over the last couple years," Charlie explains. "I've been trying to get fit, trying not to drink so much, trying not to do the rock 'n' roll guy thing. And then I got depressed. Really depressed. And to me, depression feels like there's me, and then there's this kind of hazy fog of rancid jello all around me, that you can't feel your way out of. And then there's this really, really horrible third thing, this impulsive thing, that doesn't feel like it's me or my depression. It feels like it's coming from outside somewhere. And it's the thing that comes on you all of a sudden, and it's the voice of suicide, it's the voice of ‘quit.'"

"These songs have all kind of come out of that. Especially songs like ‘Salt Water' and ‘Dog,' they really came heavily out of just being depressed, and having to say something about it."

Sometimes I'm alright
Other times it's hard to tell
Like finding light in the bottom of the darkest well
- "Sometimes I'm Alright"
In the album's quieter moments, Charlie confronts these issues head-on, using only an acoustic guitar or banjo to light the way. But the incredible thing about Dog is that it digs into dark matter and contemplates serious topics like mental illness and mortality while embracing a pulse of persistence and forward motion; throughout the album, more and more musicians seem to be joining in the fray as the tempo builds, keeping the overall vibe upbeat.
"I was going to do it completely solo," Charlie says. "I was going to go to this barn in Wisconsin, sit there and play my songs. And I was practicing them and I thought, this is devastating. These songs are hard to
hear in this format. I would never be able to listen to them again. And then my friend Tom Herbers, he
saw something was wrong. We talked, booked time at Creation" Audio, and made a plan to flesh out the album with a backing band.

So Charlie called on some longtime friends who he's collaborated with throughout his career: the experimental folk artist Jeff Mitchell, percussionist Mikkel Beckman, harmonica player Dave Hundreiser, and bassist Liz Draper, who traded her typical upright bass in for an electric at Charlie's request. The group found an instant chemistry in the studio, capturing some of the tracks on the first take.
"I wrote all the lyrics on these giant pieces of paper, and I had highlighters, and I assigned them each a color. I was going to be super organized," Charlie remembers. "And then we started playing, and all of a
sudden none of that even mattered. These stupid highlighters, the pieces of paper - I should have just
trusted in the beginning that these friends would know how to take care of my songs."
You claim the bed lifted up off the floor
Well, how do you know I'm not as good as you are? A soul is a soul is a soul is a soul
- "Dog"
In the album's more raucous moments, Charlie turns from contemplating his inner struggles to examining his connection to other living creatures. The album's title track, "Dog," and the blistering "Another Dog" were inspired by some of the lessons he's learned from his own pet, and wondering about the way dogs interact with humans and the outside world.
"I have a dog, her name is Ruby but I call her Ruben, and we go for these long, crazy, chaotic walks," Charlie says. "Because I decided a long time ago that I get along really well with this dog, and I was
taking her for walks, and she wanted to go this way, and I wanted to go that way. And then I thought, why
are we going to go this way and not that way? Maybe I should be the one getting walked. Maybe I'll learn something. So I follow the dog."

Despite the album's darker moments, the listener is left hearing Charlie in a more optimistic and defiant headspace, reflecting on how far he's come - and how content he is to accept that some things are simply unknowable.

Tony Lucca / Derik Hultquist

Tony Lucca

He was cast by Justin Timberlake to play "the cool guy" in Timberlake's directorial debut.

He finished third on The Voice in 2012, won a record deal in the process, and received more press coverage than any contestant on the show that season... or any season, for that matter.

He made a record with Adam Levine, then toured with Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson.

He was cast on the hit show "Parenthood" playing himself as a rock singer, and performed an original song.

He even starred in an Aaron Spelling prime-time drama and dated Keri Russell for years, winding up in countless gossip mags.

His name is Tony Lucca.

So why isn't he a household name? Maybe he simply hadn't made the right record before.

This time, Lucca believes he has. It's his 8th full-length studio album, his first self-titled release, and first entirely self-produced effort.

"We went in with the intention of making a record that was as live-sounding as possible. I wanted to close my eyes and be able to visualize the players in the room or up on the stage, actually playing the songs together. One guitar over here, the other guy over there, bass, drums, some keys? I mean, that's the rock-n-roll I fell in love with when I was a kid." Lucca pulls inspiration from the heroes he heard on the radio growing up, from Tom Petty, Billy Squier to AC/DC's Angus Young, tapping into a sense of timelessness he places somewhere between The Black Crowes and the Black Keys.

Each of the 12 songs on "Tony Lucca" are deeply personal. The record kicks off with "Old Girl," Lucca's rebuff to the music business treadmill. On the upbeat "Imagination", Lucca recalls the evening where he met his wife... to the best of his ability. Lucca's fans will enjoy the diverse sonic quality of four of his trademark ballads -- the epic and sweeping piano-driven "North Star", the optimistic "Smoke 'Em", the push and pull of love lost and found in "Right On Time", and the sweet album closer that bares his daughter's name, "Sparrow."

Funded by a very successful Kickstarter campaign (one that hit its $25K funding goal just inside of 30 hours), Lucca feels strongly that his fans stepped up so that he could make the best record he possibly could -- one he could finally feel comfortable releasing with his own name as the title. To that point, Lucca says "this record is pure. And honest. And hopefully completely refreshing to its listeners."

Tony Lucca was born on the outskirts of Detroit on the heels of Motown's heyday, raised within the loving confines of an enormous family of musicians; his mom was the 10th of 12 kids who all sang and played. At the ripe old age of 12, Tony had his first paying gig as a musician at a Jr. High School dance and by the age of 15, he parlayed his childhood rock-n-roll fantasy into a legitimate career, getting cast among an extraordinary group of newcomers on The All New Mickey Mouse Club, along with Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling and Britney Spears.

Shortly after graduating high school, Lucca wound up in LA and embarked upon an independent recording career that would span over 20 years. Along the way he's toured with artists as colossal as Maroon 5, Kelly Clarkson, *NSYNC and Marc Anthony, as well as several of his fellow Hotel Cafe kin including Josh Kelley, Sara Bareilles, Joey Ryan (Milk Carton Kids), Gabe Dixon and Andrew Belle. Lucca won the LA Music Award for best male singer/songwriter in 2001 and appeared numerous times on Last Call with Carson Daly, as well as The Wayne Brady Show and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Also in 2013, Lucca was the sole entertainment for FOX's NFL Thanksgiving Day telecast for the Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers game.

Derik Hultquist
“I spend a lot of my time waiting,” Derik Hultquist says. “Waiting on life, waiting on a word, waiting on women. Waiting on myself. There is something I want to access­­. I’m trying to find poetry, and the only way I know how to do it is to just be as honest and patient as possible.” He pauses, then adds dryly, “And tell a couple of jokes.”

Biding time and searching for answers often conjure up of images of sparseness––long, barren stretches in between key moments. But on his new album Southern Iron (Carnival Music), Hultquist offers rich portraits of reflection, anticipation, and stillness via lush rock-and-roll that suggest waiting isn’t a mere segue: it’s living.

Hultquist grew up just south of Knoxville in Alcoa, Tennessee, a small town in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. He taught himself to play guitar on his dad’s old instrument––“It was just the worst guitar,” Hultquist characteristically deadpans in his East Tennessee drawl. “When I first started playing, you could only make a couple of chords on it. So I had to just write my own songs from the get-go.”

The remark is signature Hultquist: part self-deprecating wit, part sincere observation about the power of working with what you’ve got.

Hultquist attended Kentucky Wesleyan College, where he served as goalie for the men’s soccer team. When he headed to Nashville after graduation almost a decade ago, the move was not spurred by a conscious decision to pursue music professionally. He wasn’t interested in joining the storied ranks of staff writers who create hits for the city’s mainstream country music machine, but he did want to develop the sounds and lyrics that had always busied his mind. “I’ve sung my whole life. I think I wrote my first song when I was in middle school,” he says. “It just seemed like the natural thing to do.”

So Hultquist took flexible jobs ranging from pharmacy tech to valet and focused on finding his voice. He has since released three EPs via Carnival Music and Recording Company, his longtime home. His most recent EP, 2014’s well-received Mockingbird’s Mouth, earned him widespread attention and opening slots for complementary heavy hitters including Sturgill Simpson. Produced by Frank Liddell and Eric Masse, Southern Iron is Hultquist’s first full-length album, and a highly anticipated deeper, longer listen to an artist who, up until now, has primarily offered intriguing snapshots.

“I didn’t find my singing voice until my early 20s,” Hultquist says. “Before that, I would just sing like everybody, whoever I was trying to imitate.” It’s easy to imagine him playing the chameleon, channeling neo-soul singers and post-punk heroes before relaxing into himself. “Now my voice comes out of the songs I write. That’s the best way I know to explain it,” he says. “I just try to find the most earnest way I can to sing.” Honesty sounds good on him: Hultquist’s mellow tenor is easy but plush, forgoing flash in favor of subtlety. That’s not to say he doesn’t enjoy the occasional surprise attack, carried out via moody escalations and gravelly, provocative whispers.

Southern Iron flirts with psychedelic and roots rock without committing, carving out its own robust pop soundscape. Hultquist wrote all but one of the album’s songs alone, and the result captures a songwriter wholly comfortable with his calling, more drawn to evocation than linear narrative. “I’m very interested in what a song can do,” he says. “Often, I think a song hasn’t achieved its full potential. I’m trying to find that balance between creating a song that’s important and compelling to listen to.”

First track “Darkside of Town” sets the bar high, illustrating just how good Hultquist is at balancing substance and a hook. The song combines crunchy guitar with a rumbling meditation on knowledge, faith, and acceptance. “A lot of what we do here on this planet of ours is just like groping through the dark,” Hultquist says. “You’re trying to figure it out and take the good with the bad. And there is not necessarily any balance––people often think there’s got to be good and evil in equal parts. But it’s just life. It doesn’t need to mean anything. It is how it is, and that should be powerful enough.”

The idea that life’s power is derived from its existence instead of our interpretation of it fuels much of the album. While that’s heady stuff, Hultquist proves that life for the sake of life is also a formula for a good time: rollicking “1983” and “Racing to a Red Light”––the second of which is the only co-written song on the album––dare listeners to try not to dance.

The gorgeous “Strangeness of the Vine” contemplates being single again––“being re-released into the wild,” Hultquist jokes. He tackles love honestly, refusing to let anyone––including himself––off the hook. “They say no one ever does, that only fools fall down and get back up / so I made fools of both of us, cause I keep falling out of love,” he sings sadly in “Falling Out of Love,” while in “Back When I was Young,” Hultquist goes toe-to-toe with the memories we’ll never be able to shake.

“One Horse Town” explores the ways in which place defines and even limits us. Hultquist wrote the song with Nashville in mind. “I keep toughing it out,” he says. “I’ve had some thin years, and maybe more to come. But I made up my mind that I was going to do this, and I do feel I have a place here.”

Haunting album closer “American Highway” leaves listeners contemplating awareness and escape routes. “Stuck out on the American highway / with a capo on my vein / Now I think I’m only hiding, right here in the light of day,” Hultquist sings, his voice echoed by a chorus of strings. “You can’t really think out there, driving,” he says. “The movement itself kind of pulls you into thinking you’re being active. It’s like a Cormac McCarthy novel. There is no end to forever––you just keep going and going.” Hultquist reveals that on the road, lulled into numbness masquerading as action, it’s easy to hide not just from others, but also from yourself.

In the end, Hultquist has plenty of questions. But while he is constantly reaching for the wisdom to know when to wait and when to act, he is far from lost. “I know a few things,” he says. “I know that beautiful things are worth noticing. You’ve got to be kind, for the most part. And you never know what’s going to happen.”


Tony Lucca

He was cast by Justin Timberlake to play "the cool guy" in Timberlake's directorial debut.

He finished third on The Voice in 2012, won a record deal in the process, and received more press coverage than any contestant on the show that season... or any season, for that matter.

He made a record with Adam Levine, then toured with Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson.

He was cast on the hit show "Parenthood" playing himself as a rock singer, and performed an original song.

He even starred in an Aaron Spelling prime-time drama and dated Keri Russell for years, winding up in countless gossip mags.

His name is Tony Lucca.

So why isn't he a household name? Maybe he simply hadn't made the right record before.

This time, Lucca believes he has. It's his 8th full-length studio album, his first self-titled release, and first entirely self-produced effort.

"We went in with the intention of making a record that was as live-sounding as possible. I wanted to close my eyes and be able to visualize the players in the room or up on the stage, actually playing the songs together. One guitar over here, the other guy over there, bass, drums, some keys? I mean, that's the rock-n-roll I fell in love with when I was a kid." Lucca pulls inspiration from the heroes he heard on the radio growing up, from Tom Petty, Billy Squier to AC/DC's Angus Young, tapping into a sense of timelessness he places somewhere between The Black Crowes and the Black Keys.

Each of the 12 songs on "Tony Lucca" are deeply personal. The record kicks off with "Old Girl," Lucca's rebuff to the music business treadmill. On the upbeat "Imagination", Lucca recalls the evening where he met his wife... to the best of his ability. Lucca's fans will enjoy the diverse sonic quality of four of his trademark ballads -- the epic and sweeping piano-driven "North Star", the optimistic "Smoke 'Em", the push and pull of love lost and found in "Right On Time", and the sweet album closer that bares his daughter's name, "Sparrow."

Funded by a very successful Kickstarter campaign (one that hit its $25K funding goal just inside of 30 hours), Lucca feels strongly that his fans stepped up so that he could make the best record he possibly could -- one he could finally feel comfortable releasing with his own name as the title. To that point, Lucca says "this record is pure. And honest. And hopefully completely refreshing to its listeners."

Tony Lucca was born on the outskirts of Detroit on the heels of Motown's heyday, raised within the loving confines of an enormous family of musicians; his mom was the 10th of 12 kids who all sang and played. At the ripe old age of 12, Tony had his first paying gig as a musician at a Jr. High School dance and by the age of 15, he parlayed his childhood rock-n-roll fantasy into a legitimate career, getting cast among an extraordinary group of newcomers on The All New Mickey Mouse Club, along with Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling and Britney Spears.

Shortly after graduating high school, Lucca wound up in LA and embarked upon an independent recording career that would span over 20 years. Along the way he's toured with artists as colossal as Maroon 5, Kelly Clarkson, *NSYNC and Marc Anthony, as well as several of his fellow Hotel Cafe kin including Josh Kelley, Sara Bareilles, Joey Ryan (Milk Carton Kids), Gabe Dixon and Andrew Belle. Lucca won the LA Music Award for best male singer/songwriter in 2001 and appeared numerous times on Last Call with Carson Daly, as well as The Wayne Brady Show and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Also in 2013, Lucca was the sole entertainment for FOX's NFL Thanksgiving Day telecast for the Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers game.

Derik Hultquist
“I spend a lot of my time waiting,” Derik Hultquist says. “Waiting on life, waiting on a word, waiting on women. Waiting on myself. There is something I want to access­­. I’m trying to find poetry, and the only way I know how to do it is to just be as honest and patient as possible.” He pauses, then adds dryly, “And tell a couple of jokes.”

Biding time and searching for answers often conjure up of images of sparseness––long, barren stretches in between key moments. But on his new album Southern Iron (Carnival Music), Hultquist offers rich portraits of reflection, anticipation, and stillness via lush rock-and-roll that suggest waiting isn’t a mere segue: it’s living.

Hultquist grew up just south of Knoxville in Alcoa, Tennessee, a small town in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. He taught himself to play guitar on his dad’s old instrument––“It was just the worst guitar,” Hultquist characteristically deadpans in his East Tennessee drawl. “When I first started playing, you could only make a couple of chords on it. So I had to just write my own songs from the get-go.”

The remark is signature Hultquist: part self-deprecating wit, part sincere observation about the power of working with what you’ve got.

Hultquist attended Kentucky Wesleyan College, where he served as goalie for the men’s soccer team. When he headed to Nashville after graduation almost a decade ago, the move was not spurred by a conscious decision to pursue music professionally. He wasn’t interested in joining the storied ranks of staff writers who create hits for the city’s mainstream country music machine, but he did want to develop the sounds and lyrics that had always busied his mind. “I’ve sung my whole life. I think I wrote my first song when I was in middle school,” he says. “It just seemed like the natural thing to do.”

So Hultquist took flexible jobs ranging from pharmacy tech to valet and focused on finding his voice. He has since released three EPs via Carnival Music and Recording Company, his longtime home. His most recent EP, 2014’s well-received Mockingbird’s Mouth, earned him widespread attention and opening slots for complementary heavy hitters including Sturgill Simpson. Produced by Frank Liddell and Eric Masse, Southern Iron is Hultquist’s first full-length album, and a highly anticipated deeper, longer listen to an artist who, up until now, has primarily offered intriguing snapshots.

“I didn’t find my singing voice until my early 20s,” Hultquist says. “Before that, I would just sing like everybody, whoever I was trying to imitate.” It’s easy to imagine him playing the chameleon, channeling neo-soul singers and post-punk heroes before relaxing into himself. “Now my voice comes out of the songs I write. That’s the best way I know to explain it,” he says. “I just try to find the most earnest way I can to sing.” Honesty sounds good on him: Hultquist’s mellow tenor is easy but plush, forgoing flash in favor of subtlety. That’s not to say he doesn’t enjoy the occasional surprise attack, carried out via moody escalations and gravelly, provocative whispers.

Southern Iron flirts with psychedelic and roots rock without committing, carving out its own robust pop soundscape. Hultquist wrote all but one of the album’s songs alone, and the result captures a songwriter wholly comfortable with his calling, more drawn to evocation than linear narrative. “I’m very interested in what a song can do,” he says. “Often, I think a song hasn’t achieved its full potential. I’m trying to find that balance between creating a song that’s important and compelling to listen to.”

First track “Darkside of Town” sets the bar high, illustrating just how good Hultquist is at balancing substance and a hook. The song combines crunchy guitar with a rumbling meditation on knowledge, faith, and acceptance. “A lot of what we do here on this planet of ours is just like groping through the dark,” Hultquist says. “You’re trying to figure it out and take the good with the bad. And there is not necessarily any balance––people often think there’s got to be good and evil in equal parts. But it’s just life. It doesn’t need to mean anything. It is how it is, and that should be powerful enough.”

The idea that life’s power is derived from its existence instead of our interpretation of it fuels much of the album. While that’s heady stuff, Hultquist proves that life for the sake of life is also a formula for a good time: rollicking “1983” and “Racing to a Red Light”––the second of which is the only co-written song on the album––dare listeners to try not to dance.

The gorgeous “Strangeness of the Vine” contemplates being single again––“being re-released into the wild,” Hultquist jokes. He tackles love honestly, refusing to let anyone––including himself––off the hook. “They say no one ever does, that only fools fall down and get back up / so I made fools of both of us, cause I keep falling out of love,” he sings sadly in “Falling Out of Love,” while in “Back When I was Young,” Hultquist goes toe-to-toe with the memories we’ll never be able to shake.

“One Horse Town” explores the ways in which place defines and even limits us. Hultquist wrote the song with Nashville in mind. “I keep toughing it out,” he says. “I’ve had some thin years, and maybe more to come. But I made up my mind that I was going to do this, and I do feel I have a place here.”

Haunting album closer “American Highway” leaves listeners contemplating awareness and escape routes. “Stuck out on the American highway / with a capo on my vein / Now I think I’m only hiding, right here in the light of day,” Hultquist sings, his voice echoed by a chorus of strings. “You can’t really think out there, driving,” he says. “The movement itself kind of pulls you into thinking you’re being active. It’s like a Cormac McCarthy novel. There is no end to forever––you just keep going and going.” Hultquist reveals that on the road, lulled into numbness masquerading as action, it’s easy to hide not just from others, but also from yourself.

In the end, Hultquist has plenty of questions. But while he is constantly reaching for the wisdom to know when to wait and when to act, he is far from lost. “I know a few things,” he says. “I know that beautiful things are worth noticing. You’ve got to be kind, for the most part. And you never know what’s going to happen.”


Melodime

Melodime's music merges a slight country twang with rock and roll, successfully blending stunning piano melodies with catchy guitar riffs and sing-along choruses.
Melodime, featuring Brad Rhodes (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), Sammy Duis (piano, organ, bass), Tyler Duis (drums), and Jon Wiley (guitar, mandolin, dobro, bg vocals), has performed 125+ shows annually throughout the continental United States, sharing the stage with such well-known acts as Sam Hunt, Jonny Lang, A Thousand Horses, and Sister Hazel. The band has also left its mark internationally with performances in Mexico, Canada, and Europe, all while founding and running a charity, ‘Now I Play Along Too,’ which provides musical instruments and lessons to underprivileged children in the DC area, Florida and Haiti. The band is quickly becoming a fan-favorite in the festival scene, playing four consecutive Rock Boat cruises, as well as Musikfest, Herndon Festival and other events. Around their hometown of Northern Virginia, the group has performed at such popular venues as The Hamilton, The State Theatre, and 9:30 Club.
Melodime's latest single, "Little Thing Called Love,” has received a great response from both fans and critics alike. The Boot describe the track as "catchy, lyrically strong - and perfect to listen to with the windows down during the summertime months," while Tune Collective describes the track as a “fun song bursting with vibrant uplifting energy." Kings of A&R featured the band as a buzzing act, and The Washington Post noted "It doesn’t pay for those who want to say ‘I saw them way back when’ to procrastinate." Melodime’s previous albums were recorded with platinum-selling producers, including Where the Sinners & the Saints Collide with Rick Beato (Parmalee, NeedToBreathe), and 3 Reasons For Fighting with Jim Ebert (Butch Walker, Cowboy Mouth).

Melodime's music merges a slight country twang with rock and roll, successfully blending stunning piano melodies with catchy guitar riffs and sing-along choruses.
Melodime, featuring Brad Rhodes (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), Sammy Duis (piano, organ, bass), Tyler Duis (drums), and Jon Wiley (guitar, mandolin, dobro, bg vocals), has performed 125+ shows annually throughout the continental United States, sharing the stage with such well-known acts as Sam Hunt, Jonny Lang, A Thousand Horses, and Sister Hazel. The band has also left its mark internationally with performances in Mexico, Canada, and Europe, all while founding and running a charity, ‘Now I Play Along Too,’ which provides musical instruments and lessons to underprivileged children in the DC area, Florida and Haiti. The band is quickly becoming a fan-favorite in the festival scene, playing four consecutive Rock Boat cruises, as well as Musikfest, Herndon Festival and other events. Around their hometown of Northern Virginia, the group has performed at such popular venues as The Hamilton, The State Theatre, and 9:30 Club.
Melodime's latest single, "Little Thing Called Love,” has received a great response from both fans and critics alike. The Boot describe the track as "catchy, lyrically strong - and perfect to listen to with the windows down during the summertime months," while Tune Collective describes the track as a “fun song bursting with vibrant uplifting energy." Kings of A&R featured the band as a buzzing act, and The Washington Post noted "It doesn’t pay for those who want to say ‘I saw them way back when’ to procrastinate." Melodime’s previous albums were recorded with platinum-selling producers, including Where the Sinners & the Saints Collide with Rick Beato (Parmalee, NeedToBreathe), and 3 Reasons For Fighting with Jim Ebert (Butch Walker, Cowboy Mouth).

(Early Show) Alex Cameron

It's 2016, and it's time for Alex Cameron. Entertainer. Showman. Shaman. Cameron and his business partner / saxophonist, Roy Molloy, hit the road with a live show full of celebration, jubilance and industry know how. Described by Clash Magazine as 'Sydney's most literate song writer', Cameron knows what he is doing, and the creative juggernauts of the international music industry are taking notice. So much so that Jonathan Rado of Foxygen described the first Cameron performance he saw as ‘one of the most memorable, moving concerts I have or will ever witness', and music icon Henry Rollins described Cameron as being ‘right out of a David Lynch hell dream!'

You don't want to miss this. Tune in.

It's 2016, and it's time for Alex Cameron. Entertainer. Showman. Shaman. Cameron and his business partner / saxophonist, Roy Molloy, hit the road with a live show full of celebration, jubilance and industry know how. Described by Clash Magazine as 'Sydney's most literate song writer', Cameron knows what he is doing, and the creative juggernauts of the international music industry are taking notice. So much so that Jonathan Rado of Foxygen described the first Cameron performance he saw as ‘one of the most memorable, moving concerts I have or will ever witness', and music icon Henry Rollins described Cameron as being ‘right out of a David Lynch hell dream!'

You don't want to miss this. Tune in.

(Late Show) Ian Abramson with Special Guest Felicia Gillespie and Hosted by John Dick Winters

Ian Abramson is from Moreno Valley, California, where he learned to walk, read, and drive, but not in that order. He studied theater at California State University Channel Islands, which isn't on an island, but has been converted from an old mental hospital, so it's isolated in its own way. While at school he took as many performance and writing classes as he could and after trying stand-up at a couple of campus open mics, he decided to start writing comedy. When he finished school, he briefly lived in Orange County, doing stand-up, and preparing to move to Chicago, where he felt he'd get the best training to begin his career.



When he moved to Chicago, he began taking improv classes at The Second City and iO Theatre, as well as continuing to do stand-up regularly. He also began co-creating web series for Tom Snyder of Dr. Katz fame, making over 50 weekly episodes total over the course of a year and a half. He flew out to Boston to provide a voice over for an episode of Tom Snyder's "Explosion Bus," featured alongside Daryl Hall of "Hall and Oates." After about eight months in Chicago Ian decided to focus on stand-up over improv as he liked the process of writing and refining live comedy. His stand-up has evolved into a mix of precise wordplay, longer emotionally absurd jokes, and larger conceptual pieces. He is also known for producing events he insists are not comedy shows such as "A Funeral for a Prop Comic," and "A Court Case for a Young Comedian" and is a regular contributor for "the Onion."


In the past year Ian has performed at the Oddball Comedy Festival, UP Comedy Club, Milwaukee's Comedy Cafe, The Lincoln Lodge and even recently brought his show "Seven Minutes in Purgatory" to Atlanta's Laughing Skull. "Seven Minutes in Purgatory" is a show where comedians perform to a camera in one room while the audience watches in another room so that the comedians have no idea how they are doing. Because of shows like this, as well as his approach to stand-up, Ian was recently named the "Best Experimental Comedian" by Chicago magazine, which also listed him as one of the "16 Comedians You Should See This Fall" in a different article. Ian, along with his experimental comedy, will be relocating to Los Angeles this winter.


Ian Abramson is from Moreno Valley, California, where he learned to walk, read, and drive, but not in that order. He studied theater at California State University Channel Islands, which isn't on an island, but has been converted from an old mental hospital, so it's isolated in its own way. While at school he took as many performance and writing classes as he could and after trying stand-up at a couple of campus open mics, he decided to start writing comedy. When he finished school, he briefly lived in Orange County, doing stand-up, and preparing to move to Chicago, where he felt he'd get the best training to begin his career.



When he moved to Chicago, he began taking improv classes at The Second City and iO Theatre, as well as continuing to do stand-up regularly. He also began co-creating web series for Tom Snyder of Dr. Katz fame, making over 50 weekly episodes total over the course of a year and a half. He flew out to Boston to provide a voice over for an episode of Tom Snyder's "Explosion Bus," featured alongside Daryl Hall of "Hall and Oates." After about eight months in Chicago Ian decided to focus on stand-up over improv as he liked the process of writing and refining live comedy. His stand-up has evolved into a mix of precise wordplay, longer emotionally absurd jokes, and larger conceptual pieces. He is also known for producing events he insists are not comedy shows such as "A Funeral for a Prop Comic," and "A Court Case for a Young Comedian" and is a regular contributor for "the Onion."


In the past year Ian has performed at the Oddball Comedy Festival, UP Comedy Club, Milwaukee's Comedy Cafe, The Lincoln Lodge and even recently brought his show "Seven Minutes in Purgatory" to Atlanta's Laughing Skull. "Seven Minutes in Purgatory" is a show where comedians perform to a camera in one room while the audience watches in another room so that the comedians have no idea how they are doing. Because of shows like this, as well as his approach to stand-up, Ian was recently named the "Best Experimental Comedian" by Chicago magazine, which also listed him as one of the "16 Comedians You Should See This Fall" in a different article. Ian, along with his experimental comedy, will be relocating to Los Angeles this winter.


Sean McConnell

"From a very young age, I just knew that I was gonna spend my life making music," Sean McConnell states. "I never really questioned it, so I just forged ahead and didn't let anything stop me."

Although his self-titled new Rounder album will serve as his introduction to many listeners, the personable young artist is actually a seasoned, distinctive songwriter and an experienced performer with a quartet of D.I.Y. indie releases to his credit. Having built a substantial grass-roots fan base through tireless touring and old-fashioned hard work, McConnell is primed for a mainstream breakthrough.

Sean McConnell demonstrates exactly why McConnell has already won such a devoted audience. He writes vivid, forthright, effortlessly catchy songs whose incisive melodic craft is matched by their resonant emotional insight. Such instantly memorable tunes as "Holy Days," "Beautiful Rose," "Bottom of the Sea" and "Best We've Ever Been" are both catchy and personally charged, conveying an unmistakable sense of personal experience while exploring universal truths.

"This record's a bit of a step for me," McConnell asserts. "It's a real storyteller record, and it's pretty autobiographical. I'm learning how to be more honest and understated in my writing, and I wanted to match that sonically and vocally. When I look at this collection of songs, I see a lot of nostalgia, and looking back on sacred moments. I'm kind of nostalgic and reflective by nature."

McConnell recorded the album in his adopted hometown of Nashville with producers Jason Lehning and Ian Fitchuk, who also contributed keyboards and drums, respectively. The recording took place prior to McConnell signing with Rounder, with the artist financing the sessions himself.

"This project started," he explains, "when I went to a cabin by myself for a week, with the intention of writing some songs. In that week, I wrote about half of the songs on the record, and I could see the thread of what this record was gonna be. That was exciting for me, because it normally takes me a year to find an album's worth of songs that belong together. The whole recording process was really fun and liberating, and the energy in the studio was really positive."

Songwriting and music-making have been a part of Sean McConnell's life for as long as he can remember. "My mom was a singer and my dad was a guitar player and songwriter," he notes. "They'd play in coffeehouses and I'd go along and watch them perform, and seeing that lifestyle showed me that music was an option. And seeing my dad painstakingly writing songs had a huge influence on me, and gave me license to feel like I could enter into that world."

By the age of ten, he had become proficient on guitar and was writing his first songs. "I fell in love with the instrument first," McConnell recalls. "Learning guitar gave me a feeling of uncharted territory laid out in front of me. And as I got better on guitar, the songs started to come naturally. At around the same time, we moved from Massachusetts to Georgia, and the first song I wrote was about the feeling of leaving the familiar and feeling lost in a new place. Music gave me a focus and became an emotional outlet for me."

His supportive family background helped to instill the confidence and drive to pursue his muse early on. "I started playing in middle school, doing any gig I could get just to get my chops up," he says. "By high school, I would be doing local gigs and really promoting them, bringing out a couple hundred kids to my shows a few times a month and starting to make a decent living at it. That made me think that maybe I could do this in other towns. So I started traveling around the southeast a little bit, and there was always enough progress to take things to the next level. While I was in college, I did a lot of college touring, just me driving all over the United States in a Toyota Corolla. It was hard work, but it showed me that I could do it."

McConnell was just 15 when he self-released his first album, Faces, in 2000. Followed by 2001's Here In The Lost and Found, 2004's 200 Orange Street, 2006's Cold Black Sky, 2007's Tell The Truth, 2008's The Walk Around EP, 2010's Saints, Thieves and Liars, 2012's Midland and the 2014 EP The B Side Session.

"I had a guitar teacher in Atlanta who had a home studio, and he was the first one to say 'Hey, you should make a record,'" he says. "If I go back and listen to that first record now, the songs are kind of crude, but at the same time there's a directness about them that I like. My writing has evolved since then, but at the same time I've tried to hold on to some of that directness."

"I'm really attracted to songwriters who just put it out there honestly, and I feel like I'm getting back to basics and expressing things in a simple, direct way on the new album," he continues. "I'm just trying to learn how to be a more honest storyteller, trying to get my mind in a place where I'm not actually thinking and the music's just kind of happening naturally. When I read interviews with songwriters that I admire, they always say that the best songs are the ones that just kind of happen, like they're operating from the unconscious. That's a place I want to get to."

Having spent much of his life honing his craft and paying his dues, Sean McConnell is eager to launch the next chapter of his career.

"I kind of feel like I've been in a really long boot camp," he concludes. "I'm really grateful for that, because I feel like I've gained enough experience to know the deal and be prepared for anything. I'm excited to see where the next part of the journey takes me."

"From a very young age, I just knew that I was gonna spend my life making music," Sean McConnell states. "I never really questioned it, so I just forged ahead and didn't let anything stop me."

Although his self-titled new Rounder album will serve as his introduction to many listeners, the personable young artist is actually a seasoned, distinctive songwriter and an experienced performer with a quartet of D.I.Y. indie releases to his credit. Having built a substantial grass-roots fan base through tireless touring and old-fashioned hard work, McConnell is primed for a mainstream breakthrough.

Sean McConnell demonstrates exactly why McConnell has already won such a devoted audience. He writes vivid, forthright, effortlessly catchy songs whose incisive melodic craft is matched by their resonant emotional insight. Such instantly memorable tunes as "Holy Days," "Beautiful Rose," "Bottom of the Sea" and "Best We've Ever Been" are both catchy and personally charged, conveying an unmistakable sense of personal experience while exploring universal truths.

"This record's a bit of a step for me," McConnell asserts. "It's a real storyteller record, and it's pretty autobiographical. I'm learning how to be more honest and understated in my writing, and I wanted to match that sonically and vocally. When I look at this collection of songs, I see a lot of nostalgia, and looking back on sacred moments. I'm kind of nostalgic and reflective by nature."

McConnell recorded the album in his adopted hometown of Nashville with producers Jason Lehning and Ian Fitchuk, who also contributed keyboards and drums, respectively. The recording took place prior to McConnell signing with Rounder, with the artist financing the sessions himself.

"This project started," he explains, "when I went to a cabin by myself for a week, with the intention of writing some songs. In that week, I wrote about half of the songs on the record, and I could see the thread of what this record was gonna be. That was exciting for me, because it normally takes me a year to find an album's worth of songs that belong together. The whole recording process was really fun and liberating, and the energy in the studio was really positive."

Songwriting and music-making have been a part of Sean McConnell's life for as long as he can remember. "My mom was a singer and my dad was a guitar player and songwriter," he notes. "They'd play in coffeehouses and I'd go along and watch them perform, and seeing that lifestyle showed me that music was an option. And seeing my dad painstakingly writing songs had a huge influence on me, and gave me license to feel like I could enter into that world."

By the age of ten, he had become proficient on guitar and was writing his first songs. "I fell in love with the instrument first," McConnell recalls. "Learning guitar gave me a feeling of uncharted territory laid out in front of me. And as I got better on guitar, the songs started to come naturally. At around the same time, we moved from Massachusetts to Georgia, and the first song I wrote was about the feeling of leaving the familiar and feeling lost in a new place. Music gave me a focus and became an emotional outlet for me."

His supportive family background helped to instill the confidence and drive to pursue his muse early on. "I started playing in middle school, doing any gig I could get just to get my chops up," he says. "By high school, I would be doing local gigs and really promoting them, bringing out a couple hundred kids to my shows a few times a month and starting to make a decent living at it. That made me think that maybe I could do this in other towns. So I started traveling around the southeast a little bit, and there was always enough progress to take things to the next level. While I was in college, I did a lot of college touring, just me driving all over the United States in a Toyota Corolla. It was hard work, but it showed me that I could do it."

McConnell was just 15 when he self-released his first album, Faces, in 2000. Followed by 2001's Here In The Lost and Found, 2004's 200 Orange Street, 2006's Cold Black Sky, 2007's Tell The Truth, 2008's The Walk Around EP, 2010's Saints, Thieves and Liars, 2012's Midland and the 2014 EP The B Side Session.

"I had a guitar teacher in Atlanta who had a home studio, and he was the first one to say 'Hey, you should make a record,'" he says. "If I go back and listen to that first record now, the songs are kind of crude, but at the same time there's a directness about them that I like. My writing has evolved since then, but at the same time I've tried to hold on to some of that directness."

"I'm really attracted to songwriters who just put it out there honestly, and I feel like I'm getting back to basics and expressing things in a simple, direct way on the new album," he continues. "I'm just trying to learn how to be a more honest storyteller, trying to get my mind in a place where I'm not actually thinking and the music's just kind of happening naturally. When I read interviews with songwriters that I admire, they always say that the best songs are the ones that just kind of happen, like they're operating from the unconscious. That's a place I want to get to."

Having spent much of his life honing his craft and paying his dues, Sean McConnell is eager to launch the next chapter of his career.

"I kind of feel like I've been in a really long boot camp," he concludes. "I'm really grateful for that, because I feel like I've gained enough experience to know the deal and be prepared for anything. I'm excited to see where the next part of the journey takes me."

Pelican with Special Guest Jaye Jayle

Pelican, the Chicago-based quartet renowned for their instrumental excursions to the outer reaches of caustic heaviness and cathartic melody, have announced a 19-date US tour to commence this August. The dates represent the group’s first major tour since Spring of last year, during which time the band has shifted their focus to working on the long awaited follow up to their acclaimed 2013 album Forever Becoming. The tour, which includes a Southwestern jaunt with VA’s Inter Arma and an east coast run with recent Sargent House signees Jaye Jayle, offer the band an opportunity to preview new material as they work their way toward recording their next full length. The dates commence with an appearance at the highly regarded Psycho Las Vegas festival, concludes with a rare show with experimental rock mainstays Grails as part of celebrated Chicago venue Empty Bottle’s 25th anniversary, and includes a headlining set at the inaugural US edition of Europe’s long-running Dunk!Fest. Pelican’s performance at 2016’s Dunk!Fest was a career highlight, yielding the (previously physical only) 2xLP live album Live at Dunk!Fest, which the band today reissued via streaming and digital services. Full tour dates and artwork below.

Throughout their seventeen year career Pelican have eschewed genre classification, crafting a wholly unique take on heavy music that careens between the bombastic visceral elements of metal and the epic atmospheric expanses of post-rock. Across five full lengths, seven EPs, and hundreds of live shows the quartet have cultivated a chemistry that borders on telepathy, catapulting the band to outlier appearances at international music festivals including Primavera, Roskilde, Pitchfork, Bonnaroo, Roadburn, and Maryland Death Fest, and headlining club tours across four continents.

Pelican, the Chicago-based quartet renowned for their instrumental excursions to the outer reaches of caustic heaviness and cathartic melody, have announced a 19-date US tour to commence this August. The dates represent the group’s first major tour since Spring of last year, during which time the band has shifted their focus to working on the long awaited follow up to their acclaimed 2013 album Forever Becoming. The tour, which includes a Southwestern jaunt with VA’s Inter Arma and an east coast run with recent Sargent House signees Jaye Jayle, offer the band an opportunity to preview new material as they work their way toward recording their next full length. The dates commence with an appearance at the highly regarded Psycho Las Vegas festival, concludes with a rare show with experimental rock mainstays Grails as part of celebrated Chicago venue Empty Bottle’s 25th anniversary, and includes a headlining set at the inaugural US edition of Europe’s long-running Dunk!Fest. Pelican’s performance at 2016’s Dunk!Fest was a career highlight, yielding the (previously physical only) 2xLP live album Live at Dunk!Fest, which the band today reissued via streaming and digital services. Full tour dates and artwork below.

Throughout their seventeen year career Pelican have eschewed genre classification, crafting a wholly unique take on heavy music that careens between the bombastic visceral elements of metal and the epic atmospheric expanses of post-rock. Across five full lengths, seven EPs, and hundreds of live shows the quartet have cultivated a chemistry that borders on telepathy, catapulting the band to outlier appearances at international music festivals including Primavera, Roskilde, Pitchfork, Bonnaroo, Roadburn, and Maryland Death Fest, and headlining club tours across four continents.

The Appleseed Collective / Wild Ponies 'Galax' Release Tour

The Appleseed Collective is real Americana. I figured out sort of a mathematical equation last night- it's like Satch plus Django plus Joplin plus Bob Wills plus a little Bill Monroe, but the sum is actually greater than the parts." So said Jason Marck of WBEZ Chicago's Morning Shift, introducing the band for a live segment in November 2014.

No Americana sound could ring so true without miles of highway to back it up, and The Appleseed Collective certainly has that- 2014 has seen them travel coast to coast in support of their two studio albums, Baby to Beast (2012) and Young Love (January 2014). According to Aarik Danielsen of the Columbia Daily Tribune, "Young Love sweeps out the various corners of American music, taking a long look at both the sublime and the strange. The group explores both dark and light in a way that other string-band revivalists haven't touched."

Formed in 2010, The Appleseed Collective has become a force of nature powered by their local community and developed by a strong sense of do-it-yourself drive. In an age of corporations and climate change, the band's commitment to buying & selling local, eating from gardens, and being their own bosses has led to the kind of success that feels simply organic.

Each part of the Collective comes together to form an amalgam of complementary and contrasting elements. With a Motown session musician for a father, guitarist Andrew Brown was exposed to pre-World War II jazz on a trip to New Orleans. Shortly afterwards a chance meeting introduced him to Brandon Smith, violinist, mandolinist and improvisatory magician who grew up playing old time fiddle music. Vince Russo, multi-percussionist and van-packing savant, blends influences of funk, jazz and rock n' roll on the washboard. Eric Dawe comes from a background of choral singing and studies in Indian classical music and provides the bottom end on the upright bass. The whole band sings in harmony.

The band's latest release is a live album recorded in one night at world-renowned venue, The Ark in their hometown of Ann Arbor MI. On Live At The Ark (December 2014) the energy is palpable, the crowd ready to receive, and the band primed to deliver. With a mix of new and old material, as well as a few specially requested covers, Appleseed does just that. The album balances barn burners, old soul jazz, and sparse mood pieces, all suspended above a room hungry for more. It's a daring spectacle but it pays off- the album feels at once electric and intimate, glamorous and genuine, or as Joshua Pickard at Beats Per Minute put it, "music best served alongside a roaring campfire but that also has the ability to challenge the rafters of any grand arena."

The Appleseed Collective is not a bluegrass band. It's not The Hot Club of Paris. It's not a ragtime cover band. The Appleseed Collective represents Americana music rooted in traditions from all over the world and from every decade, creating a live experience that welcomes every soul and is impossible to replicate.
Although they're based in Nashville, Wild Ponies have always looked to Southwest Virginia - where bandmates Doug and Telisha Williams were both born and raised - for inspiration. There, in mountain towns like Galax, old-time American music continues to thrive, supported by a community of fiddlers, flat-pickers, and fans.

Wild Ponies pay tribute to that powerful music and rugged landscape with 2017's Galax, a stripped-back album that nods to the band's history while still pushing forward. Doug and Telisha took some of their favorite musicians from Nashville (Fats Kaplin, Will Kimbrough, Neilson Hubbard and Audrey Spillman) and met up with revered Old-Time players from Galax, Virginia (Snake Smith, Kyle Dean Smith, and Kilby Spencer). Recorded in the shed behind Doug's old family farm in the Appalachians (steps away from the site where Doug and Telisha were married), it returns Wild Ponies to their musical and geographic roots. 

Growing up, a young Doug Williams spent many an hour watching and learning as his grandfather played banjo alongside local musical legends like Snake and Kyle Dean. Although both of his grandparents have now passed away, they would surely be proud to see Doug and Telisha gathered in the shed with Snake, Kyle Dean, Kilby, and a diverse handful of the best musicians from Nashville. The result is a broad, bold approach to Appalachian music, created by a multi-cultural band whose members span several generations.  

Wild Ponies proudly dive into their old-school influences with songs like "Pretty Bird" - a rendition of the Hazel Dickens original - and the traditional mountain song "Sally Anne." "My grandfather used to say, 'It oughta been the goddamn National Anthem!'" Doug says of the latter song, which kicks off the album with gang vocals and fiddle. Even so, don't mistake Galax for a traditionally-minded folk album. Wild Ponies offer up plenty of contemporary material, too, building a bridge between past and present. The lyrics reflect a similar mix of old and new, with Doug and Telisha Williams writing songs inspired by family heirlooms (including a wooden-bound, 70 year-old book of poems written by Doug's grandfather, whose lines form the basis of "Here With Me"), the Catawba tree on the farm, the nostalgic pull of one's birthplace, a mother's tough lough, leaving and believing, and the cyclical natures of death and love. Although named after the town in which it was recorded, Galax looks far beyond the southwestern tip of Virginia for its source material. 

"We didn't want to go home to Virginia and just make an Old-Time record," explains Doug. "We wanted to make something that still sounded like Wild Ponies. We asked everybody to stretch and reach towards something new, something different. We wanted to not only reconnect with our roots, but learn how those roots can also weave into our current world."

Once everyone had arrived at the farm, Neilson Hubbard set up a makeshift studio in the shed.  Just a few nice microphones in a circle. There's no cell phone signal on the mountain. No WiFi. No distractions. Instead, everyone focused on making raw, genuine music, filling Galax's track list with upright bass, acoustic guitar, twin fiddles, Telecaster, banjo, pedal steel, mandolin, harmonies, gang vocals, and even some stripped-down percussion. They recorded the songs live, never once pausing the process to listen to the performance they'd just captured. It wasn't until Wild Ponies returned home to Nashville that they finally heard the wild magic documented during those mountaintop sessions. 

Released on August 25th on Gearbox Records, Galax salutes Wild Ponies' traditional roots while exploring new, progressive territory. It's an album about the pieces of our past that stick with us, informing our present while pushing us toward a future. An album about a town, a country, and a world that's forever spinning toward something new. An album that redefines Wild Ponies' sound, while highlighting influences that have always rested just beneath the surface.

"We'll always be the pinball that bounces between folk, rock & roll and country," says Telisha, "and this Old-Time style will always weave its way through everything we do. It's been there from the start, even on the loudest songs we've made. It only took us a couple of days to record it, but this is the album we've been making our whole lives. We just needed the right people and the right songs to finish it."

The Appleseed Collective is real Americana. I figured out sort of a mathematical equation last night- it's like Satch plus Django plus Joplin plus Bob Wills plus a little Bill Monroe, but the sum is actually greater than the parts." So said Jason Marck of WBEZ Chicago's Morning Shift, introducing the band for a live segment in November 2014.

No Americana sound could ring so true without miles of highway to back it up, and The Appleseed Collective certainly has that- 2014 has seen them travel coast to coast in support of their two studio albums, Baby to Beast (2012) and Young Love (January 2014). According to Aarik Danielsen of the Columbia Daily Tribune, "Young Love sweeps out the various corners of American music, taking a long look at both the sublime and the strange. The group explores both dark and light in a way that other string-band revivalists haven't touched."

Formed in 2010, The Appleseed Collective has become a force of nature powered by their local community and developed by a strong sense of do-it-yourself drive. In an age of corporations and climate change, the band's commitment to buying & selling local, eating from gardens, and being their own bosses has led to the kind of success that feels simply organic.

Each part of the Collective comes together to form an amalgam of complementary and contrasting elements. With a Motown session musician for a father, guitarist Andrew Brown was exposed to pre-World War II jazz on a trip to New Orleans. Shortly afterwards a chance meeting introduced him to Brandon Smith, violinist, mandolinist and improvisatory magician who grew up playing old time fiddle music. Vince Russo, multi-percussionist and van-packing savant, blends influences of funk, jazz and rock n' roll on the washboard. Eric Dawe comes from a background of choral singing and studies in Indian classical music and provides the bottom end on the upright bass. The whole band sings in harmony.

The band's latest release is a live album recorded in one night at world-renowned venue, The Ark in their hometown of Ann Arbor MI. On Live At The Ark (December 2014) the energy is palpable, the crowd ready to receive, and the band primed to deliver. With a mix of new and old material, as well as a few specially requested covers, Appleseed does just that. The album balances barn burners, old soul jazz, and sparse mood pieces, all suspended above a room hungry for more. It's a daring spectacle but it pays off- the album feels at once electric and intimate, glamorous and genuine, or as Joshua Pickard at Beats Per Minute put it, "music best served alongside a roaring campfire but that also has the ability to challenge the rafters of any grand arena."

The Appleseed Collective is not a bluegrass band. It's not The Hot Club of Paris. It's not a ragtime cover band. The Appleseed Collective represents Americana music rooted in traditions from all over the world and from every decade, creating a live experience that welcomes every soul and is impossible to replicate.
Although they're based in Nashville, Wild Ponies have always looked to Southwest Virginia - where bandmates Doug and Telisha Williams were both born and raised - for inspiration. There, in mountain towns like Galax, old-time American music continues to thrive, supported by a community of fiddlers, flat-pickers, and fans.

Wild Ponies pay tribute to that powerful music and rugged landscape with 2017's Galax, a stripped-back album that nods to the band's history while still pushing forward. Doug and Telisha took some of their favorite musicians from Nashville (Fats Kaplin, Will Kimbrough, Neilson Hubbard and Audrey Spillman) and met up with revered Old-Time players from Galax, Virginia (Snake Smith, Kyle Dean Smith, and Kilby Spencer). Recorded in the shed behind Doug's old family farm in the Appalachians (steps away from the site where Doug and Telisha were married), it returns Wild Ponies to their musical and geographic roots. 

Growing up, a young Doug Williams spent many an hour watching and learning as his grandfather played banjo alongside local musical legends like Snake and Kyle Dean. Although both of his grandparents have now passed away, they would surely be proud to see Doug and Telisha gathered in the shed with Snake, Kyle Dean, Kilby, and a diverse handful of the best musicians from Nashville. The result is a broad, bold approach to Appalachian music, created by a multi-cultural band whose members span several generations.  

Wild Ponies proudly dive into their old-school influences with songs like "Pretty Bird" - a rendition of the Hazel Dickens original - and the traditional mountain song "Sally Anne." "My grandfather used to say, 'It oughta been the goddamn National Anthem!'" Doug says of the latter song, which kicks off the album with gang vocals and fiddle. Even so, don't mistake Galax for a traditionally-minded folk album. Wild Ponies offer up plenty of contemporary material, too, building a bridge between past and present. The lyrics reflect a similar mix of old and new, with Doug and Telisha Williams writing songs inspired by family heirlooms (including a wooden-bound, 70 year-old book of poems written by Doug's grandfather, whose lines form the basis of "Here With Me"), the Catawba tree on the farm, the nostalgic pull of one's birthplace, a mother's tough lough, leaving and believing, and the cyclical natures of death and love. Although named after the town in which it was recorded, Galax looks far beyond the southwestern tip of Virginia for its source material. 

"We didn't want to go home to Virginia and just make an Old-Time record," explains Doug. "We wanted to make something that still sounded like Wild Ponies. We asked everybody to stretch and reach towards something new, something different. We wanted to not only reconnect with our roots, but learn how those roots can also weave into our current world."

Once everyone had arrived at the farm, Neilson Hubbard set up a makeshift studio in the shed.  Just a few nice microphones in a circle. There's no cell phone signal on the mountain. No WiFi. No distractions. Instead, everyone focused on making raw, genuine music, filling Galax's track list with upright bass, acoustic guitar, twin fiddles, Telecaster, banjo, pedal steel, mandolin, harmonies, gang vocals, and even some stripped-down percussion. They recorded the songs live, never once pausing the process to listen to the performance they'd just captured. It wasn't until Wild Ponies returned home to Nashville that they finally heard the wild magic documented during those mountaintop sessions. 

Released on August 25th on Gearbox Records, Galax salutes Wild Ponies' traditional roots while exploring new, progressive territory. It's an album about the pieces of our past that stick with us, informing our present while pushing us toward a future. An album about a town, a country, and a world that's forever spinning toward something new. An album that redefines Wild Ponies' sound, while highlighting influences that have always rested just beneath the surface.

"We'll always be the pinball that bounces between folk, rock & roll and country," says Telisha, "and this Old-Time style will always weave its way through everything we do. It's been there from the start, even on the loudest songs we've made. It only took us a couple of days to record it, but this is the album we've been making our whole lives. We just needed the right people and the right songs to finish it."

Wye Oak with Special Guest Luke Temple

At the end of September, Wye Oak will embark on a special tour. The band describes what the audience can expect at these performances:

We're so excited to set out on a brief run of smaller, more intimate shows this fall, where we'll be trying out a bunch of brand-new material for the first time, taking questions from the audience, and just generally exposing y'all to our legendary brand of TMI-style stage banter. Come for a sneak peek at what's next for us, or just to say hi. 

Also, on September 22, Merge will release "Spiral"b/w "Wave Is Not the Water”, a limited-edition 7-inch on red vinyl. Pre-order your copy now! Jenn and Andy told us a little about each track, both of which were originally released in partnership with Adult Swim:

"Spiral"popped up around 2012, at a time before we began work on Shriek. We were just starting to experiment with synthetic and more pop-oriented sounds, and also got assistance on the marimba from our friend Rod Hamilton, with whom Jenn was sharing a loft at the Copycat in Baltimore at the time. 

"Wave Is Not the Water"was created in the early months of 2017, without either of us ever setting foot in the same space. Andy was touring as the drummer for Lambchop and volleying the recording back and forth with Jenn via email, as seems to be the current state of things. 

Pre-order "Spiral"b/w "Wave Is Not the Water"now, and don't miss these very special evenings with Wye Oak!

At the end of September, Wye Oak will embark on a special tour. The band describes what the audience can expect at these performances:

We're so excited to set out on a brief run of smaller, more intimate shows this fall, where we'll be trying out a bunch of brand-new material for the first time, taking questions from the audience, and just generally exposing y'all to our legendary brand of TMI-style stage banter. Come for a sneak peek at what's next for us, or just to say hi. 

Also, on September 22, Merge will release "Spiral"b/w "Wave Is Not the Water”, a limited-edition 7-inch on red vinyl. Pre-order your copy now! Jenn and Andy told us a little about each track, both of which were originally released in partnership with Adult Swim:

"Spiral"popped up around 2012, at a time before we began work on Shriek. We were just starting to experiment with synthetic and more pop-oriented sounds, and also got assistance on the marimba from our friend Rod Hamilton, with whom Jenn was sharing a loft at the Copycat in Baltimore at the time. 

"Wave Is Not the Water"was created in the early months of 2017, without either of us ever setting foot in the same space. Andy was touring as the drummer for Lambchop and volleying the recording back and forth with Jenn via email, as seems to be the current state of things. 

Pre-order "Spiral"b/w "Wave Is Not the Water"now, and don't miss these very special evenings with Wye Oak!

@clubcafelive

56-58 South 12th Street, Pittsburgh PA 15203 (In Pittsburgh’s Historic South Side)