Magic City

Flew into Birmingham Sunday and tour headliner Taylor Hollingsworth picked me up at the airport. My old acoustic guitar made it, a relief after hearing some friends’ stories about guitar/flight mishaps. Taylor picked me up at the airport and we headed for his practice space to pick up his amp. He practices in the old women’s locker room of a defunct iron furnace. The rusted machinery landscape is like his playground. He’s the only band out there. We got some soul food and then geared up for the show: a costume contest/Halloween concert at Rojo; a hometown show for Taylor but a whole new state for Leland Sundries.

Taylor’s got a beat-up, no name acoustic that he carries without a case, put a humbucker in, and raised the action enough for slide playing. He usually tunes it down a whole step but sometimes puts it in open D or even open C. We set up our gear then sat up at the bar until show time. He’s got a new one called “Lost in Mississippi” that hits the spot. He sings about goats and Otha Turner.

I played the Leland Sundries set in Birmingham dressed in a strange clown getup with a red tinsel wig and ‘70s thrift store pants. Taylor and his fiancé Kate dressed as ketchup and mustard respectively. I think the Sundries set went pretty well and Ketchup took the stage, dueting with Kate on a few songs and singing a few solo. Michael Shackelford backed him up on a snare drum. A few beers later, Mike signed on for the tour and I’m glad about it. He’s a really complementary musician and fills out Taylor’s sound and might play on a few with me as well. He’s got his own Birmingham band called the Grenadines. It didn’t take long to realize that Taylor is his own man and an open hearted and genuine guy with uncommon musical talent. (Costumes: Lindsey Lohan and her bag of cocaine beat out get-ups from Where The Wild Things Are and beat the two guys from Weekend at Bernie’s in the costume contest.)

Union Hall, Brooklyn flyer

indianapolis flyer

(is that an ape made of chocolate?)

stream LS set from Brooklyn 10/13

Saratoga Springs, NY

We’d just confirmed the new venue a week ago and it was a minor miracle. (We met the miracle worker, the fantastic Jason Brown, who kept us sounding good all night.) The drive down from Burlington was full of fall color and blessedly free of road work. Circus Café on a Tuesday night didn’t look to be too full but then again we arrived after the dinner hour and just before the bar crowd showed. By the time Will went on, a swarm of people had arrived. He played a great set full of hometown references to people, places, and things. I started my set with “High On The Plains” and Will had his distortion pedal on a low setting. We played “Apparition” and “Oh My Sweet Cantankerous Baby.” Someone smiled at me during “Apparition” and I almost forgot where I was but the act fixed me in the moment. Once I figured out not to look in the mirror, we hit a groove. We were present in every word and note and we shifted on the fly. Not everything worked, but by the time I was leading the audience in the wordless outro of “Monitor Arms,” we’d manifested something with them. And by the time I was playing the harp through the megaphone, I realized that I’d played a more rock and roll show last night than in Portland or Vermont. Those previous shows were listening rooms and warranted a more contemplative take on my music. A friend told me afterwards that I had a good lower register voice for the storytelling that I’m attempting with my music and I was grateful to hear that. Mark and Jeff from Racing City Ghosts put on a rousing, anthemic show reminiscent of the Gaslight Anthem. My music has always been more about the loner than the shared experience but I hope it transcends that at times. The lasting impression was of that smile from the right side of the bar. We celebrated into the Saratoga night.

Tour updates

Head over to Twitter or Facebook for updates from the road. Somerville was a blast, ragged but right. Dan Kaplan sat in on a couple of songs and he and Will Levith rocked up “High On The Plains” with me. I heart Portland. I always have a good experience in that town. This time, I backed up a couple of poets before starting the LS set. The new sound system was a joy and I played a more contemplative set. We hustled through foliage country and were nervous that we’d arrive too late to play. Radio Bean turned out to be a great spot and I played a few traditional folk and blues songs: “St. James Infirmary” and “Oh Babe It Ain’t No Lie.” Next up: Saratoga Springs, NY.

press buzz on the apothecary ep

My Old Kentucky Blog posted two mp3s and said, “What Lou Reed would sound like if he was asked to front Tom Waits’ Mule Variations band… Highly recommended to fans of Leonard Cohen.”

Blurt gave the album 8 stars out of 10, saying, “One of the more striking debuts this annum… Let’s hear a full-length, soon.”

PopDose called us “a wholly original outfit that just released one of the most exciting musical debuts of the year.”

Largehearted Boy posted an mp3.

HitFix previewed the release, saying, “Brooklyn indie act’s debut recalls Lou Reed or Leonard Cohen fronting a lo-fi Americana band complete with smart, literate lyrics.”

No Depression did a Q&A on the musical project, praising the “narratives of bus rides, trains and bars, windmills, roast beef sandwiches and Russian overcoats are penned with a novelist’s eye for detail and delivered in a wry New York baritone.”

The Apothecary EP on iTunes.

Oh My Sweet Cantankerous Baby

One of the most startling things that you find is that is that when jarring events occur, everyday life doesn’t stop or even slow down.

Download the mp3 here.

October tour poster

(art by Dan Kaplan)

RISING BROOKLYN INDIE-FOLK ACTS LELAND SUNDRIES AND WILL LEVITH PLOT ACOUSTIC, DOUBLE BILLED NORTHEAST TOUR

LELAND SUNDRIES LAUNCHES DEBUT RECORDING ‘THE APOTHECARY EP’ WHILE LEVITH PROVES HIMSELF A SONGWRITER TO WATCH

Rising Brooklyn indie-folk acts Leland Sundries and Will Levith will plot a northeast acoustic tour this October. Leland Sundries will make its recorded debut October 5 with ‘The Apothecary EP’ (L’echiquier Records).

Joining him will be Brooklyn songwriter-to-watch Levith, who plays what he calls “folk for the punk-obsessed teenager in all of us.” He’s previously played at CBGBs Gallery and Pete’s Candy Store, among others, in NYC. His fans compare his music to Son Volt’s Jay Farrar, Damien Jurado, and Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters, Sun Kil Moon). Hear Levith’s music: http://www.myspace.com/willlevith.

WL photos and more info: http://willlevith.com/

Leland Sundries’ leader and songwriter Nick Loss-Eaton, who has drawn comparisons to James McMurtry, Lou Reed, and AA Bondy, will bring a resonator guitar and a collection of harmonicas.

Leland Sundries has already played in eight states. Time Out New York has praised the project’s “oddball storytelling with a lo-fi country sensibility” while the Boston Phoenix described the music as “The Band meets Lou Reed.” Loss-Eaton also has personal connections to several of the locales that the tour will visit: he grew up outside of Boston; his grandmother lives in Saratoga Springs where his grandfather served as editor of the Saratogian; and he lives in Brooklyn where the EP was recorded.

Recently, Levith scored a semifinals/confidence vote for his tune “You Are the One” from Grammy Award–winners The Zac Brown Band, as part of their song contest. Levith grew up in Saratoga Springs, NY.

UPCOMING WILL LEVITH AND LELAND SUNDRIES CONCERT DATES

Sept 14 New York, NY Sidewalk Cafe
(Will Levith, Little Insects)

Oct 9 Somerville, MA Sally O’Brien’s (CD RELEASE SHOW)
(Leland Sundries, Dan Kaplan, Will Levith)

Oct 10 Portland, ME Slainte Wine Bar & Lounge
(Leland Sundries, Will Levith)

Oct 11 Burlington, VT Radio Bean (early set)
(Leland Sundries, Will Levith)

Oct 13 Brooklyn, NY Goodbye Blue Monday
(Leland Sundries, Will Levith, Eli Bridges, Dan Leslie)

Oct 14 Belchertown, MA Black Moon Music Lounge
(Leland Sundries, Sierra and Andrew)

Oct 15 Providence, RI Local 121 – Speakeasy
(Leland Sundries, Anna Coogan and Allysen Callery)

Nov 6 Brooklyn, NY Union Hall (CD RELEASE SHOW)
(Leland Sundries, Taylor Hollingsworth)

Leland Sundries is planning a November east coast tour with Taylor Hollingsworth (Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band) with details to be announced shortly.