Legend has it that over 75 years ago Robert Johnson met the devil one dark night at the intersection of Highways 61 and 49 in Mississippi. It was at this crossroad that Johnson sold his soul in exchange for the vast guitar-playing skills that solidified his place as one of the greatest blues guitarists in all of history.
Today, Eric Clapton pays homage to the history of blues with the Crossroads Guitar Festival. More importantly, however, the festival exists to raise money for Crossroads Centre, Antigua. CCA provides treatment and education to chemically dependent persons, those with other addictive behaviors, and their families. Clapton has organized the festival every three years since 2004, and this weekend Music Choice was there to catch this year’s historic lineup in action.
On the dimly-lit floor at (le) Poisson Rouge in New York City’s Greenwich Village, show goers eagerly await the onstage presence of Manhattan-based band, Lily & The Parlour Tricks. Although the band is constantly playing in the city, they approach the stage with a new, infectious energy. They are primarily considered an Americana band, but have clear jazz and rock undertones. They have mastered their 3-part harmonies and effortless dance moves, which are a blend of both classic and provocative.
Underneath their upbeat sound and swinging dance steps brims something slightly darker, a slightly sinister influence. After all, the band began in a cemetery. Well, sort of.
Frontwoman Lily and bassist Brian first connected after they attended a Moby Dick reading at a chapel in Brooklyn’s famed Greenwood Park Cemetery. The two bandmates, along with a couple other friends, ended up wandering the cemetery after the reading, and got locked inside (in the snow) for hours. They were eventually let out by the police in the early hours of the morning. It was after that night that Lily says she and Brian really hit it off, and shortly after, decided to form the band. Gradually, they added on their New School classmates Angelo (guitar), Terry (drums), Darah (vocals), and Morgane (vocals) to the group.
“Our sound evolved in a really awesome, natural way,” says bassist Brian.
“Things evolved, they changed, but nothing was forced. We used to be a little more restrained, a little bit cleaner,” adds Terry.
But things took off in a new direction after Angelo showed up to a gig with various odd objects to play with his guitar.
“Angelo showed up to a gig with a cake tester, a quarter for his guitar pick, a right angle protractor, a paint brush. No one asked him, no one told him to do it,” says Brian.
“But it was a very specific turning point,” Lily says. “And we’ve kind of gone in that direction.”
Collectively, their music is inspired by a lot of literature, and Lily describes them all as “big readers.” As the primary songstress, Lily says she is hugely inspired by Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood”, and loves American True Crime novels, and case studies, which helps to explain the band’s subtle darkness.
Outside of their music, the band is a sunny, very tight-knit group of musical friends, who all began playing instruments as children. They gush over newer-aged indie bands like Everything Everything, Paper Bird, and Boy, and joke about future plans of becoming a team of “amateur” archeologists when their music careers end. They even happily embrace what many musicians would view as an incredibly frustrating music industry.
“I’m pretty happy with the music industry,” says Brian, and the rest of the band agrees. “You kind of make your own story; you can do whatever you want. There are more opportunities, there’s less money than there was in a traditional sense, but the money is just in other places now. We have a burgeoning middle-class!”
And when asked what they would be doing if they couldn’t be doing this? Brian says they’d still be doing this, just somewhere else. If not for the love of the music, then certainly for each other. As Lily put it best: “We really just like hanging out with each other.”
- Emma Gaedeke
MC scored tickets to Finch’s 10-year reunion tour of their first album What it is To Burn. We had a couple moments backstage to ask guitarist Randy Strohmeyer some questions. Check it out!
What’s the biggest difference between touring for What it is To Burn in 2013 versus back when it came out?
It’s a lot tighter. More rehearsed. We’re concentrating on the nitty-gritty stuff, trying to really tighten the songs up.
Do you guys still go as hard?
We go as hard, but I think to a fault, because we’re older now and our backs hurt much more.
What is your essential tour item?
Clean socks and boxers. It’s good to keep them going, but if you have extra money just throw them away and get new ones.
Weirdest or craziest thing that happened on tour with Finch?
The whole Disturbed incident…
Let’s just not talk about it. It’s like digging up old graves (laughs).
What’s your favorite song off of WIITB to play live?
I think my favorite moments are towards the end of the set. We play “Ender” and then “What It Is to Burn” finally, and I feel like people really let go and say ‘This is it, I’m going to let go, and I’m going to let go now.’
Who is a newer band in the scene that you really respect?
I guess I should say a band that you could potentially tour with, a band that you might see beside your name somewhere, something along those lines.
Shit, I don’t know. I’m pretty out of it as far as contemporary music in the scene goes. I think the bands that are out with us right now (The Almost and The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die) are fine people, fine bands. TWIABP is great, and I think they’re a little on the outside of it. And we like that. I think we’ve always sort of felt like outsiders anyway. Whenever we used to go on tour with bands, we didn’t sound like anyone else at the time. I really love Tera Melos, this band that I’m friends with. But we’ve always sort of toured with bands outside of what you’d think.
I have a few.
Oh, I don’t know. I guess I don’t really care about any of them. They don’t have any significance to me. They’re fun, I just don’t care. I’ll let anyone tattoo me. As long it’s not something like a swastika.
Nothing too crazy, right?
I mean, it can be crazy. Just not anything racist, or sexist.
I hear you’ve eaten some great food on this leg of the tour. What’s the best meal you’ve had thus far?
Yes! Definitely Avec in Chicago. Best food I’ve ever had in my life. I had these dates wrapped in Chorizo. It was so good. And then we had pork shoulder that came out afterwards. Everything was so delicious. We’re not like crazy foodies but we turned into those guys that were suddenly like, ‘Ohhh fuck!’
Suddenly your food is on Instagram.
Yeah, everyone was taking pictures with their phones.
What’s the worst gig Finch has ever played?
Well obviously the Disturbed one was pretty bad. There was this one show that was sort of like, both the best and the worst. It was Grizzly’s [guitarist Alex Linares] birthday, and we were playing in a big room and there weren’t that many people at all, and we just kind of decided we were going to celebrate, and so we did. And it got out of control… like real quick. We ended up playing the whole show, but the stage people hated us. They were like, ‘Enjoy it while it lasts!’ And we were just like, ‘Uh, we are! We clearly just did, dude!’
Craziest thing a fan has done?
I think it’s pretty crazy when fans get Finch tattoos.
I mean, it’s a big commitment.
Yeah, but I have tattoos of bands. Sigur Ros and Radiohead. Radiohead is my favorite band. I got the tattoos when I was really young. I was just like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to like this band forever.’
I can imagine it’s just weird seeing your own band logo or lyrics on someone else’s body.
It becomes a little bit more of what it is to you. It clearly means something else to them. They get into it in a different way, and I think that’s great. I think it’s so sweet. It’s very flattering. Maybe we can reach some sort of level where we are on the same page, or maybe it means something totally different to you, and that’s okay too. Because whatever it means to you, it means something, because you branded yourself with it.
If a Finch song were to play at your funeral, which one would you pick?
Maybe “Chinese Organ Thieves”. It’s the song that I worked the hardest on, it took forever, but we finally finished it. Either that, or “Ender”.
If you weren’t doing this right now, what would you be doing?
Probably in my room crying. (Laughs)
Well, I’m glad you’re here then!
- Emma Gaedeke
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame celebrates the lives and careers of musical artists that have made such an impact that they changed the shape and sound of American culture forever. Such an honor is called American Music Masters.
This year, for the organization’s 17th annual ceremony, they chose to explore and honor the legacy and accomplishments of rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry. Originally inducted into Rock Hall in 1986, Berry made a very special appearance this past weekend at State Theater in Cleveland, Ohio.
His music has stood the test of time and he even claims to have more on the way!
Congratulations, Mr. Berry!
Photo courtesy of GETTY
It finally happened, everybody! Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service), has released his first solo album ever. Be sure to check out Benjamin Gibbard’s Former Lives.
- Emma Gaedeke
Photo courtesy of GETTY
Metallica is set to headline this year’s Voodoo Music Experience in New Orleans, Louisiana later this month. This will mark the first time that Metallica has ever played Voodoo.
We all know that Metallica is a huge act, but they weren’t originally chosen to headline this festival. Green Day occupied Voodoo’s headlining spot but was forced to bow out of the festival for good reason. Green Day’s front man Billie Joe Armstrong checked into rehab last month following his public meltdown in Las Vegas,Nevada at the iHeart Radio Festival. Remember, health comes first!
While Green Day will be deeply missed, what better group is there other than fellow Bay Area group Metallica to do them a solid? Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich stated, “We’re hoping we can fill those very large shoes and do them proud.”
Don’t worry Lars; we’ve got faith that you guys will rock the house!
Photo courtesy of GETTY
“On social media, I’ll live forever.”
Sometimes, being in the right place at the right time is all it takes. And If you’re New York City-based singer/songwriter Mariko, you also learned that persistence (and quite a bit of it), is a good way to turn heads when it comes to making moves in the music industry. We sat down with Mariko to discuss her experience playing on one of the hottest rock tours in the country, and why, despite the odds, she still plans to bust into one of the most unforgiving careers around.
We sat down with Kentucky rockers Black Stone Cherry before they took the stage at New York City’s Beacon Theater with Chickenfoot last week. Drummer John Fred Young, lead singer and guitarist Chris Robertson, guitarist Ben Wells, and bassist Jon Lawhon discussed everything from where they got their name to John Fred’s dad’s influence (Richard Young of The Kentucky HeadHunters). The band even admitted to a not-so-secret infatuation with Chickenfoot lead singer Sammy Hagar.