Levy and Campbell Host SOUTHERN SONGBOOK Valentine's Show
A very special Valentines-themed Southern Songbook concert, Desire and Death: Love songs on yearning and loss, will be hosted by Honeydogs frontman Adam Levy and the Local Show's Dave Campbell on Monday, February 14 at 7:30pm. Music director dVRG and house band Heiruspecs will be joined by guest musicians John Munson, Aby Wolf, Darren Jackson, Alicia Wiley, Holly Newsom, Alexei Casselle, Chastity Brown, Minor Kingdom (Kristian Melom), Grant Cutler and Ryan Paul. The concert is presented by The Southern Theater and by Invisible Button Entertainment.
Southern Songbook explores the history, culture and art of popular song through performances and conversations with Twin Cities songwriters. In each uniquely themed show, accomplished musicians and emerging artists offer fresh interpretations of song standards and premiere new material. Heiruspecs serves as the house band throughout the series.
"The famous songwriter Jimmy Webb once said 'song ideas are the most intense longings of the soul and its deepest regrets,'" quotEd Levy. "Most of the history of popular song in the last century has involved songs celebrating eros and romantic love or some kind of loss and mourning. This St. Valentine's Day-themed installment of Southern Songbook features artists singing and talking about the most powerful of human emotions-love and grief-and their relationship with the creative process."
The Southern Theater box office is at 1420 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55454. Tickets are $22-25. Call 612.340.1725 or visit www.southerntheater.com.
Southern Songbook 2010/11 concludes April 14, 2011 with The Rites of String: The intersection of song, songwriter and strings, hosted by Chris Koza and featuring Adam Levy, Dessa, Chan Poling, Martin Devaney, Mississippi Peace, Anders Ponders, and Eliza Blue.
The art of songwriting continues to find home in the music of Adam Levy. The former McKnight Grant recipient is known best for his pop-rock craftsmanship that's guided The Honeydogs through 10 acclaimed releases, and more recently for the whimsical kid's rock band Bunny Clogs featuring his two pre-teen daughters. Levy has also embarked on several new projects including Liminal Phase, an experimental group featuring members of Mystery Palace and Heiruspecs that combines unusual acoustic and electronic instrumentation and explores a sonic template that touches on psychedelia, jazz, folk, world, and avant garde musical traditions. Now a staple in the local live music scene, the band recorded with world-renowned tabla player Suphala and will perform with her at the Cedar in spring 2011 as part of a Jerome Foundation 416 Club Commission Grant. As if that weren't enough, Levy has begun collaborating with Tony-nominated musical arranger Robert Elhai (Lion King, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Sixth Sense) and members of the MN Opera Orchestra on a yet another new project- And the Professors, an indie rock group with a string quartet sharing fractured pop songs about love.
In addition to time and love spent on The Honeydogs and additional projects, Adam teaches popular music history, songwriting, audio engineering and mentors students at the Institute of Production and Recording, where he hosts DIY 360, a weekly industry roundtable connecting students to information and resources needed for developing careers in the music business. For fun Adam heads up the ambitious 9 piece soul cover band, Hookers $ Blow.
Dave Campbell is host of "Radio Free Current," Saturdays 7-11 p.m. and "The Local Show," Sundays 6-8 p.m. on MPR's The Current 89.3. Campbell is a long-time veteran of the Twin Cities scene. A fan, musician, record store clerk, record label staffer, and a 10-year staffer of KQRS and Drive 105's "Homegrown."
As part of the burgeoning Midwestern hip-hop scene, Heiruspecs first made inroads with its self-released 2002 album Small Steps, which earned critical praise in national and regional outlets ("Exceptional ... the rhythm that rocks the spot" - URB), and set the band off on a never-ending touring schedule. Heiruspecs has also been tapped to perform as the backing band for such acts as Atmosphere, Oddjobs, Aesop Rock, Sage Francis and others, establishing it as one of the premiere live hip-hop bands in the nation.
DeVon Gray (dVRG) is a Saint Paul native raised in the Baptist Church, a multi-instrumentalist/conductor/Hip Hop Producer, and New England Conservatory (NEC) graduate.
Devon Gray started life as an instrumentalist, discovered composition in high school, and decided that writing music was the "end all, be all." Most of his great early moments as an instrumentalist came as a bassoonist (performing with the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies and Minnesota Youth Symphonies in high school). He spent a summer at the Eastern Music Festival in Greensborough, NC and had his "musical mind blown." After his time in school at NEC, he moved back to MN to join the band Heiruspecs; a group he started when in high school. Almost thirteen years later Heiruspecs is still going strong. Its members spent three and a half years touring the country and having a great time; then came the rough transition into adulthood and greater musical responsibility and creativity.
"The success I've had with my music has come by fusing the different musics that I love in a new 3 rd stream concoction. Some of my scores throw classically trained people for a loop, and vice versa for the non-classical people. It's been a combination of Pop/Jazz charting & traditional notation. What matters most is the end result. Doesn't matter how you choose to get there." - Devon Gray
Founded in 2009 by owner/operator Lily Troia, Invisible Button Entertainment, a locally-based music management and event production firm has produced sold-out shows at the DakotaJazz Club, Bryant Lake Bowl and Southern Theater, managed CD release events at First Avenue and the Cedar Cultural Center, and coordinated musical programming at several political and governmental fundraisers. Invisible Button Entertainment provides a battery of services to musicians, from booking to promotions and general management- and boasts an impressive roster of Twin Cities artists, including The Honeydogs, Martin Devaney, Kid Dakota, Hookers $ Blow, Ryan Paul & the Ardent and Liminal Phase. A Midwesterner by root, Lily came to the Twin Cities via Boston and Manhattan, where she settled briefly after completing her Bachelor of Music in Ethnomusicolgy at Northwestern University. While wearing many professional hats over the years, Lily has always returned to music and the arts, where she now focuses on artist and event support, lending her enthusiasm, breadth of knowledge and sharp wit to the scene.
You could say that Grant Cutler's whole life is a constant composition-- whether at the computer, on the guitar or at the piano, Cutler tries his best to eschew predictability and intentionality, while allowing the supremacy of sound to reign true. Whether exploring ambient soundscapes in recent electronica project 2012 or baring his soul and more in the cavernous, ethereal anthems released with the Gorgeous Lords, the frontman and songwriter of acclaimed local synth pop heroes Lookbook has honed the art of experimentation begetting memorable, emotional music. Siting a battery of influences that range from Steve Reich to Kanye West, Cutler has toured across the country and continues to jump head first into numerous projects, from writing movie scores and heavy metal musicals, to producing local favorites Solid Gold, Zoo Animal, Halloween/Alaska, Jeremy Messersmith and Idle Hands. A native of Aberdeen, SD, not yet 30, Grant Cutler has been described as "golden" by critics, yet insists he's still just figuring out his role in the musical world.
The Minneapolis, Minnesota, trio, Zoo Animal, formed in the winter of 2008 as songwriter Holly Newsom shifted her reclusive solo work into a rock lexicon that now includes bassist Tim Abramson's melodic counterpoint and the taut structures from drummer Thom Burton. Newsom gives her songs a heightened sense of conviction as her pensive words and private thoughts foldover and drape around warped pop styles and abolished rock band stereotypes. The lyrics pour out in a variety of ways - sometimes gushing forth in torrents, often crawling out in little more than a whisper - but they are always tethered to melodies that emotionally and elementally guide each song.
Aby Wolf is excited to be a part of Southern Songbook's 2011 Winter installment. Aby released her first album, Sweet Prudence in 2009, receiving the compliments of City Pages' Best Female Vocalist, Best Album, and Best Artist. Since then, she has kept busy performing in various venues around the Twin Cities, as well as singing with local indie-chamber-folk sextet Dark DarkDark and Doomtree's Dessa Darling (that's a lot of D's). After taking a hiatus from songwriting, Aby is thrilled to be crafting new material for this series. She will also be participating in the Cedar Cultural Center's 416 Club Commissions on February 20th. Be on the lookout for a new release from Aby Wolf in 2011!
Alexei Moon Casselle began writing lyrics at age 15 under the name Crescent Moon,performing around the Twin Cities by the time he was in high school with his group Oddjobs, contemporaries Eyedea & Abilities and eventually, the local but soon to be national act, Atmosphere. Heavily influenced by such poetically inclined MC's as Common, Black Thought and Aceyalone, Alexei wrote, thought about and listened to music obsessively, constantly trying to perfect the craft of songwriting and nurture his inherent ability to perform.
Currently, Alexei is in avant garde beat-poet rap group Kill the Vultures, which blends punk andfree jazz aesthetics with industrial beats and stream of conscious lyrics. Alexei is also one half of the husband and wife based Americana band Roma di Luna, which features his wife Channy Moon Casselle on lead vocals and violin. Whatever time isn't spent on music, Alexei enjoys spending being a proud father of his baby girl.
Tennessee-raised, Minneapolis-based soul-songstress Chastity Brown has an alluring tendency to turn heads and hold audiences captive with her jazz-tinged folk compositions, mesmerizing voice and expressive acoustic guitar. She has released three full-length albums. Her first disc was recorded live on television and her sophomore disc, Sankofa (released 3/6/09), was recorded solo in the studio.
In midst of releasing her solo works, Chastity and her bandmates, Michael X. (percussion), Adam Wozniak (of Tarlton, upright bass) and Nikki Schultz (backing vocals), have developed a creative camaraderie that yields a groove-based soul tonic equal parts call and response, gritty gospel, and hypnotic vocal pairings. On their first album, High Noon Teeth (released 6/12/10), the quartet has concocted a powerful combination of roots, rhythm, and blues. The emotional improv at the heart of Chastity's storytelling, combined with her band's electrifying performances, has garnered attention from fans across the country. She has recently shared the stage with Angelique Kidjo, Raul Midon, Toshi Reagon, Matthew Santos and Dessa.
It took a near-death breakdown across the country to help Ryan Paul find his voice. The Minneapolis native entered the music scene in 1999 as Jeremy Ylvisaker's (Andrew Bird/Alpha Consumer) guitar tech and began playing guitar and touring with a smattering of Twin Cities art-rock bands. By 2004, however, Paul lost himself in a haze of drug and alcohol addiction and eventually disappeared out east. It took nearly four years for Ryan to hit rock bottom and finally return home, with help of his family, to start his life and musical career over, sober and invigorated with direction and focus. Gathering a band of veteran Minneapolis musicians, including Paul's father on guitar and mandolin, and acclaimed drummer Steve Goold, Paul formed Ryan Paul and the Ardent in 2008. Originally intended as a onetime project, the band emerged as a vehicle for Ryan's sincere songwriting - a genre-bending brand of Americana rooted in Paul's personal struggles and story. In June of 2009, Ryan Paul and The Ardent released their first full-length record titled La Vita Nuova. In June of 2010, the band released the digital EP, Cute Souvenirs Session - tracked and mixed in just 10 hours. Indie Music Finds said that "The EP exhibits an impressive development in craftsmanship, as well as a much darker character that has acquired comparisons of such opposing artists; The Cure, The Smiths and Arcade Fire." Since 2008, the band has established themselves in the Midwest, playing out constantly, as well as sharing bills with larger acts like Sam Roberts, Rock Plaza Central, and Kid Dakota.
Since 2008, the band has established themselves in the Midwest, playing out constantly, as well as sharing bills with larger acts like Rock Plaza Central, Kid Dakota, Sam Roberts and BackyardTire Fire.
The music of Minor Kingdom sneaks up on you like a season change. Kristian Melom'shaunting guitar seems to be tuned to his voice. As soft and solemn as Melom can be, his songs vibrate with a controlled energy.
Singer/songwriter/pianist Alicia Wiley is just as likely to dig into piano syncopations that implore audiences to bop their heads as she is to lure in audiences with a warm, textured voice that defies her years.
With piano chops steeped in classical and jazz and strong pop influences Wiley has gathered comparisons to the likes of Fiona Apple and Diana Krall. Truth is, she is just as likely to be inspired by MiLes Davis and John Coltrane as she is by Bjork and the Smashing Pumpkins. Yet, her ability to deftly meld pop melodies and jazz improvisation has created a sound that is bothdistinctive and worthy of serious attention.
John Munson is a Minneapolis musician and impresario. He has produced, recorded, written, sung and performed for twenty five years all over the world with his bands Trip Shakespeare, Semisonic, The New Standards and The Twilight Hours. John lives in Northeast Minneapolis with his wife Penny and their two children.
Like the Black Hills of songwriter Darren Jackson's native South Dakota, Kid Dakota is a creature of extremes: Whisper-quiet vocals explode into searing guitar riffs and crushing drumbeats in a single breath. Loneliness and beauty go hand in hand. And a two-man band from Minneapolis makes a sound big enough to fill a stadium.
Jackson and his band of chorts offer up a moody fusion of rock, folk and country on the order of Okkervil and Sparklehorse.
Dark, dusty and desolate, the band's 2001 debut "So Pretty" was a haunting collection of sketches that put a slightly sinister twist on the classic breakup album. Jackson showed his teeth-and his scars-on these brutally honest, heart-achingly brilliant tales of lost love and wasted years.
With 2004's "The West is the Future", the band shifted its focus from personal torment to universal struggle. Recorded live as a four-piece with layer upon layer of intricate overdubs, this cinematic rock symphony artfully exposed the seedy underbelly of westward expansion at the turn of the century.
With his 2008 release, A Winner's Shadow, Jackson leaves behind that dusty, windswept panorama and trades it for an urban landscape that crackles and pulses with electric life. Against this backdrop, we experience the awe and terror of the songs' narrators as they navigate loneliness, loss and love.