Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rustic Overtones Review!

By guest writer Devon Mitchell!

The Rustic Overtones, an amazing band that has been drawing attention to crowds both young and old for several years, have been touring to promote their newest album "The New Way Out" which was released in September of 2009.

The band originated in Portland, Maine and began playing live, local shows when they were just teenagers. Adding more venues as often as possible, they quickly found that people would fall in love with the group and their diverse sound.

What I have found and love about the Rustic Overtones is the fact that their music has a little of just about everything. There's definitely something for everyone and every mood, ranging from a little punk rock to jazz to funk…everything you could really ask for from a band.
I have been lucky enough to see these guys play several times this year, with a few more upcoming shows that I plan on attending as well, and I never leave disappointed. I am just as excited to see them play next time as I was before my first Rustic show ever. I have to say, getting to see them play live two nights in a row this month certainly made my summer.

The first show was at The Stone Church, a smaller bar located in Newmarket, NH which fits about a total of 100 people. Talk about being able to get up close and personal with the musicians! The venue was packed full, again with the audience ranging quite a bit in age. The second show was the 4th annual Hill 'N The Ville Music Festival located in Waterville, Maine on September 11th. This show took place outside during the day, and was definitely a more family friendly event. Due to this atmosphere, I was able to truly notice the diversity of fans that this group has acquired over the years. A large portion of these fans were under the age of 18 (who can't see them play at a bar) and were dancing and rocking out to the sound of these guys, along with their parents and grandparents even! We got lucky with beautiful weather for this outdoor event. Both sets Friday and Saturday were very pleasurable to say the least.

You can see that these guys totally enjoy what they are doing, and are never lacking in soul or rhythm. Rustic closed both shows with one of their bigger singles "Combustible" off of their CD Viva Nueva. Dave Gutter joined the crowd for this song, and everyone just ate it up. Makes for the perfect ending to an already good show.
Even though the Rustic Overtones have become more popular with their new CD, they always remain loyal to their hometown of Portland and state of Maine. To me, that means a lot. It seems as though people forget where they came from when they 'make it' This is certainly is not the case with these guys.
As someone that has been a Rustic fan for quite sometime now, I can honestly say that I enjoy their newer CD just as much as their old. Even with the new approach i still feel like I am listening to the same band. The break they took did not seem to interrupt the uniqueness that makes the Rustic Overtones so special.

So, one way or another, whether your an old fan or someone that is just tuning in, I highly suggest you catch a live show of these guys. I promise you will not be disappointed, and you always get more than you pay for!
Also, check out their new CD "The New Way Out" which you can find at Bullmoose, Amazon and Itunes as well, or you can always pick up an old one too!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Interview with The Rustic Overtones!

The Rustic Overtones played a great show at The Stone Church in New Market, NH on Friday 9/10.

Dave Gutter was kind enough to meet with TWLSB after the show so we could ask a few questions about the band. Enjoy!

TWLSB: You guys all took a break for a while, right?

DG: Yea, we took a break for about 4 years.

TWLSB: You all kind of went your own ways, each going through individual musical growth, so was it difficult to pick back up where you left off?

DG: It wasn’t actually...it was a very natural progression getting back together. I think someone once said that it’s like riding a bike with five of your other friends. It was a really good thing, we all kind of missed it a lot. We all love the music and love the shows. It’s a real natural energy that I think we missed a lot. As soon as we got back together it was very invigorating and fun.

TWLSB: How did Nigel Hall come into the picture?

DG: Nigel is a good friend of ours. He’s actually played with us for a while, just casually jamming with us a lot. He has like 5 gigs, so it’s really difficult to nail him down for one show with us. It was a huge pleasure to have him work with us on the album. We got him out on the road with us right after the album came out, and a little bit before, but he's definitely got a lot going on.

Your songs seem to have quite a range in style…is this due to a wide range of influences?

Yea, it’s a huge democracy of all these influences that come from every different member. It started off as a real cluster fuck of all the influences, but it finally got to a point where we kind of honed in on which influences to use. And when we’re under those influences….well it’s just a compromise. Like, Tony listens to Slayer and Ryan listens to Charlie Parker, so you can’t really put those two together. So we took a while experimenting what styles we can put together, and we came up with some pretty unique things, and that’s kind of how our songs evolved.

TWLSB: What have you been listening to lately?

I’ve been listening to a band called White Denim lately. I’ve been listening to a lot of hip-hop. There’s some Kanye West stuff that hasn’t been out on the album yet. There are these singles that’ve been leaked on the internet, real good newer stuff. I like the new OK Go record too. And The Flaming Lips.

Are you writing new material? How does that usually work?

I usually write a lot of songs on my acoustic guitar, and I’ll bring it to the guys and they usually shape-shift the whole thing. I come with skeletons or blue prints of songs that are very open to interpretation and change. Aside from the lyrics, the whole thing can change sometimes, and I’m open to that. It’s good to have everyone from the band kind of put their stamp on it.

TWLSB: How was it starting out in Maine? Is Portland a good output?

DG: It’s challenging as far as getting out of Portland and getting to other places, but it’s a really inspirational place to live. Portland is a very beautiful, peaceful place as far as writing from your soul, and creating some really pure music. There are so many great bands there, but like some of the bands that practice in the studio next to us, they don’t even play out. It’s hard to get out in Maine.
Until recently, there was a huge lack of clubs for people to play. Even now, for like really good hip-hop, punk rock, or hard-core there’s still a lack of clubs and underage clubs. That’s the thing that’s hard about Portland; is actually getting your music out there and getting out of Portland and touring. As far as writing though, all the bands from Portland are amazing writers.

TWLSB: So how long did it take you guys to push out of Portland?

DG: We probably toured out of state when we were about 19. As soon as we could, really. You gotta try to get out of your hometown to achieve success.
TWLSB: You got out, but you still seem to stick within.
DG: Yea, we are really, really faithful and loyal to Portland, as much as we can be. We love Portland.

TWLSB: What was your most effective output though, did the record labels help most?

Nope. It was getting out there and playing in front of people. The live thing is way more personal than a record. It’s so hard to reach people sometimes with a record. You know, they’re doing something else and listening to the record usually. But when it’s live, I’m the guy with the loud microphone and big lights, and you can pay attention and soak it in.
TWLSB: You guys definitely have soul to your performances too, and that energy can’t be delivered as well through a record.
DG: *Jokingly* Well, we’re lip synching, but I’m still feeling it.

TWLSB: Any local music in the Portland area you can recommend?

DG: An artist named Thommy, he’s an artist I work with that I really like. There’s a band named Brenda…Brenda is amazing. I really like Gypsy Tailwind, Grand Hotel, Plains, which is actually Dave Noyes’ band. There’s a ton of bands in Portland that I’m really into.

TWLSB: What record labels have you guys worked with?
DG: Our first major label was Arista. Then we signed with Tommy Boy, and then we signed with Velour…the labels passed us around for a while.

TWLSB: What's the biggest show The Rustic Overtones have played?

DG: This one, The Stone Church definitely. *laughs* It’s hard to say… There was a show in Connecticut, I think it’s called The Meadows. It’s kind of an interesting story. A good friend of mine gave me some pot brownies, and they didn’t work. They were so delicious though, so everybody, even people that don’t get high ate all the pot brownies. We were like ‘ yea they don’t work anyway, so don’t worry about it.’ About 4 hours later it kicked in, and we were about to go out in front of something like 40,000 people. And well, that was our biggest show.
TWLSB: How’d it go?
DG: Oh it went great. I don’t really remember much of it, but it was definitely a good show.

How come you guys don’t play up in the Umaine Orono area anymore?

DG: Well they used to do Bumstock and stuff, but there’s no place to play up there really…
TWLSB: Come to The Dime! It’s an excellent place to play.
DG: Is it? That’s good to know. They asked us to play a while back but I think we were really busy at the time. Good to know, though, we’ll keep it in mind.

TWLSB: Any advice for bands starting out or young musicians?

DG: You have to get out there, play at any place any time you can when you first start out. And even though it’s hard, don’t play Sweet Home Alabama and then mix in your original stuff. Just get out there, play straight original stuff, and believe it. Don’t feel like you have to rely on throwing Free Bird into the set. Try to really stand behind your original music when you start out, and people will eventually believe in it too.

Thanks again to Dave Gutter and The Rustic Overtones for their time and an excellent show, and Devon Mitchell for setting everything up!
We highly recommend that you all catch a live show of this local minded down to earth rockin' band from Portland, ME.
Go to http://www.therusticovertones.com/ to check out tour dates!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

American Folk Festival Review

The American Folk Festival is well known as a wonderful cultural and diverse event and people come from all over to attend. The Way Live Should Be was only able to attend Friday evening, but the sample of music we were able to here is a testament to the entire weekend. In one night, we were able catch blue grass, gypsy, cape Breton, Korean drumming, Cajun, and Quebecois styles of music. If you have never been to the folk festival, or don’t think you would like the music there, please allow me to assure you its more than worth attending, every single year. Included here is a few impressions of the many different styles the Way Live Should Be caught in just two and one half hours at the Folk Festival right here, in Bangor, ME.

As is tradition at the Folk Festival, the Pride of Maine Black Bear Marching Band started off the festival beginning near West Market Square and parading over to the Railroad Stage. These guys are really pretty phenomenal, all dancing together and playing in time and in general having and giving a great time. Its pretty awesome that Maine musicians get to start the festival off with such a bang; it gives the festival a sense of place and reminds us all that Bangor, Maine is the host for a significant cultural event.

The next artist we caught was A Taste of Celtic Colours, playing music from Cape Breton. Their music was downright beautiful, a sound based in solidarity and ties to the land. The musicians in this band played a variety of instruments, including keys, violin, guitar, and fiddle. Many of their songs reach really elevated crescendos and often members of the band would come to the front of the stage and dance, taking such joy from their own sound. Their music in general was incredibly joyful, an incredible pleasure to listen to. One thing we found particularly interesting was the element of the keys, something formely we had not seen associated with Celtic music. They were a key element of the sound, and the musican playing the keys played one solo that was very technical and classical, proving his undeniable talent. All the musicians in the band were incredibly talented and we really, really enjoyed their set!

The Other Europeans Band was next and these guys were really wild. Classified as “Klezmer and Gypsy” music sometimes these guys reminded me of old silent films music, but others I was blown away by their technicality. At any given time there were anywhere from 6-14 musicians on stages; although there are 14 total musicians, they often divide themselves into a six piece or an eight piece depending on the style or composition they play. However, they also often all play together, or any combination in between. Instruments played included, but were not limited to, violin, accordion, standing bass, trumpet, clarinet, tuba, fiddle, trumpet, traditional keyboard and percussion. There was also some crazy type of zylephone keyboard thing that was played with mallets. Their music had a definite classic quality, but often featured an extremely fast tempo and intense crescendos. Along with the silent films feel, many songs were carnival like and very fun… a roller coaster of sounds, tempos, and styles. Maybe not my favorite band of the night, but a very intriguing show.

The next group I checked out was Noreum Machi, Korean Samul Nori drumming and dance. This was really cool, but definitely as much about the costumes and dance as the music. Featuring very heavy drumming and a sort of flute often associated with snake charming, the sounds were interesting and certainly well put together. The sound was almost tribal, and their traditional garb was gorgeous, I especially liked the hats which featured 3 foot long bouncy tassel decorations. This show helped me to appreciate the variation and extreme diversity of sounds from around the world… incredibly interesting show!

When I think Cajun, I think spicy. That being said, Cajun music was NOTHING like I expected. The Pine Leaf Boys put on a great show and obviously had a grand old time on stage. Their music was some unique combination of country, blues, celtic, and polka! They consisted of a fiddle player, acoustic guitar, accordion, electric bass, and drums. This show was obviously a crowd favorite and the vocals were great; lots of crooning and hootin and hollerin. People were seriously getting down to these guys and I can understand why, these guys had lots of rhythm!

The peak and last performance of the evening was Le Vent Du Nord, Québécois music. These guys had a lot of French lyrics, but you didn’t have to understand French to be able to hear what phenomenal musicians they were. The heavy bass, extensive and lovely voice harmonies, and emphatic violin made for a truly beautiful and traditional sound. I heard some Celtic references with these guys too, but it may have a lot to do with the fact that they shared that back-to-land, solidarity based, joyous type of sound. They were somewhat more ambient than any of the others bands that evening though, creating a very emotional and echoey sort of feeling in their music. They also played the acoustic guitar, piano, and drums. Even the fiddle/violin player’s feet were miked, adding a really fun, extra percussion element. Sometimes I would think their sound was very traditional, and then they were introduce musical elements I had never experienced before. One example was the wild accordion like instrument with a crank sort of handle on the side. Depending on how fast or slow the musician turned the crank influenced the speed of the notes he was playing and could give the music either a heightened feeling or an even more haunting, ambient affect. Definitely my favorite instrument of the night. The musicianship behind this band is mindblowing, they were constantly switching instruments and created an Immense amount of sound for just four guys. Their music was festive and fun one minute, and then ancient and haunting, but lovely the next. The passion these guys had too… I only hope they return to the festival in the future because this was a show I would have paid to see in a heartbeat. I hope you didn’t miss this!!