JEFF AUSTIN, THE SIMPLE TRUTH,
2015 ON YEP ROC
A genre-blurring solo debut with Danny Barnes, Ross Martin, Eric Thorin and
Cody Dickinson, the Royal Horns and special guests
BOULDER, Colo. — “This is it. This is the band. We’re here and we’re focused,” singer, songwriter and instrumentalist Jeff Austin says with glee. He’s referring to his handpicked ensemble, the Jeff Austin Band. The group features long-time collaborator Danny Barnes on banjo and guitar, guitarist Ross Martin, bass player Eric Thorin, and Cody Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars on percussion.
The Simple Truth, the group’s 2015 debut solo album and Austin’s first recording for Yep Roc records, is no simple affair. His legions of fans have long known of Austin’s eclectic musical influences. Here, instead of familiar jam band motifs, listeners will find hints of power pop, country ballads, bluegrass and rock. Assisting the band is an array of acclaimed guests including Todd Snider, Jenn Hartswick, Brendan Bayliss of Umphrey’s McGee and Sarah Siskind.
Austin began recording the demos that would comprise The Simple Truth with Nick Forster (of eTown and Hot Rize fame) in December of 2013. In March of 2014, the group spent around ten days recording the bulk of the album’s tracks. Though the Jeff Austin Band is a new project, Austin is quick to point out that each member had a rich history of collaborating onstage and off.
“When I did Jeff Austin and Friends shows,” he remembers, “Eric was always the bass player. I love great solos but if a band can move at the same rhythmic pace, I get off on that as much as anyone else. Eric and I move at the same pace as each other.
“Through Eric, Ross came into the fold,” Austin adds. “They’ve been playing music together for 20 years. So when we all got together, that’s what hit us.”
Austin’s connection to Danny Barnes, the famed Bad Livers banjo player and now avant-garde “barnyard electronics” experimenter, goes back even further. It’s hard not to hear the album funky down-home title track without hearing the hallmarks of Barnes. “Danny and I have been playing for at least ten years,” Jeff says. “I remember in the mid-’90s working on the radio in Champaign, Ill. They had all these cassettes in the studio room and I had just found bluegrass music. I heard the Bad Livers and said, ‘That’s the kind of bluegrass I like.’ There was a darkness there, a different tone to it. It sort of changed the way I thought bluegrass had to be played.”
“When I hear this music,” Austin says of The Simple Truth, “I hear Danny’s sensibility on it. You’re looking at 20 years ago, when a twenty-something-year-old kid working radio heard something and the switch was flipped. And now he’s standing right there, creating this music with me in real time. The simple fact of that is pretty mind blowing for me.”
Austin’s rock leanings can be found on the album’s opener, “What the Night Brings.” “We recorded that all together, live, there was something about that take,” he says. “It was played in a bluegrass style for so long, but that’s how that song was originally intended. The hook that rolls through it, the big drum, the big electric guitar … this is how it sounded in my head all along, for years. It was a moment of making this statement as clear as possible.”
Siskind’s impact, in particular, can be heard throughout the project, from the tender “Falling Stars” to “Over and Over,” a tune Austin co-wrote with the famed Nashville songwriter. “She changed everything,” he says of Siskind. “To say I’m a fan of her songwriting is a terrible understatement. She’s done something that I’ve only seen John Prine do, where gender has nothing to do with it. The emotions are straight across the board.”
Austin initially connected with Siskind thanks to a bout of writer’s block. He contacted the esteemed singer-songwriter via email when he couldn’t wrap up “Over and Over.” “I had chords for that song for over a year,” he says. “I had the beginning of the first verse, too. I was stuck and I was completely landlocked. “I was driving somewhere, listening to Sarah’s records and I said, ‘I think I know what I need to do.’ I typed out what I had, I made her a demo and a couple of days later I opened my little digital mailbox and there were a couple of emails from her.”
“It was absolutely lovely,” Austin says of her contribution. “ It took me a half day to recover from it, it was that strong of an impression. Over the course of a week, it was there. I thought, ‘Holy crap, we just digitally wrote this song together.’”
Siskind not only co-wrote the heartfelt “Over and Over,” she eventually contributed vocals to the album. Austin is excited that in 2015 she’ll even be opening and playing with the Jeff Austin Band. “I have this dream in my mind of her and Ross and Danny playing triple electric guitars with Cody on drums and me with a shit-eating grin, standing behind them all,” he says with a laugh.
Despite all the collaborations, Austin is quick to point out that he’s not letting go of his famed mandolin (an exquisite Nugget mandolin handmade by luthier Mike Kemnitzer) anytime soon. You can hear its chords on the album’s rock inspired opener and throughout the album. “On this record you notice that the mandolin is scattered about,” he explains. “I wanted to sing these songs without worrying if I have to do a solo here or figure out a riff for this part. I wanted to sing songs the best I could, tap into a lot of emotions that I haven’t ventured to in a while.”
It’s hard not to notice Austin’s enthusiasm for the new project. “As the primary writer and singer, my name may be attached to the thing, but this is everybody’s band,” he says. “To see the work these guys are doing on a nightly basis, embedding themselves and the dedication to work, it’s ridiculous. It’s a cool thing to be a part of.”
The work continues...
These words have never rung more true for Jeff Austin.
After almost twenty years of live creation and endless joy seeking...Jeff has returned to the scene with a new found sense of passion. Sharing the stage each night with a band of like minded adventurers...Danny Barnes (banjo), Eric Thorin (bass), and Ross Martin (guitar)...he attacks each performance with a fire and desire to move and shake everyone in sight.
Every show stands as a statement.
A statement of music...
A statement of connection...
A statement of just how joyful each moment can be.
From note to note...song to song...these musical warriors set out to turn each ear in a way never heard before.
The path is set.
The energy is undeniable.
Because with each new step the Jeff Austin Band takes...
The work continues.
The 18th incarnation of All Good is taking place at Berry Hill Farm in Summit Point, West Virginia, near Charles Town and Harper's Ferry is just 90 minutes from Baltimore, and 75 minutes from Washington, DC. Berry Hill Farm is located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and marks All Good's triumphant return to Wild and Wonderful West Virginia. Come join us as we celebrate life, music and community spirit.
After a one-year hiatus and a three year absence from West Virginia, The All Good Music Festival & Campout will return to West Virginia in just four weeks sporting a stacked multi genre lineup including headliners Primus, Moe., & Cake, as well as Theivery Corporation, Lotus, STS9, SOJA, Greensky Bluegrass, Lettuce, Dark Star Orchestra, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, The Bridge, Cabinet and so many killer acts.
All Good offers 3 nights of music and arts including late nights, 3 stages and no over lapping sets.
3 day passes, Saturday passes and kids passes are available now at http://allgoodfestival.com/tickets
Don’t miss the return of the All Good Festival as we know from experience they are always epic!
All Good Music Festival 2015 lineup:
John Butler Trio
Dark Star Orchestra
Yonder Mountain String Band
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead
JJ Grey & Mofro
Chris Robinson Brotherhood
Balkan Beat Box
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong
Judah & the Lion
(courtesy Peter Wochniak)
By Steve Houk
For guitarist Jeff Mattson, the Grateful Dead has been his muse for about as long as he can remember. Some of his earliest musical memories of childhood include not only listening to his jazz musician father jamming, but also rocking out to the Dead, the Allman Brothers and other legendary improvisational rock music.
And that's a good thing, because over the years, the Dead's music has been very very good to him, with the bulk of his successful 36-year career having been spent playing the Dead's music in bands like the Zen Tricksters since 1979, and for the last five years, as lead guitarist for arguably the best Dead-related band ever, Dark Star Orchestra.
But it's not surprising that every now and then, he and fellow DSO member and longtime friend Rob Barraco feel the need to change it up a tad by playing some different music, seems only fair, right? To that end, they are out on the road this month for a brief swing as Mattson/Barraco and Friends, with a stop at Gypsy Sally's in DC on Saturday June 13th.
"Just to do something outside of the Dark Star paradigm of doing all Grateful Dead all the time," Mattson told me from his home on Long Island, "we thought it'd be fun to put something together between Dark Star tours where we can play our original music and some other cover stuff, and yes, add some Dead, some Jerry Garcia Band stuff, but treat it a little bit differently, and have some fun with it."
As the Grateful Dead celebrate 50 years of music this year, and even as he embarks on another little-less-Dead jaunt with Baracco, Mattson looks back on his close relationships with the surviving Dead members with great fondness, and even a dash of reverence.
"The first person from the Dead I got to play with was Phil," said Mattson. "In 1999, I did three shows with Phil Lesh and Friends at the Warfield in San Francisco. I've been fortunate to have been able to play with all the living members of the Grateful Dead at one time or another, couple times with Bobby (Weir), buncha times with Phil, and Billy (Kreutzmann) and Mickey (Hart) and Donna (Jean Godchaux) and Tom (Constanten). That's really been the highlight for me of my whole career, because these people, I have so much respect for their musical creation, what they've done in the past, what they're doing now, so to get to play with them is kind of an intimate thing. The things that really shine when I look back, that stick out, are when I've been able to play with those folks."
Mattson started playing with the Dead's Godchaux in the mid 2000's, but a few years later a personnel change in DSO opened up an opportunity that he just couldn't pass up, and that proved to be what would propel him forward into the great gig he has now.
"(Guitarist and DSO founding member) John Kadlecik was approached by (Lesh & Weir's) Furthur," Mattson said. "At first he was gonna try to both things and they called me to fill in for some shows while he was off rehearsing with Furthur, and then it became apparent that he wasn't going to able to do both because Furthur was gonna play alot of shows. So they asked me to consider joining DSO. At that point, my full time gig was playing with Donna Jean, so I was kinda torn because it was a good opportunity, but I was already doing this other thing. But obviously as it turned out, I did take the job with Dark Star in 2010 and have been with them ever since, and I still play with Donna Jean too."
Jeff Mattson (L) and Rob Barraco
Mattson relishes his place in DSO, but again, it's nice to be able to get out and work some other musical muscles in between playing all Dead. Joining Mattson and Baracco this go-round are Baracco's son Tom on drums and Rob Friedman on bass. Mattson knows full well that audiences are going to still expect some Dead tunage from this brood, and they won't be dissapointed as long as they also let these masters spread their wings a little.
"When people come see us, they're going to want to hear some of that (Dead) stuff, so it's definitely in there, too. But I think mainly the idea was for us to get to flex some other chops than doing the straight 100% Grateful Dead thing, because we love all kinds of other music."
Mattson/Barraco & Friends perform June 13th at Gypsy Sally's, 3401 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20007. For tickets, click here.
Catskill Chill Music Festival has announced moe. as the headliner for “A Farewell to Minglewood” which will take place September 18-20, 2015, in Hancock, New York. This is the first time that the preeminent New York jam band has performed at Catskill Chill, making it a very special way to close six amazing years at Camp Minglewood before the event moves to a new home in 2016.
Joining moe. at the top of this year’s line-up is Lotus, Zappa Plays Zappa, Lettuce, Electron, The Motet, Dopapod, Kung Fu, Twiddle, Break Science, Turkuaz, The Werks, Particle & Fam, and George Porter Jr. & The Runnin' Pardners.
While the performance schedule alone is reason enough to attend this annual event, it is the intimacy and unique grounds that make Catskill Chill one of the most highly anticipated festivals of the season and this year is expected to sell out. With a limited capacity, no campsite is more than a few minutes walk to the stages and anyone can make their way up to the front for their favorite sets. Hosted at a secluded performing arts summer camp where childhood dreams merge with the music festival culture, the “Chillfam” as Chill’s loving community have coined themselves, bunk-up in 16-32 person sleep away camp-style cabins, creating decorated theme camps intermingled amongst the campers. The festival also features free parking, free camping, daily yoga, live art, a farmer’s market, craft and food vendors, a communal bonfire nightly and an open mic.
Tickets are currently available here for $185. Details on VIP Packages, which will be purchased separately from weekend passes, will be announced in the coming weeks.
CATSKILL CHILL 2015 LINEUP:
Zappa Plays Zappa
Twiddle (Original & Dead sets)
Dopakuaz plays Studio 54
Particle & Fam
George Porter Jr. & The Runnin' Pardners
The Nth Power
Consider the Source (Electric & Acoustic)
Pink Talking Fish
Luke the Knife
Chillfam All-Stars Herbie Hancock Tribute
High & Mighty Brass Band
Caravan of Thieves
Brock Butler Acoustic
Jen Durkin & The Business
BRYAC Funk All-Stars
The Ballroom Thieves
The Primate Fiasco (Electric & Acoustic)
Beau Sasser’s Escape Plan
On the Spot Trio
Jonathan Scales Fourchestra
ShwiKus plays the ‘80s
The Brummy Brothers
Funky Dawgz Brass Band
Haley Jane and the Primates
Wiley Griffin Acoustic
Little War Twins
The Breakneck Boys
For more information visit:
Twitter + Instagram: @CatskillChill | #Chillfam
What’s better than one night of Perpetual Groove? Two! Everyone’s favorite improv-rock band has returned and is stoked to announce back-to-back dates in select markets. Get ready St. Petersburg (Florida, not Russia), Brooklyn, Charleston, Denver, and Atlanta, PGroove are coming at ya! Asheville, NC will also get a healthy dose of the groove this August, and the already announced Resonance Festival in Ohio will experience PGroove’s only festival play of the summer.
This past weekend, Athens’ famed Georgia Theatre had a close encounter with the first 2015 #NotAReunion shows from Perpetual Groove. At on-sale, night one sold-out in less than 12 minutes, and night two - which was announced and released later the same night - sold-out in eight minutes flat.
PGroove is also proud to announce a three-night New Year’s residency at Terminal West with merry making, music, and heavenly lights by Jason Huffer. “We didn’t choose this place! We didn’t choose these people!” exclaims the band about their return to Atlanta, “they were invited!” At the start of the five tones, 12 pm ET on Friday, June 5th, tickets will go on sale for all shows through venue websites and https://www.facebook.com/pgroove.
Just close your eyes, and hold your breath, and everything will turn real pretty… Watch the video announcement here
Perpetual Groove 2015 Tour Dates
July 31, 2015 - State Theatre - St. Petersburg, FL
August 1, 2015 - State Theatre - St. Petersburg, FL
August 29, 2015 - Pisgah Brewing Company - Asheville, NC
September 25, 2015 - Resonance Festival - Pataskala, OH
September 26, 2015 - Resonance Festival - Pataskala, OH
October 9, 2015 - Brooklyn Bowl - Brooklyn, NY
October 10, 2015 - Brooklyn Bowl - Brooklyn, NY
October 30, 2015 - Charleston Pour House - Charleston, SC
October 31, 2015 - Charleston Pour House - Charleston, SC
December 4, 2015 - Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom - Denver, CO
December 5, 2015 - Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom - Denver, CO
December 31, 2015 - Terminal West - Atlanta, GA
January 1, 2015 - Terminal West - Atlanta, GA
January 2, 2015 - Terminal West - Atlanta, GA