The Deacon

I’ve done a good job of not talking about Harry’s lineage. I have restrained from talking about his famous progenitor because I didn’t want it to eclipse Harry’s talent and contribution to the band…

But I feel like I can talk about that now because Harrison Moses Barrow has shown everyone what he is capable of. First and foremost, as a musician, Harry is a phenomenal keyboard player. Just like you want a keyboard player to be; Harry is dedicated (he used to travel with an upright piano…which for those of you keeping score is heavy), he’s swift and inventive with his fingers on the piano and he loves what he does. He loves getting the right sounds dialed in; when you’re on the road that really changes the game because every sound system is different and each room responds differently.

Harry also is a fabulous arranger on par with Jack Nitzsche or George Martin. He can write a string score, a horn part or help organize vocal harmonies with a deft and definite ear that will just make your ears swim. His groove is a deep groove too. Harry lets that backbone slip, he use his neck just like a whip.

When it comes to the stage, Harry is the spit and image of The Killer. He regularly is overcome by the spirit of fire and stands up (kicking out whatever he’s been sitting on) singing like a hurricane the whole time. He really is a fancy tie that brings the whole suit of the band together. I feel like if he had a shock of blonde, curly hair there would be some folks that would fall out from thinking they’d seen a ghost. But it is not he who has passed dear friend, it is the one and only Harrison Asa Barrow.

He’s also a sweet man. He makes me laugh out loud right when I need it. Be it a funny diatribe about how wonderful Taco Bell is or a hilarious take on something commonplace like shoes, Harry makes the long drives a tiny bit shorter.

The Deacon brings the church. He’s a one-man, portable artillery battalion of soulfulness. So go on son, invert those chords and draw that fire in a straight line right into every human temple that passes through the venue doors.

It is because of this that, at long last, I can share with you that Harrison Aloysius Barrow is related to…aw heck, ask him yourself when you see him. He’ll tell you all about it.

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The Rooster

There are many nights in your life, as a musician, that pass through your mind like water over smooth river stones. Many of those nights are shows in dingy basements with strangers in strange towns. You don’t want to forget them. You want to hold on to every moment. But in the course of musical events your brain just turns to mush due to lack of sleep/nutrition/sleep and you can’t help but wonder what to do with yourself.

There was a night like that for me three years ago in Atlanta. It was the basement of an art gallery that had been turned into a lovely venue. I was playing solo. I am become joy was about to come out and we were leaving, in two months, for the European tour. There were lovely youngsters and good sound that night and I played a decent set. Toward the end of the set, I thought about how my manager had suggested that I find a banjo player. She thought it traveled well and the Europeans would really take a shine to it.

So at the end of the set I half-jokingly said “If you, or anyone you know, plays banjo and has a valid passport and wants a free trip to Europe talk to me after the show.”. Two people came up to talk to me. The girl who was in one of the bands sharing the bill came up and told me that her friend played banjo. The other was this skinny kid with a huge smile and a knitted Sherpa hat on and he stuck his hand out and said “Hey man, I play banjo. My name’s Jack.”

Long story short, Jack was the one that worked out; and work out he did. As we got to know Jack he just became one of our favorite people. He plays anything. Literally can make anything a musical instrument. But when he plays something designed to be an instrument he sends the listener’s brain off into another world. He has the secret spell; that magical incantation that makes music more than a series of organized compression waves.

He also is one of the finest songwriters I’ve ever run across. He writes these songs that are simple on the surface in terms of their aim but as soon as you succumb to the winding path they end up on, you get swept up in this gorgeous miasma of song. I’ve never been able to do stuff like he does. His songs are the closest thing to “epic” that I’ve ever been this close to. I’m still trying to glean what I can from him in terms of his talent in writing.

He’s also so sweet and funny. One of the kindest souls I’ve ever met. He doesn’t say much, but when he does it is either laugh-out-loud funny or so right on that you’d think you were in the room with Oscar Wilde.

He loves the Dallas Cowboys. He loves a good whiskey. He loves his momma (like any good southern boy). He knows how to talk to cats; I’m not being funny, he’s like the Doctor Dolittle of cats.

People give him things too. It is phenomenal. People just walk up to him and give him things and it still blows my hair back to witness. It is a testament to just how thoroughly sweet and genuine his soul is. He’s done the work. It shows.

Make sure you call him Rooster. I love that nickname and it sort of has begun to stick.

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This is the first in our series Getting To Know The Band.

Today we focus on the root system of the rhythm section; the bass that melts your face and lets your spine melt into cherry wine: Mr. Andrew Gerhan.

Andrew has been my friend for a very long time. He and I met a few years ago when introduced by a former drummer of mine in Philadelphia who knew Andrew from San Francisco. We’d traveled together when Andrew was in the band Our Lady of the Highway. We started working together when, during some time off in San Francisco, Andrew produced ‘Steal People’s Medicine’ and ‘The Guns That Bring the Morning Home’ for the last record I am become joy.

After that Andrew started playing with the band and has traveled with us all over the country and on our last European tour. He is a super talented musician and sound engineer. He plays bass like a dream. In fact all of his bass lines on the new record, Like a fire that consumes all before it…, are criminally good. They set the groove and keep it spinning like a whirling dervish. He is also the mainmast by which we keep the ship propelled whilst the ship is on the sea. He keeps our wits about us.

Andrew used to be a physicist. I can’t really get into it because some of what he worked on was classified…but he’s still the only member of the band to have something physical that he’d worked on traveling in space; still in Earth’s orbit. Pretty impressive.

At the moment Andrew lives in New York City and is an engineer, producer and co-owner of a recording studio in Park Slope. He enjoys fine bourbons and riding his bike safely. He’s also witty and very funny in a way that is surprising given how soft-spoken he is on a day-to-day basis.

If you should see him while we’re in your city, on tour, make sure to buy him a whiskey and ask him about his theory regarding the similarities between The Velvet Underground and The Grateful Dead…it will keep your rapt attention and stick in your brain for months.

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William Faulkner you’re my hero.

I mean the man was a genius. The real word. Very rarely does someone take all the things that make them human and use it as a lens to refract their experience in a way that makes a whole new sun and moon. Always liked his books (still haven’t read The Sound and the Fury) and I think his journey on this Earth is fascinating; but the real reason I am bringing him up today is because of his speech.

There are few speeches that make me feel good and all happy-tearing-up on record. I mean I’m sure there are things we lost at Alexandria and Ur that were just as powerful and that we’ll never know we missed; but for me as to where I was born this is one of the special ones.

Here is a link to the full text of the speech as well as some hauntingly beautiful audio of Mr. Faulkner giving the speech:

Why is the last paragraph missing from the audio? Imagine if it was just some fluke, like the tape ran out because the kid running the Kudelski was so transfixed that he didn’t think to get the backup going.

I don’t know why I think about this speech every year around Christmas time. Maybe it is because, no matter where I was raised, I feel the South in my heart as real as the pangs of hunger. Maybe it is because when I see something as phenomenal as ‘ the holiday spirit’ manifest itself out of nothing but human thought my belief in religious poetry is restored. All I do know is, this speech makes me feel good inside, like Santa Fe.

Tour dates are up. Check them out, because we want to see you all on the road.

Pre-sales are churning nicely like an engine. Let’s keep that going. Oh and here is some more love from NPR:¬†

Here’s to the new year (well the new year we were all raised with…the real new year is closer to April, but if you bring that up every good Roman thinks you a fool…) Happy New Year.

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Happy Holidays

To all the people who were born around Christmas and New Years I’ve got to say, you’ve all handled it admirably. I grew up with a friend whose birthday was on December 25th. You want to be cool about it but it has got to be so hard. Happy Birthday to all you out there.

The whole office is taking a break. But while the computers cool and the emails die down, we all want to reach out and say thank you to everyone who has already ordered their copy of the record, all the support others have given and the love we’ve felt from everyone. It is just wonderful.

Can’t wait to see everyone in the new year. It’s going to be a great one.

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New website; ya likes?

So much has been going on. Every day has been a flurry of activity and excited energy going into the release of our new record Like a fire that consumes all before it.

Firstly there is the new website layout as done by the masterful Minder Singh. I mean it is just something else; right?

Secondly I got a Twitter account. There was a dearth of Adam tweets and so was demanded of me by the internet writ large. Get on it. The twitter feed is so much fun to do and we are just having a great time on it. Not to mention all the business on the Facebook page. Send your friends that way. The more likes the better.

Tour starts soon. We are all excited for that. Going to see the whole USA, going to see all our friends and colleagues at Daytrotter again and make some other fun stops along the way. We really do hope to see you all out there.

The important thing for us is to stay connected with you all right now. That might sound funny but it is true. New things happen almost daily and it is vital for us that everyone is kept up to date. New record stuff, new tour stuff…we’re on it. We want you on it too.

More to come.

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Lightning storm

It is time to go on a tour again. This time to the fall-leaf-changing East Coast.
I can’t ever get over the fact that something I can come to expect still gets me so excited.

Tour dates are up and finalized. So much fun

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Don’t be late.

Cowboys used to have to drive cattle. It has been portrayed in movies, sung about in songs, shown in paintings and talked about for hours around a camp fire. What a romantic painting of austere beauty and freedom that one can paint with such tools. Where else is a man really a man; wherein a certain kind of new-world virginity mixes with a hard fought self determinism that makes you smell like leather and sing like an angel.

What they didn’t write, tell of or relate to the simple folks trapped in the present was that of the smell. The smell is what really drives reality home. Cows are divine creatures of unique import to human beings, but they are still domesticated, herbivorous mammals. Such animals tend to smell very badly, and exponentially so, when their numbers get up to “herd” sizes.

In your mind, when he’s not lighting matches off his perfect Brad Pitt-stubble or saying adorable things like “ma’am”, he was probably a real human with fully functioning endocrine and olfactory systems. Imagine just how badly a cowboy wanted to sleep in a warm bed with freshly laundered sheets. Think of how happily each of the Devil’s great-grandsons would jump at the chance to stand in a man sized porcelain tureen and scrub himself with hot water, showering from above him, and lathering himself with expensive Castile soaps infused with the sweetest smelling fair trade oils. Same goes for the wandering vagabond boxcar singer, the soldier in the field and the earliest modern human being; no matter how romantic the idea is of “the life” it almost never involves bad smells.

Conserve water, stay clean and call your mother; she loves you.

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I like your beard.

We’re about to hit the road for ten days to make some sound at two festivals. Check on the “shows” page for up-comers, as well as on the other usual suspects like facebook and myspace. ¬†There are even some rumored Indianapolis dates.

We finished mastering the record. We are extremely excited. So keep your ear to the ground.

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We were supremely blessed on this trip. We played for tons of people that had lots of great energy and suprised us with just how pleasantly positive their responses were. San Diego left us flabbergasted. People who knew the songs and brought their friends flooded in when we thought we were starting from scratch in a town we never had played before.

We saw a bald eagle in flight over the mountain vistas on the Idaho-Montana border.

We were treated to spectacular lightning storms about nine separate times in the great expanse of the west.

It just melted us.

There is too much to tell. There are too many to thank. I need to get someone that knows machines to help me do a slide show or something of all the pictures we got.

Love it. We can’t wait to hit the road again in three weeks for the mid-west and festivals and such. Not to mention the new record coming out in February; this is such a nutty time.

Keep up with us on Facebook (tell your friends), follow us on Twitter (tell your friends) and come to the shows (bring your friends).

Keep the shiny side up and we’ll see you soon.

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