This coming Tuesday marks the release of the new album from Sinners Tonic. This is a pretty big deal to me. Back in 2011 I asked Sean Malroy to sit in on a Rhubarb Whiskey rehearsal. We were working on our new album and thought a fiddle might sound nice here and there. Within a couple of practices Sean [aka Sizzle] was an integral and permanent part of the band and it was awesome. The three of us did two albums together, and while more are on the horizon, geography and life circumstances have Rhubarb Whiskey on a bit of a hiatus. As Sizzle and I were talking about music, and what next, and arguing about Led Zeppelin we realized that something we had never tried was working on songs just the two of us. So we put our homo-rific and fabulous selves together and started having queer americana music listening nights while experimenting with food, sharing long long stories of our adventures, unearthing old musical nuggets we had in our personal archives, and trying to figure out what it would sound like if we made our own weird idiosyncratic version of roots music. Out of it came three songs. A good starting point for an EP, for an experiment to capture a moment in time between two friends. I kind of think the music sounds like if Mazzy Star and Jane's Addiction had a honkytonk baby it might sound something like this. The songs are introspective, nostalgic, and above all celebrate friendship and the ways that friend love can absolutely fuel our lives and fill our souls. I wrote the barebones of the songs and lyrics while Sizzle made beautiful things happen within the arrangements. I am so proud of what we made.
The song Lansing is the oral history of my early 20's with my best friend in Michigan. Days and nights that literally saved my life and helped build me into who I am. Fog and Roses is a goodbye song written as I was driving over the Bay Bridge to the last in-person Rhubarb Whiskey rehearsal before Boylamayka moved to the rust belt. The bridge full of fog, the night full of beauty, sometimes you know you'll never get another night like that again. It marks the end of an era. Whiskey & Burn Barrels was written about one of the most beautiful engagement events I'd ever attended. Dozens of friends gathered to surprise my friend with a specifically meaningful song while her love asked for her hand and whiskey was passed round. It was the longest night of the year with burn barrels blazing in West Oakland. Surrounded by tattoos, hoodies, cigarettes, and smiles I've rarely felt so much love, warmth, snark, and family.
So this album comes right from my gut. From my memories and the moments that are most sacred to me. It's a love letter to so many different friends. It's a love letter to chosen family. It's a love letter to Sean and us making music together. It's my heart strung out on a guitar chord, for you. Here's hoping you find some beauty in it too.
The recording of the solo album this last year was awesome. One of the unexpected surprises that it brought was a new band, since the EP which is named Feral inspired the band, we named the new band Feral. Seems fitting and hey if Shovels and Rope can do it, so can I! And because I always seem to team up with musicians to like to just GO FOR IT - Feral decided to go to SXSW, or at least 2/3 of us did. And IT WAS AWESOME. Had an amazing time mostly hitting the various Bloodshot Records events, giving the Emchy sampler CD with stuff from all of the bands to folks, got to meet Nan Warshaw, Robbie Faulks, Rosie Flores, and so many more rad people. Plus Feral wrote EIGHT NEW SONGS! before finally giving in to that need for food and going to get biscuits and gravy. Takeaways? Austin is rad, people are friendly, Texas BBQ really is that good, and I need to stick to whiskey instead of beer (how many times do I need to learn that lesson again?). More pics from the adventure below!
It's a new year and Rhubarb Whiskey is kicking ASS! I sat on down with the kind and awesome folks at Common Folk Music for their new series With the Grain. What does I like most in my drinkin' glass? How did I get started playing accordion? What does Rhubarb Whiskey do when we're not in a bar playing music? Find out all this AND MORE over at the interview. Plus I make a little announcement that y'all might be interested in. Looks like this Spring 2014 is going to see the release of my & Sizzle's side project Sinners Tonic, as well as my long threatened solo album called Feral which is coming out in April. Please be sure to check out where they're heading musically, it's sure to be a crazy ride. Meanwhile we'll keep working on tunes for y'all and try to make this year the best one yet.
where the rust belt meets the wild west