UPCOMING SHOWS

Iceage w/ WIKI

MAY 26 @ 8:30PM | Doors 8pm | UPSTAIRS

Indie Rock and Hip-Hop.

With each new release, Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, Jakob Tvilling Pless, Johan Surrballe Wieth and Dan Kjær Nielsen refigure the contours of a typical Iceage song. This is especially true of Seek Shelter, their fifth LP and first for Mexican Summer. Enrolling Sonic Boom (Pete Kember of Spacemen 3) to produce the record and an additional guitarist in the form of Casper Morilla Fernandez, Seek Shelter sees Iceage’s propulsive momentum pushing them in new, expansive, ecstatic directions. A decade on from their first record, Iceage continue to harness their lives together through music. This journey, in music and life, has never progressed in a linear fashion.

Seek Shelter is the sound of a tight emotional core unwound. Rain dripped through cracks in the ceiling of Namouche, the dilapidated wood-paneled vintage studio in Lisbon where the band set up for 12 days. The band had to arrange their equipment around puddles. Pieces of cloth covered slowly filling buckets so that the sound of raindrops wouldn’t reach the microphones. Kember arranged garden lamps from a nearby party store for mood lighting in the high-ceiling space. It was the longest time Iceage have ever spent making an album. When the rain had stopped, Seek Shelter revealed itself as a collection of songs radiating warmth and a profound desire for salvation in a world that’s spinning further and further out of control.

Iceage started making music together in 2008 as young teens in their hometown of Copenhagen. The band’s 2011 debut, New Brigade, crystallized the raucous energy and unbreakable brotherhood of Danish teenagers weaned on post-punk, hardcore and no wave, and it found ears and kin around the world. 2012’s You’re Nothing was hard, fast and raw, a bold doubling-down on the aggression of youth in the first record as well as the weight of expectation. Plowing Into the Field of Love (2014) and Beyondless (2018) saw a softening of the band’s hardest edges and the arrival of a certain world-weary vaudeville in the Iceage sound. In an extraordinary and unexpected run, the band had gone from the fertile hyperlocal Copenhagen scene to stages all over the world. Iceage’s past two records — all filtered twangy guitar riffs, sparse piano arrangements, and slinky, slow-moving rhythms — ventured into an intoxicated but knowing swirl, surveying the party at the end of the night. They’d seen it all, at least once, and their music rode the crest of that chaos.

Seek Shelter, the band’s first record made with an outside producer brought in alongside longtime collaborator Nis Bysted, is the place they have been called to next. Elias Bender Rønnenfelt casts the influence of producer Sonic Boom as that of a sparring partner, another wayward mind to bounce ideas off of and another pair of hands (along with Shawn Everett, who mixed the record) to help shape the sound. Kember had said in an interview that he’d like to produce for the band, and the feeling was mutual. Rønnenfelt recalls being 12 or 13, listening to Spacemen 3, the band Kember co-founded in 1982 at the age of 16. “It was one of those things that just reverberated with my being,” he explains. For Seek Shelter, “we wanted a partner that had some noise that we didn’t have, more a wizard than a producer. We thought he’d be that kind of wizard for us, and we were right — he came in with a truckload of strange equipment that we’d never seen before.” Kember, reflecting on the session and reaching for his highest praise, describes Iceage as “fucking show offs, like everyone who was ever great and emotional and honest.”

For Seek Shelter’s story of scorched-earth salvation, the band’s songwriting embraces conventional structures more conspicuously than it has in the past. The dirge-like drone that opens the record gives way to a wall of reverb that sounds fuller and brighter than anything they’ve committed to tape, signalling a clarity of clouds breaking. American gospel and blues signatures break to the front of the slow-grooving “Vendetta” and harmonica-flecked “Gold City,” a record which sounds like the road, a desert mission under a blazing sun. The Lisboa Gospel Collective, who joined the band for two tracks on the final day in the studio, provide a new scale to Rønnenfelt’s incantations. There are moments of unvarnished romanticism, as on the brisk Jacques Brel-like “Drink Rain,” and an overcast tenderness that gently glides over “Love Kills Slowly.” The massive “High & Hurt” interpolates “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” a warhorse of the American religious vernacular that has become an increasingly urgent plea over the past century. It’s not the only anthem that calls out to the heavens: later on, Rønnenfelt invokes the patron saint of music and poetry on “Dear Saint Cecilia,” a song for seekers everywhere. “Writing a song is like trying to find a space where you can make something that’s been riled up and down through the years feel like it belongs to your present moment,” says Rønnenfelt. “It’s all just scaffolding that you can project something onto.”

Rønnenfelt’s lyricism reaches grand heights despite its classic opacity — he sings of taking shelter, of tranquil affections that threaten to combust, and of a limp-wristed god with a cavalcade of devotees in search of relief. His expressionist imagery consistently hinges on the divine, a natural result of his desire to take a kernel of ordinary emotion and, as he explains, “blow it up like a balloon.” For Seek Shelter, as with all Iceage’s previous albums, Rønnenfelt stowed away for a set period of weeks and wrote the lyrics in one shot. “I set a time just to make sure that all the lyrics are written from the same mindset,” he explains of these weeks alone. The lyrics stem from journals that he’s kept over the past few years: “it becomes an amalgamation of ideas and impressions of things that you’ve been provoked by or had to live through. You end up with something that is a rough, blurry perspective of what that period of time was like, a mishmash of personal struggle that is shaded throughout by a world that seems more transparent in its inherently cruel ways.” Romance and desire, as described in “Love Kills Slowly” and the album closer “The Holding Hand,” are feelings that stretch torturously — a race without a finish line.

What precisely makes an Iceage song is still a mysterious thing, and the band wishes to maintain this protean quality. “If there’s ever a point in our history when something in the songs starts to seem easy but doesn’t really excite us that much, we just discard that shit right away,” he says. “You’ve always got to find a new vantage point to attack the assignment of writing a song. If we had a formula, it would be just a continuous watering down of what we do until we hated ourselves and quit.” With Seek Shelter, they’ve managed to hold onto this core of presence and risk while writing their most ambitious songs. Even Rønnenfelt was surprised with what they were able to create together. “I think when we started we were just lashing out completely blindfolded with no idea as to why we were doing anything.” He’s speaking of the new record and also of their entire existence as a band, a travelogue that has catapulted these four friends far past the horizons of punk. “Some of that we wanted to remain intact. We try to keep the mystery. If there’s no sense of mystery in it for us, then it’s not fun.” Seek Shelter is a record that now exists at a moment of a collective unknown, when every beating heart wonders what will happens next.

 

WIKI

 

Today, Wiki announces his new album Half God – produced entirely by Navy Blue and due October 1st via Wiki’s own label Wikset Enterprise. With the new project, the NYC staple connects with Navy Blue, one of the most refreshing young, acclaimed rapper/producers to break out in recent years, for a project that pushes each of their talents to new heights. Wiki’s storytelling as the city’s young OG has never been more vivid and Navy Blue’s production pushes further into every sonic corner he’s explored today, providing a perfect canvas for Wiki’s signature voice. The release marks Wiki’s second full-length release of 2021 after releasing the Nah-produced Telephonebooth earlier this year.

Wiki has become a fixture of New York City Hip Hop since, at 17 years old, he founded the boundary defying group Ratking, whose aggressive style represented a new generation of city kids and artists, hungry for innovation and raw energy. The epicenter of the group as well as Wiki’s artistic expression through music and style was Chinatown, downtown NYC. Ratking’s breakout single was called “Canal” named after the iconic, bustling Chinatown street. Coming of age in the neighborhood, living there for years while creating his solo albums, inevitably laced his music with the culture that permeates the singularly New York, Chinese neighborhood. His song Chinatown Swing off his first LP No Mountains in Manhattan paints a picture of walking through the neighborhood and the feelings and sites one encounters. When painting lyrical pictures of New York scenes one gets a sense of Wiki’s skill as a story teller and visionary. He has solidified his role in carrying the torch for NYC’s master MC’s; representing for the freaks, weirdos and underbelly culture.

Alongside revealing the release date of his new album, the NYC rapper also shares the announcement of an upcoming collaboration with the brand Warrior Shanghai, which will feature a customized merch line with sneakers, jerseys, t-shirts, and caps. The Warriors brand brings a classic, everyday life, hard-souled sense of style and functionality to the table in a way that connects with Wiki’s art, and upbringing. Wiki’s collaboration with the brand was intended to pay homage to these characteristics, calling on Wiki to utilize an art project that began as a visual identity in the Ratking days: the Wiki Flag. The green and orange are derived from his mother’s Irish heritage, while set in the shape of the Puerto Rican flag to honor his paternal roots; two ancestries that, like Chinese, are vital to New York City culture and history.

Additionally, Wiki will play a set of shows in NYC following the album’s release on October 8th at Soho Roof and on November 7th at Knockdown Center in support of Armand Hammer also with Navy Blue, Quelle Chris, Saint Mela, Fielded, KAYANA and Dreamcrusher.

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Jazz Party: The Chris Klaxton Quartet

MAY 27 @ 6PM | Doors 5:30pm | UPSTAIRS

What a lineup!

Tyson Jackson: drums

Chris Klaxton: trumpet

Mike Effenberger: keys

Taylor O’Donnell: voice

Max Ridley: bass

DJ Tuggboat

MAY 27 @ 10PM | Doors 9pm | UPSTAIRS

Oh shit!

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DJ: Chad Banks

MAY 28 @ 10PM | Doors 9pm | UPSTAIRS

Come dance.

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NNAMDÏ

MAY 30 @ 8PM | Doors 7pm | UPSTAIRS

The creative Chicago rapper returns to Portsmouth.

NNAMDÏ is a multi-instrumentalist composer, producer, and performer. His musical identity was forged in the DIY community of Chicago. Relentless participation in numerous musical projects bridged genres and created inroads between scenes. Near constant activity quickly made him a locus of gravity in the community. Constant participation quickly opened channels to a broad cross-section of the arts world. NNAMDÏ has toured the USA, Mexico Europe and Canada with projects ranging from punk to jazz. A full accounting of his musical activity over the last eight years includes approximately 15 bands and dozens of tours. All the while, Nnamdi has not only released a stream of records and EPs under his name and the ironic moniker “Nnamdi’s Sooper Dooper Secret Side Project”, but also runs his own label called SOOPER Records.

His solo styling combines hip-hop, experimental rock, gospel, and jazz. His songs can often contain a sense of satire that is just as humorous as it is critical. NNAMDÏ‘s lyrical insights draw on the diversity of his cultural experience as a Black, Jewish, first generation Nigerian-American. His work is characterized by the coupling of sophisticated compositional structures with pop-music motifs. NNAMDÏ‘s latest record DROOL is his most mature and accessible work to date.

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Julian Lage

JUNE 1 @ 8PM | Doors 7pm | UPSTAIRS

An intimate evening with the guitar virtuoso.

Hailed as one of the most prodigious guitarists of his generation and “highest category of improvising musicians” (New Yorker), Julian Lage has spent more than a decade searching through the myriad strains of American musical history via impeccable technique, free association and a spirit of infinite possibility. The California born New York based musician boasts a prolific resume on his own accord in addition to collaborating with Gary Burton and John Zorn, as well as duo projects with Nels Cline, Chris Eldridge and Fred Hersch, among others.

As Lage set out to record his debut for Blue Note Records, the virtuoso guitarist reflected on the label’s storied history and the way his own music connected with it. The result is Squint, a striking new album that weds incisive, expressive songwriting with the profound interplay Lage has honed over the past few years with his deft trio featuring bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Dave King.

SOLD OUT

Julian Lage

JUNE 2 @ 8PM | Doors 7pm | UPSTAIRS

An intimate evening with the guitar virtuoso.

Hailed as one of the most prodigious guitarists of his generation and “highest category of improvising musicians” (New Yorker), Julian Lage has spent more than a decade searching through the myriad strains of American musical history via impeccable technique, free association and a spirit of infinite possibility. The California born New York based musician boasts a prolific resume on his own accord in addition to collaborating with Gary Burton and John Zorn, as well as duo projects with Nels Cline, Chris Eldridge and Fred Hersch, among others.

As Lage set out to record his debut for Blue Note Records, the virtuoso guitarist reflected on the label’s storied history and the way his own music connected with it. The result is Squint, a striking new album that weds incisive, expressive songwriting with the profound interplay Lage has honed over the past few years with his deft trio featuring bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Dave King.

SOLD OUT

Spirit Gang (SG603)

JUNE 4 @ 9PM | Doors 9pm | UPSTAIRS

A glow party on a Saturday night.

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The Maddoc Johnson Quartet w/ Myles Burr

JUNE 5 @ 6PM | Doors 5:30pm | UPSTAIRS

A night of jazz and poetry featuring some rising stars.

All ages

The Maddoc Johnson Quartet is a seacoast based group of queer musicians exploring themes of love, loss, and self discovery through the mediums of jazz, blues, poetry, and other forms of musical expression.

Myles Burr is an artist based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Specializing in freeform poetry, he takes readers through an abstract overview of his personal life. Burr hosts various readings and beat poetry events in the Seacoast Area. He is an administrator/board member of The Portland Poets Society (based in Portland, Maine.) He is the author of “Therapy Is Expensive So I Wrote This Book Instead.” and has been published in two anthologies, “You, Me, & The End Of The World.” and “The Best F-ing Poets You’ve Never Heard Of.” All three titles were released by the publishing house Underground Writers Association, based out of Portland, ME. Burr has also self-published five underground chapbooks: “Convolutions Of An Unkempt Mind.,” “It’s Fine. I’m Fine.,” “Ataraxia Volume 1,” “Sea Breezes,” and most recently, “A Buffoon In Pantomime.” Growing up in the Greater Seacoast Area has allowed him to find inspiration in the drastic change of seasons both visually and viscerally. There is beauty in every corner of the world, but what fascinates Myles Burr most of all is people and the human experience.

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The Press Room & Myles Burr Present: A Night of Poetry & Music

JUNE 8 @ 7PM | Doors 6pm | UPSTAIRS

Local poets and musicians unite!

Musical performance by Adrienne Mack-Davis

Poetry performed by Myles Burr, Joel Carpenter, Maria K Craword, Seven Opal, Thomas Dougherty, Erine Leigh, Dana Brooks, Travis Gauvin

Poetry Backing band: Maddoc Johnson on Grand Piano and Trumpet, Patrick Rowan on Upright Bass, Nate Gruen on percussion.

Myles Burr Bio:

Myles Burr is an artist based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Specializing in freeform poetry, he takes readers through an abstract overview of his personal life. Burr hosts various readings and beat poetry events in the Seacoast Area. He is an administrator/board member of The Portland Poets Society (based in Portland, Maine.) He is the author of “Therapy Is Expensive So I Wrote This Book Instead.” and has been published in two anthologies, “You, Me, & The End Of The World.” and “The Best F-ing Poets You’ve Never Heard Of.” All three titles were released by the publishing house Underground Writers Association, based out of Portland, ME. Burr has also self-published five underground chapbooks: “Convolutions Of An Unkempt Mind.,” “It’s Fine. I’m Fine.,” “Ataraxia Volume 1,” “Sea Breezes,” and most recently, “A Buffoon In Pantomime.” Growing up in the Greater Seacoast Area has allowed him to find inspiration in the drastic change of seasons both visually and viscerally. There is beauty in every corner of the world, but what fascinates Myles Burr most of all is people and the human experience.

 

Adrienne Mack-Davis Bio:

Adrienne Mack-Davis is a classically trained singer/songwriter originally from Rochester, NY. For over a decade she has traveled the world performing over 1200 live shows both nationally and internationally opening and collaborating with the likes of Dead Prez, Talib Kweli, Rhakim, Red Man, Pharoah Monch, Hannibal Burress, Homeboy Sandman, Swiss Beats and KRS One to name a few.

In addition to being a feature artist on major national festivals [SXSW, A3C], she has also been featured on the So Far Sounds Live series and has the versatility that allows her to play a spectrum of different performance spaces, from stadiums to small coffee shops and family gatherings to the American Embassy in Vietnam to live radio and TV studio recordings.

She has participated in dozens of service workshops in over 9 countries on such topics as anti-human trafficking, entrepreneurship and women’s empowerment. Having lived overseas she’s had the privilege of being able to experience different cultures abroad allowing space for deeper self reflection, self development and maturity in her sound.

Hard hitting soul and RnB melodies fused with infectious Hip Hop and Dance instrumentals she emanates positivity and self love to inspire compassion and self confidence in people from all walks of life, “Be yourself! It’s good for your health!” is the motto. Currently based between New Hampshire and Maine you can catch her either performing with The Bulkheads, a live soul, hip hop, funk band, alongside Nate Winter her accompaniment on guitar for acoustic stripped back sets and also performing solo hitting stages with big instrumentals and even bigger vocals.

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Sneaky Miles w/ Kate Possi

JUNE 9 @ 8PM | Doors 7pm | UPSTAIRS

Newmarket indie folksters come to Portsmouth.

Formed in the fall of 2019, indie folk band, Sneaky Miles, found each other through various open mic nights at the University of New Hampshire. Since forming, the group has quickly become a local powerhouse in the NH Seacoast music scene. Despite being known for their high-energy, good-vibe performances, Sneaky Miles’s musical personality is a patchwork of raw reflections and life-lessons from each member. Their tracks feel destined for wistful, late night car rides and their debut album, Rivers Run Gold, encompasses these feelings entirely. Sneaky Miles is a group that loves to tell stories through their music. One of their best stories is the origin of the band’s name, but it’s not harbored inside any of their songs. For that, you’ll just have to go to one of their shows and ask.

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Band of Killers feat. Johnny Trama & Tim Gearan

JUNE 10 @ 9PM | Doors 8pm | UPSTAIRS

Timeless soul and some rock and roll.

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Frank Turner

JUNE 13 @ 12PM | Doors 11:30pm | UPSTAIRS

A solo set from Frank Turner on his 50 states tour.

SOLD OUT

Lael Neale w/ Dead Gowns

JUNE 13 @ 8PM | Doors 7pm | UPSTAIRS

Lo-fi magic.

It is the simple thing that is so hard to do. This is the paradox that musician Lael Neale has lived within throughout her development as an artist. It is the reason she became enthralled with poetry. Poems are a distillation. Lael says, “this challenge to winnow away what is unessential is the most maddening and, ultimately, rewarding part of writing a song.”

Lael’s new album Acquainted with Night is a testament to this poetic devotion. Stripped of any extraneous word or sound, the songs are lit by Lael’s crystalline voice which lays on a lush bed of Omnichord. The collection touches on themes that have been thread into her work for years: isolation, mortality, yearning, and reaching ever toward the transcendent experience.

Lael grew up on a farm in rural Virginia, but for nearly 10 years called Los Angeles home. Those years were spent developing her songwriting and performing in venues across the city, but the right way to record the songs proved more elusive. She worked with countless musicians, producers and collaborators, making entire records and eventually stowing them away. She says, “Every time I reached the end of recording, I felt the songs had been stripped of their vitality in the process of layering drums, bass, guitar, violin and organ over them. They felt weighed down.”

Despite endless frustration she never resigned and in a moment of illumination the most obvious solution presented itself: do the simple thing. In early 2019, in the midst of major transition, she acquired a new instrument, the Omnichord, and began recording a deluge of emerging songs with the intention to capture them in their truest form. Guy Blakeslee, who had been an advocate for years, facilitated the process by setting up the cassette recorder in her bedroom and providing empathic guidance, subtle yet affecting accompaniment and engineering prowess. Limited to only 4-tracks and first takes, Lael had to surrender some of her perfectionism to deliver the songs in their essence.

The first song she recorded was “For No One For Now” which calls to mind the agitated beat of driving fast on the freeway against the backdrop of the San Fernando Valley with its bent palms. Lael explains, “I’ve always loved these stretches of road where the magic of the city seems hemmed in by the mundane.” The song contrasts romantic idealizations with the banality of folding sheets and toasting bread. It highlights her oft-thwarted attempts to enjoy the day to day while her mind wanders off toward the dream, the ideal. “We almost lost this one because we had this complex method of listening back on a boombox since the rewind button didn’t work on the recorder. I accidentally recorded over a part of it so we were stuck with the first mix in all its imperfection. This was the thrilling element of recording in this way.”

On the other hand, recording “Every Star Shivers in the Dark” took a bit more time. She notes, “it was written so quickly that I needed to let it sink in, get to know it through many attempts at capturing the feeling I had at its inception.” Los Angeles is a player on this album and this song is an ode to the sprawling city, the outskirts of Eden. One can envision her walking from Dodgers Stadium to downtown, observing strangers and her own strangeness but determined to find communion with others.

“Blue Vein” is her personal anthem. A Paul Revere piece. Galloping through the town as a strident declamation. She offers this, “I wrote this song pre-Omnichord and it is the only recording I play guitar on. I wrote it around New Year’s Eve and it felt like a resolution.” Indeed, it is an amalgam of thoughts, concerns, and lessons as she nearly speaks the words, unmasked by flourishes, ensuring the meaning cuts through. In the final verse she states that, “some say the truth springs for reservoir seekers, but I think the truth sings to whoever listens” thereby establishing herself as the proverbial carrier pigeon delivering a message.

Lael returned to her family farm back in April 2020 and has taken advantage of the limitations imposed by this period. She re-discovered her Sony Handycam from high school and is using it to make impressionistic companion pieces to the songs she recorded in Los Angeles. She continues, “I am enjoying the strong contrast between the songs I wrote and recorded in California and the videos I am making for them in Virginia. It offers something unexpected.”

The lo-fi quality of the films certainly suits the tone of the album. Guy comments, “an idea that was floating around in our conversations before and during the process was ‘lost tapes’ – and I think these recordings feel like such an artifact – a sonic portrait of a season of a life, a sacred tape made in private by an artist at the peak of creative power and rediscovered by chance for the ages.”

Normally a morning person, Lael recorded most of these songs in the early darkening evening and so became Acquainted with Night.

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Anteloper

JUNE 18 @ 7PM | Doors 6pm | UPSTAIRS

Say goodbye to your brain. (Because it’ll explode.)

“We’re improvisers first and we’re bringing moment music into these other zones of hip hop and electronic music, drum-machine music, sound-system culture… We start as these Jazz musicians but we’re flowing out into everything else. And that’s the **** that we want to be playing on big *** systems. Omnivorous, freaking out, mosh pit dance-music. It has to begin in the body!”

– jaimie branch

Anteloper is the duo of jaimie branch (trumpet, synths, vocals) and Jason Nazary (drums, synths). Their new album Pink Dolphins was produced by Jeff Parker (Tortoise, The New Breed), using improvisations the duo recorded at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn. The album cover art was a collaboration between illustrator John Herndon (also known as drummer for Tortoise) and jaimie branch (whose digitally treated watercolor technique just keeps getting better). The duo’s previous two albums – 2018’s Kudu (issued on vinyl for the first time in January 2022) and 2020’s in-progress report Tour Beats Vol. 1 – both acted as ‘proof-of-concept’ experiments, merging synths, raw experimental desktop electronics, gadgets, and efx with the energy and attitude of punk and an insatiable thirst for extended outer space jams. Pink Dolphins presents a fully-molted and firing-on-all-cylinders expression of the duo/project, as realized by Parker in the lab.

“Anteloper has a very unique sound and chemistry, and I love the spirit behind everything that

they’re doing.” – Jeff Parker

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Sunday Night Jazz: Meta-Beat

JUNE 19 @ 6PM | Doors 5pm | UPSTAIRS

Happy Birthday, Paul.

A Celebration of Paul McCartney’s 80th Birthday with Taylor O’Donnell, Chris Klaxton and Meta-Beat members, Mark Shilansky, Eric Byers, Mark Poniatowski and Les Harris Jr. performing the music of The Beatles as well as their solo material with a jazz twist.

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Orrin Evans / Terreno Comum

JUNE 22 @ 8PM | Doors 7pm | UPSTAIRS

Bad ass Brazilian music.

Lineup: Orrin Evans- piano, Alexia Bomtempo- vocals, Luques Curtis- bass, Clarence Penn- drums, Leandro Pellegrino- guitarist

“Terreno Comum” is comprised of some of the most acclaimed musicians in modern Jazz and Brazilian music, featuring pianist and musical director Orrin Evans, vocalist Alexia Bomtempo , bassist Luques Curtis, drummer Clarence Penn, and guitarist Leandro Pellegrino. The song list includes beautiful arrangements of Brazilian standards with an opportunity for all to shine.

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Sheer Mag w/ Dog Lips

JUNE 24 @ 9PM | Doors 8pm | UPSTAIRS

Blissful rock ‘n roll, baby.

Sheer Mag’s dizzying rise initiated in 2014, when the Philadelphia band self-released the first of three 7-inches and started playing the Northeastern DIY circuit. Ironically, the music stood apart because it sounded so familiar. Indebted to ‘70s arena rock, power-pop, and proto-metal, Sheer Mag’s songs reminded a lot of us of the music we grew up with, but maybe couldn’t relate to because it was big, brash, and unapologetically macho. Sheer Mag reclaimed some of that energy without perpetuating the toxicity. On their debut album, Need to Feel Your Love (2017), the band surveyed their contemporary political landscape through the lens of history. Singer Tina Halladay transported herself back to the 1969 Stonewall Riots, denounced redlining practices that undermine the popular vote, and paid homage to White Rose activist Sophie Scholl. On paper, it’s a mouthful, but accompanied by guitarist/lyricist Matt Palmer, guitarist Kyle Seely, and bassist/producer Hart Seely, those songs became hook-laden rallying cries.

Two years later, Sheer Mag have returned with their sophomore album A Distant Call. They’re still writing about surviving our current hellscape, but this time around, the politics get extra-personal. The album verges on being a concept piece, and the protagonist resembles Halladay herself. The songs document a particularly alienating time in her life when she was laid off from a job. Broke and newly single, her father (with whom she had a fraught relationship) passed away, leaving her with more wounds than felt possible to heal.

“We’ve been waiting to write these songs since we started the band and we were able to take these experiences and build a story out of them,” Halladay says. Palmer adds: “We don’t want people to be bogged down by pretension or theory. You don’t need to have read Das Kapital to know that capitalism is terrible. A Distant Call makes an argument for socialism on an anecdotal level. We’re talking about how late capitalism alienates and commodifies whatever is in its path without using the term ‘late capitalism.’” Palmer and Halladay’s new approach to lyricism extended to the recording process, too. Once the Seely brothers had laid down the tracks, Halladay recorded vocals with producer Arthur Rizk (Power Trip, Code Orange) as opposed to on an 8-track, which was the band’s preferred method on previous releases.

A Distant Call opens with Halladay’s measured scream before “Steel Sharpens Steel” kicks in. It’s a prologue that foreshadows our protagonist’s journey from feeling down-and-out and destitute to self-actualization. “It’s a chain reaction/ When you turn the other cheek/ Remember if you’re looking for action/ And you’re feeling dull and weak,” Halladay snarls on the chorus, channeling Judas Priest over the boot-stomping rhythm section. The story really gets started on “Blood from a Stone,” when we learn that our protagonist’s SNAP application was declined, and she’s “living check-to-check.” It’s heavy power-pop so sleek it gleams. “We had some more soul and dance songs on the last record and we’ll probably return to that at some point,” Palmer says. “But on this record we wanted to focus on making straight-up rock music.”

That isn’t to say that A Distant Call doesn’t draw from a wide-range of influences within rock. The twinkling lap steel guitar on “Silver Line” sounds-off to Fleetwood Mac, showcasing a softer side to Sheer Mag. The lyrics find our protagonist in a desperate state, self-medicating with alcohol. When she recognizes her own predicament in the headlines, though, her depression eases off momentarily. “Well there’s a picket line down in West Virginia/ The bosses caved but wildcats continue/ Today my job said to not come back/ So now I’m striking for nothing with no contract,” Halladay sings. In the next song, the jangling “Hardly to Blame,” our protagonist is dumped by her partner. Heartbroken, she wanders the streets of Philadelphia, which has turned into “a puzzle” that she “can’t solve ‘cause it’s not true.” On “Cold Sword,” she snaps back to reality upon learning of her father’s death. Forced to reconcile with familial trauma, our protagonist asks: “How could I learn to love/ From somebody so abusive?” The question goes unanswered but the undeniably catchy chorus provides some form of catharsis.

“I tend to think of ‘Cold Sword’ as the fulcrum that the album pivots on. The protagonist recognizes that this is the only life she has, and in spite of the pain and suffering she experiences, she starts to want to make the most of it,” Palmer says. The bright melody of “Chopping Block” brings levity, as Halladay sings, “Between the parties there’s no light/ We need workers to unite/ We can decide to have another world/ But we’re gonna have to fight.” Our protagonist’s confidence blooms on “The Right Stuff” when she addresses anyone who might think her weight is concerning: “If you’re worried about my health/ Shut your mouth and keep it to yourself.” In recognizing that beauty standards are a capitalist ploy designed to keep women imprisoned, our protagonist starts down a road to self-acceptance, and maybe even love.

The conflicts our protagonist comes up against coalesce on “The Killer.” The system at-large has been the culprit all along, and she recognizes that rich politicians running the country have more control over her life than she does. They’re “shaking hands on the senate floor” and brandishing their hypocrisy like a weapon: “He’s got you right between the eyes/ Waving the flag for human rights.” It’s the penultimate track on the album, and it best exemplifies Sheer Mag’s growth from those nascent three EPs to now; the production is razor-sharp, and the gang vocal motifs are as playful as they are ferocious. There’s a glimmer of hope in the struggle, and Sheer Mag close the album with a message of resilience. “They wanna see us fall,” Hallday sings, “But I hear a distant call.” In the background, a faint whisper beckons from just outside the realm of possibility. “Keep on running,” it urges.

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Portsmouth PRIDE Tea Party feat. DJ Skooch

JUNE 25 @ 2PM | Doors 1:30pm | UPSTAIRS

Show your PRIDE at this daylight dance party.

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Couch

JUNE 25 @ 9PM | Doors 8pm | UPSTAIRS

Get out of your chair and clap your hands with joyful soul music.

“Couch is kicking it old-school with a delightful modern twist…[They] are single – or sevenhandedly – breathing new life into the soul music scene.” – Sheesh

“Amongst the clutter of the internet music world, there are some captivating indie bands that eventually find a way to stand out. Boston funk-pop group Couch is one of those worthy groups.” – Dusty Organ

“Fusion seems to be a key word for Couch. Influenced by artists from Paul McCartney and Buddy Rich to Charlie Puth and Bruno Mars, Couch’s unique music brings together instruments as different as bass guitar and saxophone to blur the lines between genres…” – The Harvard Crimson

Equipped with catchy hooks and powerhouse vocals, Couch aims to reshape familiar pop tropes in fresh ways. The Boston-based septet infuses pop songs with funk, R&B, jazz, and rock influences. Their vibrant sound is further defined by the members’ personal training in jazz, a cappella, and musical theatre.

Until Spring 2021, Couch members were scattered across the country at various universities; they tackled the challenges of being a “long-distance” band, writing and even recording virtually for three years. Despite these challenges, they celebrated the release of their debut EP, “COUCH,” in February 2021. The band injected each track with their signature flavor: expressive horns, warm vocals, and bubbling synths—crafting an oasis of joy for musicians and non-musicians alike.

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Press Room Presents: Galactic @ Cisco Brewers Portsmouth

JUNE 26 @ 7PM | Doors 5:30pm | UPSTAIRS

The Press Room Presents: Galactic at Cisco Brewers

History doesn’t stand still. It impacts, influences, and inspires the ebb and flow of the future by informing the present. Galactic draw on 25 years together in order to progress with each performance and subsequent record. After 10 albums, over 2,000 gigs, and tens of millions of streams, the proud New Orleans, LA quintet—Ben Ellman [saxophone, harmonica], Robert Mercurio [bass], Stanton Moore [drums, percussion], Jeffrey Raines [guitar], and Richard Vogal [keyboards]—have kept the torch burning through five U.S. presidential regimes, the turn-of-the-century, Hurricane Katrina, a Global Pandemic, and a much-anticipated recovery. They’re the rare collective who can support Juvenile on Jimmy Kimmel LIVE!, contribute music to a blockbuster soundtrack such as Now You See Me, and light up the stages of Coachella, Bonnaroo, and New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (a staggering 22 times).

Joined by vocal powerhouse Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph, they continue to forge ahead with a 2021 headline tour and more new music.

“There is a history to the band, yet we continue to release and perform new material,” says Stanton. “I’m truly excited for our fans and audience to hear this next record we’ve been working on. I think it’s some of our best work yet.”

They laid the groundwork for this future upon coming together in 1994. Two years later, the guys dropped their full-length debut, Coolin’ Off, and hopped in a Ford Econoline van (with trailer in tow) for their very first official tour. Along the way, they released seminal albums such as 2007’s From the Corner to the Block, boasting collabs with the likes of Chali 2na, Juvenile, Trombone Shorty, DJ Z-Trip, and Boots Riley. During 2015, Into The Deep marked their first debut in the Top 25 of the Billboard Top 200 and second straight #1 bow on the Billboard Top Contemporary Jazz Albums Chart. Not to mention, it boasted the title track “Into The Deep” [feat. Macy Gray], racking up nearly 20 million streams and counting. Along the way, they performed alongside the likes of Dave Matthews Band, The Roots, Jack Johnson, Talib Kweli, the Allman Brothers Band, Widespread Panic, B.B. King, Counting Crows, James Brown, and many more. They’ve also recorded and performed with the likes of Allen Toussaint [“Bacchus”] and Big Freedia “Double It”]. Most recently, 2019’s Already Ready Already garnered acclaim from New York TimesNPR Weekend EditionExclaim!, and many more, while they’ve appeared on the covers of Downbeat and Relix Magazine.

Around the same time, they welcomed Jelly to the fold after joining forces on stage for a handful of unforgettable performances.

“I was super nervous at first, because I had some pretty big shoes to fill—but like those other singers I had to bring myself and I think I’ve fit in pretty well,” Jelly smiles.

“Jelly came to Fuji Rock in Japan with us to sing background with Macy Gray,” recalls Stanton. “We needed someone to sing one of our Galactic originals, and she stepped up. Since there was no time for rehearsal or soundcheck, she showed up prepared, knew the tune completely, and rocked it. When it came time to find someone new to sing with us, she was our first choice. She has such effortless stage presence and a very comfortable rapport with audiences. She also brings an element of unbridled fun!”

That fun came across loud and clear on the 2020 single “Float.” Uplifted by Jelly’s powerhouse pipes, it hinted at the potential of their collective chemistry.

“I love listening to Galactic’s older records, because they were very funk driven,” Jelly goes on. “Now, it seems like they’re incorporating more pop, rock, and soul to create a newer sound.”

As they continue writing, recording, and performing, Galactic always keep New Orleans close to their hearts at all times. In 2018, the band purchased and took over one of the city’s most hallowed venues—Tipitina’s Nightclub. Their history with the venue even predated the band as Ben’s first job was as a cook in the old kitchen, while they’ve graced its stage more than 100 times over the years.

In the end, Galactic keep moving forward as they add more chapters to their incredible history.

“We’ve just achieved 25 years as a band of brothers, so we know how to work with each other and move ourselves through the next 25 years,” Robert leaves off. “We’re always trying to push ourselves with our songwriting and studio collaborations. I look forward to where the future will take us.”

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Futurebirds

JULY 1 @ 9PM | Doors 8pm | UPSTAIRS

Oh yeah!

Recorded at several studios (Portico, Chase Park, Rialto Row, Dialback Sound), the newest Futurebirds LP is a snarling devil-may-care batch of 12 tunes. It encompasses a seamless blend of hard rock, psychedelic alt-country and folk stylings — something signature to the unique sound, tone and attitude of the Futurebirds.

“We recorded this album all over the place,” says guitarist/singer Thomas Johnson. “In a lot of ways it kept us from bogging down, at times it was probably inefficient, but ultimately everyone of the songs captures the vibe(s) of the spaces and cities we occupied while we made it.

‘I’m Killin You’ really captures the vibe of the whole record for me. The main theme I had in my head while writing it though, was getting past the negative shit that can live on the periphery (or in the forefront) of life. Killing the bad side of human nature. Being self-aware, and being honest with yourself and trying to find peace with the person you’ve become or are becoming (or always were).”

“We’ve been putting one foot in front of the other for a decade now. Every tour, we get smarter about how we operate, how we craft a live show, how we utilize everyone’s individual talents,” guitarist/singer Carter King adds. “Every day, we become better songwriters, more comfortable as artists and producers, better business people — it’s all about teamwork.”

Now on the backside of a decade of road warrior hard-knocks and well-earned accolades, the Athens, GA rock sextet has been hitting its full stride as of late. It’s a sense of time and place where what’s most important remains at the forefront of the group’s philosophy and deeply-held personal mission — a group of friends making sonically innovative music.

“We have one of the oddest and most talented mix of people to make up a band that I’ve ever seen. Everyone is extremely talented in an assortment of different ways, hilarious, tough, creative, scrappy,” King says. “Stylistically, everyone brings something different to the band, and we’re getting better at simultaneously nurturing those differences, melding them together into one unified thing.”

With a touring schedule resembling some haphazard spider web spun across America, the Futurebirds are unrelenting in their quest to bring the melodic party to your hometown, no matter how far away the destination or how small the stage may be.

“And we’ve learned a lot about life along the way,” guitarist/singer Daniel Womack reflects. “Watching other bands rise and fall, watching the sunrise and the sunset, cried because it hurt, cried because it felt good, watching strangers turn into friends and some into family.”

“In a lot of ways the live show is the last frontier, the last thing left in the music industry that can’t be digitized and given away for free,” Johnson adds. “It’s the thing that keeps us coming back. The act of making something awesome and unique with six individuals, creating a sound-weave, connecting to the core of human existence, that’s the teamwork.”

Ultimately, the underlying message of the Futurebirds is making sure everybody feels included in the grand scheme of things — this absurd reality that is life itself — where compassion from both sides of the microphone and drinks held high, and in unison, is the name of the game.

“There’s a reciprocated energy between us and the crowd, where everyone is riding on that same wave together,” Womack says. “And when you’re in that moment, everything about this band life makes sense. The feeling that exists in that moment between the crowd and us — that’s why we do what we do. That’s Teamwork.”

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Mary Lattimore w/ Ornament

JULY 5 @ 8PM | Doors 7pm | UPSTAIRS

File Under: Rad Show

Mary Lattimore is a Los Angeles-based harpist. She experiments with effects through her Lyon and Healy Concert Grand pedal harp, concocting half-structured improvisations which can include both ambient glitter and unsettling noise. Her first solo record, the Withdrawing Room, was released on Desire Path Recordings in 2014. The solo recordings that followed, At the Dam and Collected Pieces, were released by Ghostly International.

Mary has also recorded synth + harp duo projects with Elysse Thebner Miller (And the Birds Flew Overhead) and Jeff Zeigler (Slant of Light) and has co-written reimagined scores for the 1968 experimental silent film Le Revelateur, directed by Philippe Garrel (who approved of the project), and the Czech New Wave classic Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, and performed these scores live throughout the US with Jeff Zeigler and the Valerie Project, respectively. She has contributed and written harp parts for such artists as Kurt Vile, Thurston Moore, Sharon Van Etten, Meg Baird, Steve Gunn, the Clientele, Hop Along, Jarvis Cocker, Karen Elson, Ed Askew and Quilt.

Ghostly International released her third solo record in late spring of 2018.

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Nicole Atkins

JULY 6 @ 7PM | Doors 6:30pm | UPSTAIRS

Bodacious singer-songwriter.

18+

Nicole Atkins put out one of the best summertime records of 2020. Italian Ice was like a postcard from the Jersey Shore in the 1970s -full of warmth, vivid color and a tilt-a-whirl variety of musical grooves wrapped around Atkins’ wonder of a voice. You’d be forgiven if you missed it, as there was a bit of competition from world events. But now there’s a second helping served up in Memphis Ice, a cabaret deluxe style reimagining of the songs.“Italian Icewas one of the first feel-goodrecords that I’ve made,” Atkins says, “and people needed to feel good last year. But of course, like everybody else, I couldn’t go out and play it live.”Resilient and resourceful, Atkins started hosting a variety show from her attic, distributed through Patreon. It was so well-received that Amazon soon picked it up and funded more expansive episodes, shot at Asbury Park’s Paramount Theater,and featuring special guests like Ween and Kurt Vile. Atkins says, “Initially, I thought, ‘We’ve got to figure out a way to keep playing, make some money and give ourselves something to look forward to.’ But the variety show ended up saving our lives.”It also reminded Atkins of where she came from as a singer. “I was doing a song on the show called ‘A Night of Serious Drinking,’” she recalls. “It’s very Dean Martin, very sparse, and it tells a story. I felt really connected to my singing and the story. Whereasthe other songs, I’m caught up in all of the music and rock, rock, rock. So,I thought, ‘How can I make my other songs feel like that?’ And that’s what Memphis Icedid.” Backed by an ace trio of Dan Chen (piano), Laura Epling (violin) and Maggie Chaffee (cello), Atkins cut the album live in one day at Memphis Magnetic studio, simultaneously filming theperformance with painterly shadow and light. The stripped-down, smoky style of both not only brings new emotional vistas to standout songs like “Domino,” “The Captain” and “Forever,” but opens the door even wider to where Atkins would like to go next as asinger. “I always thought about my Judy Garland or Liza Minnelli moment coming later in life,” she says with a laugh. “But after we finished that day of recording, I had so much fun just singing and was so in the moment, I thought, ‘I want to do that sooner, I want to do that for my next record.’ I want to make a record of standards that are new ifthat’s possible. Songs that make you feel like you’re singing ‘Stardust,’ but you’re not. I kept thinking that on my first record, Neptune City, the songs felt old, but they were new. Why can’t there be new songs that feel like the old standards?”And so, what Atkins calls “the happiest of accidents” has turned her pandemic year around with a new album, a film, an upcoming tour,and an exciting vision of a musical future that reconnects her with her beginnings. “I love rock music, but the way I really like to sing is long notes,” she says. “And you can really only do that over pianos and more orchestral-type arrangements. I can try all these different styles and put on different outfits with production. But at the end of the day, it comes back to me and my voice.

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Saturday Morning Cartoons

JULY 9 @ 11AM | UPSTAIRS

The Broken Heels ('80s covers)

JULY 9 @ 8PM | DOORS 7PM | UPSTAIRS

Your favorite ’80s tunes performed by The Broken Heels.

 

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80's Night w/ DJ Mikey G

JULY 9 @ 10PM | DOORS 10PM | UPSTAIRS

Dance the night away to all your favorite songs from the ’80s.

 

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Press Room Presents: Railroad Earth @ Cisco Brewers Portsmouth

JULY 10 @ 7PM | Doors 6pm | CISCO BREWERS PORTSMOUTH

Press Room Presents the Cisco Summer Series: Railroad Earth

A brother leaves this world too soon. A trip down U.S. Highway 61 ends in a deluge of biblical proportions. A retreat to the Big Easy results in its own flood of inspiration. A new chapter begins. These moments and many more fade in and out of focus on Railroad Earth’s seventh full-length album, All For The Song.

Don’t miss a night of “Jamgrass” with the celebrated New Jersey septet—Todd Sheaffer [lead vocals, acoustic guitar], Tim Carbone [violins, electric guitar, vocals], John Skehan [mandolin, bouzouki, piano, vocals], Carey Harmon [drums, percussion, vocals], Andrew Altman [upright & electric bass], Matt Slocum (organ and piano), and Mike Robinson (banjo, guitar, steel) as they chronicle the twists and turns of their journey through eloquent songcraft, bluegrass soul, and rock ‘n’ roll spirit.

“Perhaps, it represents the journey we’ve been on for twenty years as a band and as a family,” observes Carey.

“I will always remember these sessions as a time of healing and reflection,” adds Andrew.

“What threads the record together?” ponders Todd. “Nostalgia, sadness, and a lot of great moments to sing along to.”

For over two decades, Railroad Earth has captivated audiences with gleefully unpredictable live shows and eloquent and elevated studio output. The group introduced its signature sound on 2001’s The Black Bear Sessions. Between selling out hallowed venues such as Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, CO, they’ve launched the longstanding annual Hangtown Music Festival in Placerville, CA and Hillberry: The Harvest Moon Festival in Ozark, AR—both running for a decade-plus. Sought after by legends, the John Denver Estate tapped them to put lyrics penned by the late John Denver to music on the 2019 vinyl EP, Railroad Earth: The John Denver Letters. Beyond tallying tens of millions of streams, the collective have earned widespread critical acclaim from David Fricke of Rolling StoneAmerican SongwriterGlide Magazine, and NPR who assured, “Well-versed in rambling around, as you might expect from a band named after a Jack Kerouac poem, the New Jersey-built jam-grass engine Railroad Earth has let no moss grow under its rustic wheels.” 

In 2018, Railroad Earth bid farewell to founding member Andy Goessling who passed away from cancer. His shadow loomed over the process as the guys retreated to New Orleans for the first time to record.

“From the beginning, the vision was more than just the music,” states Todd. “We looked at this like a ‘destination’ record. Our past records were all made close to home or, in fact, at home. Andy’s passing was very much in the center of our thoughts and our hearts in the writing and recording of this album. Things were so shaken up that we thought it’d be a benefit to go away from all of the distractions and be together. In New Orleans, there is great food and there are great spirits to be shared. I’ll leave the music part of the equation for others to judge, but we surely succeeded in making the bonding part of the vision come to fruition!”

Another first, they recorded with Anders Osborne behind the board as producer. It might’ve been the gumbo, but the guys seamlessly absorbed the homegrown flavors of the Big Easy by osmosis, incorporating horns, blues harmonica, and the producer’s own perspective and guitar playing.

“His enthusiasm is contagious,” exclaims Carey. “There are five producers in this band, so a strong-willed voice from the outside is usually pretty essential. Anders was the voice.”

Todd agrees, “He brought a pure and striving soul, unforgettable laugh, rich palette of emotion, a great stash of guitars and amps, philosophical driftings, freedom, unguarded honesty, warmth, and love.”

The band paved the way for the album with “The Great Divide,” “It’s So Good,” and “Runnin’ Wild.” Beyond those initial singles, the record picks up steam on “Blues Highway.” Over dusty acoustic guitar, hummable fiddle, and a banjo pluck, Todd recounts a particular road trip down Rte. 61, which ended in “the most downpour of rain I’ve ever experienced.

“We had a show in Natchez, so I decided to make my own adventure out of the trip,” he recalls. “I flew to New Orleans, rented a car, and drove up the Blues Highway like a tourist, stopping and touring the old plantations and blues honky-tonks. I was smelling the river and the refineries. On my return to New Orleans, I drove into what might’ve been a hurricane with intense and terrifying lightning to boot. In the dead of night, I gave up trying to inch down the road, pulled over, and waited it out. The trip seemed like a parallel for my life at the time and inspired the song.”

The epic “Driftin’ The Bardo” hinges on one of the final recordings of Andy on ukulele and high-strung guitar. It slips into a poignant piano-driven crescendo punctuated by cinematic strings.

“As we were recording it, ‘The Bardo’ came to represent Andy’s transition,” reveals Tim. “It was an emotional experience.”

Clocking over eight minutes, “Showers of Rain” unfurls as a “psychedelic excursion” complete with an improvised jam, guitar solo by Anders, a dreamy string section, and imagery “inspired by a strange 19th century novel called Green Mansions.

“We all have those moments when we feel visitations and remember loved ones we’ve lost,” Todd observes. “In New Orleans, Andrew shared with us the night previous he’d had a visit from Andy in his sleep. At my house, we have a cardinal who taps on the window, and my wife think It’s her mom. These are the thoughts in the middle of the song where I ask, ‘Was that really you?’

The album culminates on the wistful “All For The Song” as the final refrain, “All of the heartache, all that’s gone wrong, all for the moment, all for the song, rings out before a harmonica passage.

“It’s a bit painful to contemplate or talk about, to be honest—as are a couple other tunes on this record,” confesses Todd. “The song says way more than enough, I believe.”

In the end, Railroad Earth brings listeners closer than ever on All For The Song.

“We want audiences to connect to the album,” Carey leaves off. “We hope they’re as moved by the music as we were making it.”

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GoldenOak

JULY 30 @ 7PM | Doors 6:30pm | UPSTAIRS

Sweet roots music from the great state of Maine.

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The Toasters

AUGUST 8 @ 8PM | Doors 7pm | UPSTAIRS

Pick it up, Pick it up.

“In my opinion, The Toasters are to ska in America the 1980s and beyond what The Specials were to ska in the U.K. in the late ’70s and early ’80s, and what the Skatalites were to ska in Jamaica in the 1960s. The Toasters were innovators, creators, shapers of the music, evolving it in a fresh direction, blending it with the cultural influences in a very American manner, and I mean that in a completely complimentary way. Just as Byron Lee & the Dragonaires brought professionalism and polish to ska, allowing others to benefit from the fruits of their labor, so too did the Toasters’ music allow numerous other bands to share in the spotlight of skill and success, many of whom have gone on to great heights. Upon the shoulders of giants.

Oh, yeah, and they kick ass!” -Heather Augustyn, Author of SKA , An Oral History

After nearly 4 decades, The Toasters are hitting the gas, not the brakes. With an international all-star line-up their whirlwind global tour continues unabated across the continents. Performances are scheduled in South America, Asia and Russia on top of regular touring in the USA, Europe and Canada.

Formed on the Lower East Side of NYC the band is the longest running US SKA formation. They bridge the gap between England’s 2-Tone movement and the American Ska explosion of the 90’s which they are rightfully credited with starting. During the 3rd Wave Ska revival The Toasters formed the famous Moon Records label and kick-started the careers of dozens of bands.

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Gymshorts

AUGUST 9 @ 8PM | Doors 7pm | UPSTAIRS

Punk n’ Roll.

All Ages

GYMSHORTS is from Rhode Island and like the band’s home state frontwoman Sarah Greenwell is a petite powerhouse that marches to the beat of her own drum. Endearingly rebellious, fiercely independent, and hellbent on causing a commotion, Greenwell embodies the kind of rambunctious unpredictability that has personified some of pop culture’s most legendary troublemakers; a little bit Bart Simpson, a hint of Kevin McCallister, and a dash of Dennis The Menace form the inspirational foundation of

GYMSHORTS’ particular brand of punk n roll, smoked to perfection in the back of Jeff Spicoli’s van.

GYMSHORTS are a sarcastic grin and a pair of bloodshot eyes behind pitch-black Wayfarers in the back row of class, a best friend and a bad influence all rolled into one. GYMSHORTS takes musical cues from a deep well of sources, with touchpoints that range from trailblazing new wave punks The Nerves to sassy turn of the millennium bad girls The Donnas tossed into a creative woodchipper with midcentury surf guitar and wooly, flannel wrapped grunge. The resulting sound is ragged and raw and immediately magnetic, rough and tumble with the kind of lived-in authenticity of a scuffed-up pair of skate shoes. A sturdy platform for the band’s unabashedly unique identity that is equal parts bratty and wise, tightly wound and poised to launch in nearly any direction at a moment’s notice.

Blistering speed and high-octane thrills characterize a GYMSHORTS’ live set, like a juiced-up NASCAR laying a righteous burnout in the winner’s circle, a springy mosh of unbridled exuberance that has earned the band coveted spots supporting Death Valley Girls, Tacocat, La Luz and many others on tours stretching across the globe from Texas to Thailand. As buoyant ambassadors of plucky stick-it-to the-man attitude, GYMSHORTS never fail to leave crowds sweaty and satisfied in the aftermath of a ferocious blitzkrieg bop, decimating eardrums in a whirlwind of maximum volume sonic debauchery with an enthusiastic heart of gold. GYMSHORTS’ catalog is available on Bandcamp and your favorite streaming platforms. Pick up their LPs and 7”s at your local record store and don’t miss an opportunity to party hard with GYMSHORTS when the band comes to your city.

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The Wolff Sisters w/ Caroline Cotter

AUGUST 13 @ 7PM | Doors 6:30pm | UPSTAIRS

Rootsy Americana.

18+

The Wolff Sisters is fronted by three sisters – Rebecca on acoustic guitar, Kat on the keys, Rachael on electric guitar, and all three on lead vocals and harmonies. Raised on the songs of The Band and Little Feat, the sisters crafted their sound around a honky tonk piano in the living room of their childhood home. New England Music Awards Winner for Americana Artist of the Year 2021 and Boston Music Award winner for Americana Artist of the Year 2020, the band’s electrifying live performance continues to gain momentum and recognition from their hometown of Boston and beyond. Their music is honest and genre defying, but still rooted in traditional rock and Americana storytelling.

With a captivating soprano voice and award winning songwriting, Caroline Cotter’s songs take listeners all over the world and into the depths of the human heart. Since her debut album, “Dreaming as I Do”, released and reached #5 on the Folk DJ Charts in 2015, Caroline has performed over 800 shows in 45 states and 13 countries. Currently touring to support her second major release, “Home on The River”, No Depression calls it “sweet and smooth, and downright refreshing… raising spirits with one song, calming them with another.” Icon Magazine writes, “Her well-constructed songs bring to mind the early work of Mary Chapin Carpenter.” “Today’s folk scene has a new champion, one who encapsulates the sweetness, serenity and sophistication that has always made the genre so affecting in such a timeless manner. In that regard, ‘Home on the River’ is an absolutely essential record.” (Country Standard Time)

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Ted Leo

AUGUST 26 @ 9PM | Doors 8:30pm | UPSTAIRS

An evening with the venerable indie rocker.

Ted Leo is one of the finest songwriters of our generation, even if it’s not entirely clear what generation that is. Starting in New York Hardcore with Citizen’s Arrest, making the ‘90s safe for power-pop and Weller-esque hair with Chisel, then singing our turbulent lives like we were smarter than we were with The Pharmacists, and most recently providing equal parts sweetness and solace with Aimee Mann as The Both, Ted never let us down. And now, seven years after The Brutalist Bricks, he has a new solo album. And it’s wonderful.

The songs on The Hanged Man, recorded at a home-studio-in-transition in Wakefield, RI, with Ted playing almost all the instruments, are some of the finest and most finely wrought of Ted Leo’s career. Ted describes the time working on the album as one of “personal desolation that felt fallow but was actually very fertile” and, indeed, lyrically, The Hanged Man is suffused with hope of sorts but crushingly heavy. The concerns addressed, whether personal trauma or the national disaster we’re all currently existing in, matched with the range and vitality of the songcraft is inspiring, even uplifting.

The Hanged Man offers the sharp bursts of skinny tie pop-punk fury one would expect from Ted—and even these feel streamlined like never before—but they are offset with an adventurousness in both tone and structure. The intention was to upend expectations but, on songs like the bookends of “Moon Out of Phase” and “Let’s Stay On The Moon,” the intention never gets in the way of the result. There’s no strain of effort in songs that are unlike anything Ted has done previously. The Hanged Man is a career high, born through industry soul sickness, nausea-inducing crisis, and a talent that feels like secular grace.

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