Jessamyn Orchard, ‘Consequences,’ & Imaginary Friends

Jessamyn Orchard releases her first studio-recorded EP, “Consequences.” Photo credit: Melody and Jason Russell/Russell Images Photography

Singer-songwriter Jessamyn Orchard is rolling out her first studio-recorded EP, “Consequences,” in a weeklong, pan-Ozarks series of release activities.

9 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6 at Lindberg’s: “The Rounds” hosted by Krista Meadows. Singer-songwriters in the round: Jess, Cord Bishop, Joe Dillstrom and Chris Mau. When it’s Jess’s turn, she’ll perform songs from the EP.

7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9: Facebook Live streaming songs and Q&A from Landing Pad Studio in Marionville, where her EP was made.

7-9 p.m., Sat. Feb. 10, at Wages Brewing Co., West Plains: official release party with CDs for sale. Jess grew up in Mountain View, Mo., and the band assembled to back her for the night will include Shane Fudge, her high school band director who now lives in Searcy, Ark. Other players: Ryan Dunn of Springfield and Dustin Miller of West Plains.

“Consequences” EP cover art. Jess standing on her grandmother’s carport.

The recording will be available digitally for purchase on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, and Bandcamp, as well as streaming on Spotify beginning on Feb. 9.

The EP explores consequences that are mostly bad, even when making choices intended for virtuous outcomes. She reached out to Robbie Davis & David Dameron of Landing Pad for a raw, minimal sound.

“Ain’t A Kick,” inspired by William S. Burroughs’ novel “Junkie,” addresses the current heroin and opiate addictions, which have claimed some of her friends.

“Be Satisfied” presents a tale parallel to “Romeo and Juliet.” “I took my ‘sad bastard style’ to it, of course, but looking at choices, and where you go with those,” she said.

A key lesson from this song comes in this line: “Attempts to overcome hate with love are not without consequence.”

“We see that every single day,” she said. “We see it with people throwing those hearts out into the world and just getting slammed and twisted. While it feels really good, almost happy, to say we’re going to conquer this hate with love, that is hard work. And that, too, is not without consequence.”

In contrast, her own choices to project an upbeat stage presence and to broaden her musical footprint have had consequences that are decidedly good.

She broadened the dynamics of her solo act by adding a looper, which has prompted her to name her additional electronic musical lines as the Imaginary Friends. She often invites saxophonist and tangible friend Ryan Dunn to join the gang.

With the help of Krista’s Full Circle Concept network for artists, Jess has been playing in hotels and restaurants in Branson, most rewardingly at the resort Stormy Point Village.

“That’s been a growing-experience-and-a-half: playing for literally a random sub section of the country on a Tuesday or Saturday night,” she said.

Meanwhile, she’s feeling more at home in the Springfield scene, finding Hotel V to be especially supportive.

“I love what I’m doing right now. I really do. I want to be able, through my music and writing and other creative endeavors, pay my bills with that,” she said.

“Just barely, that’s happening, right now.”

 

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Auntie Em and the Tornadoes: a happy medium

Auntie Em and the Tornadoes (from left): Rick Davidson, Bo Brown, Emily Higgins and George Horne. Photo credit: Denise A. Thomas

Auntie Em and the Tornadoes continue to mine the creative tension between a thoughtful folky songwriter and a trio of energetic bluegrass players — tension that they release as music of good will among friends.

They perform maybe once every couple of months, so don’t miss this chance: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3, at Creek Side Pub.

Emily (guitar) described how she and Bo Brown (mandolin, guitar, Dobro), George Horne (bass) and Rick Davidson (drums) work to find the right treatment. Emily’s brother, John Higgins (pedal steel), frequently sits in.

“It’s stepped up my game a bit, not just to add a little tempo to some of these songs, but it’s been good for them, too, because they’ve been bluegrassers their whole music careers,” she said. They seek the happy medium of energy and still be “sing-able.”

“My real test of when a song reaches its proper tempo is when it has energy but you can effectively sing the lyrics. If you’re rushing the lyrics to try to keep up with the tempo, you lose the songwriter component of the whole reason you’re doing this, because no one will understand the words,” she said. “That is how we find that middle ground.”

The players continually ask Emily for more of her songs to develop.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to have a band, but I always thought it would be so much work, like herding cats,” she said. “With these guys, it has been flawless and seamless. We respect each other so much that everything is easy. Hard work, but fun.”

“It’s a real sense of kinship and camaraderie — and lots of love. … Then you add the talent on top of that and the ‘want-to’ — we all want to play, really bad, so that’s good. That’s a good combination.”

The results have exceeded her expectations: People dance.

“I never had that concept as a songwriter because my music’s cadence was a little slower than what you need to shake your tail feathers, but I was wrong,” she said. “To look out and see people dancing — wow!”

You can hear the differences by comparing Emily’s recorded versions and live tracks with the Tornadoes from a KSMU Studio Live set. See audio tracks below.

Consider “Lover’s Ledge” from the 2015 disc, “91 Acres”: It’s one of the more uptempo pieces on the album, with string instruments generating a lilting flow. The Tornadoes bring up the tempo, teasing out the understated bluesy aspect of the song.

The House at the End of the Road,” the title song of her 2004 album: I heard two string players evoking a bucolic state of grace. In contrast, the Tornadoes execute a delicate rhythmic drive with soft chucks from the mandolin and brushes on a snare.

“Both of the live tracks with the Tornadoes are a good 10-15 beats per minute faster than the album recordings,” Emily said. “We are careful not to push too fast, which can make the lyrics run together.”

Just enough push to get the folks out of their chairs.

“Lover’s Ledge” recorded version

 

“Lover’s Ledge” live with the Tornadoes

 

“The House at the End of the Road” recorded version

 

“The House at the End of the Road” with the Tornadoes

 

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Dancers agree with The Agreements

The Agreements at The Riff. Photo credit: Ed Peaco

When Jim Whiteside struck up The Agreements and filled The Riff with their snappy, horn-based Memphis soul, many of the audience quickly left their chairs and populated the dance floor. They proved to be highly skilled dancers, who, aside from a few breathers, held the floor for two solid hours. I wished for a little more space for the talented musicians to stretch out, but I set aside that thought. Saturday evening (1/27) was a luscious multi-sensory experience of sound, movement and groove.

More words and pictures forthcoming in a fully fledged post.

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Treva & the Troublemakers: Thursday, 1/25 at Lindberg’s

From left: Ric Lund, Treva Hufft Lund, Greg Goodson. Photo credit: Lori Kosma

Treva Hufft Lund. Photo credit: Ed Peaco

Mutton Creek Marina’s annual fish fry in October on Stockton Lake was the first show of the third incarnation of Treva and the Troublemakers. The energized and generous crowd made the day a great success.

The second show of this incarnation, earlier this month, was a private party for the local Parrot Head chapter, which was a perfect setting for the current incarnation dedicated to good-time music. A sprinkling of Jimmy Buffett tunes was all the revelers needed to transport themselves to the blissful Margaritaville state of mind.

The next show is 6:30 p.m. Thursday, 1/25, at Lindberg’s. They may do a Buffett song or two, but they have so many other ways to create a festive vibe.

Treva Hufft Lund’s life in music dates from childhood, when she found that she could command audiences in Springfield and Branson with her talent for playing fiddle tunes. She stopped performing for many years, until she and Ric Lund (guitar) formed a blues band in 2012 — the first incarnation of the Troublemakers. They retooled for a hard-driving classic rock sound in 2014 (second incarnation). After a hiatus to address family priorities, they felt like getting back into music (third incarnation), and they observed other bands and their fans.

“We watched the audience reaction to what they liked, and what they would dance to, what they would sing along with,” Treva said. “We decided, when people come to a bar, they don’t want to hear a crying-in-your-beer song. They’re there to have a good time. So we were thinking of new, fun-time party songs that we could do.”

Then they looked for the right musicians: talented but also congenial. “We wanted to find people who would have the highest potential with the lowest drama,” Ric said with a laugh.

They found three who fit the criteria: Dale Kosma (drums), Greg Goodson (bass) and Ken Rose (keys).

For the Troublemakers, good-time music covers a wide swath of material:

• The lighter side of rock and pop: “All I Wanna Do,” “Dancing in the Moonlight”

• Old-time country: “Orange Blossom Special”

• Hard-driving classic rock: “Gimme Some Lovin’,” “Born to be Wild”

• Slow songs with intense emotion: “Ooo Baby Baby,” “Tennessee Whiskey”

“A lot of those songs were fresh to us,” Ric said.

“That’s like the Gretchen Wilson songs, ‘Here for the Party’ and ‘All Jacked Up’ — middle-of-the-road rowdy country stuff. The Parrot Head crowd loved that. That’s something totally different for us,” Treva said.

Ric said he appreciates the band’s demographic, the 40-plus set. Again with a laugh, he mentioned a significant benefit of performing for this demographic:

“The people who are here earlier — who are older — spend more money, and they tip better.”

Treva and Ric have shown remarkable flexibility to make changes to broaden their audience and adapt to changing tastes.

“It’s a little different route this time. Hopefully, it will work,” he said.

Ken Rose (foreground) and Dale Kosma. Photo credit: Ed Peaco

Ric, Greg, Treva, Dale, Ken. Photo credit: Lori Kosma

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Izabel Crane & Ozarks Sheiks at Lindberg’s

Izabel Crane (from left): Matt Guinn, Mike Williamson, Liz Carney, B.J. Lowrance and Jeremy Chapman. Photo credit: Starboard & Port

Izabel Crane: refined yet intense, a blend of Gypsy jazz and Ozarks undertones.

Ozarks Sheiks: raw sound, raw honesty, old-timey to punk — Post Trump Punk, singing truth to power.

Each has one thing in common with the other: an immediately identifiable sound.

Another pair of compelling bands on the same bill: 10 p.m. Friday 1/19, Lindberg’s.

Izabel Crane

As of last week, the band has decided to stop doing residencies in restaurants and bars.

“We don’t have any three-hour shows left in us,” said Liz Carney, lead singer, guitarist and songwriter.

She and Matt Guinn (guitar), Mike Williamson (bass, tuba, cornet), B.J. Lowrance (drums) and Jeremy Chapman (mandolin) — they’re going for quality over quantity. They’ll aim for one 45-minute set per show, and make every minute shimmer.

“I have become more aware of making each segment of my song poignant because I don’t have to stretch it out to be a five-minute song, solo after solo,” she said. The band is shedding many of their covers, and she’s focusing on writing solid lyrics.

“It’s become more selfish. Every song that we play has to be meaningful to me, to the band.”

Band bullets:

• They changed their name last year to get out from under the confusion of too many bands named Bella Donna. Reflecting their Ozarks roots, they agreed on Izabel Crane: Izabel, Liz’s family nickname; Crane for both sets of her grandparents who come from the town of Crane and the surrounding area.

• They’re working on an album projected for release in May.

• Lots of touring in 2018: “That’s where I find most growth,” Carney said. “Finding what works and what doesn’t. How important it is to make a connection with the crowd — we never had to do that when we were playing background music.”

Ozarks Sheiks

Ozarks Sheiks (from left): Steven Spencer, Jessica Balisle, Blaine Whisenhunt & Tom Parker; Isaac Neale (background). Provided photo

“What has happened to music? Why is everybody so happy?” asks Blaine Whisenhunt, the conceptualist, lead singer and guitarist. He’s not happy about the current lack of rage inherent in rock; he prefers music with a subversive edge.

“I consider myself a grandchild of Woody Guthrie. I looked around and I thought Woody would hate all this music. There’s no music to bring truth to power, to bring a challenge to the status quo, in the surrounding culture.”

“There’s a little bit of punk in what we’re doing, that attitude”; Whisenhunt calls it Post Trump Punk.

With Isaac Neale (drums), Steven Spencer (harmonica), Tom Parker (banjo) and Jessica Balisle (bass), they’ll perform a “blistering” set of Sheiks songs, some re-imagined, some new, he said.

“We were anticipating the political and cultural upheaval that we’re right in the middle of now, that no one can avoid. I felt that everybody had their heads in the sand. … The content of the music we recorded three or four years ago is now in everybody’s face in the news.”

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Mood Ring Circus, Luna J. at The Riff

Mood Ring by Brandon Cole

Above: Mood Ring Circus (from left): Alexander Hines, Seth Randolph, Justin Larkin and Steven Sparks. Photo credit: Brandon Cole. Top: Luna J.: Tyler Mathews, Bryan Copeland, Kim Painter and Tom Pearson. Photo credit: Ryan Fannin

Two robust bands with strong followings — Mood Ring Circus and Luna J. — should generate some heat on this deep-freeze Saturday (1/13) at The Riff.

The combination brings tasty contrasts: Mood Ring for expansive rock and Luna J. for a chill-groove sound, with the emphasis on groove.

Mood Ring’s Justin Larkin said their album is in post-production. However, they have planned an album listening party around 7 or 7:30 p.m., before the show, and they’ll play the songs during their set.

“We’re calling the record ‘Limbo Daze’ as our testament to waiting, that we’ve already endured and will continue to do so. Good things take time,” Larkin said. The CD release show is set tentatively for mid-March, he said.

Larkin (guitar) often serves as lead vocal, and he excels at songwriting. Lead guitarist Steven Sparks has a background in metal that brings drama to his engaging set of chops. Alexander Hines has an agile approach to the bass while always providing a heavy bottom. Seth Randolph’s drumming offers a little something extra that keeps you continuously interested.

For this show, two horn players will perform with Luna J. for the first time, A.J. Lee (trumpet, flugelhorn) and Evan White (saxophones). They will play on five songs of the band’s EP, which should be out in March, said Bryan Copeland (guitar, vocals, songwriting).

The EP is part of Luna J.’s project of building a full-length album in two stages of five-song increments. The album’s single, “You Say,” is being released today, Friday 1/12.

“This album will be very groove-oriented, a chill-groove feel, with Kim (Painter) really pulling the bass,” Copeland said.

Players of the long-running unit continue to develop, he said. Painter’s bass lines often stand out as lead lines. “I play chords mostly, and she makes everything interesting without me having to do much. Tyler (Mathews, keys) is so good at filling in wherever there are holes in the vocals, and Tom (Pearson) is settling in and understanding what we need in a drummer, understanding the groove side of things.”

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Newly expanded, The Riff starts making some noise

• IMG_7076 upstairs

Here’s the view from the mezzanine, which, when it’s finished, will provide seating for roughly 40 people.

The Riff at Classic Rock Coffee Co. looked somewhat like a grand opening on Saturday, Jan. 6, with three bands on the marquee, a packed parking lot and buzz among the folks inside.

daylight IMG_4613

A dance floor separates the stage from the tables.

The only thing missing was special hoopla. That was lacking because it was one night of an ongoing soft opening. The grand opening will take place later next month.

In any case, Nathan Bryce opened with Testify, his powerhouse three-piece tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan. After that energizing experience, country-rock band Bootleg Riot and classic-rock cover band Innuendo played into the evening.

Noble Bowman of Classic Rock said the company has set high standards for the expanded venue. “We hope to become the music venue of Springfield,” he said. Here are seven reasons how:

Expanding from a capacity of roughly 150 people to nearly 500

Top-flight sound and light systems

Tables and a nook up front

A bar in the back with an area for congregating

Good food

A mezzanine for a different view and space for private parties

Family friendly, kids welcome

In its original setting, the venue had already established a reputation as a great place for listening and performing. However, the space was too small to draw bands with a higher profile.

“The expansion put us in a position to attract some of the biggest bands in Springfield, as well as some regional touring acts or acts touring between large cities, looking for a stop-off for a show,” he said.

“When we designed the venue, we wanted it to be able to fit more people but still have a very comfortable, cozy, intimate feel. Everybody’s going to have good sound,” Bowman said. “We made sure that every seat in the room would have as good sound as any seat in the room.”

More music:

Thursday: Papa Green Shoes

Friday: Troy “The LA Files”

Saturday: Mood Ring Circus and Luna J.

And watch for the monthly performance by The Agreements, the blues and soul band with a big brass profile.

cropped-IMG_7068-bar1.jpg

Behind the tables, a bar runs on one side, and there’s room for mingling.

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This is the dividing line, right here

What is above this post is a blog
celebrating the local music of Springfield, Mo.

———————————————-

Below this post are excerpts from a bunch my freelance pieces,
placed here mainly to show would-be clients what I could do.
Although that stuff below this line
may also be a celebration of local music.

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New Boris Yeltsin CD — ‘Distortion can be very pretty’

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, May 29, 2015
This content cannot be reproduced without permission of the News-Leader.
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin (from left): Will Knauer, Tom Hembree, Phil Dickey and Jonathan James. Photo credit: Calvin Todd

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin (from left): Will Knauer, Tom Hembree, Phil Dickey and Jonathan James. Photo credit: Calvin Todd

Celebrating a decade of congenial indie pop recordings, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin is releasing an album that strives to render the noisier sound typical of their live performances.

Over time, the CD’s have been catching up to the dynamics of the shows, and the June 2 release of “The High Country” will close the gap with generous helpings of guitar distortion, fuzz and clanging strumming. The CD release event is Saturday at the Outland Ballroom.

The effects are carefully crafted and strategically deployed, drummer Phil Dickey said.

“Distortion can be very pretty, if it’s a distorted harmony “There’s something satisfying in a distorted guitar with the right tone. Distortion can rub me the wrong way, too, like a headache.”

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As girls’ rock camp expands, eight bands to play benefit

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, May 22, 2015
This content cannot be reproduced without permission of the News-Leader.
Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 5.47.51 PM

Neon Girls (clockwise from top left): Hannah Henderson, Nora Powell, Calli Howe, and Lilly Broyles.

Ever since Nora Powell took part in last year’s inaugural Queen City Rock Camp, she’s been fired up for this year’s session, and she’s telling all her friends.

“I’m super-interested in the whole rock thing and playing the bass, and I’m counting down the days until I can go to rock camp,” said Nora, a sixth grader at Fair Grove Middle School.

She said she’s looking forward to learning more about the bass, reuniting with her camp band, Neon Girls, and writing songs together.

View the complete article while it remains accessible at News-Leader.com.

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