Bootleg Theater Presents
The Suitcase Junket
2220 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90057
This event is 21 and over
"I've always had a taste for traveling alone," Tift Merritt sings in the title track of her fifth album. This time around, she got to prove it, "calling the shots myself and letting myself go wherever I needed to go" at a point in time when she was a free agent without label or manager. But the song does also conclude that "Everybody here is traveling alone," a realization that places as much value on community as iconoclasm. And Merritt put together her "dream cast" of fellow travelers to play on Traveling Alone, which found its happy home at her new label, Yep Roc. The road less taken doesn't preclude good company.
The New Yorker has called Merritt "the bearer of a proud tradition of distaff country soul that reaches back to artists like Dusty Springfield and Bobbie Gentry," a standard upholding that got underway in earnest with Bramble Rose, the 2002 solo debut that put her on the Americana map forever. As her sophomore album, Tambourine, was followed by Another Country and See You on the Moon, Merritt found acclaim coming not just from critics and awards orgs but her own heroes, like Emmylou Harris, who marveled that Merritt "stood out like a diamond in a coal patch." Now a leading lady in her own right, Merritt is hardly one to hog the spotlight. She engages in dialogue with fellow artists of all disciplines on her public radio broadcast and podcast "The Spark With Tift Merritt," bringing in fellow sojourners ranging from Patty Griffin and Rosanne Cash to Rick Moody and Nick Hornby (who devoted a chapter to Merritt in his 31 Songs book).
For Traveling Alone, Merritt knew—and got—exactly the journeymen she wanted with her on this 11-track trip: legendary guitarist Marc Ribot, Calexico drummer John Convertino, steel player extraordinaire Eric Heywood, acclaimed jazz and rock multi-instrumentalist Rob Burger, and longtime cohort Jay Brown on bass. As captured by producer Tucker Martine (known for working with the Decemberists, and one of Paste magazine's "10 Best Producers of the Decade") and mixed by three-time Grammy-winning engineer Ryan Freeland, the sound is both spare and luxurious. "Maybe I was bored with bells and whistles and wanted to go without them. It might have been that I didn't have enough money for bells and whistles," she quips. "But once you get in that sweet spot where things feel real and right, you just want to burrow down in that feeling. Nothing to hide behind, no distractions, no sense trying to be everything to everybody. There's a beautiful economy of motion in that place." Who wouldn't want to tag along?
The Suitcase Junket
“Remember the first day you heard The Suitcase Junket…his songwriting is extraordinary… this is one of the most exciting records I've heard in years.” -Vin Scelsa of Idiot's Delight on WFUV and Sirius/XM
"Armed with vintage 1950s amps and a guitar he salvaged from a dumpster, an old, oversized suitcase he plays with his heel as a bass drum, a baby shoe hitting a gas can, a cook pot, a circular saw blade and a box of bones and silverware for added percussion, he let it rip! In my favorite session of the year, The Suitcase Junket performs 'Earth Apple' from his latest album, Make Time."
- Linda Fahey, NPR’s Favorite Sessions of 2015
The Suitcase Junket will release his Signature Sounds debut, Dying Star, on March 4th. The 7- song E.P. features five songs recorded during the making of Lorenz’s acclaimed 2015 album, Make Time, and two live tracks recorded at Northampton MA’s The Parlor Room. With Dying Star, The Suitcase Junket is poised to make the jump from one of New England's best-kept roots star secrets, to a household name.
Artist, tinkerer, tunesmith, swamp Yankee, Matt Lorenz is a one-man salvage specialist singing into the hollow of a Dumpster guitar, slipping a broken bottleneck onto the slide finger, railing on a box of twisted forks and bones, rocking till every sound is ragged at its edges, till the house is singing back. Then, unplugging all the amps and letting one mountain ballad soar over the raw strings on that guitar.
Every night is a hard-driving, blues-grinding, throat-singing search-and-rescue junket. Sooner or later everything rusts, busts, and gets tossed into the junk heap: iron, bones, leather, hot rods, muskrats, the night, the heart. The goal is to recover it. To waste nothing. To create new ways from old. This is The Suitcase Junket.
Matt Lorenz was raised in Cavendish, Vermont, the son of teachers. He learned to sing by copying his sister Kate. (The siblings are two-thirds of the touring trio Rusty Belle.) Lorenz graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 2004, having taught himself to throat-sing thanks to a South Indian cooking class. On moving day, he pulled his guitar, filled with mold and worse for wear, from a dorm Dumpster. He fixed it up and started pulling songs out of it. That was the beginning.
The Suitcase Junket is filling rooms and drawing festival crowds all over his native New England and beyond, from Signal Kitchen near the Canadian border to Wisconsin's Mile of Music Festival, from Ireland's pubs to Mountain Jam in the Catskills, from opening nights for Lake Street Dive and Charlie Musselwhite to Mountain Stage in West Virginia. He caught the attention of National Public Radio who chose his video session for "Earth Apple" from his 2015 album Make Time as one of the year's favorite sessions.