Black Horse Motel
702 Willow Ave
Ithaca, NY, 14850
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is 18 and over
The Yawpers’ third album Boy in a Well is a sensational tragedy set in World War I France about a mother abandoning her unwanted newborn child. But, like the band itself, there’s so much more roiling beneath the surface.
Recorded in Chicago by Alex Hall (JD McPherson, Pokey LaFarge, The Cactus Blossoms) at Reliable Recordings with production assistance and instrumental contributions from Tommy Stinson (The Replacements, Bash & Pop), Boy in a Well stretches The Yawpers’ sound and ambition in challenging, impassioned, and dynamic directions. To follow up their 2015 Bloodshot debut American Man — which Rolling Stone described as mixing “high-brow smarts with down-home stomp” — the trio left the comfort zone of their Denver hometown in September 2016 to record in a city they’d only briefly visited before.
The story-vision was initially conjured by lead singer Nate Cook, after a reckless combination of alcohol, half a bottle of Dramamine, and an early morning flight. The delusional result is an album of complete immersion and instinct, with personal background (the story removes shrapnel embedded from Cook’s failed marriage) meeting psychological fascinations (German realpolitik, Freud, Oedipus, and the lasting social and cultural fallout of WWI… you know, the usual rock ’n’ roll stuff). Structured, composed songwriting from the band’s freakishly tight backbone — guitar prodigy Jesse Parmet and bulldozing drummer Noah Shomberg — blend with the impulsiveness of their wild-eyed, punk-reincarnation-of-Elvis frontman.
Boy in a Well sounds like Alan Lomax using his field recorder to capture Mance Lipscomb ripping a laced joint (or something much more potent) with The Cramps and strapping their instruments on to let that shit fly. But while the band dials into the finest, frenetic trucker-speed induced scuzz blues, there is patience and dark soul within and between songs much like the blank space between paragraphs and chapters. Each track is a division of the plot — paired visually with an accompanying comic book, illustrated by J.D. Wilkes of The Legendary Shack Shakers — that seamlessly blends into the next.
“Armistice Day” slowly awakens in an altered reality with distant echoing piano, ghostly harmonics, and menacing chants, leading way to “A Decision is Made”, the feverish rockabilly-cum-muscular blues and fuzzed out, grungy, bottleneck slide acoustic guitar force of Parmet. The kinetic “Mon Dieu” reimagines the Dead Kennedys three decades on with its fiery cosmic psychobilly and retro R&B/garage tones. There are solar flashes of surf (“No Going Back”), Bo Diddley’s shaker man shufflin’ groove (“Mon Nom”), the punched out, funky drumming of the Blues Explosion’s Russell Simins (“Face to Face to Face”), and a sulfuric, slicked-up Carl Perkins for the modern world in “Linen for the Orphan.”
Later, “Room with a View” is a lonesome ballad that tells the story of the unwanted child growing up in the well where he was abandoned. It’s a touching, melancholy, moral take not typically characteristic of the group. Similarly, a contrast is present in a softer, stripped-down picked-acoustic side in “God’s Mercy”, “A Visitor is Welcomed”, and “The Awe and Anguish” — the latter of which sounds like a lost track from a 1940s Smithsonian Folkways album. Finally, “Reunion” paints a vision of The Who’s Tommy, a fitting bookend to the concept and aural diversity.
The Yawpers’ Boy in a Well is complex; it’s a manically conceived, historically situated, emotionally underscored, plot-driven fictive universe. It’s demented, unpredictable, taboo, ambitious, and yet distinctively cohesive.
Black Horse Motel
Philadelphia's Black Horse Motel draws on traditional folk and Americana roots, blends in rock, country, and other influences, and ties it together with rich vocal harmonies. Songs are built on the foundations of folk instrumentation and lyrics, and are elevated by an infectious blend of guitars, strings, drums and voices. The resulting sound is heart-breaking, foot-stomping modern folk.
In 2012, Black Horse Motel offered their first recording; a self-titled EP. They followed up with their debut full-length LP, Red Summer Spirit. The record released on March 1, 2013 to a sold-out crowd at Kung Fu Necktie in Philadelphia.
The next three years brought several lineup changes while the group continued to hone their sound and expand their fan base. The current 4-piece group is made up of Desiree Haney(cello/keys/vocals), Megan Manning (drums/percussion, vocals), Galen Fitzpatrick (guitar/dobro/vocals), and Ryann Lynch (fiddle/vocals).
In April of 2016, armed with a batch of fresh songs, the group headed into the famed Studio 4 in Conshohocken, PA. Teamed again with producer/engineer Ron DiSilvestro, the band recorded major tracks in 2 days. Overdubs and additional recordings were also done at Forge Recording in Oreland, PA. Finally, the finished product was mastered by the one and only Phil Nicolo.
After a successful PledgeMusic campaign, the band released their new 5-song EP, Parable, to major online outlets on January 13, 2017.
Black Horse Motel has performed at the Dewey Beach Music Conference and Dewey Beach Americana Festival in Dewey Beach, DE, Musikfest in Bethlehem, PA, Xtreme Folk Festival in Telford, PA, and the famed Philadelphia Folk Festival in Schwenksville, PA. The group has also performed at many of Philadelphia’s popular venues, including World Cafe Live, Kung Fu Necktie, Tin Angel, and Boot & Saddle. The group has begun spreading their sound to the greater Philadelphia area, with performances in Jenkintown, King of Prussia, Phoenixville, New Hope, and Wilkes-Barre, as well as at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and Union Hall in Brooklyn. Black Horse Motel has been featured as live performers on several radio programs, including Delaware’s WSTW Hometown Heroes show, The Folk Show on WXPN, Folkadelphia on XPN2, and Y-Not Radio.