John The Martyr + Honey Island Swamp Band
Bandits on the Run
61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY, 11249
Doors 6:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM (event ends at 11:30 PM)
This event is 21 and over
John The Martyr
Born at the crossroads of good old-fashioned Harlem soul power and next generation New Orleans sounds, the story of John The Martyr starts when a 26 year old NOLA native heard the doo-wop outfit called Spank performing on the subway.
Getting on the subway one day, a doo-wop outfit called Spank simply enchanted him.
“They blew me away,” he recalls. “I group up listening to artists like The Temptations, The Drifters, and James Brown, so it brought me back home. Everybody was sort of just walking by and going about their day, but I just stood there and watched them. I had to reach out.”
Spank met up with Kyle to record demos shortly thereafter. Among the group, it was 70-year-old Harlem son Bill Hudson with whom he connected the most. Instantly, they bonded and continued to work together on creating some new tunes.
“The first thing I said to him was, ‘I think you should find a younger guy, number one’,” laughs Bill. “I liked what Kyle was putting down though. It had a feeling. It wasn’t generic. There was no classifying it.”
“I just knew that the bond we had was special,” recalls Kyle. “I wanted to listen to his voice more and more. When I was growing up, my dad only let us hear his bread-and-butter favorites from the fifties and sixties. That’s what Bill and I bonded over. He’s a young guy at heart. There was a lot of patience from him, and his wisdom is so crucial to this band. We’re constantly learning from him.”
Kyle shared a handful of demos with friend, Dustin DiSalvo, who then decided to move to New York. They booked their first show at Mercury Lounge, inspiring Chris Hines to fly from L.A. to join them, and John The Martyr was formed. The childhood friends then brought together a collective of musicians around Hudson, forming an 11 piece ensemble that started playing around NYC regularly.
“I call it a gumbo,” exclaims Bill. “We did a lot of woodshedding to get the songs to this point. You could say they were ‘Off the rack,’ and we tailored them. It’s been a journey and a nice ride.”
“Even though we’re on opposite ends of the country, it was perfect,” adds Chris. “The chemistry was great. There’s a community feeling. There’s just something in the room. Bill is a professional showman with a magnetic personality. He’s 43 years older than me, but you’d never know it.”
As the group recorded at Virtue and Vice Studios in Brooklyn with engineers Rocky Gallo and Stephen Davies, they enlisted a cadre of proficient musicians from around the globe to bring these ten tunes to life. As a result, a subtle international flavor courses through the record’s DNA courtesy of violinist Kiho Yutaka from Japan, saxophonist Martin Seiler from Germany, bassist Mike DeiCont from Canada, as well as Chris Lucca [trumpet], Dillon Garret [trombone], Darren Denman [keys], Missia Vessio [percussion], Eva Lawitts [bass], Susan Mandel [cello], and Gabe Valle [viola/bass].
“Everybody brings some kind of life experience to this melting pot,” continues Bill. “You don’t really know what’s going to come out.”
The first single “Feeling Good” introduces John The Martyr with a one-two punch of Motown heart and New Orleans gusto. “That one lives up to its title,” laughs Bill. “It’s all about feeling good.”
The group’s underlying unpredictability bubbles up on the single “Time.” Driven by a bluesy riff, boisterous horns, and a swaggering shuffle, the track quickly ramps up into a funky revivalist swing that proves irresistible as Bill croons, “Time don’t change.”
“Dustin and I used to play ‘Time’ instrumentally in New Orleans way back in the day,” says Kyle. “I’d been writing the lyrics from New Orleans to New York. The song is about time being a precious resource that’s always in the back of your mind.”
“Kyle and I had been playing this song for years in my attic,” recalls Dustin. “It’s the funkiest one that we’ve done, and it was crazy the way Bill connected to it. We’re very symbiotic. When Bill got on it, I knew right then and there. It was like all of the stars aligned and made this possible.”
“That one kicks ass,” smiles Bill. “It’s more of a funk thing and speaks to where I’m from. My tone was inflecting James Brown vocally. We’ve given time a humanistic character.”
Then, there’s “Age.” A slow burn of guitar and drums entwine as Bill’s inimitable wail takes the lone spotlight over a smoky swell.
“It speaks of a mortality that I’m very much aware of, because I’ve got more years behind me than I’ve got ahead of me, God bless,” Bill elaborates. “Because we don’t know how long we’ve got on this earth, we’ve got to use it wisely.”
Elsewhere on the record, “Cross The Line” taps into a gospel flare, fusing a modern production sensibility
with timeless Detroit styles. “History” brings back the spirit of Motown into the modern age with its stark and simple delivery. The elements converge seamlessly as each individual shines.
Signed to +1 Records, John The Martyr write the first chapter of their story with this full-length debut— out in 2018.
“If listeners know anything about our story, I’d love for them to see how it’s possible to bring people together by way of music,” Chris leaves off. “It’s a basic human thing where we can all find common ground. That’s the hope.”
“I hope you sit back and hear it from top to bottom,” concludes Kyle. “It can make you feel good and move. That’s what this kind of music is supposed to do.”
Honey Island Swamp Band
Take a late-night stroll through downtown New Orleans and you’ll hear a thousand flavours of music spill from the clubs. Spin the new album by the Crescent City’s new favourite sons, meanwhile, and you’ll hear a band who embody that eclectic spirit. “There are songs here for every mood, occasion or playlist,” explains Honey Island Swamp Band’s Aaron Wilkinson of Demolition Day, “so hopefully it will appeal to a lot of musical tastes. Just make sure you turn it up loud…”
Released in 2016 on Ruf Records, Demolition Day is the band’s fourth full-length studio release and marks a milestone in their career. The album title cuts deep. It’s just over a decade since Hurricane Katrina tore along the Gulf Coast, plunging New Orleans into devastation, but throwing together four Big Easy evacuees who found themselves marooned in San Francisco.
Aaron Wilkinson (acoustic guitar/mandolin/vocals), Chris Mulé (electric guitar/vocals), Sam Price (bass/vocals) and Garland Paul (drums/vocals) were already on nodding terms from their hometown circuit, but when the four men joined forces for a weekly residency at San Francisco’s Boom Boom Room, the chemistry was undeniable. By 2009, the lineup had released award-winning debut Wishing Well, enlisted Hammond B-3 wizard Trevor Brooks and placed one foot onto the podium of New Orleans greats.
Ten years and a thousand gigs down the line, that same battle-hardened lineup took just four days to track Demolition Day at The Parlor Recording Studio in New Orleans with famed producer Luther Dickinson (also leader of the North Mississippi Allstars and ex-Black Crowes guitarist). “We had a very tight window to record,” Wilkinson recalls, “so we had to minimalise in places and really pack a lot of emotion into each take. Luther calls it ‘the freedom of limitation’ and it really served us well on this album.”
As did the no-frills production ethos. “We’ve always wanted to record to two-inch tape, to get that old analogue sound,” say the band, “and this was our first opportunity to make it happen. Luther was the perfect producer to help us nail that old-school, authentic sound. He was great at keeping us focused on the spirit of each performance, not getting bogged down in details and perfectionism. That’s what we were looking for and what we needed.”
After all, polish isn’t necessary when you’re working with songs this strong. Across its eleven cuts, Demolition Day tips a hat to most of the great American genres, while adding the Honey Island Swamp Band’s inimitable thumbprint. There’s the spring-heeled slide-blues of “Ain’t No Fun”, the upbeat funk of “Head High Water Blues”, the cat-house piano and country-fried guitars of “How Do You Feel”. But then, on the emotional flipside, there’s also the reflective wah-guitar lilt of “Say It Isn’t True”, the mournful funeral-jazz slow-burn of “No Easy Way” and the heart-in-mouth acoustic confessional of “Katie”. “We’re diverse and complex people,” Wilkinson says, “and our audiences are as well. So we try to let our music reflect that.”
Just as eclectic are the lyrical themes. “They really are all over the map,” Wilkinson says of the topics explored on Demolition Day. “Some are rooted in reality and personal experience. ‘Head High Water Blues’ is a look back at the Hurricane Katrina experience now that ten years has passed. Much has been rebuilt, but much has not and never will be – and the song is more about the emotional scars that can never be fully erased. Others are just fiction and storytelling. We had the music for ‘Through Another Day’, and it sounded sort of old and epic and Southern, and that inspired this Civil War-era storyline that became the lyrics. Others are just sort of playful nonsense about life and relationships, like ‘Watch And Chain’.”
Demolition Day is just the start. You might experience these eleven tracks for the first time on your stereo or smartphone, but as Honey Island Swamp Band tour across the States and beyond in 2016, you can expect them to take on a life of their own. “These songs will continue to progress, develop and blossom,” Wilkinson says. “A record is a snapshot in time, a picture of where a song is at a particular moment. But we’ve never been the type of band to stick to one way of playing a song, so we’ll continue to let the music evolve. That’s what keeps it fresh and exciting for us – and we want to share that with our audiences.”
Bandits on the Run
Bandits on the Run is Brooklyn's very own criminal whimsy ring, composed of cellist/badass Bonanza Jellyfish, guitarist/fool Roy Dodger, and player-of-toys/clairvoyant Clarissa. The balance of three big personalities is the bedrock of their unique live act, with an eclectic array of tunes original and stolen (all honed by years of busking in NYC's subway) which range from peppy and off-kilter to downright dreamy, all tied together by their signature three part harmony and quirky stage antics. Listen and you will be whisked away, finding something old, something new, and a heart warmed between the two.
Please ignore end time listed. We look forward to having you at Brooklyn Bowl!