The Bottle Rockets
Cleveland, OH, 44110
Doors 7:30 PM / Show 8:30 PM
This event is all ages
Watch & Listen
The Bottle Rockets
The Bottle Rockets’ brand of populist, Midwestern, brawny rock ‘n’ roll is a sound so effortless, it’s easy to take their craft for granted; a sound so universal, yet unmistakably THE BOTTLE ROCKETS. They’ve crushed rowdy Friday night crowds, convinced sitting audiences to get on their feet, and pulled weary festival onlookers across muddy fields to the front of the stage. With their 12th album, South Broadway Athletic Club, the quartet gives a master class in capturing the beauty of everyday life, and painting a portrait of ongoing hope.
South Broadway Athletic Club is an album full of new experiences for the band. Although they again worked with longtime producer Eric “Roscoe” Ambel (of Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, The Del-Lords, The Yayhoos) it was the first time the group recorded a full album in their hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Working at Sawhorse Studios, it was also the first time they scheduled sessions in batches over several months, allowing the songs - and the whole album - to fully breathe and unfold. The extended songwriting process not only allowed a gestation period for the music, but also created the opportunity for a new musical collaboration with the Nashville hit-songwriting family The Henningsens, resulting in the song “Something Good.” These fresh directions helped focus the band’s creativity and energy throughout the recording sessions, adding further dimension to the album.
Singer/guitarist Brian Henneman meticulously crafts lyric-chapters straight from his well-worn journal. The album’s sharp-as-shit songwriting kicks off with “Monday (Everytime I Turn Around),” and the tough but tender “Big Lotsa Love.” The latter is built on engaging wordplay that takes the listener through the ups and downs of working through the world with someone you care about. In “Dog,” a jangly, Byrds-infused, unaffected but never cloying, tribute (with Henneman’s new weapon of choice: a chimey, 12-string Rickenbacker) to a favorite canine, he sings, “I love my dog, he’s my dog/ If you don’t love my dog, that’s OK/ I don’t want you to, he’s my dog.” The zen-like wisdom transcends merely a song about a pet and, rather, packs the message and life philosophy that, “Sometimes life is just this simple.”
Sonically, The Bottle Rockets still find the quickest two-lane highway into the bloodstream. There are pulses through the rhythm section of Mark Ortmann’s made for FM radio, wall-of-sound drumming and bassist Keith Voegele’s deep and shapely lines. They are Missouri’s answer to Muscle Shoals’ The Swampers – Swiss Army knife players, distinctive and in the pocket. It’s honed further with John Horton’s classic rock guitar snarl on “I Don’t Wanna Know,” a song that could otherwise be a Tom Jones classic about a relationship lie. On the speaker-rattling “Building Chryslers,” Horton and Henneman ignite a crunchy guitar duel that’d fit nicely on the LP shelf between Dinosaur Jr and Thin Lizzy. The song is a compelling character study told only as The Bottle Rockets can.
Shimmering, fresh coats of paint are applied in “Ship It On the Frisco,” a Southern soul-influenced song about childhood train hopping, and “XOYOU,” which showcases the band’s cosmopolitan touches through a Rockpile/Nick Lowe-inflected pop gem mixing in shuffling drums, handclaps and harmonies. Elsewhere, “Big Fat Nuthin’” is an earwormworthy “ode” to exhaustion with a Black Flag “TV Party” vibe.
Throughout their entire career, The Bottle Rockets have managed to stay true to the rabid music heads as well as casual dial-turning everybodies. After 20+ years, they’ve come out on the other side stronger and more energized than ever before, proactively writing their own creative arc. Against the odds, the Bottle Rockets are a true American success story. Consequently, South Broadway Athletic Club is an album as relevant as their formative early work; political by not being political, re-affirming our greatest aspirations by focusing on the tiniest of truths.
As rock phenoms go, Sarah Borges has never been easy to pin down. Since bursting onto the national scene in 2005 as the lead singer of the Broken Singles, she hasn’t allowed a speck of dust to settle on her sound or her story. Instead, the Massachusetts native has just kept on moving and shaking.
She’s gone from frontwoman to solo act, to frontwoman again. She’s deftly navigated the weird road that winds from emerging artist to veteran performer. She’s made seven records and racked up countless touring miles. She’s collected shiny things, including an Americana Music Award nomination, multiple Boston Music Awards, and song credits on TV shows Sons of Anarchy and The Night Shift. Bands like Los Strait Jackets and Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys have brought her out on the road with them. Cowboy laureates Steve Berlin and Dave Alvin have lined up to collaborate with her.
As if all that wasn't fodder enough for a compelling rock ’n’ roll narrative, in the last few years Sarah has been married and divorced, become a mother, and gotten sober. It’s a whole lot of moving and shaking for someone who just turned 40, but don’t expect to find her pumping the brakes anytime soon.
“I’m not slowing down,” Borges says. “I’m gonna keep on seeking the next sound, the next song, the next chapter of who I am.”
Headlining that next chapter is a new album titled Love’s Middle Name, due out October 12, 2018 on Blue Corn Music.
There’s never been much daylight between Sarah and re-invention. Even as she’s weathered the inevitable ups and downs in an industry that’s perpetually imploding, she’s stayed the course, creating an impressive body of work one album at a time, personal plot twists and genres be damned.
“Critics have always loved Sarah, but that doesn’t mean they’ve figured out what to do with her,” says Binky, her longtime bassist and best friend of 15 years.
He has a point. Conduct even a quick Google search, and you’ll find that she’s been dubbed everything — from an Americana darling to a roots rocker to a cowpunk to the next Sheryl Crow — by tastemakers as diverse as The New York Times and SiriusXM Outlaw Country Radio.
You could forgive folks for being stumped as to what to call her brand of music. In an era when algorithms and critics alike are hard-pressed to find the quickest way to complete the phrase “sounds like___,” an artist such as Borges raises questions. Does she walk a fine line between punk and country, or does she kick the tar out of it? Is she rock, roots, or Americana? And while we’re at it, what the heck is Americana, anyway?
Sarah’s many things. She’s a driven artist who cranks out finely crafted, character-driven songs with the dexterity of a prolific novelist. She’s a busy single mom who doesn’t have time for your bullshit. She’s an unapologetic stage belcher. And as her bandmates are quick to point out, she’s an incurable road dog who lives for gigs and relishes the long-haul drives in vans full of stinky dudes that said gigs require. Which is all to say that Sarah and her music contain multitudes. Grit, grace, and everything in between.
“I don’t know what to call it most days,” she says, “Lately I just call it ‘rock ’n’ roll.’ Can we just call it that for crying out loud?
But if you’re looking for a common denominator threading through all of Sarah’s multitudes, or something approximating a label that she might not fight you on, joy fits the bill. Yes, you read that right. Joy isn’t the first thing most fans associate with barroom rock songs about heartbreak, sticking it to bad men, or lusty midnight romps. But for Sarah it’s a palpable force running through everything she does.
"It won’t sound very punk of me to say this, but I feel joy now in a way I've never felt before about doing what I do”, she says. "It's been a long journey, but I’m lucky as hell to be in the driver's seat for this life I’ve been given of playing, writing, motherhood, and sobriety.”
Borges’s unbridled joy at making music two decades into a storied career comes through loud and clear in her latest long player, aptly titled Love’s Middle Name. Her third studio record with the Broken Singles, it’s a muscular 10-song cycle that pulses with gritty, unfettered emotion. As the kids like to say, this record has all the feels
On “House on a Hill,” Sarah pines for a blue-eyed ex and the home they once shared. But instead of being maudlin affair, the album’s centerpiece track grabs you with raw vocals and a wring-out-your-heart chorus over a no-nonsense drumbeat and driving guitars. On the headshaking “Lucky Rocks,” she bewitches the object of her desire with love spells and sweet somethings, like “Lay here down with me for a while/Tell me a story or a secret/Tell me a lie.” On the hard-charging “Headed Down Tonight,” she’s more than a little bit dangerous, summoning her hookup to follow her off the beaten path into the woods even as she coos, “Watch your step, you know I wouldn’t want you to get hurt” over a thumping train beat. And on the rolling, wistful “Grow Wings,” she asks: “This world is too big for small voices, someone like me singing into the wind what difference can I be?”
For this latest record, Sarah and the gang pointed the Broken Singles van toward the Brooklyn studio of Eric “Roscoe” Ambel, a widely respected performer and producer whose credits include the Bottle Rockets and Steve Earle & the Dukes, and was the founding guitarist for none other than Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. Recorded in four sessions with Ambel in the producer’s chair providing banshee-like lead guitar, Love’s Middle Name dispenses with any fussiness. “Roscoe has zero interest in fancy. He likes to capture the beast in its tracks,” Borges says, “That suits me just fine. Life isn’t a dress rehearsal, so let’s get on with it and melt some faces already.” She may be channeling world-weary characters, but it still sounds like she and her band are having a lot of fun laying it all down.
$15.00 - $18.00