Arc Iris (RESCHEDULED DATE)
Benjamin Lazer Davis, Rare Solo Gig (featuring Dan Littleton & other special guests!)
22 Rock City Road
Woodstock, NY, 12498
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This fall, Arc Iris releases Icon of Ego, its third groundbreaking album, as a trio that packs the heft of a far bigger band with fully realized sonic and visual intensity. Overcoming rebuffs and rejections, Arc Iris has become an unstoppable force out of necessity. On Icon of Ego, they deliver heavily and ask nothing in return.
The group’s two previous albums, Arc Iris and Moon Saloon, were both released to critical acclaim and fervent fan embrace. Originally formed in Providence, R.I., by singer-songwriter Jocie Adams who was coming off a term with The Low Anthem, the group initially embodied an eight-piece rock orchestra, creating innovative dynamics of rhythm and melody with a full color palette. Four years on, Arc Iris are just three musicians: lead vocalist Adams, keyboardist and sample artist Zach Tenorio-Miller, and drummer Ray Belli. They have crafted a vividly expressionistic new album that reflects both the group’s protean talents as well as its journey of survival.
Soon after its self-named 2014 debut on the ANTI- label, Arc Iris faced considerable adversity. Critical acclaim, tours with St. Vincent and Jeff Tweedy and festivals like Bonnaroo followed, all creating for Arc Iris the belief that they had beat the long music industry odds. However, the group lost its manager, followed by its booking agent, then was dropped from the label. Band members departed. Opportunities evaporated. Through it all, Adams, Tenorio-Miller and Belli worked with undiminished energy and reinvented themselves as a quartet, which included Robin Ryczek on cello. Within two years, Arc Iris self-released Moon Saloon, in the US while British independent record label Bella Union released the album in Europe. Soon after this release, Ryczek left to teach cello in Afghanistan, and the three remaining members once again set about adapting.
Arc Iris assembled its own promotions team and booked its own shows. Notable is what Arc Iris has achieved completely by itself: tours supporting Kimbra, Gene Ween, a complete re-imagination of Joni Mitchell’s Blue performed at Washington’s Kennedy Center, and a growing, international fan base that has remained dedicated throughout.
Icon of Ego finds a happy middle with a smaller label, a more focused support team, and a stronger, more experienced band. Recording at Providence’s Columbus Theater, home to silent movies and vaudeville during the 20s, the band has evolved into a concentrated pop-prog explosion, mixing styles with disparate elements that captivate and surprise.
In Icon of Ego, the band interrogates the notions of celebrity, fame, and idol worship. What makes an icon? How do people fall under the spell of a charismatic other (or entity?)? What is it like to be that icon? Adams’ poetic, nuanced lyrics provide both inquiry and insight. On “Dylan & Me” Adams sings “changing times / you could not have been / waiting to be remembered / a trophy in so many eyes / a Renoir for the great pretenders.”
The group has always embraced theatricality. Displaying an array of costumes, flare, and light rigs, enhanced by choreographed dance moves, an Arc Iris live performance is a proper spectacle that matches the group’s manifest musical abilities and talents. A whole new live experience accompanies the Icon of Ego performances.
With heavy synthesizer work by Tenorio and Adams, and seemingly impossible transitions executed effortlessly by Belli, the songs on Icon of Ego carry a thick, analog electronic sound that harks back to the 70s. Presiding over these are Adams’ powerful vocals that house the energy under pop forms.
Nowhere is this more evident than in “$GNMS,” a complete reinterpretation of “Money Gnomes,” the lead track on the first album. Where the original version carried a folksy looseness, with a banjo and brush drums, the new iteration goes total sci-fi. Any impish charm is wrung out and sculpted into Kraftwerkian logarithms. Plugged-in machines replace acoustic instruments, and the song’s renewal mirrors that adjustment. Witnessing “$GNMS” develop over the years is a rare window into the changing goals of a band, as these played out through the recordings.
Arc Iris is never more self-defined than when faced with difficulty. Icon of Ego is about Arc Iris overcoming adversity and ultimately coming out leaner, sharper, and more fully realized.
Benjamin Lazer Davis
Benjamin Lazar Davis is a gifted multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, arranger, composer, and producer based in Brooklyn.
His new full length album Nothing Matters — his very first as a solo artist — came out of an extensive period of touring followed by a difficult break up. To make the record, Davis spent all all of his money on instruments and recording gear, including drums and drum machines, both nylon and steel string acoustic guitars, an electric and an upright bass, a pump organ, a mellotron, a Moog, and an upright piano. He worked on the record every day, for 30 straight days, in his childhood bedroom at his parents’ house in Saratoga Springs, and once finished, he mixed it back in Brooklyn with his high school friend Luke Moellman (GGFO).
Although there are no other performers on the record, many collaborations went into the writing of the album, including cowrites with Kimbra ("Right Direction"), Alex Toth of Rubblebucket and Alexander F ("Love Song Seven Ways," "Life Is Dangerous," and "Choosing Sides"), Bridget Kearney of Lake Street Dive ("Somebody's Speaking For Me"), singer-songwriter Taylor Ashton ("Brass Tacks"), award-winning poet Michael Gizzi ("Acquitted"), and his brother, a brilliant lyricist, Tim Davis.
Benjamin Lazar Davis writes, records, and performs with Cuddle Magic, Joan as Police Woman, and Okkervil River, and he has worked with Anais Mitchell, Kimbra, Luke Temple, Jesse Harris, Henry Jamison, Wild Belle, Delicate Steve, Star Rover, Sam Amidon, Markus Acher (the Notwist), and Margaret Glaspy as a co-writer, side-musician, arranger, producer, studio musician, touring member, and band member in the past. While 'Nothing Matters' grew out of Davis's desire to make music on his own in a life where he has been a chronic collaborator, the album evokes inspiration from all of these artists, and he considers it a culmination of his life's work.
As he began work on the album, Davis found a photo of his father lounging beneath a hand- written sign that read "Nothing Matters," which eventually became the album's artwork; "It was taken in 1969 in Malawi Africa where he lived at the time. He taught me music growing up, and I think seeing that picture right before recording the record gave me a sense of letting go of all of the baggage that comes with making music and being in a relationship. When in the midst of the meditation of making the album, nothing matters. Just let the tape roll and the ideas flow..."
"In the hands of a boundless creative, a childhood bedroom can house a universe of emotion, and you can fit a symphony of imagination into a Ford E350," writes Talia Schlanger for NPR. "He plays instruments in a way that makes them feel less like strings and wood and wires, and more like stop-motion scenes witnessed through the rearview mirror of life's highway." Nothing Matters is out now on 11A Records.
Rare Solo Gig (featuring Dan Littleton & other special guests!)
Rare Solo Gig is an "only at the Colony with Arc Iris", one night only, once in a decade, post ,mid-term, nominally "solo" performance by Woodstock based singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, Daniel Littleton. A veteran of the hardcore punk and funk scenes of Maryland in the 1980's, Littleton moved to NYC and, along with Elizabeth Mitchell, founded the band Ida who, between 1992 and 2008, unleashed seven LPs, three EPS and numerous 7' singles of critically acclaimed minimalist, "quiet storm" art pop on the indie rock underground's unsuspecting ears while living out of their van and sleeping on your floor. He also collaborated with Levon Helm, outsider folk legend Michael Hurley, His Name Is Alive, Low, The Ida Retsin Family, Tara Jane ONeill and many others on numerous recordings & performances. As a composer, Littleton worked on soundtracks for This American Life (both the radio show and television series) and the film Umbilical Cord with Filipina experimental film maker Angel Velasco Shaw. As a guitarist he has collaborated with Lester Chambers of the Chambers Brothers, Terry Reid, master drummer Susie Ibarra, and Malian guitarist and singer Mamadou Kelley. Littleton was an original member of Liquorish (along w/ Simple Machines founder Jenny Toomey). They released one album, 'Listening Cap" on 4AD Records. Littleton co-wrote (along with Detroit r&b artist Lovetta Pippen) the song "Happy Blues" and played on HNIA's 2001 album "Someday My Blue Will Cover The Earth" (also on 4AD Records), Music For A Meteor Shower, a John Fahey-esque collaboration with longtime co-conspirator Tara Jane Neil (Rodan, Retsin) came out in 2002, Littleton co-produced and played on Ted Leo & The Pharmacists EP, "Tell Balgeary, Balgury Is Dead" in 2003,. Also in 2003, along with Elizabeth Mitchell, Littleton made the album Muki, a "one-off" release by their electro-drone folk pop duo Nanang Tatang. This world dominating, slightly dissonant, oceanic, and melancholy album sounded like it was recorded with a broken drum machine in a shack in the woods by a frozen lake (which is pretty much exactly what happened).
As the guitarist in Amy Helm & The Handsome Strangers from 2012 to 2017,, Littleton mixed & co-produced her first album, "Didn't It Rain" & performed along the way with William Bell, Cassandra Wilson, Donald Fagen, Mavis Staples, Phil Less, Graham Nash, Bill Payne, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Natalie Merchant, Amos Lee, The Wood Brothers, John Medeski, Jackson Browne, The Mighty Clouds Of Joy and many others. He has also performed and recorded two free-improvised albums with guitarist Geoff Farina and drummer Luther Gray, "New Salt" and "Lawnmower", and one album with free-drone collective Mountain Ocean Sun. Also he helps out a lot at The Rock Academy, and jammed with the kids in Woodstock that time when they played "The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey's Grave" with Gibby - Fred Armisen and Kate Pierson were there too, and some real beautiful shit definitely went down that night. Littleton and Mitchell, an instructor at Rock Academy, support ongoing efforts to galvanize youth harmony and noise in the Hudson River Valley.
Along with his wife and longtime collaborator Elizabeth Mitchell, he has performed nationally and internationally and recorded six albums for Smithsonian Folkways, including 2017's "Tu Eres Mi Flor", a collaboration with Argentinian folk musician Suni Paz. Each year they do a holiday concert, and benefit, for The Washbourne House (our local domestic violence shelter) at The Barn called "The Sounding Joy". You should come this year, it will be awesome..
Littleton lives with Mitchell and their daughter Storey in Woodstock. Rare Solo Gig will include actual, super introspective, sparsely accompanied songs, random outbursts of noise, and collaborations with some special guests (including the fabulous Story Littleton on guitar and vocals).
$12.00 - $15.00
Sun, December 9
Wed, December 12
Thu, December 13
Fri, December 14
Sat, December 15