777 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA, 94110
Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM
This event is all ages
Utterly natural. There’s no more fitting description for both the music of The Dunwells as well as the story of their magical rise from the pubs of Leeds, England to an American record deal and a stunning debut album in just two short years.
The group is two brothers, two cousins and totalling five best mates who simply love to sing and play music, and do so together. “We are genuinely best mates,” explains singer, songwriter and guitarist Joseph Dunwell. “We sometimes bicker and fight, but then we hug and make up and go out for a drink.”
When they make music, the results exemplify the equation that the sum of the parts can be even greater than the whole. Striking an organic blend between acoustic and electric roots music laced by luscious vocal harmonies by all five members, their songs and sound feel both bracingly fresh while at the same time as warm and familiar as a dear long-time friend.
Hear Robyn Miller sing, and it’s clear she has country in her heart and something wild in her veins. It’s there in the tender folk ballads and the free-spirited rockers on her debut full-length, “Willow Creek,” which she wrote and recorded as Big Eagle. Miller is singing what she knows. The daughter of an artist and a naturalist, she grew up among the towering redwoods of Humboldt County, California. And even though her path took her far afield from her rustic roots, they still bubble up in her songs, along with hints of the many adventures she has had along the way.
The album was the culmination of a nearly decade-long musical odyssey for Miller. Some may remember her as the flamboyant femme fatale who fronted Indie rock darlings The Peels from 2002-2006. Though appreciative of the rock ‘n’ roll circus, it wasn’t until she retired to Los Angeles, and then back to the Humboldt mountains (where the title "Willow Creek" originated), that she really found her voice. Looking within, and back to her musical and personal history for inspiration, she began penning songs just for herself, songs that later became the seeds of her Big Eagle debut.
Miller also put together a band and honed her songs through live shows with acts including Bonnie Prince Billy ( aka Will Oldham), The Chapin Sisters, Daws, Little Wings and Doug Paisley. The album’s recording unfolded by circuitous path; every step along the way, and every collaborator gained, added a necessary element to the final sound. Miller recorded at two studios, Tuff Shed in Oakland, where she worked with producer Bart Davenport (Honeycut, Persephone’s Bees) and Lone Palm in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, helmed by Dan Horne (Beachwood Sparks, Music Go Music), both of whom also mentored her as she began taking on more production duties. Then, there were the many friends who contributed to the album, including, Aaron Sperske (Beachwood Sparks, Ariel pinks Haunted Graffiti), Richard Gowen (Robert Francis) and Thom Heyman (The Court and Spark).
Miller’s many influences can be heard in the songs themselves. The clear descendent of folk music’s kings, Gram Parsons and Bob Dylan, and more obscure performers, like Karen Dalton, with a soulful delivery reminiscent of Bobby Gentry, Miller creates music born of these elements, with a modern edge. But her songs also contain their own organic, knowing gravity, as if they had been inside Miller all along. Delicate but fierce, like a bird on the wing, her vocals run like veins of gold through worn, dusty landscapes where seasons change, lovers leave, and the only constant is the yellow lines on the road ahead. “Mississippi” has the lazy swing of a car trip sing-along; “Anywhere the Wind Blows,” is a soulful kiss off to the temptations of mad, bad love; and “By Satellite” simmers with country noir menace. For Miller, getting here has been quite an odyssey, but the songs are all the sweeter, and stronger, for the journey through which Big Eagle was hatched and took flight.
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