VINYL MUSIC HALL PRESENTS
Gringo Star, Jonni Greth
2 S. Palafox St.
Pensacola, FL, 35202
Doors 8:00 PM (event ends at 11:30 PM)
This event is all ages
Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer, friends since high school and Generationals co-captains since 2008, have been in each others' faces for most of this century. Natural songwriting partners, they made their first three records at home with the help of mutual friend Daniel Black, and in 2013 they launched straight into their fourth with surprising post-tour energy, but after years of creative brain-melding, the dyad had reached a point of ultra-familiarity and comfort in their work routine that, to them, threatened quicksand. They began to suspect their own productivity of being rut in disguise.
Determined to keep things fresh, they sought out a new producer who might be able shake things up, surprise them, and bring something new to the project. How about Richard Swift? they said. He's the best, he's the boss, he's like the John Keating of cool drum sounds—a perfect fit for a pair of poppy throwback tape-lovers like us.
The Louisiana duo made their way, yellow brick road-style, to Cottage Grove, Oregon, ready to give their tapes over to Swift's cultishly venerated magic touch, but the collaboration was hardly the scrap-it-all, start-from-scratch, give-up-the-reins-and-let-the-guru-do-his-thing scenario Ted and Grant had expected—hoped for even—when they began their pilgrimage to Swift's National Freedom studio in February. Swift deemed the demos album-worthy after all and the original versions were saved at his urging. With a little tightening rather than a vibe transplant, the songs solidified into a cohesive, finished, good-feeling record.
"I looked at the demos objectively and really just helped organize the sounds into something that was sonically cohesive," Swift said. "I knew they spent a lot of time on their own, on their headphones creating these beats and bells and whistles and felt no need to drastically change them."
The final version of Alix materialized as perhaps Generationals' most confident record yet, full of history and as multiphase as Ted and Grant's friendship. Built up with layer upon layer of rhythmic lines, computer noises, RZA beats, and poppy vocals that sometimes sound like a Janet Jackson/Prince face-off, Alix is everything T&G like about music: old and new, vinyl and youtube, vocal chord and microkorg, gathered up from everywhen and arranged with great care into a good-smelling, subtly sexy, catchy-or-die mish-mosh of sensibilities and time-warp senselessness, lightly peppered with that signature Swiftian element, but undeniably Generationals in taste. As Swift had decreed: 'tis a good idea to tear down and rebuild, but it's not always necessary to start from scratch.
Boiling up from the independent musical cauldron Hotlanta has become, here comes Gringo Star with its follow up to 2008's critically acclaimed debut, "All Y'all. The band now comes into its own with "Count Yer Lucky Stars, " a collection of catchy and instantly classic pop music. You won't be able to stop humming this spate of new and bright tunes, music that lifts the spirit. In this Ben Allen (Animal Collective, Gnarls Barkley, Deerhunter) produced record, the surge of primordial forces that reveals itself through rock and roll only about every other generation has infected these multi-instrumentalists and the result is an upbeat album of raw energy and positivity. Live, if you can resist the urge to dance, you'll find your limbs shaking and your toes tapping to a band which has been described as "explosive," "electrifying," and "exceptional."
No need for the devices of the main stream musical glitterati who hide lifeless melodies and meaningless lyrics in stage productions and synchronized dancing meant to distract their wide eyed fans; here it's the music itself - honest and intense. The Gringos, brothers Nicholas and Pete Furgiuele, Pete DeLorenzo and Chris Kaufmann, play each show as if their lives depended on it, and it's that urgency combined with great song writing, pop beats and skilled harmonies that raise Gringo Star above the cacophonous crowd.
These four guys should be literally showered with the same kind of excited stammering and fawning heaped onto the stars of the early days of rock and roll, the musicians who were raging around the U.S., night after night, putting it all out there, playing their hearts out, singing until they were hoarse and soaked in sweat, letting the music do their talking. There were once musical movements in this country, but the fracturing and splintering of the music scene stopped new waves from forming and cresting. This is a band which is creating the new standards to usher in the next tsunami. If you have the chance to catch them in a small venue, you better do it while you still can.
Singer/ Songwriter Jonni Greth spent years traveling the Eastern United States-playing music in every town he visited- before arriving in Nashville. His style, which runs the gamut from spooky alt-country to lush, string-heavy Americana, revolves around his earthy fingerpicking style and warm, philanthropic melody lines. Greth draws inspiration from old hymnals, and from songwriting greats such as John Prine, Leonard Cohen, and Bill Mallonee.
At age six, Greth’s father used the family’s tax return money to buy his son a ¾ sized Gremlin acoustic guitar. A childhood hobby grew into a lifestyle as the young songwriter honed his craft at shows around the United States and overseas. His showcases included the Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and Cornerstone Festival in Bushnell, Illinois.
Working the festival and independent folk circuits enabled Greth to connect with many other creative forces, such as bluesman Glenn Kaiser, who he lived with and worked beside for years. He has also collaborated with experimental folk artist Bill Tucker, and jazz singer/songwriter Ami Moss, who have both recorded Greth’s songs. His religious imagery and roughly-hewn lyrics also inspired author Nick May to write his underground novella Megabelt.
“Get his album,” said May, “Maybe you’ll write a book.”