High-Octane Roots Rock & Truck Stop Poetry
JL Stiles, Hymn For Her and Chonk and the Ghostfiddler
3101 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA, 94705
Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM (event ends at 11:59 PM)
This event is 21 and over
Watch & Listen
Hymn For Her
Lucy Tight and Wayne Waxing of Hymn for Her have been busy touring across the country and abroad over the past few years, injecting juiced-up backwoods country blues with a dose of desert rock psychedelia that has been described as "Hell's Angels meets the Amish."
They recorded their last album, Hymn for Her Presents . . . Lucy and Wayne and the Amairican Stream, in their vintage 1961 Bambi Airstream trailer at locations stretching from Philadelphia to Malibu on a three-month tour.
For their new release, Hymn for Her Presents . . . Lucy and Wayne's Smokin Flames,due out April 23rd, the twosome wanted to kick it into high gear. They traveled to Detroit to work with Jim Diamond, who mixed The Amairican Stream. In his Ghetto Recorders studio, the former White Stripes producer helped evolve their "stompgrass" sound to something even more heavy and rockin'.
Arriving at Diamond's studio with road-tested tunes, Hymn for Her recorded live and mixed 12 original songs in just one week. "People wanted what they heard live at shows and we captured that moment and corked it," explained Lucy.
The duo certainly covers a lot of musical territory in Smokin Flames. Their wild-eyed mash-up of country, blues and punk led U.K. music critic Steve Bennett to call H4H's sound "a riotous, rocking roadkill stew," while others have referenced such diverse bands as Captain Beefheart, Primus, X, R.L. Burnside, JS Blues Explosion and the Ramones.
Impressively, the two create their "ripsaw sounds" (Los Angeles Times' Randy Lewis) with only a few instruments. Wayne (with the devilish voice), mainly playing the kick-drum, high-hat, acoustic guitar and harp, serves as the group's rhythmic driving force. Lucy (of the fallen-angel voice) delivers a gritty squall on her "Lowebow" — a custom-made cigar-box guitar that she describes as "The Riff Monster." In "Trash the Sun" Lucy launches a solo into the stratosphere, while she kicks up a sonic dust storm on "Mojave."
"Mojave" stands among several Smokin Flames songs that were inspired by Lucy and Wayne's desert night highway hallucinations. "Rosa Parks Blvd.," a revved-up punk-abilly number, comes from their squatter days in Detroit. "Landescape," an ode to nomads, suggests finding a place to cherish and hold in one's heart during life's hard travels.
After reading a plaque at Big Sur's Pfeiffer Beach about a young girl, her mother and grandmother who all drowned together, Lucy was inspired to write the deeply felt "Ivy Pacheko." She revealed that H4H weren't planning on including this tune on Smokin Flames; however, just before the recording sessions began, she got an email reply from Ivy's brother (nearly a year after emailing him). He thanked her for writing the song. Lucy saw this as a sign the song needed to be on the album.
"Ivy," along with tracks like "For the Dead" and "Dark Deeds," takes listeners down a rather macabre path. The demonic-sounding "Lucy Fur" continues down this blood-stained dirt road with its story about "the daughter of Lucifer," but actually reveals the duo's devilish sense of humor. The tune, according to Wayne, is about their beloved six-year-old spawn, "99% angel, 1% baby of Beelzebub".
Although Hymn for Her hails from Philadelphia, Lucy characterizes H4H as "a band born on Route 66." With their daughter Diver, Manny the nanny and Pokey, their spirit guardian dog, this little self-contained unit enjoys life's unknown adventures on the highway. They recently had a successful U.K/European tour and plan to return soon.
Along with launching the new CD, Hymn for Her also have a hot sauce brewing under the same name as the album. They have been mixing, tasting and testing with their friends, Armando y Jorge's Orlandonian Hot Sauce Company, to get the perfect flavors that will rock as hard as the record. It will feature bananas, jalapeños and smoked paprika. These spicy minstrels are running a Kickstarter campaign through the first week of April to fund the project.
Always pondering new, space-age ideas for the future, the duo's motto in life is "Inspire 'til you expire." They'd love to transform their Airstream rocket into a mobile studio, a touring radio station, a mini-cinema and popcorn stand (with banana hot sauce) or even a botanical garden.
Music, however, remains their lifeblood, as the two burn up the highway and ignite your town this year to promote Hymn for Her Presents . . .Lucy & Wayne's Smokin Flames.
Come out and taste the heat, y'all!
Chonk and the Ghostfiddler
Gritty and infectious, Chonk & the Ghostfiddler create an experimental yet accessible- hell, even enjoyable soundscape, ranging from footstompin' country blues, to bootyshaking soul funk, to mindbending folk tunes.
JL Stiles is a unique animal who for the first time is merging two totally different fields of truth-seeking: Ragtime blues and higher mathematics. Both of these disparate strands filtered through a lifetime on the run, searching for a universal truth from psychedelic Brazilian forests to US college campuses and further into his own unique vision. JL Stiles has a mind that sees music in a similar way to how J.S. Bach saw music. However, Bach never played the blues.
Fact # 1: JL Stiles is the John Nash of music.
JL Stiles was born with hardwiring most only dream about, a brain that could look at the most basic picture and convert it to it's numerical basics. All through school in rural Connecticut it was clear where he was going to be, working at the cutting edge of mathematics, as he took to the abstract shapes and numbers as a duck would take to proverbial water, until, that is, a band wearing grease paint, Cuban heels, questionable body hair and several pints of fake blood rolled into JL's particular little town: Kiss. A 12 year old JL was hooked by the devils fishing rod that was rock and/or roll and when his brother brought home a terrible guitar from college and left it when he went back, JL had the tools to begin his assault on the world.
He began fashioning songs using the simple chunking and melody of Jimmy Reed and sub-Rush lyrics about the challenging political world as seen by a 13-year old kid. Quick introductions to the lyrics of Bob Dylan, the power and message of The Who and the space-age ass funk of Parliament, shaped his musical balloon in new ways and JL, taking his John Nash brain and applying it to the one piece of equipment he had at his disposal, a useless dime store guitar, realized pretty quickly that he better maximize the algorithmic potential of the pathetic instrument by learning to pick each and every string independently and simultaneously with the dexterity of a perfect machine and the re-incarnated soul of a genius blind bluesman who strangely disappeared in the early 1930's. That blind genius would be the little known 20's & 30's virtuoso, Blind Blake, who JL heard by accident, floating in from the radio of his father while studying late one night on a mathematical problem involving fourier transformations. He rushed to the transistor just quickly enough to catch the name and his future was born. (He also finished the problem that night in case you wondered).
Fact #2: JL Stiles is the freakiest white fingerpicking guitarist in this great country right now.
Stiles carried on in his twin disciplines, learning Banach spaces and homology at college by day and wearing out his Blind Blake records at night, studying under the tutelage of the great Laszlo Fuchs, pioneer of abelian group theory, whilst writing hundreds of songs, each one getting gradually better than the last. Both strands were equal to him as he searched for the big picture in whatever way he could.
But something began to happen; as the songs got better and began to get attention, especially from the ladies, and JL realized that, Fuchs aside, a lot of academicians can be big dicks with fragile egos, he began to drift toward the more standard methods of soul searching for a young guy in late 20th century America: LSD, pot and anything other.
Hanging out in the blazing heat studying with Chinese Mathematicians, drifting into oblivion on opium and psychedelics, JL knew the music was more than a sideshow to a brilliant career in the outer reaches of theoretical math. It was, in fact, his calling, and one where he could teach the beauty of what is so perfect about math and blues, the abstract.
Imagine a wild-eyed, half-crazed math prodigy with the most dexterous fingers on earth, channeling the spirit of a mysterious blind blues genius who unexplainably vanished, and you are approaching where JL found himself at this juncture in his life.
Fact #3: The search for the fundamentals is the same in music as it is in math: The fingerpicking guitar opens up infinite possibilities
But what would he do with this burden? He wasn't just a singer-songwriter with a cute heartbreak song and a big white smile; he was the walking soul of mathematical fundamental principles driven into the ground by the spirit of the blues. Where could a young boy like this go? To the home of voodoo, New Orleans.
In an out of the coffee houses and clubs of New Orleans and Mississippi, JL spooked the audiences up and down and left and right, he cut a solo set of songs, just him and a guitar, that rang as clear and true as Blind Blake had 80 years earlier and he knew he had to get out there and spread the theory around.
He traveled to Mexico and Brazil, Amsterdam and Scandinavia, he lived in the woods for weeks at a time, writing new songs and trying to define a unifying mathematical and musical theory in homological algebra, he went to the brink and stared at the abyss and then he came back with songs in hand to deliver the message back to us dear souls who hadn't made the journey.
He found a spiritual home in san Francisco and immediately picked up on the musical community there. He played with Etta James in front of 6,000 in front of the courthouse in Riverside, he opened for the great Keb Mo, Leon Redbone, JJ Cale, John Hammond, he knew he was in the right place at the right time, and so, here he is.
Fact #4: What JL Stiles is writing now is the best he's ever written and is closer to the fundamental truth of bringing the past together with the future into a musical singularity than he's ever gotten.
Fact #5: JL Stiles believes he has come up with the algorithm for the pure heart of music.
JL Stiles is a unique animal (as we have stated before), he believes that the soul of 1920's blues, c.400 BC Greek mathematicians and 21st century artists like Animal Collective (get ready for JL's incendiary cover of AC's "No More Runnin") can all be unified into his singular vision. Can he do it? With his head for numbers, I certainly wouldn't bet against him.
Advanced Tickets are available online until 5pm on the day of the show and a reserve of tickets are generally available at the door that night, unless posted on the Starry Plough website, Facebook and Twitter pages as sold out. http://www.starryploughpub.com
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