The Ballroom Thieves
Caroline Rose, Tales of Olde
52 Church St
Cambridge, MA, 02138
Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM
This event is 18 and over
The Ballroom Thieves
Martin Earley - Guitar/Vocals
Devin Mauch - Percussion/Vocals
Calin Peters - Cello/Vocals
The room is dark, as feet shuffle and people slowly mill about the open space in front of the barely-lit stage. The hiss as beer cans are cracked open mixes in with the swilling of whiskey and the dropping of ice in glasses and throwaway cups. It’s a lively, talkative crowd that starts moving closer and closer to the stage as the room lights dim and the stage lights come on. All of a sudden, the simple, lightly-strummed chords of “Coward’s Son” echo over that intimate room, and as Martin Earley’s vocals come into play, the melody continues to build, adding layer after layer. The low end of Calin Peters’ cello adds a haunting, echoing rhythm to the bright chime of Earley’s guitar part, while the accents of cymbal hits, djembe, and floor tom from Devin Mauch introduce the heartbeat of the group, their soaring three-part harmonies, with a bang. As the song grows, the band transforms from a folk three-piece in a small room into an arena-filling orchestra of soul, spilling their raw emotions into every microphone and corner. Audiotree said of the performance, “Three unique voices separate and intertwine to emit one call, channeling sounds from the Delta and bits of old Gospel guises and transcends this Boston trio’s urban roots.”
Truly a high-energy rock trio performing under the guise of well-crafted, emotionally sincere folk, the Thieves have released two well-received EPs since getting their start three years ago. With a strong presence in the Boston area and New England, they have received press from local blog luminaries such as Allston Pudding, who said of the Thieves live performance, “The intensity and passion The Ballroom Thieves had for the songs they delivered- it was hard to believe it was just three of them.” The Thieves have begun to branch out from New England, touring around the country with well-known stalwarts such as The Lone Bellow, Dispatch, Railroad Earth and Houndmouth, among others.
Their first EP, The Devil and the Deep, placed a heavy emphasis on experimentation and finding the identity of the band’s sound. Tracks range from uptempo rock beats (“Loose Lips,” “Vampires”), to slower, more soulful tunes (“Save Me,” “Delia”). “Wait for the Water” is is a homey, folk classic in the making, with a slow single-guitar buildup making way for a boot-stomping finale, complete with banjos and those trademark soaring three-part harmonies.
On their follow up, self-titled EP, the Thieves showcase a much more coherent sound, reflecting a much grittier, frenetic energy that could easily be mistaken for a whiskey-filled revival tent setting. The stomp of opening track, “Down By the River” reflects this intent to make a record that best captures their live performances. While “Armada” and “Droves” still reflect this intent, the slower dynamic of “Coward’s Son” provides a haunting contrast to the other three swampier, low-end-driven drinking songs. With deeply personal lyrics and a gradual, lit-fuse-like build, Earley showcases his ability to work in the context of an established genre and make it his own. The sound of the Thieves is one of an impassioned brand of folk music that combines deft instrumentation and expressive lyricism with an emotionality that seems to be missing in lots of folk music today. In a recent interview with Grateful Web, the Thieves said of their new EP, “we made a conscious choice of including songs that hit hard. We think our show is a lively mix of upbeat songs and slower, more introspective tunes, so these four songs are meant to give the listener a good idea of what to expect when he or she makes it to a Ballroom Thieves show.”
Sometimes epic failures produce epic results. With the release of her new album I Will Not Be Afraid, keen-eyed young singer-songwriter Caroline Rose has broken her long string of short-circuits with a live-wire national debut that draws on her roots in rockabilly, vintage country and blues to capture her unique and personal vision.
Hoping to escape the dead ends that befell her hometown, colloquially dubbed a stop on "heroin highway", Rose found her way out via a full ride to a small liberal arts college, where she failed as a scholar, barely scraping by to graduation. Next came a stint as a failed hippie, working on and leaving an organic farm. She then bought a vintage sports car to travel the country, but it quickly broke down. On the plus side, Rose got a job at a cider distillery, where she got to taste apple brandy and applejack all day...Followed by a stint stocking shelves and sweeping floors at a grocery store for a boss who eventually fired her.
“That was the last straw,” Rose recounts. “I don't like most bosses and most bosses don't like me. I don't like most professors and most professors don't like me. So here I am. I've made my own way on my own terms and it's destiny knocking on my door. BAM!”
She describes the 11 songs on I Will Not Be Afraid as “postcards I’ve picked up from along the road,” and she means that literally. Rose is in perpetual motion. She tours and lives in her van, traveling the highways and back roads to fuel her creative spirit.
Rose’s wanderlust has taken the 24-year-old from her birthplace in a not-so-idyllic small Northeastern town to every corner of the nation, where she’s made friendships, heard stories and had experiences that she’s fashioned into songs like “America Religious,” which uses a driving snare drum with brushes and psychedelic folk fiddle to underpin the cool waterfall of her peaches and molasses voice as she sings about the open skies and the storm clouds inside the American heart. And in her own.
The themes of some of Rose’s songs are drawn from the familiar. “Blood On Your Bootheels,” which opens I Will Not Be Afraid with her prickly guitar and crazy-carnival organ, was inspired by the Trayvon Martin slaying and Rose’s own passionate reaction to violence and intolerance. "Everyone seems to have their opinions about how to live free in this country, especially when it comes to young men and even more especially when it comes to young black men like Trayvon," Rose observes. Injustice and hardship also underline “Tightrope Walker,” a song inspired by a friend’s stories about working in the school system of an impoverished Mississippi town.
But other songs literally haunt her dreams. The gorgeous textural arrangement and lyrics of “When You Go” — which evoke the openness of both the Southwest and of the future in Rose’s and co-producer Jer Coons’ shimmering guitars and her strong, defiant vocal performance — tumbled out during a night’s rest. “Sometimes songs come to me while I’m asleep and they wake me up, and that’s the best time for me to write,” Rose relates. “When I wake up my mind is like a clear glass of water. I can see everything and capture it.” That’s especially apt for the stream of consciousness lyrics that bring many of her numbers to life.
Rose’s own life seems more akin to Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. Growing up in a coastal town, her parents — who were visual artists with a love for travel — gave Rose a restless, creative spirit. And like many working class seaside locales, her hometown suffers epidemic heroin abuse.
"I saw a lot of my friends get consumed by it, but I was one of the people that got out,” Rose says. “I worked my ass off to go to college and that really was my only plan of escape at that point. I think I was in denial about being an artist.”
For two of those years Rose worked on the aforementioned farm, hoping the experience would provide her with balance and direction. “I liked the work, but I’m too city to be country and too country to be city,” she offers. “So I moved on.” When Rose worked at a cider distillery, she slept in the barn loft where she recorded many of the demos for I Will Not Be Afraid with her acoustic guitar.
“I finally accepted the idea that writing, singing and playing songs is the only thing I’ve ever really been good at,” Rose relates, “so I decided to forget about everything else and live in my car, and I hit the road.”
Rose joined a new generation of touring songwriters who blend tradition, innovation and edginess, like Hayes Carll, whom she opened for in 2014 and bandmember Jer Coons, whom Rose shared a bill with one night and discovered to be a kindred spirit. Rose produced I Will Not Be Afraid with co-production by Coons at his Burlington, Vermont studio, where they also made Rose’s 2013 self-released America Religious, playing all the guitars, keyboards, harmonica, mandolin, drums and percussion themselves.
Rose explains that the title track is her mantra. “So many people are held back by fear,” she says. “They wish they could do something else with their lives, and they just can’t take the first step. I grew up questioning everything and learned that I needed to be on my own. I needed freedom and I needed to create on my own terms and to keep moving forward without fear, wherever I go.
“I also came to understand that I don’t have any choice,” she continues. “Music is what keeps me breathing. I can’t do anything else.”
Tales of Olde
Tales of Olde is a Boston-based band founded on the notion that our shared stories are what bind us to each other and to the world around us. At the center of their songs is an insistence that, even in the midst of heartbreak and sorrow, a great, ancient hope is alive and well among us, drawing us together to sing, celebrate, and love.
$12 advance / $15 day of show
Tickets Available at the Door
The Sinclair is general admission standing room only.
Tickets available at TICKETMASTER.COM, or by phone at 800-745-3000. No service charge on tickets purchased in person at The Sinclair Box office Tuesdays-Saturdays 12-7PM. Please note: box office is cash only.
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