The Crocodile Presents:
The Lil Smokies
2200 2nd Ave
Seattle, WA, 98121
This event is 21 and over
The first time they ever made music together, Fruition’s three lead singer-songwriters discovered that their voices naturally blended into beautiful three-part harmonies. In the eight years since that impromptu busking session, the Portland, Oregon-based quintet has grown from a rootsy, string-centric outfit to a full-fledged rock band with an easy but powerful grasp of soul, blues, and British Invasion era pop.
On their new album Labor of Love, Fruition shows the complete force of their newly expanded sound, matching their more daring musicality with sophisticated, melody-minded song craft. The album subtly imparts the sense of being swept along on a journey, one reflecting an open-hearted spirit that sets in from the first notes of the dobro, mandolin and electric guitar driven title track, carries on to the sleepy soul of “Santa Fe,” and unfolds into the epic balladry of “The Meaning.”
“A common theme for all three songwriters is trying to embrace being out on the road all the time, but also feeling like you’re missing out on the everyday lifestyle that most people get to have,” says Leonard. Embedded within that tension is a wistful romanticism that imbues many of the album’s songs. “Most of the love songs are very much about those rare moments of getting to be with the people you love,” says Anderson. “And then other songs are about coming back to the people you love, and trying to deal with the strange ways things change because of being apart.”
After releasing their debut EP Hawthorne Hoedown in 2008, Fruition moved from busking on the street, to scraping their way onto the lower levels of festival lineups, to opening tours for bands like ALO and Greensky Bluegrass and onward, to being invited to play bigger festivals with ever bigger billing on those lineups.
Last year saw them appear at Bonnaroo, Northwest String Summit and Telluride Bluegrass where Rolling Stone cited their artful choice of covers and “raucous originals filled with heartfelt lyrics and stadium-worthy energy.” This year will see them share a Red Rocks bill with JJ Grey and Mofro and The Infamous Stringdusters, along with a full headline tour of the United States.
That breadth of touring experience has steadily reshaped the band and ultimately allowed them to achieve a sound they’ve long aspired toward. “We all tend to write on acoustic guitar and let things start in the same stripped-down, folky sort of way that we always did,” says Naja. “So where the songs come from hasn’t really changed much at all. What’s different is where we let them go from there.”
The Lil Smokies
With their roots submerged in the thick buttery mud of traditional bluegrass, The Lil Smokies have sonically blossomed into a leading player in the progressive acoustic sphere, creating a new and wholly unique, melody driven sound of their own. The quintet, from Missoula, MT, has been hard at work, writing, touring and playing to an ever-growing fan base for the past 6 years. The fruits of their labor recently culminating with wins at the 2016 International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Momentum Award for Best Band and at the 2015 Telluride Bluegrass festival band competition. In 2013 the band also won The Northwest String Summit Band Competition. With a unique blend of traditional bluegrass, newgrass, innumerable unique originals, sheer raw energy, and exquisite musicianship, The Lil’ Smokies weave seamlessly through genres, leaving behind melodies you’ll be singing to yourself for days and a jaw you’ll have to pick up off the floor.
The Lil Smokies have no problem captivating large audiences. Sharing the stage with heavyweights like Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Keller Williams, Greensky Bluegrass, The Emmit-Nershi Band, Yonder Mountain String Band, The Travellin’ McCourys, Sam Bush Band, Fruition, Infamous Stringdusters, Bradford Lee Folk and The Bluegrass Playboys, and dozens of others. The Lil’ Smokies have become festival favorites coast to coast with highlights including Delfest (MD), Pagosa Folk N’ Bluegrass (CO), ROMP Fest (KY), Hangtown Halloween (CA), Telluride Bluegrass Festival (CO), The Summer Music Festival at Roseberry (ID), Northwest String Summit (OR), Targhee Bluegrass Festival (WY), River City Roots (MT) and more! This five-piece bluegrass ensemble features Andy Dunnigan (dobro), Scott Parker (upright bass), Matt Cornette (banjo), Jake Simpson (fiddle) and Matt Rieger (guitar).