Bombadil

Fences is something new for our band Bombadil. It is more than just an album; it is a new path, a reset after several challenging years. The path began in January 2015, when a longtime member of Bombadil unexpectedly left our band. Daniel Michalak and I sat down to discuss our next steps. It was a time for soul searching. A duo of a bassist and drummer did not feel like a band. Moving forward seemed daunting, but we both felt like there was more to say with the band. We wanted to make music. So we began simply by making some. Writing and recording the Still Bombadil EP was fun. A fast and dirty exploration of a creative idea, no room for fiddling, deadline looming. Our last album, Hold On, had not been like that. It had been an ordeal.

Daniel suggested composing songs using guitar instrumentals our old bandmate Bryan Rahija had written, and of limiting ourselves to a small palette for the next album: guitar, piano, upright bass, harmony vocals. The goal was to make a folk record, something easy to understand, something beautiful. He shared a demo for “Binoculars” and I loved it. It was simple, elegant. We added it to the live set almost immediately. Daniel continued writing, focusing on guitar, harmony, and emotion. The songs inconveniently had no drums (what was I going to play?!). He instead wrote parts for me to sing and we began collaborating on composing tunes with a similar approach. “Fence” was written together at a friends house in Crozet, Virginia to kill time on tour. An old song of mine, “Long Life,” was revived and extended. Percussion parts started to show up. Daniel’s commitment to songwriting continued to inspire, a new demo was in my inbox almost weekly. Daniel enlisted the help of an old friend and data scientist, Nasir Bhanpuri, to analyze the success of our old catalog of songs and make suggestions to guide our writing and arranging. It was an experiment that pushed us to take the songs further than we might have in the past. In part, we were throwing ideas at the wall to see what would stick, but we were also searching for something new, actively trying to push ourselves to new creative heights.

We kept the Bombadil ship moving by accepting all shows, searching for more opportunities to play. We found wonderful people to tour in our band. There were good shows. There were bad ones, too. I learned to be a lead singer on the fly and on stage (with the help of an encouraging septuagenarian opera singer). And we kept writing, practicing, and recording. In July 2015, Stacy Harden sent me an email inquiring if we needed a musician. In his audition, he played through songs like he had been in the band all along. He even knew the harmonies. He had grown up a fan of the band, singing along in the car. In October, Stacy and I drove our equipment across the country for a West Coast tour in a four-day sprint and listened to every song the Beatles recorded. His easy-going spirit was infectious, his presence made the band more fun and more inspiring. We had found our man. “What's So Great About You” was the first collaboration between this new trio, and we started to discover what a new version of our band sounded like.

In January 2016, the three of us left North Carolina for Littleton, Massachusetts to spend several weeks at a friend's farmhouse. We recorded all day long, cooked together, spent our breaks around a roaring wood stove carefully tended to by Daniel. The resulting demo recordings gave us a roadmap to follow. Our label, Ramseur Records, suggested a producer, a departure after self-recording our last three records. John Vanderslice was given the demos and was enthusiastic about the material. He insisted that we listen closely to Paul Simon’s first record. He told us the songs needed a sense of danger, that our demos felt like we were being too careful, and that the songs needed more percussion. John is opinionated, talented, and inspirational. And most of all, making the record with him over 12 days in September 2016 at Tiny Telephone in San Francisco was easy. And fun. And fast. We used only analog equipment, recording to tape through high-end vintage equipment. Bryan came to play his guitar parts (which by this point Stacy had learned for live performances of the material). The recordings were all first takes, new ideas were quickly embraced, mistakes were left alone as intention, very little artificial reverb was used but John's concrete echo chamber was used extensively. We hoped to catch lightning in a bottle and I think that we did.

To me, Fences represents the journey of the last two years. It is the discovery of a group voice, the willingness to explore collaboration between old friends, and an openness to let new voices into the fold. It is something I am proud to have been a part of and am excited to share with the world. To me, it is an example of the power and positivity of collaboration, of a group of human beings working diligently on a shared vision. If nothing else, I can say that we tried as hard as we possibly could. I can't wait to do it again.

Thank you for listening,

James Phillips/Bombadil

The Moon and You

At its core, The Moon and You is a charismatic husband-and-wife team. Melissa Hyman plays cello, Ryan Furstenberg plays guitar and banjo, and both sing in “voices that sound like they were made for one another” (Bill DeYoung, Connect Savannah). But whatever you might assume based on their gorgeous vocal blend and heartfelt lyrics, this ain’t your basic folk duo. With a rotating cast of talented friends to add unexpected instrumentation to their lineup, The Moon and You never plays the same show twice. This ever-evolving, expandable and collapsible model leaves the band constantly reinventing itself in ways both surprising and satisfying.

Currently calling Asheville, NC home, Furstenberg and Hyman mix up a fresh blend of influences from very different backgrounds. Melissa grew up in the NYC area studying classical cello. Her dad is a professional violinist and formal music instructor, her mom a fan of 60s folk who loves to host a good old fashioned sing-along. Ryan was born and raised among the Eastern NC tobacco fields, learning classic country and 70s rock on harmonica and then guitar. His rich country baritone and easy Southern style bring an undeniable Americana flavor to the table.

Together, the two form a sound that is warm and inviting, atmospheric and playful. Each is a well developed songwriter with a distinctive voice, and their songs range in style from classic to quirky. Lyrics-driven and intellectual with a keen ear for arrangement, they make music perfectly suited to a listening room or a pair of good headphones.

Live on stage they are 100% themselves: funny, charming and slightly odd; communing with their audiences, warts and all. Performances evoke joyful eruptions of laughter, occasional tears, and moments of breathless awe.

Having joined forces as a band in 2011 and as a married couple in 2015, The Moon & You continues to develop professionally, personally and musically. The eagerly anticipated Spring 2016 release A White Light That Sings is the band’s first full-length, fully produced album. Without turning their back on the folky sweetness that characterized 2013’s acoustic EP The Ocean’s Lonely Daughter, The Moon & You evolve into something new with A White Light That Sings. The album moves with aplomb from bluegrass swagger to soulful searching, country twang to jazzy sophistication.

Described by Alli Marshall of the Mountain Xpress as “a glimpse into stories, moods and wonderful alternate realities — all set to an evocative score,” and by The Daily Country as “intriguing, and often beguiling, record that you should definitely give a listen,” A White Light That Sings is just one of many exciting steps forward for The Moon & You in 2016. The band can also add to their resumé a second full-length album slated for a Spring 2017 release date (Endless Maria), and multiple successful European tours. At once excitingly inventive and cozily familiar, the Moon & You continues to craft a sound all their own.

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