Campfire Caravan featuring Mipso, The Lil Smokies & The Brothers Comatose
Wednesday, November 15
Doors @ 7:00 PM MST
Show @ 8:00 PM MST
Price: $15.00 – $17.00
Ages: 18 and Over
When Mipso’s 2013 debut, Dark Holler Pop, rose to #8 on Billboard’s Bluegrass charts, the success surprised a lot of people – Mipso’s four members included. “Well, we didn’t know so many people would buy it,” laughs mandolin player Jacob Sharp, “and we definitely didn’t know we were a bluegrass band.” Since then, Mipso has performed over 300 shows and welcomed frequent collaborator Libby Rodenbough’s voice and fiddle to the fold – and has continued to grow as musicians and songwriters, while drawing continual inspiration from their rich North Carolina roots. Their new album, Old Time Reverie – produced by Mandolin Orange’s Andrew Marlin – is a reflection of that musical and personal growth: a gripping, mature sophomore release that finds the quartet expanding their sonic resources while doubling down on their experimentation with string band tradition. While the instrumentation on the acclaimed Dark Holler Pop embraced North Carolina’s bluegrass heritage head-on, Old Time Reverie finds Mipso shifting their focus away from bluegrass, introducing new instruments and textures to create a distinctly different sound. Clawhammer banjo out of 1920s early country music meets atmospheric electric organ (played by Josh Oliver of The Everybodyfields) more native to 1970s pop. Add imaginative songwriting and a group cohesion gained from two years of near-constant touring, and the resulting sound is powerfully rhythmic, lyrically sharp, and woven with beautiful four-part harmonies. Before forming Mipso, Jacob Sharp (mandolin), Joseph Terrell (guitar), Wood Robinson (bass), and Libby Rodenbough (fiddle) were just classmates at UNC-Chapel Hill, where the experience of singing together in harmony drew them together. The sound of their blended voices remains one of the band’s hallmarks. Since those college jam sessions, the four have entered a new phase of life, one where the work of making music – and the work of living – has become a more complicated affair. Many of the songs on Old Time Reverie grapple with the moral ambiguity that comes with keeping hope in a difficult world and making sense of its contradictions. These songs, after all, were born in the South and reflect its modern day complexity. “Our progressive college town shares a county with lots of old tobacco barns and farms and churches from the eighteenth century,” guitarist Joseph Terrell said. “We’ve chosen to stick around in this place where we’re rooted, to reckon with and learn from its contradictions.” At times, the task seems doomed: “Everyone Knows” grapples with a world that is essentially “cold and dark,” “Mama” explores the enduring scars of loss; “Marianne” follows an interracial couple’s struggle to love one another against their community’s disapproval. But if Old Time Reverie conjures a dark vision of the world, it also meditates on points of radiance. Even the wary narrator in “Father’s House” can see “a light on the porch.” The album closer “Four Train,” too, is a crinkled smile at the end of a weary day, describing love as “like a stain that won’t come out” or “like a flame that won’t burn out” – or perhaps as both. In both theme and temperament, the album finds an interplay between the sunrise and the twilight – a tug-of-war that’s itself an old-time tradition. From “Eliza,” a lively waltz-time romp, to “Bad Penny,” a surrealist dream sequence with an Abe Lincoln cameo, the album revels in the seesaw spectrum of experience and memory, where technicolor carnival hues blend with grown-up sadness and the whispers of ghosts. Mipso’s color palette, like its soundscape, is radically inclusive. “We come from a place where traditional music is a living, changing thing,” fiddle player Libby Rodenbough said. “So we feel like having an ear for all kinds of stuff is not only true to ourselves, it’s a nod to the tradition.” Call it what you will – to listen is to understand: it’s either unlike anything you’ve heard before or effortlessly familiar. By digging deeper and expanding further, Mipso have created their own dark daydream of Southern Americana: Their Old Time Reverie.
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. This five-piece bluegrass ensemble features Andy Dunnigan (dobro), Scott Parker (upright bass), Matt Cornette (banjo), Jake Simpson (fiddle) and Matt Rieger (guitar).
The Brothers Comatose
Expansive, uplifting, and just downright beautiful, City Painted Gold is one of the most anticipated records of the coming year – at least amongst the loyal fans The Brothers Comatose had won while touring across the country in support of their past two releases. Infused with a sense of relaxed, experienced confidence, The Brothers Comatose offer a southwestern-tinged, rowdy stringband sound that might just make this your new favorite record before you turn it over to side B. Walking lockstep with their undeniable top-flight musicianship is an easy humility. “It’s just one, big, extended Morrison music party,” they say. Brothers Ben and Alex Morrison, guitar and banjo, and lead vocalists, front this rocking string band that has become a West coast headliner and national touring act in a mere handful of years. With bassmaster Gio Benedetti and stellar accompanists Philip Brezina on fiddle and Ryan Avellone on mandolin, their high energy, audience engaging shows have caught fire with fans from San Diego to Seattle to Salt Lake to Silk Hope, NC and beyond. “It all sort of started before we ever picked up instruments” explains Ben. “Our mom was in a folk quartet that sang beautiful songs in harmony. Alex and I would watch them rehearse for hours when we were kids.” Growing up around band rehearsals and music parties, the Morrison brothers eventually found themselves with instruments in their hands. Ben started playing on his dad’s acoustic guitar and Alex happened upon a banjo that someone had left behind after a household music party. The brothers learned a mess of classic rock covers, playing casually in their living room and around campfires (and at those famous Morrison music parties) for the next few years. Eventually their genre of choice drifted to broad-stoke Americana and a buddy asked them to come record a few tunes in his garage. Their friend Benedetti had been studying upright bass and they called him up for the session. He couldn’t make it that day but shortly after they all began playing together. They needed a few more good players to round out their sound, and the brothers put up fliers all around San Francisco. A few people answered, including Philip Brezina, at the time pursuing a Master’s degree in violin performance at the Conservatory of Music. “When he showed up, I thought, who the hell is this guy?” says Ben. “He’s kind of a redneck but he’s getting his masters in classical violin. Turned out to work pretty well.” Avellone had shared bills with the Brothers a few times over the years in other bands and was a perfect fit. Ben called him up, and “next thing you know, he’s our mandolin player.” Soon enough they put the axe to the grindstone, releasing two critically acclaimed records in Songs From The Stoop (2010) and Respect the Van (2012). Those releases led to extended tours with Devil Makes Three, Yonder Mountain String Band and Lake Street Dive, which in turn led to their own headlining club tours and festival appearances including the likes of High Sierra, Delfest, Outsidelands and Pickathon. When it came to write their third record, the now-seasoned road warriors returned to their home of fourteen years in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. “We wrote this album living in San Francisco as it was changing from a weird, art friendly mecca to a place that only super rich tech workers could afford,” tells Ben. “Things started changing – venues were closing down, and artist and musician friends moved away. What is San Francisco without its weirdos? That’s what the song City Painted Gold is about and that’s why it’s the name of this record.” Shortly after completing the record, The Brothers Comatose themselves joined the ranks of the displaced. Eviction brings change, and change inspires creativity. When our heroes got booted from their home city of over a decade, they did not despair – no! They wrote a new and wonderful album. If our heroes maintain their current trajectory we should all be really rather excited about what the future holds.