"Nothing cuts to the core like a simple song," says Chris Kasper. More than a dozen years into his acclaimed career, the singer/songwriter gets back to the bluesy basics with his fifth album,O, the Fool.
Inspired by Delta blues, folk music, and the string arrangements of Hollywood film scores, O, the Fool was recorded on both ends of an 800-mile move that took Kasper from Philadelphia to Nashville. He'd already spent much of his adulthood on the road, traveling from city to city, building his fanbase one show at a time. Meanwhile, back at home, his friends were putting down roots and starting families of their own. Kasper couldn't help but question his own choices, and it's that swirl of contrasting feelings — uncertainty, determination, and wanderlust — that fuels O, the Fool.
"It's about traveling," he says of the 13-song, self-produced album, "and then second-guessing your travels once you've arrived at your destination. It's about coming to terms with the thing that makes you think, 'Ok, maybe this isn't the right place for me, but I am here, so I should make it work. This is where life has brought me.'"
The album's title was born during a coffeeshop meeting with a friend, who spilled a pack of tarot cards across the table. The first card was the Fool: a traveler with a bag slung over his shoulder, headed toward some unknown destination. The illustration reminded Kasper of himself. Weeks later, another friend found the same card and brought it to Kasper, saying the two troubadours resembled one another. Kasper agreed. "The card embodies that feeling of wandering," he explains. "It reminded me of the journey that music takes you on, and you can't predict where it's gonna take you."
From a songwriting perspective, O, the Fool is a simple, straightforward album. The chord progressions are basic, influenced by the no-frills approach of blues musicians and early 20th century folksingers. The arrangements, on the other hand, are downright lush, with Kasper taking inspiration from the epic, sweeping scores of old western movies. He engineered the string parts himself, working with multi-instrumentalist Kiley Ryan — who contributions to the album include viola, cello, and violin — to create orchestral swells. Cinematic and beautiful, the songs on O, the Fool show Kasper's capabilities not only as a songwriter and evocative vocalist, but as a producer, too.
"This is a realization album," says the songwriter, whose past travels have included opening gigs with the Wood Brothers, Amos Lee, and G Love. "It's almost like a soundtrack — a blues album meets a western movie. When your songs are simple and direct, you can go nuts with the presentation. You can strip away the fat from your writing, but still turn the entire arrangement into something bigger. That way, the punches hit harder." Come to think of it, that doesn't sound so foolish after all.
Instant Treeline is a Brooklyn-based folk rock band, founded in 2016 by Will Leet, a musician and Chris Burns, a poet. In short, their music can be described as "campfire rock with a city groove." All the songs are led by intricate lyrics and acoustic guitar soundscapes, juxtaposing the fast pace of life in New York City and the beckoning call of rural America. Hints of folk, pop, rock, country and Americana styles are found throughout their work. The current lineup features Will Leet on guitar and vocals, Dane Scozzari on drums, Jeff Koch on bass, Stoddard Blackall on keys and Malia Abayon on background vocals. In December of 2016, they released their debut EP, “Morning Songs." Over the last year, they have regularly played at Rockwood Music Hall and have toured in Boston, Burlington, Connecticut, and Western MA in support of the EP. Fans of Good Old War, Ryan Adams and Guster will find themselves enjoying Instant Treeline.
Pat Stone & The Dirty Boots
"If Folk Music Had A Rock n' Roll Soul...And A Punk-Rock Heart"
The sound of Pat Stone & The Dirty Boots is one that is constantly evolving depending on the context of the performance. This quartet is capable of being a traditional all-acoustic band complete with glimmering mandolin, woody upright bass, tasteful percussion, and dynamic vocals complete with rich harmonies.
On the flip side of the coin, the band is a rock n' roll four piece featuring dual electric guitars, bold drum fills, aggressive, catchy vocal lines and a contagious energy.
Their debut LP, "Patterns In The Rain" is available for streaming and purchase on Itunes, Spotify, Google Play and many other common streaming services distributed through Sony's "The Orchard".
The band is currently recording their sophomore LP set to release online in early 2018.