Newport Folk® Presents: Houndmouth / The Ballroom Thieves

This show has been rescheduled from 6/25/13 and moved from Great Scott. All tickets will be honored.

Newport Folk® Presents: Houndmouth / The Ballroom Thieves

The Wheeler Brothers

Thu, November 14, 2013

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

Royale

Boston, MA

$12 advance / $14 day of show

Tickets available at TICKETMASTER.COM, or by phone at 800-745-3000. No service charge on tickets purchased at The Sinclair Box office Tuesdays-Saturdays 12-7PM. Please note: box office is cash only.

Houndmouth
Houndmouth
That first November 2011 night, when it all fell together at the Green House, was nothing more complicated than four friends playing music, armed with something to drink and a curiosity about what might happen. They were the generation who has come of age in the new economy, already adept at shuffling jobs and get-bys, firmly acclimated to the diminished expectations that come with growing up somewhere the rest of the world assumes is nowhere. Which, in this case, is New Albany, Indiana.

Houndmouth, then, knew each other from…around. Matt Myers and Zak Appleby had played in cover bands together for years, schooled in blues and classic rock and Motown, toughened by indifferent audiences and the clatter of empty bottles. Matt and Katie Toupin had worked as an acoustic duo for three years, when she wasn’t on the road tending to a straight job. Katie and Shane Cody had gone to high school together, before Shane disappeared off to Chicago and New York to study audio engineering. In the beginning it was Shane and Matt who’d started knocking around at first, just drums and guitar, once Shane got home and free of a brief bluegrass flirtation.

The rest happened in a tumble, Zak and Katie switching from guitars to bass and keyboards, respectively. Four months later, their homemade EP in hand, Houndmouth made the pilgrimage to South By Southwest. Their booking agent convinced Rough Trade’s Geoff Travis to come have a listen. Of such things are dreams made. Months of conversation and a proper studio later, their debut album, From the Hills Below the City, will be released by Rough Trade.

“We lucked out,” Matt says. “We knew we were making good music. We knew we had something. But we didn’t know it would escalate so quickly. Always the element of luck.”

Before and after that bit of luck, Houndmouth have been on the road, building their audience. Working. Opening for the Drive-By Truckers, the Lumineers, the Alabama Shakes, Lucero, and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Headlining on their own. Turning heads.

“You know good art when you see it,” says Newport Folk Festival booker Jay Sweet, an early adopter, “and you know good food when you taste it. Well, you also know good music when you hear it, and when I first heard Houndmouth it was like freshest tasting art I had heard in many moons. A true musical omnivore’s delight.”
“I’m going down where nobody knows me,” they sing during the jaunty chorus of “On the Road.” The opening track to From the Hills Below the City, which is more or less the relationship New Albany has to Louisville, across the river: “I had a job had to leave behind me…I had to move to another city.” A two and a half minute slightly bent pop confection, conscious of all kinds of music which went before. Self-conscious about nothing, not even the neo-rap cutting contest that snaps across one break. A blues for now, then.

The older heads are noticing, the ones who are hardest to convince. “Houndmouth is a great young band,” testifies Patterson Hood of the Truckers. “They toured with us last month and brought it each and every night. They were extremely popular with our fanbase and our band. I look forward to hearing what they do next.”
Rolling Stone’s David Fricke joined the chorus of praise after seeing Houndmouth during SXSW ’13: “They are all singers, leading with individual character and harmonizing in saloon-choir empathy. The music is earthy melancholy with a rude garage-rock streak.”

Houndmouth’s songs emerge with a loose-limbed swing, anchored by a sturdy rhythm and a cagey melodic sensibility. “Penitentiary,” revived from Matt and Katie’s acoustic days, is all dressed up as a rock anthem. It’s dark, yet fun, with all those voices singing, “come on down to the Penitentiary/oh mama, the law came crashing down on me.”

Matt sketches the origins of his song, which became their song. “I met a guy in Reno on a road trip before we started the band, and he was super down on his luck,” he says. “We met him at a gas station, bumming money. He told me a few details that are probably in the song, but I made most of it up. I changed the setting to Texas, because it sounded authentic.” And then he mentions that he was listening to Jimmie Rodgers at the time.
Hard-luck songs, to be sure, betraying a certain criminal bent. Not their stories, Katie is careful to note, but the world they’ve watched walk on by. “We grew up in Southern Indiana,” she says. “It’s not always the classiest place. So all that is not unfamiliar even if we haven’t personally been through the darkest parts of it.”

And yet, as she also says, “No matter how much anyone wants to write a completely fictional or narrative song, there’s ALWAYS part of you in it. I think that it is important, even when writing narrative songs, that there is something real about them. That there is part of yourself in them.” Houndmouth’s truths, then, are emotional. For the most part.

“The dealers and the bootleggers/Got me hooked on freebasing/And I can’t trust my government/So I looked into the other dimension,” Katie sings, tough and innocent. “And now they got me doing bad things.” “The song is a story,” Katie says. “I didn’t get hooked on freebasing. Yet there is part of me in it…It’s also maybe about me wanting to escape, loosen my morals, not opening my heart to people.”

So are the songs. Deeply emotional, that weird, powerful, essential thing the blues does that makes you feel better through the tears. Especially the songs which are deeply personal, like “Halfway to Hardinsburg” or “Palmyra.” Or the sad, slurring loss of “Long as You’re Home,” on which they sing, “Who am I supposed to be?”

Themselves, of course.

Four musicians from New Albany, Indiana, across the river from Louisville. Where Will Oldham, Jim James, and Freakwater’s Catherine Irwin live. A fecund place, and place
matters. Not a sound, not a scene, but a place. A real place. “There is a familiar element about My Morning Jacket that I can’t really pinpoint,” Katie says. “It’s kinda like what I can’t pinpoint about what Houndmouth is that we all sort of get. It just makes us feel at home.”
The Ballroom Thieves
The Ballroom Thieves
Three Boston transplants deliver a fresh outlook on the folk music scene. The Ballroom Thieves bring a tremendous amount of talent, energy, wit, and humor to every one of their performances, and their ever expanding repertoire allows them to adapt to all types of audiences. Their uncanny ability to read a crowd and give them exactly what they want, all while involving them fully in the show, is truly a sight to see.

The band released an EP in January 2012 entitled "The Devil & The Deep" (produced by Mike Davidson). They've been playing shows in the New England area for two years, and have one national tour under their belts.
The Wheeler Brothers
The Wheeler Brothers
“Long, Hard Road,” the first song on the Wheeler Brothers’ first album and a title that gives you a pretty good indication of where this Austin, Texas five-piece feels most comfortable. Indeed, although they’re five-time Austin Music Awards winners who’ve never played a hometown gig that hasn’t sold out, the Wheelers view the world as one big stage.

“We’ve always respected the bands that just get out there and work their asses off,” says singer-guitarist Nolan Wheeler, who adds that the band’s goal this year is to play 200 shows by Christmas. “There’s really no better way to create a connection with your audience.”

Nor is there any better way to refine your music—to find yourself in it and discover what makes it yours. That’s precisely what the Wheeler Brothers—who also include bassist Tyler Wheeler and drummer Patrick Wheeler, along with guitarist Danny Matthews and lap-steel whiz A.J. Molyneaux—have done over the past two years, honing a unique roots-music sound PasteMagazine.com has described as bringing “a bit of the enthusiasm and flavor of The Arcade Fire into their Texas-tinged Americana” and Carson Daly has called “…music at its finest. Rock & roll with a bit of twang…”

They’ll be the first to tell you: Portraits, the group’s remarkable debut, arrives steeped in tradition, with a sound as rich as Southern soil with echoes of Willie Nelson and Townes Van Zandt, not to mention more recent trailblazers such as Wilco and Radiohead. (And let’s not forget Western swing institution Asleep at the Wheel, whose frontman Ray Benson released Portraits on his Bismeaux Records.)

But in these rough-and-tumble songs of home and heartbreak, fortune and family, the Wheelers tell their own stories, as well, drawn from their experiences as young men with old souls. In “Call Me in the Morning,” a propulsive rocker with fuzzy guitars, they channel the exuberant innocence of one’s salad days, while the quieter title track paints a heavy scene inside a hospital room; elsewhere, they envision life from different perspectives, as in the horn-enriched “Spent Time,” which ponders the way a just-released prisoner might greet the sky.

The Wheeler Brothers’ yarn-spinning dates back to their high-school days, when they first began jamming at the Wheelers’ place. “We’d just be in there, drinking beers, having fun,” A.J. remembers. Upon graduation, the lap-steel player enrolled at the University of Texas, while the band’s other four members went off to Louisiana State University; they played together during their time there, but things didn’t lock into place until their return to Austin, at which point A.J. rejoined the group and the quintet began playing around town.

“The support we’ve gotten from the community here has just been incredible,” Tyler says, and it’s that solid base—coupled with their extensive social-media presence—that’s allowed the Wheeler Brothers to venture out, wowing audiences around the United States between recording sessions for their upcoming sophomore disc.

“For us it’s just about writing great music, playing killer shows and staying in touch with our fans,” Nolan says. (To that end, the Wheelers travel with a special cell phone anyone’s welcome to call for a chat. Seriously, give it a whirl: 512-983-5934.) Of the new album, they can’t say much yet, except that it’s sure to reveal an evolution of one kind or another.

“I think we’re constantly in a place where we’re developing our sound,” Danny says, calling to mind again that long, hard road. “We’ll always be striving to make it more our own.”
Venue Information:
Royale
279 Tremont St.
Boston, MA, 02116
http://royaleboston.com/