Video Session: Strand of Oaks

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Before even hearing a lick of his music, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to single out Tim Showalter as some sort of rock and roll warrior just by looking at him (as self-described on “Heal”): long black hair and beard, black jeans, black boots, smoking a cigarette with headphones on. In conversation and in person, Showalter is as humble, excitable, and cordial as you could hope to find in a kindred music-obsessed spirit. All of these facets of him ring out like relentless clarion calls all over Strand of Oaks’ masterful, anguished, and absolutely triumphant 2014 album, Heal. Not only was Heal both my favorite and most-listened-to record of the past year, it also fueled me with all the firepower and guts I needed to chase my own breakthroughs on the other side of lingering heartache.

Watching Strand of Oaks play these songs live, as they did with sweat-soaked zeal and hearts wide open at Russian Recording in Bloomington later the night of this session in August and, more recently, to a packed house at this same Hi-Fi in Indianapolis in January, is akin to getting swept away in a force of nature with the power to restore than destroy. Each show was an obviously special homecoming for the Philadelphia-based native Hoosier (see: “Goshen ‘97” and the opening line of “JM” for Indiana shout-outs). When he sings, “You gotta heal,” at the climax of the title track, it serves as both a command to himself and a generous plea to the listener no matter the cause of the individual wounds. It’s that same redemptive spirit that allows “Shut In” to break free and soar like it’s chasing the horizon down some hopeful thunder road. Some truly hard knocks hit Showalter during the writing and recording of these songs, and those brutal blows inform every second you hear upon dropping the needle in the grooves of Heal’s wax or simply pushing play. Fortunately, by making these very songs in all their guitar-frenzy, deeply scarred, and music-worshipping glory, Showalter paints us all up like warriors, too, and reminds us yet again that we were born to run.

Filmed & Edited by Doug Fellegy / Nicole Conflenti
Recorded & Mixed by Jeff DuPont
Written by Justin Wesley

Video Session : Daughter Live at Luna Music

Art can have a online permanence yet lack a tangible presence. These videos can be seen as a fleeting collection of pixels arranged as an imitation of art; an experience saved as a convenience, to be received at a more appropriately scheduled time. But the joy in some art lies in the immediacy, in the here and now. This is where live music finds it’s enduring sense of strength: part of the beauty of this art form lies in the ephemeral experience of simply being there.

These videos of Daughter’s intimate performance at Luna Music attempt to capture those moments as best we can. We got footage of the sunlight glinting off of their shimmering guitars and recordings of the ghastly purity of their voices, but that pales in comparison to what we saw and heard first-hand. They played with such effortless vibrancy and color it was like they’d forgotten about relentlessly touring a handful of EPs, covers, and a full-length record on their own before carrying onward as the supporting act for a tour with The National. And after all of that, they can still play “Youth” at a record store in Indianapolis so arrestingly that no one dares to speak or look away until the final chord fades out. I can’t remember another show I’ve been to in the past few years where I’ve experienced that.

Filmed and edited by Doug Fellegy / Erin Browne / Haley O’Brian
Recorded and Mixed by Jeff DuPont
Written by Doug Fellegy

Video Session : Bob Log III at Sun King Brewery

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MOKB Presents teamed up with our best buds at Sun King Brewery to bring in Bob Log III, before his show at The HI-FI, to give us an impromptu balloon-poppin’, beer-guzzlin’ private session.

Shake The Boot

Look At That

Session : Sturgill Simpson at Sun King Brewery

It’s been amazing, and exciting, to see this surge of mainstream critical and media attention for Sturgill Simpson and his awesome 2014 release, Metamodern Sounds In Country Music.

About a year and a half ago, someone sent us a link to an emerging honky tonk artist and told us we wouldn’t be sorry if we checked him out. We don’t do much country, but this is GOOD COUNTRY. You know, the kind cut from the same mold as Waylon, Willie, and Johnny. We sent it to our buds at Sun King Brewery, and they were just as excited as we were!  So, we locked him in to headline Sun King’s 4 year anniversary event “SKB IV” on July 6 of 2013. We couldn’t wait though, so we invited him up to Indianapolis to play a First Friday show at our then venue, the Do317 Lounge. It was everything we hoped it would be -outlaw, gritty, country-rock with a shot of bourbon (no rocks). Before the lounge show, we invited Sturgill and his band over to Sun King to film a private MOKB/Sun King Session. Amidst a wall of Cream Ale cans, he and his band delivered one of our favorite sessions to date. We have to say we were also pretty stoked to find out Sturgill has been a reader of My Old Kentucky Blog for some time. We’re glad he gave up the railroad and got back to writin’ songs. There is something here for sure. Something I think any music lover (country or not) can appreciate. Make sure you pick up Metamodern Sounds In Country Music, and come see him live at MOKB Presents Sturgill Simpson at The Vogue Theatre on December 7th if you’re in town.

Video Session: Poliça in-store at LUNA Music

Poliça

The summer sun shone brightly through the storefront windows of Luna Music on the day Poliça came by to perform. Already a vinyl lover’s oasis, the store could’ve hardly looked more inviting, more picturesque to even the most melancholy of visitors. But with a bass tone that could narrate a walk down an abandoned alley and the echoic vocals of singer Channy Leaneagh, the Minneapolis-based synthpop group gave listeners no reason to doubt that they were somewhere damp, dark, and reverberant, grooving to the most sexually charged music to hit Luna since it restocked “Purple Rain.”

Poliça’s set pulls from their most recent release, a buyer-friendly deluxe edition of their 2013 sophomore effort Shulamith that includes the four tracks comprising their Raw Exit EP. The songs deliver what we’ve come to expect from the band since they debuted in 2011; high quality keyboard texture, smart syncopation, and, of course, heavy reverb. Lyrically, Leaneagh finds herself more often than not unsettled by the dichotomy that love creates between emotion and reason. “It’s time for you to leave / But I’ve wrapped my hand around your leash / It’s really quite confusing” she sings in “Smug.” Her confusion reaches even higher levels in “Warrior Lord” as passion trumps syntax to deliver a grim poem ultimately asking a departing lover, “Do you want me?” While the minor key of the song suggests her anxiety is warranted, that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to want to move your body to the rhythm or happily hum the melody as you leave your favorite record store.

Filmed and edited by Doug Fellegy and Nicole Conflenti
Recorded and Mixed by Jeff DuPont
Words by Gerard Pannekoek

Video : Alt-J (∆) : Do317 & MOKB Session Live at Luna Music

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Before their sold out MOKB Presents show on June 12th Old National Center in Indianapolis, Alt-J stopped by LUNA Music for an intimate acoustic session. Joe Newman and Gus Unger-Hamilton performed special stripped down acoustic versions of “Breezeblocks,” “Tessellate,” and “Fitzpleasure” to the packed record store. See the video for “Fitzpleasure” below and find the other two from the session here at Do317.com.

Pabst Blue Ribbon session with Red Wanting Blue at Do317 Lounge

There’s much to be admired in any act of longevity. When longevity comes in the humble pursuit of happiness in a volatile industry known to lift up one buzzed-about, celebrated act after another – before deriding it and calling it a sellout as it’s chewed up and spit out – to achieve longevity is absolute cause for celebration. Such volatility is the unforgiving nature of the music industry over the course of any given month, let alone each of the dozen months in a given year for a span of more than sixteen years.

Sixteen-plus years: That’s how long it has been since the perpetually under-the-radar, but intensely adored, rock and roll engine that is Red Wanting Blue formed in Athens, Ohio. Red Wanting Blue certainly aren’t the first band to plug-in and blast away night after night with wheels ceaselessly spinning from town to town in nondescript clubs, bars and rooms for years on end to cultivate a devoted following, but they surely are one worth championing.

Singer-songwriter Scott Terry, Mark McCullough (bass, vocals), Greg Rahm (keys, guitars, organ, vocals) Eric Hall Jr. (guitars, lap steel, mandolin, banjo, vocals) and Dean Anshutz (drums, percussion, glockenspiel) do, in fact, have a devoted following, to say the least. From college town to college town throughout the Midwest, the perseverant Ohio rockers laid a foundation for what would become a groundswell of support that has solidified not just a worthwhile career or a successful band, but an entire lifestyle bigger than themselves that is built on faith, paid back with interest in loyalty, and dripping with pride.

That’s not to say there haven’t been considerable setbacks in the journey; odds are Terry and his bandmates can vouch that the only journeys worth taking are the ones with roadblocks, detours, breakdowns and U-turns. They’ve survived lineup shake-ups (an irreconcilable rift between Terry and original RWB guitarist and collaborator Brian Epp was a turning point), a seemingly endless string of albums without label interest, the ubiquitous mental and physical toll of relentless touring, and sixteen-plus years of evaporating industry trends that could (and have) filled entire tomes – not to mention the explosion of internet culture, the digital age, Napster, iTunes, the rise of the blogosphere and anything else that has registered as even a speck of a drip in the turbulent waters of millennial and post-millennial pop-rock music. Hell, read enough music features these days, and you’ll be resigned to ignorance or outright denial if you believe guitars and and rock n’roll music as a whole weren’t stamped with a non-negotiable death certificate years ago.

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