Sit a moment with Dangermuffin’s latest album, Moonscapes, and you’ll hear tales of rogue lawmen, forlorn lovers, and rolling waves. Based in Folly Beach, SC, the eclectic trio casts a fresh perspective on American roots music.
With the release of Moonscapes in 2010, Dangermuffin has exploded onto the national scene. They are embarking on coast-to-coast touring courtesy of booking agency New Frontier (The Avett Brothers, Darrell Scott) and distribution and promotion support from label Dualtone Music Group (Guy Clark, Brett Dennen). They are becoming a cornerstone on festival billings, including Virginia’s FloydFest, SummerCamp Festival in Illinois, Yonder Mountain’s Harvest Fest in Arkansas, Jazz Aspen in Colorado and dozens more to come in 2011.
Setting Dangermuffin ahead of the pack are the refreshingly magnetic lyrics of Dan Lotti, winner of the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s 2005 “New Writers Showcase.” Lotti’s strong, articulate vocals perfectly frame each song, creating a stout foundation for the tasteful poly-groove jams and improvisational passages. “The concepts of Moonscapes comes from when the tide goes out on the beach, leaving tidal pools that look like craters,” says Lotti. “To me, that seemed like the notion of the sea of tranquility.”
Dangermuffin’s rhythmic anchor lies in the creative beats of Steven Sandifer (Drew Emmitt Band, Adrienne Young), embellished by the thrilling, twangy guitar stylings of Mike Sivilli. The result of their pooled talents is an inventive, fresh sound that retains an organic Americana truthfulness.
SiriusXM satellite radio has been spreading the music of Dangermuffin by airing them regularly on Jam On and Outlaw Country. Last year, the band celebrated acclaim in Relix Magazine as the winners of the April 2009 “Jam Off” competition. Their fanbase grows exponentially with each new market and show, as evidenced by their skyrocketing ticket sales nationwide.
With two strong records already under their belt and a new flagship album simply taking off, 2011 will prove to be groundbreaking for Dangermuffin. Give Moonscapes a spin and experience the post-roots groove — a punchy, folk-jam pastry with a sweet-toothed soul of the south.
Since 2007 American Babies has been the mouthpiece for Philadelphia based musician Tom Hamilton. After spending the early 2000s building a national fan base fronting the electro-rock band Brothers Past, releasing two critically acclaimed albums and averaging 150 shows a year, a change was in order. Hamilton looked to shed the electronic “bleeps-n-boops” production that had become his calling card and make an album that was loose, rolling and full of vibe.
“Being in a band can get to be very political, where everyone needs to be happy. That doesn’t always lead to artistic fulfillment,” Hamilton says. “I had a vision I wanted to follow but felt that going solo as a singer/songwriter wasn’t a very comfortable fit for me. Then it dawned on me to just start another band where I’m the only real constant member. Problem solved.”
So Hamilton moved to Brooklyn and enlisted friends Joe Russo (Benevento/Russo Duo, Grateful Dead offshoot Furthur), Kevin Kendrick (Fat Mama), and brother Jim Hamilton to hit the studio with producer Jon Altschiller (Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, Rachael Yamagata) and a dozen songs that spawned American Babies self-titled release (2008 Sci Fidelity).
“That first album was exactly what I wanted it to be. A few guys whom are great friends sitting around playing tunes that they all liked and having a good time together. We let the tape roll and just hung out laughing, drinking, and making fun of each other. Somewhere in there we managed to play some great stuff.”
Hamilton hit the road with American Babies either playing solo shows or with a rotating cast of players that included Russo, brother Jim Hamilton, Scott Metzger (Gene Ween Band), Dave Driewitz (WEEN), and Ryan Thornton (Sean Bones) landing showcases on Festivals like Bonnaroo and CMJ (2007), Langerado, SxSW and Newport Folk (2008) as well as supporting slots for the Derek Trucks Band, Sheryl Crow, The National, and the Wood Brothers.
So far, so good.
2009 found Hamilton bringing it all back home as he moved back to Philadelphia and partnered with producer Bill Moriarty (Dr. Dog, Man Man, Hoots and Hellmouth) to record American Babies’ second LP “Flawed Logic”. Using mostly Philadelphia based resources, writing and recording consumed the entire year.
“It was important for the Babies to evolve from the first album, to broaden the scope topically and sonically. With all that was happening in the world in late 2008 and 2009 it felt impossible not to have the events of the times dictate the story and direction of the album. That in of itself was an enormous creative shift and it made my job a lot easier.”
These sessions yielded the “Weight of the World EP” (2010) and the band’s second full length LP, “Flawed Logic” (2011). Releases that speak of change, war, Wall Street, family, and the struggle to wade through it all; be it alone or with a partner; short stories of different individuals and couples trying to navigate through modern day life hoping to at least break even. Mr. Hamilton says of the album:
“It’s about pressure. Pressure is always a part of life but in recent times it feels a bit heavier. Husband, wife, son, daughter, boss, soldier, what ever…We’re feeling the pinch and trying to figure out how to cope. At least that’s the way I’m calling it.”
Response to the album has been overwhelmingly positive as Atlas and Anchor states, “American Babies’ Flawed Logic may the best Americana, Alt-Country or ‘whatever you want to call it’ album of the year”,and State of Mind Magazine agrees saying, “hopefully 2011 will produce more records like Flawed Logic — definitely one of the best to come out this year.”
Since the release of “Flawed Logic”, Hamilton has found a more permanent, likeminded line up to fill out the band with Brooklyn-based drummer Dave Butler (Lee Scratch Perry, Dub is a Weapon) and fellow Philly folks Adam Flicker (The Brakes) on keys and Mark Karwan on Bass. The band has been turning heads all year and will be living on the road for the forseable future.
Tall Tall Trees
TALL TALL TREES is the assemblege of four musicians on a journey into the irregular. Hailing from four corners of the globe and brought together
by the downtown music scene in NYC, the band formed in 2008 to realize the music of jazz bassist turned banjo-playing songwriter, Mike Savino. The following year saw the release of a self-titled debut record on their own Good Neighbor Records. Recorded in the home studios of Savino, guitarist Kyle Sanna, and percussionist Mathias Kunzli, the twelve tracks on Tall Tall Trees are eclectic, touching on surf rock, indie folk, sentimental balladry, and afrobeat. The album met with critical success climbing the CMJ radio charts and receiving placements on MTV, History Channel, Animal Planet, and Lifetime. The addition of bassist Benjamin Campbell filled out the performing line-up and the band began to tour in support of the record.
Two years, many shows, and one highly successful Kickstarter campaign later, Tall Tall Trees is putting the finishing touches on its sophomore effort.
December 2010: The band began recording its second album on the night of a lunar eclipse, in a church nestled in the sticks of Woodstock, NY, and emerged two weeks later with a testament to the evolution in their electric banjo-driven sound. The result, Moment, is a departure from the quirky bounce of their self-titled debut and a journey into darker territory as songwriter Mike Savino explores more serious and personal matters in this set of lyrically driven songs. Produced entirely by the band, the album is a snapshot of musicians in peak creative form, crafting album as art in a one-off mp3 world.
Originally sparked by a camping trip into the Alaskan wilderness, the album tells the tale of a man searching for connection with his environment and the people around him. On the final night of their trip, exhausted and beaten nearly mute by the elements, the Tall Tall Trees sat around a campfire in a rocky, dried-out riverbed when the clouds parted, revealing the biggest moon they'd ever seen. One word was uttered.