Bustle In Your Hedgerow feat. Benevento, Russo, Dreiwitz & Metzger
Bustle in your Hedgerow - a lyric pulled from the Led Zeppelin epic "Stairway to Heaven", puts on sporadic shows showcasing only Zep tunes. But don't call them a tribute band. Joe Russo, Marco Benevento, Dave Dreiwitz, and Scott Metzger channel Led Zeppelin's songs with such passion and energy, you would swear they are their own songs.
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.