9:30 Club presents at U Street Music Hall:
Lauren Ruth Ward, Josiah and The Bonnevilles
1115 U Street NW
Washington, DC, 20009
This event is all ages
Music doesn’t have to be complicated.
At the end of the day, it’s all about being honest, taking no B.S., and getting right back up after every fall. New York-born singer, songwriter, and all-around rock rebel LP puts it even more succinctly, “I go Johnny Cash on that shit and just get through it.”
Like the Man in Black, she pens and performs timeless tunes with attitude—albeit minus the country twang and cowboy hats. Ukulele in hand, voice booming with soul and spirit, and pulling no punches, LP’s palatability belies an underground unrestraint sharpened by several years in the industry. By 2014, she had not only written hits for Rihanna, Cher, Backstreet Boys, Cher Lloyd, and more, but also released her major label debut, Forever For Now. The latter’s “Into The Wild” fueled a Citibank ad campaign as everyone from The Wall Street Journal, CNN, and USA Today to Vogue and BuzzFeed extolled the artist. She performed on Jimmy Kimmel LIVE! and ignited audiences at Austin City Limits, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and more. However, as her six-year romantic relationship failed and she split from her label, LP put her head down and wrote what would become 2016’s Death Valley EP [Vagrant Records].
“My goal was just to create my best music,” she says. “I stopped overthinking things. I didn’t know how it was going to come out or if anyone would ever hear it, but I just wanted to write. No one told me what to do. I wasn’t trying to fit into some fucking label’s ideal of who I should be. I had complete artistic freedom.”
Death Valley became a watershed moment for the songstress and modern rock at large. Driven by her signature ukulele, raspy acoustic guitars, and the unshakable refrain, “Baby is that lost on you?,” its lead single “Lost On You” amassed over 91 million YouTube views as well as 44 million Spotify streams and went triple-platinum in Italy, platinum in France, Poland, and Germany, and gold in Switzerland. Meanwhile, the title track, “Muddy Waters,” soundtracked the Season 4 climax of NETFLIX’s Orange Is The New Black.
“I love a record that has an eclectic bunch of songs,” she goes on. “I want it to be an interesting landscape, and I like to use my voice in different ways. That was my goal with Death Valley.”
It also extends to her 2017 full-length album. Once again, LP re-unites with the team behind Death Valley—producer POWERS’ Mike Del Rio [Christina Aguilera, X Ambassadors] and writer Nate Campany [Tove Lo, Carly Rae Jepsen, Martin Garrix].
“It’s a weird thing,” she says. “I feel more confident than ever before. I don’t have to police myself anymore. For this record, I decided to unapologetically tress on, keep going, and run with my emotion.”
Ultimately, as LP writes more, she continues to connect with audiences everywhere. “There’s a survivor mentality that comes through naturally,” she leaves off. “That strikes a chord. I want to show people it’s possible to do whatever they want on their own terms.”
Lauren Ruth Ward
"Lauren Ruth Ward, a distinctly unique artist hailing from Baltimore, MD. Ward is raw fortitude at its most vulnerable state, who has become a “One-To-Watch” in the Los Angeles Music Scene (performing at venues such as The Bootleg Theatre, The Echo, The Lyric, Dirty Laundry, The Viper Room, The Mint, Echo Park Rising, The Hotel Cafe and opening for acts such as HANA and the incomparable LP).
Drifting between worlds of loose fantasy and seductive grit, Lauren Ruth Ward’s debut self-titled EP serves as everyone’s soul lover and rebel child. Her music floats, fluttering between wry whispers and sheer power. LRW takes you on a journey full of twists and turns while her lyrics and vocal stylings lift you above, with a promise of never setting you back down again. It is precisely this restlessness that makes LRW one of the most distinct voices of the new generation of singer-songwriters.
Lauren Ruth Ward's debut self-titled EP was released January 2016.
Josiah and The Bonnevilles
"I'm nostalgic to the core," says Josiah Leming. "I think back on things a lot. I get hung up on certain moments, and that's when I feel like I've got to get a guitar into my hands."
Nostalgia might be a surprising motivation to hear from Leming, the young, erudite, emotional powerhouse behind Josiah & The Bonnevilles, especially considering his band's entire bright future is unfolding right before his eyes. But one listen to Leming's songs and you'll understand: his nostalgia isn't a longing for the past, but rather a quest for understanding of the present. Boyish though he may look, Leming writes with the weathered wisdom and unflinching self-realization of an old soul. Inquisitive, witty, and fearless, his lyrics are high beam headlights piercing through dark nights of the soul, illuminating the pain and joy of growing up, falling in love, falling apart, and moving on.
"These songs came from a really difficult place, and I don't think there's any way around that," Leming says of the 'Cold Blood' EP, a preview of his arresting debut album for Vagrant Records. "I felt like I was in a hole that I was never going to dig out of, so I started writing. Some of the songs were to remember better times, and some were to get me out of the shitty times I was living in."
In the summer of 2013, Leming had just completed a grueling tour of the United States plagued by setbacks and disappointments. Burned out seemingly beyond repair, he relocated to Las Vegas and questioned his next steps until fate intervened. First, a friend introduced him to the music of Townes Van Zandt. Then his brother sent him a copy of Leonard Cohen's 'New Skin For The Old Ceremony.' Josiah felt something important brewing, so he began teaching himself to fingerpick on a small Martin guitar he'd received as a gift from a fan. Clumsily at first, but with increasing finesse every day, he obsessively explored the instrument and his tumultuous emotional surroundings. Slowly but surely, the tumblers began to align and the locks started to turn. What at first appeared to be impenetrable walls ultimately revealed themselves as hidden doors, and suddenly previously unknown musical worlds opened up before him.
"When I was young, the folk and country stuff never connected with me," confesses Leming. "I was more dramatic than that. The flair of the British stuff like Morrissey and Echo and the Bunnymen was what really hit me."
The new material Leming found himself writing in Las Vegas combined the two, fusing the plainspoken poetry of American roots music with the emotional drama of Brit-pop into something of a new-Americana. He set up a microphone in his living room and recorded the meat of what would become the new album by himself, layering guitar and piano and vocals a track-at-a-time. The songs mined his childhood in Tennessee and the longing he felt to escape. They traced his journeys around the country, never settling down in any one place for too long. They mapped his fears and anxieties, spoke candidly to ex-girlfriends, and pulled no punches.
"For me, the music follows the words," says Leming. "I think the lyric creates the hook, and the words are what build connections in people's minds. If you get the words right, and if you sing them with conviction, no matter the melody, people will relate and they'll want to sing along."
And that's exactly what happened when Josiah began performing the new songs live with guitarist Stephen Johnson and bassist/percussionist Josh Nyback. Under the name Josiah & The Bonnevilles, they landed a residency in LA that quickly garnered a devoted fanbase and showed Leming just how far those simple, stripped-down tunes he'd recorded in Las Vegas could go. The power of the live shows and the audience reactions inspired Leming to bring his new bandmates into the studio in LA with co- producer/mixer Dave Way (Fiona Apple, Paul McCartney) to flesh out several tracks and finally complete work on the album.
The resulting record showcases the full spectrum of Leming's talents, from the bittersweet farewell of "Back To Tennessee" and gut-wrenching confessional "Lie With Me" to the Dylan-esque "Please" and infectious "Swing." The arrangements are understated, drawing emotional power not from bombast or grandeur but rather through intimacy and intensity. Leming and the band create wide-open vistas with their music, leaving room for the lyrics to live and breathe and cut you to the quick. "Cold Blood" displays Josiah's mastery of intricate fingerpicking techniques, while "Long Gone" makes beautiful use of his delicate falsetto, and "London" transports you into an entire world built of nothing more than an acoustic guitar and his quavering, passionate voice.
In the end, that's what Josiah & The Bonnevilles do best: transport you. Each song is a journey in its own right: of memory, of regret, of hope, of self-discovery. Josiah may be nostalgic to the core, but out of the darkness of his past, he's crafted a brilliant beacon of an album that's shining a bright, blazing light onto all the promise of his future.