Mipso, The Lil Smokies, The Brothers Comatose
1 Cannery Row
Nashville, TN, 37203
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is 18 and over
When Mipso’s 2013 debut, Dark Holler Pop, rose to #8 on Billboard’s Bluegrass charts, the success surprised a lot of people – Mipso’s four members included. “Well, we didn’t know so many people would buy it,” laughs mandolin player Jacob Sharp, “and we definitely didn’t know we were a bluegrass band.”
Since then, Mipso has performed over 300 shows and welcomed frequent collaborator Libby Rodenbough’s voice and fiddle to the fold – and has continued to grow as musicians and songwriters, while drawing continual inspiration from their rich North Carolina roots. Their new album, Old Time Reverie – produced by Mandolin Orange’s Andrew Marlin – is a reflection of that musical and personal growth: a gripping, mature sophomore release that finds the quartet expanding their sonic resources while doubling down on their experimentation with string band tradition.
While the instrumentation on the acclaimed Dark Holler Pop embraced North Carolina’s bluegrass heritage head-on, Old Time Reverie finds Mipso shifting their focus away from bluegrass, introducing new instruments and textures to create a distinctly different sound. Clawhammer banjo out of 1920s early country music meets atmospheric electric organ (played by Josh Oliver of The Everybodyfields) more native to 1970s pop. Add imaginative songwriting and a group cohesion gained from two years of near-constant touring, and the resulting sound is powerfully rhythmic, lyrically sharp, and woven with beautiful four-part harmonies.
Before forming Mipso, Jacob Sharp (mandolin), Joseph Terrell (guitar), Wood Robinson (bass), and Libby Rodenbough (fiddle) were just classmates at UNC-Chapel Hill, where the experience of singing together in harmony drew them together. The sound of their blended voices remains one of the band’s hallmarks. Since those college jam sessions, the four have entered a new phase of life, one where the work of making music – and the work of living – has become a more complicated affair. Many of the songs on Old Time Reverie grapple with the moral ambiguity that comes with keeping hope in a difficult world and making sense of its contradictions.
These songs, after all, were born in the South and reflect its modern day complexity. “Our progressive college town shares a county with lots of old tobacco barns and farms and churches from the eighteenth century," guitarist Joseph Terrell said. "We've chosen to stick around in this place where we're rooted, to reckon with and learn from its contradictions.”
At times, the task seems doomed: “Everyone Knows” grapples with a world that is essentially “cold and dark,” “Mama” explores the enduring scars of loss; “Marianne” follows an interracial couple’s struggle to love one another against their community’s disapproval. But if Old Time Reverie conjures a dark vision of the world, it also meditates on points of radiance. Even the wary narrator in “Father’s House” can see “a light on the porch.” The album closer “Four Train,” too, is a crinkled smile at the end of a weary day, describing love as “like a stain that won’t come out” or “like a flame that won’t burn out” – or perhaps as both.
In both theme and temperament, the album finds an interplay between the sunrise and the twilight – a tug-of-war that’s itself an old-time tradition. From “Eliza,” a lively waltz-time romp, to “Bad Penny,” a surrealist dream sequence with an Abe Lincoln cameo, the album revels in the seesaw spectrum of experience and memory, where technicolor carnival hues blend with grown-up sadness and the whispers of ghosts. Mipso’s color palette, like its soundscape, is radically inclusive.
“We come from a place where traditional music is a living, changing thing,” fiddle player Libby Rodenbough said. “So we feel like having an ear for all kinds of stuff is not only true to ourselves, it’s a nod to the tradition.” Call it what you will – to listen is to understand: it’s either unlike anything you’ve heard before or effortlessly familiar. By digging deeper and expanding further, Mipso have created their own dark daydream of Southern Americana: Their Old Time Reverie.
The Lil Smokies
With their roots submerged in the thick buttery mud of traditional bluegrass, The Lil’ Smokies have sonically blossomed into a leading player in the progressive acoustic sphere, creating a new and wholly unique, melody driven sound of their own. The quintet, from Missoula, MT, has been hard at work, writing, touring and playing to an ever-growing fan base for the past 6 years. The fruits of their labor recently culminating with wins at the 2016 International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Momentum Award for Best Band and at the 2015 Telluride Bluegrass festival band competition. In 2013 the band also won The Northwest String Summit Band Competition. With a unique blend of traditional bluegrass, newgrass, innumerable unique originals, sheer raw energy, and exquisite musicianship, The Lil’ Smokies weave seamlessly through genres, leaving behind melodies you’ll be singing to yourself for days and a jaw you’ll have to pick up off the floor. This five-piece bluegrass ensemble features Andy Dunnigan (dobro), Scott Parker (upright bass), Matt Cornette (banjo), Jake Simpson (fiddle) and Matt Rieger (guitar).
The Brothers Comatose
Whether traveling to gigs on horseback or by tour bus, Americana mavens The Brothers Comatose forge their own path with raucous West Coast renderings of traditional bluegrass, country and rock ‘n’ roll music. The five-piece string band is anything but a traditional acoustic outfit with their fierce musicianship and rowdy live shows reminiscent of stadium rock concerts. In fall 2017, “Campfire Caravan” featuring The Brothers Comatose, Mipso, and The Lil Smokies hosts three of today’s foremost emerging indie Americana bands as they trek across the United States to more than 30 cities. “Campfire Caravan” honors the musicians’ early days playing music, when they’d perform for friends and family in basements, living rooms, and around campfires. “Campfire Caravan” celebrates the American tradition of gathering communities around music.
Following three critically acclaimed full-length studio albums (Songs From The Stoop, Respect The Van, City Painted Gold), the five-piece string band disrupts the traditional album cycle and focuses their 2017/2018 release schedule on a series of strategically released songs. On Sept. 8, 2017, The Brothers Comatose releases a sun-soaked new single “Don’t Make Me Get Up And Go” produced by indie-rock legend John Vanderslice. Channeling harmony vanguards The Beach Boys, “Don’t Make Me Get Up And Go” is a nod to the delicate dance between two friends and trusting fate to either bring them romantically together or not. With lyrics written by the band’s tour manager Joe Pacini, lead singer Ben Morrison lends his crooning baritone to the fast-paced, feel good song.
“Going into the studio with Vanderslice was all about capturing the moment on analog tape,” says Ben. “We set out to record in a way we’ve never previously attempted. We did it live with all of us playing in the same room as if we were performing on stage. Vanderslice really understood the sonic landscape we were going for. He’s really a super producer, being a musician who has cut a lot of records of his own and produced albums by many great artists.”
The Brothers Comatose entered Vanderslice’s Tiny Telephone (San Francisco) studio with drafts of “Don’t Make Me Get Up And Go.” After working out the verses and chorus in the studio, bassist Gio Benedetti came up with the three-part harmony bridge. Vanderslice had the trio of Ben, his brother Alex Morrison, and Gio, head into the studio’s echo chamber with its five-second delay, and the boys did what they do best. They sang their hearts out, and the result is sublime.
The Brothers Comatose is comprised of brothers Ben Morrison (guitar, vocals) and Alex Morrison (banjo, vocals), Gio Benedetti (bass, vocals), Philip Brezina (violin), and Ryan Avellone (mandolin). When they’re not headlining The Fillmore for a sold-out show or appearing at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, the band is out on the road performing across America, Canada, Australia, and hosting their very own music festival, Comatopia. In 2018, The Brothers Comatose will travel to Asia for a month of cultural music exchange and education with American Music Abroad, a program directed by the State Department.