Monday, October 2, 7pm doors/8pm show, $15 advance/$18 day of show
Alt-country from Raleigh, NC
From Richmond, Virginia
Andrew J. Reimers www.reverbnation.com/cpxbuffalo
For a decade now, American Aquarium have spent the majority of their days on the road, burning through a sprawl of highways during the day and playing hours of raw, rootsy rock & roll at night. Sometimes, the job is a grind. Most times, it’s a blessing. American Aquarium’s songs, filled with biographical lyrics about last calls, lost love and long horizons, have always explored both sides of that divide. For every drunken night at the bar, there’s a hangover in the morning. For every new relationship, there’s the chance of a broken heart. It’s that kind of honesty — that sort of balance — that makes the band’s newest album, Wolves, their strongest release to date.
And it nearly didn’t happen. When American Aquarium traveled to Muscle Shoals to record Burn.Flicker.Die. in 2012, they were convinced the album would be their last. Even though they had enlisted the help of award-winning singer-songwriter Jason Isbell to produce the sessions, they were exhausted; weathered and whittled to the bone by more than a half-decade of heavy partying and heavier touring. To a small group of diehard fans, they were absolute rockstars… but being rockstars to a cult audience doesn’t always put food on your table or gas in your tank. BJ Barham, the band’s frontman, was so poor that he’d been living out of a storage unit for months, unable to afford an apartment in the band’s hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina.
Clearly, something had to give. Maybe it was time to make one final album — an album about failure, desperation and disillusionment — and then throw in the towel.
As fate would have it, Burn.Flicker.Die. eventually proved itself to be the band’s most successful release to date. Critics loved it. Fans rallied behind it. Fast forward 2 years and almost 500 shows later, the band has travelled the world, quadrupled their fan base and reinvented their passion for the road. When the time came to record another album in June 2014, it only made sense to do something that celebrated survival rather than failure.
The result? Wolves, which Barham describes as “the sound of a band firing on all cylinders”. Produced by Megafaun’s Brad Cook and recorded during a 20-day stay at Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville, NC, Wolves was funded entirely by American Aquarium’s diehard fanbase. The album’s 10 tracks represent a departure from the band’s signature twang. Instead drawing more from the alternative rock sound that inspired their name almost a decade ago. Wolvesblends the twang of the pedal steel with the dark, dirty swirl of two electric guitars, creating a sound that’s fit for the roadhouse, the honky tonk and the dive bar. Barham has certainly spent time in all three, but now looks to brighter horizons in these new songs.
“I’ve always written about being the drunk guy at the bar at 2 a.m.,” he admits. “I’ve written about the pick-up lines and the drinking and the drugs. This record is more personal than that. It’s a coming of age record.”
It’s also a record that reaffirms his faith in American Aquarium, a band he started in 2006. Since that time, more than 25 musicians have passed through the group’s ranks. In recent years though, things have felt a lot more stable. Ryan Johnson, Bill Corbin, Whit Wright, Kevin McClain and the newest addition, Colin Dimeo, round out the group, turning Barham’s songs into fiery, fleshed-out compositions.
With Wolves, which hit stores in early 2015, American Aquarium is literally bigger and better.
“We were legitimized by Burn.Flicker.Die.,” Barham says. “That album was a breakup record with the road. It basically said, ‘This is our last album, this is why we’re quitting, and hey, thanks for the memories.’ Fast-forward, though, and we’ve got a new record that says, ‘We ain’t done yet.'”
“At one end of American Aquarium’s music is the beckoning call of the road, the neon excitement of nightclubs and bars, the urgency of rock ‘n’ roll, a life unbound and free.
At the other end is home, an inescapable identity forged by bloodlines and place, those unwavering roots set deep and sturdy.
In between lies a world of messy conflicts, of competing urges and visions for the future, of desires flickering like mirages at the far end of some unpassable road—all of which BJ Barham wields in a songwriting style that marries tradition with his own candid self-reflection.
On Wolves, American Aquarium’s follow-up to 2012’s breakthrough Burn. Flicker. Die., Barham offers 10 songs of the chaotic battle within, unvarnished truths about sacrifice, addiction, aging, big dreams and the ever-present fear of failure.” – Paste
“BJ Barham has spent a decade howling his songs in a boozy, broken rasp, as though he’s just choked down a whiskey shot and the glass it came in. With Wolves, though, he sings a surprisingly happier tune, spinning his recent marriage and cleaned-up lifestyle into music that’s both focused and frenzied. American Aquarium’s punky, pissed-off country-rock still packs a dangerous punch — just listen to the title track, which compares the frontman’s vices to a pack of predators — but Wolves focuses on the promise of new beginnings rather than the drunken confusion of last call.” – Rolling Stone
Here’s a couple of videos from Wolves: www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJYd9GqMyi4
Rapidly gaining momentum with a sound that falls perfectly between southern Rock ‘n’ Soul and Americana Jam, The Trongone Band is turning heads and making an impact on the East Coast music scene. Formed as a family band by brothers Andrew and Johnny with father John Sr. on bass, The Trongone Band enlisted much sought-after keyboardist Ben “Wolfe” White and quickly began packing various venues around Richmond, VA. With the addition of Wolfe, they entrenched their footprint on the city with a Thursday night residency at Cary Street Cafe, pushing the popular music room to maximum capacity for two straight years.
Spreading their musical wings, it wasn’t long before The Trongone Band procured a devout fan base and began making their name in neighboring cities, including sell-out shows in Blacksburg and Harrisonburg. The band brought on award-winning bassist Todd Herrington to solidify their touring lineup. Herrington adds a crucial dimension of deep pocket groove and funk to the already seasoned unit.
As a collaborative effort, the band is touring the East Coast in support of their full length debut album, Keys to the House. This four-piece ensemble may not all be related, but with a chemistry so emphatically discernible, it’s fair to call them brothers.
Here’s a sample: www.youtube.com/watch?v=zED60yzbF88
Event page: www.facebook.com/events/1923437354594226