monsoon

The Contribution: -- 'Which Way World'

When members of New Monsoon, Railroad Earth and String Cheese Incident come together to create an album the result is Roostsy Americana bliss. Contribution, an appropriate name for a group whose members have bestowed many a musical gift to the masses with their previous bands, will drop Which Way World on March 30.

An album bursting with country gumption and raw poetic flare, this debut showcases the artistic veracity and harmonious nature of some of the best musicians on today’s jam circuit. A balanced blend of old-time charm and aggressive string-heavy muscle, this collaborative effort exemplifies the razor-sharp skills of Tim Carbone (violin, vocals Railroad Earth), Jeff Miller (guitar, mandolin, vocals, New Monsoon), Phil Ferlino (keyboards, New Monsoon), Keith Moseley (bassist, the String Cheese Incident), and Jason Hann (percussion, the String Cheese Incident).

From the initial notes, “Come Around” takes off like a tumbleweed in a dust storm, moving with force, freely charting out its own territory in a sandy soundscape of earnest handclaps, vocal harmonies and a fierce web of strings. Chameleon-like in nature, this opening track captures both a mischievous apathetic side and one of comforted hope. The dichotomous lyrics of “Never mind/never mind/why?” and “Sometimes you gotta lose yourself/find yourself/come around again” play out like a fencing match of internal conflict. The track rounds things off with a whiskey soaked “I don’t care!” from Carbone.

“Time Was Only Yesterday” initially breathes saloon-singer vulnerability, and holds that vintage desire to relive the past. Unexpectedly, lyrics about a “carnival parade” are quickly met by a collage of festive circus-esque clamor. The colossal racket is spiked with the scream of brassy horns and faded shouts you would imagine escaping from the lips of a vagabond ringleader.

“Better Days” proves to be one of the most lyrically poignant tracks on the album. The need for nostalgia, once again, resurfaces. While it gets off to a mellow start, the harmonized sturdy chorus of ‘Gone gone away are better days,’ which culminates with the tinge of tambourine, stands out like a mighty oak left upright after a forest fire.

Brilliance isn’t limited to the instrumentals when you stop to absorb the momentous metaphors and similes just swimming around in the ocean of sound – “Couldn’t see the danger there/ like children scaling rocks beside the sea…”

“Fear of Nothing” hits the listener like a sun shower on a sweltering day. Cool, refreshing and unapologetic, it reigns down with honky tonk tenacity. The upbeat, electrifying piano-laden, tune exudes a sense of rock n’ roll, gospel and blues. Sprinkling a ferocious feminine energy to the mix, are the Black Swan Singers who come equipped with fierce pipes—strong enough to stir a corpse. By far the most danceable tune on the disc, it resembles a hybrid of Great America Taxi meets the Black Crowes.

‘Wind Me Up’ is more spoken then sung and comes across like a sincere monologue of someone who has grown tired of, but accustomed to, going through the motions. The accompaniments and vocals are reminiscent of something quirky country alt-rockers Wilco would create.

“Which Way World,” the title track of the album, captures a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young vibe and yet at times it sounds more like a top ten contemporary country radio hit. Slow, steady and straight up Zenful, it’s a letter to our spinning sphere inquiring bout the very nature of its direction.

“Samsara” opens with piano playing that is rapidly coated by the lush emotion-evoking violin, proving that there is nothing like strings to set a melancholic mood. Capturing a rather dark tone, it sounds like a Celtic pagan homage to the earth— “I am the sky/speak through the wind/I am a shadow/darkness within...”

Let the musical monsoon of earthy cheese-coated goodness splash full force in a downpour that will have you tossing the umbrella and caution to the wind.

The Contribution: The Supergroup Releases Debut Album

Which Way World – the new release recorded by supergroup collective The Contribution - is the kind of debut album that only seasoned musicians can produce. Featuring the stellar contributions of Tim Carbone - violin, vocals (Railroad Earth), Jeff Miller - guitar, mandolin, vocals (New Monsoon), Phil Ferlino - keyboards (New Monsoon), Keith Moseley - bassist (The String Cheese Incident) and Jason Hann - percussion (The String Cheese Incident), the americana-tinged music on Which Way World is full and free-wheeling, offering exceptional chops that never overshadow the stand-out songwriting.

The Contribution releases Which Way World on March 30th, 2010 (SCI Fidelity Records); the album will be available digitally everywhere and on CD (the disc includes bonus video footage shot during the recording process) at www.thecontribution.net.

The idea for The Contribution was first hatched by Carbone, Miller, and Ferlino at a festival in the Pacific Northwest in 2005. According to Carbone, “[After] many days lost in creativity beneath the mighty redwoods, [we] emerged into the California sunshine with ten songs.” The contributions of Moseley and Hann from The String Cheese Incident were welcomed on board shortly thereafter, and the full studio line-up for the supergroup was solidified.

The Contribution plays only two shows in support of the album’s release – April 1st at the Bluebird Theatre in Denver, Colorado and April 3 at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, California. Show details are as follows:

Thursday, April 1st @ 9PM
Bluebird Theatre
w/ White Water Ramble
3317 East Colfax Avenue, Denver
Tickets: $20.00/ Ages 16+ Welcome
For more information contact 303-830-8497
or visit: bluebirdtheater.net

Saturday, April 3rd @ 9PM
Great American Music Hall
859 O'Farrell Street, San Francisco
Tickets: $20.00, $44.95 with dinner/All ages Welcome
For more information contact 415-885-0750 or visit:
gamhtickets.com


About the Players

Tim Carbone - New Jersey’s Tim Carbone is best known as a member of Railroad Earth. For The Contribution, Carbone lends his mood-altering violin work, as evident on the upbeat country-ish song “Steady Rise,” and his voice blends perfectly with Miller’s on such songs as “Samsara.”

Jeff Miller - As a member of the San Francisco-based New Monsoon, Miller has issued five studio albums since 2001. Miller’s penchant for alternating between guitar and mandolin, and his smooth vocals, are highlighted throughout Which Way World’, including the album’s first track, “The Closer.”

Phil Ferlino – Phil Ferlino is also a member of San Francisco’s New Monsoon. Handling all things keyboard-related, Ferlino’s playing in The Contribution reflects whatever the song calls for - as evidenced by such standouts as “Time Was Only Yesterday” (which contains organ (which contains organ playing reminiscent of the Band’s classic material) and “Wind Me Up” (which puts Ferlino’s stately piano lines up-front).

Keith Moseley – Moseley’s two-decade music career has been spent largely as bassist with The String Cheese Incident. In addition to his work with SCI and now, The Contribution, Moseley has played and recorded with multi-instrumentalist Keller Williams, including the 2006 live tribute to the Grateful Dead, Rex (Live at the Fillmore).

Jason Hann – Jason Hann joined The String Cheese Incident in 2004 as the band’s percussionist. Hann is extremely well-versed at his craft, having studied music in such exotic countries as Ghana, Haiti, and Korea. In addition to SCI, Hann has played with a slew of renowned musicians (such as R&B legend Isaac Hayes), has released his own solo album (2005’s ‘Rhythmsphere Vol. 1 - Djembe Furia’), and is a member of the electronic/experimental project, EOTO, with SCI band mate Michael Travis.

Grateful Web's Interview with New Monsoon's Ron Johnson

photo(s) by Tim Hurley- for the Grateful Web

The last eight months have been kind of a crossroads period for San Francisco rocker

New Monsoon (June 2003)

 

monsoonLike the effects of a powerful weather system ripping inland from the coast, San Francisco's New Monsoon is taking the country by storm. The septet is well known for its blend of vibrant percussion performed with an eclectic array of acoustic and electric instruments. Melding a world of rhythm, jazz and inventive musical explorations, the outcome is intelligent songcraft and a powerful delivery that is spreading like wildfire. Inspired by Latin, Indian, African, funk and bluegrass styles, New Monsoon spans the globe in their musical influences while consistently shifting their atmosphere with energy and vibe.

Utilizing congas, timbales, tabla, banjo, bongos, Dobro, ghatham, Didgeridoo, electric and acoustic guitars, bass, drum kit and keys, the band offers a plethora of textures, rhythms, ideas and moods. New Monsoon absorbs elements of sound indigenous to world culture and incorporates them into a variety of colorful and original rhythmic compositions.

New Monsoon's two studio albums are equally as compelling. Their second album, "Downstream," contains 13 well crafted songs, with strong vocals, intelligent lyrics and is a fan-pleasing follow-up to their eponymous, self-produced debut "Hydrophonic." The band's first CD, released in June 2001, quickly sold out it's first pressing and received radio play nationwide. Downstream, released in March 2003 and distributed by the Home Grown Music Network, carries listeners through innovative world sounds and musical conversations for over 71 minutes. Lyrical melodies resonate with emotion and engaging musicianship are liberally spread throughout the CD. The multi-faceted elements of New Monsoon are expertly molded into an exhilarating and moving musical adventure. An even greater impact is expected from the fresh sound found on "Downstream," which not only highlights the band's unfolding songcraft, but also their aspirations as an evolving and growing outfit.

New Monsoon was originally conceived in 1997 when former Penn State friends Bo Carper and Jeff Miller became re-acquainted in California. With Carper's rootsy acoustic fingerstyle as a foil for Miller's jazz inspired melodies, the pair sowed the seeds of the New Monsoon sound. While searching for a bass player, Canadian drummer Marty Ylitalo was discovered by accident and ultimately joined the band. After increased exposure in the vibrant Bay Area music scene, tabla virtuoso Rajiv Parikh began to sit in. It was soon apparent he would play an important role in the band's developing sonic signature and is now a full-time member. Floridian Conguero Brian Carey arrived in San Francisco in late 2000 to continue his music career and began searching for a "Latin band with horns." The prospect of joining a band that would include three drummers, however, was so enticing that Carey became a New Monsoon member overnight. Finally, during the recording of the band's first album in early 2001, the band tapped long-time friend Phil "The Pianimal" Ferlino for keyboard tracks. Encouraged by the project, Ferlino quickly moved to San Francisco and immediately joined the band on-stage at the 2001 High Sierra Music Festival.

The best way to experience New Monsoon's sound is to hear them live. No two shows are the same and fan recordings of New Monsoon performances have become a favorite among tapers and traders in musical communities throughout the country. At any given performance, you are likely to hear a multitude of genres, since the band does everything from country and bluegrass to Latin and reggae to jazz and rock 'n' roll. There is also a heavy Afro-Cuban and Indian vibe along with a progressive use of melody and rhythm woven into the mix to get people up and dancing. New Monsoon's live energy is unparalleled, and their sound flows are relentlessly upbeat, all the while maintaining an irresistible groove. A live New Monsoon show is all about pushing the positive and connecting with the audience and music, something that keeps live music fans coming back for more and more..