ether

THE BAND OF HEATHENS at Austin City Limits

The guys in the Band of Heathens are fond of saying they became a unit by accident. But that’s like saying the Big Bang was an accident. Unplanned, maybe, but hardly random. One might even argue that a kind of destiny was involved. The merger of singer/songwriters/multi-instrumentalists Ed Jurdi, Gordy Quist and Colin Brooks, with bassist Seth Whitney and drummer John Chipman, from their respective solo careers and bands may not be akin to a cosmic explosion, but their current album, One Foot in the Ether, offers irrefutable evidence that they were meant to be together — and have evolved into a solid entity worthy of the comparisons they receive to the Black Crowes, The Band and Little Feat.

One Foot in the Ether, released in September 2009, is the Band of Heathens’ strongest work so far. That’s saying something, considering their last three releases (two live and one studio) brought the band out from relative obscurity to playing 250-plus shows a year for their rabid fan base, as well as a coveted taping for the 35th Anniversary season of the Austin City Limits television program. Both their last album and One Foot in the Ether reached No. 1 on the Americana Music Association Radio chart. The last (eponymous) album earned the band an Americana Music Association Honors & Awards nomination for 2009 New Emerging Artist of the Year, with One Foot in the Ether clinching a 2010 Americana nomination for Best Duo or Group. The group took Best New Band honors at the 2007 Austin Music Awards, shortly after their current lineup came into place as the band morphed from a side-project to a cohesive tight unit. And the band significantly expanded its reach with recent appearances at Lollapalooza, Wakarusa and the Austin City Limits festival.

One listen to One Foot in the Ether makes apparent that the Heathens’ three-front-man approach to writing and performing over the past three years has paid off in the studio. Aside from the confidence necessary to pull off releasing two live albums before releasing a studio album, it’s evident that their unorthodox career strategy suits them well.

“The band doesn’t like to do things safely,” Quist explains about their aversion to using set lists, planned programming, or, for that matter, a planned career path. “Random and Chance might actually be named as extra band members in the liner notes somewhere.”

One Foot in the Ether was unplanned. The Heathens started booking short bursts of studio time in Austin while they were in town, with no producer and no expectations. They would just set up live in one room and push “record.” They weren’t intending to make a full-length album, but the muses felt otherwise.  As more and more songs started coming together, the band would layer other textures over the live performances to add depth to the sound. The guys say they were going for a specific sound, but letting things be loose and spontaneous was essential to capturing the group’s essence. As they went deeper into the sessions, the project went from the originally planned (or unplanned) three or four songs to 16 completed songs. “It became apparent that we had a full-length album on our hands and we started honing things down to make a cohesive album,” said Jurdi.

Not given to overly detailed explanations, the Band of Heathens loosely define the sound they’ve achieved on One Foot in the Ether simply as rock ’n’ roll. While the last Heathens album may have been slightly more acoustic and swampier, this album is heavier, both thematically and sonically. It’s muscular with electric guitars, Hammond organs, vintage electric pianos and pill-bottle slides, all fine ingredients for rock ’n’ roll in its purest form.

And rock ’n’ roll is all over this album, in tracks like the Gram-Parsons-meets-Neil-Young stomp “L.A. County Blues” (which pays tribute to the great writer Hunter S. Thompson), the New Orleans/Motown-influenced “Say,” and the Saturday-night gospel-meetin’ showstopper “Shine a Light.” Then there’s the back-alley sounds of “Golden Calf,” which, with a nod to Tom Waits, addresses the darker side of humanity; the hot-off-the-floor funk of “You’re Gonna Miss Me”; and four-on-the-floor six-minute-plus jam “Somebody Tell the Truth.” The hypnotic-sounding closing hymn, “Hey Rider,” is “a call for peace, within and without,” according to Brooks. The album contains one cover, the Gillian Welch/David Rawlings tune “Look at Miss Ohio.”  The record echoes the greats from Dylan to Waits and Townes Van Zandt to Otis Redding, but the band is drawing from the wellspring that is American music to forge something present and immediate and new.

With a five-album record deal offer from one of the major-independent record labels on the table, the Band of Heathens opted to remain indie, releasing One Foot in the Ether on their own BOH Records, just as they released their last self-titled studio album. Brooks explains, “In the current ‘climate change’ of the music business, nobody knows how it is going to work so we are not averse to trying things our own way and experimenting.”

The press has appreciated the Heathens’ approach. Maverick called One Foot in the Ether a “quality album from a quality group.” Blurt said: “An album that echoes their down-home resolve, One Foot in the Ether finds them putting their best foot forward.” The jam band ’zine Honest Tune declared: “One Foot in the Ether is an ever-evolving masterwork that gets better with every replay.” And according to hometown Austin Chronicle, “One Foot in the Ether is sure to reinforce the band's place in the Austin music scene . . . ready-made for sitting on the back porch with a cold beer, a rock ’n’ soul affair evocative of Little Feat, The Band and The Black Crowes.”

Notes Brooks, “We have three distinct writers/singers who share the front but make a unified sound, not unlike some bands of the late ’60s and early ’70s, when the music was what drove the wheel, not the tabloid pop-star personality with a great rack. Don’t get me wrong: everybody loves boobs,” he adds, exhibiting a bit of the band’s characteristic deadpan humor. “The problem is, you can fake tits, but you can’t fake soul.”

No, you can’t fake soul. You just know it when you hear it.

Check out the Band of Heathens at Austin City Limits on October 8th @ 4:45 PM

THE BAND OF HEATHENS NOMINATED FOR "BEST DUO OR GROUP"

The Band of Heathens, whose current album One Foot in the Ether reached #1 on the Americana airplay charts and has won critical kudos from the indie-rock, alt-country and jam press alike, were nominated this week in the Americana Honors & Awards category of ”Best Duo or Group.” It is the band’s second nomination for the Honors & Awards; the first was last year’s nomination for “Best Emerging Duo or Group.”

In what will prove a pivotal year for the Band of Heathens, the quintet will also perform at Lollapalooza in Chicago’s Grant Park in August, and at the Wakarusa festival in Arkansas. Also this past year, the band performed on the nationally televised PBS program Austin City Limits on a bill with Elvis Costello.

The guys in the Band of Heathens are fond of saying they became a unit by accident. But one might argue that a kind of destiny was involved in the merger of singer/songwriters/multi-instrumentalists Ed Jurdi, Gordy Quist and Colin Brooks with bassist Seth Whitney and drummer John Chipman, all of whom came from various solo careers and groups. Their new album, One Foot in the Ether, offers irrefutable evidence that they were meant to be together — and have evolved into a solid entity worthy of the comparisons they receive to the Black Crowes, the Band and Little Feat.

Maverick magazine called One Foot in the Ether album “a quality album from a quality group,” adding, “If you haven’t caught up with this group, why not?” The Wall Street Journal reviewer pronounced their live show at SXSW 2009 the “best set I came across during my five nights in town.” Blurt noted: “An album that echoes their down-home resolve, One Foot in the Ether finds them putting their best foot forward.”

The Americana Honors & Awards ceremony will be held Thursday, September 9 at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. Other nominees in the “Best Duo or Group” category include the Avett Brothers, Carolina Chocolate Drops and the Dave Rawlings Machine.

According to band member Gordy Quist, “We're really pleased to be nominated for this award by the Americana Music Association and to be named along with such amazing artists.  The AMA has supported us from the very start and it's a real honor to be embraced by the Americana community."

SUMMER U.S. TOUR DATES

Fri., May 14  WICHITA FALLS, TX Iron Horse Pub
Sat., May 15  AMARILLO, TX Homer’s Backyard Ball
Sun., May 16  NEW BRAUNFELS, TX Gruene Hall
Thurs., May 20  BELTON, TX Schoepf’s Backyard
Fri., May 21  AUSTIN, TX Antone’s
Sat., May 22   GREENVILLE, TX Municipal Auditorium
Fri., May 28  NEW BRAUNFELS, TX Whitewater Amphitheatre
Sat., May 29  HOUSTON, TX McGonigel’s Mucky Duck
Thurs., June 3  OZARK, AR Wakarusa Music & Camping Festival
Fri., June 4  ARLINGTON, TX Levitt Pavillion
Thurs., June 10  NEW BRAUNFELS, TX Whitewater Amphitheatre
Fri., June 11  KERRVILLE, TX Kerrville Folk Festival
Fri., June 18  LAKE CONROE, TX TBA Free Music Series
Wed., June 23  FORT WORTH, TX Ranch Radio Free TX Music Series
Thurs., June 24  LITTLE ROCK, AR Sticky Fingerz
Fri., June 25  FORT SMITH, AR
Riverfront Blues Festival, Harry E. Kelley Riverfront Park
Sat., June 26  OKLAHOMA CITY, OK Wormy Dog Saloon
Sun., June 27  PLANO, TX Love and War in Texas
Thurs., July 1  AUSTIN, TX Unplugged at the Grove
Fri., July 2  SEGUIN, TX Freedom Fiesta
Sat., July 3  FULTON, TX Charlie Robinson Bay Bash
Sun., July 4  NEW BRAUNFELS, TX Whitewater Amphitheatre
Fri., July 9  FREDERICKSBURG, TX Crossroads Saloon
Sat., July 10  EL CAMPO, TX Greek Brothers Oyster Bar and Grill
Wed., July 21  DURANGO, CO Abbey Theatre
Thurs., July 22  FRISCO, CO Band in the Gazebo
Fri., July 23  TELLURIDE, CO Telluride Americana Music Weekend
Sat., July 24  CARBONDALE, CO Carbondale Mountain Fair
Sun., July 25  DENVER, CO Bluebird Theatre
Wed., July 28  SALT LAKE CITY The State Room
Thurs., July 29  DRIGGS, ID Main Street Park
Fri., July 30  KETCHUM, ID Whiskey Jacques

http://www.gratefulweb.com/newswire/bluegrass/the-band-of-heathens-one-foot-in-the-ether.html

The Band of Heathens Nominated for Americana Honor/Award

The guys in the Band of Heathens are fond of saying they became a unit by accident. But one might argue that a kind of destiny was involved in the merger of singer/songwriters/multi-instrumentalists Ed Jurdi, Gordy Quist and Colin Brooks with bassist Seth Whitney and drummer John Chipman, all of whom came from various solo careers and groups. Their new album, One Foot in the Ether, offers irrefutable evidence that they were meant to be together — and have evolved into a solid entity worthy of the comparisons they receive to the Black Crowes, the Band and Little Feat.

Maverick magazine called One Foot in the Ether album “a quality album from a quality group,” adding, “If you haven’t caught up with this group, why not?” The Wall Street Journal reviewer pronounced their live show at SXSW 2009 the “best set I came across during my five nights in town.” Blurt noted: “An album that echoes their down-home resolve, One Foot in the Ether finds them putting their best foot forward.”

The Americana Honors & Awards ceremony will be held Thursday, September 9 at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. Other nominees in the “Best Duo or Group” category include the Avett Brothers, Carolina Chocolate Drops and the Dave Rawlings Machine.

According to band member Gordy Quist, “We're really pleased to be nominated for this award by the Americana Music Association and to be named along with such amazing artists.  The AMA has supported us from the very start and it's a real honor to be embraced by the Americana community."

SUMMER U.S. TOUR DATES

Fri., May 14  WICHITA FALLS, TX  Iron Horse Pub

Sat., May 15  AMARILLO, TX  Homer’s Backyard Ball

Sun., May 16  NEW BRAUNFELS, TX  Gruene Hall

Thurs., May 20  BELTON, TX  Schoepf’s Backyard

Fri., May 21  AUSTIN, TX  Antone’s

Sat., May 22   GREENVILLE, TX  Municipal Auditorium

Fri., May 28  NEW BRAUNFELS, TX  Whitewater Amphitheatre

Sat., May 29  HOUSTON, TX  McGonigel’s Mucky Duck

Thurs., June 3  OZARK, AR  Wakarusa Music & Camping Festival

Fri., June 4  ARLINGTON, TX  Levitt Pavillion

Thurs., June 10  NEW BRAUNFELS, TX  Whitewater Amphitheatre

Fri., June 11  KERRVILLE, TX  Kerrville Folk Festival

Fri., June 18  LAKE CONROE, TX  TBA Free Music Series

Wed., June 23  FORT WORTH, TX  Ranch Radio Free TX Music Series

Thurs., June 24  LITTLE ROCK, AR  Sticky Fingerz

Fri., June 25  FORT SMITH, AR  Riverfront Blues Festival, Harry E. Kelley Riverfront Park

Sat., June 26  OKLAHOMA CITY, OK  Wormy Dog Saloon

Sun., June 27  PLANO, TX  Love and War in Texas

Thurs., July 1  AUSTIN, TX  Unplugged at the Grove

Fri., July 2  SEGUIN, TX  Freedom Fiesta

Sat., July 3  FULTON, TX  Charlie Robinson Bay Bash

Sun., July 4  NEW BRAUNFELS, TX  Whitewater Amphitheatre

Fri., July 9  FREDERICKSBURG, TX  Crossroads Saloon

Sat., July 10  EL CAMPO, TX  Greek Brothers Oyster Bar and Grill

Fri., July 23  TELLURIDE, CO  Telluride Americana Music Weekend

Thurs., July 29  DRIGGS, ID  Main Street Park

Fri., July 30  KETCHUM, ID  Whiskey Jacques

The Band of Heathens: One Foot in the Ether

The Band of Heathens’ self-titled studio debut album brought the band from relative obscurity to playing 250-plus shows a year for their rabid fan base, as well as a coveted taping for this year’s 35th Anniversary season of Austin City Limits. The album hit No. 1 on the Americana Music Association Radio chart, spending two weeks in the top spot against formidable competition. It charted a total of 34 weeks in the U.S., held No. 1 for two months on the Euro-Americana chart, and was No. 8 on the AMA’s Top 100 albums of 2008 list. The Wall Street Journal’s Jim Fusilli wrote, “The Band of Heathens, an Austin-based group, played the best set I came across during my five nights in town (at SXSW 2009).”

band-of-heathensHow does a band follow a year like that? Indeed the bar has been set high. But one listen to the new album, One Foot in the Ether, due out September 15 on BOH Records through Redeye Distribution, makes apparent that the Heathens’ three-frontman approach to writing and performing over the past three years has paid off in the studio. Apart from the confidence necessary to pull off releasing two live albums before releasing 2008’s debut studio record, it’s evident that their unorthodox career strategy suits them well.

“The band doesn’t do things safely,” explains Gordy Quist, one of the group's three frontmen. “Random and Chance might actually be named as extra band members in the liner notes somewhere.”

The guys in the band are fond of saying they became a unit by accident. But that’s like saying the Big Bang was an accident: unplanned, maybe, but hardly random. The merger of three singers/songwriters/multi-instrumentalists — Quist, Ed Jurdi and Colin Brooks — resulted in a solid entity worthy of the comparisons the band receives to the Black Crowes, The Band and Little Feat.

One Foot in the Ether wasn't initially conceived as a full-length album, but the muses felt otherwise.  The band started booking short bursts of studio time in Austin while they were in town, with no producer and no expectations. As they continued deeper into the sessions, the project went from the originally planned (or un-planned) three to four songs to 16 completed songs. “It became apparent that we had a full-length album on our hands and started honing things down to make a cohesive album,” Jurdi said.

Not given to labeling their music, The Band of Heathens loosely define the sound they’ve achieved on One Foot in the Ether simply as rock ‘n’ roll. While the last Heathens album might have been more acoustic and swampier, this album is heavier — both thematically and sonically. It’s muscular with guitars, Hammond organs, vintage electric pianos and pill-bottle slides — all fine ingredients for rock ‘n’ roll in its purest form.

With a five-album record deal offer from one of the major-independent record labels on the table, The Band of Heathens opted to release the new album on their own BOH Records, just as they did their last self-titled studio album that won the accolades. Brooks explains, “In the current ‘climate change’ of the music business, nobody knows how it is going to work so we are not averse to trying things our own way and experimenting.”

The year ahead holds much promise, starting with the worldwide September 15 release of One Foot in the Ether. In July, the band taped Austin City Limits, an opportunity that came to them when the program’s producer, Terry Lickona, first saw the group at the Americana Music Conference last September. He was amused that he’d traveled 1,200 miles to discover a band that lived in his backyard. The ACL episode also features Elvis Costello and will air November 7. The band will tour Europe in fall, following a Ryman Auditorium appearance the American Music Awards on September 17. And then it’s time to log miles on the odometer as they cross America for the rest of the year and into next.