Formed in 2012 by singer-songwriters Grahame Lesh & Elliott Peck and taking their cue from the fertile Bay Area music scene, Midnight North has announced their fifth album Diamonds on the Zodiac, a continuation of their musical direction forged during the release of the group’s 2021 record There’s Always a Story. Today, they share the lead single “The Colors Here” which is a direct testament to their rich Bay Area heritage featuring Phil Lesh on bass. The track is accompanied by a lyric video by Bonez Studios that can be viewed HERE.
In addition to the family bloodlines between Phil and Grahame Lesh, “The Colors Here” is a genuine second-generation family affair as it features Amy Helm, daughter of The Band’s Levon Helm and singer-songwriter Libby Titus, on vocals, The song is filled out by the group’s bassist/vocalist Connor O’Sullivan and guest violinist Jason Crosby.
Elliot based the piano-driven lead single on memories of tornadoes growing up in the midwest along with the Judy Garland movie of Frank Baum’s 'The Wizard of Oz,' where the screen goes from black-and-white to technicolor when Dorothy finds she’s not in Kansas anymore. Elliot details, “‘The Colors Here’ is a song about surviving hardship and being able to experience the beauty on the other side of tragedy. The lyrics play with themes from the book & movie “The Wizard of Oz,” which became one of my favorite movies as a child. The characters, the story and of course that memorable moment when the movie flips from a black & white landscape to one of rich, magnificent color, made a huge impression on me. So did the theme of having a home where you are always welcome to return, no matter where you’ve been and what you’ve been through. It is a precious thing & one I identify with deeply.
The music and lyrics were written while house-sitting for a friend in Denver during the middle of a huge thunderstorm. And when the rain passed and the thunder stopped, I listened back to what I had written & recorded and felt it was something special worth showing the band.”
Along with lending her vocal talents on multiple tracks on the album, Amy Helm also produced the forthcoming record. Of the family lineage and connecting with Amy, Grahame explains, “Things have come full circle in that it was meeting Amy and Levon Helm at a Ramble in the Barn that gave my parents the inspiration to open Terrapin Crossroads, and having Terrapin was so instrumental in the band’s development. And now Amy produced this album and shepherded these songs to their ultimate form.”
The album’s title Diamonds in the Zodiac comes from the unearthed Robert Hunter lyrics for “Jupiter,” one of two extended tracks on the album. It was recorded at Dave Schools’ (Widespread Panic) Spacecamp in Occidental, California and mixed by D. James Goodwin, who has worked with such luminaries as Bob Weir, The Hold Steady, The National, Goose, and Bonny Light Horseman among many others. Besides the elongated forms in “Jupiter” and Graham’s opening “Questions,” the album is increasingly song-oriented and steeped in bluegrass, country, soul, blues, funk, jazz and gospel – a true Americana melting pot.
The cover art was done by Micah Nelson, aka Particle Kid, and Willie Nelson’s son using acrylic paint mixed with floetrol poured on wood.
In anticipation of the album release, Midnight North will continue to embark on a busy summer tour with dates that include:
7/27 - Victor, ID - Music on Main
7/29 - Salt Lake City, UT - Soundwell
7/30 - Boise, ID - Neurolux Lounge
8/2 - Mariposa, CA - The Grove House
8/3 - Nevada City, CA - Crazy Horse Saloon
8/4 - Felton, CA - Felton Music Hall
8/5 - Livermore, CA - Almost Famous Wine
8/6 - Navarro, CA - Under The Moon Festival
9/27 - Charleston, SC - Charleston Pour House
9/28 - Asheville, NC - Salvage Station
9/29-30 - Nashville, TN - Touch of Brews
11/10 - Menlo Park, CA - The Guild Theatre
Diamonds in the Zodiac will be available on November 10h and can be pre-saved HERE.
For more information and to learn more, visit midnightnorth.com.