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“WE is not about you and me or even ‘us,’ the band. It’s about finding our way in the world one day at a time trying to live out each moment until the sun goes down.” Parsonsfield has been through the wringer of ups and downs and decided for the first time since the band’s 2011 conception to take a two-month break from touring to focus solely on recording. The result is WE, a contemplative EP filled with real life struggle and excitement. The album takes us from the joys of childhood discovery to the depression and confusion of a quarter-life crisis, and ends with dancing your way toward the darkness at the end of days.
“Everyone finds themselves searching for this theoretical ‘thing’ that is supposed to make them happy. Whether it’s a relationship or financial comfort, there’s a goal in our minds that once achieved, we’ll be able to start enjoying life,” says singer/songwriter and banjo player Chris Freeman. “Our circumstances, whether we’re rich or poor, are only half of what determines happiness. The rest is our thoughts, habits and connections with other people,” adds songwriter and mandolin player Antonio Alcorn. “WE is an inner journey to appreciate what you have, and to find happiness no matter what your lot in life.”
In a concise five songs, WE captures the band’s maturing sound, winding its way through a full range of emotions. It has as much influence from 90’s rock and 70’s R&B as it does the folk-pop material that fans have come to expect from the western Massachusetts based outfit. The album opens with a forlorn mandolin that grows into the groovy “Light of the City,” a song about profound loneliness in the most crowded place on earth. “Go Find Yourself” captures the fading of childhood excitement as you tumble down a prescribed path toward the rest of your life, realizing it won’t bring you happiness. The song takes a cosmic step back and pleads, “when love comes to find you, don’t run and hide.” The danceable, invigorating “Kick Out The Windows,” written in reaction to Dylan Thomas’ poem “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night,” is a resonant anthem of defiance and redemption, showcasing Parsonsfield’s enduring vein of passion.
Leading up to the recording of WE, Parsonsfield built a home studio where they retreated to workshop song ideas and experiment with recording techniques. “There were more demos and versions of these songs than any other songs we have written. It was a much more thoughtful process with 90% of our ideas not sticking. Since recording our last album, Blooming Through The Black, we scored a film and wrote instrumental music for the first time, which opened new horizons for this record.”
When it came time to go into the studio with producer Dan Cardinal (Josh Ritter, The Low Anthem, Darlingside), Parsonsfield had more material than ever before. “Dan challenged us even further to play with sampled drums and more effected sounds giving the music more depth and mood. Although this was our first time working in a traditional recording studio, we didn’t want to lose the space that our demos had. So we made sure that songs like ‘Light of the City’ and ‘Take Me Back’ maintained that minimalism that we fell in love with on our demo.”
WE is the highly anticipated fourth release from Parsonsfield, a quintet praised for making «the most jubilant and danceable indie roots music this side of the Carolinas” (NPR). The band continues to push the boundaries of their harmony- driven grassroots origins creating their own distinctive Americana, integrating pop and bold rock flourishes along the way.
Just remember, WE is not about you and me. Freeman continues, “It’s about struggling with depression and anxiety from living in a divisive world, yet we have so much to be grateful for. It's about being at the crossroads of yesterday's dreams and tomorrow's plans.”
Drums, guitar, and vocals are the backbone and energy behind the new album LIGHTNING KID, the debut record of New Jersey based power-duo Dharmasoul. With Jonah Tolchin on guitar, Kevin Clifford on drums, and the two singing both lead and backup vocals, this duo brings their songwriting and production chops to their new band Dharmasoul. Audiences who’ve heard the two in concert look around to see who else is playing up on stage due to the fullness of the sound and the sheer energy of these musicians as they pour every bit of creativity and originality into their compositions, improvisatory performance, and expert musicianship.
Although Dharmasoul is difficult to narrow down into one genre, they can best be described through their noted influences of contemporary artists such as Medeski Martin Wood & Scofield, Vulfpeck, D’Angelo, Soulive, Snarky Puppy, and Lettuce as well as throwback influences including The Meters, Staple Singers, Otis Redding, The Allman Brothers Band, and Stevie Wonder.
Jonah and Kevin have been on contrasting yet complementary musical journeys since childhood, but each time their paths converged, they discovered an inspirational energy that they now bring to the music of Dharmasoul. Although they both grew up in Princeton, NJ, they met for the first time when they were fifteen at the 2008 National Guitar Workshop in Connecticut, a multi-instrumental camp. Their cohort had only one drummer (Kevin) and many guitar players, but Jonah and Kevin found themselves playing together on the one night out in a real club—where suddenly the audience got really quiet and listened--and later that summer they got together to jam in Kevin’s basement.
When Jonah arrived at the camp he was already a passionate blues guitar player. At the age of 15 he met and jammed with blues legend Ronnie Earl in a music shop in Keene, New Hampshire, and had the first big thrill of his musical life when Earl invited him to sit in at Tupelo Music Hall (Londonderry, NH) a few months later. After graduating from high school Jonah hit the road and started a solo performance and recording career. The first year out of high school he had released one EP (Eldawise) and a full-length record (Criminal Man) and was performing at the Newport Folk Festival (summer 2012). A year later he was signed to Yep Roc Records and the company released his next two records, Clover Lane (2014) and Thousand Mile Night (2016). Since 2014 he has had success in the streaming world, racking up over 10 million plays on Spotify. He has also collaborated and worked in the studio with notable list of musicians including Steve Berlin (Los Lobos), John McCauley (Deer Tick), Mickey Raphael (Willie Nelson), Scarlett Rivera (Bob Dylan), Ben Knox Miller (The Low Anthem) Anderson East, Sam Amidon, Greg Leisz, James Gadson, Eric Heywood, and many more.
Jonah has shared stages throughout the United States and Europe with artists including Greg Allman, Tony Joe White, Dave & Phil Alvin, Chris Smither, Justin Townes Earle, Rickie Lee Jones, Tom Paxton, Burton Cummings, Chuck Prophet, Mandolin Orange, to name a few. He has produced albums for Julie Rhodes and Bill Scorzari.
When Kevin met Jonah at National Guitar Workshop, he was already an accomplished musician. At five he started studying piano with his mother, a classically trained pianist, and he began playing drums at ten. In high school he entered the jazz band and pit orchestra, joined a Youth Orchestra, and took marimba and concert percussion under the tutelage of Peter Saleh.
Kevin graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans, where he was inspired by Brian Blade and Stanton Moore, jazz and funk drummers who had attended Loyola. Experiencing music in New Orleans opened him to worlds of hip-hop, neo-soul, traditional/modern jazz, Brazilian, and Afro-Cuban styles. At Loyola, he was featured in masterclass sessions with trumpeter Sean Jones, saxophonist Miguel Zenon, drummer Henry Cole, and percussionist Pedrito Martinez. At 19 he performed at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival with the Loyola Jazz Band and later with Mikayla Braun. He became an in-demand multi-stylist drummer playing with gypsy jazz groups, electronic/hip-hop, indie-folk, and singer/songwriter acts. In addition to songwriting and playing with Dharmasoul, Kevin currently teaches private percussion lessons to all ages in Princeton, NJ.
It was Jonah’s album Clover Lane that brought Jonah and Kevin back together again in 2014. During Kevin’s senior year in college, he received a Facebook message from Jonah asking if Kevin could accompany him at the SXSW festival to support Jonah’s solo release Clover Lane. The synergy between them that they had experienced years before at that Hartford bar was reignited. By 2017 the two musicians had formed a true musical brotherhood and were touring throughout the country backing up other artists as well as playing Tolchin’s original solo work.
July 1st, the duo Dharmasoul was formed and in August 2017 they recorded their debut album, LIGHTNING KID at Verdant Studios (Pete Weiss) in Athens, VT, with friends Brendan Moore (keys), Matt Murphy (bass), and Laurence Scudder (viola). The crew recorded the full record live, with minimal overdubs. Following the session at Verdant Studios, they added overdubs with Cindy Walker and Marie Lewey (who Jonah had worked with when he produced both “Bound to Meet the Devil” by Julie Rhodes, and “Through These Waves”, for Bill Scorzari). who recorded background vocals at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama; engineered by John Gifford III (who engineered Jonah’s “Thousand Mile Night”). The album will be released in Spring 2018. When it comes to what Dharmasoul means for them, Jonah and Kevin both reference not only their great respect for one another’s talents but also their friendship.
This project feels like something that’s been waiting for ten years,» comments Tolchin. «Yet it couldn’t have happened any sooner than it did. LIGHTNING KID represents a culmination of our collective influences throughout our years as music appreciators and players, ranging from folk and world music to funk, jazz, blues, rock, hip-hop, R&B, and gospel. Adds Clifford, „We don’t think about fitting into specific genres. That’s what makes our partnership so special. We have an openness and a clarity that respects and honors freedom of musical expression.“
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