There’s a new Pied Piper in town and his name is Ben Klein. That may be a clichéd term for describing a flute player, but as one audience member proclaimed after last Saturday’s performance, “I seriously think Ben might be the best flautist in the entire universe!”
The Morning Folk music series at The Fieldhouse Café offered a unique duo whose one-half is one-third of this year’s Renaissance Festival’s opening night headlining act, Trillian Green. Flute player extraordinaire Ben Klein, along with multi-instrumental maestro Jake Fleming, performed an improvisational set that left the brunch crowd in absolute awe.
The Saturday morning series usually finds the musicians set up in the corner near the entrance, in order for the music to be seen and heard in both dining areas of The Fieldhouse. For this event, Klein and Fleming set up on the stage in the lounge area like it is for the Thursday night music events. Folks in the other dining area might have heard the music, but those close by got to watch Klein playing like he was possessed by Kokopelli, the iconic flute player of Southwest ancient rock art.
Fleming is a respected jazz musician from Bozeman. He is a founding member of the Jeni Fleming Trio and part of Pinky and the Floyd, a Pink Floyd tribute act. At this performance, Fleming created loops that were improvised on the spot, using drum beats, bass guitar, acoustic and electric guitar, and a small two octave keyboard. The slightly jazzy loops provided a base for both he and Klein to improvise over. Fleming would either play tenor sax or acoustic guitar while Klein played flute like few others can.
The music was at times hypnotic, at times mesmerizing, but always amazing. It was fully improvised on the spot. The duo had played together on only one other occasion. As Klein put it before the show, “We have no idea what we’re going to be doing. But we know exactly what we’re going to be doing.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 06 June 2013 19:29
When We Came as Romans recorded its 2008 debut EP, “Dreams,” the group approached the project with a do-or-die attitude.
“Dreams” was either going to get the band off of the ground, or the band was going to crash and burn and the group members would go to college and get on with their lives.
The EP did what it was supposed to, allowing We Came as Romans to tour nationally and paving the way to deals with management, a bigger booking agency and a deal with Equal Vision Records.
These days, that sort of uncertainty doesn’t surround We Came as Romans. The band is coming off of a successful first full-length CD, “To Plant a Seed,” and is established enough to headline the first tour the group is doing behind its recently released second CD, “Understanding What We’ve Grown to Be.”
Does that mean the band members can exhale now, and no longer feel the pressure and urgency that started with “Dreams” and extended into “To Plant a Seed”?
Last Updated on Thursday, 06 June 2013 19:27
At this time last summer, everything seemed to be on track for Lamb of God. The band had released its latest album, “Resolution,” in December 2011, and the album had been greeted with favorable reviews, with some calling it the best album of the group’s two-decade career.
The band had spent the first part of 2012 touring outside of the United States and had a tour set in the States for the fall with Dethklok.
Then Lamb of God’s world got turned upside down. Arriving in the Czech Republic for three shows at the end of June, the band members were blindsided as they arrived at the airport.
“I came off of the plane to, there was a guy on the skyway who was checking passports, checking identifications and as you were. Most people were going to the left, they were sending us off to the right,” Lamb of God bassist Campbell recalled in a phone interview. “I walked up to the top of the skyway, to the side they were telling me to go to, and was asked for my passport and I asked who was asking and I was shown a badge for homicide, and I realized I was more or less surrounded by SWAT dudes with ski masks on and automatic weapons.”
The police were looking for singer Randy Blythe, ready to charge him with manslaughter stemming from an incident at a 2010 Lamb of God concert in Prague in which a fan of the band died.
Last Updated on Thursday, 30 May 2013 19:17
Billings’ favorite girl group, Maxie Ford, has played its second-to-last gig. With summer taking various members separate ways and the fall taking a few to college or other adventures, their last hurrah may very well be at Magic City Blues in August. Not a bad way to wrap up a one-year career.
Formed last August by two daughters of two stalwarts of the Billings music scene, the group of five to six high school students garnered much community and local media support that seemed to build at every turn. The combination of talent, unique instrumentation, eclectic song selection, and adorableness, culminates with an opening slot on the third day of “Montana’s Urban Music Festival.”
Guitarist and vocalist Katy Kemmick’s father, John, is known for his resonator guitar work with the Longtime Lonesome Dogs, the Muddy Warblers, the Peach Pickers and as a duo with his brother, Ed (who made a guest appearance on blues harp at this show).
Guitarist, vocalist and ukulele player Hannah Haberman’s father, Doug, has played bass fiddle, mandolin and guitar with the Elk River Ramblers, Longtime Lonesome Dogs and the Firehouse Band. Both girls are known in the local scene through guest appearances with their dads while growing up, so it was a welcome development when they combined forces to perform with a group of musical friends.
What has helped to set them apart are the instrumentation and set list. Grace Lamdin plays double bass, mid-year addition Jenny Long plays trumpet, and percussionist Nolee Anderson plays tap shoes. That’s right: tap dancing instead of a drum set. Plus, she occasionally raps. Everyone else, except Katy Kemmick, plays a bit of percussion here and there, as well.
Last Updated on Friday, 24 May 2013 00:23
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros had good success with its first CD. The group’s acclaimed debut, “Up From Below,” featured the single “Home,” which got widespread exposure in commercials, movies and television shows.
It might seem that the acclaim and success would have given frontman Alex Ebert and his bandmates plenty of confidence heading into album No. 2, the recently released “Here.”
But that wasn’t the case, Ebert said, because the band dynamic that had developed during three-plus years on tour behind “Up From Below” had changed in significant ways shortly before it was time to start work on the new CD.
The reason: the departures of guitarist/keyboardist Nico Aglietta and keyboardist Aaron Embry – two key members of the group. Aglietta, in particular, had played a key role, co-producing “Up From Below” with Ebert and taking the lead on technical/engineering aspects of the project.
“I’d rather not talk about why (Aglietta and Embry left) exactly, but it was just sort of a part of the process, I suppose,” Ebert said. “Whenever things feel like they’re crumbling and you’ve been working really hard at something for a long time, and the feeling of it is getting a little wearisome, you start to question exactly what you’re doing and where is this going. And I think that we all had probably, maybe not all of us, but to have a moment of sort of repose where you’re allowing the question to sit with yourself for a second.
Last Updated on Friday, 24 May 2013 00:21
The second Texas in July CD, “One Reality,” caught the band in a period of transition. In the very early stages of writing that CD, which was released in April 2011, guitarist Logan Maurer left the group.
Maurer had been the main music writer since the band’s inception in 2007, and with guitarist Christian Royer joining drummer Adam Gray as the main music writers, “One Reality” ended up being a bit of a departure from the group’s independently released 2009 debut CD, “I Am.”
“We were all in a weird place with like changing a member,” bassist Ben Witkowski explained in a recent phone interview. “We love the record, but it definitely did tone it down as far as riffing and wild drums. And just overall song structure for a couple of the songs was very mellow. This is just how we were at the time. We were taking on the challenge of writing a record without a huge piece of the band at the time. It was like losing a brother.
“We definitely noticed after it was released that the fans were like ‘Woah, where is the riffing? Where is the shredding, all this type of stuff,’” he said.
The band spent part of the summer recording its self-titled third CD with producer Machine. The album was released on Oct. 9, and Witkowski, who is the group’s primary lyricist, said the album marks a return to more of the early Texas in July.
Last Updated on Thursday, 16 May 2013 20:06
Two Montana American Indian musicians won Native American Music Association awards (NAMMYS) at last weekend’s 14th annual awards show in New York. Joseph FireCrow and Gary Small, both members of the Northern Cheyenne Nation, each won one NAMMY.
FireCrow was awarded the Flutist of the Year NAMMY for his album, “Night Walk.” Small and his band, the Coyote Brothers, were awarded the Best World Music Recording NAMMY for their album, “Hostiles and Renegades.”
Both men are multiple NAMMY recipients going back over a decade.
Both of these talented musicians were nominated along with four others for Artist of the Year. They were the only two nominees from the same tribe in the running for the top award.
The sold-out event was held at the Seneca Niagara Events Center in Niagara Falls, N.Y. Initially scheduled for last November, the ceremony was postponed until May 10 after Hurricane Sandy hit New England shortly before.
Last Updated on Thursday, 16 May 2013 20:04
When three of the earliest members of Primus decided to take its reunion to a new level by following up its 2010 tour with a new album, “Green Naughahyde,” the band turned into something that many fans might not have expected – a truly collaborative trio.
To be sure, bassist/singer Les Claypool remained a prime force when it came to songwriting. But guitarist Larry “Ler” LaLonde and drummer Jay Lane also made significant contributions to the music on “Green Naughahyde.”
LaLonde, who had contributed to the music before, but never written all of the music for any Primus songs, wrote the music to two of the new songs (“Eternal Consumption Engine” and “Hoinfodaman”) and has a co-writing credit on five other tracks, while Lane contributed music to five songs.
In a recent interview, LaLonde explained how his sudden outburst of music happened.
“Most (earlier) Primus albums kind of came from, we tour, tour, tour, and then get off tour and go in and start making an album,” he said. “You’ve got to go into the studio with not having a lot of ideas and start writing in the studio and coming up off the cuff with a lot of stuff. This time, since there was a little bit of a break before this album, I had stockpiled a lot of song ideas. So I’d come in there and go ‘Hey, I’ve got this song idea.’ I had a lot of song ideas. There was time to sort of get them together.
Last Updated on Thursday, 09 May 2013 00:32
My wife had just one complaint about Venture Theatre’s production of “And I Know …” on Sunday afternoon – no Kleenex.
Turnout was small – only a couple of dozen people for the matinee performance – but she wasn’t the only viewer left in tears by the end of the Project Homelessness show.
The play is set in a somewhat fictionalized homeless shelter in Billings, and viewers get a long and unpleasant look at the poor decisions, unfortunate circumstances and plain bad luck that can leave people without a home. Ryan M. Gage and Shad Scott wrote the script from interviews conducted by Jessie Obee and Amy Dixon, who have been here since July working on Project Homelessness as AmeriCorps VISTA members.
Both hung around to talk to viewers after the play, and Ms. Obee, who is from Wisconsin, said that much of the dialog came directly from the transcripts of the interviews they conducted. But one of the situations was somewhat fictionalized, one character was a composite, and the character of the chaplain was based on a real person, but not anyone in Billings.
For all of the tugging the play does at the heart strings, it isn’t exactly dripping with dramatic tension. Characters come and go, tell their heart breaking stories and then move on from the shelter to the rest of their lives – or not. Sort of like real life.
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 May 2013 20:24
When Aaron Bruno finished “Megalithic Symphony,” his debut album as Awolnation, he felt something he’d never quite experienced before.
“I was extremely proud of the record I had made, more than ever before,” he said in an early March phone interview. “I just felt I really did something unique and special and original that truly for the first time in my life I had no regrets, nor did I really question any of the parts.”
That’s not to say Bruno thought this would translate into a hit album.
“I didn’t have any expectations of commercial success, because that’s the business side as well,” he said. “Just because you have a song that 10 strangers could get in a room and all agree ‘You know what, this song does sound like a hit song to me,’ that doesn’t mean that it will be.”
Bruno had good reason to temper any thoughts about chart success or radio play for his new music. His two previous bands failed to make an impact, even though they seemed positioned for success.
Last Updated on Thursday, 11 April 2013 21:44