89.3 The Current presents
THE CACTUS BLOSSOMS 2020 Residency
THE CACTUS BLOSSOMS
Blood Harmony. Whether it’s The Beach Boys, Bee Gees or First Aid Kit, that sibling vocal blend is the secret sauce in some of the most spine-tingling moments in popular music. The Cactus Blossoms – Minneapolis-based brothers Page Burkum and Jack Torrey – offer compelling evidence that this tradition is alive and well, with a deceptively unadorned musical approach that offers “creative turns of phrase, gorgeous harmonies, and an ageless sound” (NPR All Things Considered), not to mention spine tingles aplenty.
Their 2016 debut You’re Dreaming, a stunning and transporting collection of original songs, earned high praise from Rolling Stone and Vice Noisey, tour stints with Kacey Musgraves and Lucius, and a perfectly cast performance on the third season of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Now their unlikely rise continues with new album Easy Way, to be released on their own label Walkie Talkie Records.
While many bands would have been content to stick with the winning formula of their debut, the Blossoms refused to repeat themselves. If You’re Dreaming celebrated their vintage country and rock influences, Easy Way reveals a songwriting style that has changed, evolved, and gotten more modern. Dan Auerbach, another artist who knows from bedrock influences, co-wrote two songs on the album. “Dan’s love for songwriting was inspiring, just the kick in the pants we needed to start writing again after being on the road,” says Page.
The brothers’ decision to produce the new album themselves no doubt led to the new sound. “We wanted the freedom to experiment with our own weird ideas,” says Jack, “We used to joke that the working title album should be Expensive Demos.” As they crisscrossed the nation on tour, the brothers would stop through Alex Hall’s Reliable Recorders studio in Chicago to chase the new sound they were after. The result joins together what would otherwise be distant corners of the American songbook. Both the traditional twang of Chicago pedal steel guitarist Joel Paterson (Devil in a Woodpile, The Western Elstons) and the primal wail of free jazz saxophonist Michael Lewis (Bon Iver, Andrew Bird) are at home on the album. Just as they did with their debut, the brothers found a voice all their own.
The follow up to his well-revered holiday album Hi-Fi Christmas Guitar, this is Joel Paterson's new collection of vintage instrumental, guitar-centric covers of songs from the Beatles’ catalog, entitled Let It Be Guitar! Joel Paterson Plays The Beatles. The album features the guitarist’s signature blend of vintage jazz, exotica, blues, rockabilly, western swing, and country, and uses classic Beatles songs as a sonic template for the mid-century musical journey.
Let It Be Guitar! showcases fresh new arrangements of these familiar tunes, employing a wide variety of musical styles and guitar sounds, paying tribute to Paterson’s biggest influences including Les Paul, Chet Atkins, Jorgen Ingmann, James Burton, Buddy Emmons, Ernest Ranglin and many more.
Of the inspiration for the album, Paterson says, “This is the guitar record I’ve always wanted to make. I love the Beatles and their artistry and attention to detail in the recording studio—and I love all-things-guitar. So, I had a great time diving into these amazing songs, coming up with my own arrangements, and at the same time paying tribute to some of my favorite guitarists and vintage recording techniques of yesteryear.”
The album’s liner notes were written by singer/songwriter and fellow vintage appreciator JD McPherson, who picturesquely describes the album: “Each of Joel’s interpretations of these songs are concise, genre-bending, stylish tone poems, mixing both Joel’s and the Beatles’ own century-spanning inspirations into one zesty musical stew. Contained within certain tracks, you may even find nods to OTHER instrumentalists who have delved into the Beatles’ body of work… It’s almost the meta-sonic equivalent of a Liverpudlian Rube Goldberg drawing.”
Recorded in Chicago at Reliable Recorders and at Paterson’s home studio, Let It Be Guitar! features Joel on guitar, pedal steel, and lap steel; Beau Sample (Devil in a Woodpile, The Modern Sounds, The Fat Babies) on bass; Alex Hall (The Flat Five, The Western Elstons, The Fat Babies) on drums; and Chris Foreman on Hammond B3 organ.
One of the busiest musicians on the roots music scene today, Paterson can be heard playing with The Modern Sounds, The Joel Paterson Organ Trio featuring Chris Foreman, Devil in a Woodpile, The Western Elstons, and many other Chicago-based projects.