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AMERICANA CURRENTS: Concert Features the Next Incarnation of American Roots Music

AMERICANA CURRENTS: Concert Features the Next Incarnation of American Roots Music

Saint ParadeBrother, SisterThe Royal USFear for the Dust and Badlands put contemporary spins on traditional sounds—ranging from avant sea shanties to doom country ballads.  

April 18, Valencia, CA—The five bands in Americana Currents, part of California Institute of the Arts’ (CalArts) Wild Beast Concert Series, exemplify a new breed of young American musicians, influenced equally by American roots music and 21st-century sounds. The musicians—all CalArts alumni—combine folk, honky-tonk, country and blues with contemporary pop, rock, metal, and experimental music to create the latest incarnation of musical Americana.

The open-air concert takes place on Saturday, April 18, 2015 at 5 p.m. at the Wild Beast music pavilion on the CalArts campus. Hosted by the Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts, the Wild Beast Concert Series is free and open to the public. Reservations are suggested. 

Americana Currents: includes the 21st-century parlor music of Saint Parade; baroque pop-folk ensemble Brother, Sister; techno-folkies The Royal USFear for the Dust’s shell-shocked sound; and the precision chaos of Badlands

“These musicians are taking influences from authentic American roots music of the 1930s and 1940s, while at the same time being firmly grounded in 21st-century popular and art music,” said CalArts faculty and concert organizer Ulrich Krieger. “With an ease unknown to generations before them, they create a convincing new form of Americana for the current century. Roots music is not dead, and it is not in a museum, but lives, grows and develops through this young generation of musicians.”

The musicians in Americana Currents exemplify the ever-evolving history of American roots music. The pre-World War II folk culture that critic Greil Marcus called “old weird America” has been reinterpreted time and again—from the folk revival of the 1950s, the folk-rock explosion of the ’60s and ’70s, and the alt-country boom of the ’80s and ’90s. More recently, the term New Weird America as been used to describe such 21st-century alternative roots musicians as Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom. Now, with their fearless blending of sources and influences, Americana Currents’ bands are writing the latest chapter in the timeless story of American music. 

The eclectic sensibilities of these bands reflect their genre-bending education at CalArts’ Herb Alpert School of Music. The school offers rigorous training in an unrivaled variety of musical styles and cultures—and this vibrant mix encourages students to work across conventional boundaries. Some of the most compelling voices in popular music today, including pop chanteuse Julia HolterMichael Fitzpatrick of Fitz and the Tantrums and neo-psychedelic singer-songwriter Ariel Pink have emerged from CalArts. Saxophonist and Blue Note artist Ravi Coltrane, trumpeter Ralph Alessi, and pianist James Carney are among the stellar alumni of the Institute’s Jazz Program. Click here for more prominent alumni of the Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts. 

About the bands:

Saint Parade blends traditional balladry, jazz standards, and honkytonk into a timeless yet contemporary sound. Expressive vocals and lyrics channel such poets as Samuel Coleridge, Gregory Corso, and Billy Collins to explore dilemmas of mortality, love and loss. Saint Parade comprises lyricist Jake Faulkner, singer Laura Jean Anderson, pianist John Schwerbel and harpist Jackie Urlik

Singer/guitarists Bobby Halvorson and Laura Anderson of Brother, Sister combine semi-traditional song structure with ornately orchestrated chamber accompaniment—fusing sources ranging from French Impressionism and early Disney, to baroque pop and Americana. String players Yu-ting WuLauren Baba, and Aniela PerryRyan Glass on clarinet; and harpist Jacqui Urlik fill out the ensemble.

Through live electronic manipulation and extended improvisation, “folktronica” band The Royal US draws on the legacy of murder ballads, laments and sea shanties to add a new hybrid sound to the continuing tradition of folk music. Band members Max Kutner on electric guitar, Heather Lockie on vocals and viola, Steven Kai Van Betten on vocals and acoustic guitar, and Brian Saia on synthesis and gadgetry describe their sound as “modern folk by modern folks.”

Fear for the Dust uses techniques culled from the traditions of American song, doom metal, and 21st-century experimental composition—resulting in a sound once described as “a madman whispering in your ear.” The band includes composer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Antony DiGennaroUlrich Krieger on woodwinds, Laura Jean Anderson on guitar and vocals, guitarist Max KutnerDavid Tranchina on double bass, cellist James Barry, and Lauren Baba on strings.

The members of Badlands have absorbed generations of sonic history from Hank Williams’ classic songwriting to Johnny Thunders’ tender yet wild electricity to evoke musical landscapes both beautiful, and intense. Between the melodious vocals of Adrian Tenney, drummer Jade Thacker’s rhythmic intensity, bassist John Barlog’s booming resonance, and guitarist Noah Wolf’s stately chaos, Badlands generates a punk-saturated, intimate and darkly inviting sound.

Links to music by featured bands below.

Saint Parade
The Royal US
Fear for the Dust 

Resources on the evolution of American folk and roots music:

Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
The Old, Weird America: The World of Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes, Greil Marcus
“The New Weird Generation,” Niels van Poecke

Calendar Editors Please Note

Americana Currents
An outdoor concert featuring the latest interpretations of American roots music. 

April 18, 2015 at 5 p.m.

The Wild Beast Music Pavilion on the campus of California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)24700 McBean Parkway, Valencia CA 91355

Free admission 
Reservations suggested

Click here for directions and more information

For information call 661 253 7825