Rayland Baxter @ Treefort 11
Saturday, March 25th, 2023
5:30PM $30 adv / $ door
Treefort Music Fest Presents
Saturday, March 25th
at TREEFORT MUSIC HALL
5:30pm doors / 6:00pm show
Free with Treefort wristband.
All tickets are General Admission.
#treefort11 | March 22-26, 2023
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Shapeshifting on an axis between folk, alternative, country, and soul, Bendigo Fletcher’s lofty melodies soar above earthy instrumentation on their 2022 Wingding EP [Elektra Records]. Charmed with psychedelic flourishes, yet tightly rooted in tried-and-true songcraft, the Louisville quintet—Ryan Anderson [lead vocals, guitar, banjo], Andrew Shupert [backing vocals, lead guitar], Evan Wagner [backing vocals, keys, guitar, percussion], Conner Powell [bass], and Chris Weis [drums]—continues to instantly transfix across the EP’s four tracks. “More than a few times, I’ve explored the Wingding font universe as an entertaining break from more pressing tasks. I like the name ‘Wingding’ for a fictional creature, like the Mothman of West Virginia folklore. It’s also another word for party,” Anderson says. “This EP is a collection of distractions we built over the last few years when gatherings and adventures felt pretty unattainable.” After crisscrossing paths in the Louisville scene and life in general (“Chris is my brother-in-law’s childhood best friend,” notes Anderson), Bendigo Fletcher initially formed in 2016. The group organically built an audience across their native Kentucky one gig at a time. During 2018, they made waves with the independent Consensual Wisdom EP highlighted by fan favorites “Wonderfully Bizarre” and “Soul Factory.” Following a tireless grind, the band signed to Elektra Records and unveiled their debut album, Fits of Laughter in 2021. Beyond amassing millions of streams, the album earned widespread critical acclaim from Rolling Stone, American Songwriter, FLOOD Magazine, and more. Music Connection dubbed it, “Alt-rock, country-flecked folk-rock soaked in LSD,” while Atwood Magazine praised the collection as “a record of reverie, celebration, and true to its name, laughter: music made for good times and bad, that promises to leave us all a little more elated.” Along the way, Bendigo Fletcher captivated crowds on tour with the likes of Rainbow Kitten Surprise, Hiss Golden Messenger, Mt. Joy, Nathaniel Rateliff, Anderson East, Rayland Baxter, and Shakey Graves. In 2022, Bendigo Fletcher returned to Nashville, TN’s Cartoon Moon Recording Studio to track their Wingding EP. Once again, the band teamed with Fits of Laughter producer and original Wilco/Uncle Tupelo drummer Ken Coomer in the studio. For the first time, the band enlisted Grizzly Bear bassist and producer, Chris Taylor, as a mixer. “In addition to the brilliance of Ken’s ear as a song maker, I appreciate the environment he maintains,” notes Ryan. “All ideas are considered, and we try to just have fun trying new sounds. I think that mentality lends to a unique blend, keeping the band outside of any one box. And I’ve found constant inspiration in Chris’ work as a soundscaper since a friend introduced me to Veckatimest in high school. Having him on the project was really exciting, and I think his mixes present the band’s ethos in a beautifully natural way.” The act of making the record opened a portal outside of the madness and mundanity of the last two years. Between holding down a job at a grocery store, Ryan picked up a pen and a guitar in his apartment and creatively departed this mortal coil. “The songs were my way of coping with the idle uncertainty of the early pandemic months and escaping into a creative space to keep my spirit alive. They come from a more imaginative place where I feel a freedom to process and color some experiences in a productive light.” The collection’s lead single “Pterodactyl” drifts into the arms of ethereal piano, woozy slide guitar, percussive handclaps, and wistful whistling. Meanwhile, Ryan ponders everything from budding love to “the witching hour for the higher power” via strangely saccharine melodies. “It gradually bloomed with different instruments and textures in the studio,” he recalls. “The song kind of unfolds like a long-game relationship. It begins vulnerably and intimately, and evolves into deeper layers of musical support and mystery.” The opener “Stranger Encounters” hinges on a delicate stomp and twangy guitars as a close encounter of a different kind happens… “During the COVID lockdown, I found myself watching more sci-fi—X Files, Twin Peaks, the Alien movies— for entertainment and comfort,” he says. “This one’s about just getting out there and living, tasting, touching, experiencing through my own senses. We’re all part of an ecology of diverse preferences and individual truths, and this song is a celebration of that.” Then, there’s “Juniper Moore.” Wrapped in a blanket of luminous guitar and piano, a hypnotic refrain pierces the sky with “a weird lasagna of feelings.” “I’ve imagined a far-fetched romance or two that works out beautifully in another universe,” he states. “This song helped me to play a bit in that loneliness. I think a lot about the fine line within technology’s capabilities to either remedy or exacerbate that loneliness.” Meanwhile, the bright acoustic guitar and lithe vocal delivery of “Broken Routine” fall back to earth with “some glimpses at a relationship that has worked out well.” “We hope to provide a few moments of musical distractions for anyone who needs them,” he leaves off. “The EP dances between confession and fabrication for what feels like a cleanse of imagination. It’s a relief to share a few more stories from that place.”
As much as she’s a songwriter, Esther Rose is a scene setter, a crystallizer of moments, and a full time inhabitant of the dimly-lit world depicted in her songs. Rose found her voice over the course of years spent regularly performing and recording in New Orleans, combining her DIY work ethic with an affinity for traditional country arrangements. Though still dressed with the dreamy lap steel, fiddle, and string bass accompaniment of earlier material, sophomore album You Made It This Far took on a far more personal tone. The songs were at times cuttingly direct, with storytelling lyrics culled straight from lived experiences both stormy and revelatory.
This unadulterated self searching reached new levels of emotional resonance on third album How Many Times. Tracked live to tape with help from co-producer Ross Farbe from synth pop band Video Age, Rose and her small band cultivate a warm, lived-in atmosphere to deliver songs that are deceptively restless and turbulent. Swaying vocal harmonies and dialed back, straightforward instrumental backing congeal around Rose’s most fully realized work to date. As the album spins on, Rose navigates the chaos, upheaval, and exposed nerves of self discovery, and tells the tale with an intimacy that makes even the most painful moments feel almost sweet.
ROSCOE IS A ROAD DOG. THE 14-YEAR-OLD BOSTON TERRIER HAS BEEN THERE FOR THE WHOLE RIDE OF MAPACHE, CLAY FINCH AND SAM BLASUCCI’S BAND, WHICH HAS GROWN FROM BEING THE CASUAL PROJECT OF TWO LONGTIME BUDS TO ONE OF THE MOST FORMIDABLE COSMIC-FOLK ACTS AROUND. “ROSCOE’S BEEN THROUGH A LOT OF SHIT,” SAYS BLASUCCI, THE DOG’S OWNER. “HE’S BEEN ALL AROUND THE COUNTRY, COME ON TOUR A LITTLE BIT.” WITH SOME BEMUSED PRIDE, FINCH POINTS OUT THAT, FOR A FEW YEARS, HE AND BLASUCCI BUNKED TOGETHER IN A ROOM IN THE ECHO PARK NEIGHBORHOOD OF LOS ANGELES THAT WAS JUST BIG ENOUGH TO FIT TWO TWIN BEDS. “IT WAS THE TWO OF US AND THE DOG,” HE LAUGHS.
Friko, a trio that’s cemented itself as a stalwart in the Chicago music scene, is frontman Niko Kapetan, bassist Luke Stamos, and drummer Bailey Minzenberger. Praised by the Chicago Tribune as “perfect slices of indie-pop,” their music is complex and dynamic, flickering between explosive rock, chamber pop, and serene sonics. It becomes even more pronounced in their live performances, where a crowd frenzied by wailing guitars finds itself minutes later collectively holding its breath, enamored by hypnotic strings and Kapetan’s emotive vocals.