Here’s a link to Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer live on BB2 The Folk Show with host Mark Radcliff. Date: 2/27/2013
Here’s a link to Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer live on BB2 The Folk Show with host Mark Radcliff. Date: 2/27/2013
“Through Mitchell and Hamer, these characters, made flat by design and even more by time, spring into full dimension, ache and grieve and flirt, live and die and get born again.”
In the spring of 2012, bouzouki player, guitarist, and singer Eamon O’Leary and I recorded ten tracks in our apartments on the Lower East Side, in Park Slope, and in a studio space in Dumbo, seven floors up, right beside the Manhattan bridge. We had to wait for the trains to rumble by before we could start each take. In some of the quiet sections, close your eyes and you might even hear the D or N, taking Brooklynites home after work or midnight cocktails. The songs are old traditionals, but we worked on them a lot and gave them new melodies and textures and sections. We sang them in harmony. We picked out the best stuff and send it off to Erick Jaskowiak for mixing and mastering. Now, just in time for the holidays, the ship is in, the fat lady is singing, hell has frozen over, the northwest passage is thawing out, and Obama just won a second term in the White House. I’m proud of this album- please enjoy it and share it with your friends!
For more information on the Murphy Beds, visit any of these links:
The Murphy Beds, featuring Eamon O’Leary and Jefferson Hamer, are playing some shows in October to celebrate the recording and imminent release of their new self-titled album. Recorded in Eamon’s Lower East Side apartment, Jefferson’s erstwhile Park Slope apartment, and a studio electronica space in the famous 68 Jay Street building in Dumbo, the self-produced, homespun effort gets the Midas touch this week by the great Nashville mix engineer Erick Jaskowiak.
Get a preview of the tunes at the Brooklyn concert on Oct. 12, and pick up a physical copy of the record down at the Black Pot in Lafayette, Louisiana! In addition to playing their set Saturday at the Black Pot Chapel Stage, Eamon and Jefferson will be teaching as guest instructors at the Black Pot Camp the week of Oct. 22-26.
Blackpot Festival and Cookoff
Murphy Beds play Saturday, October 27
See website for full lineup and details
I’m writing with some exciting news. My good friend and master fiddler Tashina Clarridge and I are heading to Nashville to record a brand new studio album with legendary engineer Dave Sinko! We couldn’t possibly be any more fired up!
Tashina and I played our first show almost two years ago, and after all our tours, concerts, and teaching gigs together, we’ve finally come to the perfect time (next week) and place (Dave’s house) to record our first album. To get to work with Dave Sinko is, quite simply, a dream come true. Click here to see some of the incredible records Dave has made in his storied career.
We will be recording a mix of brand-new original and way-old traditional songs, and some hand-picked (yes, that’s a pun) instrumentals. Our friends Tristan Clarridge and Simon Chrisman from Tashina’s band The Bee Eaters will be contributing their awesome cello and hammered-dulcimer skills, and we might have a few surprise Nashville friends drop in as well.
This is an incredible opportunity, and it’s all happening next week! We’re paying for the record ourselves, and we couldn’t afford to do it without your support. Instead of a full-blown internet website funding effort like Kickstarter or PledgeMusic, we’ve decided to reach out directly to our fans (that’s you) to pre-order the record to help us meet our costs. For a $20 donation, we’ll send you a signed copy of the CD the day it’s released- we’re aiming for June 5th. The CD will show up in your mailbox months before we head out on tour. Besides getting your hands on the music as soon as possible, you’ll be making the biggest difference right now by giving Tashina and I the means to make it happen.
Please click on the button above to send us a donation via PayPal. You’ll hear back from us right away to let you know the money came through. We’ll also be in touch with everyone who gave money during and after the recording process with photos, videos, and sound clips, to keep you in the loop about the project that you helped make possible. Again, we’re asking for a $20 donation per copy of the pre-ordered CD. We encourage you to order as many copies as you like at $20 each, and if you’d like to donate anything extra to help us meet our mixing, mastering, and artwork expenses, we humbly thank you. The total amount is yours to decide using the PayPal button. In the meantime, here’s a link to us playing a version of the old-time tune “Farewell Trion” from Bainbridge Island, WA in 2011.
Again, we can’t thank you enough for helping us make this record. We promise to graciously channel your generosity and love into beautiful music, and Dave Sinko will be there to record it all, amen.
So many thanks,
Jefferson (and Tashina)
Released in 2010, Two Amps, One Microphone is now available online at http://lauraandjefferson.bandcamp.com in both physical CD and digital download formats.
Laura Cortese and Jefferson Hamer first played music together in a Boston club during the winter of 2008, taking refuge backstage while a February snowstorm raged outside. Now three years into their collaboration, following successful tours of the USA, Scotland, and Denmark, this close-working duo has grown into an explosive big-stage act. They sing harmony vocals around a single large-diaphragm microphone, trading original songs and instrumental melodies on electric fiddle and electric guitar. This unorthodox, no drums approach puts the spotlight on their powerful voices and the subtleties of their close musical interplay. They work in tandem, strutting on and off mic, reacting instinctively to improvised cues, weaving complex rhythms from riffs and melodies. The music crescendos, releases, then builds again, creating a dynamic sound that belies their numbers; one west-coast promoter recently remarked, “it sounds like there’s four of you up there.”
Their new album, “Two Amps, One Microphone,” was recorded live in the studio without overdubs or production tricks. Gutsy and uncluttered, it features nine original songs, a Gram Parsons cover, and a stirring remake of the classic folk ballad “Barbara Ellen.” From the driving pulse and slashing chords of the opening track, to the sultry slow-burn of closer “Wade On In,” Laura and Jefferson assemble a unique groove for each song, one eighth-note at a time, in an orchestrated give-and-take of fiddle and guitar. Obliged to create an entire musical landscape with just two instruments, they depend on spontaneous interplay and coordinated shifts in volume as essential compositional tools. Electric amplifiers have a formidable dynamic range, and they play with the full sweep of this touch-sensitive capability to infuse depth and breadth into their arrangements. The quiet parts are really quiet, such as the fingerpicked intro to Jefferson’s ballad “This Ragged World We Spanned,” but when the guitar explodes into the post-chorus open E-minor chord, saturated with amp strain and long-bowed fiddle, it is easy to forget that only two people are making all the racket. It’s a studied mayhem, as the agile dance-fiddle outro to Laura’s catchy pop tune “Pine” attests, deep-rooted in traditional folk and rock traditions.
Both musicians are bonded by an equal affinity for traditional and more contemporary, popular styles of music. Jefferson’s first band Single Malt Band was a three-piece acoustic combo that put original songs, arrangements of Fairport Convention medleys, and Irish jigs alongside covers of artists with as little in common as David Bowie, Bill Monroe, Richard Thompson, and Professor Longhair. It was a fun, dance-friendly, and often scatterbrained proving ground, but the instrumental demands of such a diverse trio tightened up Jefferson’s guitar chops, and his musicianship took on depth and versatility. Ten years later with Laura Cortese, his electric hybrid-picked guitar weaves rhythm and lead parts around the vocals and fiddle, keeping the driving bass notes steady with a pick, while his fingers play chords and melodies on the treble strings.
Laura grew up studying with Scottish fiddle master Alastair Frasier, and for almost a decade she has been a fiddle and voice instructor at his legendary music camps in California: Valley of the Moon, and Sierra Fiddle Camp. She is a graduate of the Berklee School of Music, and co-founded the Boston Celtic Music Festival in 2004. Over the course of three solo albums and several EP’s, her repertoire moved beyond traditional music into original pop, folk, and indie territory. Throughout this evolution, she has continued to perfect an assortment of rhythmic fiddle techniques best-suited to accompany her voice. In her song “Overcome”, she holds the fiddle sideways like a guitar and strums it percussively with her bare fingers. It propels the rhythm forward like a tuneful, melodic drum set, and the fiddle’s treble register sits in perfect compliment to Jefferson’s bottom-heavy, drop-tuned guitar textures. When she finally takes up the bow at the end of the song and plays a soulful, legato-rich solo, it’s not only exciting but somehow uncanny, as if we hadn’t already been hearing a fiddle all along, but some other indie-friendly trinket like a glockenspiel, omnichord, or hurdy gurdy.
Performing as an electric string duo seems bold, particularly on a big stage, but it’s refreshing to hear the clarity of vocal harmonies and instrumental tones produced in a setting where every note matters, unobstructed by the P.A.-swallowing wash of a drum kit. In this regard, what Laura and Jefferson do is more akin to their folk ancestors than the voltage-enhanced sounds of their rock and pop contemporaries. The rhythm of traditional acoustic dance music informs their grooves, and a taste for the distilled poetry of real-life experience lives on in their original lyrics. A well-worn traditional ballad like “Barbara Ellen” ought to be a model of creative reinterpretation- grounded and respectful, yet subtly accomplishing something new. The fact that this track stands proudly, and integrates fluidly alongside the original songs on “Two Amps, One Microphone,” points to the British, Irish, Scottish, and American folk luminaries who inspired its rhymes and melodic colors. So charged, Laura Cortese and Jefferson Hamer write new songs worth remembering and put them in a familiar but subtly distinct frame, reshaping and realigning the congruence between acoustic and electric music, shining a bright light for the next generation of will-be folk rockers.
I’m so excited to announce several big shows I have coming up, as well as the upcoming release of a 7″ vinyl record on Brooklyn’s Media Blitz label!
This week: I’ll be playing a string of East Coast concerts with Anais Mitchell and Portland, OR Indie-Folk quartet Horse Feathers. We’re kicking off the tour on Tuesday, Nov. 9 in Montreal, Canada, heading south through Vermont, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, and finishing up next Saturday in New York City for a hometown spectacular at the famousBowery Ballroom! I’ll be playing guitar and singing harmony vocals with Anais, and Chicago songwriter Rachel Ries rounds out the trio on drums, keys, and vocals. I can’t wait to hit the road again with Anais and Rachel after our successful Midwest tour last summer!
Then: I’ll be playing two Cambridge, MA dates with Boston’s favorite acoustic songwriting troupe, Session Americana. On Nov. 17 and 18 we’ll be headlining the Lizard Lounge for two intimate nights of music. I first played with Session Americana at NYC’s Rodeo Bar last September, and I’m thrilled they asked me back to play mandolin and sing original songs and harmony vocals.
Speaking of Rodeo Bar: On Tuesday, Nov. 30, I’ll be playing a full night of music (two sets, a NYC rarity) at New York’s oldest Honky-Tonk, the Rodeo Bar. I’ve got a great electric band lined up featuring Robin Macmillan on drums, Jacob Silver on bass, and more special guests sure to be announced. This is my first headlining show at Rodeo, and I’d love to make it a regular hometown gig. Come out and get down with us! We’ll be playing a mix of original songs, electric folk arrangements, and wailing, high and lonesome country-rock covers.
And finally: I’m pleased to announce the upcoming release of my first vinyl album on Brooklyn’s Media Blitz label! Titled “This Ragged World We Spanned“, this 2-song 7″ record features a solo acoustic version of the title track, as well as my rendition of the folk classic “Barbara Ellen”. This limited edition (only 500 copies will be printed) record features handmade, silk-screened sleeve artwork and includes a coupon for a free digital download of the tracks, mastered by Grammy-winning engineer David Glasser at Airshow in Boulder, CO. Stay tuned for details on how to order the 7″ online, or come to my Record Release Party on Dec. 15 at theRockwood Music Hall in NYC’s lower east side! Mark your calendars. See you there.
Thanks for all your support, and see you this fall!
All the best,
I’m excited to announce that my traditional Irish group Murphy Beds will be performing live in-studio this Friday, Oct. 1 on WGBH Boston’s Celtic Sojourn program with host Brian O’Donovan. The incredible Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill will be playing as well. We’re honored to share the stage with them.
The concert will be broadcast live on Saturday, Oct. 2 from 3-6 PM. Visit the WGBH website and stream the concert live here:
The Murphy Beds are:
We’re excited to record our debut album this fall in New York City.
I’m pretty sure that Delta employees profile musicians. They target them from behind closed circuit cameras and lick salty lips in anticipation of the coming excess baggage charge. They dress like cafeteria workers in a privatized high-school lunch program and treat their customers like 4th graders who forgot their milk money. I’d go on longer but I’m trying to bury too many bad memories, and as a friend of mine once said, talking about your troubles only makes them stick around longer. In fairness, she was talking about emotional dysfunction, which is a condition I’m threatening to approach if I wait for this delayed Delta flight any longer.
I’m back in New York after a three-week trip to Colorado, which for the most part was a total delight. I kicked things off at the Pagosa Folk and Bluegrass festival, where I caught up with some old friends and saw some great music. Darrell Scott’s festival-closing solo set was a particular highlight. Here’s a shot of my friends in the Bearfoot band, who taught the kids’ camp all week and then played a great set on the main stage.
After an all-night drive on Sunday, I headed to Denver and moved in with the guys from Boulder Acoustic Society.
We rehearsed for three days and recorded for six, nailing down five songs for their new acoustic EP. It’s called Coal, Cotton, and Dust, and it’s going to come out in August. It was a joy to produce their record. On the last night, sometime around 2:00 AM, Aaron Keim started bowing his open-back banjo while bassist Neil McCormick controlled the settings on engineer John Macy’s Space Echo unit. I have no idea how much of the stuff is going to make it into the final mix, but in my hazy memory I remember it sounding a bit like Ravi Shankar sitting in on a Donovan record. We worked late every night and ate Mexican food from a curiously plural taqueria called Tacoss.
I finished off the Colorado trip at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, where I reconnected with old friends and enjoyed an all-star lineup. Highlights included Irish Rockabilly sensation Imelda May, who made me want to trade in my Tele for an old Gretsch hollowbody and sing gravel-throated breakup songs while strutting across the stage in a sexy dress. Other highlights included Swedish progressive folk trio Vasen, and Bela Fleck, Edgar Meyer, and Zakir Hussein. I had to catch an early AM flight out of Denver, so I missed the Sunday night headliner Mumford and Sons, but I caught them on the radio. They sounded as fun to watch as they looked to hang out with. I regret having to miss their rousing, emotional performance. Speaking of regrets: I missed my chance at a Friday night tweener- 9:45 PM, right after Lyle Lovett- because as I was warming up backstage the crew mistook me as the guitarist for Leftover Salmon (I’ve never been mistaken for Vince Herman before, maybe it’s the grey hair). Rumours were circulating the next day that I had been forcibly escorted from the backstage area by commandos in desert fatigue. Maybe they caught wind that I was going to play a 25+ verse English Ballad about a woman cursed to stay pregnant forever and her plan to break the spell by employing a wax baby deception at a staged christening party called “Willy’s Lady” (hey, they told me to play something “trippy”). Look for that hit single on my upcoming ballads record with Anais Mitchell. Recording commences this August.
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