Cicada Rhythm, Ciaran Lavery

Cicada Rhythm

Ciaran Lavery

Orion Freeman

Wed, June 20, 2018

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

The Boot & Saddle

Philadelphia, PA

$10.00 - $12.00

This event is 21 and over

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Cicada Rhythm
Cicada Rhythm
When Cicada Rhythm hit the road in support of their 2015 debut, they were a homespun, stripped-down folk duo, armed with songs that mixed acoustic instruments and soft dynamics with the intimate charm of two harmonized voices.

Three years later, bandmates Andrea DeMarcus and Dave Kirslis have upsized their sound considerably with Everywhere I Go. Recorded in a string of studios across the southeast, it’s a snapshot of a band on the move, with new members filling their lineup and a louder set of influences propelling their sound forward. There are roots-rock tunes, slow waltzes, politically-minded lyrics, front-porch folksongs and backwoods ballads, all delivered by a group of road warriors who’ve cut their teeth not only in the writing room, but onstage, too.

“In the beginning, we were two singer/songwriters making a living on $50 per show,” says DeMarcus, a Juilliard-trained bassist who met Kirslis — her bandmate and future husband — when he hopped off a freight train and landed in her Georgia hometown. The two quickly whipped up a musical chemistry rooted in the steady pluck of DeMarcus’ upright bass, the rootsy punch of Kirslis’ guitar, and the raw blend of their voices. As romance blossomed between the musicians, so did a career. “We had to keep it a duo,” DeMarcus remembers of their early days on the road, “because we couldn’t afford to bring along anybody else. When we released our debut record, we started touring with a drummer, and the sound just evolved from there. We realized we needed to demand attention, rather than waiting for people at the shows to shut up.”

People did pay attention, taking notice of Cicada Rhythm’s ability to merge both traditional and contemporary Americana sounds along with topical lyrics, which often touched upon modern issues like environmentalism. Among the band’s biggest fans were members of two A-list Americana bands: Kenneth Pattengale, best known as the spellbinding guitarist and harmony vocalist of the Milk Carton Kids, and Oliver Wood, lead singer and guitarist for the Wood Brothers. When it came time to record Cicada Rhythm’s newest batch of songs in 2017, Pattengale and Wood shared production duties, giving Everywhere I Go a broad, diverse punch.

A sense of forward momentum sweeps its way throughout Everywhere I Go, whose very title conjures up the image of a band in transit. Kicking off with “America’s Open Roads” and winding to a finish with the Bob Dylan-worthy “Back Home,” it’s an album written during a time of travel, of growth, of being together. Like interstate poets, DeMarcus and Kirslis write about the country unfolding outside their car window at highway speed, spinning stories not only about the places they visit, but personal and social struggles, as well.

An Appalachian-sounding anthem for the female empowerment movement, “Do I Deserve It Yet” takes a look at the modern woman’s struggle in a man’s world as DeMarcus wails in the chorus, “Won’t you tell me when I am enough? ‘Cause I can never tell.” “America’s Open Roads” resonates similarly in today’s climate of division and controversial leaders, with the emotionally hard-hitting opening line, “Every day starts with a terrible dream.” Although written outside of political context, these songs took on new meanings once Cicada Rhythm began integrating them into their shows.

“We were touring up the East Coast one week after the election, and the nation was visibly shook up,” says Kirslis, who shares vocal duties throughout the record. “Suddenly, a lot of Andrea’s lyrics seemed to have double meanings. The song is about keeping roads open, rather than build walls over them. As we began playing more and more new songs, they began paralleling some things that were going on in the outside world.”

Fans of Cicada Rhythm’s debut will remember the socially-conscious “Do Not Destroy,” an eco-friendly song that urged its listener to take care of the natural world. Much of Everywhere I Go follows in that song’s footsteps, forming a bridge between the two records.

“We’re changing, but we haven’t lost our sincerity,” DeMarcus adds. “A lot of the songs are still political. They’re emotional. They’re raw, which has always been an important part of our sound. We haven’t lost our identity; we’ve just grown around it.”

Producers Pattengale and Wood assisted in that growth by beefing up the band’s sound with strings, Hammond organ, electric guitar, and pedal steel. Working with the producers separately allowed Cicada Rhythm to revisit and revise a number of songs that had already become live staples. “You can’t underestimate the power of a fresh set of ears,” DeMarcus says. “It’s helpful to know what someone else thinks your song can be, particularly someone who hasn’t heard the song nightly for the past two months. A lot of the time, collaboration is the reason something becomes better.”

Embracing Everywhere I Go as “a patchwork album,” Cicada Rhythm tracked its 12 songs in recording studios, living rooms, and gospel churches throughout Tennessee and Georgia. Some songs were performed live in the studio and captured on analog tape, while album highlights like “Even in the Shallows” were tracked more methodically. String sections were added — a nod to DeMarcus’ fondness for the Beatles, whose own songs often made room for symphonic arrangements — without taking away from the band’s rustic charm. Together, the album’s track list blends orchestral folk-pop and ramshackle roots-rock in equal numbers, giving Cicada Rhythm more fuel for their music-filled travels.

“We named the album after a line in ‘America’s Open Roads,’ but hopefully, this album will be our ticket to everywhere we go,” explains DeMarcus. “Wherever we are, these songs will be with us.”
Ciaran Lavery
Ciaran Lavery
“I love you baby ’till the parking ticket runs out,” sings Ciaran Lavery. “Until the lights in the street are as bright as the stars…”

The award-winning singer-songwriter from Aghagallon in County Antrim, Ireland may be decorated at home by the Northern Ireland Music Prize (for his 2016 album ‘Let Bad In’) and might have totted up over 80 million streams on Spotify during his five-year solo career, but it’s the unrivalled knack he has for a poetic heart-stopping lyric that’s set to earn him wider recognition as a treasured singer-songwriter.

‘To Chicago’ is one of the singles from his forthcoming third album ‘Sweet Decay’; a collection of strummed acoustic fragility that’s as comforting as it is at times devastating. Beyond the classic melodies, however, it’s the storytelling that sets him apart, one that can be as brutal as Angel Olsen and as delicate as Neil Young.

Whether exposing his most vulnerable mental health battles on ‘Beast At My Door’ (“There’s a beast at my door, better not let in/Though it cuts a fine figure of someone I could put my trust in…”) or carving a romance novella into a mere few verses on ‘Two Days In Savannah’ (“Two days in Savannah with your name in my gut/On a bed full of crossed out line and cigarette butts”), Lavery explores the human condition across a myriad of escapist themes on ‘Sweet Decay’. Not just for Lavery but for listeners too, it’s a means of coping with the pressures of our modern world. Fall down the rabbit hole with him and find yourself caught up in another universe, even if for a few moments. That’s what Lavery was intending.

The title track itself is a paean to romantic love, exploring the hope and desire to make it last a lifetime despite that voice in the back of your head that tells you it might not be forever. When Lavery first set out to make ‘Sweet Decay’ it was the lyrics that were his main focus. He’s spent the past five years developing his earthen, folk-y sound, but in terms of words it was important that he didn’t limit or curtail his creativity by trying to force one particular narrative.

“I didn’t wanna have any weaknesses lyrically,” he explains. “It had to be more mature. This album had to be a step up, but not a leap. Everything had to be foolproof.” For Lavery, this is a body of work representing the point he’s currently at in his life. It was a long recording process – over a year – spliced between tours. Although arduous, the drawn-out nature of the work contributed to the songwriting itself, particularly when Lavery found himself inspired by his on-the-road bedside book collection.

“One of the best things I had for provision of sanity were short stories, different kinds of manuscripts that I could dip in and out of. I always find it difficult to write on the road so I tend to collect ideas and these gave me a different focus. I discovered the joy in them.” Lavery was pouring through Denis Johnson, Joy Williams, Raymond Carver, JD Salinger, Castle Freeman Jr and many more. “They were my almanac,” he laughs. “I’d constantly lift those books.” The admiration for the detail, emotional heft and pace these writers could fit into such a short space gave Lavery pause to think about what he could achieve in individual songs. “I thought about trying to create a space for people to find a connection.”

In the themes of religion, sin, Heaven and Hell, Lavery found himself in an intriguing mode of self-reflection. Brought up in a small church village, he’s permanently fascinated by concepts of shame and forgiveness. “The older I get I become sceptical and question beliefs instilled in me about life and love and all of that.”

After getting off the road, he’d head into Camden Studios in Dublin and put down his ideas. The songs are full of questions, but don’t often offer many answers. It’s open-ended. You can hear a man struggling with personal growth. “I acknowledge the darkness inside of me, one that has the potential to let people down and make the wrong decisions,” he says.

In the studio, Lavery was able to invite a whole host of session players and musicians in to build out those little worlds to gorgeous effect. “There were some great players coming in and adding their parts,” he recalls. “Saint Sister provided vocals, Rory Doyle drums (drummer for Hozier, Bell X1), Joe Furlong bass (bass player for James Vincent McMorrow) … I got to work with some fantastic Irish musicians.” The results make for an even more luscious and transportative listening experience. For Lavery, it’s the sound of pure catharsis. “I’ve become braver over the years,” he says. “There’s been a darkness all of my fucking life, and I was trying to openly deal with my mental health issues; the doubt and the way it’s affected me growing up.”

With ‘Sweet Decay’, Lavery will be heading out on his biggest tour to date, across Europe, the UK, US, Ireland and Canada. Probably with a fine collection of short story books in tow.
Orion Freeman
Orion Freeman is a singing, songwriting, guitar-playing seeker from the woods just beyond the mortar and bricks of Philadelphia. His souled-out, reggae-infused, flamenco-tinged, bluesy folk-rock aspires to move: your shoes; your heart; the cobwebs, so as to allow your soul to shine. Hovering somewhere within the chasm between the worldly and the divine, his music is an intimate glimpse into the spiraling states of freedom and folly, playfulness and prayer. This glimpse has brought forth The Divine Game, Orion’s first album, recorded in Brooklyn with some of the finest players from Philly, New York City and beyond. The record— made over the better part of the past year— is filled with melody and texture and is painted with the many soundscapes of both city and country. These songs are brought to life with Orion’s commitment to grace and love, to letting old baggage go, to the journey towards freedom— with instrumentation ranging from a sousaphone to a melodica, fully orchestrated string quartets to a kazoo.

“I knew I wanted this record to be grand— in the sense of the orchestration and overall presentation. With that said, we barely made it past the second day. Having never done anything on this scale before, my skills were clearly and obviously lacking. At times— knowing that what was being played wasn’t what I wanted; yet not knowing how to ask for what I did. Until then, most of these sounds existed solely on the level of the unmanifest, somewhere in the recesses of my imagination— so I found the translation to be incredibly hard. Four-letter words were exchanged— unfortunately none resembling L-O-V-E— brows were furrowed, resolutions to never do this again were surely made. But by the end, each and every song on this record had taken on such a distinctly unique and beautiful shape. So many layers working as one. The percussion interlocking with the drums, grooving with the bass— the strings and horns pushing and pulling, conversing together or else trading lines— the textures and vibe of the organs and keys— I wanted to make the kind of record you could come back to time after time and always uncover something new. I wanted there to be a ton of sonic leaps— sounds you may not be used to hearing together on the same tune. That type of juxtaposition in music— and in life— is what inspires and excites me the most.

The process of this record has truly been one of the most intense and rewarding experiences of my life. Now that they’ve finally been born, I’m absolutely thrilled by the proposition and opportunity to recreate these pieces live, out on the road. Although the 12-piece necessary to play the album verbatim may have to wait, I’m hoping to hit the north and southeast with a trio or a quartet later this fall, with a couple full-band shows scheduled for the release parties in Philly and New York. Throughout the course of the summer I’ll be playing a string of shows as a duo in the Pacific Northwest, and later in Colorado, spreading the gospel of The Divine Game from the Redwoods to the Rockies and beyond...”
Venue Information:
The Boot & Saddle
1131 S. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19147