A decade after playing around town together in bands like Tumbledown, Areola and The Big Brown, local multi-instrumentalist Josh DeSmidt and Boulder-based expat Eric Davis are back with a new band. The Whale Tales, whose music Josh describes as a mix of "soul, country, blues, rock 'n' roll, but frequently with a psychedelic spin" — in other words, Americana — will be playing this Friday at Manitou's resurrected Kinfolks.
The free show is a kickoff for the band's blitzkrieg tour of the Midwest in a 1999, V-10 Ford Excursion with 200,000-plus miles on it.
"It's a comfortable ride, but a bit crowded when you have all the gear on board," says Josh, who was cofounder of the late lamented Broken Spoke and currently plays in the Joe Johnson Band. "If all goes as planned, we'll drive 2,600 miles and play in Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa."
This will only be the group's second performance in the Springs, and its first since releasing a debut EP called Methods, which is available online and at shows. It was recorded at a studio outside of Evergreen, and then brought to WaveLab studio in Tucson to be mixed by Craig Schumacher.
Calexico fans will no doubt recognize the producer's name from CD jackets; Schumacher has produced all their albums. You may also have heard of other artists he's worked with, folks like Amos Lee, Iron & Wine, KT Tunstall, Neko Case and M Ward. He also recorded Broken Spoke's final tracks, which were released under the name Joy of Harm after the band broke up.
Compared to Broken Spoke's quieter, Townes Van Zandt-inspired sound, The Whale Tales are looser and more rock-inclined, while still showing a gift for melody. Opening track "Family Tree" evokes memories of early-period Mark Knopfler, while "Sugar Sugar Hay Hay" finds Eric doing his best J.J. Cale vocal over the kind of slide guitar and drum arrangement favored by every two-piece band that's ever played the Triple Nickel. Which, in this case, actually works.
In addition to Josh and Eric, The Whale Tales also feature drummer Ryan Rumery, who produced the original tracks, as well bassist Brad Van Loenen, who's built more than a hundred mandolins in his spare time, and once toured as part of the backing band for ultra-bizarre punk-rock icon Nina Hagen.
Anyway, you should go.
Also on the horizon, Rawkus will be commemorating its second anniversary the way it celebrated its opening — with a headlining performance by drum 'n' bass deejay and producer Dieselboy. The event, which will also feature sets by KJ Sawka, Fury and Evasive, takes place next Wednesday, Nov. 26.
And finally, this Friday is your one chance to see Fiji, a Barry White-sized Polynesian crooner whose albums — which fuse Jamaican-lovers rock with chilled-out hip-hop — have been responsible for the conception of countless Pacific Island children. His overseas hits include "Smokin Session," "She's Da Bomb" and a gospel-inflected rendition of Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay." Best of all, he'll be headlining the Black Sheep's "Pacific Islander Thanksgiving Bash," which promises to be, if nothing else, different.