Green Music Fest 2017 w/ JD McPherson, Lucero, July Talk

Subterranean Presents!

Green Music Fest 2017 w/ JD McPherson, Lucero, July Talk

Nothing, Jay Som, The Appleseed Cast, And More!

Sat, June 10, 2017 - Sun, June 11, 2017

12:00 pm

Green Music Fest

$10 Suggested Donation

Suggested Donation

This event is all ages

JD McPherson
JD McPherson
You could mistake JD McPherson for a revivalist, given how few other contemporary artists are likely to assert, as he boldly does, that “’Keep a Knockin’ by Little Richard is the best record ever made. It’s so insanely visceral, you feel like it’s going to explode your speakers. If I’m listening to that in the car, I find myself having to brake suddenly. I can listen to that and it makes me feel like I’m 20 feet tall. And the feeling of joy I get from that record is always going to be the real push behind trying to make music.”
But in a very real sense, McPherson is much more a pioneer than roots resuscitator. He’s knocking at the door of something that arguably hasn’t yet been accomplished—a spirited, almost spiritual hybrid that brings the forgotten lessons from the earliest days of rock & roll into a future that has room for the modernities of studio technique and 21st century singer/songwriter idiosyncrasies that Richard Penniman would not recognize. Let the Good Times Roll, his second album, is a stranger, and more personal affair than its Fats Domino-redolent title might at first suggest, but the name isn’t exactly ironic, either. If you, too, brake for pleasure, you’ll screech to a halt at the enrapturing sound of these Good Times.
His first album, 2012’s Signs & Signifiers, was hailed as “an utterly irresistible, slicked-back triumph” by Mojo and “a rockin', bluesy, forward-thinking gold mine that subtly breaks the conventions of most vintage rock projects” by All Music Guide. The Washington Post wrote that, “he and his bandmates are great musicians taking ownership of a sound, not just mimicking one.” That same review remarked upon how, “the album sounds as if the band is in the same room with the listener.” But for the follow-up, McPherson wanted to maintain that raw power while also capturing the more mysterious side of the records he loves. To that slightly spookier end, he enlisted as a collaborator Mark Neill, known for his work as a producer and engineer with versed-in-the-past acts going back to the Paladins in the 1980s, but, most recently, for recording The Black Keys and Dan Auerbach—a friend of McPherson’s who co-wrote the new album’s “Bridge Builder.”
Talking up one of the freshly minted tunes, “Bridge Builder,” McPherson describes it as being “the psychedelic Coasters.” That no such thing really existed prior to this album doesn’t deter him. “This is something I actually talked about with Mark at the beginning of the record: ‘I want to make a ‘50s psychedelic record!’”
Neill was up to meeting that seemingly oxymoronic challenge. “It’s still a rock & roll record, but the borders are expanding a little bit,” McPherson explains. “With some of the writing that came out this time, it became apparent the songs weren’t going to lend themselves well to our usual process. So as we sought out a producer, we took aim for a slightly wider—I guess hi-fi is the word—sound, and got more experimental. Mark Neill certainly has all the tools in his hardware shop with which to produce any range of sounds from vintage Capitol Records stuff on up to…gosh, we listened to so much David Bowie making this record. We’d play Primal Scream’s Screamadelica to listen to how they suddenly started making dance records, and then Mark would play us Marilyn McCoo singing ‘Marry Me, Bill’ over and over again, I guess trying to re-wire our brains.”
Amid this flurry of possible influences, a few production approaches stuck. “I find that the records that I like to listen to over and over again are the ones that have those strange engineering choices, or weird sounds. I was very attracted to the idea of using plate reverb. So whereas the first record was really informed by New Orleans rhythm and blues, where everything was very dry and up-front, I really was listening more this time to a ton of Link Wray, and the Allen Toussaint-produced Irma Thomas stuff, and all the early ‘60s rock & roll that is saturated in plate reverb.”
McPherson certainly doesn’t begrudge the attention that Signs & Signifiers unexpectedly brought him. “If it hadn’t been for the ‘North Side Gal’ video, this probably never would have caught on,” he says, recalling the fame he found on YouTube even before Rounder picked up his indie release. “That’s how we found our label and found our management. I was still teaching school, and here I am with got this video that’s like a million hits. I’m like, what? I had no plans to quit my job. Luckily, I lost it.” A middle school art department’s loss was Rounder’s and the rock world’s gain.
It’d been a while in coming. “I started getting obsessed with this stuff when I was in high school,” McPherson says. “There wasn’t much to do where I grew up in rural southeast Oklahoma, where I lived on a 160-acre cattle ranch.” When he discovered early rock & roll and R&B, “it was like finding a treasure no one else knew about. Nobody around me had any interest whatsoever in Little Richard except for me and my friend. Once we started listening to Jerry Lee Lewis, and to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, which was the best thing you could ever find, everything started to change. I’ve got a videotape of us playing at a pool hall in the early ‘90s in Talihina, Oklahoma, and it’s cowboys and criminals and people that are cooking meth up in the hills standing around playing pool, and here we are with our greaser uniforms on, playing Buddy Holly’s ‘Rockin’ Around with Ollie Vee’ followed by ‘Clampdown’ by the Clash, and all these people are really confused. Those were happy times.”
The covers and the grease got dropped along the way to adulthood, of course, even though he knows what he does now is likely to wind up with some inaccurate revival tags. “There’s never going to be a point where I’m not going to hear the word ‘rockabilly’,” he says with a laugh and a sigh, “even though it’s not anthropologically correct, because it’s separate from rhythm & blues and rock & roll. Not being able to be perceived as how you sort of define what you’re doing is frustrating, but you just have to understand that not everybody is a nerd about this stuff. What it comes down to is that you can’t expect for people to listen if you’re not doing something personal. I mean, you can’t just do covers of Johnny Burnette Trio songs, because that idea has already been expressed, and it was actually moved past pretty quickly. Rock & roll music changed really quickly when it started becoming ubiquitous youth music and the President’s sister started doing the Twist. Yet there’s something intrinsically valuable about a lot of those ideas that haven’t fully been explored yet. And you take everything you love about it and write personal music and hope it translates into its own thing. I always hear ‘Man, bringing this stuff back is really important,’ but I have goal to bring rock & roll back in some reactionary way to battle something else. I want it to just kind of nudge it into its own little place alongside what’s happening now.”
Since the debut album came out, McPherson has played for a lot of those aforementioned genre nerds who pick up on every single influence. But he and his band have also opened for acts ranging from Bob Seger (getting a standing ovation at an arena in Detroit, the headliner’s hometown) to the Dave Matthews Band to Nick Lowe to Eric Church (who sought him out to write some songs together). For a Halloween night 2014 show at the Forum in L.A., super-fan Josh Homme, one of McPherson’s biggest supporters, handpicked him to open for Queens of the Stone Age. These may not all seem like natural pairings, but the music is primal and melodic enough that, after a few minutes, it never fails to make sense even to audiences with the least of expectations and musical educations.
“Man, people may not even know it, but they all like that stuff,” McPherson declares. “I’ve seen it happen over and over again. You’re in a record store where they’re playing some weird underground amorphous electronic record that has no configurable beat per minute, and then they put on a Sam Cooke record, and everybody is just like ‘Ohhh’— like a weight lifted. All kinds of music are interesting, but man, there’s something about the 1/4/5, 12-bar blues form that’s just hard-wired into American brains. And I shouldn’t say just American brains, because this stuff is still really huge in Europe, too. Everybody likes rock & roll. They just either won’t admit it or don’t know it yet,” he laughs, unshakable in his faith that the whole world is or will be on a roll.
Lucero
Lucero
You could say we were one of the lucky ones, starting this band in April of '98 without a clue as to what we were doing. We were getting tired of the steady punk rock and metal diet and we wanted to try our hand at country songs, or do our best Tom Waits/Pogues impersonation.

The trick there was that we couldn't really play our instruments! I had never played guitar before and Ben Nichols (lead singer, guitar) had only played bass in other bands. Finding Roy Berry (drummer) and John C. Stubblefield (bassist) solidified the line up and being hidden away in Memphis allowed us to woodshed, experiment with different sounds and create one that was ours alone.

Eventually we got out of town, and playing 250 shows year not only made us tight as a band but as a family as well. We are still one of the few bands out there with the original line up from almost the beginning, and it shows.

Picking up Rick Steff on keys allowed us to expand the sound and grow musically. Being able to play whatever we could think up in our heads and having the music we loved and grew up on motivate and inspire us to try new things and take chances. We realized that if you added some horns to Ben's lyrics that it took it to the next step, from sad bastard country rock to soul and R&B and we realized we were a Memphis band and came by it honest. We have always brought Memphis with us wherever we went and this just proved it.

We came out screaming on 1372 Overton Park. Big sound, bigger horns – like a kid with a new toy we put them on everything and loved it! This record was a marked departure from the previous sound and announcement of way things we're gonna be now!
While 1372 Overton Park was written and the horns added after the fact, Women & Work was written with the horns in mind so it was a little less gung ho and was starting to settle in nicely. Women & Work is one of the best modern Southern rock records in my opinion and the song "On My Way Downtown" has almost surpassed "Tears Don't Matter Much" as the crowd favorite... almost!

This brings us to the new record. All A Man Should Do contains some of the most resonant lyrics Ben Nichols has ever written, lyrics that read like chapters from his life on the duality of relationships, getting older, finding where you want to be in this world, and musically we are broadening our sound. Working with producer Ted Hutt for a third time at the famous Ardent Studios, we felt comfortable enough to take some chances with a palette of new tones that sound understated yet powerful, bringing life to the stories behind the lyrics without overshadowing them.

It's also the first time we've ever put a cover song on a record, with a full band version of big star's "I Fell in Love with a Girl", and having Jody from Big Star sing back–up vocals makes it that more special and amazing. This is a Memphis record in the greatest sense and a perfect finish to the three–part love letter to a city that brought us up and made us what we are today.

"I was 15 years old in 1989. This record sounds like the record I wanted to make when I was 15. It just took 25 years of mistakes to get it done." — Ben Nichols

"Having Big Star actually sing on your cover of a Big Star song that you're recording at Ardent Studios – it doesn't get much more exciting than that." — Ben Nichols
July Talk
July Talk
With their sleek yet gritty brand of alt-bluesy garage rock, Toronto-based five-piece July Talk create rock & roll that’s both boldly intimate and wildly confrontational. Each track in the band’s repertoire is a conversation in song form, with singers Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay trading lines in a lyrical face-off that’s at turns hot-tempered and tender, reckless and poetic. Onstage that conversation warps into beautiful chaos, thanks to the band’s joyfully unhinged, spontaneity-fueled live performance. And in their music—including the five songs that grace their Island Records debut EP Guns + Ammunition—July Talk piece together supremely heavy riffs, infectious beats, and snakey grooves in a sound that’s savage but seductive.

“With the name of the band, the word ‘talk’ refers to the whole idea of our songs being a conversation, and ‘July’ is about that thing that happens in the summertime when you’re young—how you can meet someone and fall in love and party your face off and then fall out of love and have the happiest and saddest time in your life, all in about three months,” explains Dreimanis, who founded July Talk in 2012 with Fay and fellow guitarist Ian Docherty, bassist Josh Warburton, and drummer Danny Miles. And while Dreimanis’s initial vision for the project centered on that tag-team vocal exchange, Fay notes that July Talk’s emotionally intricate, contradiction-driven dynamic results largely from the band’s raw authenticity. “I think it comes naturally from us living out our intention of being an honest rock band, whether it’s quiet-loud or male-female, or whatever else comes up as we’re expressing what we need to express,” she says.

Even July Talk’s two lead voices are constantly clashing forces, with Dreimanis’s raspy growl scraping up against Fay’s graceful sing-song. On Guns + Ammunition July Talk use those vocals to channel their pure and brutal emotionalism into wickedly sharp and sardonic lyrics. On “Paper Girl,” for instance, Dreimanis attempts to destroy an ex-love with jabs like “You don’t look pretty when you smile/So don’t smile at all” before Fay steps in and serenades him with the sweetly devastating chorus (“And if you want money in your coffee/If you want secrets in your tea/Keep your paper heart away from me”). With its swinging rhythm and sludgy guitar, “Summer Dress” touches on the possible futility of looking for love in the city (“The girls are young, a little dumb/And they’re going it alone”), while the twangy, tough-talking “Garden” is a close-up glimpse at mental unraveling (“I’ve got thoughts that ain’t my own/I’m talking black souls dressed in red/And things that I never shoulda known”). And on the quietly brooding “I’ve Rationed Well” (a song about “creating an idealized version of someone and being nostalgic when they’re gone—basically missing someone who doesn’t exist,” according to Dreimanis), Fay’s hushed vocals entwine with Dreimanis’s stark spoken-word to deliver lines like “We’ll survive by telling lies/We’ve rationed well” to haunting effect.

True to their name, July Talk was born in the summertime, at a Toronto bar lit solely by candlelight in recognition of the anniversary of the 2003 blackout. “There was an acoustic guitar getting passed around and Leah was playing and singing as I came in, and I was just blown away by her,” recalls Dreimanis, who’d recently parted ways with his former band and written a batch of songs intended for dual vocalists. Though the two didn’t connect that night, Dreimanis soon tracked Fay down and sent her a handful of songs he’d recorded in his bedroom. “We were from such different places and going through such different things, it almost felt like it shouldn’t have worked,” says Fay, who previously played in a band/performance-art project called Mothers of Brides (who, as she explains, “tried to distract from the sincerity of our songs by doing things like banging on books with hammers and having people play Jenga onstage during our sets”). Rounding out the lineup with Docherty, Warburton, and Miles (all of whom were former bandmates of Dreimanis), July Talk soon began playing together and expanding the songs Dreimanis had newly developed. “The bands I’d played in before had a Replacements-y sort of influence, very loud and high-energy rock & roll mixed with intoxication, so I wanted to take the manic chaos of that and turn it into something more intimate,” Dreimanis points out.

After finding a manager and setting to work on their debut (a self-titled album released in Canada in autumn 2012), July Talk quickly threw themselves into a frantic touring schedule that’s gone a long way in shaping the sound and soul of the band. “Starting right from when the record came out we were on the road about 90 percent of the time, which we really love,” says Dreimanis. “The stage is where this band lives, and we’ve written our songs in a way that they can change every night and turn into something completely different when we play them live.” When it comes to writing, July Talk tend to retreat to remote and quiet spaces (such as a friend’s house in the woods, where they set up camp last January) and dedicate entire days to working on songs. “All five of us get together and bring ideas to the table and deconstruct them and fight over them and eventually love them, and then Leah and I will work on the lyrics,” says Dreimanis. In that lyric-writing, July Talk aim first and foremost for a certain frankness and uncompromising honesty. “It’s really important to us that we fully illustrate the subject we’re trying to get at in the song, which a lot of the time has to do with what it’s like to be 25 and confused or pissed off or whatever it is that we are,” says Dreimanis. “We try to have the guts to say the kinds of things that most people would hold themselves back from saying.”

Also intensely devoted to the visual element of the band, July Talk have put out a series of self-produced videos directed by Warburton and shot in black and white to mimic their music’s spirit of contrast. According to Fay, that what-you-see-is-what-you-get aesthetic has much to do with “trying to make something people can connect with in a real and direct way.” With recent outings including a spring tour of Europe and stops at summer festivals like the Isle of Wight, connection through live performance is also paramount to the band. “It’s an amazing thing to experience people through rock & roll,” says Fay. “I feel like I’m learning so much by being onstage and getting to look hundreds of different people in the eyes.” And in making those connections, the band members endlessly play off the give-and-take dynamic that stands at the heart of July Talk. “We always see how far we can push each other past our boundaries, figuratively and literally,” says Dreimanis. “Quite early on we realized the audience was totally on board with that, so now how we measure a show is whether we’re able to lose all touch with reality, and create something special that goes way past what anyone’s expectations of us might be.”
Nothing
Nothing
After getting his start as the brains behind the late 90s/early 2000s hardcore/punk act Horror Show, Domenic Palermo founded NOTHING in 2011 with the release of the demo Poshlost. Following the release of Poshlost, Palermo met Brandon Setta, who would bring lush, rich soundscapes and a fresh approach to Palermo's vision for NOTHING and to the band's next two EPs, Suns And Lovers (Big Love, 2011) and Downward Years To Come (A389, 2012). NOTHING then signed to Relapse for their debut 2014 full-length Guilty Of Everything. The album, which was inspired by the events surrounding a prison sentence Palermo served from 2002-2004, found widespread critical acclaim from publications such as Rolling Stone, NPR, Stereogum, Spin, Noisey, and many others. Guilty’s reception also enabled the band to tour Europe and North America extensively, including performances at festivals including Osheaga, Roadburn, Firefly, Budweiser Made In America, and SXSW. 

Following a tumultuous series of events that left the band personally and professionally distraught, NOTHING experienced a drastic change in mindset, which is clearly apparent in the band's new record Tired Of Tomorrow. Tired Of Tomorrow was recorded over the course of a month at Studio 4 with Will Yip (Title Fight, Superheaven, Touche Amore, etc) this past October, and is the band’s most heartfelt work today. Borrowing from personal memoir and external works alike, NOTHING have worked the deepest influences of their youth & maturation into a package that's ultimately at its most relevant in the present day. Tired Of Tomorrow is a brooding yet mellow release, inspired as much by 90s rock as it is by the darkness of NOTHING’s past.
Jay Som
Jay Som
Jay Som represents the musical vision of San Francisco singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Melina Duterte. Jay Som – a moniker that Duterte randomly found via an online baby name generator meaning "Victory Moon" – reissues Turn Into this Fall, a collection of finished and unfinished songs written, recorded, and mixed between March 2014-October 2015. Originally uploaded to Bandcamp last year after Duterte had a few too many glasses of wine at Thanksgiving dinner, Turn Into is an exciting glimpse of what's to come for Jay Som on her debut album in 2017.
The Appleseed Cast
The Appleseed Cast
The Appleseed Cast is a band from Lawrence, KS. They formed in 1997, and released the first album in 1998. They have since released seven albums, including Illumination Ritual in April of 2013.
Venue Information:
Green Music Fest
1600 N. Damen Ave.
Chicago, IL