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Brassland takes Éire, The Gloaming snare year-end honors - December 09, 2014

Brassland has landed in Ireland! No awkward puns or repetitive use of verbs intended! For a thorough round up of what's going on, take a listen to this hourlong podcast prepared by Dublin's National Concert Hall. It also serves as a great capsule history of the label.

Alternatively, if you try to observe the "pod-" in podcasting, you may download part one and part two from Soundcloud (or, if you're a real traditionalist, via iTunes). They were produced by the most-excellent Ben Eshmade in honor of NCH's just-as-excellent Perspectives series which launched this year with our Brassland weekend as its flagship presentation.

*false modesty*

Downloaded those podcasts yet? Well, steel yourselves for 60 megabyte's of MP3 chatter from Bryce Dessner (The National, Clogs), both Buke and Gase(s), Kate Stables (This Is The Kit), Thomas Bartlett (Doveman, The Gloaming), and Alec Hanley Bemis. For another perspective on what we're bringing to Perspectives read this feature from The Irish Times culture section ran about our main draw, a free-flowing songwriter's circle featuring Mr. Bartlett alongside Glen Hansard, Anna Calvi, Lisa O'Neill and Paul Noonan.

Word on the street is that most of these shows are going to sell out. *blush* A little drunk leprechaun whispered this to us in a clipped accent after showing us the way to a pile of gold at the end of a double rainbow. Yes, at this point, we're practically trying to turn people away, starting with offensive news bulletins.

However, as a peacemaking gesture, we've added an invite-only conversation on Saturday between Irish Times critic Tony Clayton-Lea and label co-founder Alec Hanley Bemis, who claims to be "at least 33% Irish" (we're quoting). As well, This Is The Kit and Buke and Gase are touring the countryside in the run-up to the Brassland @ NCH weekend.

- Tues 9: Wexford - The Sky And The Ground
- Weds 10: Cork - Coughlans
- Fri 12: Kilkenny - Cleere's Bar & Theatre
- Sat 13: Dublin - National Concert Hall

- Thurs 11: Belfast - Aether & Echo
- Fri 12: Dingle - St. James Church (Other Voices)
- Sat 13: Dublin - National Concert Hall

Note that the dates include a Buke and Gase visit to Dingle for this year's Other Voices taping. We're overjoyed to announce they'll be included in next year's broadcast, a follow-up of sorts to This Is The Kit's memorable appearance on the 2013 edition.

If that wasn't enough of an Irish overload, The Gloaming continue to build on their previously announced album-of-the-year mentions by Mojo, The Irish Times, Nialler9 and Mashable with their inclusion on NPR Music's list of the year's 50 best records. Says NPR personality Bob Boilen: "There has never been an album quite like this, spare and textured, representing past and future as well as transcending all you may think you know about Irish music."

While we still have blood left for blushing & screenspace left to type upon, may we point you toward the announcement of Perspectives 2015. If we haven't just caused an international incident with our smarmy American humor, we think this is the beginning of a lovely friendship...

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The Gloaming tour the west coast, the world & Ireland; meet Sting - November 10, 2014

Cool thing alert: immediately after we released The Gloaming's self-titled debut, it began popping up on "top 10 records of far" lists: Mojo said it all the way back in March. The Irish Times newspaper placed it at #1 in June. (Hip Irish blog Nialler9 has it at #6 because, well, blogs.) And just this week Mashable placed it at #2 in their "visually stunning album covers of 2014" list.

And now that we've gotten the cool/cool stuff out of the way, let’s get to the weird/cool stuff: Why yes, that is The Gloaming’s Martin Hayes standing next between Gabriel Byrne, Liam Neeson and Sting. Isn't that weird? But also kinda cool? Here's the story: A month ago Hayes was honored with the Spirit of Ireland Award at a gala thrown by New York City’s Irish Arts Center. Not only were Mr. Byrne and Mr. Neeson nice enough to show up at the ceremony, Mr. Sting performed a special set of music alongside The Gloaming’s Dennis Cahill and Thomas “Doveman” Bartlett. The gala also raised a bunch of money for the Irish Arts Center. Yay art!

More important for you, the contemporary music fan who lives somewhere on planet earth probably not in New York City: The Gloaming continue to draw sell out crowds at iconic venues around the world. In recent week they made their Australian debut at the Sydney Opera House and Melbourne Festival, and touched down for shows in The Netherlands and Germany. No need to bother with rankings when it comes to the band's live show. The Sydney Morning Herald gave their gig ★★★★★ calling it "a concert to blaze in the memory." Seeing as they use a 5-star rating system, you can't get better than that. Further live dates have been announced for the Great Hall in Auckland, New Zealand and London’s Barbican Center.

And what about North America you might ask? Well, the band have three gigs scheduled this week, their first on the west coast. Here they are.

November 12: Freight & Salvage – Berkeley, CA
November 14: Mondavi Center – Davis, CA
November 15: Chan Centre - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Buy your tickets now! Most of these dates are almost sold out. The group are being coy on their plans for a return to our fine continent, but rest assured, more dates are being plotted for 2015. We swear! We were talking to a guy about a thing just last week.

Oh, last but not least. If you’re considering an Irish vacation, we have two great Brassland-centric musical experiences to give your trip an extra bit of artistic zazzle. For you advance planners out there, The Gloaming have announced a three-night stand at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, Ireland starting in February 2015. Fortunately for The Gloaming the shows sold out under 72 hours after they went on sale; unfortunately for you, I guess you actually can’t plan your vacation around it. (Though we here there are scalpers, even in Ireland.)

There are, however, still tickets available for the label's two-night stand at that very same venue, and those gigs are only a month away. The shows take place on Saturday December 13 and Sunday December 14. Get your tickets here & here, forthwith, are the details:

Saturday December 13th
3pm: Crash Ensemble performing the music of Bryce Dessner
4:30pm: This is the Kit
6:30pm: Buke and Gase

Sunday December 14th
8:00pm: Doveman’s Burgundy Stain Sessions featuring Anna Calvi, Glen Hansard (Swell Season, Once, The Frames), Paul Noonan (Bell X-1) and Lisa O’Neill

You'll notice that since our last announcement, the lovely & talented Anna Calvi has been added to the Burgundy Stain performance. (Sounds of the South regrettably had to cancel. And no, we're not sure what's up with that.)

To tie it all together, here is a sampling of the Doveman-produced EP that Ms. Calvi released this past summer. It's a cover of Keren Ann's "Strange Weather" and features duet partner David Byrne.

Maybe if you come to our thing in Dublin this December you can hear this thing live? (Sans David Byrne, natch.) Either way, the event should be pretty cool. Literally and metaphorically. We've recently been informed December gets pretty chilly in Ireland.

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Jherek Bischoff launches Kickstarter, tours OZ with Missy Higgins - September 23, 2014

UPDATE NOVEMBER 4, 2014: The Kickstarter surpassed its goal by 50% reaching over $23,000, and triggering the release of an exclusive digital EP just for backers! Yay Jherek! Yay backers!

It's been over a year since we've brought you any Jherek Bischoff news. Which is not to say there hasn't been any. This versatile composer/producer/sideman/arranger is just so prolific he's hard to keep up with. We couldn't report on everything unless we turned into a 24-7 Jherek Bischoff news service. (Come to think of it, for something like that experience you should check out his Twitter feed, or ours.)

Anyhoo, there are two pieces of particularly BIG NEWS to announce at the moment, so let us break the drought: (1) Jherek's just announced his forthcoming Brassland release, Cistern, and (2) he is in Australia for the next two months, supporting Missy Higgins on her OZ project, which he helped create. Before we get into the details, though, watch this video and contribute to help make Jherek's next record a reality.

Ah, the wonders of crowdfunding & multi-media: Putting record labels & writers out of business since 2009ish. Ha ha! Ahem....

On a more sincere note: We at Brassland are total geeks for ambient music. From Satie and Eno's placid zone-out soundtracks to Terry Riley and Aphex Twin's more wigged-out explorations of the form, ambient music is often the kind of tuneage that makes non-believers say "Hey, my kid could do that!" but, believe us, the subtle skill and sly restraint required to compose ambient music that you can listen to again and again and again is, in our opinion, one of the real signs of genius. And, on that front, Cistern is the music that sold us on working with Jherek in the first place: a series of ambient pieces written for chamber orchestra that may not break new ground, but certainly could become your "on repeat" digital go-to tracks or a re-spun turntable fave. (Yep, we will be releasing this on vinyl.) Inspired by the echoey confines of a 2-million gallon, empty water tank near Jherek's native Seattle, the appropriately named Cistern was recorded with hot-s**t contemporary classical ensemble Contemporaneous, and is planned for release in early spring 2015.

If you're new to Jherek's world, we've created this pay-what-you-wish Bandcamp sampler of his music in honor of the Kickstarter. Im fact, if you want a taste of what you're being asked to fund, the last track on the sampler is a demo for the title track of the new album. Stream or download it right here:

Speaking of Jherek and new worlds, have you heard that he's doing a 25-date tour of...Australia? Did you even know that such a thing was possible? (Australia's population: 23 million-ish. # of major cities: maybe 5. Do the math.) The occasion for this amazing happening is not the inexplicable trendiness of ambient orchestral music in Australia; nor is it that Jherek is touring tiny, DIY squats started by classical geeks. (Nope most of the concerts will be for audiences of around 1,000.) Here's the deal: in addition to creating his new record in 2014, Jherek has been quite busy this year working with Australian pop star Missy Higgins to co-produce her new album OZ. It is her attempt to define "the Australian songbook," and features intriguingly orchestrated (ahem, thanks Bischoff) cover versions of songs by artists such as the Go-Betweens, Slim Dusty, Something For Kate, the DiVinyls, Paul Kelly, and...wait for it...the Drones! We were surprised and delighted when we got our ears on the first release from Missy's new album, when we discovered it was from our old friends the Drones, who you may remember from the cross-country American tour they did with Devastations back in 2008. Missy's take on their song "Shark Fin Blues" sure took us back, and aback, in a good way:

This all goes to prove the old saying: "In the music business, some people are just good to work with—and Bischoff’s clearly one." Actually that's not an old saying at all but something that appeared in the Seattle Weekly's recent best of issue where they named Jherek as Seattle's best collaborator. Weirdly, we've never heard about these supposed good-people-to-work-with in the music business, but then again, we're not journalists, are quite sure they did their research, and think the "good to work with" bit certainly applies to Jherek.

Speaking of which, we're going to skip some of the other exciting stuff he's had going on—including his deepening relationship with Kronos Quartet (!?!); his lovely contribution to the Sony Masterworks compilation Red Hot + Bach; his well-reviewed and sold-out concerts at Brooklyn's St. Ann's Warehouse; this theater music collaboration Johnny Breitwieser: A Criminal Ballad from Vienna which will premiere in Austria this November; and his full-orchestral arrangement of ex-Hüsker Dü member Grant Hart's new music for the ensemble Stargaze which premiered this summer at some European rock festivals.

Oh wait, we managed to cram it all into this post. Yay. Now give him (and us) some of your money to help assure there's plenty more to come.

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Buke and Gase offer new song, USA, Irish & UK tour date(s) - August 29, 2014

Let's get the most fun part out of the way first: Buke and Gase have just posted their new song "Seam Esteem" to Bandcamp for free download. Grab it:

"Seam Esteem" premiered on All Songs Considered. You can also stream it on their Soundcloud.

I know what you're thinking: These announcements came out of the blue. What gives? Well, hopefully you're already one of the lucky internet browsers who caught wind of the their Soundcloud postings from March to June of this year, during which the duo shared aural snapshots & snippets of recent improvs, recording experiments & works-in-process. As the band put it: "These sketches became the basis of our Soundcloud #MondayMissions project. Inspired by an article by Brad Troemel " in The New Inquiry Magazine about "athletic aesthetics”, we began posting a short track every Monday as an exercise in communicating more with our audience and involving them in the process. This required us to take a stab at our standards of Quantity-Vs-Quality on a weekly basis, and the sense of urgency to reveal something vulnerable gave us an added creative boost."

It's finally been revealed what all this (atypical-for-them) internet activity was leading up to: namely, the finished song "Seam Esteem," some chatter about a new record in-the-works and, more concretely, a 9-date tour that will take them through the northeastern quadrant of North America: Montreal to the north, Chicago to the west, Philly to south and, naturally, a Brooklyn homecoming.

And here's another more concrete thing: the entire run of #MondayMissions in the form of a single-playlist. (At least as long as they leave it live on the interwebs.)

We'll wrap up this post with a little congrats to the Bukes on their latest experiment. We've been blown away since the day we met them with their ability to balance considerable creativity and freedom with the qualities needed to spread the products of that creativity far & wide: resourcefulness, a work ethic, self-sufficiency and a general capability to get shit done. DIY has always been part of Brassland's DNA, and continues to be part of it, be it This is the Kit's relentless European touring, or Jherek Bischoff's home-recorded orchestral innovations. But Buke and Gase have embodied the idea in ways that would challenge any band in the history of music, ever.

It's been a joy to work with them, and we hope to continue doing so — which reminds us, they're also planning to take part in this crazy event we're doing in Ireland this December. You can BUY TICKETS for their first ever Dublin gig right now. More plans in the UK and Ireland to come...

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Brassland @ National Concert Hall of Ireland this December - August 20, 2014

Dia dhaoibh! We have some news for you and it's completely craic for anyone in the general vicinity of Éire. If you haven't given up on this post already due to confusion, or offense at our half-assed use of Celtic greetings & Irish slang, please read on: Brassland has plotted an event at the National Concert Hall of Ireland (NCH) this December. It's going to be awesome.

The location is Dublin; the dates are December 13 and December 14. On Saturday we'll present a marathon of individually ticketed shows. It kicks off at 3pm with three intimate gigs in their Engineering Library and finishs up that evening with our headliner in the main room:
- 3pm: Crash Ensemble performing the music of Bryce Dessner
- 4:30pm: This is the Kit
- 6:30pm: Buke and Gase
- 8:00pm: Sounds of the South featuring Frazey Ford, Matthew E. White with members of Megafaun and Fight the Big Bull performing music collected by American folklorist Alan Lomax

On Sunday, comes the European debut of Doveman's Burgundy Stain Sessions featuring:
- Glen Hansard (Swell Season, Once, The Frames)
- Paul Noonan (Bell X-1)
- Lisa O'Neill
We'll add more guests and sidepersons to this post as we confirm them.

You can BUY TICKETS right now. Or check this video playlist if you want a preview of what's in store.

Note that the lead video includes Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver), the dulcet-toned dude who co-founded the Sounds of the South project; however, he will not be part of our weekend. We're sad about that. We're also sad to report that the inspiration for the SoS project — song collector Alan Lomax — will not make an appearance. (Lomax passed away in 2002, so it's not like anyone was expecting him.) Point being, the amazing music that inspired both Vernon & Lomax will be in full effect. So it's all good.

We know what you're thinking: Brassland has done events at Australia's Adelaide Festival & Germany's Haldern Pop. But the National Concert Hall? -- that sounds like quite an upgrade! And you probably have other important questions: Do they serve beer at NCH? (Or, well, at least Guinness?) How about veggie burgers, and light bites featuring kale? (Actually, we're not sure if Ireland does kale. Sorry Brooklyn!) For the record, we have already confirmed NCH serves drinks. We'll work out some food recommendations closer in.

Now for the other whys & hows: About a year ago we began a conversation with our longtime acquaintance Gary Sheehan—NCH's head of programming—about a weekend of concerts that would plot the common ground between the hall's new Perspectives series and the music associated with the Brassland label.

We decided the crossover is a place where folk, classical and alternative rock traditions meet in unexpected ways without getting bogged down in either classical music conventions or folksie informality. Together, we plotted a weekend that focused on musicians whom, on the surface, seem to be do one thing really well, but actually do an entirely other thing just as well. I.e. A rock guitarist who writes composed music for strings & things (i.e. The National's Bryce Dessner); alternative rock & folk groups whose music sounds unusually well-composed (Buke and Gase, This is the Kit); and, of course, the two main stage concerts which treat 20th century vernacular song with the respect & attention usually reserved for 18th century German dudes in powdered wigs. In a roundabout way, we're trying to show how the song-based traditions of Ireland & Scotland deserve just as much respect.

Too much explanation, you say? Well, here's a trailer for what looks to be a sweet ass Alan Lomax documentary about America's "patchwork culture" derived, in this case, from Irish, Scottish & British tradition:

(If you're hooked, watch the doc in full right here)

In a less genealogical sense, we think it's self-evident that there's a commonality between the poise & chops that Doveman brings to the singer-songwriter tradition; the intensity and virtuosic-ish-ness of Buke and Gase's take on post-punk; and the way the Sounds of the South and This is the Kit find, in folk music, the same aesthetic aspirations & deep insights into human potential that others find only in composed music. And, of course, the connections between the artists playing our weekend, Ireland and The National's extended family tree shouldn't go unmentioned. For a catch up, check out The Irish Times' recent oral history on The National's decade of memorable concerts in the country — or, heck, just look at this gift box which "The U2ers" had delivered to the boys from Cinci backstage in Dublin last month.

Does that answer the question about if there'll be drinks? Did that last quip just lose Doveman a shot at getting Bono to sing a tune with him? (No worries! We're holding out for Sinead, cause she's the boss.)

Anyhoo, the NCH has prepared a press release explaining the weekend right here. Forward that link to any friends who might find Brassland-dot-org style news stories to be overly chatty and rambling.

Go ahead, read up at that other site.



Okay now that you're back, a special thanks Mr. Gary Sheehan who we've known since the early '00s when he was a show promoter interested in the cross-genre explorations of our artists Clogs and Erik Friedlander. It's been nice reconnecting with him a ways down the road.

Hopefully, Brassland's December weekend in Dublin will become part of our story & your story, very soon...

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