POSTED ON APRIL 3, 2013:
A Fresh Start
John Lyons, David Crowder make changes
When John Lyons started working on what would become his next album, he admits he had no idea it would take on its own life, evolving into a new band and completely different sound than anything he had worked on in the past. Before the process was over, however, it had done just that, developing into the new outfit known as Young Lyons.
"From my perspective, I was just writing again," Lyons said. "I figured I'd try another formation of Ziff and find the guys to start the band, since I didn't have a base to work form and the old lineup had dissolved. I thought, 'Maybe I'll start by focusing on the songs and the studio instead of the lineup this time and that will help me find the band.'"
Initially, Lyons spoke with Brent Masters, who had played drums for The Agony Scene. The two already knew each other from shows Ziff had played with Masterson's band in its early days, and the two made plans to work together.
"By the time we were two songs in, it was evident this was not Ziff anymore," Lyons explained. "Ziff was not this sound. It wasn't as produced. I'm not sure how it happened, but it had become something different."
When Lyons started writing and working with Mitcho, Cristiano wasn't even on Lyons' radar. "When I first called Brad to talk about working on some songs, RadioRadio was just releasing the video and single for 'Making Girls Cry'," Lyons said. "To me, calling Paul was out of the question, his plate was full."
Mitcho initially told Lyons they'd worry about the bass later and that he'd record the bass lines for him. Once the songs started taking shape, however, Mitcho suggested calling Cristiano for the job.
Initially, Cristiano agreed to come on to record one song, but over the course of time and with his input in the songwriting and recording process, a new alliance and partnership with Lyons was formed.
"When this first started, John said 'a song' -- one song. I've still got that email, from February 26 last year. But it just built from there," Cristiano said.
Most importantly, of course, is the music, and it's a seismic shift for Lyons in sound and approach. With Ziff, Lyons' songs were more direct, guitar-oriented rock, built around lighter verses and big crashing choruses. Working with Mitcho and Cristiano has brought out his melodic side and more intricate arrangements, exposing the pop sensibilities of his writing.
Last fall, an early version of "Kill, pt 1" appeared on the Homegroan sampler. With the arrival of Young Lyons' debut EP, Crash Course, that sound and direction is more fully developed. Yes, the choruses are still big, but it's the melody that grabs you now instead of a change in guitar dynamics. "Kill" is even more refined and developed on Crash Course, incorporating a touch of Beach Boys vocal melodicism in the bridge before swinging back to the rock hook.
"The defining point of this band started with 'Kill'," Cristiano shared.
According to Lyons, he's had a dynamic shift in his approach to writing as he worked with and learned from Cristiano and Mitcho. "How I write is completely different now," he stated. "It's almost like being tutored, and now I've earned my diploma in some way."
Lyons' melodies come out most simply on the acoustic "Girlfriend's Got Me Down" and "Away Tonight", which counters his vocal line with a bouncing keyboard line and drums that reel you in, then hit you with short blasts of guitar.
The song that really grabs everyone, however, is the one that almost didn't make the disc. Recording was already done and the band was planning on preparing it for release when Cristiano sang the melody line to Mitcho one afternoon, sending the band back to the studio.
That song, "My Own Town", opens the disc and is being used as the lead single. Although it opens with an analog keyboard blip, it's followed by a huge gang vocal chorus that draws the listener in, not only to the song, but the entire disc, a fitting introduction to Lyon's new direction with this band.
The release party for the band's new EP, Crash Course, is this Saturday night, April 6, at The Vanguard. Jason Ferguson, The Admirals and All About A Bubble will open the show as Young Lyons reveals the new disc and a couple of new songs in what amounts to the band's second live appearance. (The group made its debut last November, opening for The Secret Post at that band's CD release party.) While Lyons and Cristiano are the songwriting core of the band, the group is fleshed out with James McGowan on drums and Brian Gresh (who plays with the internationally touring Queen Extravaganza) on guitar. Tickets are $7 at the door and include a download of the new EP, with doors opening at 8pm and the show starting at 9pm.
Another New Beginning
When David Crowder Band announced its intentions to disband in 2012, many fans wondered what would come next. In fact, many of the band members, including Crowder himself may have wondered what was in store for the future. After seven albums and seventeen years, however, all agreed that it was time for that chapter to come to a close.
Of course, it wasn't the end of making music for a group of artists who had become one of the premier and leading bands in the Christian music's modern worship movement. It was just time for all to move on to something new.
As it would happen, the rest of the band (except Mike Hogan) eventually decided to move forward together as The Digital Age. David Crowder set forth to start a solo career, but ended up heading a different direction and forming a new collective known simply as "Crowder".
In essence, the man that led David Crowder Band as one of the premier modern worship groups of the past two decades and helped make computers and electronic instruments just as common as guitars and keyboards has headed in a new direction, exploring the dynamics and emotional intensity of bluegrass music with his songs.
In an interview, Crowder said, "We as the Crowder Band stumbled upon this little trail into the world of bluegrass music and there was something about it that just burst to life for me."
In explaining his affinity to bluegrass, Crowder said that "There's a sorrow beneath the surface -- a high, lonesome sound, and it turns out the whole thread goes back to the Appalachian Mountains, which leads to Scotland and Ireland. In the Appalachians, it was a hard life, and what was happening was they were singing themselves out of the present and into a future that they believed was real and tangible, and it felt like maybe if we sang hard enough we could bring it into the here and now."
Although Crowder has yet to release and official album with the current band, the group did record an iTunes session, revisiting a handful of his songs and a couple new ones with a new bluegrass twist.
Whether you're a long time fan or just discovering his music, you can be a part of his new journey when he brings Crowder to Tulsa for the first time next Wednesday night, April 10, for a show at Cain's Ballroom. This is a move to a more intimate venue after selling out Cain's Ballroom on the last two David Crowder Band tours, so you'll want to get your tickets early. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Cain's Ballroom box office or online at Ticketfly.com for $24 or $28 at the door. Make sure and arrive early as doors open at 6pm and Songs of the Fall opens the show at 7pm. The night of sing-alongs and stories with David Crowder and his new collective will commence by 8:30pm, so come ready for a new experience and journey with Crowder and his new band of friends.
Although Tulsa's favorite blues rock guitarist was featured on our cover in November, his new CD was not ready for release yet. Almost There has finally arrived and proves to be Pittsley's best recording to date, as well as a near perfect picture of where he and his band are at right now.
Pittsley celebrates the arrival of Almost There with a CD release party at The Shrine on Friday night, April 5, with Wink Burcham opening the night. The disc is a great slice of Pittsley's blues rock with a little bit of jam band flavor thrown in. Code named "Rusty Sockets" by the band, due to the orange stain left on Pittsley's fingers after using old, rusted sockets to play his slide parts, you won't want to miss the guitar work on this record.
Even so, Pittsley never sits still, and he's already starting the writing process for the next record. He shared that he's in the early stages of writing and still trying to decide which direction he'll go next. Regardless of where he goes, you can rest assured it will be an exciting next chapter in his ongoing development as a songwriter and guitarist.
Right now, however, you need to get to The Shrine on Friday night to get your copy of the disc and soak up the band while it's running hot off of some blistering shows at South by Southwest. Pittsley has been focused and on fire as of late and an evening to officially roll out the new disc with his friend Wink Burcham promises to be a special night for everyone involved. Cover is only $5 and doors open at 7pm.
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Is spring finally here, or is it just a mirage? Either way, Tulsa's music calendar is in full bloom and warming up for what promises to be another blistering summer. For now, though, we're at a comfortable pace with plenty to choose from, with both local and national bands coloring our calendar. As always, you can check the events calendar for full listings, but here are some highlights to get you started in the right direction.
Thursday, April 4
The weekend kicks off early with a few different options as The Big O Show plays The Hunt Club, Ego Culture follows the Honky Tonk Happy Hour at The Colony and The Treehouse hosts "Unprotected Sex", an acoustic night with Bria and Cody from The Sex. The Vanguard brings the jazz with Hot 8 Brass Band and GoGo Plumbay with DJ Foxy spinning tracks before and after the show. And if you're looking for a bigger show, Colt Ford and Chance Anderson Band bring the country fix to Cain's Ballroom for the night
Friday, April 5
It's finally time to get your copy of Already There as Dustin Pittsley holds the CD release party for his new disc at The Shrine with Wink Burcham. Across the street, Mercury Lounge hosts Eli Howard and Whitey Morgan & the 78's for a wild night of honky-tonk and Americana. You can also get your fix with Cole Porter Band and Hammerdown at The Vanguard.
Saturday, April 6
Spring comes to life as 306 Phoenix House celebrates its one year anniversary with music starting at 10:30am and running into the evening with a lineup that includes Blake Biery, Mark Levitt, Lonesome Jake Jones, Gypsy Hot Tub Jazz Band, Craig Plumlee, Cody Brewer, Josh Masaad, The Remnants, Leslie Brown, Dirty Creek Bandits, Gene Williams Combo and Rosie and Dot along with an all-day open house, yoga and arts and crafts vendors for a day out with the family.
Once the evening hits, Guthrie Green kicks off its spring season with And There Stands Empires, GoGo Plumbay and Low Litas while Guardant plays The Yeti and Young Lyons holds its EP release for Crash Course at The Vanguard with Jason Ferguson, Admirals and All About a Bubble opening the show, making for a full night in the Brady Arts District.
If you're at 18th and Boston, you can choose between Jason Eady at Mercury Lounge (which is sure to sell out), The Sex at Treehouse and the Dale Simpson Benefit at The Shrine with Travis Kidd, Brandon Clark and more, with proceeds going to a scholarship fund for Simpson's kids.
Sunday, April 7
Tulsa gets a chance to break from the doldrums as Guthrie Green presents its spring concert series with Fiawna Forte, Vandevander and Dwight Twilley, starting at 2pm, to open the season out right. Afterwards, you can cross the Main Street pedestrian bridge and stop at The Jazz Depot for Mike Bennett and the NSU Jazz Ensemble to continue your music buzz. And if you're looking for something fresh to get your rocks off, you can head to Cain's Ballroom for The Expendables with Pacific Dub and Brice Flea to wrap up your night.
Monday, April 8
Don't miss Steepwater Band as the group returns to Tulsa for a special Monday night show at The Yeti that will be up close and personal and let you lock in with the band's groove
Tuesday, April 9
The show that's been flying under the radar, but should be creating a serious buzz is Local Natives with Superhumanoids at Cain's Ballroom, giving Tulsa a great indie rock show with a headliner that's already garnering some serious national attention. Catch them now before they blow up.
Wednesday, April 10
The week wraps up at IDL Ballroom as Crowder makes its Tulsa debut and band leader David Crowder unveils a new band and more organic, bluegrass infused sound. Doors open at 6pm for the 7pm show, but you'll want to buy your tickets in advance as Crowder sold out Cain's Ballroom with his previous band and you won't want to miss the opportunity to see him begin something new in a much smaller room.
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