Tag Archives: Hot Water Music

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Hot Water Music – Music Hall of Williamsburg – January 24, 2013

January 25th, 2013


Photos courtesy of Hilary J. Corts | www.hilaryjcorts.com

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A Folk Music Revival

April 2nd, 2012

The Revival Tour – The Bowery Ballroom – March 30, 2012

(Photo: Kirsten Housel)

On Friday night, the Revival Tour graced The Bowery Ballroom with two packed shows (early and late) featuring an amazing lineup of NYC locals Kayleigh Goldsworthy and Jenny Owen Youngs, Dave Hause of the Loved Ones, frequent Lucero collaborator Cory Branan, Tommy Gabel of Against Me!, Dan Andriano of Alkaline Trio and In the Emergency Room, and Hot Water Music’s Chuck Ragan—also known as a solo artist and founder of the tour. (Additionally Jon Gaunt and Joe Ginsberg, on fiddle and upright bass, respectively, anchored the lineup.)

In keeping with the ideals of the tour, which was conceptualized from folk music’s openness and sense of camaraderie and years of on-the-road experience that often lead tourmates to collaborate at some point, each show began with all of the musicians playing together and then diverged into a loose hierarchical lineup that better allowed each singer’s voice and style to show. Although both Goldsworthy and Youngs have notable followings of their own, Goldsworthy’s performance of her song “Tennessee” was most memorable from the female voices. Considering that she’s cute as a button in a refined rock and roll way, I’m sure she won over many new fans on Friday.

Hause and Andriano have two of my favorite voices in punk rock and are great songwriters in their own right. However, on this night, I believe their talents were placed in a shadow by the sheer personas that are Branan (Southern and drunken), Gabel (upbeat and anarchistic) and Ragan (bearded and gruff). Andriano’s rendition of Alkaline Trio’s “Radio” (performed with Ragan) became a loud crowd sing-along, but the rest of the audience’s energy seemed spent on the latter three performers. Ragan’s performance of the slower-paced “Rotterdam,” a love song for his hard-working and often-missed wife, wonderfully capped his portion of the night. At 3 a.m., the late show ended as it had begun, with a packed stage and laudable musical camaraderie. —Kirsten Housel

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Five Questions with … Chuck Ragan

March 29th, 2012


When Gainesville, Fla., punk band Hot Water Music broke up amicably in 2006, singer-songwriter-guitarist Chuck Ragan (above, playing “Nothing Left to Prove” for Cardinal Sessions) chose a different musical path, launching a solo career as a folk musician. Eventually he decided to put together the Revival Tour, which grouped together like-minded musicians traveling the country (and Europe) making and playing music together as they go. “The lineup constantly changes,” said the affable, talented Ragan over the phone from his house in California. “It always stays fresh. It always stays unpredictable and exciting. The energy and the camaraderie is the most special element of the tour.” And in advance of two Revival Tour 2012 shows tomorrow at The Bowery Ballroom (the early show is sold out, but tickets remain for the late one), Chuck Ragan rang up The House List to answer Five Questions.

Which New York City musician—past or present—would you most like to play with?
Jenny Owen Youngs. I really admire her way of playing music. And I admire her songwriting and her ethics and how she treats her fans and tourmates. Just all around. I think she’s absolutely fantastic. She just put out an incredible record called An Unwavering Band of Light.

Where do you like to hang out in NYC? And do you ever feel like you could live here?
For years I really thought, “No way.” I grew up in the South, in a not-so-congested area. But back about a decade ago, I moved from Micanopy, Florida, which was a population of 320 people. At the time, Gainesville was too big for me. And that was like a couple hundred thousand people. But I moved to Los Angeles from Micanopy and fell in love with a California girl and moved out here. It blew my mind. And at the time L.A. was my least-favorite city in the world. It was, like, the last place I ever wanted to be. After moving there, my wife—my girlfriend at the time—was like, “There are some cool little niches and corners and little spots around here you need to see.” And she showed me a side of a big city that I never ever knew it could have. I feel like I really grew, as a person, in a lot of ways, because it really changed my mind about my own way of thinking. But it’s all in your perspective. There are good people everywhere and good energy everywhere. So, now, I think, “Yeah, I probably could.” I don’t know how long….

Do you have any crutches when writing a song—are there certain words or styles you feel you lean on too much?
That’s often a thought I have in mind, whether I’m repeating myself a lot. I write a lot. And a lot of the times I’ll write about whatever’s moving me at that moment. In doing so, I write very plainly, matter-of-factly. And I’ve often wondered if I constantly repeat myself. And I’m sure I do. For me writing’s always been more of a therapy than anything else. I do enjoy storytelling. And I enjoy writing about different things I’ve seen or done, but there’s always been this underlying theme with all of my music. It’s normally just looking at the bright side, or overcoming obstacles. And that just ties in with the fact that, a long time ago, I learned to use music more as a tool to overcome obstacles and face whatever we’re battling at the moment, and use that to move forward. But sometimes, for me, it could easily be the same solution to a different problem. [Laughs]

You mentioned obstacles. So I’m wondering then, do you feel like you have to be depressed to write a sad song? Do you have to be in love to write a love song? Is a song better if it’s actually happened to you or could it just be straight-up fiction?
I think it could totally be fiction because I do my best to learn from other people’s mistakes. But it seems like for the most part I’m trying to learn from my own mistakes. Lord knows I make plenty of ’em. I definitely believe in tapping the moment in the sense of what you’re talking about. If you’re writing a love song, writing when you’re just completely enthralled and overwhelmed with that love or that passion for someone. And at the same time, if you’re writing something dark, just getting to it when you’re really down in that place. And I’ve done both for years. I’ve written in a lot of different capacities when different subjects like that have affected me, and it’s come out immediately. And then other times I’ve suppressed ’em, avoided feeling that pain or hurt or resentment, and just kind of pushed it aside until one day you just look back on it. Like situations that I was in—or barely got out of. But at the same time, I love writing music to other people’s stories.

It’s 4 a.m. and last call has come and gone. What’s your next move?
Sounds like pizza time to me. —R. Zizmor