Tag Archives: J. Roddy Walston and the Business
Finally off the road after touring behind Essential Tremors (stream it below) for two-and-a-half years, raucous blues-rock four-piece J. Roddy Walston and the Business—J. Roddy Walston (vocals, piano and guitar), Billy Gordon (guitar and vocals), Logan Davis (bass and vocals) and Steve Colmus (drums)—had to figure out what came next: “When we got back it was just like, ‘Alright, we gotta really pump the brake here,” Walston told Billboard. “There was no plan. There was no direction. There was nothing. It was just like, ‘Let’s start writing a record.’ Which was really freeing, but also pretty daunting.” So they converted an old grenade factory at home in Richmond, Va., into a studio to focus on writing and recording at their own pace. “Loud rock and roll music has become less relevant because it’s just been on a loop,” said Walston to American Songwriter. “If there was any rule on this record, it was, let’s be a part of music right now. I want to be part of living music in this moment.” The result is something a little bit different, but a smashing success nonetheless. Their fourth studio album, Destroyers of the Soft Life (stream it below), came out last September to raves. “They set out to create a massive record, one that would transform their raucous, Southern barroom boogie into anthemic arena rock, brimming with vocal hooks and sporting crystalline production to match,” said Billboard. “Indeed, Destroyers of the Soft Life sounds like an honest album—but it also sounds like a modern album, one that fleshes out the band’s hard-rocking roots with elements of country, soul and straight-up pop.” Not to be outdone, “Walston and company have made another major stride forward in redefining their sound as well as the conventions of what Southern rock is supposed to sound like,” gushed PopMatters. “It serves as a message to the South and to rock music in general that renovation and modernization can lead to something dynamic and beautiful.” And live, J. Roddy Walston and the Business (above, doing “The Wanting” live on Conan) still continue to put on a ripper of a show. See them headline Brooklyn Steel on Wednesday night. Chicago DIY psych five-piece Post Animal open.
Tags: Billy Gordon, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Steel, Destroyers of the Soft Life, Essential Tremors, Greenpoint, J. Roddy Walston, J. Roddy Walston and the Business, Live Music, Logan Davis, Music, New York City, Post Animal, Review, Steve Colmus, Video
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J. Roddy Walston and the Business > Lucero > Portugal. The Man > the Greyboy Allstars – Webster Hall > Music Hall of Williamsburg > Brooklyn Bowl – April 20, 2012
Just like farmers do with their crops, I rotate my vices. And so although 4/20 is a smoker’s holiday, since I’d just returned to drinking after some time off, I needed to build up my brown-liquor tolerance in preparation for Jazz Fest, two weeks away. So I grabbed a team of idiots and headed out to see four bands at three venues in two boroughs in one night. J. Roddy Walston and the Business got things started at Webster Hall with “Don’t Break the Needle.” The boisterous crowd, which steadily grew throughout the set, throatily sang along from the get-go. It was hard to believe it was only 7:30 on a Friday, but the Baltimore-based band continued with the pedal to the metal, pumping out bluesy rock and roll for nearly an hour, the perfect way to begin our mission.
Next came the country-punk-rock mashup of headliner Lucero. I’m a big fan of their latest album, Women & Work, so I welcomed the chance to finally hear some of the new songs, like “On My Way Downtown,” “It May Be too Late” and “Juniper,” fleshed out live. Lucero was in fine form and singer Ben Nichols’ gravelly, whiskey-soaked voice was as evocative as ever. Having toured together before, these bands are perfect complements and seem, musically, to be two peas in a pod. It was a great one-two punch of party music. But with Webster Hall making the early changeover to club night, we headed to the L to go to Williamsburg for two more shows.
Since I first saw them at Bonnaroo in 2008, Portugal. The Man has steadily gained in popularity and gone through a number of changes. They rarely have the same look—or even lineup—on consecutive tours. But no matter, because their sound remains unaffected. At Music Hall of Williamsburg, frontman John Gourley was no longer front and center, instead positioned all the way to the left, sort of standing sideways. The band covered a fair amount of the The Satanic Satanist and In the Mountain in the Cloud albums. And again, the crowd loudly sang along, especially on “People Say” and the Beatles covers “Helter Skelter” and “Hey Jude.” While the show was sponsored by Jägermeister, the exploratory jams combined perfectly with my now-Jameson-addled head.
The music progressively grew jammier each stop along the way, which worked out well, as our diminishing communication skills had basically become nothing more than head nods and hand signals by the time we reached Brooklyn Bowl for the Greyboy Allstars. And it was refreshing to know after nearly 20 years, this funk-jazz conglomerate is still laying it down. We arrived for part of the third set, which consisted of a fair amount of Michael Jackson teases (if not whole covers). Altogether it was a night of running into old friends while managing to make some new ones, an unlimited amount of hearty “to Levon!” toasts, plus some good old-fashioned drinking in the street and smoking in a cab. It was the perfect warm-up. New Orleans awaits. —R. Zizmor | @Hand_Dog
Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com
Tags: Aaron Redfield, Ben Nichols, Brooklyn Bowl, Chris Stillwell, Elgin Park, Greyboy Allstars, In the Mountain in the Cloud, J. Roddy Walston and the Business, John Gourley, Karl Denson, Lucero, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Photos, Portugal. The Man, Review, Robert Walter, The Satanic Satanist, Webster Hall, Women & Work
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Lucero has been mining the considerable musical territory between country and punk for 14 years. And after releasing the stellar Women & Work last month, they’re back out on the road, doing what they do best: playing raucous live shows and leaving it all onstage every night. The band (above, doing “Like Lightning” at Brooklyn Bowl) plays Webster Hall tomorrow night with the similarly high-energy J. Roddy Walston and the Business. And from the bus on the way to Northampton, Mass., bassist and band founder John C. Stubblefield rang up The House List to answer Five Questions.
Even with a deep catalog of studio albums, Lucero’s long been known for live shows. Is there something to that?
Absolutely. You’re right there in everyone’s face and everyone in the crowd is as important as everyone onstage. When you’re recording you kind of consider the audience. But it makes the moment much more transcendent when everyone in the room is on the same wavelength. We don’t make set lists. And we definitely feed off the crowd. We actually listen to the crowd. They might shout out something we haven’t played in three years. And it’s like, “All right, let’s give it a try.”
Have you found yourself drawn to any new bands, either through touring or just hearing their music?
J. Roddy Walston and the Business for sure. William Elliott Whitmore. A great band that we played with from Alabama, Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires. When they were in the midst of recording, Lee sent me some tracks and I gave him some feedback.
Where do you like to hang out in New York City? And do you ever feel like you could live here?
It’s a place I like to visit. Lucero’s been a band for 14 years and I’ve been on the road for 18. But it definitely is a place I’d have to take in smaller doses.
Do you have any crutches when writing a song—are there certain words or styles you feel you lean on too much?
It’s pretty different every time, especially with this new record. It was a collaborative effort. On each song we used different styles. We didn’t get bogged down at all. And each song holds its own.
At your after-party and there’s an endless jukebox, and The House List gives you a buck. Which three songs are you playing?
Firehose, “Brave Captain.” ZZ Top, “Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers.” And R.L. Burnside, “Shake ’Em On Down.” —R. Zizmor
J. Roddy Walston and the Business – Mercury Lounge – December 1, 2011
If you go see enough music, occasionally you get lucky. I don’t mean “see a great show” lucky, I mean you get to witness a band at the right time in the right room on the right night with the right crowd and can almost literally feel the slope of the upward career trajectory. Last night—J. Roddy Walston, Mercury Lounge, sold-out crowd all in perfect resonance—was one of those moments. Indeed, it’s shows like these, with Walston and band laying down no-frills rock and roll like they invented FM radio, that rooms like the Merc were built to house.
Walston’s band is called the Business, and watching them play is to realize how perfectly they’ve been named. There’s a multiple entendre at play. And whether it’s “giving them the business” or “now we’re in business” or “none of your [bleeping] business,” the band encompasses them all. Opening with “Don’t Break the Needle,” off last year’s eponymous album, the band wasted no time getting down to business. When Walston, sitting stage center at a piano, reached the chorus of the opening song, the crowd joined in, totally in unison, as if they were a backup choir filling in on cue. Guitar riffs were short and vicious, spicy condiments on Walston’s songs. His voice was a nice now-we’re-in-business blend of classic rock staples: a little Browne, a little Plant, a little Joel. He introduced several tunes as “some rock and roll” in an endearing, redundant way … well, duh!
The set had a lot of forward momentum, slight shifts in tempo and tone along the way, with the crowd totally in tune. Of all the bands to cover, perhaps my last guess would have been the Flaming Lips, but they gave the business to “She Don’t Use Jelly,” fitting it into the set quite nicely. Before the last song, Walston announced there would be no encore and those in the audience moaned briefly before getting their last raging fist pumps in for the evening. Why wouldn’t they consider an encore for the rabid, NYC crowd? I guess that’s none of our business. —A. Stein
J. Roddy Walston and the Business play Mercury Lounge on Thursday. It’s gonna be a fantastic show, which is probably why it’s already sold out. But the gift-giving season is upon us, so The House List is giving away two tickets. Want to go? Try to Grow a Pair. It’s easy. Just fill out the form below, making sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (J. Roddy, 12/1) and a brief message explaining why this band’s bluesy brand of rock does it for you. Eddie Bruiser, who’s a big fan, will notify the winner by Thursday. Good luck.
Tonight’s Lucero show (with J. Roddy Walston and the Business and Johnny Corndawg) at The Beach at Governors Island is rain or shine. In the event of an electrical storm or high winds, management will work with local authorities to protect the health and safety of both the artists and audience. In the event of lightning, this may include short delays of the performance. Just letting you know. Knowledge is power.