Archive | January, 2011

Don’t pigeon hole these Byrds

10 Jan

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

For the last two years, Rhode Island based band Jeff Byrd and Dirty Finch have been attracting flocks of fans throughout the Northeast. Last month, they celebrated the release of their new self-titled, twelve-track album at Bon Vue in Narragansett, R.I.

“We decided to do it at Bon Vue because it’s a fun place,” said Jeff Byrd, who plays guitar, harmonica, and sings. “We wanted it to be laid back and it was. We just played all night.”

Dana White, of Specialized Mastering in Boston, mastered the album. But, the band recorded and produced it themselves in Westwood Estates, a community center mobile home park in Coventry, Rhode Island.

“It was kind of a clubhouse and it had a pool table,” said Byrd. “There was no tension and no one was nervous. We just went in there with our equipment and took eight hours each day and recorded.”

Byrd said he enjoyed the recording process because they were completely in control. He felt as if they challenged themselves and were victorious.

“As much as it was work, there wasn’t anybody there to tell us what to do,” he said. “It was all on our shoulders and it really gelled us together as a band.”

Jeff Byrd and Dirty Finch is made up of bassist Shawn O’Brien, guitarist Dan Simpson, and drummer Steve DelTufo, all of whom sing backing vocals. DelTufo also said he is happy with the way the album turned out.

“We could still do it well while having fun,” he said. “My favorite song is ‘Waiting On the Sun.’ It’s laid back and it put the icing on the cake. I really love playing it live and seeing the reaction of the people. That’s what people really judge you on.”

Byrd said he likes all the songs for their own reasons, but is partial to “Waiting On the Sun,” and “Draggin’ Bones,” two songs he thought were “great to record.”

“‘Waiting on the Sun,’ came together quickly and naturally,” said Byrd. “I really like the tune of it.”

Both members said their music encompasses a lot of different styles and they don’t want to get too caught up in their sound. They fear that can limit them and they want the freedom to play whatever music they choose.

“I want to be able to do a metal song if I want to,” Byrd said. “But, I’ve also been a Beatles’ fan forever and they are in everything I do.” 

DelTufo agreed, as he grew up on rock music and is heavily influenced by artists from Johnny Cash and Hank Williams to Motley Crue and Guns ‘N’ Roses. He said it’s important for them to be opened minded to many different types of music so they don’t marginalize themselves.

“I used to really love metal and I still do, but you have to take from everything to be original,” DelTufo said. “I try to find the good in all music.”

However, while they don’t care much for labels, they also know there are a few benefits of attaching a genre to their music. In fact, Byrd said they are noticing the positive repercussions of listing them as a country band online.

“We’re more alt-country, but after I listed us as country, we had four or five new requests in a few hours,” said Byrd. “One fan even congratulated us for being on Reverbnation’s number one Hot Country list. It was kind of funny. I was like, ‘What?’ It’s bizarre and it’s weird in my head, but it’s cool.”

Byrd is grateful he chose a category because more people are finding out about the band. It surprised him at first, but he is thrilled country lovers like their CD.

“I just want to be like, ‘here it is,’” Byrd said. “If you like it, you like it, if you don’t, you don’t. We were on iTunes and it’s funny because the classification of our band fits into Americana/alt-country. I had a conversation with the guys a few weeks ago and we realized we were a mix of country and rock. We’re somewhere in between.”

Right now, the band is in the middle of a mini-tour. They are gigging throughout Rhode Island, the Boston area, and New York City.

“We booked a bunch of shows,” Byrd said. “We’re going to be playing at National Underground in New York City. We played there before and we’re looking forward to it. Actually, the less we plan, the more stuff happens for us. It’s been a lot easier lately. We’re making a lot of contacts with musicians and radio stations.”

DelTufo agreed, saying he enjoys taking things one day at a time.

“We try not to predict the future,” said DelTufo. “It seems to be working out for us.”

Their current album is available on CD Baby, iTunes, and Amazon.com. Byrd said they have already started to write songs for another recording session, as their band is starting to take flight.

“It’s growing and it’s doing it’s own thing,” Byrd said. “There’s a lot more to come.”

Photo by Kristen Pierson.

YORK gears up for gig at Hard Rock Café

3 Jan

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

Hailing from North Attleboro, Mass., pop-rock band YORK is gearing up for their show at the Hard Rock Café in Boston. They will be taking the stage at 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 14th, at the prestigious live music venue.

“It’s very exciting, especially hearing that a lot of local bands don’t get to play there,” said guitarist Mikey Taub. “To be presented with the opportunity is a feeling I can’t describe.”

Drummer Erick Cifuentes, who recently joined the band after a member departed, said he’s thrilled to be playing the Hard Rock Café. He said he’s pleased by how fast things are moving along for the band.

“When we first practiced, I told them that I wanted to make this my living because I live to play drums,” he said. “I am very fortunate on how fast things are moving and very excited to experience every step along the way with each member.”

Keyboard player Emily Rickard shares vocal duties with bassist Dan Pawlowski. She believes having two voices in the band, one female and the other male, creates a “good flow” in their music.

“A lot of our songs are based on love, friendship, and romance, so I think it helps tell a story better with a male and female vocalist,” she said. “Personally, hearing one person’s voice kind of gets annoying after a while. Switching it up gives people a break from one voice and it gives the other singer a chance to get their voice out there.”

Pawlowski agreed and said he has noticed a lot of bands are now breaking out on the music scene with multiple singers, often of the opposite sex. YORK works at balancing the vocal parts between the two of them.

“It’s kind of hard sometimes to both sing the same song equally, but it always works out,” Pawlowski said.

Guitarist John Shay said they “try to bring a nineties feel” to their songs. As is the case with most bands, they compose most of their music acoustically.

“One person usually writes the lyrics and starts us off,” Shay said. “Then, we’ll come up with a melody, verse, and chorus. We make sure the whole band is involved.”

Taub described them as a “band based on melodies.” He believes this helps draws crowds to their shows.

“When somebody hears a pretty melody that’s catchy, they stick around and they want to hear more,” said Taub. “Our originality is important to us.”

YORK often gets compared to Paramore, which they said they don’t agree with. Rickard thinks it’s only because Paramore vocalist, Hayley Williams, is one of the most popular female singers right now.

“When someone hears a female vocalist they automatically think of Paramore and I don’t think that’s okay,” she said. “It’s a totally different style of music than ours.”

YORK solely performs their own material as opposed to what other artists already have done.

“We want to be the band that people want to cover,” Pawlowski said. “It’s rewarding to show our songs to people and see them become part of it.”

Their first single, “Let Me In,” has been getting radio airplay on 94.1 WHJY’s Soundcheck, hosted by Jim Stearns. It’s also being played on 95.5 WBRU.

“It’s a big step for us,” Rickard said. “We’ve never been on a radio station before.”

While some members didn’t hear their song being played on either station, Taub was fortunate to tune into 95.5 at the right time. He said hearing “Let Me In” on air was “unbelievable.”

“I heard us for the first time on 95.5 last week and it was the most exciting feeling,” Taub said. “We were played at a regular time right after Nirvana. We hope people say, ‘hey, what’s this new music? I’ve never heard this before.’ I think it’s fantastic that we are reaching out to more people.”

This spring, YORK will be releasing their first full-length album since they have all been in the band. For the past year, they have been writing and recording new material.

“We have two new songs that we are going to bring to the studio in early February,” Pawlowski said. “They are a lot different from our other songs. There are going to be songs that me and (Rickard) will be singing on our own. These are the best of all of our songs because we really show our capabilities in them.”

For now, the band is excited about the opportunities coming their way, and they are confident their gig at the Hard Rock Café will be a success.

“We’re hoping for a big turn out,” Shay said. “We just want to have a good show.”

Other acts on the bill include 25 Pearl, Evey’s Late Night Dinner, and Project Blue Book.

Tickets for the show are $10 each. To purchase them, please contact any band member at thisisyorkmusic@gmail.com or Katie Botelho, of JKB Management and Booking, at jkbbooking@gmail.com. Tickets will also be available at the door.

Photo by Kristen Pierson

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