Jon Snodgrass, Scott H. Biram
Mon, March 19, 2018
Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm (event ends at 11:30 pm)Ventura Theater
$35.00 - $100.00
This event is all ageshttps://www.venturatheater.net/event/1609094/
Nothing has mattered more to Flogging Molly than their new record, Speed of Darkness. "It wasn't the album we set out to write," vocalist/guitarist Dave King says. "It became the album we had to write." Musically and lyrically, Flogging Molly has never sounded so mature or rousing, nor have the messages of alienation and hope behind their songs ever been so relevant. Speed of Darkness was written over several months when the band would descend into the basement of King's Detroit home—a home he shares with his wife, Flogging Molly fiddler, Bridget Regan (they maintain dual residences in Ireland and Detroit, where Bridget was born and raised). As the country struggled to stay afloat, the songs evolved into odes to the working man and battle cries against the elite establishment that so quickly and callously cast him aside. "I write from my surroundings," King says. "I wanted people who've lost their jobs to know I was paying attention. We're singing for them, all of these good people brought to their knees." Nowhere is this more apparent than on the charging and bluesy track "The Power's Out." ("The power's out, there's fuck all to see/The power's out, like this economy/The power's out, guess it's par for the course/Unless you're a bloodsucking leech CEO").
With Speed of Darkness, the band went into unchartered territory. The album was recorded at Echo Mountain Recording Studio, which is housed in a converted church in Asheville, North Carolina. The setting underscored a record that continually asks hard questions of faith and suffering, of belief and deliverance. "We liked making music in a building that had been a voice for the community," King says. "We just wanted to sing a little louder than they had before." And sing louder they did. Songs like "A Prayer for Me in Silence" and "The Cradle of Humankind" are journeys through hardship and heartache, through besieged homelands and losses that open like chasms. Other tracks like "This Present State of Grace" and "Oliver Boy" are songs of searching, of country and democracy, songs that bear witness to the glory and terror of being human. Speed of Darkness also marks the debut of Flogging Molly's own record label Borstal Beat, which they founded after a great run with SideOneDummy, their home for the last decade. The new chapter in the band's life also makes perfect sense: they're more independent than ever, more themselves than ever. "We're more serious now and we're taking risks. It's who Flogging Molly is," King says. Flogging Molly has never conformed to industry tastes; they've always been the outcasts who put their fans before commercial success, and they've always put their music before marketability. The rewards of such independence and integrity are undeniable on Speed of Darkness. You feel it from the first note to the last, the pathos and the passion, the sweeping and rollicking electricity of inspiration.
Founded in Los Angeles in 1997, Flogging Molly has always defied categorization. The infectious originality of their songs is a badge of honor and key to the band's creativity, their urgency. They infuse punk rock with Celtic instruments—violin, mandolin and the accordion—and they merge blues progressions with grinding guitars and traditional Irish music, the music of King's youth. "We're not a traditional band," explains Dublin-born King. "We are influenced by traditional music and inspired by it, but without question we put our own twist on it." Theirs is music of exile and rebellion, of struggle and history and protest. It's music of a country torn down the middle, a deeply beautiful and wounded country that knows no quit, and Flogging Molly pays homage to that resolve in every note. Whether it's a driving anthem like "Black Friday Rule" or the upbeat duet with Lucinda Williams, "Factory Girls", the band's only criteria for its music is simple and bone-deep: that it matter.
Flogging Molly's fans have always appreciated the social and political awareness driving the music. Swagger, the band's first album, transcended everyone's expectations in 2000, and the track "The Worst Day Since Yesterday" was included in the film Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Drunken Lullabies was released in 2002 and certified Gold. In 2004, the band released Within a Mile of Home, and in 2008, Flogging Molly put out Float, a deeply stirring and personal album recorded in King's native Ireland. No surprise that Float found the band's widest audience yet. Through all of this, Flogging Molly—first, last, and always a live band—was touring, playing raucous and adrenaline-fueled shows in bars, pubs, and nearly every major rock festival in North America, Europe, and Japan. "In Ireland," King says, "you go to the pub to have a conversation. That's what we do every night on stage, go to the pub and trade stories." In 2010, to showcase their unparalleled and limitless energy on stage, the band released Flogging Molly: Live at the Greek Theatre, a three disc set chronicling their legendary sold out shows at one of LA's most famous music venues.
Speed Of Darkness is music to play after you've lost your job or your love, and music to listen to as you dream of better things for your family and country. It's the music you hear as you fight a bigger man, and it's the music you hear as you help him from the floor and buy him a pint at the bar. The album, like Flogging Molly itself, is a testament to youth and resilience, to growing old and the wisdom of scars, and yet for all of the record's darkness and the speed with which it descends, the ultimate theme is one of light: We can persevere. We must and we will persevere.
Obviously not one to be tied down to monogamy when it comes to music, he also teamed up with Chad Price in the late ‘90s and co-founded Drag the River, another stellar country/punk hybrid that turned in a slew of LPs, EPs and 7”’s over the years. Snodgrass and Price continue to tour occasionally, last releasing an album in 2013.
His other side project, Scorpios, put out their second record in 2017, but he also has no problem going it alone when schedules don’t line up. He’s put out a number of solo records and splits writing with a wry sense of humor, his songs vacillating between sweet, sometimes somber affairs and at times straight up rock numbers. He’s just as happy, if not happier collaborating with friends like Cory Branan, Frank Turner, Chuck Ragan, Chris Wollard, Joey Cape, Stephen Egerton and Tim Mcllrath, among others.
With a career’s worth of stellar songs to his name and decades spent playing venues across the globe, Jon Snodgrass is usually just described as the guy with the glasses who plays self-described Country & Midwestern Music .
Scott H. Biram conjured the words and music for The Bad Testament during mad alchemical sessions at his homemade studio in Austin, TX. Through stacks of amps, spools of cable, and a prodigious collection of microphones, he spread his technical wings wide, while never losing the immediacy honed from a life on the road. He added a drum kit and rustic vocal duet to his skill set (which already includes all guitars, bass, keyboards, vocals, and percussion on the album). And strip away the one-man band eccentricity, SHB is out-writing any meeting taker on Music Row. The man writes on a razor’s edge of aggression and deftness, thoroughly contemporary but steeped in the backwaters, back porches and back alleys of our collective musical heritage.
Many in the one-man band field find their groove and stay in it, but stay in a groove too long and it becomes a rut. SHB has the groove, but never falls into a rut. On “Set Me Free” and “Red Wine” the wandering country soul of Jimmie Rodgers and the laid-back cool of Merle Haggard ride well with SHB’s distorted punk; it’s the 2-sided jukebox hit at the honky-tonk behind the looking glass of CBGB’s. “Righteous Ways” and “Still Around,” mellower, but no less determined, sound right out of the Folkways canon. Speaking to eternities and charlatans, Biram’s freewheelin’ with an edgy take on the Newport Folk vibe. With its surprisingly melancholy organ and in the back of the pocket tattered soul, “Crippled & Crazy,” recalls The Band. The haunting harmonica-soaked ballad “Long Old Time” is a chilling taste of existential desolation, “It’s gonna be a long old time/ before I pay for the crime that I done.” This is one lost highwayman.
Fear not, though, Biram is still The Dirty Old One Man Band. His brand of unvarnished and unhinged aggro-roots remains as exciting as ever. “Trainwrecker” blasts down the two-laner with the breathless fervor of a redneck metal “(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone.” Try NOT singing along in the best Nordic Doom Metal voice we all carry around buried within our darker selves. He’s downright blunt on the R-rated Boomhauer TX rant “Swift Driftin’”: “It takes a real piece of shit to be a real piece of shit/ You should really just be headed on your way.” Yet the stark acoustic guitar country blues is updated and self-aware - a profane reboot of personal heroes Leadbelly and Mississippi Fred McDowell. The instrumental “Hit the River” is a throw the devil horns slide guitar boogie right in that sweet Biram groove. And. It. Will. Not. Let. Go. It’s short, not-so-sweet, and leaves you panting for more.
Scott H Biram is THE one-man band. The master of the realm. Why? Because even though he’s one man, he ain’t one thing.
26 S. Chestnut St.
Ventura, CA, 93001