Directly supporting acts like the Lumineers, Delta Rae, American Authors, G. Love and Special Sauce, ZZ Ward, and Greensky Bluegrass, Swear and Shake has gone from city to city connecting with different audiences. They take listeners on a ride through heart-wrenching ballads, only to pick it up on the next song with something people can dance to. Though both Kari Spieler (guitar, vocals) and Adam McHeffey (guitar, banjo, vocals) performed regularly around the campus of SUNY Purchase College, it wasn't until the final weeks of their senior year in 2010 that they met and recorded "Johnnie," a song Swear and Shake still regularly performs.
Jillette Johnson has been performing live since she was 12, captivating audiences with her sultry, thoughtful, piano-driven tunes. She has spent the last decade cultivating her sound and defining her unique perspective. When she moved to New York City from her small town of Pound Ridge, NY as an 18 year old, Johnson was already familiar with the city and its clubs, from Sidewalk Cafe and The Bitter End to Rockwood Music Hall.
Inside a redwood tree off the coast of California, within a tunnel by Snoqualmie Pass, on an airstrip in Marble, Colorado, in a wild daisy field near Crested Butte—these are just a few of the places Los Angeles trio MAGIC GIANT recorded their debut album, In the Wind. Austin Bisnow (lead vocals), Zambricki Li (banjo/violin/harmonica), and Zang (acoustic guitar, cello), welcomed nature into the fold as their unofficial fourth member.
“It was fate,” recalls Li. “We were scheduled to play all these festivals—Electric Forest, Wanderlust, Lightning in a Bottle—that just so happened to be in really beautiful parts of the country.” During the spring of 2016, the boys bought a shuttle bus, converted it into a solar-powered mobile recording studio, added a California King on hydraulics, and fondly named her Queen Elizabeth. “There were spaces of time between shows where we could get creative,” says Zang. “Using the bus to power microphones, we recorded outside—literally In the Wind—across North America.”
Rigsby, who has been playing drums since the age of 12, took a stab at civilian life following more than a decade of writing, recording, and touring the world with his band House of Heroes, but it didn’t take very well. What started out as a remedy for restlessness, however, soon developed into a full-blown passion and the beginnings of Rigsby’s new solo project: Vesperteen.
Vesperteen’s pop-rock sound, reminiscent of bands like the 1975 and Bleachers, has connected with a large audience. In just over a year, Rigsby has accrued more than 10,000 followers across social media platforms and generated 150,000 plays on Spotify as an independent artist.
Keeping things simple is probably one of the most complicated things that a musician could ever do. DBMK creates a really immersive and cinematic blend of sound, yet their indie pop is direct, deliberate, and extremely easy to relate to. In December 2014 they released The Abyss, their debut full-length album. The songs are introspective and intimate, but their sound is big, with reverberated guitar riffs, soulful vocals, and great arrangements that echo artists such as Twenty One Pilots and the Neighbourhood, but with an equally honest and less polished attitude.
Though the group is relatively new, they have completely changed the way many view independent and local music by professionally releasing a music video for their song, “Rich Girls,” performing at large music festivals such as FSC’s Southern Takeover, WMNF’s Tropical Heatwave, and Cox Media’s 97x Barbecue and NBT, all within one year of their first steps into the music scene. Much of the duo’s success can in fact be attributed to their constant professionalism, fan relationships, and electrifying stage performance. In July 2016 they released their highly anticipated sophomore studio album, Collapse, which was met with overwhelming fan support, and toured the southeast United States.
The Boston-based electronic duo Sleeping Lion was formed by roommates Nate Flaks and Noah Longworth McGuire in the spring of 2015. The first Sleeping Lion songs were written and produced remotely the following summer (via Skype) while Flaks was living in Dobbs Ferry, New York, and McGuire was living in Rome, Italy. In the fall, the two came together to record in Quincy, Massachusetts.
Their first single, “You Made Me,” was released in September 2015 and quickly generated hype around Boston. Their subsequent singles, “Rug” (premiered exclusively on Indie Shuffle) and “Generous” (premiered exclusively on the Line of Best Fit), were featured on various music blogs and Spotify playlists. In July 2016, they released their debut EP Patient Creature, which featured their unique combination of mellow alternative electronic vibes with elements of future-bass.
Gaelynn Lea is a violinist from Duluth, Minnesota, with more than 20 years of experience. She began learning traditional Celtic and American fiddle tunes at the age of 18. During her college years, Lea started sitting in with various folk/rock musicians and developed her own improvisational style. Eventually, she began singing and dabbling in songwriting. Lea has played alongside many notable Minnesota musicians over the years including Alan Sparhawk, Charlie Parr, and Billy McLaughlin.
Lea has been actively performing throughout northern Minnesota and Wisconsin since 2006, contributing to a number of musical projects in the Twin Ports. Currently, her most active collaboration is the "Murder of Crows," an atmospheric alternative duo with Alan Sparhawk. Together, they recorded an EP titled Imperfecta in 2012. Their original song “When We Were Young” was featured on Sundance TV’s acclaimed drama Rectify in June 2014. Lea also regularly performs solo sets of experimental fiddle tunes sprinkled in with her original songs. Her aim is to create a meditative, layered sound that allows the listener’s mind to drift.
On March 3, 2016, Lea was named the winner of NPR Music’s second-ever Tiny Desk Contest. The video entry of her original song “Someday We’ll Linger in the Sun” rose to the top of over 6,100 submissions from around the nation, chosen as the unanimous favorite among the contest’s six judges. The very next week, Lea performed a moving Tiny Desk Concert, at which the show’s host Bob Boilen said “there was hardly a dry eye.” She released a studio version of this track on May 5, 2016.
Lea also loves to do speaking engagements about disability, overcoming challenges, and the joy of music. Lea has a congenital disability called osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bones disease. In recent years, she has used her music as a platform to advocate for people with disabilities and to promote positive social change. Lea believes society must make accessibility a priority so people with disabilities can participate fully in their communities and use their talents and gifts without discrimination.
Nashville-based Ben de la Cour has a uniquely modern, haunting, and darkly humorous sound that is all his own. Songs filled with tales of substance abuse, murder, and mental illness sit in perfect juxtaposition with playful lightheartedness and an ever-present glimmer of hope. After growing up in Brooklyn, he set out to see the world as an amateur boxer, bartender, and agricultural worker. He lived in Havana, Paris, London, Los Angeles, and New Orleans before finally settling in Nashville. It was at Nashville’s Greenland Sound that de la Cour recorded the 11 songs of perfectly crafted "Americanoir" that make up his second album Midnight in Havana.
Sometimes it can take years to find your calling. Not for Julie Byrne, whose power of lyrical expression seems inborn. Often what comes naturally cannot be driven by speed and time. Julie’s second album, Not Even Happiness, has evolved at its own pace. It spans recollections of bustling roadside diners, the stars over the high desert, the aching weariness of change, the wildflowers of the California coast, and the irresolvable mysteries of love. Her new album vividly archives what would have otherwise been lost to the road, and in doing so, Byrne exhibits her extraordinarily innate musicality. Some of the songs on Not Even Happiness took years of fine tuning to reach their fruition. If you asked her why the follow up to 2014’s Rooms with Walls and Windows has taken so long, you’d be greeted with a bewildered expression melted into a smile, as though the strangest question had just been asked.
Johanna Warren crafts powerful songs in unusual time signatures and melancholic open tunings on her acoustic guitar, weaving adept finger-picking with lilting, acrobatic vocal lines and potent poetry drawing from a deep well of mysticism and introspective journeying.
In 2015, Rolling Stone magazine named Johanna "One of Four Singer-Songwriters You Need to Know." In 2016 she founded Spirit House Records, a radically artist-friendly label dedicated to the collective empowerment of free-spirited women, queer, trans and nonbinary artists. She released her third solo LP Gemini I on Spirit House last September; its twin, Gemini II, is due out this summer.
An intuitively self-taught guitarist and classically trained flute player, Warren's writing plumbs the depths of the human experience, alchemizing life's darkest moments into refined offerings of beauty. Although she has lent her voice to artists such as Iron & Wine, Natalie Merchant, and Jesca Hoop, she is a songwriter first and foremost, paying homage through the cultivation of her craft to her personal saviors Joni Mitchell, Elliott Smith, and Nick Drake.
Based out of Providence, Rhode Island, Call Security is the 2017 winner of 95.5 WBRU's Rock Hunt contest. They blend a variety of influences into a unique, dynamic sound that treads the line between modern and vintage. Known for delivering live shows that burst with energy, Call Security is quickly gaining recognition for their unique talents as songwriters, musicians, and performers. The band has shared the stage with acts such as Passion Pit and We the Kings. They have played at venues such as Smith Opera House, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and Webster Hall. They have also performed at festivals such as Collegefest at Fenway Park, RedGorilla Fest in Austin, Texas, MusikFest in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the Millennium Music Conference in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Canadian Music Week in Toronto. Additionally, the band will be performing at the summer 2017 Alive@Five Festival in Stamford, Connecticut. Following the success of their debut EP, To Whom It May Concern, in 2014, which garnered more than a half a million plays on Spotify, Call Security released their sophomore EP, Laberge, last year, which works to further define their unique style.
Migrant Motel is a Boston-based rock 'n' roll power trio that formed at Berklee. Comprising leading man David Stewart (bass and vocals) from Peru, Edward Graves (guitar) from England, and Chava Ilizaliturri (drums) from Mexico, the group brings a diverse range of culture and influences to the table.
Self Portraits is a female-fronted rock band based out of Berklee College of Music. With a huge modern sound and catchy hooks, Self Portraits brings big rock music to the mainstream. They strive to push the envelope of modern rock music with soaring guitars and technically difficult music while still creating a product that is easily accessible to all listeners.
LANDS is a band comprising eight members who all met at Berklee. The band performs a genre they like to call "explosive soul" because of its jazz and soul influences. The band approaches music by understanding their relationship to it and to each other. By understanding common expression and emotional dynamism along with bringing awareness to the music as a whole, they can form a pocket that’s deep while providing the exposure of artistic beauty and contrast.
Enta Tenta is an electronic-pop duo based out of Boston with unique, catchy songs. Combining the eccentric vocal processing of Rachel Alix and the fresh beats and forward-thinking sound design of Bailey Chapman, Enta Tenta has the ability to appeal to the masses while keeping a fresh and original sound. The duo met while attending Berklee in 2016.
Sports is an Oklahoma-based band of wizards who conjure pop music spells for all ears. Their album People Can’t Stop Chillin' (a follow-up to their debut release Naked All the Time), is a collection of pure magic that will make you want to take a cruise in your uncle’s convertible at dusk with nothing more than enchanting melodies and crisp wind in your hair.
YEEK is based in Los Angeles, California.
Adam Torres is a folk singer-songwriter based out of Austin, Texas. In 2006, 20-year-old Torres released his debut album, Nostra Nova. The album’s 11 songs are idiosyncratic and varied. With many breathtaking moments throughout, it feels full of promise and is simultaneously weathered and young. A DIY self-release, Nostra Nova found deep, long-lasting roots within the small Athens, Ohio community at the time, but didn’t resonate further until much later.
Following its release, Torres went back to college and turned his focus to other interests. All the while, he never stopped playing music, writing songs, or performing. Having written more than 100 songs since 2006, he quietly released his first music since Nostra Nova in 2012 through DC-based cassette label DZ Tapes, which featured tape-recorded demos made inside the apartments he lived in during his time in Ecuador.
In 2015, Nostra Nova saw a small reissue. Called a “cult classic” by The A.V. Club, the album finally achieved its due, earning additional praise from Stereogum, VICE, Popmatters, All Music Guide, and more. Torres' forthcoming new LP, Pearls to Swine, maps Torres’s complicated history as a songwriter and musician. He embeds his own folklore within his lonesome- sounding, deeply felt, and moving brand of folk music.
marquisFILTHY is a 19 year old Boston rap artist who is signed to Plan A Records. In October 2016, he released his debut album The Glo Up. He is currently working on his next project Deeper Than Rap, coming next year. On August 19th, FILTHY will perform his first headlining show on his 20th birthday. Opening for him are Eym Fresh, Chase Murphy, and Danny Diamonds from the Golden Boy Music Group. These four artists are coming to Berklee ready to end the summer with a great live rap show.
Zack and Dani were married in 2012 and soon after their wedding tried writing a couple of songs together. They liked it, so they wrote a couple more. Andy, a friend from college and very talented drummer, was into the songs and started beating on stuff while Zack and Dani played them. It sounded good. While these three were playing the songs at Shakespeare in the Park one August afternoon, Brian became interested in adding his talent to the mix as well and began playing along with mandolin and guitar. It sounded even better. With these four members, Birdtalker wrote and practiced for about a year when yet another talented friend and Birdtalker's biggest fan, Jesse, expressed interest in lending his bass sounds to the band. It is the combination of each member's specific offerings that gives Birdtalker the life and sound that it now possesses.
Zack and Dani write songs as a way to share ideas they care about and sentiments they feel deeply. Playing music has proven to be a powerful avenue for connection and communion, within the band as well as with listeners. Birdtalker's hope is simply that the more music they write and share, the more true and vulnerable interactions may be born from it.
Becca Mancari is a traveler. She's lived in a lot of different places, including Staten Island, Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania and India. She's collected plenty of tales along the way, spinning the sounds and stories of the modern world into songs that mix the organic stomp of American roots music with the approach and attitude of raw rock & roll.
Texas-born duo Penny & Sparrow have a musical maturity that has been honed over half a decade and hundreds of live shows. Kyle Jahnke and Andy Baxter are presenting their most ambitious album yet in their 2017 release Wendigo. Rejoined by Chris Jacobie (producer and engineer of their previous albums Creature, Tenboom, Struggle Pretty, and Christmas Songs), Penny & Sparrow delve into numerous new and diverse soundscapes throughout Wendigo, without sacrificing the sharp honesty that’s accompanied their career thus far. Wendigo arrives a year and a half after Let a Lover Drown You, which was recorded at Muscle Shoals and produced by John Paul White.
Lowland Hum is an art-folk band based in Charlottesville, Virginia made up of husband/wife team Daniel and Lauren Goans. In a particularly cacophonous cultural moment, Lowland Hum is a breath of fresh air. The band's songs have been described as poetic and evocative, and their arrangements minimal, hushed and dynamic. They have toured extensively since the band's inception in 2012 to support their three full length albums and one EP. Both their live show and studio releases have garnered critical acclaim from the likes of NPR, the Washington Post, American Songwriter and others. With a loyal fanbase that is steadily growing, Lowland Hum is a band to take note of. The band’s third full length album, Thin, was released on February 10, 2017.
Penny & Sparrow VIP Ticket Includes:
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Ten years ago, Kentucky native Ben Sollee came to prominence by singing Sam Cooke while playing the cello. The NPR sensation was not some backwoods novelty. Sollee's spare, exultant interpretation of “A Change is Gonna Come” announced the arrival of a relentlessly curious musical soul. In the decade following, Sollee recorded a slew of albums and EPs in a daunting variety of settings. He has played with trance bluesman Otis Taylor, banjo virtuosos Abigail Washburn and Bela Fleck, and has collaborated with Jim James of My Morning Jacket. He has also collaborated with DJs, acoustic musicians, visual artists, software specialists, and environmentalists. Sollee has composed ballets and music for films and for stage. He has also cycled 5,000 miles by bike, towing his cello “Kay” behind him as part of his “Ditch The Van” tours.
Sollee describes his newest release, Ben Sollee and Kentucky Native (which shares its name with his band) as a bluegrass record, fully aware that his is not the traditional view. “Bluegrass music is immigrant music,” he says, offering his expansive definition across the kitchen table. “It's the music of Irish and Scottish musicians bringing their fiddle tunes; it is gospel music; it is African music; it is gypsy jazz; it is rock 'n' roll. It is all these things. What makes it unique and of Kentucky is that it was distilled by the people who lived here in Kentucky, and turned into something else.”
Hailing from Manchester, England, acoustic-electronica trio GoGo Penguin comprises pianist Chris Illingworth, bassist Nick Blacka, and drummer Rob Turner. Drawing on a heady brew of influences from Brian Eno, John Cage, Massive Attack, and Aphex Twin to Manchester’s gray, rain-streaked urban streets, they create a brave new sound that is entirely their own.
After playing more than 100 living room shows to conquer his stage fright, Dotan finally released his debut album 7 Layers in 2014. The album instantly connected with audiences, and within a year, the Dutch singer-songwriter took the multi-award-winning album from living rooms to international festivals, to his sold-out, headline stadium show in Amsterdam. His songs "Home" and "Hungry" were instant hits. His unique vocals, heartfelt lyrics, and dynamic musicianship resonated with listeners and no matter the scale, his shows provided an experience, mixing big drums and anthemic numbers with more intimate and acoustic moments.
His music was featured in many popular American television shows and the legendary Ben Folds invited him to tour throughout North America in 2016. As the rollercoaster ride slowed, Dotan decided to go back to his own living room and record new music. The song "Bones" is the first result of a stripped-bare approach going back to his singer-songwriter core. This tour adopts the same approach. No big band, no drums, no stadiums. Just Dotan and his guitar.