Grand Ole Echo
"THE STONED, STEELY SOUNDS OF '70S COUNTRY MUSIC LIVE ON IN ECHO PARK — ON SUNDAY AFTERNOONS, AT LEAST. BREEZY AND BOOZY VIBES ABOUND AT THE ECHO EVERY SUNDAY AFTERNOON FROM SPRING TO FALL AT GRAND OLE ECHO, AN OPEN-ENDED COUNTRY SHOWCASE THAT FEATURES ALL MANNER OF BUZZED OUTLAWS AND COUNTRY-FRIED SONGWRITERS BUT ZEROES IN ON THE HAZY DAYS OF WILLIE AND WAYLON AND RONSTADT. THE PARTY TAKES ADVANTAGE OF BOTH THE ECHO'S MAIN PERFORMANCE SPACE AND ITS SUNNY BACK PATIO, WHERE RAY'S BACK PATIO BBQ SERVES UP SLOW-ROASTED PORK ON A WHITE HAMBURGER BUN FOR $6 A POP. KIDS ARE WELCOME AND RUN FREE WITH JOYOUS ABANDON; HANDSOME YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN LOUNGE AROUND WITH CANS OF BUD; VINTAGE WESTERN SHIRTS AND COWBOY BOOTS HANG FOR SALE ON RACKS BY THE SIDE OF THE STAGE. IT'S THE MUSIC, THOUGH, THAT KEEPS FANS COMING BACK EVERY WEEK, WITH HOT-SHOT LOCAL ACTS SUCH AS COUNTRY-FRIED ROCKER ELIJAH OCEAN AND THE FLAWLESS BLUEGRASS HARMONIES OF DEAR LEMON TREES SHARING THE STAGE WITH TOURING AMERICANA ACTS. CAN'T-MISS SPECIAL TRIBUTES, LIKE THOSE DEDICATED TO MERLE HAGGARD AND TOWNES VAN ZANDT EARLIER THIS YEAR, BRING OUT SCORES OF L.A.'S FINEST ROOTS SINGERS AND MUSICIANS. IF YOU SQUINT HARD ENOUGH, YOU COULD MISTAKE THE WHOLE AFFAIR FOR A NASHVILLE HOUSE PARTY CIRCA 1978".- CHRIS KISSEL , LA WEEKLY
"That's just one example of the type of collaborations in store at the Grand Ole Echo, whose definition of Americana is much more wide-ranging and diverse than its Nashville namesake, booking everything from southern rock to psychedelic alt-country to bluegrass to old fashioned honkytonk." - Jonathan Bernstein, American Songwriter
The Echo Park crowd knock back longnecks and listen to bands that can include (former) local fixture, Mike Stinson,or former members of the Blasters. Members of Wilco, and The Black Crowes have been known to show up and even take the stage.” - Los Angeles Magazine
“Sunday afternoons, put a kick in God’s day with the Grand Ole Echo, a downhome celebration with three live bands plus and old-timey jam and bbq on the back patio.” - The Pasadena Weekly
Albert & the Dreamboats
Welcoming you in with the gregarious porch-hang manifesto Cheap Beer and fare-thee-welling on the post-romantic I Don’t Love You, Albert and His Dreamboats’ debut album Glad We Spent the Time effortlessly pairs high musicianship with lyrical wit in an odd brand of honky tonk that is half Roger Miller, half Frank Zappa, and kissed all over by the Southern Californian sun. Prior to the Dreamboats, all the members— Thomas Berg, Robert Anderson, Lincoln Mendell, and Albert himself— were crackjack session musicians, trained to nail down an album in a matter of days. So naturally when Albert gathered up these long-admired talents and locked them into the Dreamboat line-up, out would pop tightly-arranged songs gleaming with flourish— New Boots, Friday Nights, and I Think You Kinda— all produced and dialed to effect by Jason Soda down at Palomino Studios. The album consists of roughly two halves: one for the pals, the other for the gals. For the gals are the songs of tender uncertainty— I Think You Kinda or Ready for Someone— that warble with the negotiations of love. For the pals are grinning numbers like California, New Boots, John Wayne, and Friday Night, all about loving life— even when that life consists of napping after a TV dinner or cruising up the generally-unappreciated 405 to Northern California where “the air is always brisk and clear. All the girls are playing bongos are rarely ever wash their hair. You can find me up at the Fisherman’s Wharf with a brown bag bottle of beer.”
The Dreamboat humor has a longer story, but was evident from the get-go, when Albert and His Dreamboats first truly synergized during a month-long residency at the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles. On top of their musical acts and stage antics, and as Albert himself delivered a keynote presentation in a Steve Jobs turtleneck, the crowd was plugged with a thumbdrive replete with videos, songs, those same songs converted into ringtones, a folio of printable, pre-autographed band photos, and— à propos of nothing— a basketball videogame. The attendees left puzzled but well-apprised of the humor at the heart of the Dreamboats project. “I actually had do some of the animation for the videogame myself,” Albert notes, “because originally the player jumped up and down but didn’t let go of the ball. But you know, letting go of the ball— it’s a big part of basketball.” Albert was made and raised by two comedic actors who taught their son how much laughter lifts even the heaviest of things. And it’s this same mix of laughter and pathos that inspired both the record and centerpiece track, Glad We Spent the Time, a tribute to the time Albert remained home for the golden years of his father and life-inspiration, Dwayne Hickman, best known from the TV series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. As Albert reflects, “It’s strange to have been so superhappy during such a difficult time. There’s this closeness with friends and family, where we get to rehearse all day then sit down for a big spaghetti dinner all together. And at the end of the day, that’s what this record is about— it’s about regretting nothing...and letting go of the ball.”
Jesse Williams & Coyote
Crossing old timey rhythms and twangy vocals with rich harmonies and dirty guitars, Coyote, a Los Angeles based band, is comprised of five people who simply love to play. Songwriter, Jessi Williams, brings the sounds of the country from her midwest/southern upbringing. Heavily lyric based songs chronicle her life experiences through the eyes of ghosts, gypsies and murderers. Their first EP will be out at the end of May. A self-titled full length to quickly follow.
Jason Hawk Harris
Years before developing his own brand of confessional, cathartic country music — a sound he describes as "meta-apocalyptic country/Americana grief-grass" — Jason Hawk Harris chased a different muse as a classically-trained composer.
He was rooted in the orchestral influence of modern classical music from the 20th and 21st centuries. He loved the theory, the disjunct forms and the rawest of emotional palettes. It all started with a fondness for Queen, whose albums accounted for some of the most frequently-heard records in Harris' Houston household. The band sounded progressive, mixing the punch of rock & roll with the complexity of symphonic music. From there, Harris discovered Debussy and Mozart, then Stravinsky and George Crumb. He eventually enrolled in music school and graduated with a degree in composition, which he immediately began putting to use.
After writing thousands of measures of classical music, though, Harris found himself drawn back to the country, folk, and rock music that had soundtracked his early childhood. He'd grown up listening to classic crooners like Hank Williams, Roy Orbison, Jim Croce, Patsy Cline, and Elvis. That music had laid a sort of musical bedrock that couldn't be ignored. Later, after hearing bluegrass musician Michael Daves playing a stirring guitar solo, Harris knew he needed to somehow incorporate his country-loving childhood into his songs.
"Hearing Michael Daves tackle that solo really woke me up," he remembers. "There was something wild about the way he played. He played with abandon. Something sparked in me again — the same spark I'd heard when I first discovered Brian May's guitar solo on 'It's Late' — and everything changed."
Harris began cutting his non-classical teeth with the Show Ponies, an Americana group based in L.A. He played guitar for the band and produced most of their albums, racking up several million Spotify streams along the way. Meanwhile, problems arose in his personal life — including a family history of addiction, which ultimately resulted in the early death of his mother — and began fueling Harris' need to write his own music.
Released in November 2017, the five-song Formaldehyde, Tobacco and Tulips marks Harris' debut as a solo artist. It's an emotional EP about joy, pain, sorrow, and grief, tied together with autobiographical lyrics and sharp, detail-rich songwriting. The record also paves the way for Harris' full-length album, which draws a distinct bridge between his country and classical roots.
"I love country music because it's built upon a collision of the sad and specific," says the songwriter, whose music evokes comparisons to imaginative Americana frontmen like Daniel Romano and Robert Ellis. "It is equal parts devastation and catharsis."
Although performed with traditional country instrumentation — including acoustic and electric guitar, pedal steel, bass, strings, piano, and the occasional harmonium — Harris' LP reaches far beyond the genre's rootsy influence. There are complex harmonic structures, acrobatic arrangements, and unexpected intervals. There are cathartic songs about love and addiction. A classically-trained composer turned country singer, Jason Hawk Harris proudly operates within his own lane, proving that there's something stirring and compelling about musical culture clash.
Written by Andrew Leahey
Todd Day Wait's Pigpen
In 2009, Todd Day Wait put everything he owned on the curb of his home in Columbia, Missouri, and started what would become a seemingly never-ending cross-county voyage. Traveling in a vegetable oil-powered airport shuttle bus, he headed out to California by way of the Rocky Mountains, and ended up in New Orleans. Along the way, he would find collaborators where he could, picking up one line-up for a few states, and rotating regionally. Relying on each musician’s various strengths, Todd would adapt his music to suit them, shifting genres as he did states. Through this process, Todd Day Wait arrived at a musical aesthetic that blends blues, folk, country, early R&B, and soul. In 2012, after years on the road, Todd Day Wait relocated to New Orleans. Today, Todd Day Wait’s Pigpen can be found playing on the streets of the French Quarter and in venues throughout New Orleans.
Greg’s finely-crafted, highly personal songs are influenced by his love of artists like Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams and Neil Young, and his delivery – marked by his clear and soulful voice – is completely without affectation. A rare and special thing these days. Since inheriting his father’s old Harmony guitar and a stack of songbooks as an early teenager, Greg has been steeped in the roots of American music, and it shows.