For the recording of their sophomore album Gold Fever, San Diego-based dirty-blues twosome Little Hurricane skipped the studio and rented out a 19th-century apple-packing house in an old gold mining town. For two weeks, singer/guitarist Tone Catalano and drummer/vocalist C.C. Spina hunkered down with vintage equipment borrowed from a friend who once recorded with legendary bands like the Grateful Dead and Deep Purple. Sweating through a mid-summer heat wave in their air-conditioner-free surroundings—and often visited by tarantulas, turkeys, deer, and other local creatures—Little Hurricane quickly found their new album taking on a swampy yet ethereal vibe that slyly captures the spirit of the weirder, wilder corners of Southern California.
The follow-up to Homewrecker (the debut album Little Hurricane self-released in 2011), Gold Fever busts open its predecessor's rootsy blues-rock with an Americana-influenced sense of storytelling, a disarming ease with breezy melody, and a broader sonic palette. At turns stark and lushly textured, the album draws much inspiration from Tone and C.C.'s frequent getaways to the desert and their shared love of Salvation Mountain, the Salton Sea, and "all those places where kooky people go to escape the rest of the world," according to C.C. Also essential to Gold Fever's sonics were the acoustics of the recording space itself—located in Julian, California, the house was built from foot-and-a-half-thick stone and crammed with thousands of books left behind by its author-owners—as well as Little Hurricane's use of analog equipment. "It's the same equipment that made those bands sound so good back in the '60s and '70s, and it really helps to balance out the digital edge from the more modern technology we're sometimes using," notes Tone, a longtime audiophile who served as producer on Gold Fever.
Formed in 2010 and fast recognized as a killer live act, Little Hurricane devoted two years to the creation of Gold Fever. "Homewrecker was recorded literally while touring, in kitchens and living rooms all over the place, so for this one we wanted to take more time and see what happened," says C.C. While the album has a heart-on-sleeve honesty that's deeply intimate, Gold Fever also delivers a slew of songs huge in sound and scope. "Playing big festivals over the past couple years and getting on those bigger stages motivated us to write bigger songs," she points out.
Little Hurricane builds off their dirty-blues dynamic for nearly every track on Gold Fever, but infuses each song with such unexpected and inspired touches such as the ghosty effects of "Summer Air," the swell of strings on the otherwise frenetic "Sorry Son" (a gut-punching number about C.C.'s brother and his struggle with addiction, written from her parents' perspective), the horn-soaked soul of "Boiling Water," the snakey groove of "No Man's Land," and the handclap-backed strut and growl of "Grand Canyon." Throughout Gold Fever, C.C.'s drumming shifts from thundering and frantic to crisp and razor-sharp, while Tone's guitar work encompasses lead-heavy riffs, bluegrass-style twang, and gorgeously understated soloing. And although Tone serves as Little Hurricane's main vocalist, C.C. lends her honeyed yet earthy vocals to songs like the spooky, swaying "Breathe," the sultry stomper of a title track, and the slow-burning but anthemic lead single "Sheep In Wolves Clothes."
Each of the songs on Gold Fever was sparked from close collaboration between Tone and C.C., who first found each other through a Craigslist ad. Originally from Chicago, C.C. started playing drums when she was just ten-years-old ("My dad brought me home the Iron Butterfly album with 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,' and that had a big impact on me wanting to be a drummer," she says). Attending culinary school after high school (and interning at the House of Blues Chicago's Foundation Room, where her love of blues was born), she moved to San Diego and bought herself a drum kit to get back to playing music.
Born in Santa Cruz and raised on Van Morrison by his "East Coast hippie" parents, Tone picked up guitar in seventh grade and played in a post-punk band in high school and college. Though he'd kept up with guitar over the years, Tone's career was focused on his work in audio engineering, with an expertise in live recordings that led him to work with artists from Gwen Stefani to Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones. Working as an engineer, I started to see that a lot of bands were using playback tracks in their live performance," he says. "It bothered me that so few people were just playing music, so I started to look for a drummer to make music of our own."
That commitment to organic, unadorned sound is evident in the Little Hurricane's live experience, which has graced major festivals like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits in recent years. "Live is what we're really all about, and we try to put on as big a show we can for everyone," says C.C. The stripped-down but amped-up two-piece dynamic also goes a long way in maintaining Little Hurricane's beautifully brutal energy, even on the more intricate and melody-soaked arrangements heard throughout Gold Fever. "One of the most important things for us on this album was making sure we never strayed too far from just good, straight-up rock-and-roll recording," Tone says. "We try to keep it raw and honest, and with the two of us that's not so hard."
Armed with old bastardized mid-century guitars, hand-me-down fiddles and banjos, home-made contraptions with just enough tension on a string to be considered an instrument and any random percussive item he can get his hands or feet on, Lincoln Durham is a roots-rock revivalist with a heavy amped edge, preaching the gospel of some new kind of depraved music. With driving guttural beats back-boning various growling stringed instruments Lincoln gives birth to a sound that transcends genres with his dark, poetic and raw writing style, telling tales that E.A. Poe would have been proud of.
Lincoln's musical odyssey began in the little Texas town of Itasca when his grandpa, Charlie, and dad, Ed, put a fiddle in his hands at age 4. He would grow into an accomplished fiddle player around Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, winning the Texas State Youth Fiddle Championship at age 10. Lincoln afterward followed the path so many musicians have, finding his vice in the seductive, siren-like callings of the electric guitar, or, in Lincoln's case, the acoustic slide guitar with gnarly pickups haphazardly screwed into it.
Lincoln's true biography is in his live show. The passion in his sweat drenched, mesmerizing one-man-band show draws you in to feel every scar and drop of blood in his painfully intimate lyrics. It takes something beautifully "off" to get on stage with just hands and feet for a band, driven by a howling voice, and morbidly preach a music that harkens back to the old blues masters, Son House and Fred McDowell, infused with the edge and angst of Tom Waits and Nick Cave.
RT N’ THE 44′S
RT N' THE 44s is a Folk Noir band created by singer/songwriter RT Valine. Founded in 2009, the band originated in Los Angeles, CA alongside local bands Leslie and the Badgers, Spindrift, Gwendolyn , and Ruthann Friedman. Using instruments crafted from tin, 2x4's and salvaged parts, RT has stated that RT N' THE 44s was born out of "an attempt to make listenable music from junk". They have been described as a "vintage country band with dark obsessions". The band is often seen busking at various locations throughout Los Angeles and Pasadena in the tradition of Woody Guthrie and Cisco Houston. As members of the New LA Folkfest the band has performed with John C. Reilly, Tom Brosseau, T-Model Ford, and Red Simpson, among other notable acts. RT N' THE 44s performs annually at The Roots Roadhouse Festival and Autry National Center. The band has recorded three full length albums for the independent label Rabid Rabbit Records, and has been featured "live in studio" on KUCI's Freedom Radio Program