This Month's Show
with special guest The Gaslight Tinkers
November 1, 2014
This very poppy jug band from the Hudson Valley will give you a reason to head to the Hurdy Gurdy. Their latest album, Temptation, was released last October and though the band is traditional in instrumentation, it is expansive in scope, working in elements of Nashville country, Appalachian bluegrass and New Orleans 2nd Line marching sounds into the festive blend they bring to the stage.
And it all started with a Bouzouki. Well, maybe a college romance came
first. Mark Miller and Beth Kaufman, the songwriting couple at the heart of
Spuyten Duyvil met at Wesleyan University. She sang one song ("Genius Of
Love") with his band. Young and unsettled, they danced around the country
and each other for years, In San Francisco, Mark started an interactive music
production company creating adaptive music and sound designs for over 100 video
games. He eventually received a life-time achievement award for his music and
his work establishing technical standards and building community among video
game music producers. Beth performed musical theater and worked as an educator
on the East Coast. Eventually, they grew up, grew together, got married and
moved to New York. Life together was good if somewhat conventional.
In the natural course of things, friends turned into a band. And the band grew. Chicago style harp player Jim Meigs joined in 2009 after being seduced by the rock and roll lifestyle on display at their early farmer's market gigs. A journalist and magazine editor by trade, Jim keeps many of the band's more spectacular conspiracy theories in check. Bassman John Neidhart was found through an online musician's matching service. He was the only bass player in New York State to list 'Punk', '80s cover' and 'Country' in his profile. John brought guitarist Rik Mercaldi to the last day of the New Amsterdam recording sessions. After his searing, spontaneous lap steel solos redefined the entire record, he was handed a schedule. Eventually, he accepted conscription and started coming to rehearsals. Drummer Lou Geser, lives around the block from Mark and Beth. A former credit analyst, his time in Spuyten Duyvil has contributed absolutely nothing to his knowledge of finance, personal or otherwise. Newest member, Meredith Rachel splits her time between music and the visual arts. Her Sligo influenced fiddle playing and ability to hold her liquor at gigs brings a distinct Irish flavor to the band.
Songs were written. The songs are rarely confessional. Rather, they are keenly observed character sketches presenting embittered civil war veterans, recalcitrant small town bawds, suicidal bureaucrats, star crossed lovers and brave-hearted fools navigating the mysteries of daily life.
The history of New York State, especially the early Dutch colonial period, plays a prominent role providing the band with their name and settings for many of their songs. Spuyten Duyvil is the creek that separated the island of Manhattan from the Bronx. Washington Irving fancifully interpreted the name to mean 'in spite of the devil', a sentiment that guides the band in their efforts to keep the music joyous and uplifting in spite of the serious themes they explore.
The Gaslight Tinkers will open the evening. The Gaslight Tinkers is a genre unto itself. The band's afro-pop, funk and reggae rhythms create a powerfully danceable sound to elevate traditional New England, old time and celtic fiddle music, merging boundless positive energy with melody and song. Since its formation in 2012, the band has lit up New England from clubs and live radio to major festivals and barn dances.