Yeah, I know, when I first heard about this band I pictured some Jenna Jameson, twin-fronted cover band that specializes in songs like “Black Velvet” and “Get This Party Started,” but I’m happy to say that I was way off base. This rock and roll trio can only be summed up as extremely different.
Featuring the Odd Couple combination of cellist Ardith Collins and full-sized harp courtesy of Kristy Chmura, Double Breasted creates rich and alternative compositions that appeal instantly to the ear and mind. At the center of this strange set-up is drummer Josh Bicknell, who provides cutting-edge rhythms and percussive dynamics. The band is currently finishing up a new five-song EP titled Suit Yourself and has released its first song as a gift for fans and friends over the coming holidays.
The song is called “Holiday Sparkle” and is available on both iTunes and CDBaby. They call this song a “mood lightener,” specifically aimed at easing tensions and tirades at the ole’ family holiday get-together. What better way to shut that loud, opinionated trap on Uncle Nick than by playing music that distracts the curmudgeon and improves the room’s overall mood? Double Breasted is an educated trio that met while earning degrees in music at The College of New Jersey. They’ve managed to blend their classical backgrounds with current pop and alt-styled rock trends of today.
Their sound fits clubs, coffee houses and kitchens. The layout is bizarre and features Kristy’s six-foot tall, 46-stringed harp on one side of the drum kit and the dark, mellow cello of Ardith on the other. No electric guitars, bass or keyboards are ever present, yet the sound is as full as any five-piece band I’ve seen to date. The harp parts have been compared to a fingerpicked lead guitar, but it can also strike chords with as much strength as a piano.
The cello provides much of the low-end, but is also used as a lead instrument much like an electric guitar from a traditional rock group. Bicknell’s drums and percussion fill out the spectrum, providing a dynamic range and pulse to the music. Everything I’ve seen live as well as digested studio recordings tells me that these musicians have done their chameleon homework well. You would actually have to look twice to see that traditional instrumentation is not being utilized.
“Holiday Sparkle” is a fun, celebratory tune of levity. No depressing imagery or phony heroic jams raise their heads here, and like the group says on their website, “Have some fa la la la fun, and sparkle!” Double Breasted invites everyone with a feel good image to send the band a 30-second video clip of your “holiday sparkle.” It can be a video of lights, crazy decorations, falling snow or maybe you dressed up as a dancing snowman. (They’ll never get that secret footage from me!) However, they will choose their favorite clips and edit them together to make the 2011 “Holiday Sparkle” music video.
As a reward for your submission, Double Breasted will send you a free download of “Holiday Sparkle.” Act fast as the deadline is Dec. 11. For more information on upcoming performances and their CD, Suit Yourself, head over to doublebreasted.com
Mike Montrey – Inside The Basket
Ever since Mike Montrey’s 2008 release of A Perfect Reality put him in focus as a solo act, this New Brunswick artist has been shaping and implementing a continued pathway to visibility and success. A Perfect Reality was considered to be a “perfect” launching pad, and it featured 11 original Montrey compositions ranging from rock to country to experimental soundscapes.
The album features fellow Samples and MMB member Karl Dietel on keyboards, as well as a slew of talented guests. Grammy Award-winner Mike Tarsia (Patti LaBelle, Joe Pass, Billy Preston) acted as engineer and co-producer. Within months of its release in April 2008, the album debuted at number 29 on the Jambands.com radio charts. The single “Take Me Down Mississippi” was featured as a GarageBand.com track of the week and “Tin Can” was a Relix Magazine Jam Off selection.
His follow up project titled Weaving the Basket was recorded live on Jan. 29, 2011 at Retromedia Studios in Red Bank, NJ. The live recording was so original and honest that it had us fine folks at The Aquarian Weekly saying: “Weaving The Basket rocks. It is spontaneous and dynamic. The songs are true works of art, gems in the rough that have been presented to the listener for their own interpretation of value.” On the proverbial heels of that release, The Mike Montrey Band has teamed with In Focus Productions to produce the illuminating 20-minute documentary Inside The Basket.
The film chronicles the making of Weaving The Basket and takes a rare and penetrating look at the world of recording, amidst the evolving landscape of the current music industry. With older structures crumbling and new methods for creation and distribution emerging everyday, Inside The Basket is an intimate look at one band’s determination to stay fresh, vital and authentic in a sanitized world that praises swift mediocrity over process and substance.
The MMB’s first music video for “Rocketships And Basketballs” off of Weaving The Basket was filmed and edited by Mike Pinchiaroli. Done with an organic slant that has the feel of Levon Helms’ famed home studio performances, the clip, provided on Facebook, combines digital prowess with the human touch. Ashtrays and beers are on display as soundboard meters bounce and musicians forget the camera, caught up in the moment of the vibe and the good time music. Smiles and concentrated efforts are shown alongside spacious Retromedia performance areas and comfortable throw rugs. This ain’t no disco!
Time elapsed fast forward preparation is classy and perfectly timed as the song focuses and builds. This is just a sample of the half-hour film that will be unveiled on Dec. 17 at the Old Bay in New Brunswick. The club is located 61 Church Street, New Brunswick, NJ, at 10 p.m. and will feature two distinct sets. For more info on Inside The Basket and Mike Montrey’s ideology, head over to mikemontrey.com
Remembering Don Hill @ Irving Plaza, Dec. 15
While this is more of a New York item, the Shoreworld has been involved with many of the performers who have called Don Hill’s eponymous club home over the years. As you’re probably aware, Don Hill passed away in March of this year at age 66, leaving his family and a very large community of New York musicians, performers and friends who all miss him terribly.
One of his old friends, Trigger, owner of famed East Village nightspot Continental, has rallied together with some of Hill’s family members and other close friends to present a celebration of Don’s life and famed history. Many of the well-known bands, musicians, DJs and nightlife personalities who all made the innovative club Don Hill’s their home since it opened in 1993, will come together for this one-night only tribute event.
Those already on board to perform include Jesse Malin, Lenny Kaye, Dick Manitoba (featuring members of The Dictators), actor Michael Imperioli’s band La Dolce Vita, Adam Bomb, Bebe Buell Band, Daniel Rey, Trigger’s All-Stars and Miss Guy (Toilet Boys), along with special appearances by Michael Schmidt (Squeezebox), Mistress Formika and others.
Several other “surprise guests” will also be performing. This incredible one-night-only event will feature some of the very best of everything that made Don Hill’s such a unique club, from the live bands and the DJs, to the drag performers and assorted nightlife personalities, all in honor of the man who made it all possible!
For more information on tickets, head over to ticketmaster.com. Irving Plaza is located at 17 Irving Plaza, New York, NY 10003.