Chamomile & Whiskey
Chamomile & Whiskey
with Trees on Fire and Strong Water - St. Patrick's Day
Growing up in Nelson County, Virginia, a small town along the Blue Ridge Mountains, Koda Kerl and Marie Borgman met each other in elementary school. Little did they know then that one day they would be touring with each other as a musical duo. While both considered the duo as a side project in the beginning, they eventually decided that it was time to sit down, formulate a band, and officially start making music. Marie made chamomile tea and luckily, Koda happened to bring a fifth of Evan Williams. They instantly decided that mix -- of earthy tea and a strong, warm kick of bourbon -- embodied the exact sound they were working toward.
In that moment, Chamomile and Whiskey was born.
The band started playing bigger venues around the nearby city of Charlottesville and eventually landed a record deal with a small, local indie label called County Line Records. In 2012, they put out a four-song debut EP titled The Barn Sessions while continuing to focus on touring. The following year, they released their first full-length album, Wandering Boots. Over the years, they added some members -- Marsh Mahon on bass, drummer Stuart Gunter, lead guitarist Drew Kimball, and banjo player/supporting vocalist Ryan Lavin (commonly referred to as just Lavin). They’ve toured nationally and played along giant acts at notable festivals like Floyd Fest and Festy. And in the beginning of 2016, they started working with producer Rob Evans on their second studio album, Sweet Afton.
Chamomile and Whiskey make connections between people -- they did it with their name, and they’re doing it with their new album, Sweet Afton. Lavin, who was raised in Galway, Ireland, used to smoke Sweet Aftons, the cheap, unfiltered, and now defunct brand of Irish cigarettes. Coincidentally, fiddle player Marie grew up on Nelson County’s well-known Afton Mountain, which also happened to be the backdrop for many of the songs from the record. Between the bluegrass fiddle melodies and traditional Irish rhythms, it’s easy to hear both of these childhood connections and inspirations in Sweet Afton.
Fittingly enough, the record begins with an ode to their roots, “Nelson County”. The band loaded up a cooler of beer, invited a group their favorite local musicians, and all gathered around just a couple of mics to give the track an intimate, live recording feel. The album also features the first studio recording of “Good As It Could Be”, one of the band’s most notable songs and a fan favorite. “Lavin wrote it years ago and it’s become our ‘party anthem’ at shows. It’s got a good energy to it, it kind of personifies who we are as a band,” says lead singer and guitar player Koda. But the band isn’t afraid to dig deeper -- Koda wrote the record’s first single, “Gone”, after the passing of his father, who was one of his biggest musical influences growing up. The emotional storytelling and sentimentality of the song is coupled with the perfect amount of pedal steel, which is one of the many instruments you can hear on the album; others include flute, cello, and a tin whistle.
In the past, the band has been dubbed “mountainous folk rock”, but their combination of complex rhythmic patterns, varied influence of cultural music, and multi-utilization of instruments makes them unique, yet relatable, to a number of different genres. But beyond the skill that lies within each player of Chamomile and Whiskey is the band’s ultimate goal: to genuinely engage and have fun with the audience. “We have some serious material -- some songs are lighthearted, some are serious and even sad. But at the end of the day, we really try to have a good time. We’re a very energetic band and any time we have a show, we want it to be a party.” Whether you’re listening to Chamomile and Whiskey live or tapping your foot along at home, Sweet Afton is the unprecedented masterpiece where tradition and innovation meet.
“[Q]uality is the essential element that unites [Trees on Fire’s] music… [T]he fresh
pairing of music, activism[, and…] commitment of presence [they] bring
to performances will grab listeners in each song.”
– David Brian James, Tribes Magazine
“[Trees on Fire’s] music is a reflection of the current crisis we’re all in right now around the globe and the need to make some better decisions,” says Rob Mezzanotte (vocals, guitar, saxophone, keys), whom shares the same sentiments as his band members: Justin Esposito (keys, violin, guitar, vocals), Blake Hunter (guitar, vocals), Paul Rosner (drums, vocals), and Brian Wahl (bass). “There’s a lot of injustice that needs to change. We’ve got to realize that we’re all connected through a fine thread with our ecosystem and everything that’s in it.”
Trees on Fire first sprouted its roots in 2005 amidst the hills and woodlands of Charlottesville, Virginia. The quintet, lauded by many as “hybrid-rock geniuses,” has been scorching the music scene since its inception. Daily rehearsals, frequent live performances, and collective ecosystem platforms cultivate the band’s undeniable chemistry. The mix of two former opera singers turned prolific songwriters, two symphonic virtuosos turned rock ‘n’ rollers, and one irrefutably tasteful percussionist creates a dynamic blend of sounds.
Known for its ear-catching fusion of reggae, hip hop, rock, electronica, classical, klezmer, funk, and beyond, Buzz News Reporter Ken Payne hails Trees on Fire’s “razor-sharp four-part harmonies and organic world rhythms… original, innovative grooves [with] inspirational messages…” It’s no surprise the band’s high-energy and multi-cultural melodies lure and stir the senses of wide audiences, while Dave Matthews Band’s Boyd Tinsley attests “[Trees on Fire is] a band to watch for sure.”
Organica (2010), Trees on Fire’s debut full-length album delivers “chill funk to rockin’ funk mingled with organic soul,” says Helen Brown, Director, Vice President and Correspondent of Magazine 33. Produced by Trees on Fire, alongside mastermind producers Rob Evans (Dave Matthews Band, Tim Reynolds Trio) and Eric Heigle, Organica, as Brown describes, “takes listeners from the heights of the ancient Blue Ridge Mountains to the buzzing swamps and bayous of the bottom-land.” Recorded in the woods of central Virginia and at Louisiana’s hidden gem, Dockside Studios, where such artists as BB King, Taj Mahal, Mark Knopfler, and Sonny Landreth have recorded, Organica is the first of what is sure to be many Trees on Fire albums.
Trees on Fire’s first release, The Green Room (2007), similarly captured the band’s genre-blending tendencies. Pulling from such diverse influences as Bob Marley, the Beatles, Bach, Chopin, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Buckley, Cake, Radiohead, the Meters, Beck, Iron and Wine, Led Zeppelin, Stray Cats, and Miles, Trees on Fire creates an authentic earthy sound, revealing the band’s burning passion to not just spread love, goodwill, and great music, but to expand, explore, and enjoy every minute of the experience.
Organica and The Green Room reflect only a part of the legacy the band intends to leave behind. Tracks such as “Falling Down,” “Into the Fire,” “Take a Seat,” and “Birds and the Bees” explore themes that also cultivate a better planet and challenge corporate and political leaders to notice the increasing need for energy policy change. Trees on Fire particularly seeks to help eliminate the devastating practices of mountaintop removal, coal mining in Appalachia, and clear-cutting of the Atchafalaya River Basin in Louisiana. As a testament to Trees on Fire’s commitment, the band also donates five-percent of the proceeds from its album sales to two key organizations, Atchafalaya Basinkeeper and Appalachian Voices, which dedicate resources to preserve the earth’s invaluable natural landscapes.
Recognized for raising awareness and funds for a number of other organizations, including Sierra Club, Building Goodness Foundation, Climate Ride, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and others, Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine has voted Trees on Fire as the “Greenest Regional Band” and Sierra Club has acknowledged the band’s efforts on its website. Kid Pan Alley, an organization which inspires children to create music by pairing them as songwriters with professional musicians, further featured Trees on Fire on its compilation CD, along with tracks from Cracker, Jesse Winchester, members of Everything, and actress Sissy Spacek.
“Trees on Fire’s stellar written and recorded tunes compliment the band’s dedication to promote sustainable environmental as well as valiant community service practices, exhibiting one of the various reasons we selected [the band] as the winner of our Music Division competition,” states Gabrielle Bailey, Senior Public Relations Associate of Silver Starr Art Studios LLC. Stay tuned, Trees on Fire 2010-2011 nationwide tour, coming to a city near you. For more details about Trees on Fire and their blazing music, visit www.treesonfire.com.
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$15 Day of Show
$40 Limited 4-Packs ($10 per ticket)
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