- Frank Martin Photography
- The Threadbare Skivvies are bringing their delightful “vagabond nature folk” to Lulu’s Downstairs.
If you’re like me and feeling a pang of wanderlust around this time of year — fighting off that urge to skip town and get lost in the woods for a while — I’d advise you, for practicality’s sake, to at least wait until after Lulu’s Downstairs plays host to The Threadbare Skivvies this Wednesday, Aug. 28. If you aren’t already feeling the call to adventure, the Atlanta-based trio’s music will almost certainly do the trick.
The Threadbare Skivvies, comprising singer/banjoist Kate Wright, drummer Chris Adams and bassist Ian Mastrogiacomo, describe their sound as “vagabond nature folk,” which is as apt a description as one could be for their playful Americana stylings. The trio’s 2017 debut LP, Flourish & Thrive, is an impressive listen throughout, finding the group expressing their well-honed songcraft through the gypsy jazz of “Change My Brain” and the breezy, bluegrass-influenced folk of “Littlefoot” and “Mountain Friends.”
Wright’s evocative vocals shine throughout, getting powerful showcases on snaky ballads like “Croon,” while Adams finds vastly expressive possibilities in his percussion accompaniment — look no further than “Bones” and “Cricket Orchestra” with their arrays of drums, chains, spoons and pots and pans. A drive through the country would be made infinitely more enjoyable with this group as your soundtrack. Joining The Treadbare Skivvies at their Lulu’s appearance are local favorite Xanthe Alexis and Manitou Springs-based duo Leo & the Lark.
Speaking of duos, if you weren’t already planning on catching singer-songwriter Amy Helm (daughter and longtime collaborator of Levon Helm) at Ivywild School on Friday, Aug. 30, fans of soulful, rootsy pop definitely shouldn’t sleep on openers Freddy & Francine, either. The Nashville-based duo of Lee Ferris and Bianca Caruso has received critical acclaim for their “stripped-down, soulful” sound, and it’s easy to hear why on the pair’s 2018 EP, Moonless Night.
While they may have been featured in a Rolling Stone rundown of the best new country and Americana, Freddy & Francine’s sound isn’t exactly that — they play something closer to vintage pop, steeped in a wide variety of American musical traditions and crackling with immediacy, courtesy of their irresistible hooks and striking vocal harmonies. Echoes of both Motown and Laurel Canyon can be heard in “Half a Mind” and “Hail Me a Cab”; “Ain’t No Way” and the title track find expanses of sound and emotion in their fairly minimalist arrangements; and the energy of “Sweet on You” boils over with exuberance.
Last, but certainly not least, on Tuesday, Sept. 3, the Sunshine Studios stage will see former Creed vocalist Scott Stapp perform in support of his new solo LP, The Space Between the Shadows, which dropped in July 2019.
If music journalism’s revisionist tendencies have been harsh on post-grunge as a whole, possibly no band of the era got it worse than Creed. Their self-consciously anthemic, religious, yet macho brand of hard rock and power balladry catapulted them to overwhelming commercial success in the late ’90s, earning them three consecutive multi-Platinum albums (including 1999’s Diamond-selling Human Clay), all the while drawing the ire of critics and purists as their stature grew.
As a solo artist, Stapp debuted with the Platinum-selling 2005 LP The Great Divide following Creed’s breakup, but the early 2000s were not kind to Stapp, who struggled with substance abuse issues, legal trouble and suicide attempts. He replaced the late Scott Weiland as lead vocalist in the hard rock supergroup Art of Anarchy in 2016, but once again found himself subject to a lawsuit, this time at the hands of his bandmates.
Other artists have utterly vanished after far less hardship in the public eye, so it’s a testament to Stapp’s dedication and perseverance that The Space Between the Shadows even exists, much less works as well as it does. We find Stapp in 2019 writing, unsurprisingly, about overcoming hardships and trauma with a sense of maturity and humility, as well as taking time to eulogize Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington on the ballad “Gone Too Soon.” Subtlety was certainly never the strong suit of anyone to come out of post-grunge, but Stapp’s earnestness shines through, and the man still knows his way around a heavy riff.
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