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Wed. March 20, 2013

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Venue Information

Martin's Downtown (MAP)
413 1st St. SW
Roanoke, VA
US 24011

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Special Guests:
TURBINE - "Their sound is exhilarating, with flurries of melodic guitars and wailing harp propelling complex improvisations." -Relix

"Their music wails, whispers and directs our thoughts to the deeper mysteries of life." -Americana UK

Released on June 24, 2011, Blue Light City-- the third full length studio recording from progressive rock band Turbine-- debuted at #3 in the Relix / and Homegrown Music radio charts and has raised the bar for the band and—possibly, in terms of studio recordings, for the broader jam rock community as a whole. Produced by Grammy-winner John Davis (The Black Keys), Blue Light City evokes the smart groove-pop of '80’s bands like INXS and XTC, the psychedelic rock of Flaming Lips and Pink Floyd, the soul-rock ofJimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsies, aspects of prog-rock pioneers Yes and King Crimson and even elements of late 70's era Grateful Dead, all in one strangely cohesive record. These diverse influences would typically clash and burn, but Turbine’s singular vision combines them in a way that makes it all simply sound like Turbine.

The overarching sonic identity of this New York City-based quartet was forged over the last five years, starting when it was a tenacious duo comprised of guitarist / singer and primary songwriter Jeremy Hilliard and harmonicist / rhythm guitarist / singer-songwriter Ryan Rightmire. As a duo, Turbine started to experiment in odd time signatures and unorthodox compositional structures as they crafted songs that were both accessible and upbeat, despite their remarkable complexity and musical sophistication. After a few years of this, they realized they needed a rhythm section, brought on bassist Justin Kimmel and drummer Octavio Salman, and debuted the new band on a national tour at festivals such as Bonnaroo, Telluride Bluegrass Festival, 10,000 Lakes Festival, Wakarusa and Gathering Of The Vibes. They then returned to the northeast to resume the arduous process of building their regional fan base as a full band.

Turbine now stands poised to emerge as one of the most forward thinking, musically ambitious bands in their loosely defined scene. With the rhythm section, Rightmire was able to realize his futuristic vision for the harmonica, which he plays with a neck sling, all the while playing guitar and singing harmonies and leads. Effects and technology have transformed his instrument’s traditional role: the keyboards, turntablism, strings and other odd sounds that the compositions call for are delivered by this Hohner-endorsed pioneer of the harp’s future. It is common for people stumbling into a Turbine show to be amazed by the spectacle of Rightmire, but as they start to absorb what is going on around them, listeners begin to appreciate the passion and intelligence of Hilliard’s vocals and lyrics, then find themselves impressed with his intense, fiery guitar work. Underpinning all of this, Kimmel's bass lines help define and punctuate the music, setting-up and pushing grooves forward, driving the bus from the low end in typical prog-rock fashion, while leaving enough room for the nuance of the song structures and the dynamics of Salman’s percussive backbeat to shine through.

Blue Light City's opening track, "War of 9161 (The Pledge)," is vintage Turbine: harmonica melody, funky rhythm section and rocking guitar lines cleverly disguise a 5/4 groove as a "four on the floor" beat, creating a mood of impending doom a la Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song." The setting for the song-- an apocalyptic future-- and the pledge the central characters make introduce themes that swirl around throughout the record. "No Explanation" is more of a straight ahead, accessible blues rock song that sets the table for "Members Only"'s '80's pop vibe. There is an immediate familiarity to this tune that carries into the laid back swamp funk of "Eddy The Sea"-- a fan favorite that features a defining line for the band: "caught between the land and the stars and the sea". The trippy surrealism of "Eddy The Sea" gives way to "Special Of The Day," the compositional the centerpiece of the album, in which Turbine explores variations on a couple of musical themes, building tension with different sections, employing a variety of time signatures such as 7/8 and using every possible harmonic tension against the tonal center of the song. All of the tension created structurally is mirrored in an unconventional verse that doesn't resolve until the chorus. Lyrically, the band returns to themes introduced in "War of 9161." "Special Of The Day" is an ironic metaphor for some of the answers people come up with to the question of how to deal with a world where there is no proof of anything beyond that which we can immediately see. Hilliard asks: "What are the options for us? Religion? Power? Money? Love? What are the choices we make to derive meaning from life and get us through the day and the night." A lot of the tension built up in this track resolves in "Just Like These Wheels," a mellow, bittersweet road song with hints of country and folk. In terms of resolution, "Behind These Walls" also offers some answers to the questions posed by "Special Of The Day." Here Hilliard comes to terms with the fact that we can't see "behind these walls", but there are "sounds in the hall" which give reassurance that there is, indeed, something beyond-- something we can only know through art and the interpersonal communication of ideas, spirituality, etc.. Teleport, an appropriately titled song, brings the listener back down with a slow, poetic meditation on distance that explodes into swirling orchestral teleportation sounds and a slow rock/ trance outro. The title track-- Blue Light City, rife with wailing, driving rock riffs on harmonica and guitar and towering vocal harmonies-- is the heaviest track on the record, both musically and lyrically. According to Hilliard, "Blue Light City is a futuristic metropolis where the people are waking up, coming to terms with the fact that they have been ignoring the important questions the record has asked so far-- mostly out of fear-- but now they are waking up, realizing where they are and confronting that fear, however difficult it may be." The release of the tension and heaviness of Blue Light City comes in the album closer, "Set Me Free," in which 12-string guitar, acoustic bass and a sweet melody create an idyllic soundscape for poetic verses that deal directly with love. Hilliard explains that "Love is presented as salvation in the harsh world this album sometimes describes. However, it is love with a price, because the journey never ends, and you can only hope love is good enough to get you through."

Turbine has had their ups and downs over the last five years as they have changed everything but their name and their desire to make thought-provoking rock music that you can dance to. Blue Light City is an album built on experience, and—at the same time, a new beginning for Turbine.

Event Information:

At this time Martin's Downtown does not have any tickets available for purchase for this event. Note: This does not mean this event is sold out. Contact the venue to purchase tickets.

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Big Daddy Love's multiple performances at 2011's Floyd Festival made it clear that this is likely the most important new band to watch in the East Coast roots rock and Americana community. Having only been together since the Summer of 2009, Big Daddy Love-- founded by high school friends from the rural hill country of Sparta, NC-- was just playing a handful of North Carolina markets when they made their first trip to Floyd in 2010, where they won the prestigious "Under The Radar" contest for the best new artist at the large, Virginia festival. The fresh, vital sound and energized performance of this new band simply blew people away, and with the fan-voted award under their belts, Big Daddy Love returned home and began to build their grass roots following in earnest.

Essentially organic in both disposition and composition, Big Daddy Love is a five-piece band with a unique and natural blend of rock, roots and grass that they call ‘Appalachian Rock’. Above the mix, the lead vocals and acoustic guitar accompaniment of their principal songwriter, Daniel Justin Smith, command the listener's attention and call for the harmonies that arise in response. Twin leads of Stratocaster riffs and soaring Allman-esque slide guitar on the one hand, and electric and acoustic 5-string Scruggs / Fleck style banjo on the other-- like a typical Southern rock line-up, just replacing the second guitar with the banjo-- punctuate and emphasize what Smith delivers. These contrasting voices are anchored by a rhythm section that is equally at home in a groove or driving the bus with country, swing, funk or straight ahead rock. Big Daddy Love's high-energy performances, fueled by this combination of fiery vocals, sweet-sugary harmonies and striking instrumental dynamics that range from bombastic assaults to soothing grooves, have garnered them a strong, passionate following throughout their home region. Live, with the lights on and the volume up, Big Daddy Love stretches the music out with top notch picking and ripping, delivering a stompin’ good time rich with authentic Carolina soul. At the same time, the good-natured, yet thoughtful sincerity of the lyrical content, the authentic song-craft and the undeniable musicianship of the band-- as heard in live and studio recordings-- has resonated with audiences throughout the ether and generated demand beyond the markets where they currently perform.

With their upcoming release, Let It Grow (Little King Records, 2011), Big Daddy Love's signature Appalachian Rock sound is further refined in a collection of songs that seamlessly pick up where their 2010 debut To The Mountain left off. Reviews of To The Mountain were glowing, such as this one from Belgium (of all places): “…[if you are] a fan of The Allman Brothers Band or Drive-By Truckers, but you are open to bluegrass elements, then this CD really is a must.” Closer to home, North Carolina music media staple Mountain Xpress said: “From start to finish, To The Mountain is a captivating album that alludes to a dynamic live show. If the musicians dabble in a variety of styles it’s only because, well, they can. And certain elements— a tightly-coiled energy always threatening to explode within each song, a choice group of collaborators, flawless musicianship and Smith’s compelling vocals— provide a palpable thread throughout.” The record was picked up as a favorite spin by Americana and AAA radio stations throughout the region, including taste-maker WNCW in Spindale, NC. To The Mountain was a snapshot of a young band realizing the power of their vision, stretching the boundaries of their influences while celebrating their Appalachian roots. The follow-up, from a band that is now more seasoned-- both on the road and in their personal lives-- remains consistent in terms of its broad subject matter, it's sincerity and it's dynamic. This is good news for the fans. This is also good news for the roots music community, which is more-and-more represented over the last couple of years by bands from places far removed from the roots themselves, who have adopted a more cynical posture to the idiom. With their "on the sleeve", sincere sentiments and first rate musicianship, Big Daddy Love may well be the antidote to this erosion of the roots sound, despite being-- in many ways-- a blue collar rock band with Appalachian flavor.

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