Wednesday, April 14, 2010

MyJoog Artist: Cadillac Sky

While attending several festivals over the past few years, we've noticed a consistent presence at each event - Cadillac Sky. Because of scheduling conflicts we never really got a chance to see the band each performance, but for the few we heard, we were impressed. Plus, several artists have sung their praises. As a result we have decided to follow the band more closely during this year's Merlefest and as a preview the band is playing at our local venue, Jammin' Java, on April 26th.

Cadillac Sky consists of five guys who play the classic instruments made famous but Bill Monroe. But don't classify them as merely a bluegrass band; instead they prefer to be described as a band that happens to play these instruments. A majority of the band plays the mandolin and guitar (Bryan Simpson, David Mayfield, and Ross Holmes), with Holmes also contributing the fiddle. Andy "The Panda" Moritz on bass and Matt Menefee on banjo, piano, and drums. After releasing two CDs in successive years in 2007-2008 (Blind Man Walking, Gravity's Our Enemy) the band has waited until this year to release their next project: Letters in the Deep.

The upcoming CD (June release) is produced by Dan Auerbach of Black Keys fame who helped to produce a non-traditional bluegrass album. How non-traditional? Various members break out the piano, drums, melotron, and even a glockenspiel. Combined with their traditional instruments they are "expanding musical frontiers" to include more rock and pop into their sound. We can't wait to hear the entire product, but for a quick listens samples are available at the band's Facebook and Myspace pages. Make sure you check back often for coverage of their April 26th Jammin' Java show and at Merlefest. Frontman Bryan Simpson also was kind enough to answer several questions regarding Cadillac Sky and the new CD:

1) concentrates particularly with the live music experience. What are your favorite venues and festivals?

Well festivals are easy: Merlefest '09 for us was sort of our coming out party so that one's obvious, Telluride, Rhythm and Roots in Bristol, Rockygrass was probably my favorite one to be at and just hang- or maybe we just did it before we had done any of the others so you know, it's a "never forget your first" kind of thing....other spots that are real cool- and i hate to point any one or two out, because this country is chock full of em- but places like The Paramount, the Grey Eagle, Tractor Tavern, Bijou Theater...yadda, yadda, yadda

2) Cadillac Sky travels often. What are the difficulties involving logistics when band members live in different cities?

well, most of em are obvious, mainly it just comes down to staying well ahead of things- just planning. Thankfully within the next few months four of the five of us will be living in and around the same city of Nashville-

3) At Merlefest last year you played with several other artists on the main stage. Is this an unrehearsed jam session or did you communicate\practice beforehand?

very unrehearsed...very...i think like 30 of us tried to play Monroe's Uncle Penn- I don't think any of the 30 played it the same....Bill's probably still spinning from it.

4) When playing at festivals such as Merlefest, do you find yourself examining the schedule to squeeze in seeing other artists and has that ever interrupted one of your performances - either you cut a set short in order to see another act or were late returning to begin a set?

No to the former and yes to the latter. We certainly try to see as many other great acts that are there as we can, cause other bands are a source of continual inspiration for us, but we love playing. We don't take any performance lightly- so, in truth- it's hard to watch other acts because until we've played our last show somewhere, we're thinking about how can we make the next stage show special.

5) I first heard Cadillac Sky at FloydFest 7 and at that performance it was mentioned that the band (or maybe some members) had just returned from France. How is the reception to bluegrass music in Europe?

Well, not that we are torch bearers for bluegrass but our music was received very well. The crowds were crazy fun and seemed to "get it"- and sometimes that means they just let it be what it is, decide whether they dig it or not and leave it at that.

6) And speaking of bluegrass, was there any particular reason members chose to pursue this genre instead of roots or Texas alt-country?

Well, I think as you hear our new record and see our live show- I think you'll witness that we are definitely not "pursuing" the genre of bluegrass. the bluegrass instrumentation that is a staple of our sound is basically just the canvass that we paint from- we try to be song-centric
and give each song what it deserves- we are slaves to the song not the genre... We are dead set on pursuing a sound that is all our own- might be a starry eyed search but we think it's worth attempting.

7) I see that the band has become an artist sponsor with Mocha Club. What does sponsorship entail and are there other charities or causes you are active with?

No this is our primary cause that we're involved in..we are excited about it because with Mocha Club gives our band and our fans on a nightly basis a chance to change a child's life. If folks want to jump in with us- for $7 a month they can do it. The money is funneled to an orphanage in Kitui, Kenya. Really cool thing to be involved in.

8) The band is very active with the Social Networking sites. Is responsibility for posting content designated to one individual or do all the band members contribute?

We all contribute- is "contribute the right word?" Not sure

9) In partnership with Dualtone Music the band is releasing Letters In the Deep this summer. How is this partnership differ from the traditional artist\label relationship?

It's certainly a new world order, but in the end we wanted to own our record most importantly- not hand it over to the grimy hands of big labels...Dualtone wanted to work with us and we wanted to have them on our team so we made it work. I can't tell you all the details- the book I'm working on, "The Music Business All Figured Out- 10 Steps to Guaranteed Success" hinges on that info...(it's just a working title for now, set for 2021 release)

10) I haven't heard any tracks from "Letters In the Deep", but a recent press release describes it as follows: "marks the metamorphosis of Cadillac Sky from a critically-acclaimed Bluegrass band to a band without boundaries". Can you elaborate?

I would prefer that you elaborate- you can check out two tracks on our Facebook or/and Myspace page - my frame of reference about this record is so clouded it's almost a useless opinion. Check it out- and decide for yourself.

11) And, if the new CD is not truly a bluegrass album, do you risk alienating fans that expect only that genre?

I think anybody who considers themselves a fan of C-Sky will have seen us somewhere play live over the past two years. God knows we've been running up and down the highway setting the circus down all over the map- so there's been amply opp to see us- and if after that they haven't been shaken from the tree- then they're probably in too deep already and can't get out.

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