You couldn't touch Amateur Love in the early 2000s. The band, made up of Brian Moen, Brad and Phil Cook, and headed up by frontman Josh Scott would routinely blow the doors off a packed Stone's Throw and shake a brimming House of Rock.
And then they stopped.
It’s been over ten years since Amateur Love played a show, and ever since, the ever-reclusive Scott has been – to put it modestly – laying low.
After years and years of dormancy, worry, and nothing, rumblings finally started last year about a finished recording from Scott: A project called Aero Flynn.
Eau Claire was treated to a rare Aero Flynn live performance in early November at the House of Rock along with Field Report and the promise of a nearby album. Now with a March 3 release date, a self-titled Aero Flynn debut is officially a go (via Brooklyn-based Ooh La La Records), with a starlit single called “Dk/Pi” to prove it.
Field Report’s Chris Porterfield took a front seat to the entire story in the early 2000s in Eau Claire and outlines it on the landing page of Aero Flynn’s newly launched website where you can also download the new single with an email address. You can read the whole letter at aeroflynn.org.
“I believe that this record, this long-awaited record, is quite seriously a life-or-death record,” Porterfield writes. “Josh had to make it to stay alive. And it must be heard in the context of deferred health, deferred relationships, deferred dreams, deferred healing.”
The record was produced by Justin Vernon, who collected a band of a bunch of Bon Iver members and friends like Adam Hurlburt, Mike Noyce, Sean Carey, Ben Lester, Brian Moen, and Dave Power to assist in both the recording and the ensuing live show.
But at the center of it is Scott; enigmatic, infectious, brilliant, weird, troubled, and easily “spooked” – as Porterfield puts it. Porterfield writes with a somewhat unsettling urgency that makes you really believe that this is it for Scott.
“I’ll never cast dispersion on what someone has gone through, but I do know this: Josh Scott has been maimed by rock and roll,” Porterfield says. “I pray that it can save him.”
Through his personal struggles and his fragile state of being, it seems Josh Scott is poised to either make it or break. If the infectiously spacy “Dk/Pi” is any sort of indication, he won’t go down without a fight.
Yes, you read that right: Bon Iver is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Not as an inductee, mind you – Justin Vernon’s Grammy-winning band will have to wait until 2032 before it’s eligible to be officially enshrined with legends ranging from ABBA to ZZ Top. But Eau Claire’s most well known musical export does make a couple of appearances in the Hall of Fame’s museum in Cleveland. Back in June, Eau Clairians Patrick and Meg Erickson were visiting the museum when they were surprised to spot a couple of pieces of memorabilia from back home in a display about music from the Midwest. The first was an appropriately woodsy poster touting Bon Iver’s December 2008 gig at Eau Claire’s State Theatre (squint and you’ll even see the logo of a certain biweekly mag in the corner). The other is a rare copy of the album A Decade With Duke, a 2010 collaboration between Vernon and Eau Claire Memorial High School’s Jazz I ensemble. The Chippewa Valley also makes a couple of other cameos at the temple of rock ’n’ roll: Bon Iver’s Eau Claire roots are mentioned on a poster describing the Midwest exhibit (that’s Meg Erickson helpfully pointing it out above), while our own Rock Fest is name checked on a poster listing festivals nationwide.
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During last August's supermoon – the astronomical phenomenon where every dozen or so full moons is extra big – most people took to their telescopes to see it, their backyards to revel in it, or their social media feeds to not shut up about it.
But not Sean Carey, man! Instead, the singer-songwriter and Bon Iver multi-instrumentalist used the extra pressure shift in the Earth's lunar axis (I literally have no idea what I'm talking about) as inspiration and took to the studio to record his just-announced Supermoon EP to release on Feb. 17, 2015.
The EP includes a brand new track called "Supermoon," a Radiohead cover, and two re-worked versions of songs from each of his LPs (2010's All We Grow and this year's Range Of Light).
"The longer you spend with a song, the more you can see it in its pure form," Carey said in the EP's press materials.
"You can hear Carey's breath between words and the pat of his fingers on the keys; you can hear the living room in which his family's baby grand piano sits," the presser reads. "These songs are beautiful, intimate and so potently personal."
Carey will head out to tour the album through a series of intimate living room shows this February around the south and West Coast. Sadly, the closest dates to the Chippewa Valley are Feb. 5 in Des Moines, Feb. 6 in St. Louis, and Feb. 7 in Kansas City.
Hear the alternative version of Range track, "Neverending Fountain" below, courtesy of Jagjaguwar. You can pre-order the EP on iTunes or via Secretly Canadian Distribution, and when you do, you can grab an instant grat download of the song.
Unless Johnny Cash starts touring again as a hologram to do duets with Taylor Swift, next summer’s lineups at Country Fest and Country Jam could hardly get bigger. Both Chippewa Valley music festivals unveiled their lineups in the past week, and they’re chock full of country stars:
Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, Keith Urban, and Rascal Flatts will headline a dude-heavy lineup at Country Fest, which will be June 25-28 on the fest grounds outside Cadott. All four hitmakers have played the Fest before, but for a few of them, it’s been a while; Rascall Flatts last performed there back in 2006. The just-announced mainstage lineup includes Rascal Flatts, Brett Eldredge (who was named Best New Artist at the Country Music Association Awards this week), and The Voice winner Danielle Bradbery on June 25; Tim McGraw, Billy Currington, and Neal McCoy on June 26; Keith Urban, Lee Brice, and the Swon Brothers on June 27; and Toby Keith and Thomas Rhett on June 28. The party is only seven months away, so go to countryfest.com for the full lineup and ticket information.
A few weeks later, another hot crop of chart-toppers will hit the stage at Country Jam just outside Eau Claire. While headliners Blake Shelton and Eric Church had previously been announced, the big news is that Lady Antebellum will close out the opening night of the festival on Thursday, July 23. The chart-topping trio will be joined July 23 by up-and-comers Hunter Hayes and Sam Hunt. Shelton – a guy even non-country fans know from his hosting gig on NBC’s The Voice – will perform Friday, July 24, topping a bill featuring Kip Moore, Cassadee Pope, and LoCash Cowboys. Church will close out Jam on Saturday, July 25, topping a day that will include Jerrod Niemann and three TBA performers. Tickets are already on sale, so go to countryjamwi.com for more info.
“I think this is my favorite place to be to make music,” says one of the three members of the British folk group The Staves in a video documenting the recording of their new album at April Base Studios (watch it below). The mini-documentary provides not only an in-depth look at the making of the trio’s upcoming Justin Vernon-produced record If I Was, but also an intimate glimpse into the local musical legend’s home base.
Nestled just outside of Eau Claire, April Base has been the main recording venue for Vernon’s musical endeavors since its creation in 2008. Over the years, the studio has also become a major attraction for musicians from around the globe.
So far, Vernon fanatics have only been able to catch a few glorious glimpses into the studio; however, this documentary provides a more in-depth look inside the studio than has ever been seen before while also featuring other local musical treasures, like engineer Zach Hanson and musician Brad Cook, in their natural habitat. Local hangout and bar The Joynt also makes an appearance (of course, it does) in a segment showing Vernon, The Staves and the rest of the gang partaking in two sacred Wisconsin rituals: drinking beer and shooting pool.