Allen Stone

Allen Stone (10:15 PM)

ZZ Ward (9:15 PM)

A B & The Sea (8:30 PM)

Sat, March 24, 2012

8:00 pm

adv tix $15.00 / day of show tix $17.00

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This event is all ages

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Allen Stone - (Set time: 10:15 PM)
Allen Stone
On his third full-length album, soul artist Allen Stone proves himself deeply devoted to making uncompromisingly soulful music that transcends all pop convention. Made in collaboration with Swedish soul singer/songwriter/phenom Magnus Tingsek, Radius captures the warm energy of that creative connection and transports the listener to a higher and more exalted plane. Now embarking even higher ATO Records will be releasing Radius Deluxe on March 25th, which will include a second disc of 7 bonus tracks that didn’t make the original record release.

“I couldn’t be happier to return to ATO,” Stone exclaimed. “They are a label that works tirelessly for their artists. Their team is made up of genuine music lovers whose concern is creating timeless art not bolstering their 401k’s.”

Radius marks the follow-up to the Chewelah, Washington-bred 28-year-old’s self-released and self-titled 2011 sophomore effort that climbed to the top 10 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart. As the New York Times recently said Stone’s lyrics “promise honest sentiments, grooves built with physical instruments and a gospel-rooted determination to uplift ... glimmers of Al Green, Bill Withers, Curtis Mayfield, George Clinton, Prince and a bit of Sting."

Along with immersing himself in a songwriting approach that involved unflinching examination of “some very dark and negative moments in my life,” Stone shaped the sound and feel of Radius by pushing himself to “get past the boundaries of what I felt comfortable with, so that I could progress into a whole new level of creativity.” Despite that sometimes-daunting process, Radius wholly reveals Stone’s easy grace in blending everything from edgy soul-pop and earthy folk-rock to throwback R&B and Parliament-inspired funk.

Culled from several dozen songs penned through a year and a half of constant writing and refining, Radius Deluxe bears a title that reflects both its scope and intimacy.

“The radius is that line extending from the center of the circle to its exterior,” says Stone. “And in a lot of ways this album is about getting out things deep inside—whether it’s love or insecurity or joy or frustration about things going on today.”

When it comes to the new bonus tracks Stone added, “I am very excited for “Bed I Made” to finally be released to the public. It’s a song that has long been a favorite of my audience and I’m glad that they will finally have a studio version.”

Radius first began to come to life back in the fall of 2013, when Stone headed to Sweden to join in a writing session with Tingsek. “His musicality is so outside-the-box, and it really stretched me as an artist,” says Stone, who’d tapped Tingsek as one of his opening acts for an 85-date headlining tour in 2012. “We just kept on throwing a wrench into the works and tried to create something that’s the complete antithesis of what you’d expect from pop music.”

After recording the bulk of the album in Sweden, Stone rounded out Radius’s production at his own studio in the woods of northeast Washington and in L.A.-based sessions with producers like Benny Cassette (Kanye West) and Malay (a co-producer on Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE).

Like many of his own musical heroes—Stevie Wonder chief among them—Stone pulls off the near-magical feat of channeling a weight-of-the-world sensitivity into his songs while still radiating hope and promise. And though that depth of consciousness feels transmitted from a more golden era, Radius continually hones in on issues both timeless and of-the-moment, with Stone’s breezily poetic lyrics touching on topics ranging from rampant materialism (on the tenderly string-accented, harmony-soaked “American Privilege”) and the toxic takeover of technology in art (on the gutsy and groove-heavy “Fake Future”).

“That song’s mainly about how technology’s infiltrating music in a way that’s making it less and less human and taking all the heart out of it,” Stone says of the latter track, a soul-pop powerhouse peppered with playfully cutting lines like “Rock stars pushing buttons/Few actually play/City wasn’t ever built on lights and Special K.” And as evidenced by Radius’s lush yet raw sonic landscape—wherein the only hint of synth comes from a Moog analog synthesizer—Stone stayed true to his pledge to “keep fakeness completely out of this record” and rely entirely on live instrumentation.

Equally introspective and outwardly searching, Radius also finds Stone exploring intensely personal matters, such as depression on the stark and lovely, acoustic-guitar-woven ballad “Circle” (“That one was written at a pretty dark time for me,” Stone points out. “It’s about how depression can put you into a kind of circle, where you’re just trying to find a way out but it keeps on leading you back inside”). Showing his skill at crafting a killer love song as well, Stone looks at heartbreak and regret on the aching, electric-piano-infused “I Know That I Wasn’t Right,” slips into hopeless romanticism on the dreamy R&B pastiche “Barbwire,” and unleashes some starry-eyed affection on the dance floor-ready “Symmetrical”. And in tracks like the ultra-catchy album-opener “Perfect World” and the fiery, horn-laced “Freedom,” Radius unfolds into epically joyful anthems that show the full range and power of Stone’s vocals.

Stone started working those vocals as a kid, thanks largely to his parents’ influence. “My father was a minister so I spent about half my childhood in church, watching my mom and dad sing together and lead the congregation in song,” he recalls. By the time he was 11 he’d picked up a guitar and written his first song, and soon began self-recording demo tapes to pass along to classmates. Although Stone enrolled in Bible College after high school, he quickly dropped out to move to Seattle and kick start his music career. “I had an ’87 Buick and I’d drive up and down the west coast, playing any gig I could get just to try to put my music out there,” he says.

At age 22, Stone self-released his debut album, 2010’s Last To Speak. But it was his self-titled follow-up (on which he joined forces with former Miles Davis keyboardist Deron Johnson) that ended up earning him serious recognition. Along with entering the top five on iTunes’ R&B/Soul chart after its digital release, Allen Stone prompted him to score appearances on such late-night talk shows like Conan. And upon partnering with ATO Records for a physical release of his self-titled album in 2012, Stone soon turned up on the likes of the Late Show with David Letterman and landed a gig as the opening act for soul legend Al Green. In the midst of the buzz, he also took up a grueling touring schedule, tearing through nearly 600 shows in just two years.

For Stone, all that time onstage went a long way in preparing him for the many creative breakthroughs he’s made on Radius.

“I think you really grow as a musician when you’re playing right in front of people, and for me constantly growing and progressing and getting better is really the most important thing,” he says. Ruminating on the emotional undertones of his new album’s title and noting that, “the center of me is my heart,” Stone says he also hopes that Radius will ultimately help listeners shed new light on their own struggles. “There’ve been times in my life when records were my saving grace and really helped me to figure out who I am, and I’d love for my music to have that kind of impact on a kid who’s looking for his or her own place in this life,” he says. “Because I absolutely believe that if you’re going to stand at a microphone and say something, you need to recognize that as a privilege. You’ve got to be incredibly careful about it, and really put all your heart into the message that you’re sending out into the world.”
ZZ Ward - (Set time: 9:15 PM)
ZZ Ward
ZZ Ward is someone you haven’t heard before.
Hold up, let’s amend that: With early praise from Esquire (“damn near NSFW”) and Marie Claire (“will raise goose bumps down your spine”)—not to mention buzz-building appearances at South by Southwest and on Last Call with Carson Daly—this bold new voice may indeed have captured your attention already. And if that’s the case, then surely you know the deal: ZZ Ward is doing something all her own.
She calls it “dirty shine”: the bone-deep wail of old-fashioned blues crossed with the big-city gloss of cutting-edge hip-hop. Currently based in Los Angeles, Ward forged her one-of-a-kind sound growing up in small-town Oregon—“out in the sticks in the middle of nowhere,” as she puts it. “There was nothing to do, so that gave me a whole lot of time to play around with music.”
Her dad owned a pair of Hammond B-3 organs, and she learned to play those; guitar came a little later, as did the remarkable vocals she first honed singing with a blues band at the age of 12. (Yes, she sometimes had trouble getting into the clubs she was booked to play.) Then, at 16, Ward entered the world of rap—which she’d first discovered thanks to her older brother’s CD collection—in a scene that sounds like something out of 8 Mile: She drove an hour and a half to Eugene, walked into an underage hip-hop club, found the dude in charge and proceeded to tell him she should sing his choruses. “And, of course,” Ward remembers, “he was like, ‘Who the hell are you?’”
Soon enough, the members of Oregon’s hip-hop scene knew exactly who Ward was, as she crafted hooks for rappers and proved her mettle as a songwriter in her own right. Part of that meant developing the confidence to be herself—to accept that her style doesn’t slot easily into any of the music industry’s current categories.
“People wanna know what my music is, because they’re comfortable with what they know,” she explains. “But I’m just doing what’s authentic to me.” It’s that sense of commitment she inherited from some of her idols: Muddy Waters, Big Mama Thornton and especially Tina Turner, whom Ward says sings in a way that “leaves no separation between her and the song—she puts everything she has into her performance. That’s what I wanna do.”
A chance meeting with A-list tunesmith Evan “Kidd” Bogart—who’d run across ZZ’s MySpace page while checking out up-and-coming artists from Oregon—resulted in Ward’s signing to Bogart’s Boardwalk Entertainment Group. Once there, she began work on her debut album—as well as a four-song EP,Criminal—with a jaw-dropping array of collaborators, including Ryan Tedder, Pete Rock, Theron “Neff-U” Feemster, Ali Shaheed Muhammad (of A Tribe Called Quest), Ludwig Goransson, Blended Babies and Fitz (of L.A.’s Fitz and the Tantrums).
“Being in the studio with these people I’ve looked up to for so long was completely incredible,” Ward says. In fact, the experience was so inspiring that even as she assembled her EP and album, Ward found herself itching to make more music. So between studio sessions she cranked out Eleven Roses, a free mixtape on which she offers her interpretations of recent tracks by Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino and Tyler, the Creator. For “Criminal” she borrowed the beat from “Oil Money” by Freddie Gibbs, who was so impressed by Ward’s remake that he asked to contribute a guest verse to the official version on the EP; something similar happened with Kendrick Lamar, whose cameo in “Cryin Wolf” comes after Ward used his “Look Out for Detox” on Eleven Roses.
Other album standouts include “Til the Casket Drops,” inspired by Ward’s love of Alan Lomax’s influential field recordings, and the provocative “Charlie Ain’t Home,” which the singer conceived as a response to “Waiting for Charlie” by the great Etta James. And in “Put the Gun Down” Ward reaches back to her blues-bar roots in order to address a “woman trying to take my man from me,” as she puts it. Strong cuts, all—yet they scarcely prepare you for “Last Love Song,” a stunning soul ballad that the singer calls the final tune she’ll write about the heartbreak that led to so much of her current work. “The title pretty much says it all,” she admits with a laugh. “It started to make me cry as was I writing it—that’s always a good sign.”
And so it is. But for this exciting young artist on the cusp of a breakout, those tears also serve as a reminder of where she came from. ZZ Ward hasn’t forgotten anything. Now you won’t forget her.
A B & The Sea - (Set time: 8:30 PM)
A B & The Sea
Long time friends Koley O'Brien and Joe Spargur founded A B & The Sea January 1st, 2008--not only marking the start of a new year, but a new journey. They packed up their van, waved goodbye to Wisconsin and started making their way to California. After going through a line-up change, A B & The Sea was made complete again with the addition of drummer Troy Lawton, bass player Ben Laatsch and David H...unt on keys. While they're new to San Francisco, the boys have shared the stage with such notable acts as: Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, Tokyo Police Club, Freelance Whales, The Fruit Bats, The Submarines, The Morning Benders, Fitz and The Tantrums and The Miniature Tigers. Often referred to as a modern day Beach Boys meets The Beatles, A B & The Sea's beachy, carefree vibes have landed them gigs at many prominent SF venues such as The Independent, Slims, Bimbos & Bottom of the Hill. With a contagious hunger for success, A B & The Sea captured the attention of Chris Chu (The Morning Benders) and Eric Frederic (Wallpaper) & produced new songs at legendary Different Fur Studio in San Francisco.
Venue Information:
Troubadour
9081 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90069
http://www.troubadour.com/

All lineups and times subject to change