William Matheny, Loose Cattle, Charles Bissell of The Wrens

William Matheny

Loose Cattle

Charles Bissell of The Wrens

Sun, February 26, 2017

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Union Hall - Brooklyn

Brooklyn, NY

$8.00

This event is 21 and over

William Matheny
William Matheny
The best storytellers often aren’t the ones who have had the wildest experiences; they’re the ones who have experienced things we all have, and can articulate them in a way we haven’t yet figured out ourselves. They give us a new vocabulary for talking about ourselves and our world. That’s the gift William Matheny presents to us.
Matheny, a West Virginia native and longtime keys player for Athens, Ohio, indie heroes Southeast Engine, has broken out on his own with Strange Constellations, his debut 11-song solo collection out February 24, 2017, which might more than anything provoke the question: Why not sooner?

William Matheny would best be classed as a songwriter’s songwriter--the kind of composer who gets the melody just right every time, and the kind of lyricist whose turns of phrase bring an involuntary grin. Once you’ve heard his deft songcraft, you might feel cheated that he withheld it so long.

Strange Constellations came about while Matheny was still plying the trade of a touring musician, supplying piano and organ for someone else’s grand musical plan. “While I found the job creatively fulfilling and I wholeheartedly believed in the creative vision of the band, at some undefined point, I began to feel as if I had something else to say,” he explains.

So he began to sneak off when he had time, often while bandmates slept during the final year of Southeast Engine’s touring life. It was a challenging enterprise, moving back into writing after years in a primarily supporting role. But songs began to coalesce: songs about touring life, about family history, about coincidence and circumstance.

If you weren’t listening to the lyrics of Matheny’s songs, they’d be plenty appealing already: Jackson Browne pop hooks alternate with alt-country tunes that might call to mind Drive-By Truckers. At times, his delivery recalls a twangy Craig Finn. But then, if you weren’t listening to the lyrics, you’d be doing it wrong.

Take, for example, “God’s Left Hand,” the album’s second track. An upbeat country-rocker, it presents a series of vignettes that in a way illustrate the maxim about life happening while you’re busy making other plans. But instead of missing the minutiae while thinking ahead to the next big thing, Matheny’s character is taking in the little challenges of life while waiting on that lucky break--and thinking about what that lucky break may mean in the larger picture.

It’s in the details where Matheny will make true believers. His songs are full of moments that match smart observation with wordplay that’s impressive mostly in its effortlessness. “There’s some laughing Katherine / down at the end of the bar / with some funny Daniel / down at the end of her arm,” he sings in “Blood Moon Singer.” It’s a scene that could take place anywhere, and does, which is Matheny’s point, as he illustrates the blur of touring life. But no one put it quite that way until William Matheny came along.

Storyteller, songwriter--William Matheny is the kind of artist who garners instant respect from other artists, even as he makes songs so effortlessly catchy. We could resent that he didn’t arrive with this collection sooner, but let’s instead celebrate that he’s here with it now.
Loose Cattle
Loose Cattle
They were a couple at the time. And it was hard times. And because therapy was damned expensive, they thought if they spent more time singing in the living room, there'd be less time for fighting.

The idea was pretty simple: squeeze a bunch of friends together in a living room and play through some country tunes. Good time songs and sad ones, old ones and new ones. Not too much planning, not too much drinking (well...not everythingwent as planned). The name was conceived at a gig with their friend Laura Cantrell downstairs at Hill Country Barbecue under a sign warning of Loose Livestock (they never could quite remember it right) and they became Loose Cattle. Southern by birth or by inclination, they gathered some like-minded friends, made some new ones, convinced them all to lower their prodigious musical skills
to their commonest level and something like a band was born.

Mindful that the Road to Hell is paved with actor/singers, Cerveris went to a lonely corner of the pasture and buried his Tony Award, five nominations and myriad accolades from stage outings in Broadway's Tommy, Sweeney Todd, Assassins, Evita, Hedwig, forsook his television lives as September the Observer on FOX's Fringe and Marvin Frey in HBO's Tremé and his punk and rock days spent touring and sharing stages with Bob Mould, Frank Black, the Breeders and Pete Townshend, turning instead to embrace his West Virginia roots along with Jersey-born co-vocalist Kimberly Kaye (former trumpet strumpet with WARP tour punk/ska vets New Direxion), Gabriel Caplan (guitarist for Naomi Shelton’ Gospel Queens), Jon Graboff (pedal steel multi-instrumentalist for Ryan Adams, Shooter Jennings, Laura Cantrell and many others), Alex Harvey (fiercely independent theater director and, more famously, the mandolin star of those Geico ads), Justin Smith (the giant fiddler of The Defibulators), Lorenzo Wolff (bass and sousaphone player for The Lisps), and Eddy Zweiback (percussionist and founding member of Losers Lounge).
And though they only ever meant to play in folks’ living rooms, they’ve found themselves flown to West Virginia to play Mountain Stage with Arlo Guthrie, gracing the Allen Room at Lincoln Center for the American Songbook series, with repeat appearances at Joe’s Pub and a residency at 54 Below--thesource of live recordings for their rollicking debut album, North of Houston on Broadway Records under license from Low Heat Records
Charles Bissell of The Wrens
Charles Bissell of The Wrens
The Wrens are an American indie rock band from New Jersey. The group consists of Charles Bissell (guitar/vocals), brothers Greg Whelan (guitar) and Kevin Whelan (bass/vocals), and Jerry MacDonald (drums). They have released three albums so far, although a combination of problems with their former record label and having to fit in writing and recording with the daily pressures of home life and full-time jobs means that only one album has been released since 1996. The band have gained a reputation for their intense live shows - following a gig at the University of London Union in London in March 2006, The Guardian declared that "on this form the Wrens are surely one of the best live bands in the world"

Venue Information:
Union Hall - Brooklyn
702 Union Street
Brooklyn, NY, 11215
http://www.unionhallny.com/