Tag Archives: Folk

Interview: Doris Muramatsu of Girlyman

When I hear the term “Girlyman” I immediately think of a certain Saturday Night Live (SNL) skit featuring Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon playing Hans and Franz the Austrian bodybuilders who where said to be cousins of action bodybuilder superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger.  I still laugh at those skits…

The Girlyman I am referring to though is not associated with SNL or even the current governor of California.  Instead I speak of a three piece folk act originally from New York City.  I was introduced to them through my wife who has a love, almost obsession, for them.  She shared them with me one day after saying “We’re still making payments on the cannon” and I had no idea what she was talking about.  After giving her a puzzled look she told me about the Girlyman band.  She sampled some songs to me and I found myself quite interested in them.

Girlyman is a trio of harmonic performers, rather best friends, who have stated they play “harmony-driven gender pop” featuring “leading edge three-part harmony folk-pop”.  Consisting of Nate Borofsky, Doris Muramatsu, and Ty Greenstein, the band has a huge following with their “gender pop” music.

Gender pop?  That’s right folks all of the members from this band are involved in the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community one way or another.  Don’t let that hold you back though because if you do you are missing out on some amazing harmonic folk music with heavy doses of comedic interludes, especially when seen live.  Think Rupaul meets Simon & Garfunkel with more folk harmony then you have ever heard before.  Where a lot of the songs are fun, many have meaning about life, love, and living but all with perfect collaborated vocals from all three members.

Recently I had the opportunity to chat with Doris Muramatsu, the “tootsie roll center of Girlyman”, who has the duties of vocals, acoustic guitar, mandolin and banjo in the band. The multi-talented musician was more than kind to answer some questions for me.

Doris, Ty, & Nate = Girlyman
Doris + Ty + Nate = Girlyman

So what exactly is a Girlyman?

A Girlyman is whatever you want it to be, just someone who is nontraditional in some sort of way or like to play with gender roles or isn’t afraid to have a sensitive side.

How would you describe Girlyman to someone who has never heard of you before?

We’re a folk pop trio of almost lifelong friends who sing traditional and nontraditional three part harmonies and play multiple instruments and like to laugh and be ourselves on stage.

When you started creating music was it clear you all wanted a more folk sound? Was the harmony always there between the three of you or did it need some fine tuning? I have to admit your combined harmony is all so appealing.

Ty and I started singing harmony when we were 12 years old and have always been fascinated by the beauty of interweaving voices. Our voices blended very well and we knew we wanted to write and sing music that was harmony-based. When we met Nate his voice seemed to naturally blend with ours, so it was a go. Of course there is always fine tuning whenever harmony is involved, for instance, we have realized that if we all don’t sing a certain vowel in the exact same way it will sound out of tune, so we’re always examining how the lead person is pronouncing that vowel.

Who/what are your influences for the music you create?

Growing up, I fell in love with Simon & Garfunkel. I listened to the Mamas and the Papas a lot too as well as old Jefferson Airplane and the Bee Gees. Indigo Girls, The Story, Patty Griffin were also [other] people who influenced me.

I understand that you and Ty have been best friends since elementary school. When did the two of you decide to start your first band The Garden Verge?

We officially started up the Garden Verge out of college although we had been signing together as a duo since middle school.

How and when did you meet up with Nate?

We met Nate [during] our sophomore year at Sarah Lawrence College at a cross-dress cabaret [that was more] like a talent show with more gender-bending. He was backstage [while] Ty and I were singing an Indigo Girls song to warm up. He came [up to us] and joined us out of the blue. We were insta-friends.

How was it being cramped up in NYC trying to start a band? Where are you currently residing?

It didn’t feel cramped at first. [It was] mostly just really exciting and creative time for us all. Of course our first rehearsal for Girlyman was scheduled for September 11th [and] after witnessing the events of that day we were shocked and speechless. We didn’t really know what to do but all that felt right to do was to be together, make music, and share it. So that was the birth of Girlyman; formed in the spirit of upliftment.

After seven years of living together and touring together, however, things did start to feel small and cramped. We were basically living on top of each other with no privacy and the need for expansion, both creatively and physically, became paramount. Nate and Ty moved to Atlanta in 2007 and I chose to stay in Brooklyn [NY] for another year but [soon] joined them in 2008. We all live separately now but happily see each other practically every day.

What types of venues did you first start playing at? Did you have success from the get go or was it more of a slow start?

We played at little coffeehouses and churches as well as some lunchtime college gigs. We just kept building out audience from the get go and even though we didn’t shoot up into massive fame, we definitely started climbing slowly but steadily.

Girlyman
Girlyman

Your live shows are full of humor and fun, especially in between songs.  When did live Girlyman shows turn almost into a stand up performance or has it always been like that?

I have always been a pretty shy person in front of large crowds and I think it was hard for Ty and me [as Garden Verge] to be as funny as we are in private. When Nate joined the group he added an element of humor and improvisation that allowed us all to be more relaxed and silly together. It’s a strength in numbers thing I think. I also thing it keeps things interesting for us to do or day things on stage that makes each other laugh because then every show feels like its own thing. We need to keep things light and fresh in order for the [live] show to feel fun for us too.

In 2006, OUTmusic awarded Girlyman for the OUTSong of the year for “Young James Dean”, how did this make you all feel?

We were really honored! It always means a lot when something you’ve created reaches people and speaks to them in a significant way.

What can you tell someone about OUTmusic who has never heard of the organization before?

OUTmusic is a wonderful organization that connects [the] lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual musicians, composers, producers, and artists [together]. It works to create opportunities and tried to raise awareness for the growing number of us [LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender)] out there.

I understand you are currently touring and will be performing at a couple of folk festivals as well. Having sold out venues before how exciting is it to be on the road?

We love being on the road and we love being at home too. It’s a balance but we are doing exactly what we want to do and have so much fun doing it. Sure being on the road has its challenges, like endless drives and late hours, but when we’re on stage and connecting with each other and the audience it is always worth it no matter now many people show up. It’s the energy from the audience that really helps us keep going.

How long have you actually been touring now?

We have been touring since 2001 when we first became a band.

Do you prefer festivals or venues?

I prefer venues because I find it’s easier to connect with people. Festivals are fun because there’s a feeling of celebration but I also get distracted by all that’s going on… like all the funnel cakes and hot dog stands!

Where is your favorite venue to play? Is there a favorite city you all enjoy?

I love Club Passim in Cambridge, MA, Old Town School of Folk in Chicago, Freight and Salvage in Berkeley, CA, but there are so many! We love New York City of course, and the Bay Area, but Atlanta’s pretty great too.

How are the lodging arrangements when you travel? Have you ever crashed in the van?

Thanks to Priceline.com lodging is fantastic! We often stay in three star hotels which makes us feel rich and comfortable. We don’t stay overnight in the van though we have a loft and a refrigerator set up in it. It’s too small for all of us [to sleep in].

Who usually takes up the driving duties on the road? Is there anyone in the band who is not allowed to drive?

Everyone takes turns driving although I can’t parallel park the Sprinter [van] for the life of me [as it’s] 21 feet long. Ty is not allowed to drive at night because she usually falls asleep.

Girlyman
Girlyman

Any crazy touring stories you want to share? Maybe a run in with the law or just something drunk and hilarious?

Well, the scariest thing that happened on the road was when we hit a deer at two in the morning in the middle of Wyoming and the Sprinter broke down. Nate and I didn’t have cell[phone] service but Ty thankfully did; but only when she stood a few feet from the van. We had to get towed 200 miles to the nearest Dodge dealership in Montana. When the tow truck came and started towing us it broke down too, so we had to wait until [the tow truck] got fixed.

Finally after a scary drive where the driver [of the tow truck] kept falling asleep and running [over] all [of] the rumble strips on the highway we arrived in Billings, MT at seven in the morning. We had to stay there for a couple of days while out manager found a U-Haul truck that could fit three of us in the cab. [We] then made our way though treacherous, snow-covered passes in Washington state [on the way] to Seattle. We were [all] totally traumatized by the whole experience.

You’ve been in Cleveland a few times now. Just curious what you think of the city as it is my hometown.  Any favorite memories?

Our favorite time in Cleveland was when we played at Cleveland Pride. They put us up in a fancy hotel and we shared the stage with Rupaul.

Do you think the folk festivals may help recruit new fans who may not necessary be involved in the LGBT community?

Some of our fans are part of the LGBT community, but just as many are not. We have a wide range of fans of all ages and identities.

Not everyone is accepting of the LGBT community unfortunately, have you ever had problems with people while out on the road?

It’s funny, we have a lot of people who, not knowing our music, initially feel put off by our man, but then when they hear us they immediately get over it or feel surprised that they actually like our music. Other than that, I think we’ve been lucky that we haven’t had many incidents being a queer band.

Tell me about your “Girlyfans”.

Out Girlyfans are our best support network. They are the ones who help promote us and bring new people to our shows. We couldn’t tour and do this for a living without them.

Can you tell me about the Brauner VMA that many of the Girlyfans helped raise money for you all to acquire? It looks like a masterpiece of a microphone. How is it working out for you?

It IS a masterpiece of microphones. It’s a handmade microphone from Germany and sounds out of this world. We are really happy with the sound quality we’re getting out of it.

When can your fans expect some new material to be released?

We are hoping for a fall release of our new studio album, although we’ve been playing out a lot of our new stuff at shows.

What’s next for Girlyman?

More of everything! We love how life just presents us with the next logical stay and that we’re brave enough to take it.

Just one last question… Are you still making payments on the cannon?

Of course!!!


-For more information about Girlyman check out their website.

-Girlyman is still on tour and will actually be making a pit stop in Ohio at the Oberlin Folk Festival.

-Download This! (rather sample…) – Girlyman – “Young James Dean”
-Download This! (rather sample…) – Girlyman – Cannons Skit

-Here are a couple of videos:

Those Darlins, Hacienda, & Dan Auerbach – Beachland Ballroom – Cleveland, OH – 03/05/09 – Concert Review

It was an entertaining evening Thursday night fueled by heavy doses of country twang and serious rock n roll thanks to the bands that performed at one of Cleveland’s best little venues, the Beachland Ballroom. The line-up was enough to call for that simple dreadful sign stating that tickets were sold out. All who were lucky enough to obtain admittance to last night’s performance certainly are still talking about the show that Those Darlins, Hacienda, and Dan Auerbach who is known as the lead signer of The Black Keys all put on.

Having heard about the show last week I decided that it was a show not to be missed and make plans to attend. Accompanied with a couple of friends who have love for the country and the rock I was sure they would have a great time checking out all the bands. We arrived to the Waterloo Rd. venue a little early as I was not certain how long it would take to make the trek there. The Beachland Ballroom is not located exactly downtown Cleveland but just a short drive away on a sketchy yet hip part of town. We arrived with no problems and finally made way into the ballroom. One of the things I like about the Beachland Ballroom is how quaint it is. It reminds me of a gymnasium from a middle school of my past with a stage and no real distractions in the main gathering area itself.

Calling them darlings is an understatement...
Calling them darlings is an understatement...

Once we finally got in we made a pit stop at the merch tables and I dropped five dollars on Those Darlin’s Wild One EP. For three songs the five bucks was totally worth it. The main reason I even planned on attending the concert was because of the trio of ladies otherwise known as Those Darlins. I just had received a taste of their sound last week and promptly posted a blog about it. What I heard not only made my day but also made me what to see them perform live.

Normally people get excited for the main act at a concert and the openers are almost like icebreakers for the evening. For the first time in a long time this was not the case for me. I dig the Black Keys and I have seen them live before. I actually had not heard the solo release yet on Dan Auerbach yet and to be honest I was more interested in seeing the opener over the other two bands.

Nashville’s neighboring sweethearts Those Darlins took the stage to a decent sized crowd and opened with “Wild One“. I think it is safe to say that they impressed the crowd right away physically and musically with their mix of country, folk, bluegrass, and sass. Dressed to impress, the three fine-looking girls and their mustache clad drummer had an amazing stage presence and were all smiles through their set. Sipping on strong drinks in between songs the girls shared singing duties and entertained all. “I love you” was shouted more than one time, and although I admit a major crush on the three darlings, I assure you it was not me.

They played the two other tracks on their Wild One EP including the humorous “Whole Damn Thing” as well as a healthy bout of tunes to be hopefully released on their debut CD in June. At times they sounded like The Carter Family and other times reminded me of a female version of Hank Williams III but much better looking. Seeing them live on stage having such a good time really added to the attraction. I was not ready for them to finish when they did and really could have listened to them play all night with their unique sound. I can only hope for a return by the sassy ladies once their debut CD is released.

Dan Auerbach
Dan Auerbach

Many people were excited to see the San Antonio rock jam band Hacienda take stage. I wish I could say I was too, but honestly the only thing I knew about this band is that they were backing up Dan Auerbach during his set and that their latest album, Loud Is The Night, was recorded at Dan Auerbach’s Akron Analog . I checked out some of the set and at times was shaking my head along to the beat. It was good music, but just not what I was looking to hear at the time.

Dan Auerbach with Hacienda and friends took stage after a short break. It was at this moment that I realized how sold out the show really was as I could barely move through the crowd to find a good place to watch the headliner. With only hearing a track or two off of Dan Auerbach’s Keep It Hid I knew it was not anything Black Keys but still was not completely sure what was going to happen.

The sounds Dan Auerbach and crew put forth reminded me of early rock at it’s finest with a jam feel at times. Each member on the stage had their own specialty to make the live performance even more interesting. Guitar solos, dual vocals, and smiles ear to ear by the performers just added to the good time being had by all. I got a huge kick out of the duel drumming and especially seeing Patrick Hallahan from My Morning Jacket do his thing moving from drum set to congo and maraca and even beating upon a giant triangle. Rocking out until after midnight the band continued to electrify. I can not tell you what songs they played as I still have yet to pick up the CD but I can tell you Keep It Hid is on my “to buy” list.

It was an excellent night for new music to hit my ears thanks to all three acts playing on stage. I became a bigger fan of Those Darlins as well as gotten a good taste of what Dan Auerbach’s solo material sounds like backed with a full band. Spite the sold out crowd it was a great evening and I know I was not the only one who enjoyed it. If these three acts happen to come your way and you are looking for a night of fun and music do yourself a favor and grab a ticket before it sells out.

The tour continues for just a few more dates.  Catch them if you can!

March 5 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom
March 6 – Chicago, IL @ Metro
March 7 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
March 10 – Seattle, WA @ The Showbox
March 11 – Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom
March 13 – San Francisco, CA @ Bimbo’s
March 14 – Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre


Those Darlins Made My Day

Before I even begin this blog, props need to go to my good pal Matt at Addicted To Vinyl for his assistance in helping me through rather vulgar texts on some mp3 help…  Thanks jerk.

I had one of those days today.  It was a bad day at work.  It was just too much for me and I really wish I had a special remote control to help fast forward through all the BS.  Unfortunately I do not so I had to go through my work day at a regular speed hating stressful moments.

Those Darlins indeed...
Those Darlins indeed...

Finally getting home I just needed some chill time and what better way to do that than to geek out on the laptop.  I checked my emails and one in particular grabbed my attention.  It was an email inviting me to check out a band called Those Darlins who are currently touring with Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys).  Having never heard of them and being a huge Black Keys fan I decided it could not hurt to listen to the attached MP3.

What I heard completely changed my entire day and I am not just saying that.  After hearing the song “Wild One” I just felt better.  It was a fun folky honest song of sorts and something I really needed to brighten up my day.

So who are these three darlins I speak of? Those Darlins are a folk/country/indie/punk/appalachian/blue grass (hope I did not miss anything) band featuring Kelley Darlin on bass, Jessi Darlin, on guitar, and Nikki Darlin on, get this, baritone ukulele.  Awesome.

The trio currently resides in the college town of Murfreesboro, TN a city that rests somewhere between the country capital of the world Nashville and the Woodstock replacing town of Manchester, the city Bonnaroo is held in.  Taking their love of playing music and love for a variety of bands of all genres Those Darlins created their own style of music and released the sassy Wild One EP.

Before I even continue you should just click on the link for the song and listen to it for yourself…

Download This! – Those Darlins – “Wild One”

With one song not enough of a sample I headed to their MySpace page to check out a few more tracks.  The vocals on some of the tunes reminded me of a female version of Hank III as well as a twangy Jenny Lewis or even Zooey Deschanel.  The music is classic at times and all around enjoyable.

I have a feeling these three cuties and their mustache sporting drummer really will be going places with their unique and chipper sound.  To make things even better, I just found out that Those Darlins are coming to the Beachland Ballroom next week.  I have to go see them in person and I think I will.  Look for an update next week.

-To pick up the EP for just $5.00, or to purchase some of their self-made merchandise visit their site at:

www.thosedarlins.com

Until then check this video out…

Not So Much Of A Review: City and Colour – Bring Me Your Love

I came across an artist the other day named Dallas Green who has a solo project he calls City and Colour.  The thing is, I have heard the voice before but could not pinpoint where…  After a minute of research I was amazed to find out that Dallas Green is also the lead vocalist for the post-hardcore act Alexisonfire.

Crazy.  I am so out of the loop.

I admit it.  I am not hip to everything so you can imagine how I felt considering I am a fan of Alexisonfire…a fan that does not necessarily know all the band members by name.

It seems that all of these punk rock / hardcore artists are doing solo albums lately and it appears it might be the new “in” thing to do, but before I continue I need to state that Dallas Green has been doing his solo project for a few years now.  Also “in” or not if an artist can pull off an amazing solo album, more power to them.

I have yet to check out the entire album called Bring Me Your Love as well as the rest of Dallas Green’s solo catalog.  Funny thing is that I have seen this CD before on the shelf but didn’t even give it a chance.  Looks like I was the one missing out.  If you like meaningful folk rock material you should check out this CD like I intend to do so…

Here is a really neat video.  Yes, I said neat.

The Girl

Tim Barry – Manchester – CD Review

What do you do when you wake up one day and find yourself a little older, a little wiser, and still broke, even after you spend most of your life fronting a punk rock band?  Chances are, if you are like Tim Barry, you keep doing what you do when you can just so you can get by and love every minute of it.  The Avail front man recently has released his third solo project titled Manchester
again on Suburban Home Records and I must say it is outstanding.

Tim Barry - Photo: Travis Conner
Tim Barry - Photo: Travis Conner

Tim Barry rubs off more as a folk singer on Manchester, even though he is mostly known for being part of one of the more important punk rock acts from the 1990s.  Still touring with Avail but not as a fulltime gig, Tim Barry also performs on his own with family members and close friends.  I still have yet to witness a live show and after listening to Manchester I really hope he comes to my neighborhood again.

Currently residing in Richmond, Virginia, the carefree musician has his day job, loves his beer, and continues his passion with music.  With help from friends and family Tim Barry has recorded a personal album that displays his thoughts as well as encourages you to think for yourself.

Not knowing Tim Barry had a previous solo album this was the first time I heard him minus Avail and I had no idea what to expect.  Opening track “Texas Cops” immediately perked my ears with a more personal track about the law, not missing home, and admitting that having a “bad time is better than no time any day”.   This track really reminded me of Hank III with the tough lyrics and fun country twang.

“On And On” is not as fast paced as the first track, but more a slowed down folk hymn.  I really could feel the emotion in this track.  The backing music was just amazing as well complimenting Tim Barry’s gruff voice.  “South Hill” was one of the few songs that I have heard where I actually got angry while listening.  The track tells the tale of a young soldier thinking he is fighting the good fight, only to return home  not knowing right from wrong.  I seriously was angry with the outcome of this story turned song and it was not because Tim Barry sung his beliefs, he left that up to me.

The cover of Avail’s “This November” was just awesome and sounded just as good slowed down a tad with the same message, take a breath and deal.  “Sagagity Gone” was fun jam about not caring what one more drink will do to you.

The album has its ups and downs midway through but Tim Barry really keeps up with his personal lyricism on all.  In “Tile Work” Time Barry declares “consider where I been” possibly letting everyone know why he is the way he is.  Slow jam “222” was very sad, yet passionate about not feeling alone, and was one of my preferred tracks on the disc.

For a guy who has been in the punk rock scene for years, it is great to see him continue even if it is a tad slowed down.  Where I am a fan of Avail, I can say I am even a bigger fan of Tim Barry’s solo material. It strikes me stronger with his approach at life and personal battles.

With so many artists recording material on their own, some may say that this is a trend.  For Tim Barry that is not the case at all as you can almost hear in each song that he is doing it for the sake of recording music, something you can tell he truly loves.  His mix of punk and folk throughout really is appealing and begs to be played over and over again.  The CD is genuine, honest, and a must have for any aging punker out there who is finally coming to terms with themselves that maybe it’s time to slow things down a little.

Want a taste of the CD?

South Hill

“222”

If you really want to hear more proof why I love the CD so much, click on Manchester, buy it, and check it out for yourself:

Head over to his website for some more music and info: http://www.timbarryrva.com/