Not every band is capable of producing powerful music, the kind that brings old souls to tears and young ones to their feet. But the Shoemaker Brothers, four siblings from Shelton, Washington, are not only capable of producing it—it is their only product. Theirs is the kind of music that evokes emotion; many an audience has fallen in love with their passion for and their commitment to their art. Their soulful sound is founded on classical strings and cultivated by American folk but grounded in a rock ‘n’ roll sensibility that keeps it fresh. The Brothers’ warm, homegrown vocals showcase lyrics that deal with issues that touch many American lives. In early January, they released a self-titled album before embarking upon a tour that will take them to the nation’s four corners.
Consisting of Samuel on the violin, Nathanael on the cello, Daniel on the viola, and Gabriel on the violin, the Brothers grew up as four of seven children—all of whom began their musical education at a very young age. Growing up, they performed as the “Shoemaker Family Singers,” along with their parents (the running joke is that their mother had aspirations of creating her own Von Trapp family). Apart from coming together for the occasional Shoemaker Family Christmas album, the Brothers largely pursued their musical endeavors independently. Nathanael wrote “Never Forget” for their oldest brother’s wedding, where he performed it with Samuel accompanying on the violin. The seed had been planted. The Brothers made the decision to officially come together in their current incarnation in December 2007.
When asked to cite their influences, they often bombard their interviewer with a stream of seemingly incongruent artists. They will certainly mention their immense respect and love of classical composers, such as Bach and Chopin, but are quick to make sure that they will not be limited to just these two. Their influences run from Creedence Clearwater Revival to John Legend, from the Rolling Stones to Dave Matthews, from Ray LaMontagne to Metallica. Please don’t make the mistake of trying to pigeonhole them—they simply won’t stand for it. It should be mentioned that in addition to their classical instruments, most of their shows feature the Brothers’ talent on the acoustic guitar, mandolin, Djembe, drum kit, and electric bass.
The Brothers went on their first tour during the summer of 2008, cruising down the Oregon Coast and through Napa Valley—playing music, making connections, and polishing their act. This past November they decided to make their music a full-time career. At the very beginning of January they released their most recent, self-titled album while simultaneously beginning their first national tour. Thus far, they have traveled along the West Coast playing gigs everywhere from Boise to Portland, from Santa Cruz to Los Angeles, and they have tour dates set in such hotspots as New York and Boston in the early Spring.
For video, please visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyZmJA4SRbI
Samuel Shoemaker: Violin, Piano, Guitar, Drums, Vocals
Nathanael Shoemaker: Cello, Guitar, Piano, Bass, Vocals
Daniel Shoemaker: Viola, Guitar, Bass, Vocals
Gabriel Shoemaker: Violin, Guitar, Piano, Mandolin, Djembe, Vocals
Live Show Review
[+ Show ]
We showed up expecting to see Emery Carl with whom we had scheduled an interview only to find out he...We showed up expecting to see Emery Carl with whom we had scheduled an interview only to find out he had been bumped for some band out of Olympia called the Shoemaker Brothers. Disappointed, we decided to check out the show and see if life had given us lemons worth squeezing. So with our usual drinks (Coffee Clints), we sat down just in time for these guys to take the stage.
Immediately I was impressed by the range of instruments these four play. They opened the set with a bluesy little number sung by Nathanael (Nat) who was playing guitar. They had onstage with them a violin, viola, cello, bass guitar and hand drum. Throughout the first song I was pleased with their group dynamic but after it ended, Nat handed off his guitar and stepped away from the mic. Daniel sang the next one and they all had changed positions. A band with two singers is not unheard of, and they both have the pipes for it but for each member to switch instruments is not so common. Then the unexpected continued as Samuel sang the next song and Gabriel the one after. Now I’m really impressed. Through the show each brother sang multiple songs and never sounded forced. They swapped instruments like a Chinese fire drill and by the time it was over I felt like I had seen four distinctly different yet similar bands. Each song had elements of blues, folk, Celtic and classical melodies, but with a sound that they define as “string rock”. They played off the cuff regularly and it was obvious their sound has developed by leaps and bounds since they cut their first album (self titled). To honor their multi band dynamic, I will describe each brother in turn.
Daniels weapon of choice is viola but he’s no slouch with a guitar. His voice has a smooth, even tone and lyrically he brings a blue collar desperation that almost feels akin to Bruce Springsteen. His sound has a bit more of a country thing going on, but not in the bad way. He has an almost youthful, innocent look and can’t help but smile when things get quiet. He has that all American look and If I had to give him a title, he’d be the face of the band.
Samuel has a hard and sometimes raspy voice I would compare to Johnny Lang, and when he belts it out you can hear the voice of experience in every note. He is a vet and his lyrics describe a sorrow only learned from the horrors of war. He has a confidence behind his eyes and on stage that stands out. Sam spent more time on the drum than the other guys but his violin will make your heart hurt the way blues was intended. If I had to give him a title he’d be the balls of the band.
Gabriel was a surprise. He looks older but is the youngest of the four and on the night in question was wearing sweats head to toe. The first few songs on the guitar and drum and I thought it was nice of the rest of the guys to include him even though his presence was a little lacking compared to his brothers. Then old Sweatpants McGee grabbed the violin and played some stuff that blew me away. He grinds those strings like they are a part of his body making the notes whisper and scream effortlessly. When they had a brief moment of technical difficulty he stepped up and busted into this classical melody to fill the empty air and sang us a little opera. This kid is a barrel full of talent and if I gave him a title it would be that: the talent.
Nathanael. Nat…His voice is going to carry these boys straight into the hearts of America. If Chris Isaak and Jack Black had a baby and raised him on bourbon and hard times, you would have Natty boy. He practices the lost art of standing as still as possible and squinting his eyes away while singing so as not to distract you from the gravelly lows and velvet highs. His lyrics are pretty simple. Love mostly with some pain here and there, inspired but not over thought. He kills it on the cello but its his voice that sticks to your soul. I would definitely call him the voice band.
Each one has so much talent it seems superfluous at times to play together. Any could easily front his own band and once they become famous and develop celebrity egos, they probably will. That is all part of the brilliance of this reverse super group. I highly recommend their live show and I will see them again in a few months myself. I am not even a fan of the genre which speaks volumes about the Shoemaker Brothers. (The last two shows I saw and liked were Dir En Grey and KMFDM.)
[+ Show ]
The Shoemaker Brothers are by their own definition string rock, and live, they are just that. This a...The Shoemaker Brothers are by their own definition string rock, and live, they are just that. This album at times speeds up but is mostly a little slower than what you would call “rock”. It feels like a journey across the northwest in one of the crappier months. Rain, traffic, that feeling of late afternoon pretty much all day. But I mean that in the good way. The thing about Washington is it’s all about contrast. It starts when you get into your car and its cold enough to piss you off, but the early morning fog here is beautiful as it hangs on top of the hills and creeps along the valleys. Ask anyone in Washington how they start their day and they’ll tell you “sitting in traffic, looking at fog“. That is my take on the album. The soft and slow rhythms hold you there waiting for the melodies to take your attention. The range of emotions stay in the love and sorrow realm though that is not to say the lyrics are limited. These guys are talented lyricists and the subject matter is across the board. In terms of sound they have elements of folk and blues with strings that seem to travel the world in inspiration. Their skill as musicians is conveyed throughout and each song feels like it belongs. I liken their sound to Cat Stevens meets Bruce Springsteen’s slower material if it were backed up by those guys from Titanic who kept playing as the boat sank. They were troopers, and so are the Shoemaker Brothers. If I were in college, trying to score with a smart girl, this is the album I would put on.
For me the highlights of this album are: (in no particular order) Amused, Play Me the Violin, The Escape, and my personal fave, Debt.
Debt fits a pattern in my life where the song I love best sounds different than the rest of the album. It has a little jazzy, swingyness due in part to the drums but even the strings feel different. The lyrics are simple and easy to relate to. I feel the vocals on this song are the best on the album and that’s no easy task. Nat, my man, good work.
Over all I give the Shoemaker Brothers self titled album:
One and one half arms up. That’s like an elbow.
And for the song Debt, I give it the highly coveted “WISH I HAD MADE THAT” Award!!!
[+ Show ]
Dat muziek in de genen zit kunnen de vier broers van Shoemaker Brothers zeker beamen. Zij groeiden ...Dat muziek in de genen zit kunnen de vier broers van Shoemaker
Brothers zeker beamen. Zij groeiden op in een gezin van zeven
kinderen, met vader en moeder als folkmuziekanten. Hun eerste muzikale
stappen voor een publiek deden ze in familieverband als Shoemaker
Family Singers, onder de beschermende vleugels hun ouders, bijna een
kopie van de Duitse familie Von Trapp. Vervolgens zochten ze ieder hun
eigen weg op muzikaal vlak, maar eind 2007 was de tijd rijp om de
krachten te bundelen en trokken ze samen op tournee door Amerika met
een eigen repertoire onder de naam Shoemaker Brothers. Vandaag hebben
ze hun sound en hun nummers zodanig bijgeschaafd dat het tijd werd om
hun creatie op cd te bundelen. Je kan hun muziek moeilijk vastpinnen
op één welbepaalde stijl, maar de folkklanken van hun ouders zijn
duidelijk aanwezig. Tevens hoor je een onderbouw van invloeden uit één
van hun geliefde genres, namelijk klassieke muziek, met begeleidende
instrumenten als viool en cello. Ook de hedendaagse rockmuziek drukte
zijn stempel. Zo opent de cd met een typische trage, amoureuze
rockballade “American Dream”in een unplugged versie op akoestische
gitaar, begeleid door cello en violen, een nummer dat zo van een
Scorpions album zou geplukt kunnen zijn. Ook aan de teksten is veel
aandacht besteed en zijn heel actueel, zoals de stevige portie
akoestische gitaarrock die ze tentoon spreiden in “Dancing Girl”, over
een verliefde en hopeloos in geweld ondergedompelde soldaat in Irak.
Nostalgisch en zeer filmisch klinkt “In The North” als een Leonard
Cohen die ergens in de Russische toendra ronddwaalt. Ook “Silhoutte”
is zo’n sfeervol nummer, dat begint in alle intimiteit als een
klassieke compositie, maar uitvloeit in een waar gypsiefeest met
losgeslagen strijkers. “America” klinkt plechtig en soulvol als Ray
Lamontagne evenals het bluesy en zeer intense “Play Me The Violin”,
waarin, zoals de titel aangeeft, de viool bewijst een waardige
tegenstander te zijn van de gitaar wanneer het op solopartijen
aankomt. “Shelton” wijst in de richting van een doorleefde Elthon John
pianoballade, maar de grote verrassing zit hem in de jazzy afsluiter
“Debt”, dat vocaal en instrumentaal een heel andere richting inslaat,
maar uitmondt in één van de toppers van deze plaat. Samuel, Nathanael,
Daniel, en Gabriel Shoemaker hebben met dit debuut een belangrijke
stap gezet in de richting van een veelbelovende carrière. We kijken al
halsreikend uit naar de opvolger. (Blowfish)
Generally perform two, 50-minute sets.
Never Said No
Play Me the Violin
In the North
Brown Eyed Girl
There Ain't Nothin' Like a Bottle
There are no upcoming dates at this time.