“Hailing from Oakland, California, The Shants specialize in a blend of Southern folk and country, embossed with the sad sounds of the pedal steel guitar” - FILTER Magazine
“…Rustic and subdued, like the scant, heavily muted light that finds its way to the floor of a redwood grove" - No Depression
“The Shants have done something curiously rare these days: created an authentically Southern & categorically enjoyable, stompy blues & folk record in the heart of garage & punk-obsessed Oakland.” - SF Bay Guardian
The Shants are a simple four piece Americana band from Oakland, with lots of bittersweet pedal steel sounds. Some who've heard them compare The Shants to bands like Whiskeytown, Richard Buckner, Elvis Perkins, and Son Volt. We'd call our sound "slow burning Americana". Singer Skip Allums recently moved to Oakland from Baton Rouge, Louisiana... so there's definitely a heavy Southern Gothic influence.
The Shants' sound originates from the rural backgrounds of its members: from South Louisiana delta pines to the brusk plains of Minnesota to the rolling hills of the Central California Coast.
Beautiful was the Night, the band’s debut full length album, is a haunted love letter to singer Skip Allums’ home state of Louisiana. The album was recorded in Oakland at Rec Center and Tones On Tail Studios by Eliot Curtis, with some vocal harmonies from Brianna Lea Pruett & Quinn Deveaux, violin by Howie Cockrill, and horns by Ralph Carney (Tom Waits, Black Keys) as well as the Blue Bone Express. Beautiful was the Night is available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, CD Baby and most other digital music stores. The album was funded by fans, via Kickstarter.
The Shants perform regionally, recently completing 2 West Coast tours. The Shants have supported such acts as Basia Bulat, Adam Acuragi, Eilen Jewell, Jonathan Richman, Damien Jurado, Songs Ohia, Barbara Manning, and many more. The band has headlined medium-to-small venues in the following markets: San Francisco, Oakland, Chico, Sacramento, Davis, San Jose, Los Angeles, Portland.
"Undiscovered Band of the Month: The Shants. Hailing from Oakland, California, The Shants specialize in a blend of Southern folk and country, embossed with the sad sounds of the pedal steel guitar" - FILTER Magazine
"Rustic and subdued, like the scant, heavily muted light that finds its way to the floor of a redwood grove" - No Depression
REVIEWS - Beautiful was the Night LP:
“This album is built of many parts, but there’s no question that Skip Allums’ voice pulls it all together. Whether snaking through some dusty, Gram Parsons-ish California desert or hollering over a New Orleans-y brass band (courtesy of Ralph Carney), his smooth croon draws you in and makes you want to stay. Add to that some really solid songs and a tight band that features Sam Tokheim’s pedal steel prominently and you’re in good shape. In fact, Beautiful Was the Night is a great album. It sounds gorgeous, thanks to Eliot Curtis and his analog amusement park, Tones on Tail Studios.” - East Bay Express
“The band adds brass (courtesy of Ralph Carney) to “Brother,” rocks a Velvet Underground rhythm riff on “Evangeline Blues” and strikes a New Orleans groove for the closing “(I’m Not) Gonna Waste Another Song on You,” but it’s their weathered Americana that remains their calling card.” - No Depression
“With their full length debut, Beautiful was the Night, set for release September 27, the band is about to garner more praise. The album maintains the haunting, meandering sound from the EP that made me want to root for The Shants, but tracks like “Brother” and the closer “(I’m Not) Gonna Waste Another Song on You” reveal a brass swagger.” - SF Station
“Stompy bayou music!” - CD Baby, Music Discovery Podcast
“Fantastic. A first-rate tribute to the state of Louisiana.” - KGSR, Austin
“Sometimes it is just good to get away; away from the city, away from work, away from the hustle and bustle lifestyle, in order to discover things about the world, and yourself, that sometimes just get buried in distractions and stimulation. What better way to assist this journey of isolation and self unearthing than an old style, country blues with a modern rock twist? Well, one not need to tread too far outside of their Bay Area mecca to find such a entity. Skip Allums, Sam Tokheim, Carver Cordes, and Adam Burstein are The Shants, a band of such talents out of Oakland that embodies that discovery in their folksy musical style” - Rabbits Black blog
“Paints a beautiful picture of Louisiana. Beautiful was the Night offers subtle music with a touch of country and folk, in which Sam Tokheim excels at a lonely-sounding pedal steel guitar. Gritty, unconstrained… with a sharp, dark edge & burning guitar riffs, this record is perfect for an Indian summer.” - Alt-Country Forum (Netherlands)
REVIEWS - Russian River Songs demo:
“When you’re home from that dysfunctional mess listen to The Shants. They won’t harsh your mellow after you have that extra hit of (insert vice here). Listen and stare at the ceiling and try to figure out what the hell just happened. You might live through Christmas. The Shants combine mellow grooves with a sexy twang.”- SF Chronicle Music Blog - Off The Record
“There’s an odd, echoey, melancholy sound to Russian River Songs. Which isn’t a bad thing —it’s excellent music to mope to. With lovely blues guitar and some fantastic songwriting, The Shants make deceptively simple music, a blues/country/rock hybrid that’s soothing to a troubled mind. Skip Allums’ gentle, pretty vocals and an overall Southern vibe seal the deal.” - East Bay Express: Local Licks
“The folk-infused foursome plays stripped-down tunes that are dripping with honesty and simple convention. And with all the buzz they’ve generated during their short tenure as a band, they must be doing something right… it doesn’t take much to realize The Shants have a strange and sweet affinity for the city. One only has to listen to the lyrics of “Oh, Oakland,” a love-tinged namedropping homage to the town, to understand what it’s all about. And even if they forget to name Bubb Rubb along the likes of the Parkway and Broadway Street, they’ve still encompassed and personalized the spirit of the city, as any resident of Oakland can attest.” - Oakland Examiner
“After wood-shedding in Chico, Davis, Nevada City, and other Northern California not-spots, The Shants bring their down-tempo Americana to a hometown gig at Oakland’s New Parish. Their EP, recorded in a cabin near the Russian River, has the subdued feel of the area’s heavily wooded forests. Their moody combination of vocals, guitar, bass, drums, and dripping pedal steel conjures the permanent dusk of a redwood grove, and vocalist Skip Allums manages to sound both dissipated and agitated at the same time. You can pick up their ragged love letter, “Oh, Oakland,” on iTunes and practice not choking up at the tearful mention of the late, lamented Parkway Theater”- East Bay Express
“Slow burning americana” and I really can’t think of a more apt description than that. Very moody, very lo-fi, very mellow. Some great steel guitar throughout. Fans of Richard Buckner and Richmond Fontaine might want to give them a listen.” - A Truer Sound
“The Shants & my iPod have been carrying on a torrid little dalliance for a few days now. & I’m surprised to find myself getting actually kind of infatuated with these here Shants. Submitted for our consideration is an 8-song EP entitled Russian River Songs, evidently recorded live in a cabin among the redwoods. & it feels like that: kind of languid, kind of sexy. Nobody’s in a hurry to get anywhere. Skip’s singing is, well, pretty. But it’s also delivered with the quiet confidence of somebody who’s strong enough to never need to shout. OK, I guess that’s a lot of words just to say he’s understated. Anyway, I like the singing & I like the songwriting, too. I like the frequent drifting into a minor key, just to keep things interesting. The clear signature here is the aforementioned pedal steel, wielded craftily by Samuel Tokheim. & that’s what really drew me into these songs. Samuel plays with finesse, with wit, & with a poetic sense that makes these good songs kind of great.”- Clatter Music Blog
“I was immediately roped in by the timeless sound of soft acoustic strums, accompanied by lilting pedal steel. Perfect tunes for a calm quiet night when all you have to do is sit on the porch and have a drink or two. ” - Gobbler’s Knob
“Musically, The Shants are the equivalent of dinner with friends rather than dining out. It isn’t flashy and slick but it is almost infinitely more enjoyable. There is very little spectacle to their music, which instead will nest itself quite happily in your head for hours after a few spins, bringing with it a sense of earthy, warm familiarity.” - Wolf Magazine UK
“The resulting sound is earthy yet atmospheric, sweetly rough-hewn and occasionally bitter. “I’m a Ghost” manages to be both ghostly and creaky—like a poltergeist moving chairs around a haunted house. There are some livelier numbers (“Oh, Oakland”), but it’s the quieter, sadder songs such as “Lift Up Your Eyes” that set the band apart. ” - Sacramento News & Review
“Recorded live and in only two sessions adding a nice campfire atmosphere to the tracks. And saying campfire atmosphere, it is just the right word to express all the other aspects of Russian River Songs. That is: the overall dark character of the music with the haunting but very mellow lap steel melodies, the cozy acoustic guitar play accompanied with chilled e-guitar vibes and cradling bass lines together with decent sounds from the rhythm section on drums – I don’t need to say that this is pushed to the limit every time the harmonica kicks in. The lyrics are perfect to forget about your surroundings and to hum or sing along with them with closed eyes thinking of a nice night with your friends hanging out around some crackling campfire with some tasty beers or beverages of your choice.” - Common Folk Meadow
“…weary vocal and hushed harmonica… a natural organic sound… the pedal steel playing of Samuel Tokheim that weaves through the songs offering a perfect foil for the laid back vocals… This album may not shout out to be noticed but it manages to subtly win over your attention…” - Beat Surrender
“Folks who enjoy the beautiful melodies of Wilco this session from BAMM.tv and its guests The Shants. Natives of Oakland, this North American quartet surprised us with the beautiful and a calm ballad, Under Strange These Days. The melancholy notes that The Shants pull from the pedal steel guitar are the backbones of their songs. With roots in the South of the United States, its only natural that the songs are filtered through the Americana lens.” - Indie Hearts (Argentina)
“Slow-burning americana from Oakland, California”.. I couldn’t think of a better definition for their sound. The 8 song son their demo EP contain honest acoustic music, with prominent pedal steel guitar colouring the majority of the songs in a very pleasant manner. The songs are relaxed and laidback in nature. I expect a full album will appear soon from these guys, and I hope that they are picked up by a quality label” - Rootsville (Belgium)
Skip Allums - Vocals, guitars, Harmonica
Sam Tokheim - Pedal Steel
Carver Cordes - Banjo, Bass, Accordion
Adam Burstein - Drums
Russian River Songs EP, 2010
High Scores & Records
Beautiful was the Night LP, 2011
Undiscovered Band: THE SHANTS
[+ Show ]
January 13, 2010 Undiscovered Band of the Month: The Shants Hailing from Oakland, California, ...January 13, 2010
Undiscovered Band of the Month: The Shants
Hailing from Oakland, California, The Shants specialize in a blend of Southern folk and country, embossed with the sad sounds of the pedal steel guitar. The Shants features Skip Allums on guitars, harmonica, and vocals with Samuel Tokheim on pedal steel, Carver Cordes on bass, and Adam Burstein on drums. Look out for the recently released Russian River Songs EP on High Scores and Records.
Who are your main influences?
Well, its more of a "what" than a who. Each of us grew up in parts of the US that affected the way we play music together. Sam (pedal steel) grew up in Minnesota, on the South Dakota border, so he has a gruff, solemn and at times sweet & sentimental way of playing. He loves Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, George Jones and Son Volt.
Skip (guitars, vocals) grew up in sad, sopping-wet South Louisiana, so he listened to a lot of Southern blues (like Son House and Leadbelly) and New Orleans R&B (Eldridge Holmes, Irma Thomas), but loves bands like Neutral Milk Hotel and Kings of Convenience. Skip is also influenced by his father's record collection - lots of Bob Dylan, Fats Domino, Webb Pierce and Waylon Jennings.
Carver (bass) is from the Central Coast of California, and he is passionate about American soul, and so he loves James Carr, Curtis Mayfield, Sam Cooke and Etta James. Adam (drums) is a devourer of all sorts of music, but folk & jazz in particular. He loves drummers like Peter Erskine and Brian Blade. Carver and Adam are both California natives, so they bring a warm West Coast feel to the rhythm section, whereas Sam and Skip came up in more stark landscapes.
How did you meet?
Sam and Skip met at the gym a few years ago. When the subject of music came up, they found that they had a lot in common. Carver and Skip met through mutual friends/bands that they knew that were from near Carver's hometown in San Luis Obispo (like Treluna, Port O'Brien). Adam came to this project through a Craigslist ad, asking for a drummer who could play more than just two dynamics: loud and louder.
What is your biggest achievement as a band to date?
The Shants are a brand new act, having formed in September of 2009. The recording of our EP, Russian River Songs is our best work yet. We holed up in a little house near the redwoods north of San Francisco to record them live. We only meant to document the way we sound when we're in the practice space, but what we captured felt really good, so we decided to release it. It's a pure an honest snapshot of the direction we are heading in - a lonesome, sweet and slow burning sound.
Where did the band name originate?
Shants refers to a few things.... the somewhat antiquated contraction of "shall not", and British slang for getting drunk "fancy a shant?" or "we got so shanted last night." To us, it represents our music in that it references something that has fallen out of pop culture's radar (honest, early country music) as well as the hazy, sometimes regretful attempts to drown your sorrows.
Right now we're listening to a lot of J Tillman, Basia Bulat, Wilco, Christina Antipa (who we are playing a handful of shows with this month), Beach House, The Meters, Richard Buckner, and stupid classic rock on the radio.
Plans to Tour?
We're playing a string of shows in San Francisco, Stockton, Nevada City and Chico this month. We're planning a West Coast jaunt this summer, during Skip's break from school (he's a grad student at Academy of Art University in SF).
Plans for next release?
Right now we're collecting songs for a full length release, which may include some of the songs from our EP. We've been talking with the folks at Tape Op Magazine's studio in Sacramento, The Hangar, to do some tracking work. Tons of great artists have recorded there, including Vetiver, Devendra Banhart, Au Revoir Simone, The Devil Makes 3 and lots more.
No Depression: The Shants are dreamy & eerie
[+ Show ]
“…these tracks were recorded in a cabin near the Russian River, and the first- and second-take demos...“…these tracks were recorded in a cabin near the Russian River, and the first- and second-take demos are rustic and subdued, like the scant, heavily muted light that finds its way to the floor of a redwood grove. Their biography mentions comparisons to Richard Buckner, and they share the sort of minimalism and melancholy Buckner laid down on early albums like Devotion + Doubt. There’s a similar angst in vocalist Skip Allums’ passivity, but he sings with a more dissipated air than Buckner. The productions of vocals, guitar, bass, drums and pedal steel are at once dreamy and eerie; even the album’s love song features the semi-misanthropic sentiment “I’m tired of everyone but you.” An ode to their home town may be a bit ragged for official city adoption, but its shout-out to the Parkway Theater will resonate with those who knew the cozy movie house. The group’s combination of creeping tempos, drowsy vocals and dripping pedal steel gives these recordings an appealing moodiness.”
The Shants cordially blend country, folk, blues, rock
[+ Show ]
“The band calls itself Americana, but it shall not be denied that The Shants are heart and soul. Ski...“The band calls itself Americana, but it shall not be denied that The Shants are heart and soul. Skip Allums is more of a crooner than just another lead singer and The Shants’ latest release,last year’s “Beautiful Was the Night,” has staying power. It’s one of those few records that can keep even the most jaded of music journalists listening again and again.”
Beautiful was the Night. A first-rate tribute to the state of Louisiana.
“Fantastic. A first-rate tribute to the state of Louisiana.”
The Shants - Stompy Bayou Music!
[+ Show ]
The Shants’ slow-burning sound originates from the rural backgrounds of its members: from South Loui...The Shants’ slow-burning sound originates from the rural backgrounds of its members: from South Louisiana delta pines, to the brusk plains of Minnesota to the rolling hills of the Central California Coast. The Shants now call Oakland, California home.
The Shants' Beautiful was the Night reveals a brassy swagger
[+ Show ]
“With their full length debut, Beautiful was the Night, set for release September 27, the band is ab...“With their full length debut, Beautiful was the Night, set for release September 27, the band is about to garner more praise. The album maintains the haunting, meandering sound from the EP that made me want to root for The Shants, but tracks like “Brother” and the closer “(I’m Not) Gonna Waste Another Song on You” reveal a brass swagger.”
This record is perfect for an Indian summer.
[+ Show ]
“Paints a beautiful picture of Louisiana. Beautiful was the Night offers subtle music with a touch o...“Paints a beautiful picture of Louisiana. Beautiful was the Night offers subtle music with a touch of country and folk, in which Sam Tokheim excels at a lonely-sounding pedal steel guitar. Gritty, unconstrained… with a sharp, dark edge & burning guitar riffs, this record is perfect for an Indian summer.”
30 minutes to an hour for club/bars/cafes, or 2 hour featured set
PDF RiderShants Stage Plot
There are no upcoming dates at this time.