Strange Vine's earthy, energetic music is a fusion of blues, psychedelic, and traditional American rock. It's a sound born of California's Sierra Nevada Mountains, from two men who were raised there. Ian Blesse plays drums and Rhodes piano (simultaneously), while Toby Cordova fleshes out the songs with a rotating arsenal of guitars (including one made from a cigar box). Both contribute vocals toward a rich, layered sound that's greater than the sum of its parts. In just a year's time, Strange Vine has already shared the stage with acts like Cage The Elephant, Band Of Skulls, B.B. King, The Growlers, White Denim, Robin Trower, Lord Huron, Pokey LaFarge, Reignwolf and JEFF The Brotherhood.
"Moving from bluesy riffs, sudden tempo shifts, White Stripes-esque guitar stabs and runs, on through lurching classic rock headbanging material and even stopping for a waltzing piano solo. It‘s compelling stuff, delivered at the sure hands of very talented musicians." ~Weekly Volcano
"They aren’t just the best band to come out of Fresno, Calif.; they are contenders for underground cult status. Strange Vine has mastered an oddly menacing mix of abstract rock with blues undertones, and listeners could lose themselves in the band’s combined vocal talent." ~Eugene Weekly
Ian Blesse - Vocals, Drums, rhodes
Toby Cordova - Vocals, guitars
Ghosts EP released Aug 2, 2010
Currently recording debut album in San Francisco, CA
Strange Vine would be perfect Black Keys opener
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There was a moment at the recent Rock at the Top battle of the bands -- an unprecedented $15,000 ban...There was a moment at the recent Rock at the Top battle of the bands -- an unprecedented $15,000 band battle at Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino -- where the guy running the sound turned to the judges table and said, "Why don't these guys have a recording contract?"
He was talking about Strange Vine, a local rock duo who were crowned the winners 15 minutes later.
That victory and that mind-blown reaction were both a testament to what anybody who follows the music scene in town closely already knows: Strange Vine is one of -- if not the -- best band in Fresno right now. And that's why this next statement is also true: Strange Vine should open for The Black Keys at Save Mart Center on Oct. 1.
Stylistically, Strange Vine falls right in line with The Black Keys -- two guys with a classic rock-sounding, blues-informed rock sound steeped in Led Zeppelin lore. It's the kind of music a 25-year-old kid can listen to right alongside a 55-year-old.
Ian Blesse plays drums, organ and guitar and sings in the band. Singer/guitarist Toby Cordova has a great voice and a slew of guitars. It's enough for Strange Vine to land opening gigs for Band of Skulls in Bakersfield next week and B.B. King in Visalia in November.
But when someone asks me about Strange Vine, my standard answer isn't B.B. King. It's this: "Do you like The Black Keys? If so, you'll like Strange Vine."
Of course, me thinking that Strange Vine should open for The Black Keys and it actually coming true are two very different things. But instead of just wishing it, one fan did something about it.
Nick Chandler created the Facebook page, "Petition for Strange Vine to Open for The Black Keys." It's gotten 180 "likes" in about a week, but needs 100 times that to capture attention.
On the page, it says, 'Please 'LIKE' this page and let's help our favorite local band share a stage with one of their greatest musical influences ... The Black Keys."
So that's one way to help. Another would be to share your interest with the show's promoter, Another Planet Entertainment. Go to their website or Facebook page and tell them that you'd buy a ticket if Strange Vine got to open for The Black Keys. Maybe the almighty dollar will have power, you know.
If this doesn't work? At least you helped promote a local band that deserves every ounce of love it can get from its often stingy hometown.
If you've reached this point in the column and want to see what the Strange Vine hype is all about, go see the band Saturday night at Audie's Olympic, 1426 N. Van Ness Ave. It's a tour kick-off show before the band heads to Arizona, Texas, Nashville and New York. Tickets cost $6, and it starts at 8:30 p.m.
Chances are you'll leave a Strange Vine believer.
Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/09/13/2991074/strange-vine-would-be-perfect.html#storylink=cpy
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If I was lightly armed and on the run from the law in a dusty Cadillac El Dorado driving down a dark...If I was lightly armed and on the run from the law in a dusty Cadillac El Dorado driving down a dark highway through a Southwestern landscape with only one choice of music to have stuck in the tape deck, I would choose the eerie, heart-thumping tunes of Strange Vine. Members Ian Blesse (drums, Rhodes piano, vocals) and Toby Cordova (guitars, vocals), still chugging along in an epic year of touring (which included the SXSW festival in Austin), aren’t just the best band to come out of Fresno, Calif.; they are contenders for underground cult status. Strange Vine has mastered an oddly menacing mix of abstract rock with blues undertones, and listeners could lose themselves in the band’s combined vocal talent.
A young, gutsy duo of road warriors, Strange Vine is capable of painting moods in your mind. They are the coagulation of Led Zeppelin and The Melvins — think The Black Keys mixed with an almost (at times) Cobain-ish vocal tone. Or Love and a .45 meets Deliverance (in a good way), but you’d have to watch both these movies in sepia in a poorly lit room, with whiskey and burnt popcorn; that’s the flavor Strange Vine puts out.
These guys have songs that belong adrift behind the cellar door of your skull, and they are tearing through the West Coast with shows in San Diego, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and, soon, Cottage Grove. Strange Vine is perfect for an Axe & Fiddle crowd. They will be completely in their element, and frankly Sam Bond’s should book them — they’d be an excellent match for that venue as well.
Show-goers who hit up the Strange Vine performance will be treated to opening act accompaniment by Eugene rock/jam powerhouse Strum Theory. This may be the best gig in town all weekend.
Strange Vine plays with Strum Theory 8:30 pm, Friday, Aug. 19 at The Axe & Fiddle; $5. — Dante Zuñiga-West
In electric unison. Strange Vine is more than just another two-piece
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While I was down in Austin earlier this year for SXSW, one of the struggles of the festival was know...While I was down in Austin earlier this year for SXSW, one of the struggles of the festival was knowing where to go, who to see and when. Often, the best moments and discoveries came from blind luck - simply being in the right place at the right time.
One day, I happened to find myself in the parking lot of a blue theater, away from the downtown strip constantly choked with music and people. There, I saw a band called Strange Vine.
At first glance, Strange Vine is a typical rock 'n' roll two-piece. Consisting of Ian Blesse on drums and Toby Cordova on guitar, the really intriguing aspect of the band comes when Blesse - while still manning the percussion with his right hand - begins playing organ with his left hand. It's a really neat trick that ends up resembling something like a tightrope act. That Blesse is able to create strong and inventive beats with his right hand while providing mostly rumbling bass notes with his left on the Rhodes is both impressive and, ultimately, beneficial to the sound of the band.
Even without this gimmick, though, Strange Vine thrives on sinewy songwriting and classic guitar riffs.
"[Cordova and I] were playing in a different band together for a while, and then that fell through," says Blesse. "So, we just decided to start a two-piece ... I lived with a guy who had a Hammond B3 organ. I would be alone in this house and would set up my drum kit next to it and just hold chords with my left hand while I played drums. I thought about looping parts for a while, but just the idea of having something else onstage I'd have to worry about, like making a loop that wasn't the right time or the loop pedal not working, or anything like that ... I just like the idea of doing it live. Something about that speaks to me more as a musician. But it's been a really tricky learning process."
As I've said, the trick of playing organ and drums at the same time is a neat one. But it'd get old quick if the music didn't match up to the gimmick, which Strange Vine does well. The band's song, "Ghosts," manages to convey all of the styles at which Strange Vine excels in one juicy, six-minute slice - moving from bluesy riffs, sudden tempo shifts, White Stripes-esque guitar stabs and runs, on through lurching classic rock headbanging material and even stopping for a waltzing piano solo. It‘s compelling stuff, delivered at the sure hands of very talented musicians. Live, the peaks and valleys of "Ghosts" really do heighten and dramatize the dynamic of the two-man rock band, and its capacity to move in electric unison.
Later at SXSW, I saw Strange Vine perform at midnight on the roof of a bar before the Nightgowns took the stage. Looking out over the Austin skyline as they blazed through one tune after another, I reflected on how I had found them twice in this strange city. I'll find them again on Thursday.
with System and Station
Thursday, Aug. 25, 9 p.m., cover TBA
The New Frontier Lounge, 301 E. 25th St., Tacoma
Strange Vine and an ArtHoppin'
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The boys of Strange Vine -- one of my favorite local bands, for sure -- are headlining Fulton 55 ton...The boys of Strange Vine -- one of my favorite local bands, for sure -- are headlining Fulton 55 tonight for some post-ArtHop tunes. Adding to the cool factor, as if Strange Vine wasn't enough, is Long Beach band The Fling, which is another on-the-rise band that Strange Vine has buddied up with and brought to town.
Tonight is the second date of a West Coast tour that Strange Vine is pretty excited about (they played with The Fling in Santa Cruz last night as well). They're playing this weekend at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco with Dredg, and have dates after that scheduled in Seattle, Portland, etc.
If you're unfamiliar with Strange Vine, I'll just boil it down to this: If you like bands such as The Black Keys, you'll dig Strange Vine. If that's you, go check 'em out. They're really good. If that's not enough for ya, here's a sample in video form, thanks to Dead in 60 Years.
New Release: Strange Vine
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Crunchy, catchy hooks a la White Stripes with the sweetest of vocal harmonies. This is a band to wa...Crunchy, catchy hooks a la White Stripes with the sweetest of vocal harmonies. This is a band to watch grow, friends.
feel it out
|Dec 8, 2013 Sunday||8:00 PM||Bootleg Bar||Los Angeles, CA, US|
|w/ The Peach Kings|
|Dec 15, 2013 Sunday||8:00 PM||The Catalyst||Santa Cruz, CA, US|
|w/ The Silent Comedy|
|Jan 10, 2014 Friday||8:00 PM||Soda Bar||San Diego, CA, US|
|w/ Brothers Weiss|