California might seem like a strange moniker for three of New York’s finest musicians, but step inside the East Village bar on a bitterly cold Manhattan night and it all makes perfect sense. Breezy four-part harmonies and blissfully bright melodies wash over the room, an oasis of warmth in the dead of winter. The band performs every week in the East Village, churning out potential greats such as “Goodbye Chelsea Hotel”, “Colorado”, and “Change of Heart’”, yet also refreshingly veering from setlists to explore uncharted musical territory, some songs as much a revelation for the band as it is for the audience. As one sits or stands by the bar, listening to the lovely sounds and laid-back rifts, the style mimics the California sound of such renound classics as The Eagles and CSNY. Such great examples of that 60’s and 70’s music stemmed from our country’s west coast state, is exactly the inspiration behind what you’re hearing.
If the members of California—guitarists Gabriel Gordon, bassist Jesse Murphy, and drummer Aaron Johnston—seem familiar, there’s a reason. Johnston and Murphy are founding members of the famously innovative and genre-defying group Brazilian Girls; Gordon spent the last decade touring the world with Natalie Merchant; Individually, the California have developed international reputations as first-call session and touring players for a laundry list of stars. They each possess the chops, voice, and charisma to front the band if they wanted. But California belongs to everyone.
“The core idea of the band is just passing the musical hat,” explains Murphy. “One guy takes the lead and the others fall back in support, then the next guy takes the lead, and the others fall back in support.” The magic of California comes not from having four gifted singer/songwriters, but from having four gifted singer/songwriters who think as one, who can finish each other’s musical sentences. “We’re close enough to really listen and really follow, I mean really follow each other,” says Murphy. “We give in when we’re accompanying, and we can really lead when it’s time because we know the other guys have our backs.”
The roots of the group in fact go back to the state for which it’s named, where they all met, Gordon and Murphy as teenagers, and Aaron some time later. All of them beginning their journeys into music and life. They all eventually relocated to New York, developing a tangled web of friendships and collaborations with numerous artists that blossomed at iconic Electric Lady Studios and spilled out into the vibrant bars and clubs of the Lower East Side music scene.
Gordon and Murphy began penning the songs that formed California’s early repertoire while on a tour with Natalie Merchant last year, assembling a makeshift recording studio in the back of the tour bus and stealing away at every free moment to write and record. “Sometimes on days off instead of going to the hotel where we’d have to be quiet and inhibited, we’d spend the night on the bus in the parking lot just to keep recording,” remembers Gordon. When they reunited in New York to pool their new material, it was clear they had something special on their hands.
Tonight, in the Lower East Side, the show opens with Gordon’s “Change of Heart.” It’s tender and heartfelt, and the audience grows hushed to absorb the gentle harmonies. The young couple that’s just asked the band to perform at their June wedding seems pleased. It’s cold and blustery outside, but at this show it feels more like a lovely and sunny California day
Jesse Murphy - Vocals, Bass, Acoustic bass
Aaron Johnston - Vocals, Drums
Gabe Gordon - Vocals, Electric Guitar
The Best Kept Secret In New York: California at Supper
[+ Show ]
New York! I have no choice but to spill the beans on the best kept secret in the city. Every Monda...New York! I have no choice but to spill the beans on the best kept secret in the city. Every Monday night at Supper in New York’s East Village, you can enjoy fabulous food, great ambiance, a cocktail or two and live music by the band California! The four-piece band sits at the edge of the bar (as you can see above) and plays indie folk/blues/Americana for the crowd. Their signature song “Goodbye Chelsea Hotel” gave me chills as everyone at Supper sang along to every word. The band starts around 10 pm and they play into the wee hours of the night. You don’t want to miss out on a slice of what vintage New York feels like.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.
|Dec 19, 2011 Monday||9:00 PM||Ella Lounge||New York, NY, US|
|Dec 12, 2011 Monday||9:00 PM||Ella Lounge||New York, NY, US|
|Dec 5, 2011 Monday||9:00 PM||Ella Lounge||New York, NY, US|
|Nov 28, 2011 Monday||9:00 PM||Ella Lounge||New York, NY, US|
|Nov 21, 2011 Monday||9:00 PM||Ella Lounge||New York, NY, US|
|Sep 26, 2011 Monday||9:00 PM||Ella Lounge||New York, NY, US|
|Sep 23, 2011 Friday||10:00 PM||Freddy's Bar and Backroom||Brooklyn, NY, US|
|Sep 23, 2011 Friday||9:00 PM||Bar4||Brooklyn, NY, US|
|Sep 19, 2011 Monday||9:00 PM||Ella Lounge||New York, NY, US|
|Sep 12, 2011 Monday||9:00 PM||Ella Lounge||New York, NY, US|
|Sep 3, 2011 Saturday||10:30 PM||The Bitter End||New York, NY, US|