American Dumpster
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American Dumpster

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Band Rock Americana

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Press


"American Dumpster really ought to be on to bigger and better things, and I really doubt that they will water down their brew to get there."

"Young Bob Dylan's charisma with Howlin' Wolf's voice."

"Best new band on the circuit."

"Andrew Ewell's leads are spot-on and tasty."

"Go see them out soon because these guys are hip and undeniable."

"AD has the tunes and the talent"

-Spencer Lathrop - C-Ville


"Witty and ripe with dry humor."

"The energy from the band was absolutely infecious."

-Damani Harrison - The Hook


"Someday we will all turn to each other and ask, 'Were you there?'"

"[The] band is...exactly enough of what we all need right now."

-J. Tobias Beard - C-Ville


Voted "Best Rock Band" 2006 - C-Ville Weekly


"[The] biggest surprise at FloydFest was definitely American Dumpster! Great Americana flavor with rockin' grooves and top songwriting. I look forward to watching the development of this great band and working with them far into the future!!!"

-Kris Hodges - Producer of FloydFest


“American Dumpster was a Sonic Bids winner and deservedly so. They put on a terrific show.”

-Russ Helgrin - The Undersound.com


“American Dumpster, a co-ed collaboration from Charlottesville, creates a melting pot of music by blending the styles of all of their influences into a single sound. Mixing throaty, Johnny Cash-like vocals with the soulful screams of James Brown and ambitious guitar stunts inspired by those of Jimi Hendrix and Keith Richards results in American Dumpster, a group of self-proclaimed junkyard folk rockers.”

-Katelyn Wyszynski - Richmond.com


“Breeden’s music style [is] funky, wild, and full of attitude.”

“Euphoria seemed to grip everyone by the end of the night.”

-Keenan Timko - Crozet Gazette


Discography

Just in time for the summer season, American Dumpster’s long-awaited new album, Rumor Mill, hit stores Thursday, May 18th, and is now enjoying airplay on WWWV 97.5 FM, WTJU 91.1 FM, and WNRN 91.9 FM.

The project began in June, 2005, when Montreal based producer Matt Zimbel saw the band in performance in Charlottesville, VA at the request of executive producers Ian Day and Lucinda Ewell. When pre-production began in July, 2005, front man Christian Breeden and the band agreed, along with their producer and executive producers, that the record’s foremost aim was to capture the enthusiasm, whimsy, and spontaneity of the band’s live show, while carving out a more intimate sonic space than a live venue can allow—a space in which the nuances of the music and the delicacy of the lyrics are able to speak more closely to the listener.

Since American Dumpster has always been an eclectic band—by both luck and design—it was also important for the record to represent the sound of the junkyard—literally and figuratively. Sound of Music Studios in Richmond, VA (co-owned by Cracker founder David Lowery, producer and engineer John Morand, and attorney Craig Harmon) was the logical place to record the album. With engineer Bryan Hoffa and mixer John Morand working in tandem with producer Matt Zimbel, the band enjoyed a rare opportunity to create music organically and in harmony with both the physical space and the people within it.

As a result, American Dumpster’s already eclectic sound was able to grow in new directions. Adding to its unique assortment of instruments (guitars, washboard, accordion, keyboards, drums, and bass), Rumor Mill introduces the clink and clank of rusted metal car parts, the resonant twang of a brass-bodied Dobro, the eerie chime of a subtle vibraphone, the round slap of an upright bass, and the refined strokes of a cello. Often these instruments come head-to-head in unlikely match-ups that emphasize a simultaneous defiance and embrace of traditional musical genres.

“Touch,” for example, the album’s closest version of a rock ballad, begins with a lone bass line, played by Steve Riggs on both upright and electric basses. When the whole band enters at the chorus, the traditional elements of Rock—the saturated guitars, hard-hitting drums, and driving bass—are met refreshingly by Betty Jo Dominick’s accordion and Randi Connelly’s washboard sneaking in from the periphery.

“The Way” utilizes similar Rock elements, yet unexpectedly pairs the drums and washboard as a single instrument, doing away with the predictable Rock percussion formula. Warren Jobe’s rolling floor tom is coupled with Randi Connelly’s steady washboard to give the impression of a high-hat and tom-tom rolling concurrently “down the highway,” as the song says.

Elsewhere, Andrew Ewell’s electric guitar comes up against acoustic instruments and junkyard percussion (as in “Taboo”); a Dobro, a vibraphone, a Hammond B3 organ, and an acoustic guitar meet on “Birds of Paradise”; and a mandolin, vibraphone, and cello unexpectedly join the bridge of “Judas’ Sister.”

Overall, this approach lends Rumor Mill a sense of constant redefinition. No tradition is discarded, and no instrument is wasted. If American Dumpster is a recycling movement for ideas, then Rumor Mill is a beautiful document of the recycling process.

Throughout the record an intimacy is established with the material, and especially with Christian Breeden’s voice, so that every nuance of his husky singing, down to each raspy breath, speaks directly to the listener. Often compared to Johnny Cash and Leonard Cohen, Breeden’s bourbon-soaked voice delivers the message—always with grace, but without ceremony.

First the man takes the drink
And then the drink takes the man.
I threw my baby out with the wash
And now I got one dirty hand.
So I killed two birds and then got stoned.

“The Quitter” by Christian Breeden

The stories his many characters tell, and the organic relationship between those characters and the music, give the listener a unique experience in which, like a great novel, a world is unfolded before you with all its joys and horrors, triumphs and failures, and achievements and disgraces. It is an irresistible world, and a provocative one. And although it may not always be pretty, it is always seductive.

After all, what listener, neophyte or devotee, can leave the Rumor Mill without talking?

Photos

Bio

American Dumpster, as the name suggests, is a recycling movement for ideas. Singer and principal songwriter Christian Breeden brings to the group a musical, lyrical, and cultural aesthetic inspired by a life in the junkyard. His family home just outside Charlottesville, Virginia is a curious nexus where art, agriculture, industry, and intellect merge in the most unpredictable ways. The Breeden farm is home not only to Biscuit Run Studios, a sculpture studio and long-standing institution in the Virginia art scene, but also to an extensive collection of assorted machinery, instruments, and found art. As a result, art has always been, for Christian, a recycling movement of sorts; welding a Mercedes-Benz grill onto the front of a school bus, for example, or crafting a “Big Iron Head” out of a junked VW Beetle forces familiar items into unfamiliar contexts in which those items can be reinvented.

American Dumpster treats music in a similar manner. American Dumpster’s original songs combine elements of ancient and modern folk songs with the greatest aspects of country, blues, and rock. With the influence of five musicians of varied backgrounds, American Dumpster’s songs have come to life in ways even the songwriter sometimes could not have anticipated. In “Blue,” for example, one of Christian’s collaborations with guitarist Andrew Ewell, Christian references the old murder ballads with the classic trope, “I wish to the Lord that I’d never been born, / Or at least have died when I was a baby.” Later in the song, as the narrator contemplates more modern escapes, he says, “I could sign up to crab the Bering Sea, / Or work high-tension lines in Hurricane Alley. / I could dig graves for the Army in the Middle East, / Anything to keep from waking here in the morning.” Elsewhere in American Dumpster’s songs are humor, remorse, vengeance, zeal, pride, passion, and heartbreak: “Feel the phantom pain from the limb you pushed away. / There’s a void there now and it’s shaped just like me.” The moods of these songs range from ruminative to ironic, from rebellious to reverent, and often demonstrate a rare and profound generosity of spirit.

The characters of these songs also represent a variety of viewpoints and backgrounds. The irrepressible narrator of “The Quitter” is given to zany overindulgences that are so unruly that after quitting drinking and smoking he’s still waiting to “see what the devil has in store for my hands now.” The Quitter’s doppelganger is the earnest narrator of “Touch,” whose need for human contact is at once ravenous and yet carefully repressed.

In Christian Breeden’s voice, as in his lyrics, one can hear the varied strains of music’s past. Like the tortured growls of Howlin’ Wolf or the deepest and sincerest words of Johnny Cash, Christian’s vocal quality is at once gravelly and exalted. His is the voice of heartbreak and reunion, of sorrow, loss, revenge, and of generosity—the voice of a man who feels life so deeply that to hear him sing is to be reminded that we, too, feel life as deeply sometimes.

As with Christian’s art and music, the musicians that comprise American Dumpster represent distinct musical backgrounds, tastes, and styles. Warren Jobe and former keyboard player Betty Jo Dominick formed the fledgling version of American Dumpster after performing together with Christian in a Live Arts production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in Charlottesville. Warren has achieved local success as the drummer for such bands as The Jolly Llamas, Full Flavor, and The Cows, and brings to the group a taste for complex rhythmic changes and nuanced grooves. That, combined with a vast musical knowledge rare among percussionists, has helped Warren infuse American Dumpster’s country- and folk-inflected tunes with some of the syncopated stylings of reggae, ska, and dub.

After some time playing together at small local venues, the band, with then bassist Steve Riggs, was forced onto bigger stages in Charlottesville, where they met with washboard player and Charlottesville native Randi Connelly. After returning to Charlottesville from fifteen years of performing in New Orleans, Randi ignited the band’s live show with her unremitting excitement and energetic play, while also introducing the unique sonic texture of a homemade instrument into the mix.

Shortly after Randi joined the group, guitarist Andrew Ewell, who had moved to Charlottesville as a graduate student in the University of Virginia English department, turned up at a local gig and wowed the band while sitting in on a few numbers. His distinguished talent and broad musical knowledge quickly helped the band develop its tastefully sophisticated brand of junkyard rock.

Most recently, American Dumpster added bass legend Houston Ross to the roster. Houston’s superb musicianship and funky sensibility have found him international success as the bassist for Corey Harris (on tour and in the studio for Downhome Sophisticate