Astoria Boulevard
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Astoria Boulevard

New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Band Folk Pop

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"Astoria Boulevard: A Folk Trio out of Queens"

by ASHLEY NUNEZ

Three grey suits with skinny red ties adorn the men who have just silenced the audience seconds after starting their set. On stage in Soho’s The Living Room, the boys of Astoria Boulevard hold the audience still as they open up acapella. Each voice blending into the other, the chord of three then breaks out their instruments. Dan Scott switches back and forth between a guitar and ukulele, Philip Drennen leads with vocals shaking a tambourine or maracas, and Max Demers hits the harmonica and plays acoustic guitar.
Classified as an indie-folk/pop band, the trio has been performing together since 2009. The charm that engages their audience has much to do with their chemistry. “You can make a lot of things happen but you can’t force chemistry. People can feel it and have fun watching. It’s just the indefinable quality,” explains Philip. Dan and Philip originally started off as a two man band but soon began searching for a third member who could play acoustic guitar and give bass to their vocals. “You have this chord that you can create with three voices. You can create almost any musical experience,” Dan says.
The Inspiring Queens, NY
Settling into New York City from Ohio and upstate New York, the name of the band was selected in admiration of their new home, Astoria, Queens. Philip says, “We fell in love with Astoria. It’s sort of what we identified home with. We want to pay homage to our new home.” Their influences range from Ingrid Michaelson to Amy Winehouse to Mumford and Sons. “There’s a lot of music we all like. Musically we have to stick to a certain genre but lyrically we can put a stamp on things and that really comes from the influences that we listen to or grew up listening to,” Philip explains. Dan adds, “I grew up singing around a campfire to John Denver and James Taylor songs. Those guys were melody writers and just wrote beautiful melodies that stay in your heart forever.”
Compared greatly to the Beatles for their songs of simplicity, they remain humble and grounded. “Stories are stories,” says Dan. “A love song is going to be just as touching now as it was a hundred years ago.” Addressing their New York niche in folk, Dan says, “I think that our music speaks to everybody in ways that other genres alienate people. I think everyone can find joy in it.” Phil adds, “We can play for a kindergarten class and then go to my grandmother’s nursing home and still get a really good reaction there then come to somewhere like The Living Room in New York City.” And yet Astoria Boulevard has found a way to put their own stamp in folk. “There’s something different to when [we each] take a solo on a song and then come together in this harmonic voice,” says Max. A fact that can easily be supported just by looking at the faces of those sitting in the audience.
Music, Dreams, and Impact
Many times the association of drugs, sex, and alcohol are made with bands in New York. Astoria Boulevard is on the opposite side of that spectrum. “We’re just nerds. When the three of us are together and had a beer or two we just want to sing and talk about the future,” says Phil. These dreamers are soon on their way to stardom having already played at venues such as The Living Room and Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2. “We’re playing in rooms that a lot of people we look up to have started in,” says Dan. Philip adds, “The first time I came to The Living Room I remember thinking I wanted to play here. And we played here and we’ll never have a first time playing here again.” Recalling his most memorable moment, Max shares, “I had a specific moment [at the Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2] when I looked up into the balcony. Instead of looking down at the audience I got to look up. That was pretty cool to me.”
Mumford and Sons, Phoenix, and Ingrid Michaelson are just a few of the many artists the band believes they would compliment as an opening act. Although the road to their dreams may be paved with gold, their pockets are not. Dan, Philip, and Max each wait tables to fund their musical aspirations. Hustling like many other New York musicians, their loose work schedules allow for nightly bookings, song writing, and booth recordings. Self managing their dreams, Max says, “For me I think I have something to say. And it’s more important than asking ‘How do you like your burger.’” Dan adds, “I do believe that three of us together can create a sound and experience that no one can. We can’t do it by ourselves and we couldn’t do it with anyone else.” Philip finishes the conversation by stating, “If we were solo artists I don’t know what I would do. I may have given up by now. But to have two guys that have your back all the time it makes it so much easier.” - Yeah New York


"This is Astoria Boulevard"

by DAVE RUBINOWITZ

This Is Astoria Boulevard is the best folk-rock album since the glory days of the genre. Their music captures the hopefulness and sense of infinite possibility that characterizes the best work of The Byrds and The Lovin Spoonful. Philip Drennen’s voice has a vibrant purity that is as capable of as much emotional nuance as any high tenor in rock.

“One of These Days,” with its irresistible hook and supertight harmonies, is the spiritual affirmation of a young soul who promises himself to remain undefeated in the pusuit of his and his loved one’s dreams. It is a radio-ready mini-masterpiece.

“Time” kicks into an irresistible groove after a philosophically skeptical introduction. Another superb hook, along with the uncannily perfect harmonies (two of AB’s members sing barbershop), and the insouciant harmonica, frame Max Demers’ lead vocal. Max is a singer’s singer, who’s marvelously unforced, unaffected voice is always convincing. Whether wryly laconic, or urgently questing, his tone rings with a fervent immediacy that is always compelling. This tune, written by Max, marks him as a developing songwriter to watch in addition to being an exceptionally gifted vocalist.

The evocative rhetoric of Dan’s imagery is a perfect match for his soaring, keening voice, steeped as it so obviously is in the deepest roots of the most enduring American music. “Noah’s Song” is truly powerful stuff.

Astoria Boulevard is a group of remarkably polished, yet enthusiastic musicians who know how to make people happy. They deserve to make it.
- Night Life Exchange


"Astoria Boulevard: Voices in Motion"

by BOB DODA

Astoria Boulevard – one the most popular indie folk/pop acts in the New York City circuit – was never meant to be a band. While the introspective storytelling, feel-good songwriting and unsuspecting old-school vibes are core strengths of the band, their ability to “hook-up” during moving harmonies gives Astoria Boulevard a decisive edge. When listening to their first full-length album, “This is Astoria Boulevard” listeners will hear that no one part is greater than the whole. For a band comprised of 20-somethings, it’s the vocals that are mature beyond their years.
- Queens Courier


"Under Broadway: New York Holds Subway Auditions"

by LARS HOEL

According to the song, if you can make it in New York, you'll make it anywhere. It turns out that's not only true for performers on Broadway; it also applies to the ones underneath Broadway. Once a year, the New York subway holds open auditions for musicians of all kinds, from singers to string quartets. They're competing for a chance to play to one of the largest and toughest audiences in the world: New York subway riders.

If you want charisma and audience appeal, three guys in skinny gray suits with skinny black ties have got you covered. They call themselves Astoria Boulevard, and singer Dan Scott says he's not worried about the challenge of playing in the subway.

"It's kind of a joy to actually just play a song for people — such a large group of people just kind of all passing through," Scott says. - NPR Music


Discography

"This is Astoria Boulevard" - available on iTunes
"One of These Days - EP" - available on iTunes

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Bio

Astoria Boulevard, a vocal trio from New York City, formed in 2009 when two friends met on the road and started writing. With their sights set on being this generation's Simon and Garfunkel, it wasn't until the duo performed with a full band, and a third vocal part, that the group truly took shape.

Dan Scott and Philip Drennen were the founding members of the band and when they searched for the third voice to round out the group, their mutual friend, Max Demers, seemed the perfect fit.

The guy's main style influences come from the bands of the 60's and 70's like The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and The Four Seasons. Mixed with modern sounds and interesting lyrics, the boys are compared to groups like Barenaked Ladies and The Decemberists.

They released their debut album, This is Astoria Boulevard in July of '11 at Rockwood Music Hall. Part folk, part pop, and a splash of country, the album has garnered buzz around the NYC area. They can be currently seen playing the NYC circuit at such venues as Rockwood, The Living Room, the Canal Room, and Santos Party House.