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Seattle, Washington, United States | SELF

Seattle, Washington, United States | SELF
Band Folk Americana




"Review: Blvd Park, 'The Sound'"

"... some tracks are sparse, desolate and hauntingly mournful, others undulating and warm. The upbeat tracks are downright triumphant and bawdy and joyful, and others build slow anticipation and explode into celebration. There are toe-tappers, slow-swayers, and wrist-cutters. You will simultaneously fancy yourself lonesome cowpoke, dastardly outlaw, and cheeky burlesque star." -Hearingade - Hearingade

"Featured Artists of the Week 06-15-12"

"'Rover' slips in like fog off the bay, its tendrils snaking along under the group vocals, 'Little Ditty' puts on a party dress and heads out for a Saturday love hunt..." -The Alternate Root - The Alternate Root Magazine

"Blvd Park: The Sound"

"Musicality flows like sweet honey from Blvd Park. You should buy the album just for 'Whistle Song' – it could be a cross between bluegrass and Spike Jones. The influences and nuances are many, but the one thing that is very cool is how they must listen to each other. 'Original' does not begin to capture the vibe that comes from this recording." -Victory Review Magazine - Victory Review Magazine

"Brady's Bunch"

Sometimes a band’s self image – or at least how it talks about itself – can be way off the mark. For instance, BLVD Park describe themselves as a "spaghetti western folk band". Before I heard them I had expected some second-hand, if not second-rate, Ennio Morricone schtick with some lonesome prairie whistles and a bit of whip-cracking.

The music they make is something entirely different. The songs appear to be laid down as close to live in the studio as is possible. There’s none of the gloss or studio trickery we’ve now come to expect from a modern recording. This LP could have been made 30 years ago and would have sounded exactly the same. The songs have a looseness that speaks to a love of old school southern rock, absorbed through a filter of alt-country.

It’s almost as if Crazy Horse and Richmond Fontaine had got it on one night and this was the result. The playing has that easy, muscular shrug. Even in the more hesitant passages, there’s an assured feel to proceedings. Brian Ballentine’s gruff voice rasps over the top of the bustling guitars. And then, as if they’ve been parachuted in from a Mamas and Papas record, Elise Suttie and Tekla Waterfield-Austin appear, with backing vocals almost too angelic for words.
- Hot Press


Up next is evening headliner Blvd Park. Founded two years ago in the Midtown Sacramento neighborhood that has become its appellation, Blvd Park offers a unique blend of swing, gospel, R&B, folk, and rock. The band is the brainchild of Sacramentan Brian Ballentine, and its uptempo swing and lush ballads are performed on guitar, trumpet, double bass, violin, and sometimes banjo and snare drum. After strong critical reception of Bell Tower Mansion, its first album, the band is set to record its second, which is being produced by the Walkabouts’ Carla Torgerson. As the Monterey County Weekly said, "The bluesy sound of the Sacramento-based swingsters Blvd Park is aged well beyond the years of any of its eight members.”

The band has been delighting audiences throughout Northern California with a blend of hip swing and lyric soul that’s proven impossible to sit still for. As one of its members says, “We are in love with the art form of creating and performing music.” Blvd Park will share their love with all who attend the kick-off to this year’s Music in the Park. (Curtis Park, Sacramento, CA) - Sacramento Press

"Blvd Park brings 'spaghetti western' sound to Southeast"

The first thing I learned about Sacramento band Blvd Park is that they describe their style as "spaghetti western." Personally, I like pasta and deserts, so the aforementioned description was enough to interest me in the group before I ever heard them play.

After sampling their 2009 self-produced album, "Bell Tower Mansion," I had discovered a seemingly limitless genre that is open to influence from styles including traditional bluegrass, country, gypsy, gospel, swing, rhythm and blues, folk, blues and rock. Blvd Park offers a laid-back aura through sturdy, well-built compositions with titles such as "Four Flat Tires," "Who I Am" and "Swerve On." Through these numbers, the band has created a style that is the embodiment of "sitting in the desert, sipping a sarsaparilla and watching a tumbleweed go by," said vocalist Elise Suttie.

The band's roster has shifted slightly since its official beginning in 2008, at one time consisting of eight members. Current roll call includes Brian Ballentine on guitar, Timmy Conroy on trumpet and melodica, Jarret Mason on stand-up bass, and Tekla Waterfield and Suttie on voice. But the girls don't sing alone. The voices of all flow between each other in literal musical conversation.

"The singers make it," Mason said, labeling the instrumental backdrop as "scientific boy stuff." The female vocalists also play off of the male voices, the interplay creating a very organic sound. Each member of the group brings a level of expertise in their respective instrument(s), resulting in a healthy balance between professionalism and just getting down. They all share the auditory space, making for music that is never empty yet far from cluttered.

Blvd Park will bring their "spaghetti western" sound to Southeast Alaska from their Sacramento home when they headline at the Southeast Alaska State Fair in Haines. They have also booked shoulder performances in Juneau and Ketchikan. For Waterfield, the tour will double as a homecoming. Born in Anchorage, she lived as a child in Juneau and Sitka but hasn't returned to the capital city in 18 years.

When I spoke to the band via Skype earlier this summer, it was clear that its members prioritize working together to get things done. Only a few minutes into our videoconference, the five didn't hesitate to sing me an original song of theirs, "Take Off Your Body," in perfect five-part harmony. Their cohesiveness told me that their hearts were in the music as well as invested in each other. They not only meshed musically, but were constantly finishing each other's sentences almost like a five-headed, ten-armed, one-person band. Talking is one of the most important parts of Blvd Park's songwriting process.

"We talk a lot about songs, probably too much," Suttie said.

Most of the group's songs are conceived by one or two members as a basic outline, which is brought to the rest of the group. Each member adds their own flare, and they discuss what is working and what isn't.

"Then when we get there, we stop talking," Mason added.

"When we get it right, it's like we're not even on this planet," Waterfield said.
Blvd Park will perform at 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 31 on the Southeast Alaska State Fair main stage. Next, they will head to Juneau for a 7 p.m. performance on Wednesday, August 4 at The Alaskan Bar. Ketchikan will be the final stop on their Southeast tour with a performance 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 5 at the Ketchikan Coffee Company.
- Capital City Weekly


Blvd Park - Bell Tower Mansion LP (2009)
Ballentine Records
Available on Last FM, Django, iTunes

Blvd Park - The Sound (2012)
Ballentine Records
Available on iTunes, Bandcamp, and at Seattle area record stores



Seattle based Americana folk rockers. An eclectic group of performers, drawing inspiration from folk, rock, rhythm and blues, country, and jazz. Renowned for the their dynamic compositions and thrilling live performances, with a lineup including upright bass, banjo, guitar, trumpet/accordion, fiddle, mandolin, snare, male/female vocal leads, and complex three to five part harmonies.

Originally from Sacramento, the band moved to Seattle in the summer of 2010. They've since focused on establishing themselves in their new home, having performed at many local venues and festivals. Notable appearances include the Tractor Tavern, The Triple Door, and the Columbia City Theatre, as well as Folklife, the Fremont Solstice Fair, and the Pike Place Busker's Festival.

Their most recent album, "The Sound", was released in 2012 and is available on iTunes, Bandcamp, and Seattle area record stores. Their song "Ain't Gonna Be Easy" was recently featured on Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union's compilation album "Homegrown - Music From the Great State of Washington". New songs, recordings, and plans to tour are currently in the works!