Bobtown
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Bobtown

Brooklyn, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF

Brooklyn, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2008
Band Americana Folk

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Dec
01
Bobtown @ TOUR SCHEDULE AT: http://www.reverbnation.com/artist/artist_shows/828559

NY

NY

Sep
06
Bobtown @ CT Folk Festival and Green Expo

New Haven, CT

New Haven, CT

Jan
31
Bobtown @ The Bowery Electric

New York, NY

New York, NY

Nov
30
Bobtown @ Six on the Square

Oxford, New York, USA

Oxford, New York, USA

Nov
14
Bobtown @ Babylon Village Arts Council's 2nd Thursday Concerts

Babylon Village, New York, USA

Babylon Village, New York, USA

Nov
08
Bobtown @ NERFA Conference @ the Hudson Valley Resort

Kerhonkson, New York, USA

Kerhonkson, New York, USA

Nov
07
Bobtown @ NERFA Conference @ the Hudson Valley Resort

Kerhonkson, New York, USA

Kerhonkson, New York, USA

Oct
17
Bobtown @ Music on 4

New York, New York, USA

New York, New York, USA

Sep
21
Bobtown @ The Flying Cat Concert Series

Phoenicia, New York, USA

Phoenicia, New York, USA

Sep
15
Bobtown @ First Acoustics Concerts

Brooklyn, New York, USA

Brooklyn, New York, USA

Aug
02
Bobtown @ Falcon Ridge Music Festival - Emerging Artist Showcase

Hillsdale, New York, USA

Hillsdale, New York, USA

Jul
10
Bobtown @ Southold Summer Concert Series on the Lawn

Southold, New York, USA

Southold, New York, USA

Jun
08
Bobtown @ Urban H20 @ Beczak Environmental Ctr

Yonkers, New York, USA

Yonkers, New York, USA

Jun
07
Bobtown @ Outpost in the Burbs

Montclair, New Jersey, USA

Montclair, New Jersey, USA

Jun
02
Bobtown @ LIVE on WMSC

Montclair, New Jersey, USA

Montclair, New Jersey, USA

Apr
12
Bobtown @ Folk-2-Funk Music Festival

Long Beach, New York, USA

Long Beach, New York, USA

Mar
12
Bobtown @ John Platt's On Your Radar @ Rockwood Music Hall, 2

New York, New York, USA

New York, New York, USA

Mar
10
Bobtown @ LIVE on WFUV

Bronx, New York, USA

Bronx, New York, USA

Feb
15
Bobtown @ 92nd St Y, Tribeca

New York, New York, USA

New York, New York, USA

Jan
12
Bobtown @ The Eclectic Cafe

Bayshore, New York, USA

Bayshore, New York, USA

Nov
18
Bobtown @ WMSC 90.3 FM - In-studio performance

Montclair, New Jersey, USA

Montclair, New Jersey, USA

Sep
21
Bobtown @ Union Hall

Brooklyn, New York, USA

Brooklyn, New York, USA

Mar
08
Bobtown @ Spike Hill

Brooklyn, New York, USA

Brooklyn, New York, USA

Jan
28
Bobtown @ 68 Jay Street Bar

Brooklyn, None, USA

Brooklyn, None, USA

Jan
05
Bobtown @ Jalopy

Brooklyn, New York, USA

Brooklyn, New York, USA

Music

Press


Harmony-driven, Gothic Americana band Bobtown‘s new album, A History of Ghosts, recently reached #1 at the Roots Music Report. A lot of things distinguish this band from the others in their field: their otherworldly, gorgeous four-part vocal harmonies, for one. The fact that the band has not one but four first-rate songwriters, who all seem to save their best material for the group, doesn’t hurt. And while there’s a whole demimonde of carnivalesque Americana bands who write gloomy minor-key songs about backstreet murders and drunken depravity, Bobtown’s songs are all the more creepy for how lighthearted they can be – on the surface, anyway.

How about a slow, summery pastoral reminiscence – about a public execution? A blithe, bouncy waltz with chipper, round-the-horn vocals, about drinking yourself to death in a dead-end town? Those are just two examples of what percussionist/keyboardist Katherine Etzel, singer Jen McDearman, guitarist Karen Dahlstrom and bassist Fred Stesney come up with on the album, streaming at their site. The womens’ crystalline vocals blend with the fretwork of lead guitarist/banjoist Alan Lee Backer, who long ago established himself as one of the most diverse and incisive players in the New York Americana scene, a guy who’s just as fluent with electric honkytonk as he is bluegrass.

The song about the execution is Morning Sun, written and sung by Stesney, the women’s vocals adding an eerie shimmer behind the tale of the guy on the gallows who’s finally run out of time. The grimly funny dead-end town waltz is Rumble Seat, by Etzel, a good way to get acquainted with the singers’ individual voices. That’s Dahlstrom, McDearman and then Etzel as they make their way through the first verse.

Dahlstrom’s Across the River opens the album on a delicate, purist country gospel note: if the Dixie Chicks’ record label’s marketing department had left them alone, they might have sounded something like this. She also contributes the cynically brooding, bolero-tinged Our Lady of Guadalupe Street.

McDearman takes over lead vocals on her trio of songs here (co-written with producer Joe Ongie): the subtly enigmatic, banjo-fueled bluegrass tune Girl in Blue, Darlin’, a plaintive, wistful waltz, and Oh, Undertaker, which sets a ghoulishly amusing lyric to a morose tune fueled by Etzel’s accordion. Etzel’s two other songs here are the elegantly orchestrated, ethereally intriguing Fosse Grim, and the rousingly gospel-flavored Stitch in Time.

Stesney also contributes the phantasmagorically shuffling circus rock anthem Kentucky Graveyard – which ends with a hilarious surf music quote – as well as the title track, a grimly catchy litany of ways to reach your final resting place. It’s may be early, but this is a strong contender for best album of the year.

If you’re wondering where the band got their name, it’s a neighborhood near Etzel’s old Iowa hometown. - NEW YORK MUSIC DAILY


"With multiple singers, songwriters, and influences, Bobtown is a well-rounded, richly talented quintet that's poised to enter the top tier of Americana groups." - John Platt, WFUV Radio


Bobtown are a New York based harmony quintet rooted in old time Americana, although this explanation does not do credit to the intricate and frankly beautiful harmonies these three ladies and two gentlemen create. At times one hears hallelujah style gospel, at others you swear you are listening to lush pop arrangements. Bobtown have that ability to use a template and embellish it into something individual and ultimately more interesting than if they stuck faithfully to the tradition. ‘A History of Ghosts’ is the band’s third album and contains a healthy proportion of story songs about mysteries and dirty deeds in small town America. ‘Rumble Seat’, the fourth track of the album, contains enough pathos to suggest the band have perhaps lived some of the stories they tell but on the whole it is the accomplishment of the harmonies that win over on this record. - Americana UK


It seems to me that it takes both dedication and motivation to write something on a regular basis like a song, a poem, even a blog. So I finally got some motivation in the form of “A History of Ghosts”, the new CD by New York’s own, Bobtown.

“A History of Ghosts” reveals the most ambitious songwriting to date for this group. Each of the four songwriters Karen Dahlstrom, Jen McDearman, Katherine Etzel and Fred Stesney) excel in a uniquely different way, yet still remain true to the overall theme of the project. The songs are a study in opposites. The dark and forbidding lyrics are a stark contrast to the heavenly vocals. Don’t fear though, it’s not all dark and gloomy! Case in point: “Kentucky Graveyard”, which could be the theme song for Disney’s Haunted Mansion!

The final track “Stitch in Time” is a bouncy Americana Meets The Staples Singers song about living the best life you can, while you can. - Radio Nowhere Blog / Joltin Joe Pszonek


The members of Bobtown share a fascination with all aspects of history, including its darker corners. What they don’t have facts for, they’re not afraid to dream up. The underground denizens of 'Kentucky Graveyard' get the full Halloween treatment. Untimely fates befall them: "Fireman Fred was crushed to death by a train gone off the tracks / Otis Parson’s heart gave out while engaging in the act." Bobtown’s typically impeccable harmonies are combined with an eerie melody and various percussive effects that recall Spike Jones. I especially enjoyed Katherine’s and Jen’s insertion: "The Etzels and McDearmans, they got into a feud / Eighteen died on the Etzels’ side, the McDearmans: twenty-two." The female protagonist in 'Oh, Undertaker' has passed on but somehow has fallen for the undertaker: "You took my heart to meet its maker / Now I can’t get over the undertaker." Vocals combine with accordion to produce a lovely, lilting ballad. The title track is a beguiling song that makes good use of the harmony talents of Katherine, Jen and Karen. Without any specific account, it manages to allude to dark deeds lost to history: "Ten men ride in the cold November sky / whiskey on their breath, blood on the trail …When all is said and done / the tide comes rolling in / pages writ in rust, slowly turn to dust— drifting on the wind." This is a superb third album from this group." - ACOUSTIC LIVE MAGAZINE


Bobtown’s music is, at the same time, richly traditional and fresh and intriguing. From the opening dobro twang of the first cut, Take Me Down, I was mesmerized. Rich vocal harmonies and influences ranging from old-time gospel to pop combine to create a wonderfully original musical experience. Bobtown is comprised of Karen Dahlstrom on vocals and guitar, Katherine Etzel on vocals, accordion, and percussion with Gary Keenan on guitar, banjo, mandolin, and dobro. Jen McDearman sings and plays percussion while Fred Stesney brings vocals, bass, and percussion. All the band members contributed songs to the endeavor. This CD is delightful from beginning to end. Each song is treasure by itself but my favorites included Take Me Down with its hand clapping gospel feel, the bluegrassy Shadow of the Mountain, and the wonderfully whimsical Black Dog. But I could have just easily called out My Soul, an upbeat shout-out to the Lord or the elegiac We Will Bury You. There’s really not a bad cut here. I’ve listened to the album repeatedly since I’ve received it and it sounds better each time. There is no doubt in my mind that this will be one of my top favorites of 2010. I fully expect this band to break out big. There’s too much talent there. You should find this CD and check it out. You won’t be disappointed. - The Muse's Muse


One of the biggest challenges facing a songwriter is how to get songs across in an orchestrated context. If what you are going for is more than just you and a guitar, then you need to find the right elements vocally and instrumentally to help you realize what you’re hearing in your head. Some decide to do all of it on their own through modern computer convenience, but most turn to others to help them out. Once that decision is made, the next task is to find the right people. If you are lucky enough to find them, it’s then usually a fair amount of effort to keep that collective going and growing along with your writing. The band known as Bobtown is a group of songwriters who have fortunately found each other, and fortunately have kept their collaboration going. What makes them special is that they not only write good songs individually, but also know how to make each other’s songs sound good. Couple that with some great arranging and wise production and you have a successful combination that results in CD like their latest: “Trouble I Wrought”.

Before I mention any particulars, I think it’s important to get an overall ideal of what the Bobtown sound is. Any music that draws on many styles like they do I always call “American Roots Music”. Though they have an obvious country bent, if you listen to this collection, you’ll hear all different kinds of American genres interwoven into a rich musical quilt. I use the quilt metaphor because it reflects what they are and what they do. They are a combination of many things that as a whole becomes timeless and temporal, historical and current. They are from the past but very much here and now, and they will wrap you up in their crafted tales of old and new and keep you warm while the world’s storms rage around you. There is darkness and light, temptation and salvation, the complexity of life, past, present and future… and beneath and all around that, a presence of redemption. A feeling that music and people sharing music can, does, and always will make a difference. Bobtown makes a big difference, and this is why you need this record.

Led by Katherine Etzel (vocals, percussion, accordion, organ, and who wrote 6 of the 12 tracks), Bobtown is nonetheless a legitimate and equitable band, with stellar contributions from Karen Dahlstrom (vocals, acoustic guitar, mandolin), Jen McDearman (vocals, percussion) and Fred Stesney (vocals, bass) and multi-string specialist Alan Lee Backer. Alan doesn’t contribute any songs (even though he’s a fine writer in is own right), but that doesn’t matter. His role is to provide the right instrumental parts and tones, and he does this in fine fashion, utilizing banjo, baritone guitar, slide guitar, dobro and mandolin.

One of the main strengths of this band is their ability to harmonize. Good vocal harmony in and of itself is strong – it becomes more formidable when given the right instrumental support. Producer Joe Ongie helped make sure this occurred, and that the wonderful harmonies are front and center in the mix. This record is very “live” sounding – you can tell that Bobtown sounds like this whenever they play, and there are no unnecessary studio enhancements. Just great vocals, with great instrumentation and great groove.

I think you’ll be convinced of that from the first track. Etzel’s “Mama’s Got the Backbeat” plays a pivotal role in establishing the tone. Starting the record with just vocals is the way it should be with a band like Bobtown, and Dahlstrom’s powerful intro, supported by Etzel and McDearman harmony, is spot on. When the groove kicks in, you are in Bobtown. The fact that it’s followed by McDearman’s “One Public Enemy” confirms that they are a legitimate band. Different song, different writer, different subject matter – but still you are in Bobtown. The shift in instrumentation and tempo early on in the record is a gamble, but moving from a slinky bluesy groove to a much more traditional uptempo banjo-driven country tune works. Sometimes an album can screech to a halt, its momentum stalled by the wrong track at the wrong time. In this case, it’s the opposite – by the time the third track “Skipping Stone” starts, the listener has been captured and sweet anticipation established.

Other highlights are Dahlstrom’s “Battle Creek” (featuring arguably the best vocal performance on the record, and a killer dobro solo) and Stesney’s “Live Old, Die Slow”, with its cool altered lead vocal sound juxtaposed with pure angel harmonies. The ethereal mood of this tune, along with its shift from minor to major, creates a pessimistic optimism, if that makes sense. This tune is also a perfect companion piece for…

A cover of “Don’t Fear the Reaper”?! Really? Yes folks, really. This is an excellent version of Blue Oyster Cult’s ‘70s classic, and you should note that it’s the 4th track (versus something just tacked on to the end of the record). A bold move which says Bobtown is not afraid of interpretation, no matter what it - Brooklyn Country (John Pinamonti)


"As varied as the places they come from - Idaho, Tennessee, New York, Iowa and California - the five members of the Brooklyn based band Bobtown seem to be evolving into a kind of pan-American collage in which the wailing of tent revivals is sometimes overlaid with urban
rhythms and occasionally surreal lyrics, but always interesting
harmonies. Those are just some of the impressions you'll come away
with when you hear Bobtown's latest album Trouble I Wrought. Bobtown is made up multi instrumentalist Alan Lee Backer, Karen Dahlstrom on guitar and mandolin, percussionist Jen McDearman, bass guitarist Fred Stesney, and Katherine Etzel on drums, accordion and organ, with all but Alan joining in the wailing and shouting." - Butch Kara, KZGM FM - Kaleidoscope


This interesting ensemble's music has been described as "Gothic Folk." How else to introduce a band that does a bluegrass cover of "Don't Fear the Reaper," the Blue Oyster Cult mega-hit of yesteryear? There are many banjo bands barnstorming America, but Bobtown has carved a distinct niche with its choral harmonies, strong percussion and seamless mixture of bluegrass, blues, gospel and folk. This is a shade darker than most Americana groups, a kind-of bluegrass noir, which is evident immediately in the opener, the nearly-a-capella "Mama's Got the Backbeat," a hand-clapping rhythmic gospel-tinged tune. In addition to the "Reaper" cover, another standout to mention is "Battle Creek," again with the rhythmic hand-claps in this worker's lament. While there are a couple of light-hearted songs, for the most part the body count and the despair-o-meter in this set is high. Kudos to this band for choosing the road not taken as it travels the bluegrass musical landscape--and intriguing the listener enough to have them come along for the ride. Michael J. 11/12
- Grand Rapids Community Media Center


(Translated from Dutch)
"Bobtown" is the group name of a quintet folk musicians from Brooklyn, New York, consisting of three women with the singers Jen McDearman, Katherine Etzel and Karen Dahlstrom and two men, being guitarist and banjo player Alan Lee Backer and bassist Fred Stesney.

Their only by acoustic instruments guided harmonious singing was first made public in 2010 when she was their self-titled debut album released on the market. Then they brought a mix of different musical styles including folk, gospel, pop and bluegrass.
Does 'Bobtown' now back with their second album "Trouble I wrought" twelve songs they bring the traditional folk music tries to reconcile with the sound of contemporary folk, country and bluegrass.

The harmonies between the group members is the most prominent feature in the music 'Bobtown' on this album brings. But the quality of the transferred songs here that each group has one or more composed has not gone unnoticed.

Katherine Etzel takes six pieces half of all tracks on its behalf, Jen McDearman and Fred Stesney signs each for two songs, Karen Dahlstrom wrote a song and the song "Do not Fear The Reaper" is a cover of a ballad of American rock group Blue Öyster Cult ", a song for the first time on their album" Agents Of Fortune "1976 was heard.

For the best songs on "Trouble I wrought" we denote the 'banjo fingerpicking "songs" One Public Enemy "and" Magilla Lee ", a little dark and mysterious" Burn Your Building Down, "the poppy" Battle Creek "and the cheerfully swinging "Resurrection Mary" that something "The Andrew Sisters" appears.

A fellow reviewer mentioned the music of 'Bobtown' ancient folk music for the 21st century, a definition which we can fully scissors. There are certainly not many groups working on something similar and that is why this quintet deserves more than ordinary attention from the true lovers of roots music. - ROOTSTIME


Bobtown are a five piece folk/roots band who formed initially around the idea of recording some "new field hollers" written by vocalist/accordion player Katherine Etzel. Turned out nearly everyone else was a song writer too though. It is Etzel's "Take Me Down" which opens the album in fine gothic americana style - haunted banjo, spectral vocals, echoing percussion - and eerie religious lyrics "Take me down to the river where the work can be done/my poor soul to deliver by your hand I am gone". I fear that this is no ordinary baptism.

Sadly the following two tracks - "My Soul" and "Shadow of the mountain" - follow in the religious theme but far less successfully. In deference to "Take Me Down" I cling to a hope that the chorus of Jen McDearmen's "My Soul", a repeated "our soul, our soul", indicates (like McGuinn's "Peace on you") that the sentiment is tongue-in-cheek, but really I know it's as happy and as clappy as it sounds. Fred Stesney's "Shadow of the mountain" sounds as if it's floating out of a bluegrass revivalist tent. Things improve again with "Boomers Blues", another of Etzel's songs, whose mournful acapella opening of "hey hey the rain won't stop /been waiting for days to get the crop/cold forlorn we weather the storm/now it's time to go home" sounds like a suitably authentic field work song, but when the organ and banjo join in it takes on a gospel edge that reveals that home is probably way over Jordan. Etzel's clearly got the touch as her "When shall I go ?" also hits the spot whilst covering the same ground. McDearman redeems herself with the high pitched harmonies on the lilting good time sounding "Black Dog" - even though the lyrics are much darker and this is certainly no homely pooch : "late at night/in the dark/Black Dog/coming for ya". Fred Stesney (vocals and bass) also contributes another pair of songs - "Little bit of Livin' (Before I die)" is written as a sped up transplanted Irish ballad, and sung with Stesney's best Shane MacGowan impression. "We will bury you" is a far superior song - a return to the weird gothic feel of the album opener, drawing a funereal scene "we will bury you in all your finery/casket rolling by/blackened pageantry/we will bury you singing songs of praise/ symphonic elegy recounting all your days". The superb harmony singing really tickles the hairs at the back of the neck. As does Jen McDearmen's "Don't wake it up", which also hangs around late at night in a mist enshrouded old southern graveyard. Karen Dahlstrom's sole contribution is the fine stompy "Hell and gone", generously touched with country blues harp and documenting the adventures in life that are open "to a woman with a heart of stone". The band also do a version of the traditional "Short life of trouble" conveying the heartache and overwhelming misery inflicted by a faithless lover, which sits well alongside Bobtown’s own material. If you're looking for acoustic gothic-folk-americana kissed with gorgeous harmonies then look no further. - Americana UK


"Badlands folk band who are just at home with sparse, puritan ballads as they are full-on washboard stomp ‘n’ holler." - Mad Mackerel


Translated from Dutch by Google

It seems that here a zealous core of a program is running his own choir. Bobtown is more than that, because this is American roots music combined with high choir. Gospel, bluegrass, folk and pop music together in a symbiosis of attractive end sound. Bobtown proves that you do not have to play complex music to be convincing. The three ladies and two gentlemen have a good set of tools brought together, from banjo to guitar and accordion, mandolin and dobro. Especially the latter instrument provides a rugged American sound. The music is generally cheerful, but sometimes it gets a serious Von Trapp Family content. It’s something you really need, but I am convinced that this music will appeal to many a vocalist. Again, all well and convincingly played, but it;s not something I’m personally excited about walking! - Ron Jannsen - New Folk Sounds


Translated from Dutch by Google

Three ladies and two lords from the regions of New York bring mixture of headstock, bluegrass and especially gospel on their debuutcd. The harmonious samenzang of the ladies sounds as those of the Peasall SIS-delicate ones on the soundtrack of `O Brother, Where Art Thou? The economical accompaniment (accordion, mandoline, banjo, dobro) gives to the cd an extremely intimate character, it is as if Bobtown only stand play for you. Expect therefore no flaming jet arse oil or splattering vocal breaking loose, it here for good-natured will fraai be formed rural music in its most honest form. Without becoming moreover also but a moment insipid! - By Benny


"Wow, NEW CD from BOBTOWN--5 eclectic talented singers out of Iowa who sometimes sound like children of Carolina Chocolate Drops and other times sound like Children of the Corn, and then there's the harmony on 'Don't Fear the Reaper,' the Blue Oyster Cult hit. It's so sweet, so seductive, you simply fade into their haze and drift for 4:31." - -NewFolkRadio


Bobtown’s debut album is a blast from the past yet completely original – they really know their roots, but they put an irresistibly unique spin on them. This is dark, vivid, sometimes lurid southern Americana, not the G-rated, sanitized version you hear in folkie clubs in the Yankee states. Their sound revolves around their three terrific lead singers, each of whom contribute songs as well as alternately lush and stark layers of harmonies to the album. Multi-instrumentalist Katherine Etzel holds down the midrange, taking the lead on the rustic Take Me Down, a 19th century-style chain gang song redone as stark suicide anthem with her voice sailing warily over Gary Keenan’s dobro. She also handles lead vocals on the gorgeous banjo-driven country gospel tune When Shall I Go and another swaying chain gang-style number, Boomer’s Blues, alongside guest Paul Pettit’s creepy funeral organ.

Jen McDearman handles the highest registers and excels at quirky, charmingly creepy songs. Black Dog could be cute and chirpy if it wasn’t about the monster in everybody’s dreams. The sad country waltz Don’t Wake It Up, a cautionary tale, warns that some sleeping dogs (metaphorical, this time) should be left alone. And her bouncy country gospel song My Soul is a showcase for the band’s rich four-part harmonies. Guitarist Karen Dahlstrom harmonizes with a finely nuanced alto voice that’s sultry yet plaintive on the old folk song Short Life of Trouble, then soars defiant and bluesy on her kiss-off anthem Hell and Gone. The best song on the album, by bassist Fred Stesney, is We Will Bury You, a genuine Nashville gothic classic that reaches a stirring but disquieting crescendo with all those beautiful harmonies going full blast. He also contributes the bluegrass hellraising anthem Little Bit of Living Before I Die and the cheery traveler’s tale Shadow of the Mountain, which has a tongue-in-cheek video up on the band’s site. Whether on dobro, mandolin or banjo, Keenan plays with a tersely tuneful fire. There literally isn’t a bad song on the album - without question, this is one of the year’s best. - Lucid Culture




Sunday night at Spikehill is Americana night, with a rotating cast of frequently excellent roots bands from around the New York area. Last Sunday’s show opened with Rescue Bird, who’ve been on our shortlist to see for awhile, but that was not to be. The next band, Bobtown were even better than the few intriguing songs on their myspace indicated. There is no band in town who sound like them. Mixing elements of country gospel, bluegrass and field hollers with an often macabre Nashville gothic tinge and soaring four-part harmonies, they ran through a frequently riveting set of originals along with a plaintive, powerful cover of the old British folk ballad Short Life of Trouble sung with authority by guitarist Karen Dahlstrom.

They opened with three harmony-driven country gospel numbers, one an amusingly herky-jerky original by acoustic bass guitarist (and bass singer) Fred Stesney while lead player Gary Keenan played incisively and tersely as he moved from banjo, to resonator guitar, to mandolin, to what looked like a darkly twangy Turkish cumbus lute. Singer Jen McDearman appears to be the band’s main source of darkness, contributing both a blithe acoustic pop song, Black Dog, its casually menacing lyric making a striking contrast with its peppy tune, as well as the night’s best song, a big, ominous anthem titled We Will Bury You.

Accordionist Katherine Etzel, whose effortlessly high, twangy soprano reminds a lot of a young Dolly Parton, led the group through a series of stark, rhythmic, bluesy originals in the style of nineteenth century slaves’ field hollers. Then they picked up the pace with a rapidfire bluegrass tune, Hell and Gone (with a reference to smoking “all the tea in China”) delivered with a graceful intensity by Dahlstrom, and then reverted to country gospel to close the set. Bobtown have a new album coming out; ostensibly, all of these originals are on it. If they sound anything like how the band played them Sunday night, it should be killer. Watch this space for upcoming live dates.
- Lucid Culture


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

BAND MEMBERS: Jen McDearman (vocals, percussion, glockenspiel); Alan Lee Backer (guitar, banjo, harmonica, backing vocals); Karen Dahlstrom (vocals, guitar, banjo); Katherine Etzel (vocals, drums, accordion, ukulele)

With their distinctive original songs and vocal arrangements, Bobtown is recognized as taking an unconventional approach to the tradition of folk. The group's first album was featured on NPR's All Songs Considered, who described it as "moody, rustic songs for the moonlit backroads". John Platt of NYC's revered radio station, WFUV, named the group as a top music discovery, and the international blog, Americana UK sums Bobtown up best, saying: "If you're looking for acoustic, Gothic-folk-Americana kissed with gorgeous harmonies then look no further."

The New York City-based band formed in 2008 when Katherine Etzel wrote some field-holler influenced songs, then over recruited more songwriters, Jen McDearman, Karen Dahlstrom and Alan Lee Backer, as an outlet to perform the songs, calling the project Bobtown after a neighborhood in her hometown. While the the group's format was mostly a capella at the outset, they soon expanded to include wide instrumentation, and by 2010, Bobtown had released their eponymous first album of original material, which received positive reviews and airplay both domestically and internationally.

August of 2012 saw the birth of Bobtown's second full-length album, Trouble I Wrought. The eclectic theme continued on this release as the band again called upon traditional roots precepts, but realigned them in a cross-genre, contemporary context. Trouble I Wrought charted on multiple Cashbox/Roots Music Reports, including the 2012 Top Radio Airplay, International. 

The band's third full-length CD "A History of Ghosts" was released in late 2014/early 2015 and debuted with the #1 song on the Roots Music Report's Weekly Top 50 Contemporary Folk Songs. The album itself spent 3 weeks in the #1 position upon release.

Bobtown's fourth full-length CD is in production and is scheduled for an early 2019 release.

BAND HIGHLIGHTS:
  • 2014-2017 Headlining or Featured Performers at Huntington Folk Festival, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, the Connecticut Folk Festival, The International Festival of Ideas, The Hudson West Folk Festival; The Brooklyn Americana Festival and others
  • 2015--"50 Best Albums of 2015," New York Music Daily (A History of Ghosts)
  • 2015 Formal Showcase Artists at the Southeast Regional Folk Alliance Conference in North Carolina (SERFA)
  • 2015--A History of Ghosts (album) spends 3 weeks in the # 1 ranking on The Roots Music Report's Weekly Top 50 Contemporary Folk Album Chart
  • 2014--"A History of Ghosts" (song) Debuts # 1 on The Roots Music Report's Weekly Top 50 Contemporary Folk Song
  • 2014 Formal Showcase Artist at the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance
  • 2013--WFUV's John Platt names Bobtown as one of his Top Music Discoveries of 2013
  • 2013 Falcon Ridge Music Festival Emerging Artist
  • 2012 Top International Radio Airplay Albums
  • 2012--10 Best Albums of 2012, New York Music Daily
  • 2012 Official Quad Showcase Performers, Northeast Regional Folk Alliance
  • 2012 Susie Wollenberg Showcase Performers, Northeast Regional Folk Alliance
  • 2012, Trouble I Wrought debuts at #15 on the Cashbox Magazine / Roots Music Report's Folk Top 50, August
  • 2012, Trouble I Wrought debuts at #4 on the Roots Music Report's Folk Internet Airplay Chart, August
  • 2011 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass/Steam Powered Hour Finalists, February
  • 2011 NPR's "All Songs Considered" Feature of album Bobtown


Band Members