Bow Thayer
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Bow Thayer

Stockbridge, VT 05772, USA | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Stockbridge, VT 05772, USA | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Rock Americana


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Bow Thayer: Central Vermont Tunesmith Hits His Stride"

A central Vermont resident for a dozen years now – smack dab in the middle of the state in the Windsor County village of Gaysville (part of Stockbridge) – Bow Thayer, the Massachusetts-born banjo and guitar player, 43, has quietly emerged to become one of the state's best songwriters, and one who seems to get better with every release.

Case in point: his quiet little gem of an album, "Shooting Arrows at the Moon," released in November and one of last year's best Vermont releases. The "unforeseen project," as Thayer refers to it in the album's liner notes, was recorded spur-of-the-moment at Chelsea singer-songwriter Kristina Stykos' off-the-grid studio.

A campfire-friendly collection of stripped-down Thayer tunes recorded live and impromptu, the album delivers a pleasing glimpse into Thayer's serious songwriting skills and the magic of spontaneous performance when in the right hands.

"She said, 'You want to record something?' I was, like, 'Yeah, throw up some microphones,'" said Thayer in a phone interview on Monday. "I got a couple new songs, I got some old songs. And I just sat down and started singing and playing, and she captured it."

Stykos added her own magic touch, both instrumentally (on guitar and mandolin) and vocally, recording live with Thayer on some tunes and adding her parts later on others.

"That recording is me going through the songs for the very first time," said Thayer. "I kind of had an idea (of what I was going to do). I just went over there and played. She really insisted that we keep things simple, and I'm glad we did."

Thayer and Stykos then brought in Canaan-born fiddle phenom Patrick Ross, who gorgeously enhances most of the tunes on the album.

"In one evening, he just latched right on to it and blew those fiddle parts out like he'd been playing all these songs for months," said Thayer. "But he'd never heard them at all. He's just such a talented player."

"It was just so easy," said Thayer of the recording. "There was no hang-up about making a record or tweaking it to make it sound really good. It just came out."

Despair has rarely sounded as good as it does on the stunning title track, a wistful tune "about being overwhelmed," said Thayer. "I'm full of all kinds of despair, probably. That comes out."

Another instant classic is "The Tango Rose," a compelling narrative inspired by a northern Arizona bar called the Spirit Room. "That was just this fun little song for me to write about this tragic couple," explained Thayer.

Perhaps most impressive is "Harpoon Song," a spare, melancholy tune with rich, pointed lyrics that "came out in one sitting," said Thayer. "It was just a stream of consciousness thing. It's like, where does this come from? I still really don't know. That's a pretty intense piece."

Also classic is "Catskill Stone," a dusty kicker about the storied barn/studio in Woodstock, N.Y., that's owned by living legend Levon Helm, best known for his tenure as drummer and vocalist in rock group The Band. Thayer and his relatively new roots-rock group, Perfect Trainwreck, recorded their solid 2008 debut album there, and have performed at Helm's renowned "Midnight Rambles."

Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck recently revisited the Levon Helm Studio, where they finished recording the tracks for a follow-up album, tentatively titled "Buffalo Joe." Though the songs have not yet been mastered, Thayer is excited about the results – due in large part to the studio skills of Grammy-winning Helm producer Justin Guip.

"He just nailed it, sonically," said Thayer about Guip. "We feel that the quality of the recording easily translates to radio. We think it's good enough to compete with any other music that's out there right now."

The group will perform much of the new material on Saturday at the Chandler Music Hall. The concert is a benefit for Chandler's ambitious renovation and expansion project, for which Thayer offered his services.

"Catskill Stone" is one of three "Shooting Arrows" tunes – along with the mesmerizing "Dawning" and "Suicide Kings" — that will get a full-band treatment live and on the new Perfect Trainwreck album.

The rock 'n' roll versions are a lot different," said Thayer. "So it should be kind of interesting for people to hear the songs in their infancy, and then hear how they translate to a whole-band production."

- Times-Argus

"Shotgun Majors (KRVM, Eugene, Oregon) - 3/24/09 playlist"

I featured the "new" CD from Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck. I've never done a feature artist before, but this CD from last year might be one of the best I've ever heard. Literally not a bad track on the whole thing, and some that might end up as my all-time favorites. I'm feeling guilty for not finding this disc last year and giving it due recognition and radio play so I'm making up for it tonight. I understand that they're working on another disc that is also going to be produced at Levon Helm's studio, if its anywhere near as good as this one I will be frothing. - Tupelo Honey

"Ringo Starr at Hollywood Benefit"

HOLLYWOOD -- It was called "special night of music, reflection and celebration." Tuesday night was an evening for Yoko Ono's "Imagine No Hunger" campaign with John Lennon and Beatles songs, and celebrities to an invitation-only audience at Hollywood's Hard Rock Cafe, a couple of doors down from Grauman's Chinese Theater.

The evening, which featured catered food, started around 6:30 p.m. with "Power to the People" from Edgar Winter sitting in with Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck while the crowd was still filing in. The band followed up with "Instant Karma." Singer Paula Bowers-Sanchez followed with a nice version of "In My Life." Each performer picked Lennon tracks to sing.

Next came guitarist Micki Free, whose thumping version of "Cold Turkey" was one of the best songs of the night.

Alex Band, formerly of the Calling, sang "Real Love" and a reprise of his song with the Calling, "Wherever You Will Go." Booker T. came on next and sang "Watching the Wheels."

Dave Stewart did a moody version of "Mind Games,' then Edgar Winter followed with "Come Together" (which Ringo, in the audience, bopped along with) and "Revolution."

Stewart came back and sang "Imagine." The final song was "Give Peace a Chance," and the stage became filled with celebrities, including Ringo Starr, Barbara Bach, Joe Walsh and Edgar Winter. Ringo flashed his trademark peace signs throughout the final song.

"Let's hear it for the band," Ringo said, then followed with, "Let's hear it for you" as the song ended.

Also seen in the audience were film director David Lynch, Joe Walsh's wife Marjorie Bach, comedian George Lopez, guitarist Orianthi, Ringo photographer Rob Shanahan and actress Angie Everhart.

Eric Burdon was one of the performers listed on the invitation to the show and was originally scheduled to perform "Working Class Hero" according to a pre-show setlist, but he was nowhere to be seen.

Admittance to the show was either five non-perishable food items or a donation to support the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and WhyHunger. Among the items sold to benefit the campaign were rubber wrist bands with John Lennon's image and signature for $1. - ONTD

"Band Crush: Bow Thayer & Perfect Trainwreck"

Bow Thayer’s music career is a study in passion and perseverance. The 40-something Hingham native cut his teeth in Boston, then moved to extreme small-town Vermont (think no cell phone service or internet access) over a decade ago. He’s remained a sturdy fixture on the Boston roots-rock circuit through years of singing, banjo-plucking and guitar playing with beloved bygone bluegrass outfit The Benders, earlier bands like Elbow and Jethro, and his current band, the alt-folk-rock-ish Perfect Trainwreck. A seasoned performer, Thayer can work a room big or small, from a back woods Vermont town hall gig to a star-studded Hollywood event. This is no exaggeration; on the night we met he had done the former the evening prior – during a power outage, no less – and he and Perfect Trainwreck were about to board a plane for the latter as the house band for the benefit Imagine There's No Hunger: Celebrating the Songs of John Lennon in LA, where they would be the backup band for the likes of Ringo Starr, Edgar Winter, Joe Walsh and a handful of other equally intimidating legends.

Bow and co., all full-time musicians who have worked with everyone from locals like Miss Tess and Jimmy Ryan to legends like Booker T Jones, have the chops – and more importantly the heart – to pull off the tiniest, the most grandiose, and everything in between. In fact you can tell within moments of meeting them that music's in their blood and that playing it is the only way they know. There's a certain honest-to-goodness ruggedness about them and their music that personifies their many years spent as barroom heroes, and they’ve learned the ropes so well along the way that one gets the feeling the ropes now answer to them.

Today marks the release of the second Bow Thayer & Perfect Trainwreck release, Bottom of the Sky, recorded with Levon Helm (The Band). We talked with Bow and longtime collaborator/Perfect Trainwreck bassist Jeremy Moses Curtis (with whom he co-organized last year's Tweed River Music Festival) over drinks before a show at Atwood’s recently. - Boston Band Crush

"B&B Interview & Review: Bow Thayer & Perfect Trainwreck"

On Tuesday November 16, Bow Thayer & Perfect Trainwreck released their latest album Bottom of the Sky. The available which is available on the band’s website is a throwback to the days of yore — good old fashioned rock ‘n’ blues fused with a spirit of Americana. It’s the type of sound mainstream audiences are becoming used to with the proliferation of bands like Mumford & Sons and The Monsters of Folk.

Bottom of the Sky is littered with terrifically tight guitar work ranging from intimate and soul crushing to foot tapping and pulse pounding. Killer blues on “Buffalo Joe” is perfectly complemented by the more emotionally charged “Slow Blossom.”

The album has an air, an atmosphere, an energy about it that’s completely infectious. Think of the rousing and rollicking bluegrass sounds from the O, Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack mixed with smokin’ electric blues and heartfelt and poetic lyrics. It’s an album that strikes you, even if the genre is not your usual brand of music.

The album is a “must” for those who have an affinity for rock, blues, folk or are just looking for something new, fresh and now for their iPods and album collections. - The B&B Entertainment Blog

"Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck, Bottom of the Sky - Album Review"

Bow Thayer [1] is the epitome of the “songwriter’s songwriter.” The local tunesmith has been plugging away for the better part of the last 20 years, both as a solo artist and the front man for Americana and rock acts such as Elbow and the late, great, alt-country string band the Benders. Thayer is greatly admired by his peers — the Band’s Levon Helm, for one — and by knowledgeable roots fans, but true breakout success has proved elusive. On Bottom of the Sky, the ninth full-length album bearing his name and second with Perfect Trainwreck, Thayer once again justifies his reputation as a sublimely gifted artist. And, this time, he may have finally created the record that will introduce him to listeners beyond New England.

“Buffalo Joe” opens the record with a bluesy groove reminiscent of late-1970s Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. It’s a smartly crafted pop-rock gem, with Thayer’s laid-back, reedy croon balanced by swirling organ and stinging guitar leads.

“Epitome” melds the best of the Benders’ rootsy acoustic twang with Trainwreck’s rock sensibilities. Thayer’s banjo ripples through a wash of piano and organ, pushing the mid-tempo tune past a few perilous moments of nearly eddying in the jam pool.

“Dark Light” is an irreverent head-bobber, as Thayer’s banjo and James Rohr’s piano jostle for space amid the song’s springy textures, which belie the singer’s melancholy musings.

“Dawning” blooms like daybreak as Trainwreck cuts through Thayer’s overcast introspection; an increasingly bright arrangement builds to a brilliant solo section just before the song’s conclusion.

“Good Time to Holler” is a backwoods stomper and leads into “Gilead’s Roses,” perhaps the record’s most ambitious cut. Thayer is gritty and focused, leading Trainwreck through a dazzling arrangement that simmers with angst and tension.

The title track is classic Thayer. The mostly acoustic number swells over a buoyant groove that seemingly materializes out of nowhere before releasing in an airy gust of harmony, steel and organ.

“Slow Blossom” is a lighter-worthy piano ballad. Thayer’s delivery is sweet and vulnerable, framed by swelling organ sustains and faint, dovetailing guitar lines.

Bottom of the Sky closes with “Your Heart Is Not Your First Car,” a clever paean to youth, and loving and living wild. “Trash your first car, and walk safely away,” sings Thayer, before concluding, “Remember, your heart is not your first car.”

Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck celebrate the release of Bottom of the Sky this Saturday, November 20, at the Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction. - Seven Days

"FAME Review: Bow Thayer & Perfect Trainwreck - Bottom of the Sky"

This is one of those discs that just doesn't want to be stuffed into a category box with a label and branded for life; it is, in cowboy parlance, a slick or maverick. There is Rock and Roll, Blues, Bluegrass, and Folk; it might be a candidate to fall into those ubiquitous all-inclusive genres now titled alt-country, or is it alt-folk, maybe even alt-rock. You have at times some superb electric guitar playing over a banjo (sometimes it is an electric banjo), other times the banjo is the lead instrument, with drums, keyboards, and electric bass. This disc like the band's first effort was recorded at Levon Helm's studio with his engineer Justin Guip at the helm.

The group is comprised of Bow Thayer on banjos, guitars, mandolin and lead vocals; Jeremy Curtis on bass and vocals; James Rohr handles piano, organ, and keyboards; Jeff Berlin on drums and percussion; and Curtis McCandy on pedal steel. All the songs are written by Mr. Thayer and his ability as a storyteller is obvious, and also reflect his fascination of combining all these genres of music to form a seamless whole. Where else are you going to get the old timey feel of Good Time To Holler and the bluesy rock of Buffalo Joe, in the same vicinity with the bluegrass tune Dark Light, and no song sounds as if it fell off one disc unto a passing one. The sounds Mr. Thayer wrings from his electric banjo are off the beaten path and blazing a new direction. A very interesting disc that holds a bright candle for the future of this group. -

"ALBUM OF THE MONTH: The Bottom of the Sky, by Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck"

After listening to this release, it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that Thayer has played with Levon Helm (although it was really the reverse – Helm played drums on Thayer’s 2006 release). They are kindred spirits, men whose music is as much about feel as it is about melody.

“Buffalo Joe” opens the album with a wallop. Chugging guitars and a smoldering organ set a potent base as Thayer decries the harsher side of life and appeals for greater humanity. “A little more truth make a little more clear,” sings Thayer, “a lot more hope a lot less fear.”

Thayer and Trainwreck strike a more relaxed groove with “Epitome,” an inviting ode to a lover, “your history is a masterpiece, the epitome of everything that is real to me.” The Beatles-esque “Dark Night,” particularly the ambling chorus, strikes me as the kind of rootsy track that Paul McCartney has been trying to write for the past few years.

The Band references return on “Gilead’s Roses” with some swampy organ reminiscent of the Band’s “Chest Fever.” The moving ballad “Slow Blossom” gently builds from a solo piano intro to a full band performance, all while maintaining a magical wistfulness.

From start to finish, Bow Thayer & Perfect Trainwreck demonstrate an impressive blend of confidence and musicianship. And did I mention that this album was recorded at Levon Helm’s Barn in Woodstock New York. There must be something in the water up there. - Twangville

"Thayer Plays at Star-Studded Benefit"

Last week, Bow Thayer and his band, Perfect Trainwreck, whose home base is in Stockbridge, shared the stage with Ringo Starr at a benefit show in Hollywood, Calif.

“We got out there and there were all these big stars and some of them were a little skeptical of us, but as soon as we began to play, it all clicked,” Thayer told the Herald. “The highlight for me was when Ringo came up on stage with us for the last song and Dave Stewart sang ‘Imagine’ and then we went into ‘Give Peace a Chance.’ It was a blast!”

Thayer and his band were invited to play at an event called “Imagine There’s No Hunger,” hosted by Starr in Hollywood, November 2. Starr’s fellow Beatle, the late John Lennon, wrote “Imagine” in 1971, to empower people around the globe and invite them to envision a world of peace and free of poverty. The event last week was the official kickoff of Hard Rock International’s global anti-hunger campaign.

Called a "special night of music, reflection and celebration," it was a celebrity-filled show before an invitation-only audience at the Hard Rock Cafe, just down the street from Grauman's Chinese Theater. Admittance to the show was either five non-perishable food items or a donation to support the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and WhyHunger.

"I got to play with all the heroes I grew up listening to," Thayer said.

That opportunity came about because the band’s former manager, Elizabeth Freund, was involved in putting the event together "and she hired us to be the house band for this event," Thayer explained.

"We flew out there and had one day of rehearsal with Edgar Winter, Dave Stewart, Booker T. Jones, and Eric Burdon. We came up with about 10 Lennon songs to perform, including two I sang by myself. I had the whole band with me, and we only had about a week and half to put this together."

Perfect Train Wreck includes Jeremy Curtis on bass, Jeff Berlin on drums, Chris McGandy on pedal steel, James Rohr on keyboards, and Thayer on electric banjo.

Thayer and his band will host a record release party for their second album, "Bottom of the Sky," recorded at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, N.Y., Saturday, Nov. 20 at 8 p.m. at the Tupelo Music Hall in downtown White River Junction.

Bow and Perfect Trainwreck also host the Tweed River Music Festival in Stockbridge every August. - The Herald of Randolph

"Bow Thayer And Perfect Trainwreck- Bottom Of The Sky"

Vermont folk rockers Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck returned November 16 with their sophomore disc 'Bottom Of The Sky', a sooth, sometime rowdy and accomplished collection of songs tinted with alt-country, bluegrass and pop rock sensibilities.

Though Bow Thayer might be a new name to most, he once fronted the seminal late 90's/early 2000's outfit Elbow before moving onto a solo career. After collecting members from Howie Day's touring band (Jeremy Curtis) and adding new players that became the Perfect Trainwreck, the new entity released their debut in 2008 to worldwide acclaim.

On their second trip to plate, the band succeed in writing timeless, pensive songs that are illuminated with steel guitars, electric banjos, organs and effect boxes among the usual array of instruments. The songs glide by with blues like influences, pop based rockers, and tracks layered with a roots, Americana feel. The band know how to find a groove and work with it, showcasing the ability to play top notch pop rock and also slow things down with some twang or even a piano ballad for good measure.

With 9 albums tied to his name now, Thayer is no stranger to penning discs that have struck a chord with listeners worldwide. With The Perfect Trainwreck he describes their sound as 'greasy, soulful, modern mountain music' and it's safe to say anyone with an interest in rocknroll that takes nods at folk, pop and blues will find an interest here. - GO211

"Bow Thayer Has a Hit With Band’s New CD"

No one ever said Rock and Roll was dead; it just takes on so many forms these days that it’s difficult to know where to turn to find it. Yes, we can sit safely in our preferred camps of rockabilly, blues, metal, alt-country and so on but if we do, we may never know what lies around the corner.

So it was when I ventured out last Saturday night to White River Junction’s new Tupelo Music Hall to witness the CD release party of Bow Thayer & Perfect Trainwreck’s second CD, “Bottom of the Sky.”

I’m sorry if ‘blown away’ is an oft-used word in anyone’s language, much less a music reviewer’s, but I was. Bow walks out on stage and picks out an instrument from a rack, in this case a five string electric banjo, the round skin framed by two menacing black cutaways, looks down at the floor, presses down one of his effect pedals, and with Jeff Berlin’s drums setting the pace launches into one of the many infectious groove riff’s that are the hallmark of his songwriting. In a matter of musical seconds the rest of the six-piece band joins in like a semi truck running through its gearbox and plowing into the hearts of a full house of responsive fans.

The Perfect Trainwreck thrives on playing close to the edge of abandon yet remaining fully disciplined with seamless transitions that keep every song sudden and vital. One second it’s down and dirty, reeling, careening and the next it’s uplifting or melodic. Unpredictable might be an understatement, but Bow’s songwriting is always one step ahead.

The lineup that night included: Jeremy Moses, Curtis power bass and spot on vocal harmonies; James Rhor’s serendipitous lyrical piano or organ washing over all like musical mortar; Bethelite Jeff Berlin’s impeccable drumming, intuitive and unmerciful when called for; and Chris McGandy’s pedal steel guitar that alternately knifes across the spectrum with soaring leads or soothes the savage beast in between.

For this special night, former Bender’s bandmate Jabe Beyer played insightful electric guitar with candor while adding passionate vocal harmonies as well. Tim Mickowitz is their live mixing engineer who adds special effects and assures that every note is heard.

Then there is Bow forging new territory on electric banjo and running the core of the grooves with his two electric guitars or flaming out his own leads when space and time allowed.

A Live Recording

Such inventive arrangements were, no doubt, the result of extensive rehearsals for recording “Bottom of the Sky” live at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, N.Y. Tracking live is no small feat although it seems to be more and more prevalent as an antidote to today’s sometimes-sterile digital over-dubbing studio environment. In the recording, Bow’s vocals have never sounded better, often changing texture from one line to the next, gritty and direct. His lyrics run deep one moment and ride loose and free the next, never taken seriously when they don’t need to yet plenty to hang your hat on when you do.

As Bow himself said about the title track “Bottom of the Sky”: “We know it means something, but we’re still not sure what that is.”

The engineering and mixing by producer Justin Guip is executed at the highest level in full, rich, old-school tone. Speaking of which, the proceeds from their CD sales will go to releasing a vinyl LP edition, a move that is sure to reach discerning music fans of the new underground.

National touring artist and a rising alt-country star Jeffery Foucault opened the evening with his band Cold Satellite, which was also celebrating an album release. Their pure artistry danced on the edge of shimmering ballads to cold metal country rockers highlighted by Foucaults “stop-you-dead-in-your–tracks” vocals.

Forgive me again for not finding a better way to say this, but Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck have a major hit on his hands here. It's Triple A radio-ready without one ounce of compromise to be heard—anywhere. They laid it down on record and can play it on stage, as they did last Saturday.

As the lyrics from “Epitome” proclaim:

“I can see your galaxy’s on fire. “

For this band, right now, it is. - The Herald of Randolph

"Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck: Check them out"

Seattle is a capital of the Americana music scene. The region is home to groups like the Maldives, Grand Archives and the Moondoggies, as well as past acts like Radio Nationals and North Twin. Jet City is also a must-stop for alt-country bands on tour, with groups like Driveby Truckers and the late Slobberbone packing local clubs.

An outfit that should be on all Seattleites' radar is Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck. The latest offering from the New England group, "Bottom of the Sky," was released last month. The album was recorded at Levon Helm's studio in Woodstock, New York. Helm was the drummer for The Band, whose music is a standard most roots groups aspire to. Bow does Helm proud. There's not a clunker on "Bottom of the Sky." Each song is a beguiling mix of pop, country and rock.

Many groups in this genre use instruments like the banjo and piano alongside your basic guitar, bass and drums. The problem is too often banjo and piano are simply along for the ride, like a junior varsity player making the trip with the travelling squad. Or worse, you end up with some twangy banjo turned up to 11, making for a jarring mishmash of disparate sounds. On "Bottom of the Sky," all the players contribute to an intricate and layered sound that sets Bow apart from many of their contemporaries. This is a band that is worth many listens. - Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"Thayer Builds a Vermont Sound"

In the last decade, Bow Thayer has come to epitomize the Vermont sound ? whatever that may be.
Thayer, a former member of the rollicking bluegrass-based quasi-punk ramblers The Benders, has been slowly chipping away at record after record ? sometimes solo, sometimes with Levon Helm, sometimes with any array of crew members.
Now, however, after releasing the second installment of his highly regarded ?Driftwood Chronicles? earlier this year, Thayer is embarking on a journey with a new cast of band members, essentially assembling a localized supergroup of roots rockers called Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck.
The band is looking to release its debut record later this spring or in the early summer.
In the meantime, Thayer and Co. will be hitting the local club scene to extend an invitation into their world and providing a contagious and fresh live show.
Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck will be supporting Railroad Earth this Thursday at Burlington?s Higher Ground. If that show doesn?t fit your musical calendar, you can catch them at Montpelier?s Langdon Street Café on May 3.
You may just be compelled to see both shows, compare notes, and decide that Thayer is among the greatest songwriters to make Vermont his home.
It?s true that Thayer has focused a lot of his sound around the traditional roots instrumentation ?the fiddle, the banjo, even the dobro ? but he has delved into a new sound that is brighter and sunnier than his previous overtoned bluegrass music.
On ?The Driftwood Chronicles II,? Thayer offers up more of the Vermont summer sounds, as opposed to the long Vermont winter melodies.
?The Driftwood Chronicles II? was recorded for the most part on a hand recorder while trekking in Belize, and has a much more beach-oriented roots sound. But Thayer never strays too far from his own roots, which includes the old-time bluegrass foundations. So even as his latest incarnation is a variation on theme, it?s still the Thayer people have come to know and love.
Truth be told, if the latest edition of ?The Driftwood Chronicles? reveals the direction Thayer is taking Perfect Trainwreck in, then Thayer can count on becoming more than a regional favorite. Plus, there?s no telling ? yet ? what the members of Perfect Trainwreck will bring to the proverbial table.
Perfect Trainwreck, for all intents and purposes, is a highly trained amalgamation of all the previous ensembles Thayer has worked with. Bassist Jeremy Curtis was a member of Thayer?s original foray into music when he worked with Elbow down in the Boston area, and is also a member of Twinemen ? the rootsy and twisted reintroduction of two of three members of Morphine.
Steve Mayone, the guitarist and mandolin maestro, worked with Thayer in Jethro, a newgrass sensation from Thayer?s past.
Drummer Jeff Berlin was a last-minute fill-in for Thayer during a New Year?s Eve gig in Vermont and has become a steady member of Thayer?s inner circle of performers.
So the name Perfect Trainwreck is more than appropriate, but even more exciting is that Thayer has assembled a collage of incredible bluegrass musicians and will soon unleash upon the world a magnificent new sound.
- Stowe Today

"Ringo Starr and friends raise cash for 'Imagine No Hunger' -- insider's report"

The evening, which featured catered food, started around 6:30 p.m. with "Power to the People" from Edgar Winter sitting in with Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck while the crowd was still filing in. The band followed up with "Instant Karma."..."Let's hear it for the band," Ringo said. -

"Ringo Starr and friends raise cash for 'Imagine No Hunger' -- insider's report"

The evening, which featured catered food, started around 6:30 p.m. with "Power to the People" from Edgar Winter sitting in with Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck while the crowd was still filing in. The band followed up with "Instant Karma."..."Let's hear it for the band," Ringo said. -

"Ringo Starr and friends raise cash for 'Imagine No Hunger' -- insider's report"

The evening, which featured catered food, started around 6:30 p.m. with "Power to the People" from Edgar Winter sitting in with Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck while the crowd was still filing in. The band followed up with "Instant Karma."..."Let's hear it for the band," Ringo said. -

"2010FM October Edition Two"

We finish this edition on a high with Vermont's Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck who are set to release their sophomore album, Bottom of the Sky, on November 16th.

Recorded in the studio of longtime collaborator and friend, Levon Helm (drummer of The Band, and legendary solo artist), Bottom of the Sky showcases the band’s seamless melding of alt-folk, rock, and bluegrass, making for an easy comparison to Blitzen Trapper, the Drive-by Truckers, and the Felice Brothers.

Some more background for you - For Bottom of the Sky, Bow Thayer & Perfect Trainwreck worked alongside Justin Guip (Engineer on Levon’s Grammy-winning albums, Dirt Farmer and Electric Dirt) for a second time, to recreate the magic he helped capture on the band’s 2008 self-titled debut. The new album showcases Bow’s recent exploration of his beloved Deering electric banjo and effects boxes to create tones unlike any other.

While the exact date of Bow Thayer & Perfect Trainwreck’s conception is up for debate, the group did bud from former band, Elbow, a trio of Boston musicians that drew inspiration from the delta blues. Although Elbow disbanded in the early 2000s, member Bow Thayer went on to record numerous solo albums, one of which features Levon Helm on drums and Morphine’s Dana Colley on sax, while bassist Jeremy Curtis hit the road playing with the likes of Booker T and Howie Day. After their adventures concluded, Bow and Jeremy found their way back to one another and continued to jam, adding Jeff Berlin on drums, Chris McGandy on steel guitar, and James Rohr on the keys, forming what is now known as the Perfect Trainwreck.

A great song from a talented and crafted band that deserve to be noticed far and wide, some tour dates below! - Beehive Candy

"Bow & Crew With Levon Helm"

This self-titled CD captures the rough-and-tumble sound of Bow and the Trainwreck. They recorded this entire album with a bare minimum of overdubs.

With a new CD coming out next month, I thought it was a good time to re-taste the old. This is from 2006 i believe.

From their interwebs place:

After recording Maintenance for Mood Swings I figured I needed to do a record that was more concise, or at least with just one drummer. I recall telling Dave Rizzuti, "Man, I need someone who sounds like Levon Helm. You know, simple, with a lot of character". Then Dave says, "Why don't you just get the man himself?" Yeah right, real funny, Rizzuti. But it turns out Dave had recently done a session with him. Call it fate or divine intervention, Levon Helm became the drummer for "Spend It All".

Mr. Helm drove down in a sketchy ice storm from Woodstock, NY to Boston (his usual driver, Bruce was involved in a little accident and couldn't make the gig). As I peered out a window from Mad Oak Studios I noticed what I thought was a little old man pulling a kick drum out of the back seat of a Saab; sometimes giants are deceiving.

That afternoon with Levon Helm was the only thing that went smoothly during the making of this record. He played his ass off, and mostly just one take was it. I was like, "Hey Levon, you get that demo I sent ya?" "Nope." "Well, umm... here's how it starts, here's the chorus, end it any way you like" and bang! that was it. Here is a guy who's lucky to be alive (he survived cancer and a hell of a lot more), in his sixties, and nailing first takes on songs he didn't even know. - Mog

"Bow Thayer: At his intimate best"

Rochester-based Bow Thayer has released one of the best CDs I've heard this year. "Shooting Arrows at the Moon" is all acoustic, low-key, informal and laced with excellent songs and fine picking. With Thayer writing all 14 tracks, singing and playing guitar, banjo and uke, we have his best work to date.

That said, a lot of the credit for the success of this album goes to its producer/engineer/backup singer and multi-instrumentalist Kristina Stykos.

Thayer's own words make it clear why this CD is so good. As he writes in an introduction to the album on his Web site (, "I can honestly say this project just happened out of the blue here in Vermont at my friend Kristina Stykos' Pepperbox Studio.

"What excites me about this record is the spontaneous informality of it all. There was no real intention or pressure to produce an album so what we have is some music that had been written then abandoned and songs that were recorded in their infancy."

This is how recordings should be made. As too many musicians learn from sad experience, when the pressure is on, when studio time is expensive, and they are perhaps reaching beyond their comfort level, the result may not be quite what they or their audience expect.

Thayer's previous albums reviewed here, "Driftwood Periodicals, Volume I" and "Spend It All," were studio affairs with a full band. I thought Thayer's material had promise but was lost in the clash of guitars, drums and overproduction. His new album shows that, taken down a notch or two and given a relaxed atmosphere to record in, his promise and expertise shine through. His songwriting here is mature while his guitar and banjo work carry a strong pulse. And his singing is emotive.

I'm reminded of the 1970s recordings by Bob Dylan and also early John Prine on several tracks. Thayer writes good story songs. Especially effective are "The Tango Rose," "Suicide Kings," "Carla Dupree," "Allston Brighton" and "Way of The Gun."

He builds characters that are believable and story lines that any novelist would appreciate. While not a crooner, Thayer's gritty vocals are effective.

The music on this album has overtones of contemporary folk, acoustic country and neo-bluegrass. It's an ear-friendly sound as well, owing to the lack of electric instruments and percussion.

Stykos has captured Thayer's guitar and banjo perfectly maintaining the authentic sound of these acoustic instruments. Her own contribution includes harmony singing and guitar, mandolin and bouzouki accompaniment. Her vocals work well to support Thayer, as she is an alto. Her singing doesn't outshine Thayer's voice.

Violinist Patrick Ross joins Thayer and Stykos but on just eight of the 14 tracks. I would have liked to hear more of this fine musician. This is not fiddling, rather, it's atmospheric violin, and I'm reminded of the work Scarlet Rivera did on an earlier Bob Dylan album.

With just a few instruments to work with and two voices plus some excellent songs, Thayer, with Stykos and Ross' help, has produced his most thoughtful and mature work yet.

While Thayer works primarily with his band Perfect Trainwreck, I hope he'll do more solos and feature the songs on "Shooting Arrows at the Moon." This is the album that will advance his career beyond the barroom dance floor. - Times Argus

"Bow Thayer And Perfect Trainwreck's "Bottom Of The Sky": A Taste Of Everything"

These boys, hailing from all over, are now making their tunes up in the mountains of Vermont. Listening to their album, "Bottom of the Sky," you get a nice taste of everything Bow and Co. have gone through to get where they are today, some folk sounds, blue-grass, blues, and countless other influences along the ride. You have a track like "Good Time to Holler", which is soulful, a bit funky, but still has the eyes of the mountain music in her, with help of Bow and his Banjo, then "Epitome" comes on, and its more rock n roll, a little jam bandish, (evident the band could jam on forever if given the chance) great beer drinking music. "Dawning" is up next on shuffle, great vocals by Bow, (written by him as well) excellent song; you know how different music puts you in a different place? Reggae puts me at the beach, electronic puts me at a sick rave, "Dawning" puts me in the mountains, in nature, free, lack of any rules or boundaries. I very great place for a song to take you.

I would have never stumbled upon Bow and the Perfect Trainwreck if it weren't for Iman, so now that you have, give them a listen, and let their music take you somewhere where you'll be free.

And to help w/ Bow's life philosophy, to live, love, learn, and leave a good soundtrack, Bow and the PTW have given us "Bottom of the Sky," a destination you are closest to reaching after climbing the highest mountain, cliff, hill, mound or pile of dirt you know. - Rock NYC

"Butch Dener's Review of Levon Helm's Midnight Ramble with special guests Bow Thayer & Perfect Trainwreck"

Special thanks to Bow Thayer & " them guys" as Larry called 'em, last night @ the Barn, Bow & Perfect Trainwreck, accompanied by new baby RIVER THAYER, rocked & rolled a packed Barn to perfection. Playing a lot of their new tunes, being recorded @ Levon's, with Justin's fine hand steering the Trainwreck, they were in peak form.A great family of musicians who's musical style was made for Levon's Barn.GREAT JOB, fellas,, Bow kept calling me " skinny Butch" all night cause of my recent diet,, kept us laffin' all night long,,, GREAT , GREAT, Bow & the fellas,,, WOW !Larry, & "them guys" Levon, Teresa, Byron, Brian, Amy, Erik, Clark, Bernstein, BRUCE from the Letterman Band, & Jay all chipped in to make it a killer night, in that soft August night,Teresa's voice sparkeled all night along with Miss Amy,especially on her Tennessee Twang tunes, like Time out for the Blues & her quiver on Long Black Veil & did YOu Love Me @ All,,, she ruled the house,,, with AMy & larry on Attics, the house gets a reverent hush,, those harmonies are still in the rafters of the Barn,BRIAN MITCHELL, stepping up while Levon's voice is a bit quieter, showed his nasty greasy chops on his killer Buddy Bolden, Shape, & the others tunes he killed us with.Sweet surprise of LEVON & Larry on Tennessee Jed to a roar of love from the crowd when that Arkansas growl came over the speakers,,, SWEEEEEEET !!!Gotta get back to Tennessee Jed is right !!!Thanks,, good to see the cat from BR 549 there,, we had met during one of the Rainforest gigs me & Levon did & those BR-549 guys are the best, too.Perry & the fellas did a thorough job all night too with a full house they were on top of everything, that i saw,,, smooth , guys, smooth,,,ready for the next one, folks ???? - Plochmann Lane

"Off The Beaten (Train) Track"

Off the Beaten (Train) Track
A soulful roots and country act chugs into Randolph’s Chandler Music Hall this Saturday. Self-described on their website as “sorta hillybilly, a smidge political, sometimes comical, often danceable, [and] hopefully contagious,” central Vermont’s Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck take listeners on quite the ride. Don’t fear, though — “trainwreck” only refers to their informal and sometimes improvisational vein. Thayer engages his deep vocals in songs off his 2009 release, Shooting Arrows at the Moon, as well as in material from an upcoming album. Adding to his guitar, banjo or ukulele chords, band members Jeremy Moses Curtis, Steve Mayone and Jeff Berlin round out the sound at this concert benefiting Chandler’s renovation and expansion project. Be sure to catch this train before it leaves the station. - Seven Days

"Bow Thayer, Shooting Arrows At The Moon"

With Shooting Arrows at the Moon, Orange County musician Bow Thayer [1] has created an introspective gem of an album featuring sparse instrumentation and a pure sound.

Thayer was the front man for Boston newgrass heroes The Benders. More recently, he was a favorite at the dearly departed Middle Earth Music Hall in Bradford, where he rocked the house with his band Perfect Trainwreck. Thayer still plays with his big band, which has a benefit gig scheduled at Randolph’s Chandler Music Hall on January 30. But his new recording features a much more compact band, with Thayer on vocals, guitar, banjo and ukulele, brilliant Montpelier fiddler Patrick Ross and the gloriously talented Kristina Stykos — one of Vermont’s great rhythm guitarists and also the engineer of this CD.

Thayer and Stykos seem to get along just fine in every way, which lends the album a sense of musical comfort throughout. And when Stykos sings harmonies alongside Thayer’s lead lines, it’s definitely more than the sum of just two voices.

Thayer’s 14 originals reveal classy influences. He has recorded with Levon Helm and, much like every member of The Band, Thayer has the ability to write new material that sounds like an instant string-band classic.

Most of the tracks feature Thayer’s unadorned vocals, matched with just the right amount of acoustic accompaniment: strummed guitar, banjo figures and sinuous fiddle.

“The Tango Rose” has a rhythmic groove that sounds as if a young Steve Earle had decided to have a tea party with Jerry Garcia.

“Way of the Gun” contains high lonesome sparkle centered on Ross’ exquisite fiddle work, Thayer’s delicate banjo picking and another great vocal duet with Stykos.

“Allston Brighton,” a requiem for drug casualties and other departed friends, is just about perfectly sad. Bow Thayer is quite a songwriter.

The combination of Thayer’s talents as a musician and composer and producer Stykos’ sensitive touch in the studio has resulted in a highly pleasurable album. It leaves me hoping the pair might collaborate again sometime soon. - Seven Days

"Nateva 2010 Photo Round-Up"

Locals Bow Thayer & The Perfect Trainwreck truly rocked the Port City Music Hall. - Melophobe

"Live In Studio Crush: Bow Thayer & Perfect Trainwreck Live at Mad Oak"

Though he hails from Vermont, rock and roll banjo player Bow Thayer has played with a multitude of Boston delights (Tim Gearan, Jimmy Ryan, A.K.A.C.O.D, Kris Delmhorst). So, when the man brings his Perfect Trainwreck to town, we like to show some love. Tomorrow night, Mad Oak hosts another live in studio performance. This time it is gonna be a foot stompin', hip shakin' roots rockin' time! Get there early! - Boston Band Crush

"Best Alt Country/Roots Rock Albums of 2008"

Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck – Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck (self) – the Vermont band recorded this album at Levon Helm’s Barn in Woodstock, NY, capturing a highly spontaneous and diverse set that blends elements of folk-rock and bluegrass anchored by a big drum and bass sound in a manner that recalls, in some respects, The Band’s more acoustic songs; highlights include the opening track, Meanwhile in the Here and Now, a roots rocker that creates high expectations for things to come, and, a textbook-perfect example of an achingly lonesome song, the aptly titled Powerful Lonesome, that rather humorously and fittingly pays tribute to the musicians from whom the song was “stolen” – how can you not like a song that pays homage to Tim Easton’s Get Some Lonesome ? - Radio Free Americana

"People 'Danced Like Nobody Was Watching' in Tunbridge"

Once per month at the Tunbridge Town Hall, there is a real shindig going on.

There was a full house, spanning about seven decades in age, at the town hall last Saturday night, with everyone there to visit with friends and listen and dance to the soulful music of Bow Thayer and the Perfect Train Wreck.

The band describes their music as "a little bit country and a little bit rock n’ roll. Sorta hillbilly, a smidge political, sometimes comical, often danceable, hopefully contagious."

I would say it is truly central Vermont music. The band, an up-and-coming four-piece consisting of guitars, banjo, lap steel, bass and drums from Stockbridge, rocked the house with over three hours of original music. To find information on the band, their music and CDs, go to

The old wooden building was filled with music and laughter as people danced the entire time from 8-11:30 p.m. A highlight of the night was a song called "R U Willin’" when three young girls, ages five or six, joined the band onstage to sing backup vocals. Potluck food and drinks were available in the basement and there was plenty of room for everyone.

The Shindigs are the brainchild of Tunbridge resident Janet Zug and her efforts to bring in a great local band each month during the winter months has provided an extremely unique, positive and fun community activity available to everyone at a modest cost.

The next Shindig will be Saturday, April 5 at the Tunbridge Town Hall, beginning at 8 p.m. and will feature the music of Second Wind. - The Herald of Randolph

"Bow Thayer In The Barn"

Bow Thayer is a musician from Vermont who makes some pretty good music. He recorded an album at Levon Helm's barn recording studio some time back, and will return their Saturday to open the show.

During his set a Levon's, Bow and his band will be asking the crowd to HOLLER when they record their new song live. I'll be there. And I'll holler.

And don't forget that Larry Campbell, Amy Helm, Teresa Williams, Jimmy Vivino and others will play at an Acoustic Ramble Friday. Click here for more info.

Here's a column I wrote about Bow back a few years:

Musician gets little help from Helm on new disc

Bow Thayer’s first name can conjure up images of those pretty, colorful things that adorn Christmas and birthday presents.

But there is nothing pretty about his music. His songs are grit and grime, simple strumming and singing, a tromp through the spring mud rather than a sleigh ride through the snow. Listen to Thayer’s songs and you can feel the wind bite your face and the rain in your bones.

His singing voice sounds a little like Bob Dylan’s. But Thayer doesn’t sound like he’s trying to sound like Bob Dylan. He plays the harmonica like Neil Young, raw and unrefined, taking the listener on a journey through his windpipes and the dirty, dusty roads of backwoods America with each exhale.

Thayer’s latest album, “Spend It All,” was released Tuesday and has everything you need for a front porch jam session or battle of the bands by bonfire — acoustic guitar, harmonica, mandolin, banjo, pedal steel and just to make sure you’re paying attention — baritone clarinet.

“Spend It All” also boasts the drumming of Levon Helm, the longtime Woodstock resident and legendary stick and skins man for The Band. Helm has enjoyed a major resurgence thanks to his “Rambles,” which are semi-regular Saturday night concerts at his recording studio, an event that on Saturday will feature Thayer and his band kicking the evening off.

The Alexis P. Suter Band will play second, followed by the Levon Helm Band featuring guitarist Jimmy Vivino from Late Night with Conan O’Brien. This week’s Ramble is sold out.

On “Spend It All,” Helm lends Thayer’s original compositions that quick, spry, simple and soulful drumming that anchored some of modern music’s most timeless songs, “Up On Cripple Creek” and “Ophelia” by The Band among them.

Thayer has always been a huge fan of The Band and the mystique that he said surrounds their legacy and their music.

“They’re unlike anything that ever happened in rock ’n’ roll,” said Thayer, who grew up near Boston and now lives on the White River in Vermont. “They were in a class of their own.”

Rock superstars as client

Helm isn’t the only musical heavy-hitter to have taken notice of Thayer. Thayer’s publicist is Elizabeth Freund, who also represents Ringo Starr and The Beatles, and with a partner has opened Beautiful Day Media & Management in Brooklyn.

Listen to Thayer and it probably won’t come as a surprise that he’s receiving a lot of attention. He steers clear of the cliches. He also stays focused on his particular sound, but can also evoke the sound of a band like Wilco.

Somehow, he seems to have applied his skills as a carpenter and artist — now he’s building songs and painting pictures with lyrics — to his song writing.

“It’s just something that’s in my blood and I would probably go completely insane if I couldn’t do it,’ Thayer said of writing and performing songs. “It’s just in my soul. I’ve got to do it. ... There are times when I’m like, what am I doing this for. I’ve tried to stop.

It just doesn’t work. I get depressed.” - Sonic Storm

"Bow Thayer - 'Spend It All'"

On his Web page, Vermont's Bow Thayer says Levon Helm's participation on "Spend It All" was about the only thing that went right on "Spend It All."

The songs on the album, released in 2006, are filled with trouble, too: Thayer sings about snakebites, snowstorms, wingless angels and stoner kids. The music's cozy and inviting, though.

That's not really surprising. Thayer's been churning out a warm mix of rock, alt-country, folk and bluegrass for a long time now. His albums with The Benders would probably be considered rootsy classics if the group had been based in L.A., Chicago or Austin. His solo albums might be even better.

Levon Helm's presence on "Spend It All" is certainly appropriate because the music of The Band is a starting point of sorts for Thayer's music. Much as The Band's instrumentals did, Thayer's sound almost as if they were spawned by nature. You can almost hear gurgling creeks, squawking birds, swaying trees. His voice, too, sounds as if it belongs to the land; it's worn, like a mountain boulder, and bright, like the first hint of a new day.

And the first song I often turn to in the morning is "Wingless Angels." Give it a listen. Buy "Spend It All." Then go check out Thayer's latest album, "Shooting Arrows At the Moon," a refreshing collaboration with Kristina Stykos. - Cahl's Juke Joint

"Bow Thayer - Spend It All ("

Besides some ace musicians, Bow Thayer features Levon Helm (The Band) on drums, who leans hard on the rhythm section. Together with lead singer Bow Thayer (guitar/harmonica), they breath fire (sometimes hot sparks, or a four-alarmer), into these ten countrified rockers, while the rest of the band beats up on some tough blues and country licks.

They rummage through roots music ("Wingless Angels") for inspiration that leads them down ragged roads ("The Way That it Swings") finding magic in the music. One thing is made clear throughout the album. Bow Thayer has their shit together. They don't stand in the shadow of The Band, but they do draw some amazing inspiration from them, and artists like Tom Petty, Wlico or Emmy Lou Harris, via Gram Parsons.

These searching lyrics morn the consequences of bad judgment and celebrate life's precious moments of sheer joy- lyrics deepened by how much fun the band is having.
- Phil Rainone - Pop Vulture


Eden (March 2013)
Bottom of the Sky (November 2010)
Monkeyhead single (June 2010)
S/T (March 2008)
Spend It All featuring Levon Helm (November 2006)



Bow Thayer has been singing and writing songs for as long as he can remember. Making music is who he is. He has lived up to his “reputation as a sublimely gifted artist” by pursuing a creative vision that seeks to lead Americana music into the future. Finally gaining national recognition, American Songwriter says this "onetime Levon Helm compatriot is the best artist to come from New England in recent years."

Bow made a name for himself in Boston with 7 League Boots, a rock/reggae band that shared the stage with the likes of Fugazi, The Mighty Might Bosstones, and Pearl Jam. Fifteen years ago he made a life-altering decision to leave the city for the Green Mountains of Vermont. It was there that he explored the Delta blues playing slide guitar for the original Elbow and began a relationship with the banjo—both in the bluegrass group, The Benders, and on his own—that continues to this day.

Bow Thayer’s music is always evolving - from luscious backwoods folk rock to the progressive explorations of his last album, Eden.  Bow's newest effort, Sundowser, is a return to a more gritty, earthy sound while still continuing the atmospheric sonic exploration that is the hallmark of his recent work.  Sundowser was co-produced and engineered by three-time Grammy winner Justin Guip (Levon Helm) and features special guest performances by Marco Benevento and Tracy Bonham.  Crafting the album on an instrument he created  - the Bojotar - in a studio he built with his own hands, these songs feel as personal and organic as the rural Vermont environs he wrote and recorded them in.  As No Depression puts it, "You want inventiveness....I offer Bow Thayer." The Bojotar is an amplified stringed instrument that incorporates elements of banjo, resonator guitar and electric guitar and is currently available for sale from the Eastwood/Airline Guitar Company.  While out on the road, Bow had the joy of introducing the Bojotar to fans and friends alike, including some of his musical peers and heroes such as Bela Fleck, Richard Thompson, The Steep Canyon Ramblers and Warren Haynes.

Having played with these music luminaries as well as Levon Helm, John Hiatt, Booker T, and Ringo Starr, Bow has seen his fair share of travel across these United States of America and the World at large and plans to do more while supporting his records that feature his tales, truths and fantasies about the human condition.  Bow has been known to throw one hell of a party, too. Maybe you have heard of Tweed River Music Festival? Bow and his band of brothers devote their lives to spreading music wherever they go and hope you have the chance to catch an earful.

For further information, see Bow's website and his Wikipedia page.