Buster Blue
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Buster Blue

Reno, Nevada, United States | SELF

Reno, Nevada, United States | SELF
Band Folk Americana

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Reno, Nev.'s Buster Blue is something of a speakeasy marching band. And not just because the dapper, vest-clad fivesome weaves sax, accordion, drums and megaphone chants into its raucous live shows. The group also tours tirelessly, marching into towns big and small up and down the West Coast, making friends and winning fans with its feverish, front-porch-stomping folk.

And Buster Blue is no stranger to Boise. The band has busted out the buckets and chains and belted out Gothic-laced lyrics at floor-warping house shows and legit venues across the City of Trees. - Boise Weekly


"exquisite, eloquent lyricism...takes the chocolate and peanut butter combo that is anachronism and indie pop (ala the Decemberists) and drive it in an interesting, exciting, and suprisingly rocking direction"... - Three Imaginary Girls: Seattle Music Blog


"an intoxicating and foot-stomping take on the chain-gang music of the early 20th century....nearly brought the crowd to its knees in the process." - Santa Barbara Indpendent


"In the midst of an American roots music revival, Buster Blue are troubadours". - Billboard Magazine


Of all the bands that were a part of our band battles in the month of february, this is the one band I honestly didn’t expect to win Band of the Month. Not because the music was bad but because my audience tends to lean a bit more towards the harder stuff (music not drugs…I think). But here they are. Kings of the hill and our RiO! Band of the Month for February: Buster Blue.

Hailing from the biggest little city in the world, Reno, NV, this band manages to combine an amalgamation of music and turn it into something unique, danceable and enjoyable. It’s western folk music combined with elements of swing and ska. If you’re interest has been piqued then make your way to their Myspace page for their songs, pics and more.

Congratulations going out to Buster Blue for daring to be a bit different and making it work. - Rock It Out Blog


(English Translation)

Buffalo Bill and his circus western, Mark Twain and his drinking buddies: sepia images in the pages of history of Piper's Opera House in Virginia City, Nevada. In more than a century and a half, no one ever took the stage of that theater to record a disc. For Buster Blue was like stepping back in the secret heart of America, how to get in touch with a forgotten time. They were looking for a place capable of giving their music the warmth and depth of the disc once. They found much more: a place capable of becoming itself the score of their minds.

It looks like a ghost town, Virginia City. Born with the discovery of silver mines, abandoned when the bowels of the earth have been drained. On the drive there Buster Blue was the producer Zak Girdis already alongside the Avett Brothers in the heart of winter, the peaks of the Sierra Nevada. "It was an experience which changes your life," says the leader of the American band, Bryan Jones. "There is so much history within those walls you can almost hear it while you play."
Among the memories of the Piper's Opera House, the Blue Buster lose some 'ingenue recklessness that drove the previous "This Beard Grows For Freedom", bartering with the awareness of a painful maturity. Rather than a simple collection of songs, "When The Silver's Gone" aims to present itself as a kind of representation in two acts, in which for the first time Jones shares the writing of songs along with Andy Martin. Between the Appalachians and the Carpathians, the folk of Buster Blue draws the boundaries of the republic with an invisible nomadic spirit worthy of Elvis Perkins. "Folk music is music written for the people," says Jones decided. "It has to do with life, death, love, mourning: all the things that directly affect each of us."

It is on a farewell note that opens the curtain, a last goodbye before going into the dark forest of life: faceless creatures waiting in the dark, someone smoking a cigar with the grin of a clown. "Into The Trees (Demons At Play)" nostalgic part of banjo and guitar, but now the entrance to the whole group fills the space as a band in the moonlight. The trampling of feverish "On The Line" announces the moment of parting with a vibrant tone, surrounded by the coloration of the accordion. Then, in a reflection of the lazy brass of "Tabletop" Buster the Blue take on the role of swing orchestra emerging from some old film noir.
What happens when silver is gone? How can you face reality when it seems that each treasure has been stolen? The heart of "When The Silver's Gone" revolves around these questions: "We have gone through great changes in our lives," Jones always says, "we have experienced loss, separation and meaning begin to grow."

As a groan from the grave, "Funeral March Interlude" becomes a gap between the two parts of the album with the solemnity of the old pump organ at Piper's Opera House. The chains that echo in the background are the same as used by Johnny Cash in "Is not No Grave" to lend to Buster Blue was an employee of Rick Rubin, Kevin Bosley, Zak Girdis active with the console. Shadow Man in Black is added so the ghosts of the old theater, and a chant from chain gang makes its way ever more vehement: he is "Rise Up" call to arms anthem and redemption, a true turning point travel.
Among yearnings piano ("Bluebirds & Honeybees"), wind lulling ("Me & The Wolf") and restless ardor ("Bloody Your Teeth"), is nudity in direct "Dead" pulling the strings of the road traveled: when is the destiny calling your name, you can not escape it. "Would you ask me what I've got behind my back, But It's not a lot (...) It's a bullet and it's calling your name."

Under the old chandelier in the theater, Buster Blue seem to emerge from the cover of the "Basement Tapes" Dylan. "Uncle John" Curran, the agreement of Piper's Opera House, started playing the piano and they all stop to listen. It's an old Irving Berlin's ragtime, entitled "Kiss Me My Honey, Kiss Me." Outside, the snow covers the deserted streets of Virginia City, while the notes are spread in a silence broken only by the creaking of the planks of the stage. For a moment is like being catapulted into the Overlook Hotel in the lounge, including the ghosts that come to life from the frames of old photographs on the walls. The Blue Buster play for them, and the spirits return to dance with a diaphanous smile. - Ondarock.it


Buster Blue’s When the Silver’s Gone surprises almost immediately with a unique, characteristic sound that rarely lets up.

The first track, “Into the Trees,” is a great example of the kind of music you’ll find on this album. The sound is characterized by frequent starts and stops between a very tightly integrated rhythm section, an accordion providing a constant unifying element to the song’s measures, and a really interesting effect involving a saxophone and some vocals that almost come across sounding like they were put through a vocoder, with a recurring riff that establishes the theme for the song, and also to a certain extent, for the album.

This is an album that is full of songs that return over and over again to their own unifying riffs. No two songs are exactly the same, but one thing is shared by all the tracks: they’re dark. This is not a record full of happy music. Good music, to be sure. But many of the songs tend toward the macabre.

The album is divided into two halves: from what I can tell, the first half is a tale of wandering through a dangerous world full of longing to not be let down by a best friend or lover. Sadly, the culmination of the first half is a most unfortunate act of self sabotage.

Which brings us to “Funeral March Interlude”, a song that for its first 50 seconds or so, will have you scratching your head wondering if this crazy American swing noir band has been replaced by Radiohead! Following the interlude, “Rise Up” sets the tone for the rest of the album, a tale of dime store redemption, introspection, and ultimately, death.

Yes, it’s happy stuff. And well worth a listen.

This is why we recommend joining us in attending the CD release show at John Ascuaga’s Nugget on June 18. - God Hates Reno


While listening to "This Beard Grows for Freedom," the first album release from Reno band Buster Blue, what impresses me most is that it sounds like them.

Well, duh, one might say. But when a band self-produces a CD after playing dozens of live shows, something can be lost in the recording, but fans are in for a treat at the CD release show on Friday.

Buster Blue’s live sets are raucous, loud, exuberant and rough, with lots of yelling, stomping, and laughing among the seven bandmates. Their genre is hard to describe and sparsely populated. But generic words like rock, folk and blues help, assuming you blend well before serving. In some ways, it’s old music that makes you feel young.

An accordion doesn’t mean you’ve gone to Eastern Europe. A harmonica doesn’t mean you’re on a backwoods porch. A trombone doesn’t mean you’re about to get hit in the face with ska. A banjo doesn't mean you should run for your life.

The sound, which actually varies wildly in decibels and tone, owes much to early 20th century music, from chain gang choruses to big band to classic jazz. But it mostly could be encompassed with the term “rock,” though it sounds like nothing you hear on national radio.

Long road to release

In the works for more than a year, the CD represents the progress the band has made musically, even though the older material is not as prominent in live shows now that the band has a larger repertoire. Though an album doesn’t capture the spectacle and showmanship of a live Buster Blue show, “This Beard Grows for Freedom” shows off their best sound and lets softer songs breathe.

The band's bassist, Brendon Lund engineered the album and does an admirable job of capturing the bands loud and mellow sides while keeping the authenticity of a chain hitting a microphone stand and the feeling in some parts that the sound is coming through an old-time radio.

People can hear it for the first time when Buster Blue debuts it Wednesday at St. James Infirmary. Hear the full album and enjoy a short live set of new songs from the band. To add extra panache, everyone is invited to dress up as much as they can kick back high-society style.

Then on Thursday at 8 p.m., listen to 100.1 The X to hear the band play and talk about the album.

Finally, on Friday, the album can be bought for $5 at their release show at Studio on 4th (admission is another $5). Punkabilly band the Xenophobes, who also have Gardnerville roots, will open, and highlighting the band’s eclectic nature, magician Yu Sekine (who even sports a kimono) will perform. The show is all-ages with a bar for those 21 and older.

The band plans to put it on iTunes and CDBaby very soon, but for now, the only place to get your copy is at the Friday show.

The songs

The album's eight songs sound clear without losing the live rawness exemplified by Jason Ricketts’ vocal chord abuse and a heavy chain clanking the beat on opener “Ain't No Heaven on the County Road” (the album's only adapted song).

The tracks that include the full band let you hear all the pieces, which often is a struggle in the thrown-together world of bar shows, where Buster Blue is simply bigger than most local acts.

Meanwhile, tunes such as the bright ballad “Moonlight,” which is heavy on banjo and whistling, can be enjoyed without straining to hear over the din of fellow drinkers.

Other softer songs can be newly appreciated, such as the haunting “Science Sleep Dreams” and the accordion-laden "Isabelle," which combines drinking-song sway with deceptively sunny melody. And the vocals by Bryan Jones and Andy Martin shine throughout.

“Shoes and the Places You Put Them” starts with just piano and builds in intensity rather than volume.

Meanwhile, “Señora Galecia” and “Damascus” bring the ramshackle folk rock energy, though the percussion on the latter sounds hollow.

In a somewhat traditional move, the final song, “Will You Wait,” a short and sweet romantic sentiment, is about as stripped down as could be. And if the album is looped, it leads nicely back into the loud vocal intro of track one.

Recommended if you like: DeVotchKa, the Brobecks, the Mountain Goats, 1930s blues artists no one else has heard of, power folk.

- Reno Metromix -article by David Hegle


Google English Translation available below article
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Il sole batte implacabile sulle pietre. Dalla fila dei carcerati si leva un canto nostalgico, scandito dal ritmo dei picconi. Il passo da chain gang che apre il disco d’esordio dei Buster Blue sembra sbucare direttamente dalla scena iniziale di “Fratello, dove sei?”: e in effetti, per scovare le origini di “Ain’t No Heaven On The County Road”, bisogna risalire fino agli anni Trenta, a una registrazione di Slick Owens raccolta tra i campi della South Carolina. Tra urla al megafono, cori e clangori di catene, verrebbe quasi da scommettere che a ridarle vita sia davvero un gruppo di avventurieri appena sfuggiti ai lavori forzati…

“Siamo qui per combattere il crimine e liberare i locali dalla musica acustica noiosa”, proclamano spavaldi i Buster Blue. In pratica una sorta di Watchmen della Grande Depressione: “folk-superheroes”, li hanno definiti… Loro stanno al gioco e accettano con un sorriso la missione di ridare carne e sangue alle radici della loro terra. “Un tempo la musica folk aveva uno scopo”, spiega Bryan Jones, che dei Buster Blue rappresenta l’anima – anche se preferisce presentarsi solo come un semplice portavoce. “Quando la gente pensa al folk, pensa a dei vecchietti che cantano dei loro gatti… Io invece penso alla gente che ha dato origine al folk e al modo in cui erano appassionati. Non sto parlando degli hippie degli anni Sessanta, ma di gente che aveva la polvere sulle corde delle proprie chitarre prima di suonare”. Ecco, “This Beard Grows For Freedom” è fatto di questo “folk con uno scopo”: un disco che ha la brevità e la forza di una sfida messa a segno a colpo sicuro.

Reno, Nevada. Sì, proprio dove quel tale raccontava di avere sparato a un uomo solo per vederlo morire… Non potrebbe esserci luogo migliore, per ospitare una gang di fuorilegge del “folk-thrash” come i Buster Blue. Sono cresciuti insieme, i sette alfieri della band: dopo la scuola, Bryan Jones e Jay Escamillo si chiudevano in casa per costruire strumenti musicali artigianali e improvvisare improbabili jam session. “Stavo pensando a un nome per la band quando ho visto l’immagine di un vecchio con gli stivali”, racconta Bryan Jones. “Dato che di solito penso sempre per immagini, mi sono chiesto quale dovesse essere il suo nome. Logicamente, come è ovvio, il suo nome era Buster Blue…”.
Al debutto su disco, lo spirito dei Buster Blue non sembra essere cambiato da allora, almeno a giudicare dal modo in cui Jones e soci giocano a scambiarsi continuamente ogni genere di strumento, dalla fisarmonica all’ukulele, dalle catene alla tromba. Una combriccola di ventenni che non fa mistero della propria passione per gente come Tom Waits, Neutral Milk Hotel e Eels (“Daisies Of The Galaxy” e “Electro-Shock Blues” mi hanno cambiato la vita”, confessa Jones), ma che non disdegna nemmeno di tuffarsi a capofitto nella musica di New Orleans, nelle danze dell’Europa dell’Est o in qualche vecchio spiritual.

La vivacità agreste di “Señora Galicia” fa subito spazio a una fanfara da marching band, abbandonandosi a un’irruenza festosa degna del miglior Langhorne Slim (insieme al quale i Buster Blue hanno condiviso non a caso il palco di recente). Ci sono incanti di sirene e ombre di donne infernali, nelle canzoni dei Buster Blue; ci sono sapori antichi e palpiti corali. La viscerale energia di “Damascus” porta i Beirut al teatro degli Squirrel Nut Zippers con un contagioso esplodere di percussioni, fiati e grida, mentre il pianoforte e il sax guidano “Shoes And The Places You Put Them” verso un country-gospel scherzosamente solenne.
Ascoltando l’eco del vecchio grammofono da cui sembrano provenire gli spettri di “Science, Sleep, Dreams” diventa facile illudersi di poter prendere davvero la luna al lazo dal tetto di casa. Cullati dalla serenata in punta di banjo di “Moonlight” si finisce per ritrovarsi a fischiettare un motivo svagato al suono dell’armonica. E l’accordion su cui naviga sospesa “Isabelle” porta a lambire le rive del fiume Okkervil con il suo crescendo.
Alla fine, tra i cinguettii di un pomeriggio di sole, bastano poche note sparse di piano e chitarra per dare al bozzetto di “Will You Wait” il senso di un commiato denso di attesa: quando c’è qualcuno che aspetta alla fine della strada, si può andare avanti anche solo per sentire il rumore dei suoi passi in lontananza. “I would follow you around / Just to hear the sound / Of your feet against the road / Got to let me know / Will you wait for me”.

(23/07/2009)

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ENGLISH TRANSLATION:

The sun beats relentlessly on the stones. From the ranks of prisoners rises a nostalgic song, punctuated by the rhythm of the picks. The pitch of chain gangs, which opens the debut album of Blue Buster seems to emerge directly from the opening scene of "Brother, Where Art Thou?": And indeed, to discover the origins of "Is not No Heaven On The County Road , we must go back to the thirties, t - Ondarock.it -article by Gabriele Benzing


A few members of Buster Blue and I sit in the patent white leather seats next to the collaged walls at their favorite watering hole, St. James Infirmary. Bryan Jones, the lead singer with a very rock ‘n’ roll name, sits next to me, fingering his Guinness and occasionally pushing his chunky black rims to the top of his nose. His blue eyes attentively watch my pen scribbling notes.

“We met at the Back to the Future 3 premiere,” says Jason Ricketts, the accordion and keyboard player. He is the joker of the band, constantly cracking jokes over the mellower Jones and bassist Brendon Lund, who sit quietly and answer my questions.

Buster Blue’s first album, This Beard Grows for Freedom, was released in February by Dam Road Records and is available online at Cdbaby.com and at Sundance Bookstore.

Buster Blue has been playing music together for over two years. All graduates from Douglas High School, they are Nevada natives who grew up together. They’re babies from Gardnerville that sound like 40-year-chain-smoking-whiskey-drinking-blues musicians out of Nashville. Bryan Jones and Andy Martin write the majority of the songs, and the band gets together at practice to arrange them.

“We try to play music that feels like Reno,” Jones says. “We don’t think everything in Reno sucks, we’re proud of the place we come from.”

“It’s more like Reno spiritual music for heavy drinkers,” Ricketts chimes in.

If you have ever had a Buster Blue live experience, you’ll understand what he means:

Seven band members crowd the stage but not without purpose. They all scream into their microphones and hold a variety instruments, a snare drum around a rotund drummer in suit and tie, a saxophone for the tall, dark and curly-haired girl, an accordion for the bucktooth boy in suspenders. Is this a swing band? A big band? A jazz band?

“WOMAN! WOMAN! WOMAN!” They chant into their microphones, stomping their feet, demanding the crowd’s attention. The lead singer travels through the crowd screaming into his megaphone. One member bangs a link of chains on the ground for a different type of sound effect. The band members frequently switch instruments throughout the set. The music thrashes the crowd, makes us want to swing, yet can be folksy and mellow at times. But a few of their songs could incite a riot. Maybe this is a thrash band.

The crowd bounces up and down, kicks their legs, pumps their fists, and chants with the band. Only a handful of people in this room actually know a Buster Blue song, but the music is catchy enough to improvise. It is jazzy, swingy, country and folksy all at the same time.

Sometimes Buster Blue takes the crowd down with a sweet croon like “Isabelle” and then brings it back up with “Damascus.” There are even some theatrical elements with an umbrella and spotlight. (Jones is a theater major at UNR.) The music feels bipolar at times, constant crescendos and decrescendos. But the energy never ceases, the stomping and clapping and snapping proceed without hesitation and the crowd can’t help but sway along like an ocean tide.

All the members of Buster Blue are in their 20s. They would like to play music full time professionally, but realize they have some time to put in.

“We’ve got a good following,” says Jones. “We’re working really hard, and we want to give Reno’s music scene a good name again. There’s been a competitive mentality here, and I think it’s starting to come around where local bands are realizing that we are all in this together.” - Reno News and Review -article by Izzy Labranch


Local band Buster Blue released its first album “This Beard Grows for Freedom,” at a Feb. 20 release party that was as whimsical as the CD itself.

Magician Yu Sekine began the show, performing for a packed room at the Studio on Fourth. The audience consisted of a huge range of people, from 10- or 11-year-old children to teenagers to parents. Sekine wowed the crowd with very cleanly performed, original acts, including one during which he tied a long red rope on two microphones and proceeded to make knots disappear, reappear, and move along the rope.

After Sekine performed, a psychobilly trio called the Xenophobes took the stage. Throughout their lineup they jumped into the rapidly growing crowd, thrashing and dancing as they played their instruments. The energy in the room continued to grow throughout their set.

Being a seven-piece band, Buster Blue took a long time to set up, and since the room was almost too packed for people to move, the crowd mostly just stood around and watched the stage, cheering when certain band members stepped out to set up their instruments. The excitement had reached its peak by the time the band had struck up their first song, “Ain’t No Heaven on the Country Road,” which is also the first song on the album. Vocalist Bryan Jones stood with a megaphone at the back of the room, and he waded through the crowd to the stage as he sang.

Buster Blue’s performance was both polished and eccentric. Their album could easily be described the same way, mixing swing with the folk sounds of the Wild West. “Ain’t No Heaven” translated better in a live setting, aided by Jones moving through the crowd and shouting through a megaphone, than it did on the album, but its gritty western feel still comes across well. The second song, “Señora Galicia,” is fast-paced, with a perfect combination of the upbeat country feel and swinging horns that are such a signature item for Buster Blue. The opening banjo chords of “Moonlight” in combination with the light notes of a harmonica are reminiscent of the songs of the open range, but the vocal harmony in the background is in the style of a barbershop quartet. The next song, “Damascus,” brings to mind Beirut, a band to which Buster Blue is often compared, with its Mediterranean feel.

The latter half of the album seems like a transition from burning daylight to tranquil evening and night. “Science Sleep Dreams” showcases Sondre Lerche-esque vocals and sleepy background horns. The peaceful lull continues through “Shoes and the Place You Put Them,” which has a very bluesy feel to it, and “Isabelle.” The final song, “Will You Wait,” with bird sounds and melodic vocals, channels the halcyon feeling of a sunrise or sunset.

The quiet sound of the album’s final chord is like a period on the long sentence that is “This Beard Grows for Freedom.” It is a sentence that incorporates many decades of American history and sound. It is a sentence that includes swinging happiness and the unbeatable, tired sounds of sadness. And it is a sentence that is beautifully and eccentrically complete.

Buster Blue
This Beard Grows for Freedom
Release Date: Feb. 20
Genre: Folk, Western Swing
Grade: A-

Leanne Howard can be reached at arts-entertainment@nevadasagebrush.com. - The Nevada Sagebrush- article by Leanne Howard


Discography

"Still On Conway" EP - July 2012

"When the Silver's Gone"- June 2010

"This Beard Grows For Freedom" - 2009

Photos

Bio

Buster Blue is emerging out of Reno, NV.

Buster Blue was featured in Billboard Magazine (Oct 29, 2011) in the Billboard Pro section.
http://pro.billboard.com/content/featured-artist-buster-blue

Buster Blue is a indie-infused, folk-driven band with an "eclectic sound that jumps from breezy folk pop to loud unhinged rock and sounds like it belongs in an illicit speakeasy retrofitted for the new millennium". The band's sound and performance has garnered recognition, nationally, with accolades from Billboard Magazine exclaiming "in the midst of an Americana Roots revival, Buster Blue are troubadours". As well in their home market of Reno, NV, Buster Blue is revered as the band poised to be the most important to ever emerge out of the Reno Indie music scene (Reno-Tahoe Tonight)". The band has also made it into the international ranks with praise from Ondarock, Italy's most influential music blog, commends the band's music as "folk with purpose".

In the short time of just over a year, the band has been moving into marquee venues, been invited to top perform at level festivals and in support positions for national touring bands such as Warren Haynes Band and Beats Antique at the Grand Sierra Resort showroom (1900 capacity). Buster Blue was the featured band for the Rock'n'Bowla event supporting the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson Research in Los Angeles at L.A. Live in Spring 2011.

Festival performances include a recent appearance at the Treefort Music Festival in Boise Idaho where BB was one of Boise Weekly's "Bands To Not Miss", Fall Strawberry Music Festival, Capitol Hill Block Party in Seattle-WA, Millpond Music Festival as well as commanding a relentless tour schedule that will push over 175 dates throughout the western United States for the 2012-2013 year.

The band is comprised of five band members, most of whom alternate through an arsenal of instruments that includes banjo, accordion, trumpet, trombone, chain-links and more, along with the traditional guitar/bass/drums combo.

In January 2010, Buster Blue recorded their first full-length album, “When the Silver’s Gone”. They chose to not enter a studio to record, but wanted a special setting for their first album. Thus, in the middle of winter, the band hunkered down in a historic opera house in Virginia City, Nevada that once hosted performers such as Harry Houdini to record. The opera house seemed the ideal setting to capture the emotional depth of that particular set of songs. As well, they were able to acquire (on loan) chains from the Johnny Cash estate that were used on a couple of his recordings to use in their recordings…The album was produced by Zak Girdis and Kevin Bosley. Kevin was the assistant engineer on the Avett Brothers recent release.

Buster Blue brings a level of musicianship and energy to their live show that together create an incredible experience. One which folks will be glad they didn't miss.

Buster Blue has also performed with artists including: Margot and the Nuclear So & So's, Devil Makes Three, Jason Webley, Langhorne Slim, O'Death, T-Model Ford, The Dexter Romweber Duo, Norfolk & Western, Magnolia Electric Co,, Justin Gordon, Jaguar Love, David Vandervelde, Rocky Votolato, El Olio Wolof, Jason Anderson, The Deadly Syndrome, Bob Log III, Golden Boots, Rademacher, and The Pharmacy.