Daniel and the Lion
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Daniel and the Lion

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"Madison Music Scene and Heard: Daniel and the Lion"


Folk-rockers Daniel and the Lion have built a local following in less than a year, and they will offer an opportunity for fans to put their audience skills to use at a live DVD filming. The filming will take place during the group's upcoming performance at the High Noon Saloon, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 24.

The show, titled These Wisconsin Songs, marks two major changes for Daniel and the Lion: their departure from Madison and the unveiling of an expanded lineup. Joining the band for the High Noon show will be drummer Davey Roberts and bassist Jason Krunnfusz, both Baraboo natives (as are the original DATL duo of Daniel Pingrey and Jimmie Linville). They'll be living in Chicago for the next few months while recording an album, and plan to head out for a national tour in the spring.

"Until now, Daniel and the Lion's music has merited sparse, stripped instrumentation," says Pingrey, who plays piano and marimba for the band. "Some of the new songs feel bigger, and bolder, so we decided it was time to move forward with bass and drums."
With more members, "We can add new colors to the quiet songs as well. The idea of Daniel and the Lion has always been to have a full band, not a loud band, and certainly not just a duo," says Pingrey. "This show will serve as an indication of the future of the band, and we couldn't be more excited.

Pingrey says that along with the new lineup, there will be some special staging designed especially for the DVD filming. "We'll be playing the songs the way we would back home: in the company of good friends, laughing and telling stories. It's important to capture this part of our lives, this music, and this community of friends we have here in Madison. It's truly our home."

The show is open to ages 18 and up, and advance tickets are available through the High Noon website. New band The Skin of Our Teeth will also play a set. - Isthmus: The Daily Page


"CD REVIEWS: Daniel & the Lion , "Secret Stuff" (self-released)"

Daniel & the Lion , "Secret Stuff" (self-released)

As a follow-up to their painstakingly handcrafted debut album, "This Is Handmade," Madison duo Daniel & the Lion have once again crafted a beautiful set of quiet folk. "Secret Stuff" is a short EP, only four tracks, all available for free download on the band's Web site at datlband.com/ secretstuff. The duo is Jimmie Linville (lyrics, vocals, guitar/banjo) and Daniel Pingrey (spot-on marimba and piano). Davey Roberts adds understated percussion when needed.

The songs are wispy and brief, but they pack an emotional heft carried on Linville's evocative lyrics and Pingrey's sharp musical ear. The undulating, waving tone of a single piano chord bookends "Tracing Circles" and suggests the drone of cicadas on a hot summer night next to Linville's image-rich lyrics ("You're tracing circles with that sparkler in your hands"). The duo excels at setting a mood and a colorful atmosphere with each song. "Jonah" begins with footsteps that turn into a percussive beat. Pingrey's marimba rings out like falling drops of water on "Robin Song."

Definitely take advantage of these free downloads, but also be sure to catch Daniel & the Lion perform. The glowing tone of the marimba sounds best live.
- Madison.com


"Daniel & the Lion play indie folk with teeth"

Jimmie Linville had a tooth infection last year and had to sell his banjo to pay his dental bills.

The night before he sold the instrument, he sat down and started strumming and singing. Fifteen minutes later, "Like Father, Like Banjo" was complete.

"So it's safe to assume," the lyrics start out, "that locked in my room, in the hot part of June, you'd forgive me, like my father, for leaving you there."

On the surface, the song was a farewell to the banjo, but it also unearthed emotions he'd suppressed about his relationship with his father.

"The banjo just played the song. It's kind of the banjo's song, not mine. When I was singing it, the lyrics were already formed," said Linville, a 22-year-old living in Madison. "Now I play the song on guitar a lot 'cause I don't have a banjo anymore."

He managed to record the song on banjo, however, and it's on "This Is Handmade," the debut EP he released in January with Daniel Pingrey (marimba, piano, percussion). Together they're the acoustic duo Daniel & the Lion -- Linville's a Leo, hence "the Lion." Next Tuesday, Feb. 24, is their second in a series of monthly gigs at Cafe Montmartre.

Linville and Pingrey, also 22, grew up in Baraboo and until recently played together in the Madison band Red Romero. Daniel & the Lion grew partly out of their shared frustration with the dynamics of a rock band.

"When you're in a rock band, in a five-piece, there's always this competition of who can play the loudest, and the electric guitar always wins that competition. Eventually, music is lost to volume," said Pingrey. With Daniel & the Lion songs, "there's so much room to breathe. They're really rewarding to play."

Daniel & the Lion's songs evoke power in their spareness, similar to Eau Claire indie darling Bon Iver. They have plans to collaborate with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, in fact. Pingrey's brother is good friends with the Eau Claire-based musician and played trombone on a track on his debut album, "For Emma, Forever Ago" ("for a burger," Linville said, until the royalties came in).

Linville and Pingrey are both committed, full-time musicians, but they've taken very different paths to get there. Pingrey started piano at 5, played in a gospel band in middle school and has his music degree in percussion performance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His mother is Karen Atz, a respected harpist and a member of the Madison Symphony Orchestra since 1976.

Linville listened to Linkin Park a lot in high school and only started learning guitar informally at 18 and writing music at 19. Before he dropped out of college, he soaked up Shakespeare and his contemporaries -- like Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson -- in English classes and was inspired by their "economy of words."

"I really like the older British literature because it used this density. They were really into word selection, and because of that you'd have one line that was maybe six words but it was really powerful," he said.

Writing comes a lot easier to him than music. With Pingrey, he added, "we have this cool dynamic. He's the music, and I'm the songs. He's been playing music since he was probably an infant. I wasn't trained in music and don't know all the rules so I break the rules."

"I consider it to be a very equal musical relationship," said Pingrey. "We just came upon our skills in very different ways."

Together or solo, the two perform on practically a daily basis in and around Madison. Linville occasionally supplements his income by serving as a human guinea pig in medical studies, but he and Pingrey believe in working in music full-time and doing it their own way.

"We're very into making new rules," said Linville.

"There's a lot of stuff they don't teach you in music school about being a musician," said Pingrey. "Like how to make a living."

Many musicians take on part- or even full-time jobs to pay for insurance and get by, he said, and music slowly slips to a secondary importance in their lives.

"People will work forty hours a week for Taco Bell, but they won't work one hour a week for themselves," said Pingrey.

When Linville talks about the songs he writes for Daniel & the Lion, he refers to them as if they're living beings.

"The songs can get up and walk on their own. We're just giving them legs," he said. His songwriting falls into two categories: 90 percent of the songs he labors over for months -- "You set them aside and then they come back at 3 a.m. and say 'Hey, work on me'" -- and the other 10 percent "just hit you like a brick and they're done in five, 10 minutes."

The songs on "This Is Handmade" are from that second category. He wrote them while still in Red Romero, but "wasn't ready for them. They were better than I was. I felt like maybe they were too honest, too revealing." They didn't fit with Red Romero's sound, so he saved them for later.

After Linville writes the songs, Pingrey puts them on his iPod and listens to them over and over, finding the spaces where he can contribute his part on piano. He recorded the piano part for the album, but in performance, he plays the marimba. People at Daniel & the Lion shows have described its sound as "ethereal, atmospheric, mesmerizing," but the marimba's unique acoustics don't translate well into the microphone in a recording studio.

"It's so great to take it out and about. It's an untapped instrument," he said. "Back in the '50s and '60s, the marimba was treated like a novelty instrument, like a kazoo," he said.

The duo is always looking for "sonically unique areas" to perform, said Linville. They've given shows four stories below ground in a parking garage, where the acoustics extend the sound without bouncing back an echo.

"I think we had 50 people down there, which was really intense," Linville said. "It's really otherworldly." - Katjusa Cisar - 77 Square


Discography

Handmade - January, 2009

Photos

Bio

Daniel and the Lion plays honest folk songs with open chords. They are currently playing shows in the midwest in support of their debut EP "Handmade," and planning a spring tour.

"Daniel and the Lion's songs evoke power in their spareness, similar to Eau Claire indie darling Bon Iver."
- Katjusa Cisar, 77 Square