Earth Bombs Mars
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Earth Bombs Mars

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Many of you are aware of John Zias, his guitar playing, his flu-plagued audition with Phil & Friends, and his pending collaboration with.. with.. a prominent guitar wizard whose work is often applauded here. (SR can handle this part) Steven Ross has tirelessly promoted John and now, Earth Bombs Mars, a 2007 cd release on the Blue Heart label.

A quick search on the Archive will reveal available live EBM recordings. Steven was kind enough to give me an extended listen to the new EBM album; Here's my take. I have not yet seen them live.
Yet.
But I will.
They'll need to pack a bag.

I prefer BANDS to Stars, almost everytime. Don't get me wrong, many of my favorites, Dylan, Clapton, Beck, Hendrix, Marley and others like them burned so brightly that their supporting bands played, mostly, in the shadows. But the cross-pollination of true collaborators in a band, the merging currents, the sweet and sour, the jagged and smooth, the complexity of combinations- Django and Grappelli, Dizzy and Bird, Miles, Monk and Trane, Wolf and Sumlin, Page and Plant, Lennon and McCartney, Jagger and Richards, Edge and Bono, peanut butter and jelly, Gilmour and Waters, Duane and Dickey and Berry and Gregg and Butch, The Band, The GD, all demonstrate the exponential depth of musical partnerships. Instrumental guitar spaghetti can entrance us awhile, or a bellringer song, but if you can merge the two, now you're talking...

All four members of EBM wrote songs on their cd, and all bring a flavor to the mix, but the primary axis is lead guitarist Zias and guitarist/ singer/writer Rich Whiteley. Take a fat strand of DNA from early Grateful Dead instrumentation, one clean clanging guitar, and one twisty snake-in-the-woodpile guitar, a pinch of Wake, a thread of Mars, and a cluster of Europe '72 constellations, mix and germinate inside a band of resonant souls, add some doublewide stories, an attentive drum/bass collective, some horn punctuation, and culture it out in brand new songs, and you get Earth Bombs Mars.

Whiteley has a voice and a songwriting sensibility that might have sprung directly from the unforgettable NRPS cut "Dirty Business"- the conspiratorial voice, the wry wit, the twisting plotlines- his vocals creak like midnight floorboards. And Zias has an expansive, unfurling guitar style, powerflowing to take a clean jazzy groove or country swing shuffle directly to Ursa Minor, by way of 1972-3 wah-inflected dissonance, and chromatic modulated Escher-print solos, and get back home again for dinner.

The album opens with a jazzy samba that would remind some of early Metheny, veers left into swampy wah and then dissolves into open sea, with clanging Lost Sailor-like buoys, and back to the bubbly jazz groove again. On the next song, Better Day, Whiteley's voice opens like a squeaky door, with faint echoes of NRPS, Panic, and others, but clearly his own haunted house of a voice (see Dirty Business, above) telling a story that Hunter might enjoy. Zias embroiders the vocals with familiar colors, filling the gaps.

Then there's a Pure Praire-ish strainer sung by the drummer (A Constant Riddle), a dark, minorish Eyes-style sax-based romp (Bacote Grains) and an eerie psychobilly drama (with initial echoes of "No Rain") complete with a loping groove and a transportational extended jam that fans of 1972-74 will revel in (Wolf From the Door).

But the album peaks in a four song section that begins with
a country-ish swinger, Going To Carolina, veers Into The Mystic with an outjam detour to a fun-house of jazzy fractal Zias mirrors, then turns into an original, Stargazer, a slow boiling ballad that gathers us back into the music. The album ends with a bluesy cut- "The Only Way"- that echoes the Cowboy Movie cut from Crosby's If I Could Only Remember My Name.

Earth Bombs Mars has the promise of stories mixed with the searching sound- if we surround this band with wide eyes and ears for a few years, and propel them out on the road to get rained on, and good and lost, more familiar and comfortably strange music seems sure to bloom. This one gets the Sparklewell Seal Of The House of Wax.

go here for more
http://www.archive.org/details/EarthBombsMars
or here
http://cdbaby.com/cd/earthbombsmars

sincerely
Hambone Sparklewell - Hambone Sparkwell (Blog)


EARTH BOMBS MARS Best known for cofronting long-running, beloved local Dead tribute act Uncle John's Band, Tampa's Rich Whiteley is a skilled singer/songwriter whose jammy, psychedelic-leaning quartet Earth Bombs Mars couch his originals in a hippie-friendly, psychedelic-folk vibe. (Kelly's Pub, Tampa) - Creative Loafing


Why have jam bands maintained a strong following for nigh on four decades? Because it's the only music that most white boys can dance to without making fools of themselves. Whether you're a frat boy, hippie-until-graduation or bearded Woodstock veteran, Earth Bombs Mars (fka the Rich Whiteley Band) posseses the chops to keep you doing The Skipper's Smokehouse shuffle all night long and hold you over until the next time Phish, Widespread Panic or The String Cheese Incident come to town. Whiteley's self-penned works range from bouncy, dance-inducing ditties like "Raise the Roof" to folk-oriented, emotionally charged ballads. He's also comfortably tossing off witty, John Prine-esque musings on the absurdities of life. The vocalist/guitarist is supported by a strong cast of players that include fiery lead guitarist John Zias, sturdy bassist Mike Edwards and keyboardist Lee Bryant. Dan DeGregory sets up shop behind the drum kit. In addition to Whiteley originals, RWB offers a bevy of Deadhead-friendly interpretations, ranging from the Appalachian folk of "Shady Grove" to the Jimmy cliff reggae classic "The Harder They Come." www.earthbombsmars.com, www.richwhiteley.com - Weekly Planet, Tampa Bay


Discography

Earth Bombs Mars - Earth Bombs Mars (2007)
Rich Whiteley Band - Radio Wasteland (2003 LP)
Rich Whiteley Band - Live on May 5 (2002 Live EP)
Rich Whiteley - A Dog or a Bicycle (2001 LP)

All available at most digital music resellers on the internet (iTunes, Music Match, Sony Music, etc.) And at several streaming sites. Live MP3s available for download at official band Website http://www.earthbombsmars.com. CDs available from CDBaby.com and Amazon.com.

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Bio

Earth Bombs Mars combines roots-based songwriting with a wide-open improvisational ethic. They are a band that can smoothly take you from the comfort of the back porch to a tour of the cosmos and back again.

Laying bluegrass licks over jazz motifs, they rock out then melt into bluesy ballads. They synchronize and harmonize, and just when you think you know where they're going, they venture into another frontier.

Lead guitarist John Zias, a graduate of the Berklee College of Music who auditioned for Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh’s quintet, lends his articulate, soulful improvisational chops.

Lead singer/songwriter Rich Whiteley provides textural and harmonic interplay on rhythm guitar. In addition to several rootsy independent releases, Whiteley honed his improvisational chops in the newgrass acoustic combo Magnolia Creek, and the regionally acclaimed Grateful Dead tribute act, Uncle John's Band.

Bassist T.J. Glowacki contributes his classical expertise and smoothly shifts the harmonic floor. He played with the Jammy award winning rock band Webbed Feet touring the southeast and was promoted by Budweiser in Musician and Spin magazine. In college he recorded with Tiny Tim shortly before his death.

Dan DeGregory, who backed Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bo Diddley, and blues legend Rock Bottom, plays melodic linear and groove-oriented drum figures and sings backing vocals.

Years of live performance have created a unified sense of adventure among the band. Each night offers a fresh opportunity to explore the combination of sounds created by the diversity of the musicians and nourished by audience interaction.