Hat on, Drinking Wine
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Hat on, Drinking Wine

Worcester, Massachusetts, United States | SELF

Worcester, Massachusetts, United States | SELF
Band Alternative Singer/Songwriter


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""Hat On, Drinking Wine Espresses Themselves""

http://media.www.leprovoc.com/media/storage/paper453/news/2007/10/17/Feature/Hat-On.Drinking.Wine.espresses.Themselves-3042561.shtml - Le Provocateur - Assumption College

"Hats off to Hat On"

Hats off to Hat On
Craig S. Semon Tracks
Jun 11, 2009

Whether feeling the weight of a slowly sinking sunset, frozen in one’s tracks by a snapshot or drowning beneath the summer rain, Hat On, Drinking Wine’s members seem to have their share of girl troubles on record, but don’t have any problems expressing their feelings through words and music.

With an aptly chosen moniker lifted from Van Morrison’s “Madame George,” Hat on, Drinking Wine follows the singer-songwriter tradition by putting plenty of passion and poetry into their refreshingly honest and emotionally resonant songs. Whether it’s the conversational, confessional lyrics, the intimate, bare-bones vocals or the homespun and hands-on arrangements; intimacy and honesty are two qualities that are very important to this three-year-old, Worcester-based rock ’n’ roots combo.

Citing influences including Wilco, Counting Crows, Van Morrison, the Band and Bob Dylan, Hat On, Drinking Wine’s seven-track, self-titled debut features tunes from the band’s three songwriters (pianist, accordion and tin whistle player Jim Lang and guitarists Matt Robert and Ed Whalen) and two lead singers (Robert and Whalen). And, despite all having distinct voices, these great storytellers and musicians combine forces for a cohesive unit.

Lang and Robert, both English teachers (at Assumption College and Doherty High School, respectively — it shows), and drummer Jarrett Conner (the city of Worcester budget director) all live on the same block on Franconia Street, near Newton Square, while Whalen, a math teacher at Doherty, grew up just around the corner on Monroe. Jared Forgues, the band’s new bassist (who’s not on the disc), hails from Leominster. West Boylston wunderkind Roger Lavallee produced and plays bass on the record.

Worcester’s answer to Wilco will have a CD release party Friday at Nick’s Bar & Restaurant, 124 Millbury St., Worcester.

Whalen musters up his inner-Adam Duritz on the confident and compelling, heart-on-one’s-sleeve rocker, “Mr. Jefferson.” The naturally flowing, neo-hippie words of wisdom unfold atop a warm bed of chimey acoustic guitar strums, trash-can percussion and sparse piano before reaching a jam-enriched crescendo. Besides being a song that the Counting Crows would probably kill for, “Mr. Jefferson” is a song that makes you hungry for more.

On the rootsy, barroom boogie, “Back to Boston,” Robert relives one of those perfect, spontaneous evenings that despite so many factors working against him, somehow falls into place. Trying to possess an unattainable free-spirit that has left an indelible impression on his romantic psyche, Robert howls, “She has everything I need as she spirals out of sight.”

Every picture tells a story, sometimes one too painful to bear, as is the case of the Lang-penned original, “Pictures of Your Exhibition.” Unfolding with great, storytelling skills and strikingly vivid details, Whalen examines photographic evidence (courtesy of the protagonist’s ex-shutterbug squeeze) and retraces his role in the failed romance that has left “a rainy glaze over everything.”

“I’m not good at much of anything these days since I left you,” Whalen confesses on “House on Lee Street.” While this ringing sentiment might be true on paper, in reality he couldn’t be more wrong. Through bare-bones intimacy and natural flowing lyrics, Whalen captures those hard-to-describe emotions in which unresolved feelings and lingering regret lives, mutates and festers in our subconsciousness.

On “Smoke Rings,” Robert is smitten by a chain-smoking, Beatles-strumming, bed-tossing, free-spirit who is “gonna make the world better one fingernail at a time.” Not only is the Robert-Whalen composition a riveting character study, it’s a solid rocker. Robert urges, “She says, ‘Take me away,’ ’cause she knows that she’s worth it.” And singer and the song’s rock ’n’ roll heroine are both right. By song’s end, she, too, will be blowing smoke rings around the listener’s heart.

While Robert and Whalen take turns serenading a female bar patron on the Irish pub-inspired closer “Jackie,” it’s Lang who truly shines. Not only did the multi-instrumentalist pen this infectious ditty; his honky-tonk piano playing, accordion flourishes and tin whistle trappings make it another lively and dynamic showcase for this promising band to watch, and a better one to listen to live. - Worcester Telegram - GO!

"Hat on, Drinking Wine"

Thursday, May 14, 2009
Hat On, Drinking Wine

This is a talented group of singers and songwriters that change instruments like people change beer glasses in a bar.
From an accordion, to a piano, to a tin whistle, Jim Lang is truly indie experimentation at its finest.
Framed in Red and Gold curtains on the posh Nick's stage, every member of Hat On, Drinking Wine wore a baseball cap that juxtaposed the gleam of guitars in the golden light. Their musicality leaves an impression. They have an innate ability to harmonize with a disregard for a 'front runner'; they're not that kind of band. It's all about the overrall quality of the sound, and these three kings share, rather than boast, their wealth. Most of the songs sang were in the style of wistful love ballads, and Matt Robert's powerful voice swooped through the acoustics with a vibrato that parallels Van Morrison.
During Plastic Flowers, the unique sound of Hat On, Drinking Wine was fluid, powerful, and harmonius. "Back to Boston" brought stubstantial strumming and filled the room with pluckiness; Ed Whalen played the guitar like an upbeat electric bass.
The reprise of 'House on East Street' brought the duo of Whalen and Roberts together with split harmonies with a distinctly Americana feel.
Playing at Nick's for a year, they represent a versatility that is as alive as a heartbeat. With memorable, thought-provoking lyrics, Hat on Drinking Wine is constantly evolving,and that is how they keep people coming back.
After all these months, they still have a dedicated crowd as diverse as they are.
Ten months in the making, Hat On Recently released their seven song self-titled album June 12 that features songs regulars at Nick's will recognize. With everpresent melancholy lyrics, During 'Jackie' the last song on the CD, Jim Lang's lackadaisical piano accompanient brings a creative element to the piece.
Posted by 95rocks at 5:26 PM - 95 Connections

"Never Finished With Hat on, Drinking Wine"

Wednesday, 17 June 2009
by Jeremy Shulkin

What’s guaranteed upon seeing Hat On,
Drinking Wine live is noticing their workman-like attention to their craft. Not content to stand onstage bashing out the same tunes from the week before, HODW has taken advantage of their Wednesday night residency at Nick’s to work on their each of their songs, teasing out the intricacies and details to make them each stand out.

Guitarist and vocalist Ed Whalen says as much. “I don’t think a song is ever finished, so I’m always changing [it]. Whatever I feel that night, get lost in the moment, it’s great to know these guys are there behind you,” gesturing to his bandmates. Matt Robert, HODW’s other guitarist/vocalist, chimes in. “Nick’s is a huge part of this band, they let us do anything we want. It’s practice with a purpose with a little more pressure to do something that works. If no one’s in the room we’ll run through [a song] two or three times. The songs evolve.”

The group’s ear for songcraft stems from their array of influences. As listeners, they gravitate to groups with solid arrangements, channeling that aspect into their own music. The varied list of musicians they look up to stretches from staples like the Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan, to more surprising choices like the Decemberists and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! Between the group members, however, the most commonly cited favorites are the Band, Wilco, and the Jayhawks.

Like these groups, HODW’s focus is on the songs rather than the individual musicians. “[We ask] what does this song want?” says Robert, “It’s about the songs, so we’re not looking to go on 10 minute instrumentals if it’s not called for.” Lang echoes the sentiment, “It’s an ensemble, so no one steps out to the front of the stage.”

The idea works in practice. The band achieves a balanced sound that smoothly works within the standard vocals/guitar/piano/drums setup, while leaving room for surprises like accordion, harmonica and tin whistle that add a deeper texture to their arrangements. When asked how four musicians and upwards of ten instruments can gel into a band, Lang offers “Everybody is confident. Everybody brings their own thing and that’s the distinct sound.”

The “sound” Lang refers to is now available for all to hear, as the group’s first full album, a seven song, self-titled effort recorded at West Boylston’s Tremolo Lounge over the winter, is now available.

The songs on the album should be familiar to the crowds that have seen them perform around the city over the past year, and the band is aware of how their time at Nick’s has allowed them to reach a point in their career where their audiences want to hear their songs, rather than just the same covers every night. “The people that come here expect originals,” says Lang, “because we love playing our songs and we love playing together.”

But for a band that prides itself on constantly shifting their work and tweaking each song, just because they’re on record doesn’t mean they’re now static. “Songs are never finished,” says Whalen, and Lang adds, “You get a thousand cracks at it.”

Hat On, Drinking Wine usually plays at Nick’s every Wednesday night. Mark your calendars.
- Worcester Magazine


HODW released a debut CD in May of 2009, and a follow up CD, titled Plastic Flowers, in August 2010.



Hat On, Drinking Wine began in October 2006 with three musicians who shared a love of roots music and literate lyrics. The three original members wrote dozens of songs, and honed them during live sets around the city of Worcester for a couple of years before adding bass and drums to the lineup.

With the full band in place, the various members began to dig deeper into other musical styles and instruments, and to explore how they could contribute to the unique HODW sound. The door was cracked open when the band introduced the tin whistle on the Irish rocker "Jackie"; it flew off the hinges in the following months as new instruments began to pop up in more and more songs: harmonica, accordion, lap steel, mandolin, tambourine. These instruments allowed the band to begin to incorporate other musical styles into their sound, from blues and reggae to folk and traditional Irish music.

The band's first CD, self-titled, received rave reviews from local media, and the band has played widely throughout Central New England. Highlights include gigs playing at the Worcester Art Museum for the opening of an exhibit of Rock and Roll photography; college shows at the Assumption College Senior Pub Night and the Senior/Faculty Barbecue; festival appearances at the Pet Rock Festival, the Douglas Oktoberfest, and the Newton Square Summer Concert Series; shows at storied music clubs like Lucky Dog and Tammany Hall, as well as newer venues like Nick's and Beatnik's; and a long list of private parties and political and charitable events.

The band's second CD, Plastic Flowers, featuring a dozen original songs, was released in August 2010.