Porchlights
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Porchlights

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There’s just something to the Porchlights. Maybe it’s the guitar virtuosity of Flag music veteran Wild Billy Kneebone. Maybe it’s the hippy mother guru aura to vocalist and guitarist Deb Hilton. Maybe it’s the comfortable, dreamy chemistry between the two that is exuded every time they take the stage. Whatever the intangible draw, the Porchlights have risen to become one of Flag’s most consistent and recognizable bands. With their newest record Song in My Hand, the duo, with their impressive cadre of music cohorts, has solidified their lazy, lackadaisical folk/bluegrass/blues into something that transcends mere bar band bravado. Song in My Hand is a collection of 11 songs written, save one tune, by Hilton and Kneebone, the core of the Porchlights, and features expert northern Arizona musicians like the ubiquitous, fleet-fingered mandolinist Aaron Tyler, drummer and rhythm master Andrew Lauher, and Jerome studio maestro Steve Botterweg, also on drums.

On Song in My Hand, Hilton’s vocals have a sweet, friendly and calming quality to them. Her lyrics and singing style always sound like a friend’s soothing voice. Likewise, Kneebone’s guitar playing is akin to someone leaning in close for a juicy secret. Known mostly for his electric picking, Kneebone’s acoustic playing on the record is clean and fast but not over-the-top, a common pitfall among electric players making an acoustic detour.

The first track on the record, “Hippy High Rise,” captures the quintessential Flagstaff experience describing the joyous, self-imposed poverty and squalor that many endure to remain in the town. “Chemtrails” is a Woody Guthrie-esque rant against the forces that reel in the human spirit. In the tune Hilton takes a stab at the dwindling Red Rock Pass program in Sedona as well as the nation’s drug laws. “Without a pass, without a Red Rock Pass, I like to live on my own,” sings Hilton. And later, “Don’t give me no hemp laws, don’t give me no hemp laws, I like to live on my own.” The tune is complemented by a couple of smokin’ mando solos by Aaron Tyler (standard for him) and some sweet acoustic flatpicking by Kneebone.

The sixth track on the album, “Song in My Hand,” can in many ways be viewed as the mission statement for the Porchlights. “Spread the love and not the fear, choose the way every day,” sings Hilton, with her sweet, suggestive but understated vocal delivery. Kneebone’s reverb-drenched vintage Stratocaster sound provides a perfect foil to Hilton’s sugary vixen-in-disguise persona.

The next track, the instrumental “It’s a Hoot,” takes quite a departure from the rest of the songs on Song in My Hand. With a Thompson Twins-type synth trippiness and an atmospherically adventurous “Revolution 9” collage feel, the song lets the listener in on a little more of the goings-on in Ms. Hilton’s and Mr. Kneebone’s minds.

The ninth track on Song in My Hand, “Song for Mista Hicks,” is a Kneebone-written instrumental ode to the keeper of the Lenny Bruce flame, comedian Bill Hicks. Kneebone and Hilton also dedicate the album to Hicks, who died of cancer in 1994.

The Porchlights will have an album release for Song in My Hand Sun, Aug. 21 at 4pm at the Mountainaire Tavern, 110 Mountainaire Road. For more info, see www.porchlights.20m.com or call 525-1137.

- Flag Live!


On the back of Porchlights' newest record, Song in My Hand, in letters the same size and boldness as the title itself, is a proclamation that warms the cockles of my heart: "This album is dedicated to the memory of Bill Hicks."...This tidbit didn't in itself give any insight to the bands quality of output, but I have to admit that it did at least anoint them with my benediction.
The Porchlights are primarily the songwriting team of local musicians Deb Hilton and Wild Billy Kneebone, with a hefty contribution from a gaggle of backing musicians...The Porchlights' sound is undeniably built around the dueling melodies of Hilton's voice and Kneebone's slinky, understated lead guitar sound.
There is an unmistakable respect for the "jam" (the muted jams bear more than a passing resemblance to 80s-era Grateful Dead) and the almighty Bluegrass. Hilton's voice embraces a slightly lazy twang, and there's more than a touch of banjo, (??!?) especially on the closing track, "Rainbow Jam."
If the Porchlights sound like anything to me, they sound like Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians. Aside from the vocal similarities, Hilton delivers her lines in the same dreamy, whispery tone as Miz Brickell, and there is a certain bohemian inoffensiveness and mischievous naivety to the Porchlights sound that lends itself to such comparisons.
Listening to the record as a whole, it seems odd in retrospect that such a mellow, optimistic band would feel so kindred enough to Bill Hicks that they dedicate an entire record to the notoriously surly and agressive comedian. But if one listens closely to Hicks' delicious rants, there is usually a moment where the irascible idealist and humanist in him leaks out. Hicks would often end shows with a decidedly powerful and purposefully unfunny declaration to the possibility of gleeful honesty and meaningful interpersonal connection for everybody on the planet if "we would just work at it." The overarching message, despite the hilarious gloom, was that there was a light at the end of the tunnel... They have a slew of Arizona shows coming up. Check out their website www.porchlights.20m.com for play dates and more info. - The Noise


"On Friday, Nov. 18, at 7pm the Granite Peak Folk Sessions presents two Arizona acts representing Phoenix and Flagstaff. Songwriter and recording atrist Eddie Elliott comes up from the Valley while audience favorites The Porchlights, with duo Deb Hilton and Wild Billy Kneebone, venture down from the mountains.

Formed in 1999 on a back porch in the mountains of Northern Arizona, the Porchlights' music has major influences of rock, folk, bluegrass, and jamband, with hints of country, all blended together to create their "signature sound".

A local paper has dubbed the sound as Psychedelic Acousto-Billy Folk Rock and Roll Dance Music, and Kneebone is easily one of the best guitarists around. They have recently released their new album, Song In My Hand.

They perform at Granite Peak Unitarian Universalist Hall in Prescott. Cost is $5. Every month Granite Peak Folk Sessions bring together great music, good people, tasty treats, and lots of community spirit in a warm, welcoming environment.
- Kudos


"Very cool...Cowboy Junkie-ish but I'm not bummed at all."

"I had my laptop iTunes set on shuffle, working away, when this song (How Many Miles) came on. I had to drop what I was doing and track you guys down. Man, it's just one of those perfect gems that sounds new and familiar at the same time. The instrumentation is daring and effective, great lyrics, and oh, that vocal... Home run, you guys."
- Songramp.com


Deb Hilton and Wild Billy Kneebone are as much a part of Flag as the Peaks or the vast expanse of ponderosa pine that make up the Coconino National Forest. But these local landmarks, despite being earthy and nature-loving peaceniks, happen to be top-notch musicians who have called Flag home for years and years, playing in countless bands, and becoming stalwarts of the local music scene. Hilton is the primary singer and rhythm guitarist with a gentle presence and a penchant for writing upbeat folk-rock tunes with Kneebone, the guitarist’s guitarist of Flagstaff. Kneebone has been in some of Flag’s best bands over the years including Second Harvest and Each Other’s Legend and brings his smooth, highly refined electric (and often acoustic with the Porchlights String Band version of the ensemble) playing to the band.. - Flag Live!


As one of Flag's favorite bands, the Porchlights play anywhere, anytime, to anyone, and have put together a great repertoire of originals in the years that co-leaders Deb Hilton and Billy Kneebone have been playing in Flagstaff together. Joining the two will be mandolinist Aaron Tyler, banjoist Frank Dedera, and bassist Tim Hogan. Don't miss one of Northern Arizona's best live bands at Oak Creek Brewery! - Flag Live


The Porchlights will perform. Deb & Billy are two exceptional musicians and very popular in the local restaurant and tavern scene. - The Noise 6/07


For two years, the Porchlights String Band has been tearing it up musically at Oak Creek Brewery once a month. They will play a final show there Friday, Oct. 5, from 8pm to midnight. Maybe you are one of the lucky ones that has seen this phenomenal band. Maybe you will be one of the fortunate to catch their farewell concert. One good reason to be there is to witness the ever-prominent exchange of energy between the players, most obviously between Aaron Tyler on mandolin, Frank Dedera on banjo and Billy Kneebone on lead acoustic guitar. Deb Hilton on lead vocals and powerful rhythm guitar and Tim Hogan on the bouncy bass keep it steady, taking you on a musical journey that's more than just a ride. This is the last show because founding members Hilton and Kneebone are moving to Colorado. Come bid farewell to these fine area musicians on Friday at the brewery. - Kudos


Discography

THE PORCHLIGHTS - Debut album includes the band
SONG IN MY HAND - Follow up electric band album
KICKIN UP THE DUST - Duo acoustic album
PORCHLIGHTS STRING BAND - features banjo and mandolin

Photos

Bio

Deb and Kneebone's musical chemistry was apparent on the porch at Deb's Arizona mountain shanty back in 1999. Jams quickly turned into songs and with a couple of open-mic sets and benefit gigs behind them, the two were soon playing at local coffee shops, concerts, lounges and brew pubs.

Powered by Deb's smooth vocals and powerful rhythmn, Kneebone's unique guitar stylings, and their original songwriting, the duo were soon recording their first CD in the ghost town of Jerome, AZ. Three more albums of original material followed, and they are at work this winter recording their 5th CD.

In the studio Kneebone has recorded with Steve Kimock, Pete Sears (Hot Tuna, Jefferson Starship), Peter Rowan, Shana Morrison, Walt Richardson, Hans Olson, Joe Myers, R. Carlos Nakai, and more.

The Porchlights have shared the stage with Little Feat, Sam Bush, Dicky Betts, Bruce Hornsby, Gin Blossoms, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Michelle Branch, Gin Blossoms, Cracker, and more!

The Porchlights - Some Festivals & Concerts:

Opened for LITTLE FEAT
Opened for CROSS CANADIAN RAGWEED

DOLORES RIVER FESTIVAL
ZETROC MUSIC FESTIVAL
YAGATTA REGATTA FEST - GLENWOOS SPRINGS, CO
FLAGSTAFF FOLK FESTIVAL
FLAGSTAFF MUSIC FESTIVAL
PRESCOTT FOLK FESTIVAL
JEROME MUSIC FESTIVAL
ORACLE MUSIC FESTIVAL
COCONINO COUNTY FAIR
VERDE VALLEY VIBE (On the bill with the Gin Blossoms)
SOUTHWEST HEMPFEST
FLAGSTAFF UNITY FEST
THURSDAY ON THE SQUARE concert series - Flagstaff, AZ
WEDNESDAYS IN THE PARK concert series - Flagstaff, AZ
FIESTA DE LA CALEBAZAS - Oracle, AZ
HARVEST FEST - Sedona, AZ
YOUNG'S FARM PUMPKIN FESTIVAL - Dewey, AZ
PAGE PUMPKIN FESTIVAL
APPLE HARVEST FESTIVAL - Sedona, AZ
RADIO JAM - Prescott Valley
SALSA DE MAYO FESTIVAL - Flagstaff
PRIDE IN THE PINES - Flagstaff
SAWMILL COUNTY PARK Grand Opening - featured performers
STANDIN' ON THE CORNER concert series - Winslow

AIRPLAY & IN-STUDIO PERFORMANCES INCLUDE:

KSJD CORTEZ, CO
KSJC 92.5 FM Silverton, CO
KSUT 4 Corners Public Radio
KVNF PAONIA, CO
KNAU Arizona Public Radio - Weekend Edition
KJZA 89.5 FM Prescott - Folk Sessions Live
KVNA AM 600 Flagstaff - Saturday Morning Folk
KAFF AM 930 Flagstaff - Under Western Skies
KJACK AM 1680 Flagstaff - Live at Noon
KFLX 105.1 FM Flagstaff - Eagle's Nest
KMOG AM 1420 Payson, AZ

Radio Sinaai 105.5 FM - Belgium
Radio 98.6 FM - United Kingdom
104.3 FM - Belgium
Webradio Goldenflash - Belgium goldenflash.be