Red Rooster
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Red Rooster

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
Band Americana Folk


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"a unique patchwork quilt of musicians"

With only its third album in 7 years, Red Rooster continues to be a unique patchwork quilt of musicians and influences—bluegrass, folk, country and other Levon Helm colors. But what marks the New York folk collective’s progress is the album’s confident and patient Americana pace. Co-leader Jay Erickson’s vocals wedded with Susannah Hornsby (yes, she is Bruce Hornsby’s niece), pecifically on “Black Point Road,” “Chasing You” and “Leaves in Autumn,” are inspired. Likewise, the elegant melancholia lingers like a timeless stroll through yesterday’s despair on “Let It All Go” and “Raining in Los Angeles.” Walk, produced by Erickson and co-written by the other lead Rooster Nat Zilkha, is dedicated to R.S. Hornsby (Bruce’s nephew) who passed away in January. His guitar is sampled for added poignancy. - Relix

"Journey Through the Heart of Americana and Roots Music"

Dose is a double-disc journey through the heart of Americana and roots music, accessorized with DJ scratches, gospel choirs and bluesy instrumentation. The first disc features revved-up, fully electric versions of 10 songs. Disc two includes intimate, acoustic renditions of the same tracks.

The plugged-in versions of the songs incorporate everything from country and rockabilly to hushed piano balladry. The unplugged versions highlight plaintive lyrics that deal with life, love and loss amid intricate guitar work, weeping fiddles and Erickson's aching vocal delivery.

Album standout Cold Ground morphs from blazing guitars and honky-tonk rhythms into a mournful hymn, driven by body percussion and a gospel choir. And Sharp Dressed Man is radically changed by shifts in emphasis and instrumentation. - Houston Chronicle

"Dose Review"

For its second recorded effort, Red Rooster, the duo of Jay Erickson and Nat Zilkha, had a novel concept. They recorded an entire program of 10 originals twice, resulting in a double-CD with one disc of full band production, the other with minimal acoustic instrumentation and sparse arrangements; melodies and tempos altered, the running order changes, and the ensemble version clocks in four minutes longer than the bare-bones version. This might be a gimmick, were it not for the fact that the songs are strong enough to stand up to reinterpretation, and the production and musicianship are excellent, whether fleshed out or stripped down.

The material is an eclectic mix of roots influences, with "Hold On Tight" recalling Dave Alvin and the Americana scene, "Sharp Dressed Man," a sweaty blues workout with harmonica and slide guitar, "Mexico Revisited" (with Michael Favreau's clarinet) sounding as much klezmer as conjunto, and "The Cold Ground" revved up bluegrass. Erickson's deep voice handles the singing, with Zilkha on lead guitar. On disc one, everything from French horn to cello to banjo to turntable shows up. And Erickson even hands over lead vocal on "Dreams" to Charlotte Kendrick, who does a fine job.

Disc two is not a collection of demos; it's just a different simpler way of looking at the same songs. The fact that some of the resultant renditions are significantly different is a testament to the pair's creativity.

For lack of a better term, Red Rooster falls into the "Americana" catch-all, and indeed they name people like Greg Brown, Bob Schneider, Lucinda Williams, Wilco and Steve Earle as favorites. Personally, I think their music, even for a sophomore release, is more interesting. Can't wait for "Tres." - Vintage Guitar Magazine

"It's Got Soul"

There are two things that many artists wish for after completing an album. First, they wish they could do it over again, because now that they've done it, they could do it better. Second, they wish they could put at least one other version of each song on the album to show more of its many facets. Some artists actually do re-record albums they've just finished because they're not satisfied with them. And because they have lots of money. Very few, though, chase the latter wish, either because it's too much work, seems too self-indulgent or gimmicky, or maybe they just don't think they can pull it off.

Enter Red Rooster and their two-disc project Dose. CD 1 features ten songs all done with some variation of the full-band-and-then-some treatment. It's a great big stew of blues and pop and bluegrass and ethnic (think Mexicali and Klezmer) and "hick-hop" (sort of the Americana man's hip-hop) simmering over an urban fire. CD 2 offers up the same ten songs in dramatically different settings--all acoustic, tempos and approaches altered, much more "back porch" to use the title of the band's first release. The second of the two-CD set harkens back to that first album and the band's beginnings in roots-folk.

This New York City-based duo of Jay Erickson and Nat Zilkha has come a long way since that first album. They've picked up a bevy of instrumentalists to help them realize the much more ambitious and intriguing vision of Dose. Clarinet, french horn, turntable, piano, electric guitar and Hammond M3 (among others) join the more down home sounds of acoustic guitar, mandolin, fiddle and stand-up bass. The first CD uses any and all sounds, instruments and technologies available to the band to flesh out the edgier, more fiery versions of the songs. The premise of CD 2 is that they can only use sounds that can be transmitted acoustically through a mic.

As daring and interesting an idea as two recordings of the same material is, it all rests on the strength of the songs, for with weak material the concept just dissolves into gimmick. A bad song is a bad song, regardless of how many ways you interpret it. Luckily, Red Rooster delivers ten well-written, compelling songs easily strong enough to stand up to reinterpretation. Highlights include "Sharp Dressed Man", which on CD 1 is an electric blues burner, but becomes the sad plaint of a doomed man on acoustic guitar with the sympathetic moan of a fiddle on CD 2, and "The Cold Ground" which undergoes a similarly dramatic transformation. On the first CD it's a kind of electric country hootenany, while on CD 2 it's a powerful gospel chant given flesh only by a chorus of voices and body percussion. In general, the second CD explores the more tender, poignant sides of the songs, a boon, since these lyrics bear examining in that light. If, however, you're in the mood for something a little more rocking, fire up CD 1.

Erickson's deep voice has undergone a maturing since Porch Songs, it seems. Always pleasant, on Dose it's more complex with a broader emotional range. But then, the material would demand that. A welcome addition to the vocal landscape of this record is the lovely voice of singer songwriter Charlotte Kendrick. Her light, silky voice complements Erickson's deep brown beautifully and she breathes magic into the song "Dreams" singing lead vocals on Disc 1's version.

According to the liner notes, in the course of making Dose, Red Rooster asked philosophical questions like "what makes a song a song?" and "how far can you stretch a song while keeping the heart of it intact?" While these are interesting questions, in the end, when all the exploration and stretching and asking are done, one question remains, one question matters. Does the album work, does it have soul? Dose does. - Pure Music

"Just when you think there's nothing new in folk, along comes the New York-based Red Rooster to blow you away."

Just when you think there's nothing new in folk, along comes the New York-based Red Rooster to blow you away.

Red Rooster isn't a new band but you'd never know that by the way they mix electronica with folk, alt-country and some rock to offer a fresh sound.

"I was just continuing to focus the theme, bringing the kind of urban element together with the more rural and traditional," said lead vocalist Jay Erickson, who produced the record. "We started to do some of that with the last album and this took it further and refined it."

It's been a decade since Erickson co-founded the band with Nat Zilkha, who handles lead guitar for the band. Although the music scene has changed dramatically in that time making it increasingly difficult for bands to emerge, the two have steadfastly followed their own artistic vision.

In the recently released album "Walk," that means grabbing some electronica and mixing it with folk. What's great is that the guys do this with just enough finesse to make the sound interesting without overwhelming. And for those that prefer their folk straight, "Walk" provides plenty of that as evidenced on the tracks "Bluebird" and "Leaves in Autumn."

"[We enjoy] mingling the traditional sounds with the new sounds," said Zilkha. "Jay brought a lot of that together on this new album which is what made me happy ... [but] from a production standpoint we never felt the underlying story being told was sacrificed in trying to create a new sound."

Still, the idea of a new sound was something appealing from an artistic standpoint to everyone in the band. And why not?

As arguably one of folks' most unsung jam bands -- they currently have eight members and various guests during any given concert -- they certainly have the wealth of instrumentation -- horn, trumpet, accordion, pedal steel guitar -- to create some richly textured sounds. What makes the band standout is the elements fit naturally together. Add a sifting of both male and female vocals and you have a sound that is both rare and comfortable.

"The arrangements are organic," said Zilkha. "Some of what you hear on the stage is different than what you hear on the album. The sound is almost modular in that way. ...That's one of the things I find most exciting and fun about this music." - Washington Examiner

"Front Runner for Album of the Year"

Normally a band will release a few albums before they either want to try something new, or MTV come knocking and they record an acoustic record. Red Rooster is a completely different kind of band however. Their musical vision is to release a double album of ten new songs, with acoustic versions of the same ten songs. Now there is nothing wrong with aiming high when it comes to musical ambition, but for all of this to work the songs have got to be of an exceptionally high standard. Thankfully, the band is more than capable of delivering on that front. Singer Jay Erickson, has a fantastic baritone drawl, that at times sounds a little like Nick Cave on uppers. The arrangements are interesting, with instruments such as French horn, saxophone and clarinet thrown into the mix. Stylistically, the album varies from country to gothic pop but the songs are never dull. It is fascinating to hear the difference between the songs in their acoustic and electric formats. A good example of this is 'Cold, Cold Ground' which works brilliantly as an electrified country song but is simply breathtaking as an acapella gothic pop tune (complete with choir). In short, Red Rooster has released possibly the ultimate modern alt-country album. The electric disc has a distinctly urban feel (it even features a DJ!) and represents contemporary Americana at its best, whereas disc two features a wonderful organic sound that almost transports the listener back to the down home sounds of The Carter Family et al. The fact that Red Rooster has managed to capture the dichotomy of modern American roots music using just the same ten songs is nothing short of astounding. 'Dose' is certainly an early front runner for album of the year. (rating: 9 out of 10) - Americana UK

"Broad Plate of Goodness"

This New York band starts with a thick slab of roots rock as its main course, then serves it up with sides of acoustic blues, country, urban folk, and, believe it or not, even couple quick bites of electronica and hip-hop. It's a big, broad plate of goodness, so clean off your fork, tuck in your napkin, and get ready to eat. -

"Potent Mix"

Red Rooster presents a potent mix of country, blues, folk, rock and hip-hop, studio crafted into a sly, somewhat dark sound that makes for compelling Americana. And that's merely disc one. The second disc plays it "homespun and open air" as they recreate the same ten tracks for a completely different experience. Rootsy folk-grass tunes with Dobro, fiddle, piano, banjo, acoustic bass and guitar are captured as natural sounds by microphone. The band has always been an acoustic-oriented group so the back porch folk of disc two presents nothing unusual. The idea behind disc one's urban treatment, though, was to build into and around these songs, coating them with urban paint - just enough so you could still see the hay wagon under the graffiti. Erickson possesses a low, dry drawl that invokes tales of love, loss and loneliness in places near and far, accentuated with heartbreaking harmonies through arrangements both subtle and clever... - Miles of Music

"Don't wait for the hype; get in on the ground floor"

Red Rooster is a New York City-based Folk/Country collective that can dazzle you in many ways. Whether it's the blend of Country, Gospel, Bluegrass and Folk styles, the modern electronic elements, or good old fashioned music and lyrics, Red Rooster brings quality to all aspects of their music. Formed ten years ago by longtime friends Jay Erickson (lead vocals) and Nat Zilkha (lead guitar), Red Rooster also features Susannah Hornsby (vox, accordion), Andrew Green (banjo), Dave Gould (saxophone), Brandon Doyle (French horn), Lucas Ives (drums), Daniel Engelman (bass) and Pete Nilsson (keyboards). Susannah Hornsby is the niece of Bruce Hornsby and sister of R.S. Hornsby, and adds an extra dimension and spark. Red Rooster’s third album, Walk, will be released digitally on their website on September 22, 2009. Mixed by Grammy Winner Peter Moshay, Walk promises a lot and delivers on every count.
Walk opens with the Country/Americana gem Bluebird, featuring Jay Erickson on lead vocals with Susannah Hornsby on harmony vocals. Elements of Blues, Country, Folk mix with interesting electronic overlays to create a grand listening experience. Black Point Road has a strong Pop/Americana feel, with strong harmonies and a plaintive banjo that drives the song along. Chasing You is a bit more classic in style, mixing Country and Folk in a love song full of regret and devotion. The arrangement and musicianship here are stellar, with Erickson and Hornsby vocal lines acting the part of just another pair of instruments in a finely tuned ensemble. Hornsby takes over vocal lead on Borrowed Money, one of the more lyrically nuanced tunes on the disc. Hornsby has a sound reminiscent of Allison Krauss, and she gives a strong performance here, injecting a relatively non-demanding vocal line with a lot of angst and panache.

Leaves In Autumn is a poetic love song, drifting back to a subtlety and style more common from 1970's singer/songwriters than today; a gorgeous tune with Erickson on lead and Hornsby on harmony that you won't want to miss. Anyone who's ever held their own child for the first time with want to check out Five Tiny Fingers; it's a song about how a child can calm even the restless heart of the most prodigious drifter. Let It All Go takes the sort of relationship issues traveling musicians might face and puts into a melodramatic setting (to good effect). The song is entertaining and sad, although the premise is so fantastic it's either a bit of a stretch or too ridiculous to be anything but true. Raining In Los Angeles is classic singer-songwriter material; nuanced, complex and mature in its prose and with a simple beauty in the arrangement. The song is about the breakdown of a relationship (likely a marriage) and reflects simple truths from a complicated situation. This is easily my favorite track on the disc and would play equally as well in a coffee house as on a big stage. Time To Go incorporates a light Bluegrass feel into a song about moving on; the mix of Erickson and Hornsby's voices here creates a stark and sorrowful effect that runs counter to the faltering progress of the banjo. Ambivalence is overcome by common sense, but there's still something of a question in the back of the mind of the narrator. Walk closes out with the title track and Susannah Hornsby on lead vocals reaching for a bit of the High Lonesome sound. Hornsby digs in on this one, showing a vocal talent hinted at otherwise and firmly establishing her ability to front a band.

Red Rooster is an interesting mix of Country, Folk, Bluegrass and even some pop sensibility at times. The debate could be endless about whether Jay Erickson or Susannah Hornsby is the better vocalist, but there's no doubt that as a duo they're incredible. Red Rooster is incredibly tight as a band, and Walk is a playground where they show off their best work. Don't be surprised if Walk shows up on a host of end-of-year "Best" lists. Don't wait for the hype; get in on the ground floor.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Red Rooster at or on Facebook. You will be able to download Walk on Red Rooster’s website on or after September 22, 2009. Red Rooster is offering a you-name-your-price deal that will net you a digital package that includes the album as well as bonus tracks. Traditional CD copies will also be available at some point in the near future. - Wildy's World

"Red Rooster’s latest is Walk"

One of the things I hate about my job is also one of the things I love about my job. Please don’t misunderstand. Everyone who sends me something they have recorded has earned, if nothing else, my respect. They have worked hard to achieve what they have done. If I don’t give it a good review, it shouldn’t be taken personally. I try to make my reviews constructive so that good or bad, we all get something out of it.

However, every now and then I receive something magical. It’s that magic which makes all the listening to the music I don’t really care for, worth every minute. I good analogy would be a miner, digging through those cold dark mines, day in and day out only to find nothing but more and more rock. Then one day after all the digging, all the sweating, and all the bleeding, he finally hits the mother lode!

That is what Red Rooster, and most recently their new record Walk (Wondermore Record) is. They were mining for coal and found diamonds instead. Walk is a gem and is some of the most original material I have had the privilege to review so far this year, and I’ve heard some masters. Kris Kristofferson, most recently.

A lot of the time when I listen to someone I try to think of who they remind me of. Red Rooster reminds me of no one. But it was music of this caliber that got me into the Americana scene in the first place. Every song is completely different from one another, but are all very much Red Rooster. They certainly have their own distinct sound.

The album is an almost seamless blend of rock, folk, bluegrass, jazz, and blues with a hint of twang every now and then, just for good measure.

The core group consists of band leaders Jay Erickson (lead vocals) and Nat Zilkha (lead guitar), who, by the way have literally been friends nearly all of their lives. Then there is Susannah Hornsby (vocals and accordion). She is also the niece of recording artist Bruce Hornsby. The band also consists of Andrew Green (banjo), Dave Gould (saxophone), Brandon Doyle (French horn), Lucas Ives (drums), Daniel Engelman (bass), and finally Pete Nilsson (keyboards). In addition Dick Neal plays dobro, Jon Howe is on harmonica, Bob Parins on the pedal steel guitar, Rob Hecht on the fiddle, and Simon Wettenhall plays trumpet. It is quite a list of musicians, but all play very important roles in the successful sound that engulfs us during the listening experience of Walk.

One of my favorite tracks on the album is Let It All Go, which is precisely what they do. It’s actually about a band playing a song and they decide to, well, “let it all go”. The song actually resembles a jam of sorts and I’m sure, even though I’ve never witnessed them live, they jam when performing it live. Just about everyone gets a solo during the tune. It’s just a cool song with a somewhat of a Reggae beat to it. I loved it.

The very next track is a tune called Raining in Los Angeles. It’s a sad little acoustic, progressive bluegrass tune about dissolved love, and the pain and despair that goes along with it. The fiddle solo and the banjo picking are impeccable and the lyrics are perfect. Just when you think this is going to just be another progressive bluegrass tune cut from the same vein as Bela Fleck and the Flecktones ,the horn section blasts in to let us know this is all Red Rooster, and not to be confused with anyone else.

Jay Erickson’s vocals go far beyond his actual years. He has an amazing voice that fits the songs to a tee. I do not believe anyone could or should sing these songs. Ms. Hornsby’s vocals are also perfect, her range, spectacular. The material is all original either written by Mr. Erickson or Mr. Zilkha save for two, which were written by Susannah Hornsby (Borrowed Money) and J. H. Hays along with Jack Rhodes (Satisfied Mind).

These guys are from New York, but we’re not going to hold that against them. So is Bob Dylan and guess who else; Jerry Jeff Walker. All kidding aside, I’ll be watching Red Rooster very closely. They are one of the most talented and original bands I have heard since ‘Lambchop’ hit the Americana scene back in 1994.

‘Rebel’ Rod says to skip a couple of meals, don’t go to the social club a night or two. Instead, spend the money on Red Rooster’s Walk. You will not regret it. - Texas Star Tribune


2009 - Walk
2005 - Dose
2002 - Porch Songs



Red Rooster is the New York-based folk collective formed in 1998 and led by Jay Erickson (lead vocals) and Nat Zilkha (lead guitar) - lifelong friends who fashion plainly honest and self-reflective songs from fragments of their diverse musical influences and sensibilities. Originally established as an acoustic act, playing a mix of original and traditional bluegrass, blues and folk, Red Rooster has evolved into highly original and eclectic band with a sound all its own.

Though its roots remain firmly planted in Americana, Red Rooster has created a highly original and urban-infused sound. Today, Red Rooster shows vary from just Jay & Nat with a couple of acoustic guitars, to an urban country orchestra complete with electric guitars, drums, horns, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, and a DJ. Their music tells stories that grow out of the rich historical and cultural landscape that is America; from Appalachia to the Delta to destinations unknown. As the Houston Chronicle writes, it is a "...journey through the heart of Americana and roots music."

On their third release, WALK, Jay and Nat pull together a seamless album fashioned from country, bluegrass, folk, gospel, blues and hip-hop. A lot has happened in the years since their critically acclaimed second album, DOSE, was released and it shows in their new tunes. After a successful tour in 2008 (including a breakout appearance at the Newport Folk Festival), the band went to work on WALK. Musically and lyrically their most mature work yet, the album is infused with Red Rooster's signature musical tension between the traditional and the modern.

There is a wide array of musicians who have helped create the Red Rooster urban country orchestra over the years and the core group currently includes Susannah Hornsby (vocals and accordion), Andrew Green (banjo), Dave Gould (saxophone), Brandon Doyle (french horn), Lucas Ives (drums), Daniel Engelman (bass), Jeremy Randol (Drums) and Pete Nilsson (keys).

A few kind words about Red Rooster:

Just when you think there's nothing new in folk, along comes the New York-based Red Rooster to blow you away.
-Washington Examiner

...a unique patchwork quilt of musicians and influences—bluegrass, folk, country and other Levon Helm colors... ...confident and patient Americana pace.

"Walk" is a gem and is some of the most original material I have had the privilege to review so far this year... was music of this caliber that got me into the Americana scene in the first place. -Texas Star Tribune

Traditional folk, Americana and even a scattered smidgen or two of jazz meet in Red Rooster's latest album. One lovely song after another, gorgeous singing and a deliciously underproduced sound.
-Sarasota Herald-Tribune

"Walk" promises a lot and delivers on every count... ...Red Rooster is incredibly tight as a band, and "Walk" is a playground where they show off their best work. Don't be surprised if Walk shows up on a host of end-of-year "Best" lists. Don't wait for the hype; get in on the ground floor.
-Wildy's World

Wonderful new record! ...guitar playing is superb and the voices blend really beautifully.
-Don Was (Grammy-Winning Producer)