Scarecrow Collection
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Scarecrow Collection

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"Courier News: Passion will set Scarecrow apart tonight at the Pony"

Passion will set Scarecrow apart tonight at the Pony
by Bob Makin

Scarecrow Collection, 7:30 p.m., Stone Pony, 913 Ocean Ave., Asbury Park. $10. Opening for The Breakfast, along with Sage and Newget. (732) 502-0600, www.stoneponyonline.com


The buzzing North Jersey jam band Scarecrow Collection will open for 2004 Best New Groove Jammy Award-winner The Breakfast at The Stone Pony. If you ask me, Scarecrow Collection should be the New Groove winner for 2005. The quintet possesses everything the jam scene lacks: soulful vocals,
meaningful lyrics, accessible melodies and social conscience.

Like a jam band, Scarecrow Collection improvises with a variety of music styles: country, reggae, soul-jazz, funk, psychedelic rock, Latin. But on its 2003 indie debut, ``Hooked and Shattered,'' the group exhibits way more soul and much better songwriting than most other acts of that ilk. The only two jam bands that seem to have more soul are The Allman Brothers Band and Gov't Mule.

While the songwriting isn't yet on par with Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter or Gregg Allman, it's much more accessible and lyrically well-crafted than jam bands that focus more on musical diversity and experimentation. That's not to say Scarecrow Collection doesn't jam. All five players are exceptional, especially keyboardist Ed Fritz, whose organ provides a rootsy Hammond vibe throughout and a spot-on Jimmy Smith-sound on the soul-jazz instrumental ``Burgess''; and electric guitarist Nick Setteducato, whose bright, ringing tones -- alternated with a chunky crunch -- nicely compliment the fine picking of acoustic guitarist Gerard Fee.

What sets Scarecrow Collection apart is Fee's passionate singing and lyrics. He's not afraid to grapple with personal relationships (``Texas,'' ``Pressure'') or the taxing issues of the post-9/11 world (``When the World Blows Up,'' ``Fate'').

Then again, humor is the one thing Scarecrow Collection lacks compared to other jam bands. And
Fee needs to be wary of elodrama and corniness.

Info: www.scarecrowcollection.net

- Bob Makin


"State of Mind Music Magazine: The Kids are Alright"

The Kids Are Alright
Scarecrow Collection
By Matthew Shapiro

When listening to Hooked and Shattered, the debut CD from New Jersey band Scarecrow Collection, it is difficult to believe that you are listening to a self produced debut from a band that gets the jamband tag placed on them. Not only is the album surprisingly polished, and structured, but the songs contain smart introspective lyrics, on top of catchy grooves containing a keen pop sensibility. When coupled with the bravado, and improvisational prowess of their live shows, it becomes immediately clear that you are experiencing a band not only on the rise, but one with an extremely bright future ahead of them.

Their sound is an amalgamation of soul, funk, country, blue grass, jazz and straight up rock, delivered with strong vocals by Gerald Fee. The band admits that their sound can be difficult to describe. As Fee says, “It’s kind of hard to describe to someone because of all the different influences. I find more and more lately that I just describe us as a rock band. I believe that’s what we really are anyway. I don’t like getting trapped in telling people that we are a “jamband”. ‘Cause we’re really not.” Fee continues, “If you listen to some live shows from Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page would just go off on a guitar solo for like 20 minutes and they weren’t considered a “jamband”. They were just a band.” Lead guitarist Nick Setteducato adds, “I describe our sound as sort of an 'organic rock sound', or sometimes' Rock n' Roots' music. But that doesn't always translate so well, so I also throw in some comparisons, like 'we sound like a collaboration between Paul Simon and the Black Crowes'. But even that doesn't really translate.”

The genesis for the band came when Setteducato saw Fee performing at an open mic night in Montclair NJ when they were both teenagers. As he says, “I saw Gerard there one night with Jerry, (our old harmonica player). They did a tune called ‘What if John Lennon Lived?’ It completely blew me away. I spoke to G after the tune, and he went on and on with this maniacal enthusiasm about how he wanted to get a big rock band together with drums and pianos and horns and on and on.” After a bit of line-up reshuffling the band is now rounded out by Joe Fee on drums, Ed Fritz on keys, and bassist Mike Sojkowski.

In their short time together they have managed to achieve something that many so-called jambands are never able to accomplish, by recording a cohesive studio album. They recorded their debut album in 2003. Fee says their mindset going into recording was extremely focused, “We know there is a difference in making an album and playing live. We cut all the long solos out so the songs are not really over four or five minutes. I think a band has to be aware of that”. Setteducato admits that like most great inventions, their studio focus was based out of necessity. “It may have been nice to have someone fund our album, or to have all the time in the world to record, mix, and master this thing. But in reality, our 'record company' was a Visa credit card, so that kind of limited how much time we could spend doing this. But that did not limit how much preparation we could do, and that made all the difference. Our philosophy has always been that to be a tight band, or to sound cohesive as a unit on stage or in the studio.”

While the nine songs on Hooked and Shattered, may run the musical gamut as for as styles, they are all somewhat thematically linked and many share a pop sensibility. “I think that’s what sets us apart from the other ‘jambands’ out there.” Said Fee, adding, “We’re not afraid of having a pop sensibility. I think that’s a good thing.” Setteducato adds, “we all kind of come from a pop background. I mean that in the sense that we can all get just as excited about a Nirvana song as we do about a Mahavishnu Orchestra tune. So, much of our music just instinctively has a pop sense because they have hooks and melodies. But, it’s not a deliberate thing at all, where we say ‘this next tune must be the next Billy Jean!"

This is not to say that their sound is anywhere near bordering on fluff. In fact most of the songs share dark feelings of entrapment and a longing to escape. As Fee (who writes most of the lyrics) elaborates, “I lot of the songs I write kind of carry the same theme.
For a while, I was really into writing about the end of the world and how messed up everything is. There are just too many bad things happening. But it’s weird, I’ll try and put the most happy music to that kind of stuff so the listener really doesn’t get a sense of what I’m truly talking about. A lot of the songs are also about everyday life and just the repetition of everything. How everything seems the same day after day. I try to actually paint a picture for someone who is listening with my lyrics. It’s kind of like I’m trying to say something without really coming out and saying it.”

Since 2002 Scarecrow Collection has toured from Virginia to Vermont, playing such large scale festivals as, Gathering of the Vibes, The Great Bamboozle, and the Woodstock 35th Reunion. They have won over fans with their high energy shows. Their mature approach to their songs and recording carry over to the live settings, where the avoid the trend of jamming for the sake of jamming which leads to the music getting bloated, as Fee says, “We try to structure the jams sometimes, just so it’s not so boring.” The key to their live shows according to Fee is to use the structure of the album as a jumping off point so, “when someone who loves the CD comes out and sees you play, you could just blow them away because it is more intense.”

As far as the future of the band and their goals Setteducato says, “We would all like to make music for a living. It's a very difficult thing to do, especially with a five-piece band. Two of the guys are in school full time, and the rest of us work-freelancing, music lessons, day jobs and the like. So, anything that can help us reach the goal of becoming a full time band in the future is factored into any goals we set for ourselves. I think for now, our biggest goal is to continue playing and writing as much as we can with our crazy schedules. Eventually, we aim to play more than just a few weekends a month, but it’s almost a luxury now to be doing things on the scale we are doing them because we're really learning so much musically and about the business.

As Scarecrow Collection continues to learn and grow musically, I for one am intrigued to see how this band develops. These kids are definitely more than just alright, they are one of the most exciting prospects currently found in the jamband scene.
- Matthew Shapiro


"Kynd Music: Hooked and Shattered Review"

Scarecrow Collection
Hooked and Shattered
Independent

By Dave Terpeny, KyndMusic Editor

I’ve been sitting here for a little while trying to figure out what to tell you about Scarecrow Collection. The difficulty I’m having is that my feelings about this band are simply ecstatic.

It all started when I received their 3-track demo in the mail. Due to the fact that they have a totally cool logo (yeah, I’m professional) I put the CD in and began to work on some other KyndMusic-related things. Literally several hours into it, I realized I had been listening to and enjoying the same three songs all that time. I was hooked.

Once the full-length CD was in my hands, it was all over. This quintet is perfect. There is not a wasted note, rhythm or thought anywhere on this disc, which is an incredible feat considering the deep texturing of the music. Vocals, guitars, percussion, keys and bass blend seamlessly to create natural works of art.

Some of the highlights of the CD are the title track “Hook and Shattered,” “Texas,” and “Pressure,” not necessarily in that order.

The first song I mentioned, the title track, is just simply beautiful. Harkening back to the olden days of the 70’s singer-songwriters, Gerard Fee’s impassioned vocals and the indescribable piano-based chorus struck an amazing chord in me, inspirationally so.

“Texas” is a funky acoustic number. The pop hook in this one will have you up on your feet dancing and singing in no time asking “where’s the cold Bud and my smokes,” even if you’re sitting at your desk. Ignore the strange looks you’ll get. You can’t help it, the song is too good.

Finally, another song that caught my attention was “Hey My Friend” with its rumbling jarring introduction and immediate drop into a spooky repetitive guitar lick and smoky vocals. The Latin flavor of this song is delicious even while the mood is slightly foreboding.

These guys can jam with the best, pull of rampant genre-blending with ease and keep you enthralled for hours, as I can personally attest to. They are a force to be reckoned with and I pity any band that shares the Northeast club circuit with them. A tip to those groups; Hang up your guitars now. Scarecrow Collection is in town. - Dave Terpeny


"Scaercrow Collection 1.29.05 Review"

Scarecrow Collection
1/29/05 Mexicali Blues Teaneck, NJ

It's a frigid night in January - one of those nights where most people opt to stay in rather than face the cold. But not even Old Man Winter could stop loyal fans from flocking to Mexicali Blues to watch Scarecrow Collection take the stage tonight. However, I soon learned that this five-member band wouldn't just take the stage; they'd own it.

It quickly became visible that the audience, as diverse as the band's sound, personally connected with the lyrics of lead singer Gerard Fee. This was made especially clear on the stand-out "Bottle," as the crowd fell silent when he sang, "She's been away from me too long / I need her to come home and be with me / Cause I'm afraid of drinking too much / so have a shot of something for me." The band describes "Don Quixote" as a musical biography of Cervantes' troubled literary character. It's a powerful one at that, made especially compelling by Nick Setteducato's electric guitar solo.

The guys opted to perform one cover, a rousing rendition of "Come Together" that would undoubtedly impress any Beatles fan. After their final song, and after several chants of "Encore," the band returned to the stage to perform "Hey My Friend." The fun, hooky, latin-infused beat was so enjoyable that it inspired many members of the audience to do thier best cha-cha.

On paper, the five-member Scarecrow Collection has been labeled a "jam band." However, after seeing them live, any music lover would agree that this label underestimates the talents of each and every one of its members. Scarecrow Collection's high-energy show transcends multiple genres of music, including jazz, folk, bluegrass, and even latin. Every song that was performed represented a series of notes as intricately woven together as the members of the band themselves. Some bands work for decades trying to achieve the chemistry and flow that Scarecrow Collection pulled off seemingly effortlessly on stage. You can imagine my shock when I learned that the current line-up has only been together for just a few years.

I've recently been informed that Scarecrow Collection was featured in Relix magazine's August 2004 isssue under a column entitled "On the Verge," but I beg to differ with this nationally-circulated magazine. Because in my opinion, Scarecrow Collection isn't on the verge - they're already there.

---

Colleen Broomall first saw her name in print when she was twelve years old and had a letter printed in The New York Times Magazine. Since then, her writing has appeared in multiple entertainment magazines, with interviews ranging from artists like Third Eye Blind and N.E.R.D. to Usher and Kelly Clarkson.



- Colleen Broomall


"Relix Magazine: Scarecrow Collection - On the Verge"

SCARECROW COLLECTION : NEW JERSEY
No Brainer
Relix Magazine - On The Verge - August 2004
By Mick Skidmore

Scarecrow Collection is a funky five-piece jamband with a propensity for danceable, hook-laden songs. The band began several years ago and currently gigs mostly in NY, NJ, CT and VA. These guys are not so much about endless soloing but more about rich, rhythmic songs. They mix a myriad of musical elements in their blend—jazz, funk, bluegrass, rock and country. SC’S debut album, Hooked and Shattered, perfectly captures its melodic, groove-based music. The sound is crisp and clean without superfluous fills—everything fits just right. www.scarecrowcollection.net
- Mick Skidmore


"Scarecrow Collection :: 03.24.06 :: The Main Pub :: Manchester, CT"


Trip to Langerado, including gas, hotels, and extras - $800.00. Trip to Lake Placid for snoe.down, including airfare, hotel, and extras - $1,200.00. Catching Scarecrow Collection (SCC) at The Main Pub in Manchester, CT - "Priceless." SCC hit the newly re-vamped performance space with an eclectic show mirroring the band's diverse collection of musicians. Brothers Joe Fee on drums and vocalist, and guitarist Gerard Fee have been making music together for as long as they have been able to hold instruments. Developing into the band they are today after a short period of changes in both personnel and musical styles, the brothers are joined by keyboardist Ed Fritz, bassist Mike Sojkowski, and guitarist Nick Setteducato. SCC has evolved into a cohesive band with a distinct rock & roll voice. The band will stretch their music live with innovative improvised jams, but the lyrical content and their well-structured songs are the primary focus of the group. Gerard Fee has been the principal songwriter of the band with his poignant lyrics, but the entire group is involved in the creative process.

The show started with a new song, the emotional "I Won't Leave You Alone." The band drove the sound hard to the net right away, and even those in attendance to watch the UCONN basketball game on TV were sucked into the music. Fritz peppered "Faster" with melodic moves on his piano and organ that shined with jazz-tinged lead runs and wah-wah rhythm guitar by Setteducato. Another emotionally charged tune, "Moon Will Always Rise," preceded the snappier "Texas," which has been finding its way onto satellite radio quite a bit lately. The band really stretched out instrumentally in the ballad "Final Problem," before giving Radiohead's "Karma Police" the full SCC treatment. The Burgess Meredith character, Mickey, in the original Rocky inspired the instrumental piece "Burgess" and was hard-edged and driven but with an underlying tender side, like the salty fictional character. One of my favorite newer SCC tunes, "Shadows," made an appearance highlighting the fact that the band has just barely scratched the surface of their creativity. Following a delicate instrumental, the band slammed the audience with Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer," which also saw some "Big Time" teases to close out the first set.

The second set opened with "Grateful," a selection that brought the band's three-part harmonies center stage, something the group has really developed since I heard them last fall. The funky "Act that Way" came next, and Gerard Fee's lead vocals never sounded better than they did over the driving bass of Sojkowski and the drums of Joe Fee, who together are a rock-solid rhythm section. A familiar snare drum beat introduced Paul Simon's "50 Ways," and Setteducato provided tender lead vocals before the band stamped the song with their own style, drifting into a tasty improv jam. Next, more thoughtful lyrics enveloped the room with "Shell it Out" and "Bottle." These songs gave way to another brand new number, "A Drive Over a Bridge," which solidified my opinion that this band keeps churning out incredible songs. The creative well of the band certainly seems to run quite deep. The show closed out with the familiar "Hey My Friend" from their first studio album, Hooked and Shattered.

Scarecrow Collection has a loyal fan base that will probably see a lot of growth in 2006. The band is planning to enter the studio this spring to record their second album. In addition to appearances at a slew of regional Northeast festivals, SCC will be appearing at Smile Fest 2006 and are planning to tour in the Southeast as well.

-Richard Clarke

- Jambase.com


"New Groove of the Month"

What do Van Halen, the Slip, and the North Mississippi Allstars have in common with Scarecrow Collection? Well, besides figuring out a unique way to cut down the “family section” of their guest lists, all four groups are based around a pair of guitar/drum playing brothers. After jamming together as children, drummer Joe Fee and guitarist Gerard Fee began constructing a band with a decidedly 1960s and 70s sound. Since busting onto the jamband circuit four years ago, the New Jersey-based collective, which also features bassist Mike Sojkowski, guitarist Nick Setteducato, and keyboardist Ed Fritz, has generated a slow, steady buzz thanks to its organic mix of jam-rock energy and singer/songwriter structures.

Staples on the summer festival circuit, especially around the northeast, Scarecrow Collection has caught the ears of a number of scene-veterans, placing the quintet onstage with Bob Weir & Ratdog, Keller Williams, Col. Bruce Hampton, Railroad Earth, Assembly of Dust, RAQ, Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers, Mike Farris, The Jennifer Hartswick Band and The Bomb Squad. The group also caught the attention of Harmonized records who will release the group’s next studio album, Radio Frequency Disaster, on April 17. Their debut album, Hooked and Shattered, has generated a steady buzz, helping the group score a spot in Relix’s On the Verge section and high-marks in the JamOff competition. Below, frontman Gerard Fee gives Jambands.com its first Scarecrow Collection history lesson and looks ahead for mid-2007.

MG- First off, can you give us a little background about how Scarecrow Collection came together?

Well, I started playing with my brother [drummer Joey Fee] years ago. I would write songs and we would play them at home. As we met people, we’d ask them to jam with us and the current lineup came together about three-and-a-half years go. When the band started we were more song-oriented. I’ve always been influenced by people like Paul Simon and James Taylor, while my brother is really into jazz. After Nick and a mandolin player who used to be in the band joined we started doing a lot of jamming, but lately it has sort of come back to the songs.

MG- Scarecrow Collection is releasing its first CD for Harmonized records in April. What was the process of creating songs for that album like?

We kind of wrote most of these songs for the new CD and didn’t even play half of them out live. For a while we were focusing on some of the older songs and wanted to create something that stands apart in the studio. We recorded at Water Music where Gov’t Mule recently recorded part of their new CD and we recorded everything to analogue tape first. We really wanted to record that nice, warm sense. Most of our favorite performers are from the 1960s and 70s so we really wanted to capture that feeling with our new CD. I think it worked out and has that nice warm quality throughout the entire CD. There are a few brand new songs when but when the CD comes out these songs will still sound fresh on stage.

Now, we have been focusing on the new songs and we are kind of writing more even more material. There is brand a new song we wrote a month ago, “On His Side,” that we have been playing. We are putting verses and pieces together to create even newer songs. That is how we put the new CD together as well. For a while I did most of the writing and brought the songs to the band. But we kind of constructed the new CD together as a whole. Everybody in the band kind of vibes off that idea and the songs really sounded whole and one dimensional. So, now we are trying that approach again.

MG- Would you say your writing style is heavy rooted in improvisation?

We try to make the song come out first. We work on the lyrics and try to make a really solid song happening and then over time we try to make the songs a little longer. But, right now, we have been feeling like if a song doesn’t need a jam we aren’t going to force it to make it last longer. We’d rather have a solid song first and then have the jam. We really focus on the song. So, when you see us live, we feel like it is half singer-songwriter and half jam. I think we found a good medium to play both styles.

I am trying to really focus in on my songwriting and trying to be as real as I can to the songs. I like a lot of music from the 1960s and 1970s, like Paul Simon, James Taylor, Beatles, the Doors, and the Allman Brothers Band. I like a lot of current music but what feels real to me, like Radiohead, Coldplay, and John Mayer. A lot of singer/songwriters. People can tell if you aren’t being true in your songs, so I have been making sure the lyrics really reflect the way I am feeling and if I have that down the songs will just come out a lot better. It has helped me to come up with songs in that way.

MG- Can you site some performances a new Scarecrow Collection fan should download?

The Red Square show we did in Albany stood out to me as really great. We also did a show with Ryan Montbleau on December 30 and that show really stood out to me. We have also done a lot of shows at Mexicali Blues in Teaneck, NJ, which stand out as being really good. But, my favorite show is 1-8-04 at the Electric Company in Utica, NY when we opened for the Bomb Squad. The crowd was really energetic and we introduced a lot of new songs, which felt fresh. When I was singing that night it just felt really good and I think the recording comes across the way I really felt. It was high-energy the entire show. The festivals have also really opened the doors for us in terms of introducing people to our music. At Gathering of the Vibes we played on the mainstage for the first time and it that was also a standout performance for us.

MG- What else does Scarecrow Collection have in store for 2007?

Well, the CD comes out April 17 and we are just going to tour really hard behind it. I think we are going to do a run down south this spring. We are planning on taking a two or three week to tour and then come back and play around our homes in New Jersey and New York for a week. We are going to try to expand around the east coast and then hit the middle of the country. Eventually we are also hoping to get out west. So, 2007 is going to be a big touring year for us.


- Jambands.com


Discography

'radio frequency disaster' - April 2007 on Harmonized Records
'Hooked and Shattered' - Dec. 2003 Independent Release

Photos

Bio

Their sound has been described as rock country with hints of blues and Americana, a collaboration of sorts between Paul Simon and the Black Crowes. A little something for everyone. In April of last year the band release their second album, ‘radio frequency disaster’ on Harmonized Records and received national attention by being regularly featured on Sirius and XM satellite radio. Z95.1 in New Jersey / Philadelphia just awarded the band ‘Studio Album of the Year 2007’.

Also the band has performed with such notables performers as Clarence Clemons (E Street Band), Jim Donovan (Rusted Root), DJ Logic, Ed Mann (Frank Zappa), Jen Durkin (Deep Banana Blackout / Rhythm Devils), Lo Faber (God Street Wine) and others. They are a hard working band who looks to forge lasting relationships by working with promoters and venues to grow and spread the music together...

SCC Highlights
- 'Studio Album of the Year' - Endless Boundaries radio (Z95.1)
- Jambands.com 'New Groove of the Month' Feb. 2007
- signed with Harmonized Records to release 'radio frequency disaster' on April 17th
- regularly featured on Sirius satellite radio
- Gathering of the Vibes '04 - '06, highlighted by a Main Stage appearance in '06
- embarked on first southern tour in Spring '06 highlighted by a performance at the 12th Annual Smilefest
- joined on stage by DJ Logic, Jim Donovan (Rusted Root), Gordon Stone and Jen Durkin
- Winners of Relix Jamoff! competition
- Relix Magazine - 'On the Verge'
- CMJ Music Marathon 2005
- over 200 shows since '04
- performed at Paradise in Boston, MA; Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ; Main Room (headliner) at the Knitting Factory in New York, NY ; Mexicali Blues in Teaneck, NJ; Webster Theater in Hartford, CT; Nectars in Burlington, VT and other rooms up and down the East Coast.