Ten Toes Up
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Ten Toes Up

Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, United States | SELF

Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, United States | SELF
Band Rock Classic Rock


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"Ten Toes Up translates live sound in new album"

The quartet’s live show has seen venues as diverse as Apple Annie’s to the now extinct Hard Rock Park. It’s killer. Josh Gregory’s gentle yet sharp hand percussion matched with the swiftness  of drummer Adam Miller, the cool of bassist Charles Freeman and the versatility of guitarist BJ Craven create an experience, not a band. Recreating that in the studio and mass producing it for eager music fans — it can’t happen.
Trademark Sound Yet, Ten Toes Up’s latest album “Bridges and Breakdowns” is certainly as close as they can get to it.On the producing side, it’s much fuller and tighter than their first studio effort, 2006’s “Trip On Troubles.” “Bridges and Breakdowns” isn’t perfect, but it has far more surprises than shortcomings. The band’s trademark sound comes through on the opening track, “Summertime.” Freeman’s playful yet smooth bass line stomps down and releases aftershocks of percussion and party funk guitar. The track is completed by a soundtrack of clinking glasses and bar conversations near the end, an homage to the song’s live appeal and spirit.
The production is light and humorous, a very impressive translation of a song matured to salivating perfection in front of standing-room only crowds.
Words, words, words Often, it’s the band as a whole that takes the cake. Words are just a part of the journey and easily lost within the experience as a whole.
One of the positive aspects of this album is the chance to focus more on the lyrics as opposed to the groove, which takes over during live shows. “1939” is a good example. Craven’s takes World War II and explores it through music in a way many people might not have thought: soaring bass and resonating rock guitar. Yet, there’s no intention to morph it into abstraction. The song is intensely personal, only emphasized by the sea of vocals on the chorus.
“Homeless” is a turning point on the album. It comes in the middle, where all songs up to it have had an upbeat, heavy bass and drum presence. On this track, the acoustic guitar is the only prominent instrument, while all others remained restrained to the margin, occasionally whispering here or there. The result matches the sweet, introspective feel of the song, certainly an immaculate canvas of sound if ever there was one..
Vibe band. The latter half of the album, at least the next three songs, don’t so much suffer from lethargy as they do from the absence of a live crowd to feed off the vibe.
“Slow Sunday Driving,” “Alabama Roads” and “One Drink A Day” have a tendency to run together on the CD, like three movements to a single song.
Still, they’re good for chilling down just as much as the first half is good for jamming. Ten Toes Up is a vibe band first and foremost. Their sound is not out to prove anything, but certainly to induce feelings, emotions, euphony among the spirits. If you’re a Southern music enthusiast and looking for something to bring a little harmony to an iPod list with Georgia Satellites, Hootie and the Blowfish and Allman Brothers, “Bridges and Breakdowns” will do it.
Nick Hilbourn
Eight Days A Week
- Eight Days A Week (Hilbourn)

"Multiple Genres Meet When Ten Toes Up Performs"

For Craven and fellow band members....coming up with a sound that speaks for itself is their goal. If their debut CD, "Trip On Troubles" is any indication, they've succeeded. The sound they have created is a melting pot of styles, incorporating classic toe-tapping southern rock with a few soulful strains of gospel, sultry, hip-swaying blues overtones, and the hint of a lively Latin Beat. It's a delicate recipe, but the result is both fervent and tuneful - a likable combination... (Their) CD features eight original tracks including a memorable ballad called "Devil's Tea," an instrumental, and a half-dozen upbeat, yet laid back tracks that showcase the group's signature sound. - The Coastal Observer (Jackie Broach)

"Ten Toes Up unveils new sound and songs"

....Craven's assured vocals and his Allman-Brother's-inspired Gibson meld to the rhythm-heavy drums and percussion. Hints of southern rock and bluegrass, melodies straight out of an Edwin McCain album and a gospel touch, courtesy of local Sheryta Spears, created eight songs that keep evolving. - The Sun News (Russ Lane)

""Trip On Troubles" to be released Saturday"

"Trip On Troubles" was recorded at Sea Note Recording Studio in Myrtle Beach and includes eight original songs that blend jazz, country, bluegrass and rock. The title track is an upbeat song with a bluegrass feel. Other songs on the album include the upbeat, jazzy instrumental with the signature lap-slide guitar titled "Gracene;" the upbeat rock song "She Was Right," and a ballad that Craven wrote on a 6 week backpack trek across Thailand called "Devil's Tea." - The Georgetown Times

"CD Review from Charleston City Paper"

Ten Toes Up demonstrate they're more capable of solid pop songwriting than expected on their debut full-length, Trip on Troubles. Recorded at Sea Note Studio in Myrtle Beach (and engineered by Seth Funderberk), the well-polished production is full of radio-ready stuff – clean, crisp, full, and uncluttered, even with all the extra percussion and extra guitar and vocal tracks percolating in the background. The solid performances from bassist Charles Freeman, drummer Adam Miller, and percussionist Josh Gregory are practically flawless.

The lead-off track, "Secrets," with the heavy 4/4 groove and gnarly guitar licks, could easily pass as an early-era Panic rocker. The slide guitar-driven "Gracene" and "Places" get even deeper into Allmans funk, although it never bogs itself down into redundancy. The jazzy fusion/funk of "Knows the World" resembles the noodly works of John Scofield, Glass Menagerie, and the like. The title track sounds like a rock band covering a favorite vintage gospel track – especially with the terrific additional backing vocals from Sheryta Spears. The scratchy stylus-on-vinyl sounds in the intro of "She Was Right" is a nice kick-off to "side two."

Most impressively, Craven and the band stretch out on a slow-swingin', waltzy tune titled "Devil's Tea" – a folky anthem in 6/8 time that snaps with almost as much stout-hearted blue-eyed soul as anything The Faces, The Band – or, indeed, the Allmans – ever attempted 30 years ago. –T. Ballard Lesemann

- T. Ballard Lesemann

"The Soul of Sound"


Published: July 3, 2008
Last Friday night, the gods of funk, jazz and calypso were pleased as Charleston band Ten Toes Up opened up their set at Apple Annie’s with the sweet whine of a harmonica layered over a majestic bass line and a crooning guitar.
With the next song, Joshua Gregory, the harmonica player, switched to a percussion set complete with congas, timbales and snares. This is in addition to a full drum set manned by Adam Miller. Up front on the bass is Charles Freeman and on guitar and lead vocals is B.J. Craven.
The sound is something like a jam band, something like a jazz quartet and something like a rhythmic heartbeat booming from the next room.
Keeping people captivated
The guys boast a sound drawn from the DNA of Bootsy Collins and injected into the veins of a group that looks more like Better Than Ezra with immactulate sideburns. The sound actually complements a collection of songs with deep thoughtful lyrics; one of those songs performed early in the set is “1939.”
Craven said the song is based on a true story from World War II, wherein Jews under Hitler’s rule were forced to become Nazi soldiers or be killed.
“It was from the point of view of someone who was in a concentration camp speaking out to this type of soldier and not necessarily understanding the situation,” explained Craven.
Yet, imagine this type of story told over a musical soup of ambient guitar and bass and Latin-style percussion. It’s two worlds that, the band said, have been considered mutually exclusive but shouldn’t be.
“You don’t have to write songs all day about how you’re pissed off that you broke up with your girlfriend,” said Freeman. “There’s other things you can tell stories about that will keep people captivated.”
Psycho-billy country riffs and slick bass lines
That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with music.
The song “Summertime” doesn’t even sound like it was written in modern times. The harmonization, bass line and lyrics feel like they emerged from the late ’60s.
The ethic of the band runs between party rock and jam music, often in a single song. For “Don’t You Realize,” Craven lays down his electric for a lap slide that bellows out deep psycho-billy country riffs, the bass lays down a slick line that moves up and down the fretboard invoking styles from jazz, blues and funk to get the message across, while the drums and percussion become an unwielding force that pushes the song ahead like a train zooming through the center of downtown Florence.
More ’80s than the ’80s
Although most of their set is composed of originals, Ten Toes dips into a wide variety of music when they do covers, a list made up of ’60s folk combined with modern hip hop, combined with ’70s funk and ’80s alternative rock. Add the group’s unique set-up of bass, guitar and two drummers, and their covers become creative interpretations.
“We always have our own take on what we play just because of our instrumentation,” said Craven.
Their cover of INXS’ “Need You Tonight” sounds more ’80s than the ’80s original.
Their interpretation of Drive By Truckers’ “Too Much Sex (Too Little Jesus)” is a classic rockabilly road tune, which a much greater simplification because of the instrumental set-up.
For Kanye West’s “All Falls Down,” Gregory stepped out from behind the congas and took the mic with Craven and Freeman playing the role of Syleena Johnson.
Perfect isn’t always perfect
The guys are finishing up work on a second album that they expect to release soon. They note that, while they are satisfied with their first album, “Trip On Troubles,” many of those songs have grown into entirely different entities. The new album, they said, will reflect more of the progression they have made as musicians.
For them, the recording process is not so different from a live show. The second album is being formed more from crowd reaction than studio magic. That’s important, noted Craven, because shows need to be fun, and the desire to be absolutely perfect, whether in the studio or live, can ruin the music.
“You can’t take it too serious,” he said, “because if you try to make it too perfect it’s not going to come off with any originality or energy.”
After the concert, sweat glazing their tired-looking faces after more than two hours of performing, the guys were inclined to describe their sound as “more of a feeling than a genre. As genres become more and more diverse and all these different names are added to it, all we can do is play the different stuff that we feel.
“We guess it’s up to others to give a name to it.”
- The Florence News


"Sleeping Lion" November 2010

"Carolina Mess" EP June 2010

"Bridges & Breakdowns" November 2008

"Live Vol. 1" August 2007

"Trip On Troubles" August 2006

"Places" Demo October 2005

All recordings self produced and released.
Engineered at Sea Note Recording Studio
by Seth Funderburk



Ten Toes Up is a rock and roll band whose sound is steeped in the same energetic blue-eyed blues that brought up others like the Black Keys and My Morning Jacket. The songs have a familiar feeling that good stories seem to evoke. It's the southern influences of old like the Allmans that help Ten Toes Up meld rock, funk, and blues into a sound that keeps fans dancing and singing along. "..a story unwinds as a dirty Gibson SG slides over drums and percussion while being pushed by a funky bass line."

2011 saw the official release of our album "Sleeping Lion" and more accolades. Ten Toes Up won best original band, best guitarist, best songwriter, best bassist, best drummer, and most likely to get a record contract, from the entertainment magazine The Surge. We worked heavily on our t-shirt line and cross-promotional opportunities to expand our fan base. We played a ton of shows up and down the coast and brought close to 400 fans out to our House Of Blues show.

2010 was a big year for Ten Toes Up... We released our first EP called "Carolina Mess," which coinsided with the launch of our new clothing line (inspired by the song of the same name). We were in the studio working on our 3rd full-length studio album with producer Danielle Howle. We played over 160 shows in 2010, and were able to bring over 700 people out to our local CD pre-release party in early November.

2009 saw TTU hittiing the road, concentrating on touring the east coast, working on new material, and adding to the presentation of our live performances. Also, in 2009 the local entertainment magazine, The Surge, voted Ten Toes Up the best original band in Myrtle Beach.**

We also had the privilege of sharing the stage with JJ Grey & Mofro at a sold out show at the Greenfield Amphitheater in Wilmington, NC.

2008 was another exciting year for us; we finally finished recording our 2nd studio album at Sea Note Recording in Myrtle Beach, SC. "Bridges & Breakdowns" and released it in early November. We shared the main stage at the House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach, SC with The Bodeans and opened for Hip Hop star Twista; also we began to travel to more distant markets in different cities and states. TTU has added clubs and festivals in Charlotte, Raleigh, Burlington, Asheville,Winston-Salem, Greenville, and Blowing Rock, North Carolina, as well as Richmond, VA, and Athens, GA. Additionally, we were featured in the local favorite "Grand Strand Magazine." Most recently, we were given the opportunity to open for the North Mississippi All-Stars at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC! Our new album is currently receiving air time in 10 different markets including some as far away as Hawaii.

Ten Toes Up is currently featured on Time Warner Cable's "Live at the Jam Room," FOX TV affiliate WFXB, and Carolina TV Now!

We are also proud to announce that we have added Joe Estrada of Upstart Entertainment to the Ten Toes Up team for radio promotion, and Seth Funderburk of Waterway Run Management will continue to handle management and booking.