The Bootz Orchestra
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The Bootz Orchestra

Portland, Oregon, United States

Portland, Oregon, United States
Band Folk Rock


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Homespun: The Bootz Orchestra"

Bony Jars (self-released) From the sweetly sung ukulele reveries of Beirut to the raggle-taggle gypsy-punk of Gogol Bordello, the hybrid of Eastern European folk and Western pop has hollowed out its own niche in indie music over the past few years. The nine-piece Bootz Orchestra works in this genre as well, under the direction of St. Louis-born Kyle Butz. The core band members met at Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music, and their conservatory training gives no small amount of technical proficiency to this normally rough-hewn style of folk music. Luckily, the Bootz Orchestra isn't interested in a strict re-creation of folk idioms — instead, the mish-mash of intuitive, rock-based drumming, brass-band harmonies and rootsy accordion lines combines to give a spirited foundation to Butz's high, quavering vocals.
Even though Butz is backed by powerful tuba, baritone sax and upright bass vibrations, his ukulele strums and banjo-picking sets the tone and direction for these six songs. "Our Daughters" begins with Butz and his banjo unadorned; a speedy, martial snare drum then picks up the beat while a trumpet and accordion play the theme in the choruses. The next track on the EP, "Moths 2; Moths 4," finds Butz singing of family trauma with startling clarity as his bandmates play minor-key melody lines behind him.

It's to the Bootz Orchestra's credit that the songs on Bony Jars could work with one player or all nine; Butz's lyrics don't require a rocked-up Balkan folk backdrop, but the style mostly fits the cloudy mood of his songs. Unfortunately, there's not always much to distinguish one song from the next; each is built to inspire some sort of dancing, but the march-time beats are so restrictive that the goosestep seems like the only option. These strictures loosen (and the mood lightens) with the disc-closing "CoMO," a tempo-shifting ode to Columbia, Missouri, that features a rousing chorale at the coda. It's the place on the record where the Bootz Orchestra feels most like a band comprised of individual talents and voices instead of a well-orchestrated backdrop for Butz's songs.

- Riverfront Times

"But For Gardens and Family Homes: Bootz Orchestra"

The era of the folk orchestra hasn’t given up its bloom with the new decade. Layers of musicians pile into tiny venues and pack stages like nearly lit matches huddling in a matchbox – percussive smashing of random objects, toy pianos and brass instruments shining against the floating tones of melting guitar strings wrapped around violin whispers! In the vein of Zach and everyone’s favourite Sufjan comes one Berkeley via Missouri composer that has landed in Portland like an origami crane folded from sheet music. Having toured through Portland with Bearkat in 2008, Kyle Butz set his sights on this town, orchestrating his return by way of cross-continental tour, gaggle of musicians and accordion in tow.

Bootz Orchestra channels large Balkan beats through the four strings of Kyle Butz’s ukulele, buried alive beneath a shuddering brass section and the soaring violin of Ashley King. “Mollifying Whirl,” from Bootz’s EP Bony Jars, begins with a slight eruption of trombones and trumpets waltzing with sparse piano over ukulele strings peppering subdued drumbeats. The slow building climb and escape between recurrences of soft strums behind slightly thought-strangled singing brims with suspense, cascading into a soft-landing at its end. The running bass of “Our Daughters” chases the metronome-banjo that leads a cloud of instruments, outrunning the “grey ghosts in tight knitted bones” of the first line, weaving between a wave of circling notes and glockenspiel droplets.

The EP Bony Jars is available now with new songs in the works. Keep your eyes alive for the orchestra cavorting around town with accordions, banjos, guitars, ukuleles, trombones, violins, tambourines, melodicas and all!

- PDX Pipeline


"Bony Jars" - 2009



With a hodgepodge traveling lineup that spans the coasts and a patchwork sound that melds influences from Balkan folk to Stravinsky, it’s tempting to tab the Bootz Orchestra as some new-era collective of Stateside gypsy-punks. But they know that championing the authentic gypsy lifestyle carries some heavy implications: Leathery skin and unhinged sneers, for example, sported by untrained virtuoso accordionists plodding somewhere through hills of Hungary with the distinct inclination to steal your hubcaps without misgivings.

But authenticity is overrated. While the Bootz Orchestra admire the gypsy aesthetic, they have no desire to smell like cabbage or gank your hubcaps. They’ve set their stomping grounds inside sweaty basements and cramped backyards in Midwestern farm towns, accepting whatever platform they’re given whether it’s elevated or made of cracked ceramic tile. And though they’d probably be flattered by someone mistaking them for untrained prodigies, they happen to be some of the country’s most accomplished young musicians.

The seeds for the Bootz Orchestra were planted at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, when lead songwriter/vocalist Kyle Butz met fellow students Nick Sweet (trumpet/trombone) and Stephen Connolly (trombone/bass/ukulele). Separate projects and journeys west led them to add to the caravan, tacking on child-hood friend Aaron Roy (drums) in Denver and Ashley King (violin) in Kirksville, MO. Each member, though becoming formidable solo performers, merged their varied backgrounds into an energetic sound that recalls the excitable multi-instrumentalism of Sufjan Stevens and Beirut and the bluegrass chops of Crooked Still.