The Lobster Quadrille
Gig Seeker Pro

The Lobster Quadrille

Rochester, New York, United States | SELF

Rochester, New York, United States | SELF
Band Americana Gothic


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



"The Lobster Quadrille doesn't need an amen"

The Lobster Quadrille is a seven-piece band steeped in faded-lace Southern gothic pathos, ethos, superstition, and doom. Sepia-toned songs of cotillions, consumption, damnation, elation, and salvation pour out like the sweat on frontman Solomon Blaylock's brow. The band's ragtag hobo instrumentality ---- clarinet, organ, tambourine, bucket, washboard, slide whistle, kazoo, pots 'n' pans, and odds 'n' ends, along with the more rudimentary guitar, bass, and drums --- gives The Lobster Quadrille the feel of a post-war carnival...if that carnival were to break out in the middle of a funeral.

On stage, band leader Blaylock's rabid preacher-with-a-hard-on stance induces vertigo. You could very easily write him off as mad until you hear his lyrics and his story. He's been rejected by one religion, embraced by another, and almost created a third on his own. His music tells the story, following a weathered timeline of indoctrination, belief, doubt, rejection, elation, and redemption. It's a journey where he's picked up a band --- followers, if you will --- along the way to spread the word. The bandstand is his pulpit.

In her novelWise Blood, Flannery O'Connor writes of a young man, Hazel Mote, whose faith has gone awry. He dons a preacher's garb and tone, surrounds himself with assorted villains, and founds The Church Without Christ. It's dark, moody, and viciously romantic. Just like The Lobster Quadrille.

But unlike Mote, Blaylock's religious redirection --- and the ensuing music --- do not consume him. He doesn't come across misguided or as one bent on leading others astray, even though it's possible, what with his charisma and the music's salacious appeal.

But Solomon Blaylock ain't a preacher. And he doesn't necessarily need an amen.

"I'm actually a practicing Buddhist," he says. "For a while I just didn't want to do with anything. But I think part of me is just hardwired as a religious maniac."

Blaylock has genuine Dixie pedigree. He grew up in rural Georgia and Alabama as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. But from early on there were ideological conflicts, especially for a kid who asked questions and liked rock 'n' roll.

"Listening to good music," he says, "obviously there were things that weren't Christian. There was always that line, and you'd catch shit for certain things."

As he grew, so did the conflict. Blaylock had moved to New York to do religious volunteer work. He was living in what was the Jehovahs' equivalent to a monastery. His questioning got louder.

"The fact that we believe there's only one thing," he says, "I don't believe that makes sense. To act like there's absolute truth, to me, is ridiculous."

After much deliberation and a sit-down with church elders, Blaylock left the church.

"Well, officially they kicked me out," he says. "They call it dis-fellowshipping. It's like a shunning."

Since the age of 12 he'd been playing music and writing songs. Now it would become paramount. Religion had always been in his music, but now it was gonna get tweaked and twisted with no small amount of rage.

"It's always been there," he says. "It's just never been as explicit. When I was a teenager everything was couched in metaphor. And it wasn't until I started The Lobster Quadrille stuff that things got more overtly religious and even over the top in ways."

It's very easy to see the anger and conflict in his face and hear it in his lyrical noir:

I'm weary with this singing bout mad Southern belles

I'm sick and tired of chronicling other people's hells

The thrill of decay is all gone, and I ain't fighting for it

The gossamer wing of hope lighted on me, but I tore it

Blaylock literally seethes and writhes on stage --- at first to the delight of the crowd, then to their alarm, and ultimately to a sort of acceptance and understanding. He's clearly exorcising demons. He's exercising 'em, too. You may not see them, but you can hear them...laughing.

"When I first broke with the church," he says. "That's when the dam broke and everything was very 'Jesus' and waving the Bible. I was really saying 'Fuck you' about it. I was really kind of spitting on it and laughing at it a bit. I was just angry because I felt betrayed."

Tell me why, lord. Tell me why

Why my passions are so fickle and so blind

It's plain to see that I'm

Sick to death of my own mind

Yet beneath this struggle and fury and bile lies the band's beautiful, beautiful music; music that sashays and swings like a lop-sided waltz. It's gentle and elegant with a dash of dread.

"I just always had this picture in my head of what old swampy Southern music would sound like," Blaylock says. "I'd heard things here and there that hinted at it."

Blaylock even named the band after an old Lewis Carroll poem "because it just sounded old Southern to me," he says.

But the music was more a vision than a sound in his head, which brings us back to Flannery O'Connor --- and artist/musician Dame Darcy.

"Their imagery, the things that she [O'Connor] wrote and the things that she [Darcy] painted, they made a very clear sound in my head. And I just started to work that out."

Two self-released CDs (and a third in the oven) later, he's still working it out.

Things started off alone on acoustic guitar.

"People would hear it and like the energy of it or like it because it was quirky," he says. "But it was always difficult finding people who really understood it, could get into it, and play it well; which is why I feel so lucky now."

The Lobster Quadrille gathers for practice in an old South Wedge carriage house. Amidst a congregation of beer bottles and pizza boxes the band members sprawl about the room. This line up has been together just under a year.

Though they all face Blaylock, for the most part their eyes are closed while they play. Perhaps they're just listening intently. Maybe they're trying to see what their leader sees.

The band is loosely strung together with an air of the unorthodox. But what could potentially descend into a clattering cacophony comes off gentle --- quirky, but gentle, and perhaps a little risky.

Keith Rosengren floats between bucket and organ as the song or mood dictates. The band boasts multiple arrangements for each song. Rosengren plays wingman in Blaylock's vision.

"I fill in what's not there," he says. "I'm a bit of FlavaFlav to his Chuck D. But more so like an organist in the church who's there to build the crowd up when the guy's goin' into his preachin'."

And in keeping with Blaylock's visual aspect, foley/percussionist Lauren Manitsas' hands spend a fair amount of time in the air waving joyfully when not beating a tambourine.

Amy MacDonald's clarinet is one of the few voices of sanity, as she weaves in and out of the clatter and glee.

And even though bassist Kevin Ferrel and drummer Mark Berends brandish more conventional artillery, they still play into the Quadrille's madness.

It's kind of a well-executed free-for-all.

"I always liked the idea that eventually this would just be like a hootenanny and people could jump up on stage and clang on things," Blaylock says. "Like playing in the kitchen."

Amber McAlister grew up in Georgia near Blaylock. She's known him since they were 12. She also flies the Flannery flag.

McAlister is Blaylock's girlfriend and The Lobster Quadrille's foley stage. Her haphazard shift from washboard to slide whistle to kazoo and beyond is what gives the band its tent revival tack. She gets it.

"It's not always the same every time," she says. "It definitely depends on the feel. For most of the songs there's a ramshackle feel."

Strumming a washboard with a spoon and tootin' on a kazoo with her eyes closed, McAlister comes off placid, as if she's somewhere spiritual.

"I have a strong sentimental feeling toward a lot of the songs," she says, "because of the connection to the South, to how I grew up, and definitely some of the things that I felt: the repression, the sadness that came along with the religion. So I suppose it's cathartic. I guess that's why everybody does music."

"Maybe it's an easy way to God for those of us who find music to be divine," Rosengren suggests.

The Quadrille has played mostly rock joints where audiences get the religious fervor right off. They just may not know quite how deep it runs, dismissing the band's sound and Blaylock's holy-roller antics and "biblical theatrics," as he likes to call them, as showbiz shtick. The band's black Sunday-go-to-meetin' garb may raise suspicion as well, or at least curiosity.

Others might actually find something to hold onto; for instance Blaylock's brutal lyricism with its comic tragedy and meter. His verses read like classic little Southern gothic novellas.

Great granddad MacDonald crept up behind the

Young man working out in the field

And at the final moment he thought better of it

Put down his knife and turned 'round on his heel

I'm content with whatever," he says. "I mean, if folks are just entertained by the show, then that's fine. But the majority of the feedback I get when people come up... they seem to... it does feel like a spiritual experience. It's just something you get swept up into --- which I think is what live music is anyway."

"I think people like a spectacle," McAlister says. "I think they enjoy seeing someone rant and rave... I always describe the band as the warm, wet washcloth of Southern religiosity being wrung out over the next generation. And it's kinda sweaty." - Rochester City Newspaper

"The Lobster Quadrille rocks the revival with a Southern-gothic twist"

Now that "tired of punk" twentysomethings with PBR breath are buying up all the used accordions, it's a no-brainer that the neo-cabaret and Southern-gothic sub-genres have usurped the late-'90s revival of swing and big-band music. With Andrew Bird, Gogol Bordello and Dresden Dolls all walking the tightropes of public radio, Hollywood and Seventeen magazine, can Rochester, New York's Lobster Quadrille preserve its integrity?

Originally hailing from Rome, Ga., evangelical frontman Solomon Blaylock brings religious enlightenment to every performance. But he isn't spouting off Bible-Belt banter merely to impress freshman goths who just discovered "that one Flannery O'Connor lady." Blaylock's a born-and-raised Jehovah's Witness, and a Lobster Quadrille show is more a revival than a rock concert, set amid an urban landscape of banjos and washboards.

Whether you listen to its latest EP, Southern Apologist, or stand in the choir that is preached upon, The Lobster Quadrille offers true-to-life tales of love, death, sex, drugs and divorce, and the gospel of a truly tortured soul. Its haunted gospel sound hints at mood-setters like Johnny Cash, Dame Darcy and Nick Cave, while maintaining the charge of Devo, The Sonics and Manchester post-punk.

What used to be Blaylock's solo project is now a seven-piece band -- one musician for each sin -- with tight rhythms led by bassist and producer Kevin Ferrell and an actual foley section of percussionists. So if you feel like going to church and leaving with ringing ears, The Lobster Quadrille just might be the sect you've been looking for. You are healed! - Pittsburgh City Paper

"The Devil's In The Details - A Look At The New Lobster Quadrille Album."

Though the preacher-as-satire now ranks high among rock and roll’s most tired cliches, the Lobster Quadrille proves that the crossroads where rock music meets the tent-revival might still be fertile ground after all. Where other, seemingly likeminded acts are perfectly content to mine Southern Baptist aesthetics for their kitsch value, the Lobster Quadrille’s faux-religious aura radiates a gravitas that gives thematic weight to the band’s distinct blend of bluegrass, rockabilly, country, backwoods folk, gospel, and rock. That’s because, contrary to outward appearances, bandleader Solomon Blaylock doesn’t play the religion card as shtick. Even as he goes over the top in his caricature-like representation of a preacher, he manages to hit subtle dramatic notes that elevate the band’s performances above their more apparent entertainment value.

Blaylock strikes a fine balance between parody for laughs and irony as a vehicle for scathing social critique. His sordid, obscenity-laced sermonizing and stark-raving mannerisms belie deeper feelings of anger and rejection that come into vivid relief under the light of his and bandmate/spouse Amber McAlister’s personal experiences with excommunication. Throw in the fact that Blaylock grew up in Georgia, presumably no stranger to characters like the one he plays onstage, and suddenly the music crackles with credibility, intent, and – perhaps most importantly – the shadowy activity of real-life demons. Bill Maher can chuckle when he lampoons Christianity because he can afford to; for Blaylock and McAlister, there’s actually something at stake.

Live, the Lobster Quadrille – which at the time of this recording consisted of seven members but has since expanded – summons a formidable, muscular sound with a high measure of precision and command. In fact, it’s the band’s ability to pull back that ultimately puts a stronger accent on its aggressive side. By contrast, producer/recording engineer Nic Marinaccio’s mix presents the music as if it’s coming through an old transistor radio. That approach certainly has its appeal, but it overshoots the mark. It’s something of a misrepresentation to play-up the Lobster Quadrille as old-timey and quaint. Marinaccio’s production, for example, inadvertently flattens the band’s range and forces its sense of humor into the foreground, where it becomes too magnified to convey its intended message. Even with a sharp-tongued delivery, Blaylock’s lyrics get reduced to toothless tongue-twisters drained of the venom that gives them bite.

Clarinetist Amy McDonald perhaps benefits the most from this treatment, as it allows her plenty of room to shine where she might otherwise get swept in the rest of the band’s dense live roar. But the versatility and lustre of Blaylock’s guitarwork – which goes from sunny and idyllic on “Magnolia Trees” to full-on Ramones-style punk on “Chop! Chop!” – eludes being captured. As does the full heft, drive, and flexibility of Kevin Farrell and Mark Berends’ tandem work on bass and drums. On the other hand, the group vocals and busy, saloon-like atmospheres allow the music to unfold with the unassuming charm of sketch comedy. Still, Blaylock’s yen for spinning tales of debauchery with tongue fimly planted in cheek makes it too easy to take the Lobster Quadrille as little more than Southern Gothic parody – or worse, a joke – when there’s actually so much more going on.

Judging from the freewheeling mood of the performances, the band clearly had a good time making this album. Likewise, listeners looking to fish for the unsavory nuggets lurking in the lyrics should also expect to have fun. But if the Lobster Quadrille can somehow carry its balancing act into the studio, then its provocative edge can actually be bolstered – rather than obscured by – its sense of humor. Like any artist who engages in role-play, Blaylock treads a dangerous line. Not only is the character he plays confining by nature, but every time he gets into costume he runs a greater risk of that character becoming real and/or taking the music hostage. Sooner or later, Blaylock and company are going to have to confront the creative implications of the group persona they created. Hopefully they’ll be able to take their next stab at recording while their imagination is still going strong. Hopefully they’ll work with someone doesn’t try to make a literal sonic translation of the band’s sepia-toned image. For now, though, this album might best serve as an encouraging sign of things to come. Or a pleasant change of pace from the Lobster Quadrille’s rollicking live show. (Saby Reyes-Kulkarni)

- Roc!Rochester

"The Lobster Quadrille"

If your looking for some curious sound, check the Soul-Saving Southern Gothic rock of Rochester’s The Lobster Quadrille. This nine-piece ensemble blends dark and light to create a carnival of humorous purgatory. The Lobster Quadrille sings of the damned, but they make it sound so fun to be damned.

With melodious vocals and wide range of instruments, they create a sound reminiscent of a neighborhood jug band come to rock. Their music is infused with light wit, from edgy, yet often bouncy, arrangements to their revival of lyrical storytelling. One is never sure if vocalist Solomon Blaylock is really trying to save souls or just having a laugh.

Apart from the standard rock band elements, they are armed with an assortment instruments. They toy with everything from a kazoo to a clarinet, occasionally tossing an organ into the mix. The Lobster Quadrille presents flawlessly, dressed like high-society Southerners (circa 1940), and they jam with a bible-thumping seriousness. The result is a raucous jubilee played by the ghosts of culture past.

They have released four recordings, 2004’s Old Time Tunes for Washboard and Spoons, 2006’s Reviled Standards Translation, 2007’s Bringing You Into a Holy Ghost (recorded live at the Bug Jar), and 2009’s The Lobster Quadrille.

You can catch The Lobster Quadrille live January 8, at Abilene (w/Lovesick Heartstabbers), January 13, at Water Street Music Hall (w/Devil Springs), and February 12, at the The Keg.
Fun Phact: Not a single member of The Lobster Quadrille is a Jehovah’s Witness

By Alison Lyke -

"CONCERT REVIEW: Elvis Birthday Bash, Lobster Quadrille, Lovesick Heartstabbers"

I can't think of a band I've enjoyed watching grow more than The Lobster Quadrille. There's just so much joy to be found lurking in the band's doom and gloom, and I liken its shows to a sort of old-time carny hustle. That's not to say the band isn't what it says it is, or that it works the crowd like candy butchers during a matinee. But the way the band members work independently is collectively seductive and mesmerizing. In the intimacy of the packed Abilene last Friday night, you could easily pick apart the various rudimentary elements. Yet by the time you were aware of the combined calamity and effect, you were already swept up in it. It was inspiring, haunting, and incredible, with frontman Solomon Blaylock leading the whole damned revival with utter glee. It was as if he had the whole flock in the lifeboat, but the lake was on fire.

The band's music has shifted as of late. It has shed a bit of the lace 'n' grace waltzing cotillion feel in exchange for a slightly more direct and speedier set of time signatures and tones, which come off urgent and even more intense. The crowd Friday ate it up - all of it. I felt cleansed, until the Lovesick Heartstabbers got me all muddy again. It was a full-on raging rock 'n' tonk roll for those that were still standing after the Quadrille's service. Nods to The Cure and The Clash were clever and fun, especially "Train In Vain," during which I swear the slide-guitar notes were actually laughing out of the amp.

By Frank DeBlase - City Newspaper Music Blog


#1: The Lobster Quadrille
--Our new studio full-length.

#2: Bringing You Into A Holy Ghost - Live at the Bug Jar
--A recording of a live show from a couple of years ago–lots of music, lots of commentary. Insanity.

#3: Reviled Standards Translation
--Five songs done out at ComputerFace Farms. Excellent production and some lovely artwork by Mary Vicar from Pittsburgh.

#4: Old Time Tunes for Washboard and Spoons
--The original–the basement tapes before the band. Artwork by Dame Darcy

#5: The Finished Mystery
--Solomon usually records low-fi bedroom demos of new material to give band members an idea of sound and structure. This is a bunch of those.

Several songs from the new eponymous CD have received airplay on college and commercial radio locally, as have one or two songs from each of the earlier CDs. Streaming tracks are available on MySpace and Facebook.



A Lobster Quadrille performance is a walk down willowed lanes and marshy backwaters, accompanied by pillars of smoke and flame. Their songs drift from ante-bellum, southern socials through dark forests, consumptive sick rooms, and fantastic hells amid whispers of murder, sex, damnation, elation. The tone shifts from Old Testament dirge to roof-raising Satanic gospel and everything in between.

In more practical terms, the band is a nine-piece Southern Gothic rock outfit that combines elements of punk, klezmer, bluegrass, gospel, and more. Their distinctly unique sound is reminiscent of the music of Tom Waits, Jon Spencer, Nick Cave, Dame Darcy, Johnny Cash, Flogging Molly and the Handsome Family. The illustrations of Dame Darcy and the written works of Flannery O'Connor have been deeply influential.

Their live shows are a high-energy mix of thundering rock-n-roll with the undeniable, laid back, folksy charm of a traveling Deep South carnival. Performances end up reflecting the band’s influences and cross-genre sound as they frequently, seamlessly shift between styles, and from serious tome to humorous banter.

The Lobster Quadrille is the brainchild of Georgia born and bred Solomon Blaylock. He is the main creative force, lending his own Southern experiences to create a genre all their own. The other members of the band include Mark Berends on drums, Kevin Farrell on bass and trombone, percussionist Lauren Manitsas, Amber McAlister on accordion and saxophone, Amy McDonald on clarinet, organist Keith Rosengren, Chris Veazey on trumpet, and Jamie Schwinn on Sound Board/Sampler. The Lobster Quadrille is based out of Rochester, New York.