The Restoration
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The Restoration

Lexington, South Carolina, United States | SELF

Lexington, South Carolina, United States | SELF
Band Americana Rock




"Writeup: Constance is "one of the finest and most compelling pieces of music ever produced in the Capital City""

The West Columbia Riverwalk Amphitheatre continues its Rhythm on the River series on Saturday evening, showcasing some of the Soda City’s finest young songwriters (and their bands) as the sun sets over the Saluda.

Two of the featured acts have already firmly established a presence on Columbia’s music scene: budding pop princess Haley Dreis, who’s been working with Lowcountry hitmaker Vance McNabb and recently toured with Jay Clifford; and Faulknerian chamber-pop outfit The Restoration, whose recently released Constance is one of the finest and most compelling pieces of music ever produced in the Capital City.

But let’s not forget the other equally worthy acts: CherryCase, fronted by Jake Etheridge, is poised to pick up the cinematic pop-rock mantle vacated by Marry a Thief; and Versus the Robot, fronted by Charlie Jackson, which purveys a slick, tuneful and catchy brand of singalong pop-rock akin to Fall Out Boy. (Indeed, Jackson’s vocals are reminiscent of those of Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump.) Best part: The concert is free, so go and say you knew these burgeoning young stars when. - The Free Times (SC) - Patrick Wall

""Color Us Intrigued""

"Led by local singer-songwriter phenoms Adam Corbett and Daniel Machado, The Restoration plays 'Faulknerian chamber-pop,' which 'abides in the realm of Southern historical fiction' and is 'set between the late 1800s and 1940s in Lexington, S.C.' Color us intrigued." — Patrick Wall - Columbia Free Times (SC) - Patrick Wall

"Artist Feature: 'The Restoration crafts songs with lofty stories'"

At first glance, The Restoration looks as if it might be from the late 19th century. In a publicity photo, the members of the South Carolina band gaze at the camera with stoic expressions, wearing vests, suspenders and lace-up boots. They hold traditional instruments: guitar, fiddles, banjo, mandolin. But the photo is in color. And contains a microphone. And the band crosses boundaries of race and gender, something that wouldn't have happened in the Palmetto State of the 1800s.

"There's a whole lot of thought-out concept in it," said Daniel Machado, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist for The Restoration, a band from Lexington, S.C., that performs Friday at The Garage in Winston-Salem. "It's kind of a pet project of mine because I had spent a lot of years writing rock albums. And there was a large part of myself as a music fan that I wasn't able to exercise."

Machado interrupted a practice session to speak by phone about his band. They had been working on a version of Kurt Weill's "Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)," written in 1927 and covered by The Doors 40 years after that.

"There are a lot of chords in the original orchestral version that I tried to figure out," Machado said. "It's a hard song to learn."

Machado, 25, began putting The Restoration together about a year ago, merging musical collaborators from his old rock band, Guitar Show, with other musicians he met along the way, including Lauren Garner, who played violin with him in his school orchestra.

Like Montreal's Arcade Fire or Chapel Hill's The Old Ceremony, The Restoration combines a rock sensibility with instrumentation that stretches the limits of the standard electric guitar-bass-drums lineup of a rock band. It's clear Machado isn't writing standard-issue love songs with titles such as "Drowning Mr. and Mrs. Palmer" or "Henry's Letter From the Front."

"One could call The Restoration 'orchestral indie-pop with bluegrass instruments' or 'Southern Baroque-pop' or even 'Faulknerian chamber-pop,' " the band's Web site states.

The reference to legendary Mississippi author William Faulkner is a nod to Machado's lyrics. Part of the group's "thought-out concept" is an elaborate story threaded through the songs, tales of the imaginary Vale family who stretch from the Civil War to the Great Depression. Machado himself embodies some of the contrasts of the latter-day South: His mother hails from a German family that has lived in South Carolina for generations, but his father comes from a Portuguese family that moved south from the Boston area in more recent times.

"I do feel like I'm totally surrounded by people who just moved down here ---- the kids hate it, but the parents moved down for a good job, or others that have been here for generations: 'If you don't like it, get the hell out,' " Machado said.

He goes out of his way to note that his lyrics for The Restoration are not autobiographical, as with his previous band. But Machado said his experiences as a Southerner inform his lyrics about racism and patriarchy, religion and personal struggle. He feels more comfortable writing about such topics by filtering them through the lens of history, and he has put a woman, Constance, at the center of his story.

"I don't know exactly what the story was with them, but I was always fascinated by the women in my family who lived alone and never married," Machado said. "I have an aunt in Boston who is very creative and clashed with her dad a lot. Those stories made me want to focus on a very gifted female character who's completely repressed by the male characters around her." - GoTriad (NC) - Eddie Huffman

"Artist Feature: 'Southern Harmony and Musical Restoration'"

As a first generation Southerner, I’ve always been able to view both the history and current events of the region in a perspective unbiased by any family legacy or long-held local civic pride. That’s a point of view not available to local Columbia musician and lifelong South Carolinian Daniel Machado, whose new project The Restoration aims to present through music a historically accurate yet fictitious account of a Lexington family, but his excitement about the musical results shows more than a little Southern pride when he speaks of his goals for the end product. Fans of Machado’s previous work, both solo and with the band Guitar Show, might not have anticipated this new direction, but he says it reflects where he truly wants to be as an artist right now.

“I was very grateful for the response Themes in American Friction received,” Machado says. “However, early into recording the album, I had begun to feel an unpleasant dissatisfaction as a songwriter as I watched a growing separation between the kind of music I’d been making and the kind of music I wanted to make. That discouragement almost led Machado to scuttle the album.

“I actually decided to scrap it about a third of the way through,” he says. “I felt that I had backed myself into a very small corner that only allowed me to explore a fraction of my musical interests. To be candid, I began to feel that I had been writing music for 1996, and I realized that my ‘90s influences had somehow dominated my own music.”

Machado, of course, eventually finished that album (Full disclosure: It showed up on my Top Local Albums list last year), but his course was about to change.

“I felt enough closure from my past work after that to disengage from the active band process and allow myself to recede into full creative mode,” Machado says. “I began to revisit my former musical loves: the Mozart I fell in love with in second grade; the Hank Williams Sr. I performed in my fifth grade talent show; the bluegrass standards I played with my high school orchestra.”

This immersion into his musical past opened up new creative avenues for Machado.

“As I enjoyed myself as a listener, I allowed myself to experiment as a writer, and what I ended up with was a batch of new songs that became immensely therapeutic to me,” he says. “I showed them to Adam Corbett [of Guitar Show], and together we started arranging full band renditions, trying out different instruments and bringing in other musicians such as Lauren Garner, Sharon Gnanashekar and Eddie Lord to add their touches.”

What started out as therapy quickly blossomed into something more.

“Before we knew it we had a band that we were giddily excited about,” Machado says. “We tried the band out at a New Music Night at New Brookland Tavern, and I realized that I really wanted to put my full efforts into this new band, even if it meant letting go of my rock ‘n’ roll band for a while.”

Machado’s collaborator in Guitar Show and now The Restoration, Adam Corbett, is blunt when asked about the differences between the two bands.

“It felt like, regardless of our intentions, the sound we got with Guitar Show could be summed up by naming any two popular bands, like ‘Weezer and Queen had a baby,’” Corbett says. “With The Restoration, I at least wanted to attempt to create a more complex sound that might be harder to peg. Including multi-instrumentalists like Eddie, Lauren and Sharon, we’re able to wear multiple hats and trade instruments to fit the requirements of each song.”
Back to that part about the Lexington family history now — according to Machado, it’s all about context and setting the stage, so to speak, for the new songs.

”I’ve made a very conscious attempt to establish a setting for my new songs,” he says. “With Guitar Show I had denied myself, the music and the narrative a cultural identity, mainly because I was embarrassed to be associated with the South and its complicated and often embarrassing social history and present-day controversies.”

The historical fiction of the new songs gives Machado some cover, though he says there is plenty of precedent in being critical of the South in works of art.

“Southern authors such as William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor were searing critics of the South despite being loyalists,” he says. “So I decided to finally claim my role as a lifelong Southerner with The Restoration by acknowledging both the beauty and evils of my home as fearlessly as possible.”

The story that The Restoration focuses on takes place between the late 1800s and the 1940s in Lexington, S.C, using the fictional Vale family to discuss many issues that are still relevant today.
“Removed from a present-day context, I hope to use a sort of historical fiction to write about the kind of philosophical fundamentals that unite many Southerners,” Machado says. “[Things such as] deep connections to nature and the land and strong family ties.” He also touches on some of the less traditional values of racism, sexism and religion throughout the songs, lending them a realistic air regardless of when the stories take place.

All of this would only be so much erudite navel-gazing if the music weren’t so darn interesting. Machado’s Guitar Show band might have been rehashed ‘90s rock, but he knew how to write a decent melody and harmony, and those talents translate effortlessly to the new material. If anything, Machado sounds “unfettered and alive,” as Joni Mitchell once sang, and though he’s a free man in South Carolina, not Paris, Machado is intent on making the most of this new musical direction he’s charting.

“We use banjo, violin, piano, and other classical and roots instruments in an attempt to capture the essence of the South,” Machado says. “The classical side of our sound references the European influence one would have found in Charleston or Savannah, and by merging the two sides I’m attempting to reflect the amalgamation of social classes, races, and cultures that make up the Old and New South and the complexities of the relationships between them.”

If it all sounds too complicated and like one might need a musicology textbook or a history lesson to follow along, rest assured that the songs stand alone as enjoyable, rootsy folk-pop with some inventive and entertaining arrangements. Adam Corbett explains the changes in the music he and Daniel Machado have been making this way:

“Personally, I was just ready to put the distortion pedals to rest,” he says. “The old sound was rock, but I don’t think the new sound is any less intense. And, if anything, we are allowing ourselves a broader spectrum of sounds to work with.” - Columbia Free Times (SC) - Kevin Oliver

"Artist Feature: 'Southern Living'"

Musicians have cited writers Charles Bukowski and Hunter S. Thompson as influences, but William Faulkner?

Faulkner’s sometimes scathing criticism of Southern life inspired Daniel Machado’s new band, The Restoration. Reading “Light in August” changed Machado’s outlook on writing about his love-hate relationship with the South.

“He made me realize how to talk about the issues of liking and disliking part of the culture,” Machado said.

The result: A tale that begins in the late 19th century revolving around Constance Vale, who marries a mixed-heritage man in the fictionalized post-Civil War Lexington.

The band, which includes Adam Corbett, Lauren Garner, Sharon Gnanashekar and Eddie Lord, has wrapped the stories in orchestral pop, something they call Faulknerian chamber pop.

And they play in period costumes, reminiscent of Sunshone Still’s impeccably researched and articulated performance on “Ten Cent American Novels.”

Even The Restoration’s press materials were delivered in a scuffed and browned envelope date-stamped April 16, 1929, and sent from Vale. On “Constance,” Machado’s character pleads for her not to let his music die.

Thematically, The Restoration touches on sexism, racism, religion and revenge. The fictional story lines are different from Machado’s brilliantly autobiographic “Themes in American Friction, ” released last year.

“I feel it’s allowed me to say more things truthfully than ever before,” Machado said. “I can explore (themes) fully, and these are characters, and they’re not even taking place in our time period.” - The State (SC) - Otis Taylor

"Interview: 'Daniel Machado’s 19th Century Acoustic Rock Lovechild'"

By now you have probably heard about Daniel Machado’s new project “The Restoration.” David threw a write up on the site a couple of weeks ago, and the band has performed two low-key shows. However, their show Friday at New Brookland Tavern is being billed as the “big debut” performance featuring a lengthy set and of course the new signature sounds that will blow your mind. This project is quite large in scope, so I decided to get a hold of Daniel himself to get the real story. One thing I’ve learned in doing this job is that musicians love to talk (or write), so I will be splitting this thing up into two entries. Look for the next part later this week!

Stephen: So, what of “Themes in American Friction”? Should people still buy it? Is Guitar Show still together?

Daniel: Yes, people should still buy Themes in American Friction. I’d also love to talk to any potential benefactors who would be interested in giving me a yearly stipend so that I can quit my day job. Just kidding - I’d at least love for people to still listen to Themes. It’s true that I started the Restoration because I was dissatisfied with my rock music and felt stuck in the 90’s, but Themes and the other albums I’ve written since starting this dumb hobby in 2001 are all my little babies. Fortunately they aren’t sentient creatures with feelings, so I can criticize their quality in public press outlets, however I’ll always love something about each of them. So yes, please give Themes in American Friction a listen if you haven’t heard it. And track down my other albums too, I promise the futher back you go, the more ridiculous they get. Guitar show is still together too. We’ve been rocking in complete obscurity for about eight years, so why end the party now?

Me: Where did you get the idea for the Restoration?

Daniel: Well the name is something all the current members voted on a few months ago, but the contextual frame, the narrative and the sound aesthetic grew from the songwriting experiments I did right after finishing Themes. There were a few basic ideas that I knew I wanted to explore early on. Musically, I knew I wanted to explore some of my first favorite types of music: classical, country, bluegrass – lyrically, I knew that I wanted to try fiction - and I knew that I wanted to establish a setting for the new music, rather than ambiguously pretending I wasn’t from the South. Instead, with Southern critic/loyalist William Faulkner as inspiration, I decided to claim my roll as a life-long Southerner by discussing both the beauty and evils of the South in my new music. Instead of letting my embarrassment in the South’s problematic social history stop me from having a cultural identity, I decided make those issues a main topic of discussion for my music, juxtaposed to the elements I love about the South (family ties, a deep connection to nature and the land). I often found myself asking “where in pop culture is the voice of the conflicted folks who both love and hate the South?” I hope that The Restoration can help add that voice to the mix of artists who belligerently praise the South, those who flat out condemn it, and those Southerners who move to L.A. and assimilate into mainstream culture. (Resistance is futile! Sorry, just a little Star Trek joke for you).

Adam Corbett, Lauren Garner, Sharon Gnanashekar and Eddie Lord have taken my original concepts and songs and added themselves to the project. The final recordings and images that you see are the result of all of our efforts. Not to mention that I have a great group of confidants – Adam included – that I’ve been bouncing random ideas off of for the past year, which has helped me to shape the conceptual part of the project.

- - - - -

“Constance please don’t let my music die with me” - The Restoration

As promised, here is part two of my interview with Daniel Machado about his new project The Restoration! Before getting into this great stuff though, just a word about the show. Come early because Liesl Downey is an amazing artist, The Fossil Record is a great Columbia band, and Transmission Fields is driving down from Charlotte to show some rock love. Those guys are great and you won’t be disappointed. I also hear that The Fire Tonight has a truly special set planned to honor Daniel and his new project. If I said any more then the intrigue would be gone…

Stephen: We love the era-themed costumes and themes, will you stay with this theme for every album or will it change over time? Will it change location from Lexington?

Daniel: Thank you! That’s something I was very interested in developing for The Restoration. To begin, I asked the band members to create conceptualized version of themselves as they may have existed between the late 1800s and 1940s. I then took those concepts and spent the next few months designing and procuring costumes for each member.

Within the music, the era/period piece approach – though not overtly allegorical – is intended to texture and contextualize the songs in a way that will hopefully allow the narrative to serve as the proverbial mirror for the audience and the author. For example, the character Constance Vale helps me explore the struggle of a superiorly gifted woman who finds her voice and talents drowned out by a male-dominated South at the turn of the 19th century. Her son Thomas, on the other hand, is a nihilistic multi-ethnic youth, coming-of-age during World War I and the world’s great mechanization – he is the explosive and vengeful result of the repression and depravity often found in Southern culture.

I’m not sure what we’ll do next with some of the specificity of our current themes – the Southern setting is a core element to The Restoration – however, I hope that we’ll be able to be adaptive as the band grows.

Stephen: Can you tell us a little about each band member?

Daniel: Adam Corbett and I have been playing in bands together since 2005 but we’ve never been able to figure out a good way to collaborate together with songwriting – despite the fact that he’s, hands down, one of my favorite lyricists and songwriters. He’s been writing music with a Southern flair for years, so when I told him about the approach I was hoping to take (Faulknerian chamber-pop and all that) he was excited to work on the project and I realized that we had finally found some common ground as songwriters. I’m excited that Adam will be contributing some songs to the band in the coming weeks and months. You may have heard of his most recent project, The Ghost of FDR. He’s also written a ton of songs and is a very active solo performer.

Lauren Garner is a classically trained violinist and graduated from Belmont with a degree in music business. (We’re trying to talk her into being our manager). We actually were in grade school orchestra together for years and even both toured Europe with the Lexington High School bluegrass group in 2001. When she said she was interested in playing violin for the project, I jumped on the chance have her in the band.

Eddie Lord was in Guitar Show 2.0 (2003-2005) and is actually a brilliant composer in sheep’s clothing. Seriously, Eddie is a secret weapon that can also walk up walls. We needed someone who could do percussion, guitar, piano, vocals and a number of other things, as well as hopefully some writing in the future. So I asked Eddie if he’d give it a shot and he said yes.

Sharon Gnanashekar is another jaw-dropping musician who fits into the multi-instrumentalist category. We wanted the band to feature a gifted pianist who could also switch to other instruments and do percussion. Sharon fits the bill and we are very, very fortunate to have him with us. Ironically, both Sharon and Eddie kick all of our asses on guitar, so hopefully we’re not wasting their talents. Sharon and I also sang in concert choir together in high school. He’ll probably be mad at me for saying this, but he’s also a hell of a dancer.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Other cool people who sang with Daniel in concert choir: Me. Did I just admit that? - - Stephen Russ

" "Indelibly Likable Indie Pop with a Strong Literary Bent""

How The Restoration describes itself: “Faulknerian chamber-pop present[ing] a conflicted view of the South, pitting sexism, artistic obscurity, sexual repression, misused religion and racism against family ties, love, and a deep connection to nature and the land.” What we’d say: It’s akin to what we think it’d sound like if Flannery O’Connor wrote songs for Jump Little Children. Or if William Faulkner penned tunes for Old Crow Medicine Show. Whatever the turn of phrase, it’s indelibly likable indie pop with a strong literary bent. P. Wall - Columbia Free Times (SC) - Patrick Wall

""Traditional Old-time Music with the Fervor and Attitude of an Indie-rock Outfit""

There aren’t too many local musicians in town that can play to a full house the first time his or her new band performs indoors, but this show proved that Daniel Machado is one of them. By the time his latest project The Restoration took the stage around 11:30 p.m., there was a large, enthusiastic crowd there to greet it.

Although this was The Restoration’s first real show — the five-piece played an unofficial side stage set in Five Points for St. Patrick’s Day last month — it felt like a homecoming, down to singing “Happy Birthday” for one patron. Machado and company kept things interesting by switching instruments throughout the night, from banjo, violin and fiddle, to keyboards and organ, and even in an acoustic setting, Machado’s songs bristled with energy and enthusiasm.

His new songs are said to be an account of a fictional family from Lexington, set between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of the second World War, and occasionally that narrative would come to the forefront, on songs that told sometimes graphic, gripping stories. “The Drowning of Mr. and Mrs. Palmer” was one especially detailed number, with Machado seemingly reveling in the tale of killing the titular couple. The band dressed in period costume for added effect, with Adam Corbett’s all-black preacher outfit providing some fodder for commentary from Machado.

Musically, Machado’s new lineup is an amazing ensemble, with the acoustic setting allowing the banjo and fiddle to set the texture of these updated string band numbers while the band members played what amounted to traditional old-time music with the fervor and attitude of an indie-rock outfit. - Columbia Free Times (SC) - The Playlist

"Album Feature: Constance is "epic"..."a work of art"..."a dissertation on a slice of Southern history, an album that vibrates with imagination and substance""

"Restoring the Past in Hopes of a Better Future"

The scene is unflinchingly disturbing. The blood-thirsty mob circled Thomas Vale, who approached death at a clip more rapid than the heartbeats of his would-be killers.

They spit.

They groped.

And they yelled:

“Boy you look white, but your blood’s what ain’t right.”

The noose was wrapped around Vale’s neck in the wood lot he used to roam as a child. They propped something under his boots.

And they screamed:

“This creature we hang, in Jesus Christ’s name.”

Nobody, not even the listener, is spared in the jarring scene from “The Lynching,” the final song on “Constance,” The Restoration’s compelling conceptual album, which will be released Friday night at Trustus Theatre.

The lynching of Vale, a man of mixed race, culminates a fictional story that trudges through issues such as race, religion and gender roles in the post-Civil War town that we’ve all driven through: Lexington.

Vale is hanged after he destroys a home belonging to a respected mill owner, John Palmer, a man revered because he rebuilt the local Lutheran church after it was reduced to ashes by Union troops. Palmer meets his fate, too, in “The Lynching,” as he is shot nearly in two by Vale’s mother, Constance.

But the mob doesn’t believe a woman — a white woman, at that — could kill a man of such stature. But a quadroon — here used as an insult for a mixed-race person who is one-fourth black and three-fourths white — could do it. And killing Palmer, after all, was Thomas’ intention.

Men toting guns and carrying ropes with loops the size of heads were a too-frequent sight in the late 19th- and early 20th-century South. Sadly, for The Restoration’s Daniel Machado, similar images have flashed on TV screens in recent months.

“I’ve been deeply troubled by a lot of modern problems for a very long time,” he said.

The 12-song album is his response to societal strife and the race-hating that brews a fractured population. “Constance,” from Machado’s perspective, shows what has changed since the album’s period placement: Only the circumstances of life.

“I prefer to come at it from a historical standpoint,” Machado said of the music performed by a band that also dresses in period costumes. “I think that recording these histories and recording fictional versions is just a powerful way to caution emerging generations.”


Lauren Garner, a violinist, first joined Machado in his apartment living room to play songs in 2008. Soon they added other instruments and percussion. That’s when the neighbors started beating on the floor.

“We did play happy birthday for one of the girls,” said pianist Sharon Gnanashekar about a tenant who screamed it was her birthday during a practice.

“That was really mean,” Machado said, getting a laugh from the members as they sat in their Lexington practice room, which is also a martial arts studio.

Adam Corbett, who plays bass and organ, added, “They called the law when we did the Rage Against the Machine cover. That was the last straw for them.”

The Restoration’s music can be described as folk and bluegrass, but that says nothing of the blues influences. Or the shape note hymn, “Thy Sword, Thy Shield,” recorded with The Tattnall River Shape Note Singers in Savannah, which opens the album.

“You can’t really nail it down,” Garner said of the band’s sound, which is rounded out by drummer Josh Latham. “Most of the bands that I like don’t easily fit into one genre. It’s kind of nice that you can’t really pin us down.”

The Restoration was born soon after Machado released his last concept album, “Themes in American Friction,” a brilliant work that explored his inner conflict with his race, religion and class.

“I realized at the end of ‘Themes of American Friction’ that it doesn’t have a setting, and I realized why,” said Machado, who was raised in Lexington. “It’s because I don’t want to be associated with where I’m from.

“I wanted to write something that had a setting. I wanted it to be where I’m from.”

There’s a map of Lexington in “The Constance Compendium,” the 43-page book that accompanies the album (it includes a short story written by Machado), with real places and streets: Mill Pond, Church Street and Main Street. The map also contains the fictional places in “Constance,” including Palmer’s mansion, which was flooded after Thomas broke the levees holding the water of Grey’s Pond back.

But, before we get any deeper into the story, a brief history:

In 1893, Aaron Vale, a mixed-race man, moved South with his hammer and violin, settling in Lexington, where he fell in love with Constance Owen. They had a son, Thomas. Aaron was hired, at the request of Constance’s father, who served in the Civil War with Palmer, to build Palmer’s mansion. But Aaron was given only half what he was owed because Palmer disapproved of interracial marriage. It crippled Aaron’s spirit, and he soon died. The Vales were bankrupted, fueling Thomas’ will for revenge.

To assist in the storytelling, The Restoration created an opus that swells with the action. The music was produced by Stephen Russ and engineered by Collin Derrick, members of The Fire Tonight.

“It’s rare that you get to record an artist that has a big idea like Daniel,” said Russ, who assisted with songwriting and played instruments on the album. “We tried to make it as authentic as we could, and make it a really intense concept album.”


“Constance” is a history lesson, one that Jessica Labbe included earlier this semester in an English course she teaches at Francis Marion University.

Labbe, a former USC professor, taught an American literature course that Machado took while attending USC. The two collaborated on “Themes in American Friction.”

“I heavily edited each song on that album, and we interrogated every line of every song,” Labbe said. “I was hellbent on making him carve out a unique and specific form of expression that I think was, in the end, successful.”

For “Constance,” Labbe pushed Machado to work from a perspective not his own.

“I encouraged him to consider larger issues of more pressing importance, such as issues regarding race, gender and class tensions,” she said.

She counseled him to read works such as “Winesburg, Ohio,” Sherwood Anderson’s1919 book that attributes qualities of real-life people to fictional characters. Machado also delved into William Faulkner’s novels such as “Absalom Absalom!” and “Light in August.” Faulkner’s approach to writing about the South — by sparing no details, no matter how despicable — inspired Machado.

“There’s some really horrible stuff in those books,” he said. “What’s useful is that it was embarrassing. (Faulkner) basically called out his area by showing the rest of the world.

“A lot of times people thought he was a racist, but he was just showing how bad things were, and Mississippi was terrible.”

“Constance’s” race and gender commentary — Constance’s music potential is never realized — reverberated with Labbe’s students, most of whom are black, female and were raised in the rural Pee Dee region of the state.

“These students were, in essence, the perfect audience for an album that grapples with racial strife and women’s oppression,” Labbe said of the class members, who were required to write papers on selected songs. “As South Carolina natives, Daniel’s own conflicted relationship with South Carolina’s history resonated with them.

“The story was accessible and interesting to them; the music, completely different from anything they had ever heard.”


“Constance” contains a heap of symbolism and metaphors, but there isn’t any ambiguity about the ending of the album, “The Lynching.”

Why bring up such a horrible reminder of the past?

“Thomas wouldn’t be able to do what he did and have anything else happen to him,” Machado said flatly.

“The Lynching” was a point of contention in the recording process, causing more than one argument, band members said.

“We had a lot of conversations about it,” Russ said. “It wasn’t something we took lightly. I work in extremes. When a song has content like that, I really just want to take it there.”

The song, paced by a banjo and dissonant violin notes, hinges on Machado’s crazed vocals, his often beautiful voice creaking like a door that has been slammed too many times.

His feelings about South Carolina’s and the nation’s complicated history — from Strom Thurmond’s infamous desegregation filibuster, to Joe Wilson’s House chamber outburst, to the Tea Party movement — erupt in “The Lynching.”

“I kept hearing a lot of these horrible comments coming out of these protests. And I was so angry,” Machado said. “I kind of got consumed by it.

“It’s obviously the opposite of how I feel.”

Machado and Labbe were concerned with how her students would react to the song’s lyrics.

“It is epic and tragic in every sense of the words,” she said. “Not to mention Daniel’s performance in that song, which is genuinely breathtaking.”

Historically, the song is accurate. As part of his research for the project, Machado read John Hammond Moore’s “Carnival of Blood: Dueling, Lynching, and Murder in South Carolina 1880-1920,” a book that states there were 144 verified lynchings in the state between 1880 and 1947, resulting in 186 confirmed deaths.

Eight of the deaths were in Lexington.

Thomas Vale died on March 8, 1930. Eighty years later, people are no longer lynched, but “Constance” asks the listener an important question: How much has changed with how people of different races, religions and cultures relate to one another?

For the band, isn’t it scary to think that things might not ever change?

“All the more reason to sing about it,” Corbett said.

Breaking down ‘Constance’

“Constance,” The Restoration’s new album, is more than music: It’s an impressive work of art. Lyrically and musically, The Restoration has created a dissertation on a slice of Southern history, an album that vibrates with imagination and substance.

“Constance” comes with a 43-page compendium so listeners can keep track of the well-crafted story, which takes place over 40 years in Lexington. There’s love and death, and everything in between. It is a wonderfully engaging journey, one that rewards a close listen.

The sonic palette created by producer Stephen Russ and engineer Collin Derrick is impeccable; the wispy violin lines and strong piano runs are expertly placed. Lyrically, the album is luminous. Simply put, this is easily one of the best local albums in recent memory.

Here’s a breakdown of the album’s 12 songs with key lyrics. Daniel Machado wrote most of the album, with lyric editing by Beth Lach.

“Thy Sword, Thy Shield”: A song featuring The Tattnall River Shape Note Singers. We’re introduced to Constance’s father, and the underlying theme of religion.

“The cotton fields and grind stone / Are stairs to the Redeemer’s Throne.”

“The Owens”: Constance, the story’s protagonist, is introduced to music as she has her first experience with a chest-clutching death.

“Constance, I once had dreams / And I don’t want to see yours fade like mine did.”

“August 1895”: Constance falls in love with Aaron Vale. They later have a son, Thomas.

“But I hear the town whisper when I touch you; My own father says you’re a mixed-blood man.”

“Reverend Samuel Harper”: Sherman’s troops burn his church, but there is still plenty of praise. Written by Adam Corbett, it’s the only traditional rock song on the album. But there’s a musical twist.

“Watched the stained glass explode; Praise the Union, praise God.”

“Constance”: The album’s centerpiece sees Constance experience death again. The emotions of the record begin to swell.

“I hate to ask you this, but: Constance please, don’t let my music die with me.”

“Whisperings”: The racial undertones bubble to the surface as we see how hatred is passed on.

“But Daddy calls Thomas a quadroon boy; Called Mr. Aaron a half-breed, Mrs. Constance a whore — and I don’t understand.”

“The Heavy Ring”: Constance feels loneliness — and the weight of the world.

“If you won’t come back / let me be alone.”

“Henry’s Letter from the Front”: Thomas’ former friend, Henry, writes to him from the front lines of World War I.

“I don’t know what I believe / I never found out / I’m really gonna die.”

“Little Round Shoes”: Quite possibly the most creative love song you’ll hear all year.

“There you are across the aisle / Peekin’ out from behind John, Chapter 5: And I swear you’re makin’ eyes.”

“Drowning Mr. & Mrs. Palmer”: The album doesn’t teeter on the edge; it dives into the dark depths of the inevitable conclusion.

“My father built your house / And you ruined him like garbage / I was just a boy then, / You looked straight through me at the time; / But hear me now.”

“Prayer”: The short song is a prelude to Constance’s final experience with death. An organ does the weeping for her.

“I pray you find your peace — / As my mother prayed for mine.”

“The Lynching”: The title says it all, but a listen says so much more.

“Thomas heard someone scream: ‘Hey, boy, you didn’t kill me’”

Looking the Part

The Restoration’s performances are musical theater, with the band draped in post-Civil War outfits of a common man.

Like Clinic, the indie rock band whose members wear hospital scrubs and surgical masks, The Restoration dresses up.

“That’s exactly what hardcore dudes in the ’90s were trying to do with the way they dressed,” Daniel Machado, The Restoration’s lead vocalist said. “I’ve always liked bands that committed.”

Like KISS?

“We’re going to have action figures,” bassist Adam Corbett deadpanned. “You wait.”

Corbett’s girlfriend’s grandmother sewed violinist Lauren Garner’s skirt. All of the outfits, found in area thrift stores, are based on Machado’s sketches. Band members said the costumes help them get into character.

“It definitely helps set you apart from the crowd where everybody kind of looks the same,” drummer Josh Latham said.

“It does help to a certain extent when you’re on stage,” Garner added. “We’ve played a couple of shows in just our regular clothes, but I always feel like (the show) isn’t as important.”

But the wardrobe can be stiff.

“It’s really hard to walk in that thing,” pianist Sharon Gnanashekar said of his high-strapped boots. “I like it though. It looks cool.”

Original article link: - The State (SC) - Otis Taylor

"Album Feature: Constance is "astonishing"..."electrifying""

In the closing lines of William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom, the roommate of Quinton the narrator asks, “So, why do you hate the South?” To which Quinton replies, “I don’t,” despite much evidence to the contrary, at least in his roommate’s eyes. For Daniel Machado, whose decidedly Southern ensemble The Restoration issues its sprawling, Faulknerian musical epic Constance this week in front of a specially created set at the Trustus Theatre, his own view of the South is equally contradictory.

“It’s a love-hate relationship,” Machado says of his perspective on his native home. “As far as my little corner with my family, I can unflinchingly love that, but others have not been so lucky. I am pretty tired of being embarrassed by the duality of where we’re from.”

The Restoration has captured that feeling and put it into a historical point of view on the new album, which Machado says was an attempt on his part to be more forthcoming under the guise of writing something fictional.

“I have been trying to write narratives for the last couple of releases, but I was not satisfied with the standard rock songwriter autobiographical thing that resulted,” he says. “It just wasn’t interesting and I couldn’t be as honest as I would have liked.”

That changed when he set out on the path to write music and songs based around the framework of the fictional Vale family of Lexington.

“Spurred on by reading my first Faulkner book a couple of years ago, Light in August, I realized I could explore the social and regional things I wanted to using the same kind of fictional story,” Machado says.

The exploration didn’t stop with the subject matter or literary style, however. Machado’s previous incarnations in Guitar Show and on his solo album Themes in American Friction verged on power-pop in their hooks and riffs, but with The Restoration, he’s delving deep into traditional American string band, old-time and bluegrass music.

“I’ve always loved that kind of music,” Machado says, “And there was not a proper setting in any of the new song lyrics with the music I was doing, so I experimented with the genres I loved growing up.”

The results are nothing short of astonishing, from the authentic-sounding shape-note hymn “Thy Sword, Thy Shield” that opens the album to the haggard, pained anguish that’s palpable in “The Lynching.” The story in between is one of small-town prejudice and mob morality, judgment and its consequences. The whole project took form over a period of many months, Machado says.

“I worked out an outline first, with some issues I wanted to explore: repression; what makes a community or a person ‘depraved’; how does a community have a collective morality but still manage to rise up against something they consider depraved,” he says. “I outlined it as if I were writing a book in the 1930s, and these are some of the same themes as actual books from that period.”

Though all of this sounds a bit pretentious and stodgy in print, in practice it is more electrifying than any of Machado’s previous plugged-in bands, and the old-time sounds adapt well to contemporary musicians playing them.

“The Carolina Chocolate Drops make a point to say that they are living and taking part in the present,” Machado says. “There was a conscious attempt to make the album feel grounded in contemporary pop songwriting, and I wanted to definitively separate us from the type of people who celebrate being Southern and never once talk about how the history of the area is derived from slaves.”

It is this duality that Machado feels runs throughout the new album’s story, much like the stories of his literary heroes.

“Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor, they talk about the beauty of the South, and the troubled history as well,” he says. The only difference: They didn’t set it to music. - Columbia Free Times (SC) - Kevin Oliver


Honor the Father (2012)
Constance (2010)
Winter 2009 Sessions (2009)

Scene SC 2013 Sampler (2013)
Scene SC 2012 Sampler (2012)
Scene SC 2011 Sampler (2011)
Christmas is Still Christmas (2010)
Scene SC 20TEN Sampler (2010)



The Restoration’s members grew up performing in orchestras, church choirs, fiddle groups and rock bands in the small town of Lexington, South Carolina.

United in 2008, they’ve used their varied backgrounds as a lens for exploring the music and culture of their native soil, channeling storytelling and regional history through instrumentation associated with traditional and post-rock America alike. At the core of this exploration is a desire to preserve and enjoy the rich cultural heritage of the South while taking responsibility to acknowledge the problematic history that created it. This discussion is found in the band’s lyrics, which often seek to bring glossed-over historical prejudices to light—a method of holding a mirror to contemporary society found in music ranging from 20th century protest songs, to centuries-old ballads.

Musically, the band wishes to take part in the evolution of traditional and regional music, providing a living, contemporary voice that embraces overlapping genre boundaries while remaining aware and respectful of music history.