The Bowery Ballroom
Matt Costa

Matt Costa

The Blank Tapes, Vandaveer

Mon, April 15, 2013

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

The Bowery Ballroom

New York, NY

$17 advance / $20 day of show

This event is 18 and over

Matt Costa
Matt Costa
When Matt Costa sat down to write what would become Unfamiliar Faces, the follow-up to his 2005 debut full-length Songs We Sing, the singer/songwriter took his most treasured belongings and put them on a shelf — then stared at them and just let the memories flow. "That way I could see everything that I loved," he explains (the collection included his favorite books, a giant wooden pipe, and a box of old 45-speed records from the late 1950s). "I let my imagination wander. Regular life isn't as exciting as an imaginary life."

He may thrive on imagination, but Costa's real life has never been dull. He grew up next door to a pet cemetery, played trumpet and piano, gave his first impromptu performance on a houseboat, and focused more on skateboarding than school in his hometown of Huntington Beach, California. He was drawn to the freedom and improvisation of skating, and also says, "I discovered a lot of music through skating — B-sides that nobody else had heard that made me want to find more music."

A few years later, just before he was ready to turn pro, a life-changing leg break led him to turn his attention to songwriting while he healed from painful surgeries. He wrote some songs on guitar, befriended No Doubt guitarist Tom Dumont via the vibrant SoCal arts scene, and recorded Songs We Sing with Dumont as his guide. "One of the first things he told me was 'stop practicing so hard and let the feeling come out,'" Costa says. "It stuck with me because that's the key to music. The light went on in my head."

On the strength of the folky, beautiful Songs, which displays his gentle artistry and skillful acoustic guitar playing, Costa earned a rep as an L.A. buzz act, crisscrossed the U.S. in a van, and performed at all the major North American music festivals including Coachella, Lollapalooza, Sasquatch, Bonnaroo, and Austin City Limits among others. Invigorated by onstage collaborations with tour openers like Los Angeles rockers The 88 and Elvis Perkins, he returned to California and wrote nearly all of Unfamiliar Faces in Sacramento, then recorded the album in the spring of 2007 in Santa Ana, again with Dumont, even inviting Adam Merrin from The 88 to play keys on a few tracks. It's Costa's second release on Brushfire Records, the label co-founded by Jack Johnson, who has been a longtime supporter – the two fellow musicians have toured together several times and collaborated on numerous soundtrack projects.

From spunky piano-driven opener "Mr. Pitiful" and the country-tinged acoustic "Never Looking Back" to the textured "Bound" and jangly power-pop of "Emergency Call," Unfamiliar Faces finds Costa wrapping his appealing melodies in increasingly ambitious packages that recall the Shins, Spoon and Ben Folds. Though Costa's sound has a sunny, bouncy vibe, he's not afraid to get introspective: "Trying to Lose My Mind" is based on a dark period during his recovery from surgery when he faced crippling panic attacks that he only later found out were brought on by pain-killer withdrawal after a friend mentioned his parents had undergone the exact same experience. He says the title track summarizes how he felt while writing the album. "I'm always feeling like I'm suspicious of what people are really thinking. Everyone has another side that maybe you don't know: their unfamiliar face."

Costa has never had a shortage of ideas for his songs (he did, however, have a shortage of tape recorders: A girlfriend who wasn't particularly fond of his touring had a habit of burying his four-track in the backyard when he skipped town for shows). When he tells stories, he speaks with the kind of poetic good humor he demonstrates in his songwriting — like when he relays how he and his band drove through a twister on a trip through the Midwest, but didn't really know what they'd been through until hours later. Or how an agave plant recently saved his life after a tequila-fueled fall off a balcony.

Thinking back to his time writing Unfamiliar Faces, Costa reflects on how he pulled stories out of the possessions he packed into that bedroom in Sacramento that he painted an inspiring green. "Every day I'd look at the same things and find different memories and attach different moments. You can come into a room and every day feel different about it, I feel the same way about songs, each time you listen to them you can find something new," he muses.
The Blank Tapes
The Blank Tapes
The Blank Tapes is now and always has been Matt Adams, a soft-spoken kid from a Southern California suburb who learned to play practically every instrument a good garage band needs, and then started making beautifully idiosyncratic records on his trusty home eight-track because … well, why wait? When he first heard the Beatles and the Kinks, he knew he needed to make his own songs, too, and so in 2003 he did, with the kind of inspiration and confidence and personality you'd think have faded out in 1967.

His songs are alive with style and sentiment of immortals like Ray Davies and Robyn Hitchcock ("Earring") or Kris Kristofferson and Terry Allen ("Working," "Vacation") or even Lou Reed ("Pearl," written about girlfriend and Blank Tapes drummer Pearl Charles the night he met her) and Buddy Holly (the adorable bridge of "Coast to Coast") or even Os Mutantes on "Brazilia," a bossa-delic song inspired by Adams' informal park jam sessions on his Brazilian tour. With studio help from drummer Will Halsey and a series of bassists, Vacation is an everything-old-is-new-again album—a record chasing down timelessness in its own time.
Vandaveer
Vandaveer
VANDAVEER is the song-singing, record-making, globetrotting project penned and put forth by folk-pop tunesmith Mark Charles Heidinger. Borned in cloudy Ohio, raised in Kentucky, and currently camped out in the nation's capital, Vandaveer offers up melodic Americana that is both haunting and easy, forlorn and welcoming, with stories as universal as the songs they inhabit. Vandaveer shapeshifts from stage to studio and back with a host of revolving characters, most prominent among them Rose Guerin, offering up the loveliest harmonies heard this side of Eden.

The macabre has long held uneasy sway over the human condition. From ghost stories to creation myths, from CSI to Shakespeare, from cable news voyeurism to Edgar Allan Poe, subjects of death, murder and all things ghastly have fascinated and frightened for centuries. Songs are no exception. From Old World roots to more recent incarnations in America, the murder ballad has traversed, shapeshifted and persevered. Despite our collective desire to be good and virtuous, people do very bad things. And then we sing about them.

Death, murder and ghosts have long been underlying threads coursing through Vandaveer's original music, but instead of weaving their own shadowy tales into their latest studio effort, Oh, Willie, Please..., the DC-by-way-of-Kentucky alt-folk collective have tapped into the wellspring of traditional folk's darker side.

Oh, Willie, Please... finds the group operating in a more collaborative spirit. In addition to the core duo of Mark Charles Heidinger and Rose Guerin, the talents of J. Tom Hnatow (These United States, The Mynabirds) and Phillips Saylor (Stripmall Ballads, The Shiftless Rounders) helped expand the project into a formidable ensemble, armed with steel string, resonator and pedal steel guitars, banjos and pianos, voices galore, and a common belief in the quality and relevance of the word 'folk.'

Inspired by their recent participation in The 78 Project, the group gathered in a majestic old home on a picturesque horse farm in Lexington, Kentucky in the spring of 2012 and set to work re-imagining a collection of age-old murder ballads and songs of self ruin plucked almost entirely from the public domain. With longtime producer Duane Lundy once again at the helm, Vandaveer moved swiftly through the selected catalog, recording most of the tracks live in the manor's great room. The result is a spacious, honest album that balances reverence and respect for the source material with a healthy coat of contemporary color.
Venue Information:
The Bowery Ballroom
6 Delancey St
New York, NY, 10002
http://www.boweryballroom.com/