John Calvin Abney
John Calvin Abney doesn’t stand still. He’d be the first to tell you that.
Abney originally made his name as a rowdy side man, playing guitar, pedal steel, keys and drums for a number of other acts. Thanks to years of extensive touring, both solo and as a gun-for-hire, Abney is possessed of some impressive instrumental stage chops.
But lately, it’s lyricism where he finds his inspiration, with encouragement from a host of Oklahoma songwriters in close proximity. His 2014 and 2015 releases, “Empty Candles” and “Better Luck,” found him abandoning his backseat post in favor of plaintive love songs and the misadventures of a handful of colorful invented characters. There are glimpses of technical prowess in this new chapter, to be sure—that is to say, to play is still the thing, but now with an intent focus on storytelling. “Vice Versa Suite” marked his second release of 2015, and placed John further into a realm of intropective songwriting and piano composition, penning four songs and two piano pieces with a series of musical motifs that dot the nocturnes of the album. His new release, “Far Cries and Close Calls,” recorded with musicians from Tulsa and Nashville, including Megan Palmer on harmony and fiddle, Paddy Ryan on drums, Aaron Boehler on bass, and Cody Clinton on electric guitar, is the culmination of John’s writing during the post-phase of “Better Luck,” reflecting his journeys that led him across states and seas, incorporating this last year of experience.
Few songwriters can weave so seamlessly in and out of genre that listeners are left wondering if they indeed heard what they thought they heard. And if they listen again, they’re likely to hear something else. Abney’s songs can be both frenetic and meditative, deeply affectionate and mired in loneliness, and, like Abney himself, both road-weary and ready for adventure.
“a very impressive collection of songs and his best album so far… John has found his own voice… unique combination of folk, americana, rock’n’roll and indie pop. I hope this one will get the recognition it deserves. In my books, Far Cries and Close Calls is one of 2016’s finest.” — onechord.net
Beth Bombara has a folk singer’s head and a rocker’s heart. Drawing inspiration from artists ranging from Neko Case and Aimee Mann, to George Harrison and Tom Petty, she has brought her eclectic sound to audiences all across America.
St. Louis is the only place Beth Bombara could have created her fifth album, which borrows gracefully from the city’s proud alt-country and blues traditions while embodying the collaboration, experimentation and resolve of the tight-knit scene developing there today.
Beth has been a musician for most of her life. She started a punk band in high school and, after college, began playing guitar with Samantha Crain. She moved to St. Louis and started a solo project in late 2007. “The city requires you to be active in your engagement of it,” she says. “There’s not much room for takers. But if you put in the work, the city rewards you.”
Today, Beth tours extensively across the country and is hailed as one of St. Louis’ finest songwriters. She is equally comfortable headlining the rock club Off Broadway and the Missouri Botanical Gardens’ Whitaker Music Festival, where she recently performed for a crowd numbering over 10,000.