Ben Morrison Band (of The Brothers Comatose) Record Release Party

Ben Morrison Band (of The Brothers Comatose) Record Release Party

Kelly McFarling

Friday, August 30, 2019

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

$15 Advance/ $18 Day of Show (plus fees)

This event is all ages

Ben Morrison Band
Ben Morrison Band
His tones are smoky, soulful and timeless, embodying the old spirit of country and the contemporary soul of rock and roll. Northern California native Ben Morrison has been compared to a young Kris Kristofferson, a male counterpoint to Amy Winehouse, and chunky, spicy peanut butter. ‘It’s as if his cells are music notes and even his spoken voice sounds like he swallowed an amplifier’ says Maddy Cristall of Words on Sound.


Having grown up in a musical family in Petaluma, Calif., Morrison made a name for himself over the past decade as the frontman (alongside brother Alex) of the Brothers Comatose. The Bay Area bluegrass band’s success saw Morrison touring nearly nonstop for the past decade, including festivals throughout the U.S.—JamCruise, MerleFest, Outside Lands—as well as multiple tours in Australia, China and Canada.


It’s always been a labor of love. But a new album out in 2019 marks Morrison’s first solo work, and it has the unmistakable sound of a songwriter stretching his legs—a new level of creative freedom, a breath of fresh air. Written in 2018, following a year of great changes and uncertainty for the Brothers Comatose, the album is the result of Morrison turning inward, reconsidering what it meant to write songs for himself. Armed with notebooks full of ideas that never quite made sense for a string band, Morrison tapped musician friends to add bass, piano and drums to his songs for a lively, full, three-dimensional sound.


“Old Technology,” the record’s second single, was partially inspired by the current state of the music industry.


“I was thinking about the way music is being churned out right now, at a record pace. There’s this new territory we’re in where everybody has access to recording equipment in their bedroom,” says Morrison. “The idea that new technology is coming so quickly, and if something’s a couple years old it’s obsolete, and how to find your place in this world of constant change.”


Fittingly, this album was recorded quite literally to old technology — two-inch tape at San Francisco’s Tiny Television Studios. Says Morrison: “I still love the warmth of that sound.”
Kelly McFarling
Kelly McFarling
KELLY MCFARLING is an Atlanta, GA born, San Francisco-based songwriter. Her work is reflective of transitions, the wilderness, and its navigation. Sometimes she plays banjo, other times acoustic guitar. Often, she plays a Telecaster fronting her band, The Home Team, featuring pedal steel (Tim Marcus), drums (Nick Cobbett), bass (Oscar Westesson), and various other Bay Area musicians.

During her ten years in San Francisco, McFarling has released five independent recordings: studio albums, Distractible Child (2010) and Ridgeline (2013), an EP of cover songs, Others (2013), and two live albums, Live at Pirate Ship Laguna (2009) and Live at Eddie’s Attic (2011). She has toured behind her own projects as well as performing with bands like Y La Bamba and Goodnight Texas, and is one-third of the all-female folk trio Glittersnatch with Megan Keely and Wolf Larsen. Over the years, McFarling has shared the stage with artists such as Shovels and Rope, Sean Hayes, Chris Pureka, Jolie Holland, and has made a home for herself in the San Francisco music community.

Water Dog, McFarling’s latest release, is her most intimate and folk-leaning record to date. She recorded the album in seasonal segments of 2016. The songs were first demoed with Allen Rothschild in his bedroom in Asheville, NC, where the creaks of his wood floor and the sounds of summer winding down made their way onto the recordings through open windows and live takes.The demos became the foundation of the record, and McFarling took them back to San Francisco, where Avi Vinocur of Goodnight Texas produced and engineered the majority of the record at his home in the Sunset District. “Recording at Avi’s house gave us the time to let the songs breathe and evolve.” McFarling said of the process. “It gave us space to make decisions at our own pace. I’ve never made a record like that, and it was a really special time. These songs were written in quiet spaces that were lived in. It made sense to record them in that way.”

The album is a reflection on inward motion; on the way that water and its movement dominates our lives and bodies. It’s about love, trust, and how we come to know the things we know. Above all, it’s about the cycles of nature that have the power to be both grounding and destructive. “While I was writing these songs, I was thinking a lot about family, stability, and love; and I was simultaneously starting to spend more time in and around the ocean. I was getting in the water a lot, and it opened a conversation about the nature of flow; learning to move with changes, instead of against them.”

In addition to producing, Vinocur also plays on most of Water Dog and his work is prominent on signature tracks, like “Both.” “That song was totally different when I brought it in. Avi simplified the groove, and made it more compelling.” says McFarling. Vinocur also helped complete the writing of “Caney Fork Overlook,” one of the record’s more classic country tunes. “That song had been half written for years. I wrote it in my van while on a road trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and it was one of those songs that I never had expectations for. I wasn’t sure it would be on the record. Avi helped get it to a place where it shines.” In other more stripped down songs, McFarling often played live in one take. “The Storms are Getting Stronger,” “Spring Clean”, and “Box” are songs that have been played in many different arrangements, mostly upbeat with a full band. For the recordings, I wanted them to go back to what they were when they were first written. Simple, quiet folk songs.”

Although Vinocur and McFarling play the bulk of the instrumentation on the record, they also tapped several trusted Bay Area musicians to explore additional layers of sonic texture. Water Dog features Tim Marcus on pedal steel and dobro, Graham Patzner on fiddle, Andrew Laubacher on percussion, Andrew Brennan on guitars, Oscar Westesson on upright bass, and John Elliott on piano. Austin-based band Whiskey Shivers also makes an appearance singing backup vocals on “Caney Fork Overlook.”

Water Dog is a first for McFarling in many ways. It is the first record she has made without a band, the first time she approached recording without a deadline, and the first time she has explored stripped down instrumentation. “From the beginning, the idea was always to let the songs speak for themselves and try not to get in the way.”
Venue Information:
Sweetwater Music Hall
19 Corte Madera Ave.
Mill Valley, CA, 94941
http://www.sweetwatermusichall.com/