What you’ve never heard of Charleston-based band The Artisanals? Don’t feel too bad about this one, after all the band hasn’t even officially released any music yet. So consider this your chance to get ahead of the curve on the next band ready to make waves.
If you have heard of The Artisanals, perhaps it was from the fact that their first booked show was opening for Band of Horses on New Year’s Eve at the 9:30 Club in D.C. Maybe you’ve heard about them as they’ve hit the road hard since forming late last year, touring with the Futurebirds, western US dates with Band of Horses, and plenty of dates around the Southeast. Or maybe even you heard about them here at OpenEars Music when we named their debut album, Literally, Anywhere, one of 20 Debuts Albums to Look Forward to in 2017.
Or maybe you simply know about The Artisanals because you’ve followed and loved the members’ former bands. The Artisanals got together when a friendship was formed between Johnny Delaware and Clay Houle while meeting on the road the last few years. Johnny Delaware has been an integral part to Charleston-based SUSTO, who’s sophomore album & I’m Fine Today was released in January and is certainly one of the year’s best albums to date. Clay has been in Nashville-based folk rockers Great Peacock and then Athens-based Tedo Stone before packing up and moving to Charleston to form The Artisanals with Johnny Delaware. Shortly after, the boys were joined by Jordan Hicks and Steven Walker, both from another stellar Charleston-based band, Brave Baby.
Back in January, the band headed to a new studio in Iowa, Magic Barn Studio, to record their debut album and EP at the mystic barn that was converted into a studio with equipment from storied New York City studio, the now defunct Magic Shop Studio. Yes, the same equipment that legends such as David Bowie, Lou Reed, Blondie, Arcade Fire and so many others recorded on. The studio was the perfect place to record on vintage gear for The Artisanals to bring to life the classic 70’s rock ‘n’ roll sound the band is going for.
So whether you’ve heard of The Artisanals or not, prepare to hear their name plenty in the second half of 2017 as the band prepares the release of their first official music. In the meantime, the band continues to hit the road to perfect their craft with a stellar live show. Atlanta’s first chance to catch the band was back on May 3 at The EARL, joining two great up and coming New Orlean’s bands – Motel Radio and Sweet Crude. Tomorrow, Saturday, June 17th, The Artisanals return to Atlanta to kickoff Athfest Music & Arts Festival (June 21-25) a week early. New Athens-based record label, Laser Brains, has put together a showcase at The Family Dog in Virginia Highlands featuring a great lineup of up and comers such as Zero Beach, Blue Blood, Palace Doctor and more, giving Atlanta a taste of what Athfest is all about, and another chance for us to catch The Artisanals in a small intimate environment (purchase tickets here).
As far as the music itself, Johnny told the Charleston City Paper: “Think Ween without the heroin, or Petty on more marijuana than usual”, all of which seemed to be a perfect description of the music we heard that night at The EARL. There’s definitely some hints of Traveling Wilburys there. The Tom Petty influence is no doubt strong. Each of The Artisanals songs bring something slightly different to the table, with songs like “A.I”, a soothing 70’s groove and melodies from the heavens above, or the Americana influenced rock story of “Angel 42”, or even the expansive ballad of “Country Roads Town”, the band can take you on a journey throughout their set. Johnny Delaware has always had a magnetic personality, whether on stage or meeting him off of it, and with Johnny stepping back into the frontman role with The Artisanals, that personality shines through even more, reeling in concertgoers throughout the show. Add in Clay’s ability to overwhelm and capture your attention with some of the best guitar work you’ll see live, including solos you never want to end, and you have a recipe for a band ready to take over the hearts and minds of audiences. They certainly did that at The EARL, and no doubt will do that again tomorrow night at The Family Dog. If Johnny is Tom Petty, then Clay is his Mike Campbell and Jordon and Steven are their Heartbreakers, all themselves an all-star cast of musicians.
Joining The Artisanals at The EARL on May 3 were NOLA-based bands Motel Radio and Sweet Crude. Each band brought a distinctive flair to the evening. Motel Radio proved to be an extremely great folk rock band, with harmony driven melodies and an atmospheric Americana that lit up The EARL with sweet sweet sounds. They are touring behind their strong sophomore EP, Desert Surf Films released in 2016. The band plans to go into the studio later this year to record their debut full length album. If you are a lover of folk rock and Americana, but tired of the same ole same ole, Motel Radio is certainly a band to keep your eyes and ears out for, with their breezy sounds that will leave you wanting much much more!
Up last for the evening was Sweet Crude, which really changed up the vibe. The south Louisiana band brings a big band vibe (6 members) much like Arcade Fire, where they are dancing on stage having the time of their life, and that joy is automatically translated straight to their audience. Not only does the band have a blast while playing, but they also embrace the south Louisiana region’s French-speaking tradition with a goal to keep the language relevant. The band mixed up their set with English and French songs, and whether or not you can understand French, it didn’t matter as they got their vibe across to the audience at The EARL that night. With 5-part harmonies, tribal rhythms, and pop hooks that you can’t resist, the band is touring behind their debut album Créatures, released earlier this year. In Sweet Crude you can hear influences of Talking Heads, Electric Light Orchestra, Regina Spektor, and the brass band music of NOLA, making a wonderful percussion-heavy pop. This is definitely a band to keep an eye on, one totally worth seeing live and in person!
If you’ve never caught any of these three bands live, they are all worthy of your ears and put on a fantastic show. If you are in Atlanta, don’t miss the chance to catch The Artisanals at The Family Dog tomorrow night at the Atlanta Laser Brains Showcase Presented By Athfest.
Check out our photo gallery by Mike Gerry below from The Artisanals, Motel Radio, and Sweet Crude show at The EARL on May 3rd and a few video clips from the show below: