Communion in San Francisco with Trixie Whitley

Every First Wednesday of the Month

Communion in San Francisco with Trixie Whitley

Social Studies, Hosannas, Johnny Hwin x Brodie Jenkins

Wed, December 5, 2012

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Brick & Mortar Music Hall

San Francisco, CA

$8.00 - $10.00

This event is 18 and over

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Communion in San Francisco
Communion in San Francisco
Communion was born in the Summer of 2006 at London’s Notting Hill Arts Club. Founded by Ben Lovett (Mumford and Sons), former Cherbourg bassist Kevin Jones, and acclaimed producer Ian Grimble, it quickly grew into a flourishing community of musicians and fans alike, providing a first independent platform for the freshest young artists on London’s circuit and beyond.

The monthly night has now seen the likes of Noah and the Whale, Laura Marling, Mumford and Sons, JJ Pistolet and Peggy Sue all grace the stage from the very start of their fledgling careers. It has also helped spawn the first steps for a diverse range of artists from Kurran and the Wolfnotes to Alan Pownall, The Holloways to King Charles, and Example to Josh Weller, all in keeping with the eclectic ethos that Communion has come to stand for.

Since its humble beginnings from a West London basement bar, Communion has branched out across the UK to Brighton, Bristol, Leeds, York, Oxford, Dublin and Belfast, and internationally to Sydney and New York City. Communion is now working closely with the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas, The Camden Crawl, HMV’s Next Big Thing series, The NME awards, Belfast’s Open House Festival, and many more clubs and companies who all have a hand in promoting exciting new music to as big and broad an audience as possible.

Taking the blueprint of what has made Communion work so well, Communion Records was founded in September 2009 priding itself on creating a close working family in which to allow artists to develop at their own pace. Production on most releases is handled by Ben, Kevin and Ian themselves, involving other artists from the roster in the recording process for that community vibe. Communion has released, or is currently primed to release records by Marcus Foster, Matthew and the Atlas, Matt Corby, Philadelphia Grand Jury, Pete Roe, Rachel Sermanni and Andrew Davie. The label’s debut compilation record was released in April 2010 on beautiful gatefold vinyl, featuring rare recordings by Mumford and Sons, Johnny Flynn, Alessi’s
Ark, Benjamin Francis Leftwich, JJ Pistolet (now of The Vaccines), and many, many more.

Looking for fresh ways to compile music that involves everyone, Communion took over the infamous Flowerpot venue in London’s Kentish Town in July 2010 to create a week-long series of collaborative recordings. Beyond the regular pool of young Communion friendly artists, established acts such as Angus and Julia Stone, Sarah Blasko, Mt. Desolation, Lissie, Damien Rice, and Kill It Kid alongside scores of other artists all wrote and performed together – The resulting opus is due for release on triple CD in March 2011, and is the finest example yet of the open-door policy of Communion’s creativity.

Continuing to evolve out of the sometimes faceless vacuum of the music industry for honest, independent champions of good music, Communion endeavours to fill that gap and push the boundaries of music well into 2011 and beyond.
Trixie Whitley
Trixie Whitley
Fourth corner. Physically, it’s where four states in the U.S. come together at one singular point. Symbolically, it’s where the four great rivers in China come together as one. Or, it could be the cycle of life during the four seasons of the year. For Trixie Whitley, it’s a metaphor for trying to find balance and belonging from the songs that make up her scintillating debut album, Fourth Corner.

Whitley burst into public consciousness in 2011 as the lead singer of Black Dub, super-producer Daniel Lanois’ (U2, Bob Dylan) project, blowing people away with a voice and presence beyond her now-25 years.

And it’s that voice: an emotional, blues-drenched instrument that ranges from a lilting slap to a knock-you-backwards uppercut. On Fourth Corner, Whitley explores the range of human emotion in another set of four: utter love, total rage, unadulterated happiness, and crippling loneliness. “It’s those elements of life I keep coming back to,” she says. “Both as a person and musically as well.”

Recorded in New York with producer/keyboardist Thomas Bartlett (aka Doveman, who’s also worked with Glen Hansard, Antony and the Johnsons, Grizzly Bear and the National) engineer Pat Dillett (David Byrne, St. Vincent, Mary J. Blige), and string arrangements by Rob Moose (Antony, Bon Iver), aching songs like “Need Your Love” have Whitley working from a spare beginning that explodes into a blossom dripping with pleading vocals and delicate piano. On tracks like the sassy “Irene” and the sinister “Hotel No Name,” Whitley lays down a snarling guitar line on top of scuzzy beats while her voice veers from defiant to remorseful.

It’s a tantalizing mix of sounds that can come only from someone who says: “I’m from everywhere but have never felt like I belong.” Whitley lived a nomadic life: born in Belgium, she split her time growing up there and in New York but also frequently visiting family in France, Texas, and Mexico. Her mother came from an artistic European gypsy family, filled with musicians, painters, writers, and sculptures, while her father, renowned singer-songwriter Chris Whitley, thrust her into the world of music as a toddler when she joined him onstage in Germany at age three.

After her parents divorced, she returned to her mother’s native Belgium and became engrossed in the arts: she played drums, acted and sang with several theater companies, and toured Europe with the renowned dance company Les Ballets C de la B and choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. At the same time, she became the youngest resident DJ at the Belgium Museum of Modern Art at age 11, spinning the likes of Aphex Twin and Squarepusher to old school Hip Hop, African music to avant garde composer John Zorn. “At first the Museum thought it was kind of a joke: ‘Come see our 11-year-old DJ,’” she laughs. “But then people kept coming. I couldn’t beat mix at all and I had to stand on three beer crates to even see the turntables!”

Though Whitley explores the gamut of human emotion in her music, there’s a sense of fearlessness in her that is unwavering. She dropped out of school at 17 and moved back to New York and started slinging burgers at a local dive. Meanwhile, she ground out her own material in the city.  She learned piano, guitar and soon started playing solo shows, a preface to recording her first EP Strong Blood.

With that EP in hand, she and her mother went to a music festival in Belgium where Daniel Lanois was playing a gig with drummer Brian Blade, best known for his work with Joni Mitchell and Wayne Shorter. At her mother’s behest, she thrust a copy of Strong Blood into Lanois’ hand and returned to New York, thinking nothing would ever come of it.

“I went back to that shitty restaurant and it got to the point where I was going to ditch music and go back to school and get my GED,” says Whitley. “But when I got home that day, Daniel called. I screamed.” Lanois invited her to Boston to record. He was so blown away that he asked her to front Black Dub, working with Blade and bassist Daryl Johnson. The band’s self-titled album was released in October of 2010 and the group toured well into 2011, with Whitley’s voice propelling the group’s unique groove to ultimate peaks.

With the Black Dub shows, countless solo gigs in New York and Europe, and buzz-building performances at festivals like Bonnaroo, SXSW, and Celebrate Brooklyn, Whitley has become one of the most talked about new artists of 2012. She’ll embark on her first solo tour of the U.S. in November, bringing a live show that is a cathartic, emotional wallop.

“I’m psyched and petrified,” says Whitley in her archetypal wide-eyed wonderment mixed with a fierce determination. “As a songwriter, I want to go to places people don’t expect and with that is complete freedom of expression.” Perhaps that place is another version of a fourth corner: something spiritual perhaps, certainly emotional, but most definitely real.
Social Studies
Social Studies
Naming their sophomore album Developer is a bold move for the still-young band Social Studies. But it is as apt a descriptor as you're likely to find for how the sound of this San Francisco-based five-piece has flourished, matured, and, yes, developed over the past two years.

The band - led by Natalia Rogovin (vocals, keys) and Michael Jirkovsky (drums), who were joined in 2009 by bassist Jesse Hudson and guitarist Tom Smith and this year by second guitarist Ben McClintock - has already won a loyal fan base thanks to their arch take on modernist pop as heard on 2010 release Wind Up Wooden Heart. Social Studies has become a force to be reckoned with in concert as well, transfixing audiences at the CMJ Music Festival, SXSW, and Noise Pop, and bringing their unique energy and spirit to stages shared with TuneYards, Wye Oak, Lotus Plaza, Thee Oh Sees, Dodos, Ramona Falls and many more.

Now, on their new album, the goal was to strip things down to the basics, straighten out some of the more jagged lines of their previous work, and put the focus more on texture and mood. "Before, we were rebellious. We fucked with things just because we wanted to push limits and boundaries," says Rogovin. "Developer is a more adult record. We tried to explore sounds and draw out parts to write more moving and focused songs."

They enlisted the able ears and hands of engineer and co-producer Eli Crews (Tune-Yards, Deerhoof, Thao & Mirah) who helped hone this new barebones attack as well as reflecting the excitement of their stage show. On Developer, all the pieces have come together perfectly. The clear-eyed production helps bring out the dark, sexy heart of these ruminations on life, love, pain, and pleasure. The themes of the album are as complex as the songs are streamlined. "The album is about art, but it's also a cinematic exploration of those turning points in life that you didn't see coming and didn't realize were important until much later," says Rogovin.

Lead single "Terracur" calls the bluff of a headstrong friend threatening to leave, while "Away For the Weekend" turns the tables to justify a departure: “Ever discover another that makes you feel good, you always feel right/ the notion of fleeing the corporeal being/Just run to your other life.”

In Developer, Social Studies has succeeded in evoking a set of feelings and emotions that will linger with listeners long after the last notes have faded away. Warm, cold, or downright chilling, there is a connection between the personal and universal that the band taps into through a set of fearless and gripping songs.
Hosannas
Hosannas
Hosannas create beatific, experimental pop music. Once a four-piece known as Church, brothers Brandon and Richard Laws were two LPs and two EPs deep before deciding to push the limits of the grandiose pop and chamber-folk music for which the band had become so beloved. Moving forward with the brothers Laws on guitars and vocals, and friend Grace Peters on synths and keys, the Portland, Oregon-based trio continue to take the band into new sonic directions. If their latest EP, Thug Life Nicole (self-released, 2011) is any indication of where they are headed, expect striking vocal harmonies, unique instrumentation, and orchestral layering to play heavy into their electro-pop explorations.
Johnny Hwin x Brodie Jenkins
Johnny Hwin x Brodie Jenkins
Singer-songwriter/producer Johnny Hwin (former bassist of Blackbird Blackbird) and Brodie Jenkins explore the sonic intersection of acoustic timbres, electronic synths/samples and highly dance-able beats, arranged against an emotional backdrop inspired by love letters, the universal and intimate form of creative expression we all share.
Venue Information:
Brick & Mortar Music Hall
1710 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA, 94103
http://www.brickandmortarmusic.com/