Special Guest Star
With the release of their sophomore album, The Game (September 9, 2016, on American Paradox), The Congress progressed further along a career path that's taken them from Denver, CO, where they first formed, back to their hometown of Richmond, VA. They followed a circuitous route, one that found them touring with high profile bands like Lake Street Dive, the Tedeschi-Trucks Band, and Hard Working Americans, while still remaining focused on their singular sound, a dynamic mix of riveting rock 'n' roll, old school soul, classic country, and searing psychedelia.
Ultimately, The Congress is a band that shows reverence for their roots through both cohesion and creativity. "It's hard to pigeonhole us one way or the other," says guitarist/vocalist Scott Lane. "We do what comes naturally, with a lot of focus on song and arrangement, and very little on genre. We're not great at putting ourselves in one box." That's borne out on The Game, even on an initial listen. From the mournful sway of "Home Again" and "Farewell," to the jazzy, soulful sound evident in "When I Got the Time," it's clear The Congress is as versatile as it is unpredictable. The slow, steady glide of "Poison and Antidote" and "This Ain't Livin" finds a perfect mesh with spry rockers like "Ain't It Easy," "September" and the title track, ensuring a subtle change in tone and tempo throughout.
The Game follows the band's two EPs (one self-titled, the other dubbed The Loft Tapes) and a full-length debut (aptly titled Whatever You Want). The new record was recorded primarily at Denver's Macy Sound Studio with occasional sessions at Montrose Studios in Richmond. Bassist/vocalist Jonathan Meadows remembers, "'This Ain't Livin' came really quickly. We ran through it in 20 minutes and the first take turned out to be the best. It felt very spontaneous." To keep that fresh feeling throughout The Game, the band stripped down their sound, relying only on the basics -- guitar, bass, piano and drums -- the latter courtesy of band members Chris Speasmaker and Mark Levy, respectively. (The newest member of the fold, drummer Raphael Katchinoff replaced Levy earlier this year.)
The Whiskey Rebellion
Skillful picking and expert three-part harmonies are just part of what you can expect from the Whiskey Rebellion, who have been plying their brand of high-energy acoustic music across the Southeast (and as far west as the Pacific Ocean) for the last eight years. The band has recorded two regionally-acclaimed original albums, shared the stage with the Sam Bush Band and Carolina Chocolate Drops, and had their 2011 tour of the Pacific Northwest captured by filmmaker Tony Morin for a forthcoming concert film & documentary.
Drawing on their diverse musical backgrounds, The Whiskey Rebellion mix the spontaneity of bluegrass, the collectiveness of jazz, and the urgency of rock and roll to create their own unique take on everything from traditional bluegrass to anthemic party favorites. The band covers a wide array of artists ranging from The Beatles to The Talking Heads to Guns 'n' Roses, but their approach is always steeped in their acoustic roots and uniquely lends itself to being both listenable and danceable.