HARD WORKING AMERICANS featuring Todd Snider, Dave Schools, Neal Casal, Chad Staehly, Duane Trucks & Jesse Aycock – Tickets – Neighborhood Theatre – Charlotte, NC – May 21st, 2017

HARD WORKING AMERICANS featuring Todd Snider, Dave Schools, Neal Casal, Chad Staehly, Duane Trucks & Jesse Aycock

Neighborhood Theatre & MaxxMusic present

HARD WORKING AMERICANS featuring Todd Snider, Dave Schools, Neal Casal, Chad Staehly, Duane Trucks & Jesse Aycock

Dylan Leblanc

Sun 5/21

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

Neighborhood Theatre

$25 adv/$28 dos

$3 Under 21 Surcharge at Door (Valid ID required for entry into venue. Under 18 permitted with parent.)

Accepted forms of ID: State Issued ID or Driver's License, Military ID, Passport.

HARD WORKING AMERICANS
HARD WORKING AMERICANS
Let me explain what it’s like to summarize Rest in Chaos. What you have here is, in the first place, the book of Genesis as deftly reconceived by Todd Snider who has been inhabited by a spirit resembling Philip K. Dick. The rest of the Hard Working Americans are under the direction (or perhaps in the thrall) of an older wiser Jimi Hendrix and a Frank Zappa no less exacting than he was when he departed. It is rock’n’roll music, past, present and future, and that’s no dream, it’s just a fact. There are moments here when the walls of Babel might be falling, there are moments when they are reinvented and every time you try to pin it down, it shows you something else.

“Half Ass Moses,” the third song, ends by declaring “The song wasn’t all that complicated.”
Like hell it isn’t. When, in the very next song, “Dope is Dope,” Todd Snider is a voice more inflammatory and gritty than I have ever heard from him before, “His mother didn’t understand him / Whose mother ever does?” am I supposed to laugh, cry, applaud or beg for mercy. All that’s really sure is, you’re not leaving ‘til the show’s over. Even if you want to. There’s nowhere else to go, and even if there were, the music’s too good.

So much for metaphysics. The actual physics of the thing is seven billion people out for what they only think is a stroll, armed with nothing more than some quite treacherous Roman candles Rest in Chaos might, if these Hard Working Americans were scientists of something other than sound, be the story of the entropy of the universe, and if you think I’m kidding that’s only because you haven’t taken the deep dive into its complexity, which if not quantum is at least a quandary. Albums aren’t this good anymore; they’re not this ambitious; their parts are not so finely conceived, the risks they take are not so reckless, the ways they resolve contradictions are not so elegant. Most of all they don’t kick you in the preconceptions anywhere near so often. (How did they manage to create harmonies in “Something Else” that recall both the Hollies and the Mothers of Invention?)

Todd’s songs sound like he swiped part of them from Billy Joe Shaver and part from Tim Buckley and welded them together with spare parts from Iggy and Paul McCartney. There’s a nightmare embedded here, and what cares the weight of it, the aspect of doom and the hint of doom is Dave Schools’ bass. Neal Casal, who might be the most under- rated guitarist in rock, is constantly making the chaos more beautiful than you’d think possible. The roots of the sound are in the jam bands and Americana groups and singer- songwriter sessions the band members have played in but when they get to “Throwing Goats” (OK, maybe I should have said Thomas Pynchon or John Barth rather than Dick) and “Something Else” (both parts), they’ve joined the ranks of the rockers who no longer look for interstellar overdrive, because they’ve already found it.

All this is, of course, metaphor. Well, most of it. Some of it. The part about how strong it is, how smart, how completely the product of the past (“stand up for your brother, stick it to the man”) and how anticipatory of one of the best futures anyone has shown us is straight up. It’s one of the most well-sustained albums I’ve heard in years, and what it sustains is not only my faith in rock’n’roll or even how hard the Hard Working Americans really do work to make their magic, but how much it means to them, which is the only way it can mean very much to the rest of us.

Let me put it this way: I’ve heard Rest in Chaos any number of times and there’s no way I’m done with it. I can tell you about its surface but I haven’t gotten to the bottom of it. I’m not really sure there is one. It is humbling to confront it, and reassuring to know that there is all the rest of our lives for that. “The High Price of Inspiration”? A bargain.
Dylan Leblanc
Dylan Leblanc
Dylan LeBlanc knows second chances don’t come around often. But, neither do voices like his.

Overwhelmed by the speed his gift would take him, from Applebee’s server to “the new Neil Young” in a matter of months, he walked away from an unlikely major label deal after releasing two critically acclaimed albums. He slipped into a blur of booze and self-doubt. Exhausted and damaged at just 23-years-old, Dylan came home to Muscle Shoals, Alabama to write a new life for himself.

In between the moments of clarity and a few familiar falls, he also wrote a new album, Cautionary Tale: a collection of shimmering, arresting songs with the same haunting vocals that caught the attention of Lucinda Williams and Bruce Springsteen, now with a sharpened edge honed by hastened maturity.

“This record is about me getting honest with myself,” says Dylan. “I had to let the guilt about the past go and find a new truth within myself. This time, I felt like I really had something to say.”

To help him say it, he sought out long-time friend Ben Tanner, the same guy who had secretly helped Dylan record his first songs after hours while working at fabled FAME Studios. (He also introduced a 16-year-old Dylan to Wilco, George Harrison, and Ryan Adams by way of an external hard drive). In between touring with Alabama Shakes, Ben was beginning to engineer records again at the label he started with another friend of Dylan’s, Grammy Award-winning musician John Paul White, formerly of the Civil Wars. The two both produced and played on Cautionary Tale.

“They prevented me from burying my words,” says Dylan. “Doubt can often be my first instinct, and I’ll try to cover things up with more elements to hide my voice, but I made up my mind to trust them. I heard Merle Haggard say once that the singer is secondary to the song, and they both helped me build a strong foundation for the emotions I was feeling.”

The stripped down aesthetic that John Paul and Ben have made their label’s calling card sets Dylan’s voice in a light bright enough to see the patina the last few years has left behind.

“I spent a lot of time writing about programming and conditioning and the idea of ego,” says Dylan. “I don’t want to rely on my circumstances or the past to say why I am the way I am anymore. A lot of my songs like ‘Cautionary Tale’ and ‘Look How Far We’ve Come’ are about trying to break out of a vicious cycle. I was wondering if I could find my solutions from within—if I could believe in something beyond the present.”

If Dylan was wandering through a cemetery with his first album Paupers Field (“Songs are like headstones to me,” he told The Guardian), Cautionary Tale is an abandoned desert town. He reflects on what once was, and if anything could be again. At times, he wonders if the signs of life he sees on the horizon are real or just a mirage. Phantasmic, warbling voices in the background rise to meet his own and fade into the ether; ghostly guitar riffs echo in the emptiness around him.

Finding the right arrangement and words was a more deliberate effort for Dylan this time. After feeling lost in the “mania” of recording his first two albums, he relied on Ben and John Paul to help him collect the pieces of his vision.

“I’ve definitely become more disciplined. I don’t count on things like inspiration anymore,” says Dylan. “I learned so much from putting songs together with John Paul. Anything he does, it’s always going to be well-thought-out and well-placed. I’m naturally an improv guy, but now I see how that can be more limiting than planning your next move.”

That new-found discipline shows. Never one to write out parts, Dylan methodically scored the stunning string sections with violinist Kimi Samson and cellist Caleb Elliot. To form the polished rhythm section he wanted to drive songs like “The Easy Way Out” and “Beyond the Veil,” he paired drummer Jeremy Gibson with Alabama Shakes bassist Zac Cockrell (“I wanted it to feel like a Bill Withers record or Al Green—soulful, but tight.”)

While Dylan will be the first to admit he wasn’t ready to stand on the stages he played early in his career, there’s no doubting he is now. With a recalibrated compass, he’s back on the road opening sold-out shows for British singer-songwriter George Ezra, another artist praised for a wizened voice beyond his years.

Dylan will continue to support George through September 2015, including a show at Nashville’s legendary Ryman Auditorium. Next, he’ll embark on his solo tour with dates throughout the South, Midwest, and New England.

“After everything I’ve gone through, I still love putting records out and singing for people, no matter how big or small the crowd,” says Dylan. “It’s the only thing I want to do, and now I get to keep doing it as a more well-rounded person. I guess I’m blessed or whatever the hell you want to call it.”
Venue Information:
Neighborhood Theatre
511 East 36th Street
Charlotte, NC, 28205
http://www.neighborhoodtheatre.com/

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