With a touring and recording history of more than 20 years, a strong following regionally and beyond, and a history of playing festivals like Bonnaroo and Farm Aid, North Carolina favorites Acoustic Syndicate returned in 2013 with their first record since 2004, Rooftop Garden.
The band is set to perform a select number of shows in the southeast this Fall including two shows on September 27th; a daytime performance at the Isothermal Community College (the home of WNCW radio) in Spindale, NC for the college’s 50 Year Anniversary, and another set later that evening at Pisgah Brewing Company’s outdoor stage in Black Mountain, NC to celebrate WNCW’s 25 Year Anniversary on the airwaves. In early November they return to Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta before heading on to Lucky’s in Valdosta, GA and the Riverhawk Music Festival in Brooksville, FL. Acoustic Syndicate is also happy to announce their annual Asheville Thanksgiving show at the Grey Eagle in Asheville on November 29th.
Having claimed the #6 spot in WNCW’s 2013 year-end Top-100 listener poll with Rooftop Garden, the band is as beloved to the Western North Carolina audience as they’ve ever been. “Acoustic Syndicate has remained one of WNCW listeners’ favorite regional and overall acts ever since they began in the ‘90’s,” says WNCW’s Martin Anderson. “In fact they were one of the Top 10 favorite WNCW artists during our big 20th Anniversary vote in 2009, ranking alongside such A-list acts as the Avett Brothers, the Allman Brothers, and Alison Krauss. When I think of bands that best represent the overall sound of what we do at WNCW – roots music, rock, jamming, harmonizing, songs that tell a good story – it’s hard to think of a better one than Acoustic Syndicate.”
Produced by Grammy Award winner Stewart Lerman (Boardwalk Empire, Patti Smith, The Roches, Antony and the Johnsons, Crash Test Dummies), Rooftop Garden features the band’s distinctive blend of rock and acoustic music, all influenced by the players’ love of a wide range of music, from reggae to American roots. “Their modern take on traditional bluegrass and rock values culminates in a glimmering, driving sound rich with acoustic textures and glowing vocals,” writes Paul Kerr on JamBase.
They have also branched out into new territory with the album as Glide’s Bryan Rodgers notes, “… in 2010, new songs began creeping into set-lists and the band began a new era. The culmination is Rooftop Garden…The passage of time, dedication to other interests (family, farming, and software engineering for instance) and newfound musical freedom helped the band create their most personal album yet, which is remarkable. All of the music… has a distinctly human touch, with topics like sustainability, the frailty of existence, love, and community. Rooftop Garden is somehow more immediate because of where the band now finds themselves musically: with no one to please but themselves and an even broader range of life experiences from which to cull material.”
“The tunes on this album were written with an essentially positive message, one about humanity, earth, responsibility and peace,” said singer/guitarist Steve McMurry. He and his cousin Bryon McMurry (banjo, electric guitar) split the songwriting and lead vocal duties 50/50 on this new album, and are joined by Bryon’s brother Fitz McMurry (drums) for the kind of three part harmony that only close relatives who grew up singing together can conjure up. The band is rounded out by always in-demand bassist Jay Sanders and dobro wizard Billy Cardine; both of whom make use of Moog synthesizers and pedals to craft a unique ensemble sound.
The McMurry family has been in family farming in the same region of Cleveland County, NC since the 1700s. Their love of the land and their serious approach to its stewardship is echoed by the love of the music they make and the care with which they make it. Rooftop Garden conveys important things about the environment we all share, grounded in the life experiences of people who truly love what they do. “Through our music, we have tried to maintain a consistent message, a reminder,” says Steve McMurry, “that this Earth is the only one we will ever have. And though we speak of some lofty ideals in our music, my most fervent hope is that when people listen to us or come to our show, they leave with a laugh and a smile and the satisfaction of having been a part of something positive.”
The albums he’s made since then have consistently vaulted him into the Top 20 of the Americana charts and gleaned praise from NPR, American Songwriter, No Depression and Blues Revue, among others.
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