Do you ever get the feeling when you have your music playing and, giving yourself time to reflect, something isn’t clicking? The words the artist is saying is the same thing you heard the last one regurgitate? We’re looking for something that takes us to a different caliber of thought and emotion. You will get closer to that caliber, however, if you take time to head down to Linneman’s River West Inn this Saturday, Sept. 27, at 9 p.m. to celebrate one of Milwaukee’s finest bands: The Grasping at Straws.
The band is not only releasing their debut album for a special price of $5 for one night only, but some friends of theirs will be stomping the stage right along with them. Bands such as Caley Conway and the Lucy Cukes, Pay the Devil and Renegade Lightning Rebellion will be there, and believe me, this is a show you do not want to miss.
The Grasping at Straws identifies themselves as folk, alternative-country and bluegrass but if you take the time to really listen to the tale they are telling, you can start to peel back the layers of influences the band salutes and start to understand why this band is so precious to the Milwaukee music scene.
During our chat, the band explained that they bow to musical dynasties from Uncle Tupelo, Hank Williams, Radiohead, The Pixies, Son House, Tom Waits to Pink Floyd and many more. Even though the group came together with different music backgrounds, they all some how take their influences and canonize them producing a unique sound that is in a different caliber from music you generally hear today.
Bass player and vocalist Maggie Iken touched on this.
“Growing up the music I listened to was everything but country and now I have to play some form of country and I don’t want to say it helps not to listen to the genre you play because it totally does but it is interesting for me now to be listening to Hank Williams,” Iken said.
This exposes an intricate detail to the Straws because not only do they reveal themselves to different genres of music but they give themselves room to dabble in multiple influences proving their colors as Americana chameleons.
Banjo player and vocalist Palmer Shah said that he started playing the banjo because he was sick of people using it as a one- perspective instrument as well as to really explore the warmth and ambiance the banjo can set in the band.
“That’s what’s unique about us, we all have different genres and different background to apply to a band that could otherwise sound very traditional,” Shah said.
This is unique because once you indulge yourself into the literary aspect of the band, you can really gain a deeper perspective with help from the lead vocalist and guitar player Josh Backes. Bringing merit to the narrative when crafting it, you can start to understand that his gift in songwriting is an ever-evolving process. When bringing it to his band mates that is when it is crafted to its finest state. Straws not only reintroduces those pieces of art and thoughts but gives space for others to appreciate it and to keep this vernacular style of music and thought alive in the 21st century narrative.
If you are unable to make it to the release party on Saturday, check out their show in Bay View at Franks Power Plant for the Bay View Gallery Night on Friday, Sept. 26.