W/ CALEY CONWAY (FIELD REPORT)
& THOMAS WINCEK (VOLCANO CHOIR)
Shane Leonard is a producer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter who lives in a modest two-story bungalow on the Eastside Hill of Eau Claire, WI. Thanks to his parents who had a pretty good record collection, he grew up playing drums on pillows along to Santana's Woodstock performance of "Soul Sacrifice", strumming air guitar to Chuck Berry, and gazing at photos of young Steve Jordan in the Blues Brothers' gatefold. Older jazz musicians took him under their wing for a couple decades, and a few really patient teachers even tried to get him into the serious orchestral stuff, but it didn't really take. Still, Shane harbors an appreciation for classical music. He's not saying he doesn't like classical music. It's very cool. After dropping out of music school to hit the books and become a high school English teacher, he became fairly obsessed with traditional folk music and left to travel Appalachia, visiting elder fiddlers and banjoists and learning the old tunes. Eventually he hit the road touring with great bands like Mipso, Field Report, Rose Cousins, The Stray Birds, Oh Pep! and others. Several EPs and full-lengths of original music later (see: Kalispell), he can now be found hunched over a piano and notebook, magnetizing a production team with Brian Joseph (Bon Iver, Paul Simon) that has attracted national artists such as Anna Tivel, Kristin Andreassen (Uncle Earl), Sean Rowe and others to record new sounds in the North. Shane Leonard's forthcoming solo album, Strange Forms, will be released 5/31/2019.
Borne out of an intense two-year period in which Leonard lost his father and then became a father and husband himself, Strange Forms delivers candid ruminations on the themes of rebirth and vulnerability. "I was thirty once / but now I'm thirty-one / I wonder / will I ever feel that I have reached dry land" Leonard ponders over a backdrop of gritty electric guitars and blown-out backbeats. The tones ring like Revolver era Beatles and early Beck; the boldly sincere lyrics recall Ben Gibbard's earnest pen. For roughly a year, two best friends orbited a collection of vintage equipment in a small room, Leonard playing all the instruments and engineer Brian Joseph (Bon Iver, Paul Simon) capturing whatever sounds excited them. A 1950's student model bass drum adorned with a hand-painted bald eagle. Cantankerous guitars pushed through the preamps of a Tascam 4-track cassette recorder. Vocals sung into a smashed-up handheld microphone inherited from Doc DeHaven, the once legendary jazz trumpeter of Madison, Wisconsin. In embrace of innocence and weathered by experience, Leonard confides to his newborn daughter, "ever since the day you were born / time accelerates / already each season feels like / the passing of a day / much as I'd like to be still with you / I know you'll never be the same".
"In Leonard, Tivel has found a partner whose obsession for sonic landscapes matches her own for the written word. His goosebumps-inducing string arrangements feature heavily throughout the record. Leonard also plays percussion on the album and has a standout performance on the song "Shadowland" where he skillfully guides the moody arrangement behind a complex military-inspired beat."
"With a soft-spoken vocal suspended halfway between the styles of Ben Gibbard and Paul Simon, Shane Leonard strikes a philosophical tone, leveraging an effortless lyricism that blends a personal narrative with the universal force of informed hindsight."
CALEY CONWAY (FIELD REPORT)
Storyscapes in Folk and Indie
"Milwaukee Singer-Songwriter Caley Conway writes about heavy subjects-- relationships, betrayals, people pushed to the brink, the burden of expectations-- but she does so with an extraordinarily light touch, delivering her quippy lyrics behind a barely concealed smirk. Think of her as a more laid-back Gillian Welch-- if Welch doused her record in casual profanity." --Shepherd Express
THOMAS WINCEK (VOLCANO CHOIR)
A digital, generative, improvised representation of minimalist orchestral music, bound with a distorted reflection of non-genre specific dance music.