The Congress officially add new member and open for Tedeschi Trucks

0

 

:: The Congress ::

:: w/ Fox Street ::

:: Stoney’s Bar and Grill ::

:: October 18 ::

:: A Benefit for the Nathan Yip Foundation ::

By Timothy Dwenger

Hearing the word “Congress,” especially these days, conjures up images of D.C. fat cats, too set in their ways to get even the tiniest of projects accomplished. Ironically however, Denver’s The Congress, shares none of that with their namesake, and in fact, continue to reach across the touring aisle over and over with great success.

As the range of their touring increases so does their thriving fanbase.  The Congress may be a “local” band to those of us lucky enough to call the Front Range home, but to the people that pack venues mid-week in towns like Starkville, Mississippi and Charlottesville, Virginia these boys are a rising powerhouse.

The Congress blends rock and soul into a fiery stew that features the thunderous drums of Mark Levy, the screaming guitar of Scott Lane, the honey sweet vocals of Jonathan Meadows and, as of this past August, the rollicking keyboards of Chris Speasmaker.  “He played his first gig with us in April of 2010.  I think he had just moved to town,” said Scott Lane during a recent interview with The Marquee.  “He actually grew up next to my brother’s wife in Charlottesville, Virginia and she sent him to come see us when we were running an open mic at Ziggy’s.  He has kinda been a part of our family who comes around and sits in with us since the very early days of the band.  He spent a few years having fun and sowing his musical oats, but eventually we gave him an open invitation to join the band whenever he wanted.”

The Congress’ soulful “power-trio” sound along with the addition of Speasmaker on keys has fleshed the group’s sound out and allowed them to do some things musically that they probably wouldn’t have considered in the past. One of those challenges comes in the form of their most recent release, an EP, The Loft Tapes, that was recorded in an old Masonic Temple up in Berthod.  “It’s a giant meeting room built for speech acoustics. It was the obvious choice for throwing everyone in a room, playing live, and having it sound really excellent,” Lane explained.

While the room must have sounded amazing as these four musicians ran through their favorite old soul and R&B tunes, Lane figured out a way to capture that sound. “We bought this old — I think it’s from ’81 or ’82 — reel-to-reel machine with a built in 8-channel mixer and we didn’t use any processing or anything digital until we hit the mastering phase. We just plugged everything right into the tape machine and did all the instruments live and took all the first takes of Jonathan’s vocals to try and keep that live feel. If he fucked up, so be it,” Lane said.

He went on to say “There are no effects used on the record, no compression, no effects at all except that I used my guitar reverb on Jonathan’s vocal. Everything else is just a mic in front of an amp.  We used the tape machine, we clipped it and made it distort, and used the life of the analog machine as an effect but other than that it is just straight up raw.”

That rawness and grit comes through on stunning versions of tunes like Van Morrison’s “Into The Mystic,” Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready,” and Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” but it was another artist all together that inspired this project and was really the catalyst that finally pulled Speasmaker into the band full-time.  “We got really heavy into the Donny Hathaway Live record.  Everybody was listening to it at the same time,” Lane said. “I gifted that album to Speas[maker]on iTunes and told him to check out how that cat plays Wurlitzer. It was almost overnight that he started taking on all these Donny Hathaway-isms and he was just killing it. With that in mind we invited him to come play Wurlitzer on the whole record.”

Only a few days after The Congress have the opportunity to open for the Tedeschi Trucks Band in Madison, Wisc., the group will share a bill with their good friends (and Speasmaker’s former bandmates) Fox Street at a benefit for The Nathan Yip Foundation that will take place at Stoney’s in Denver.  While The Congress is sure to dust off some of their Loft Tapes gems, there is also sure to be some interplay between the two bands on the rocking originals each band has become known for on the Denver scene.

 

Recommended If You Like:

  • Donny Hathaway
  • Dr. Dog
  • Tedeschi Trucks Band

 

:: The Congress ::

:: w/ Fox Street ::

:: Stoney’s Bar and Grill ::

:: October 18 ::

:: A Benefit for the Nathan Yip Foundation ::

 

Cool, Share this article:

Leave A Reply