The Morse Rocks festival tries to bring in an artist who is a master of their craft and has been recognized around the industry as being “one to watch” for their exceptional style. This year, we are proud to continue this tradition by bringing Vermont based independent musical guru, Bow Thayer and his band to Saugerties, NY. Bow is no stranger to the area as he has played and recorded at the late Levon Helm’s barn and maintains ties with the people behind Levon’s Grammy awards. Catskill Stone is a song he recorded in homage to his first trip to Levon’s Woodstock home.
Bow Thayer has been singing and writing songs for as long as he can remember. Making music is who he is. He has lived up to his “reputation as a sublimely gifted artist” by pursuing a creative vision that seeks to lead Americana music into the future. Finally gaining national recognition, American Songwriter Magazine says this “onetime Levon Helm compatriot is the best artist to come from New England in recent years.”
Bow made a name for himself in Boston with 7 League Boots, a rock/reggae band that shared the stage with the likes of Fugazi, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Pearl Jam. Fifteen years ago he made a life-altering decision to leave the city for the Green Mountains of Vermont. It was there that he explored the Delta blues playing slide guitar for the original Elbow and began a relationship with the banjo—both in the bluegrass group, The Benders, and on his own—that continues to this day.
Thayer’s most recent studio recording, “Eden“, written almost entirely on a five-string electric banjo and co-produced by Grammy Award-winning engineer Justin Guip, was released last year to widespread critical acclaim. Described by one reviewer as “not an album many people outside of Jim James would be willing to try”, “Eden” is an observation of society’s self-inflicted wounds. Despite lyrical themes detailing man’s degradation of the planet, Eden provides listeners with hope for the future. On Earth Day 2014, Earth Day, Bow released his first live album, “Eden – Live at The Chandler“, that also marked his final release with Perfect Trainwreck who have been at his side for the last three records.
Bow is moving forward with his longtime drummer, Jeff Berlin, and a new cast of musicians as he explores the creative potential of his self-designed stringed instrument, known affectionately as the “Bojotar“. Having played with such music luminaries as Levon Helm, John Hiatt, Booker T, and Ringo Starr, Bow has seen his fair share of travel across these United States of America and the World at large and plans to do more while supporting his records that feature his tales, truths and fantasies about the human condition.
Bow is presently putting the finishing touches on his latest release “Sundowser” scheduled for release in mid-summer.
Bow has been known to throw one hell of a party, too. Maybe you have heard of Tweed River Music Festival? Bow and his band of brothers devote their lives to spreading music wherever they go and hope you have the chance to catch an earful.
Because Joe asked me to and he is a teacher so I place him in high regards!
2- As a young artist, what were some of the challenges you faced in getting gigs and getting noticed?
Well it has been a while since I was young but I pretty much remember having the same challenges now I could write a book on how hard it is to keep a band together , not everyone has the same level of dedication and commitment ,people come and go regularly. Money is tight , the traveling is long, …. in my mind you are only as good as your last gig and sometimes a good gig can be few and far between. But then again there is always something that keeps you going.
3- What do you think a festival such as Morse Rocks does for all artists?
Allows them to shine and meet other artists.
4- What are you hoping to accomplish by performing at Morse Rocks?
Simply to play a good show that satisfies my bandmates as well as turn some folks on to our style of music….. maybe even inspire them. At the very least give people a good excuse to boogie!
5- Why is it important for artists to share information and ideas?
Because even a bad idea from one artist can be turned into a great artist by another.
6- What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Make sure you are doing your art for the right reasons. If you live and create soulfully and artistically the rewards are unimaginable. If you are looking for money and polarity …. there are easier ways to achieve this.
7- What are some of the high points of your career?
Working with Levon is a high point for sure. But really ,every time I stumble over a good line for a song or a decent lick or melody that works, I get the feeling that I am on the right path and nothing can be higher than a sense of artistic integrity.
8- What can audiences expect from your performance?
I have some new young bucks in my band… half my age! but they are so into it they give it there all so it pushes me to as well. For those folks who have listened to my music over the years you can expect a culmination of all those different styles coming together. There are elements of old time string band, some heavy rock, some psychedelic jams and some stuff that we call progressive mountain music.
9- Who are the members of your band?
Alex Abraham on Bass, Jeff Berlin on Drums and JD Tolstoi on keyboards.
10- Any other information you would like to include:
I will be playing an instrument I developed with the Eastwood /Airline guitar company called the Bojotar.
Joe Defino works for the Saugerties Central School district as a teacher. Since 1991, he has worked to create learning opportunities to give students the opportunity to explore authentic experiences with a real-world audience.
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