While we said fare thee well to our staff picks for the best albums, festivals, venues and shows of 2015, we welcome the new music experiences that 2016 has in store, and with a new year, comes new talent on the rise.
Every year we shine a light on the music scene’s rising newcomers currently flying under the radar — but not for long. Here we note the five bands that the NYSMusic team has pegged as the emerging artists to keep an eye on in the New Year.
Some of the groups have already toured the globe, shared the stage with notable acts and appeared on national television, while others are still in heavy rotation at their local venues and surrounding regions. But you can be sure to expect new records, show announcements and other surprises from our 2015 bands on the rise.
1. THE BLIND OWL BAND
FROM: Saranac Lake, NY
ALBUM: This Train We Ride is Made of Wood and Steel (2013)
WHY WE DIG THEM: Formed in 2010 after meeting at Paul Smith’s College, the Blind Owl Bandhas become a household name in the jam circuit after putting on impromptu lot shows during Phish runs at SPAC, followed by heavy touring throughout the northeast and having now appeared at more than 25 festivals, including the Peach Music Festival Backwoods Pondfest and Winter Carnival. Coining their style as Adirondack freight train string music, the North Country bearded quartet—Arthur Buezo (guitar, vocals), Christian Cardiello (double bass, fretless bass), James Ford (banjo, vocals) and Eric Munley (mandolin, vocals)—released their debut 15-track album Rabble Rousing in 2012 and have since shared the stage with Trampled by Turtles, Railroad Earth, Hot Day at the Zoo and Yonder Mountain String Band. Their raw, contemporary bluegrass style throws the genre’s traditional rules to the wind characterizing” their sound as if they stood on top of their mountain reaching out their beat up instruments grabbing various concepts of music, holding it captive ultimately for a presentation unique to the scene,” described Tabitha Clancy, and according to Laura Carbone, experienced live, they move, twist and turn, fingers a flying, bass a spinning and the audience pressing closer to the stage, dancing and feeling the joy of what is The Blind Owl Band. Hoot!
2. CASTLE CREEK
FROM: Syracuse, NY
ALBUM: The Only Life (2014)
WHY WE DIG THEM: Winner of the 2015 SAMMY Award for best blues recording, the Central New York-based band Castle Creek, comprised of Kim Monroe (vocals, guitar, keyboards, bass) and Chris Eves (vocals, guitar, keyboards, bass, drums), debuted their first full-length—and self-produced/engineered—album in 2014. Since then the alternative blues rock duo has extensively toured regionally and nationally from Maine to Texas to California and played at international festivals in Ireland and Japan. Most recently Castle Creek performed as guest vocalists with the Zac Brown Band for three east coast shows during their “Jekyll and Hyde” tour, landed a main stage spot at the winter NAMM show in Anaheim, toured with Tony Lucca from season two of The Voice and last March Phish drummer Jon Fishman sat in with the group for a surprise four-song jam at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Syracuse. After seeing the band open for Tyler Farr, Kathy Stockbridge recalled how the duo’s vocals complement rather than overshadow each other, noting that “they both display such very strong vocals and instrumentation. The fact that they can play and sing the same instruments simultaneously without becoming one sound and over powering the other is what makes their sound so unique, so soulful, so bluesy.” Castle Creek has also opened for artists like Cabinet, Johnny Lang, Floodwood and John Popper and the Duskray Troubadours. Up next the band will release an EP recorded at Abbey Road Studios while touring abroad.