Up and coming Cenral Pennsylvania band Raven and the Wren will take the stage at Elk Creek Cafe & Aleworks on April 30 to celebrate the release of its debut album, “Friend of Failure.”
“We wrote, recorded, and mixed the record ourselves, which afforded us some freedom in that we were able to take our time and work in a more relaxed kind of environment,” said Raven and the Wren bassist Bob Hart. “The album came out on April 26, and we will be doing some tour dates around the northeast to support it, starting this weekend in Pittsburgh (Friday) and Millheim (Saturday). We’ll be playing some nice shows throughout the summer, with stops in NYC, Nashville, Philly, Cincinnati and more.”
Hart believes the band has strong roots in traditional American music.
“I generally try to avoid labels, but I know that is impossible,” he said. “Listeners have called us ‘roots-influenced,’ which is kind of like a catch-all. We keep our arrangements simple, effective, and to-the-point, but I like to think that the song dictates how we play it, and not vice-versa. And if the end result is something that fits into the Americana mold, then so be it! But we try to keep ourselves open to all musical possibilities.”
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During the Elk Creek Cafe show, the band will have both CDs and vinyls of “Freind of Failure” available.
“What you hear on the album is how we play it,” Hart said. “There are no extraneous overdubs, just an electric guitar, an acoustic guitar, bass, drums and vocals. I think we set out to make something organic and compelling, and we achieved that.”
Made up of local talent, Raven and the Wren’s release show promises to be a culmination of hard work but also a signpost for a bright future.
“Raven and the Wren started with Natty Lou Race, and some songs that she had written over the years,” Hart said. “She began by playing solo shows in the area, and then was joined by Junior Tutwiler, a friend since childhood, on electric guitar. I moved to the area a couple of years ago from NYC, and joined them on the bass. From there, we thought it would be fun to add drums, so we drafted Chris Rattie, and we all clicked pretty quickly. We knew we wanted to make a record right off the bat, and it wasn’t long before we started recording and putting this album together.”
Hart and company bring a wide array of musical influences to the band.
“Well, we have so many,” Hart said. “Natty Lou loves Lucinda Williams, Townes Van Zandt, Patty Griffin. Junior comes from the Rolling Stones, Mississippi Fred McDowell and the other blues masters. Chris loves Springsteen, Gillian Welch, R.L. Burnside. I come from a pretty wide scope of influences, from John Coltrane to the Beatles to Schoenberg, and everything in between. And, although you may not be able to hear all of these influences in every Raven and the Wren song, they are there informing us every step of the way.”
The band has high hopes for the future.
“I think that there are creative goals and professional goals,” Hart said. “From the creative side, I’d like to keep exploring the different ways we can ‘frame’ a song. It starts out as just raw material, and then gets filtered through the individual members of the band. We each have something unique that we can bring to it, and there’s a gratification to finding just the right part to play.
“When the four of us get together to work through a song, it turns into a domino-effect, where what one of us plays will then spark an idea in someone else, and on and on,” Hart continued. “To have this kind of creativity further flourish is definitely a goal. On a more practical level, we’d like to get this music in front of as many people we can, which means hitting the road a bunch, and exploring different options in the music biz for getting our music heard.”
Hart believes this show will resonate with attendees in a real and heartfelt way.
“You should buy a ticket to the show if you want to hear music performed from the heart, with no frills attached,” Hart said. “We try to offer the audience a real and moving experience, from beginning to end.”
The band will be joined by openers The Tommy Roberts at Saturday’s show.
IF YOU GO
- What: Raven and the Wren
- When: 9 p.m. April 30
- Where: Elk Creek Cafe, 100 W. Main St., Millheim
- Info: www.elkcreekcafe .com; www.ravenandthe wren.com