On the Fly
BREWFLIES An acoustic/electric trio that is, at it's heart, the core of a bluegrass band: mandolin-bass-guitar, Brewflies combine traditional old-time Appalachian string-band tunes; acoustic folk songs of artists like John Prine, James Taylor, and Randy Newman; New Orleans blues-rock-boogie; alt-country: Jazz-Latino-Brazilian choro, and folk-rock rootsy Americana reminiscent of Dylan and the Band, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and the Jayhawks. BREWFLIES ARE: Larry Brittain-Guitar/vocals Bill Clockel-Acoustic/electric bass/string bass Jeff Schmich-Mandolin/banjo ABOUT THE MUSICIANS: The three musicians who comprise Brewflies have been playing, performing, arranging and recording traditional and contemporary acoustic music for three decades. All three have played in award-winning bluegrass bands, appearing with Tony Trishka, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, The New Grass Revival, Oscar Brand, The Pogues, the Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, David Grisman, and Kid Creole and the Coconuts. Larry and Bill were key figures in the old-time/bluegrass music scene in the New York Metropolitan region from the 1980s into the early 90s, organizing several bands, hosting bluegrass festivals in Queens and Long Island, and opening a number of venues in a vibrant traditional music circuit. Their band headed festivals in Switzerland, Scotland, Germany, and England. Jeff, an award-winning frailing-style banjoist, headed a number of bands that combined bluegrass with Brazilian-flavored jazz, specializing in a mandolin style influenced by Sam Bush and Grisman. ABOUT THE ALBUM: Brewflies' latest CD release, On the Fly, showcases many of the styles the band has incorporated into it's unique sound. After several years of quiet experimentation in home studios with the aim of shifting from a six-piece bluegrass band to a three-piece acoustic ensemble, Brewflies decided to team up with New York area musicians of equally eclectic backgrounds and, with only a minimally sketched-in arrangement and virtually no rehearsal, see what would result. Recorded in Woodstock, NY, and New York City (Mark Dann's Studios) over a period of 18 months, the album features Grammy-award winners banjoist Bill Keith (pioneer of the "Keith-style" melodic banjo style) and fiddler Lisa Gutkin (Klezmatics and Whirligig). Cellist Mark Murphy, drummer Dan Hickey, keyboardists Joshua Pearl and Mike Mindell, guitarist Dave Mason, and supporting vocals from Woodstock natives Kirsti Gholson and Bar Scott, Jim Coleman, and Carl MaultsBy's Rejoicensemble appear on various tracks. ABOUT THE SONGS: The songs on On the Fly generally reflect Brewflies' concerns with the life of the planet, the "war on terrorism," rebellion, death, making love, making music, dubiously sea-worthy crafts, and the joy of solid furniture... Bluegrass-"Bluegrass in Your Soul"; "Pretty Little Pink"; "Last Letter Home" (features cello) Jazzy-blues/New Orleans Funky-"Sick and Tired" Contemporary country/Country Rock-"Pledging Allegiance" Dylan covers-"You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go"; "You Angel You" John Prine cover-"Paradise" (features cello) Instrumentals-"Paul's Boat" (Calypso-tinged; "parrot-head" groove); "Straight Back Chair" (Old-timey/Celtic/Parlor-tune groove) Folk- rock-"What Vladimir Said"; "In This House" [Note: All songs appropriate for general audiences, except What Vladimir Said: "come get yer ass outa bed!" in chorus refrain] CONTACT INFO: Phone: Bill: 518-669-7346 Larry: 516-587-4144 E Mail: Brewflies@gmail.com BREWFLIES-"ON THE FLY" ALBUM NOTES On the Fly, while not overtly political, nevertheless expresses a political theme. PLEDGING ALLEGIANCE, the most wryly political tune on the album, asserts a patriotic stance while digging in against the erosion of liberties advanced by "homeland security," pre-emptive war, and corporate-greed/profit-first ethics. Brewflies pledge allegiance to the American values of economic justice, the dignity of responsible freedom, and the rights of our returning war wounded: ("you can send a man to walk upon the moon/you can march him down the street to push a broom/you can give him a gun and teach him how to shoot...between the bars of those stars and stripes/the fine print says we've got some rights"). The song is a call to a return to what we all could pledge allegiance to before the Constitution was hijacked in the last 8 years of Bush/Cheney ineptitude and deliberate dismantling. The tragedy and waste of war is nothing new, and LAST LETTER HOME is a reminder that "causes" are usually something that matter to old ideologues and young idealists before the killing starts; in the end what matters most is the pain brought home to victor and vanquished alike-to the wives, husbands, sweethearts, children, parents, and buddies of the young idealists who meet the reality of blood, mud, tears, and death. John Prine's PARADISE mixes nostalgia with ecological disaster ("Daddy, won't you take me back.../down by the Green River where Paradise lay...I'm sorry my son, you're too late...Mr. Peabody's coal train has hauled it away." While IN THIS HOUSE, similarly, is a song that is a meditation on global warming, global-scale "natural" disasters exacerbated by man-made miscalculation, and global human interdependence. The earth is a "house" whose roof is shared by all: "The first promise I made to myself/I will walk lightly in this house/and I'll share my roof with everyone else/and it's gonna be good..." The planet-this house-is as "old as time" and those who walk on it today are following in "ancient footsteps" laid down by those whose wisdom about this blue globe is something we need to get back in harmony with. WHAT VLADIMIR SAID provides a unique retrospective of nearly 100 years of Russian history through both obvious and obscure allusions that invoke four Vladimirs: Nabokov, Lenin, Posner, and Putin. The narrator and a sort of feminine avatar of rebellion named Lolita (a "Swedish princess ingénue") race through a dream landscape mixing St. Petersburg/Leningrad, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Gulag, a "dacha of massive proportions," Perestroika/Galsnost, and the re-emergence of Russian Nationalism. BLUEGRASS IN YOUR SOUL tells the essential ingredients of getting that solid bluegrass drive going, and PRETTY LITTLE PINK gets to apply the principles laid down (both tunes with the assist of Bill Keith on banjo, and on "Bluegrass in Your Soul" with Lisa Gutkin, as well). In a totally different direction, Brewflies take a Fats Domino boogie and turn it into an acoustic jazz-blues/funk on SICK AND TIRED, a send-up of relationship exasperation ("we were thinking of 'Iron-Maggie' Thatcher at the time, but you might also think of Rudy Giuliani in drag," Lars said.) People don't always think of Bob Dylan as writer of beautiful love songs, but Brewflies do, and they demonstrate just how complete a writer Dylan is with their versions of YOU'RE GONNA MAKE ME LONESOME WHEN YOU GO (from Blood on the Tracks) and YOU ANGEL YOU (from Planet Waves). Driving this project as much as any other impetus was an attempt to take the variety of musical directions the acoustic trio that comprises Brewflies had developed over a decade or so and witness the results of adding the talents of musicians and friends from upstate New York invited to the recording sessions. These contributions add dimensions throughout the recording, but nowhere more so than on the two instrumentals on the album: PAUL'S BOAT and STRAIGHT BACK CHAIR. As with the album as a whole, these tunes showcase the ability of these musicians to weave together a number of strands of folk, traditional, and rootsy influences into a personal, unique, and intricate fabric.