Birdhand swoops into CSUMB’s Black Box Cabaret.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
The Black Box Cabaret is to Mason Rothschild what the Upstage Club in Asbury Park is to Bruce Springsteen: A humble venue that a musician can look back on as the place they took their first strumming steps.
As a student at CSU Monterey Bay, Rothschild – now a manager of Indigital Recording Studio in Santa Cruz – recalls playing more than 30 shows at the BBC with the psychedelic instrumental outfit Slices of Home, and with the Andrea Blunt-featured mega-band The Family Bloom. He even helped book bands and set up the joint’s sound system when it was replaced a few years back.
The bassist is psyched to return to the campus where it all began on Friday, Jan. 28, with his newest and most ambitious musical conglomeration, Birdhand.
The foursome took flight in Santa Cruz shortly after Rothschild met Joey Weed, a local musician who had been with several area bands including the electronica crew Sheena.
“Originally I was helping [Weed] work on his solo project called Brown Irish,” Rothschild says. “I was playing bass on stuff and he was on piano and singing.”
The two ended up scoring drummer Nick Overhauser and guitarist Chris Holcomb from local prog-rock outfit Mountain Animal Hospital. The three musicians started expanding on some of the tunes Weed had already written.
“This is probably the best incarnation of any project I’ve ever been in,” Weed says. “The cool thing about it is it’s always changing.”
For nearly a year, the players have essentially hung out on a daily basis. When they’re not practicing or playing a gig, they’re drinking beer together and goofing on each other. That sense of camaraderie carries into their songwriting and their shared taste in music.
One of their new tunes, “Strike Up the Matches,” is a stellar mash-up of a vast array of influences: There are punk riffs and screaming vocals evocative of early Queens of the Stone Age as well as Wilco-style roots Americana. The blend is seamless and flavorful.
“Geronimo” begins straightforwardly before moving in a direction full of time signature changes and genre crossovers. It’s easy to imagine the song’s epic possibilities when played live.
Both tracks are set to appear on Birdhand’s forthcoming debut EP – which will feature Harry and the Hitmen’s horn section on a track or two – but the band’s main focus is definitely on its live shows.
“Every song at every show is different to make it interesting for us and the crowd,” Weed says.
Like the Boss, Rothschild enjoys returning to his old stomping ground to show off new and interesting material to a hometown crowd – and get in some disc golf on one of CSUMB’s lauded courses before the show.
“I love the BBC; it was my first home venue,” Rothschild says. “I love bringing my band there so I can show them where I came up.”
BIRDHAND plays 8pm Friday, Jan. 28, at Black Box Cabaret, at the corner of 3rd and 4th Streets on CSUMB, Seaside. Free students; $5 nonstudents. 582-3000.