River Roots: Dead Horses, Kyle Megna & Peridot to Rock the Meyer

monsoons_2BY George Halas

Three of Wisconsin’s fastest-rising bands and best live acts – all of whom got their start in cities along the Fox River – will be showcasing new original music in a much-anticipated concert at The Meyer Theater this month.

On Tuesday, May 24th, 91.1 The Avenue and sponsor, Tundraland will present River Roots 2016 at Green Bay’s Meyer Theatre featuring Dead Horses, Kyle Megna and The Monsoons and Peridot. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7.

“We have been working with the folks from the Avenue for a couple of years now, and I’ve always been a big fan,” said Dead Horses’ guitarist and vocalist Sarah Vos. “It’s an independent radio station, and they are passionate about working with the community. The Fox Valley means a lot to me so it’s an honor to work with an organization that also cares a lot about it. It also worked out really well because we’re releasing our new record in the Midwest this spring and wanted to do a show in Green Bay. We’re very excited to play at the Meyer Theater again!”

It’s been an exciting year for the band.

“We’ve gone through a lot of changes within this last year. We have continued to embrace a heavy-touring life, and we have begun to build a team around what we’re trying to do collectively: play better shows, make better records, and be kind to each other and the folks we meet on the road,” Vos said. “We have continued to challenge ourselves musically and we have started to incorporate drums/percussion into our live sets. At the same time, as a trio, we are tighter than ever and have played over a hundred shows just in this last year, continually challenging ourselves and each other to make the sound full and high-energy. We have also started to think a lot about the general message we are conveying, what are we saying? I think that might be the most important part to me.”

Dead Horses will be selling advance copies of their forthcoming album “Cartoon Moon” at the show.

“We are really excited about our new album,” Vos said. “We named it “Cartoon Moon” after the name of the studio. We recorded in Nashville with Ken Coomer (formerly of Wilco, Uncle Tupelo) on reel-to-reel, which meant a lot to me. I’m really pleased with how it turned out in terms of sonic quality. The songs mean a lot to me; some of them I wrote a couple of years ago and others were really personal to what I was experiencing just in the last year.”

The record is fun, but it’s also serious.

“A lot of heavy questions are posed lyrically,” Vos said “I’m happy to say the bluegrass/roots influence is still there, but I think we’ve always wanted to experiment with other things too, and I think we were successful. Pete (Raboin; double bass player Daniel Wolff completes the trio) played some new instruments on the album including mandolin, 12-string and electric guitar. There’s also some piano and harmonium. At the same time, I think we’ve stayed consistent in the way we recorded it. It’s polished but it’s also got a live feel. All the lead vocals were recorded live.”

Kyle Menga and the Monsoons is establishing a brand as “best seen live,” to appreciate their “dark-indie-blues-folk-rock feel.”

“We’re very excited to be sharing the stage with Dead Horses and Peridot,” Megna said. “We’ve got so much talent here in the Fox Cities area, it blows my mind.  It makes sense these bands are playing around the country. This show came together in conjunction with an effort to get 91.1 The Avenue to play some songs off of ‘Dark Funk,’ our latest EP. Rob from 91.1 The Avenue and the Meyer asked us to be a part of River Roots 2016. We’re very humbled to have consistent air play on 91.1 the Avenue.”

These are the gigs they’ve been working towards as a band.

monsoons“Playing the Meyer is playing to a ‘listening crowd’ and that’s our long-term goal,” he said.  “We really hit it hard last year with around 160 performances mainly throughout the Fox Cities.  This was a combination of solo, duo, and full band events.  We played farmers markets, bars, clubs, charity events, house shows, and festivals. We’ve expanded in different markets including going on our first 10-day tour through the South and East in January of this year.  We have short runs planned throughout the mid-west, and another longer tour this winter.”

The Monsoons currently have a veritable Fox Cities’ all-star lineup including drummer Mike Underwood, guitarist Aaron Zepplin, keyboards player Noah Harmon, bassist Fred Velpel, saxophonist Ross Catterton and trumpeter Kurt Shipe joining Megna.

Appleton native Hillary Reynolds tapped former members of The Hillary Reynolds Band to form Peridot. The music marries folk songs with pop melodies, drawing inspiration from elusive emotions that are often difficult to articulate.

The new band, comprised of Reynolds, Trevor Jarvis and Marton Bisits, is poised to release their first collection of songs. From toy closets and old houses to some of Boston’s hottest studios including Somerville’s Q Division and Converse Rubber Tracks, the seven-track EP was recorded across a wide variety of Massachusetts locations.  

The songs showcase the collaborative songwriting efforts of Reynolds and Jarvis, colored with the creativity and versatility of Bisits on guitars.  A renewed focus on storytelling is apparent throughout the EP, which includes the single “Lonely Work,” currently in rotation on 91.1 The Avenue and featured on 105.7 WAPL’s Home-Brewed Showcase.

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