ALBUM REVIEW FROM SEATTLE LIVING ROOM SHOWS BLOG

November 26, 2014

November 26, 2014 by Brandon Taylor

You’d never guess it, but St. Paul De Vence – one of Seattle’s (most well renowned) Folk/Americana groups and Seattle Living Room Shows alumni – started as a side project.  Lead singer and guitarist Ben Doerr started out playing with a band under his own name, but switched gears when a batch of songs inspired by his grandfather’s World War II memories received an immediate positive reaction.  Doerr built a new band, named it for a French township in which his grandfather was stationed, and St. Paul de Vence burst onto the scene with a self-titled debut album that dominated KEXP’s daytime playlist for weeks.

It comes as great news for the band’s listeners, then, that the group has just released a new record. Called Farther than Light, St. Paul De Vence’s second full-length album is a work of art that won’t fall short of the first.

Building on the project’s original tack, the endeavor also branches out in several ways.  Farther Than Light keeps the wayfaring feel of guitar, banjo and sentimental tenor vocals (bravo, Doerr) that the band started with, but adds more complexity of feeling by way of enhanced composition, more horns, keys, and a new female voice.

The first track, “Telling Me So,” twinkles into being with a familiar walking pace and clean guitar fingerpicking.  But a few bars in, Doerr’s voice is joined by that of new member Lydia Ramsey.  The gentle pairing is a success – a romantic harmony calling over the hills to a lover somewhere far away.  Spare but careful songwriting keeps the song feeling full with nothing more than that reverbed guitar and lyrical lines like, “And the wind takes it’s turn to say/ a thousand apologies/ and that it never held back.”  It’s folk music in fine form, wandering hopefully through a land of love and trepidation.

Three songs in, title track “Farther Than Light” marks a change in the album’s disposition. Offering the listener a gentle boost of speed, it’s bouncing, almost Paul Simon-like guitar and bass are topped with trade-off verses from Doerr and Ramsey. The duality of male and female vocals is exceptionally valuable to St. Paul de Vence – love songs become a longing from both sides; tales of war are more powerfully vulnerable; the ideas behind Doerr’s words take a full and balanced form – but the call-and-answer in this piece makes the effect especially noticeable.  While exploring further areas of longing and memory in its words, the song stays pleasantly light on its feet almost as if to entice the listener onwards.

Perhaps the best example of the band’s evolution comes about halfway through the album at track five. Titled “Spring,” this piece offers a great example of St. Paul de Vence’s new ability to create really massive sounds.  The song blossoms gradually.  Even piano chords, then Doerr’s voice followed by guitar, banjo and drums create a gentle buildup.  The instruments roll along pleasantly until, just when you think the musical idea is full-grown, a trumpet, a trombone, and eventual vocal chorus swell into an indie-folk symphony of epic proportions.  The scope of this piece is great, but equally striking is the variety of places (emotionally and sonically) the band is able to go – always well together – while keeping the iron hot with engaging transitions.  It feels like that night you lie awake in bed, almost more alive with all the experiences of love and pain you’ve felt than when you were  living them.

Breaking from specific track descriptions, it’s worth mentioning how generally flexible the sound and feeling of St. Paul de Vence has become. The band’s debut album explores most of its affections through a veil of mourning, using mostly the same selection of instruments in each track.  Farther Than Light, however, never seems to stop transforming. From the sparse and lonely “Telling Me So” to the hopeful and uplifting “Farther Than Light” to the electric guitar-driven and road rambling “On This Road,” the instrumentation and delivery of the tracks just keeps changing.  It’s surprising (in a good way), but makes sense considering how Doerr first formed the band.  Shortly after ditching his solo effort, he gathered some fellow players in his living room, made a pile of instruments in the center and encouraged his friends simply to “pick up whatever looks good.”

As if waiting to turn out the lights, the album saves an alternate take of “Farther Than Light for last.  Over thoughtfully spaced piano chords, Doerr’s unique tenor explains that he’s “Farther than light/ Farther than pain/ Farther than all those little things.”  Ramsey answers in a verse of her own, soon joined by Doerr to complete this lonely, beaten-up ballad. What they’re missing; what they’re far from could be many things, but all of them have to do with love.

“Having to do with love” seems an accurate description of every track on Farther Than Light.  Whether up or down, Doerr always leads the band somewhere honest; somewhere real.  Word has it that the album is short-listed for album of the year and in my opinion, that’s a rumor worth believing.

Link to original article: http://www.seattlelivingroomshows.com/album-review-light-st-paul-de-vence/

A REVIEW OF THE CD RELEASE PARTY

November 26, 2014 by Brandon Taylor

It’s Friday night, and the Tractor Tavern’s band roster is two-thirds full of Seattle Living Room Show alumni.  Those alums are Seattle indie and Americana groups The Local Strangers and St. Paul de Vence – the latter of which is celebrating the evening with an eagerly-awaited album release. Both of these have played Living Room Shows before, but opening band Runaway Symphony is visiting from Moscow, Idaho.  The youthful five-piece hops onstage, and the show begins.

Currently promoting their debut full-length album Running South (2013), Runaway Symphony immediately asserts its indie pop-rock leanings with a choral harmony and echoing, reverbed guitar. Front man Daniel Botkin’s leather jacket and sleeked hair match the mainstream polish on alternatingly uplifting and heart-achey tracks, his hopeful voice pleading for answers from a wide landscape of glassy strings and bristling snares. Solid rhythms and theatric fills from drummer Jason Oliveira lend the Symphony hints of arena rock, while soothing harmonic vocal lines (at times from all five players at once) and mingled acoustic instrumentation keep one foot planted firmly in the indie camp. Each song is squeaky clean and very swayable – if a bit vulnerable to prediction – and the half-hour set is short but sweet.

Next up: The Local Strangers.  Seattle-based, the Strangers deal most often in alt-country tunes that seem right at home amidst the Tractor’s wood-grain walls and Americana décor. Matt Hart and Aubrey Zoli (the band’s core duo) have their full ensemble in tow tonight, and the resulting five musicians people the stage with friendly plaid shirtedness and a playful get-down attitude.

They wrangle audience attention with a few rowdy chords before laying gently into background music for a sultry vocal narrative by Audrey – the kind that the band habitually builds into a rambling two-step. They do; a stand-up bass, shuffling drum kit and bendy electric guitar backing lyric harmonies from Matt and Aubrey that characterize most of their music.

Songs like “Devil and a Stiff Drink” and “Crown”(a brand new number) whirl by, the backing band’s seemingly custom-fit licks evincing the group’s natural talent for western bar-room rock.  Seldom failing to get boots a-stomping with these numbers, The Local Strangers have equal aptitude for slower, soft-spoken tunes that hew much closer to indie and folk music.  In some of these Aubrey wields a tambourine, in others a mallet with which she pounds a lone tom drum on important downbeats (to great indie effect).  Lilting back and forth between these two worlds, the Strangers’ set goes off without a hitch.

The moment many have been waiting for arrives after a short break when St. Paul de Vence takes the stage.  Up front is guitarist and lead singer Ben Doerr. Since creating the band and recording a debut album that dominated KEXP’s playlist for weeks, Doerr has seen several members change and new ones join. Through it all he’s been writing his grandfather’s wartime memories into songs that he and his fellow players bring to life as rousing folk and Americana. Their highly anticipated new album is called Farther Than Light, and we’re about to hear it.

Doerr and Lydia Ramsey (the newest new member) launch into the vocal harmony of their first song, a sentimental piece rife with Ben’s guitar, Lydia’s banjo, and tasteful accordion, piano and drum backing.  Lydia immediately proves her voice a valuable asset to the band, but waits to really let loose on the banjo till “Mama,” a single off the new album that they play next.  After Doerr begins singing this soulful letter to home – seeming to forget his guitar even while picking a clean and gentle pattern – the band fills the room with an uplifting chorus topped by Lydia’s turbulent, almost Mumford-esque banjo riffs.

From confessional tell-alls (that feel like coming home to your own heart while dancing in the mirror) to verses the whole band sings acapella style, St. Paul’s performance explores the far reaches of their own sound and emotions.  The band expands on the first album’s vibe, enhancing their road-dusted, accordion and banjo-spiked tribute to the war of life with horns, new themes, and more intricately composed songs.  The heart-swelling effect is completed when they tromp through the whole bar in an impromptu vaudeville parade for their last number – cementing the ideas behind Farther Than Light into us all with a finale of unbridled joy.

Link to original article: http://www.seattlelivingroomshows.com/show-review-101114-st-paul-de-vence-cd-release-tractor-tavern-wthe-local-strangers-runaway-symphony/

SAYING GOODBYE TO THE BANDS GREATEST INSPIRATION

November 11, 2014

It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to my grandfather, Fortune Jean Giordano – the man who’s stories of war and love gave us the beginnings of this band. At 89 years of age, he survived the Nazi Occupation of France, endured combat, moved across the world to farm in Florida with his uncle, found love, married, raised a daughter, had three grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren, and touched so many of the lives around him in countless ways. He died peacefully, and well cared for, in his home, surrounded by my grandmother, my mother and me.   We will continue to honor his life and his story with our songs. But, man, he will be missed.

What a gift he gave me.  And what a wonderful journey this continues to be – and you all are such a huge part of it!  You all have helped in so many ways to continue his story – his legacy.  It’s so beautiful and I’m so grateful to you all.

You are in my mind and my heart today.  I’m understanding, more than any day before, how beautiful this whole thing is.  He gave me his story and asked me to write it.  I had the clarity and good fortune to stumble upon these songs.  I have a beautiful and talented group of musical minds in my corner to bring this music to life as a band.  And we have you, the listeners and supporters to help us carry all this forward.  And my grandfather got to see all this before he said goodbye.  He’s seen his story spread, inspiring, uplifting and entertaining people across the world.  What a cool thing!

I’m sad.  But, I know what a celebration his entire life was.  So, to that I raise a glass, as he would.  Tchin! Tchin!

Adieu, Gramps. Rest well.

Ben

WEST COAST DUO TOUR PHOTOS

October 29, 2014

Ben and Lydia hit the road at the beginning of Oct, as a duo, taking the new album down the West Coast.  They took good friend, sometimes bandmate, and very talented photographer – Michael Porter – with them to document the journey.  The 10-day tour consisted solely of living room shows, each one a varied and inspiring experience, full of visits with old friends and bonding with new friends.

You can view PARTS 1 & 2 of the tour here: http://blog.michaelporterphotography.com/category/musicians/

WEST COAST DUE TOUR 2014

September 24, 2014

Benjamin and Lydia are heading out on the road as a duo for a 10-day, West Coast run in support of the band’s newest release, Farther Than Light, which drops on October 1st.  They’ll be playing private living room shows – ending in Seattle, with the full band, for the CD Release Party at Tractor Tavern.

If you live near one of the listed towns and wish to attend, email info@stpaulband.com.  Please note tickets will be very limited and in some cases unavailable to the public.

LIVE ON KEXP

September 16, 2014

St. Paul de Vence will be live on-air doing an in-studio performance and interview world-renowned KEXP in Seattle.  Tune in or stream live at 6:30PM (PST) to hear the session!

You can tune in to 90.3 FM or stream from anywhere in the world at KEXP.ORG  /// Saturday, September 20th!

They’ll be playing tunes off the new record and chatting about it, too!

CONCERT AT GRACE

August 22, 2014

The band returns to beautiful Bainbridge Island for the opening of a three concert series at Grace church.  The stunning Cutler-Anderson designed sanctuary is an amazing space to experience music.  The night will feature the full band, playing old favorites and new songs from their upcoming release.

Tickets and info available at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/798995

Doors open at 6:30PM with a cocktail hour
Show begins at 8:00PM

All ages are welcome.

TRIPLE DOOR // MELODIC CARING PROJECT

July 15, 2014

We are so delighted to finally be returning to one of the most beautiful performance halls we’ve ever seen!  Our debut headlining show – indeed our first in this venue – was way back in 2012!  We’ve been pining for a chance to repeat such magic.  And what a fateful night that was…we met our dear Lydia Ramsey, who would shortly thereafter join the band.

Returning with us to open the night is Courtney Marie Andrews.  We should be opening for her and her magic, but awesome as she is, she’s agreed to join us for this very special show!

And whats more??!!  We’ve teamed up with the Melodic Caring Project to pipe a live stream of the show to kids in the hospital.  Melodic Caring Project does so much help sick kids have a very special evening…where they get to be the true rockstars, honored throughout the evening and reminded that so many people – people they’ve never met – are routing for them.  We’re so honored to be a part of it all!

If you’re in the Seattle area, we hope you’ll join us!
Tickets and info: http://tickets.thetripledoor.net/eventperformances.asp?evt=434

MICHAEL PORTER TAKES ALL THE BEST PHOTOS

June 25, 2014

Last month we invited our dear friend, Michael Porter, to come along with us to Portland, OR; to play trombone and to take some photos of the whole thing.  He captured, beautifully, a great weekend of performances (a Saturday night club show at Alberta Street Pub and a Sunday radio taping that later aired on 107.1FM KZME), old friends and plenty of fun!

You can see the photo blog here: http://blog.michaelporterphotography.com/

KIND WORDS FROM THE MONARCH REVIEW

April 18, 2014

We were delighted to get such praise from Andrew Harris at The Monarch Review!

“St Paul de Vence arrived on paired harmonies of trumpet and trombone, instantly transforming the Showbox into the city’s biggest mood-lit living room.

St Paul is a great band. Friendly and engaging from stage, the lyrics seem to hold the full story of a relationship. At times gentle and sweet, the sweet nothings whispered in a lover’s ear, sung in heart-wrenchingly tender harmonies and lines.  Other songs hold the tension and eggshells of a fight not had, the conversation’s opportunity long past.  Regardless, the vocal chemistry between Benjamin Doerr and multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Lydia Ramsey is uncanny.

Add their lyrical enlightenment to the fact that there’s enough talent on stage for two bands, and it’s easy to see why Campfire OK’s own Mychal Cohen saw fit to release St. Paul’s record himself.  The instrumentation is subtle but persistent, pulling of the difficult trick of maintaining energy when the tempo drops with practiced ease. St. Paul de Vence are lock tight, exciting, inspiring performers and most crucially, humble, and are the newest addition to Andrews’ Ever-Growing List Of Bands That One Should Not Miss.”

Read the full show review here:

http://www.themonarchreview.org/kris-orlowski-and-friends-at-the-showbox/

KIND WORDS FROM SEATTLE MUSIC INSIDER

April 18, 2014

Katrina Charles of Seattle Music Insider (SMI) gave us these sweet words about our night at the Showbox…

“St. Paul de Vencerounded out the line-up at the Showbox on Saturday night. The crowd was giddy and chatty as St. Paul de Vence took the instrument-cluttered stage, but it only took a moment for the band to reel them in. Complete with electric guitar and a small brass section, the band burst into life with their rich and upbeat sound. Each member of St. Paul de Vence is so diversely talented that there’s never a dull moment. Between switching instruments, strumming, and singing, the members are in constant motion, which makes the band interesting and fun to watch. One song may be a sweet tune with French lyrics, the next may be more rock and roll. They are a jumble of styles seamlessly brought together with strong vocals and perfectly placed harmonies.”

 

Read the full show review here:

http://seattlemusicinsider.com/2014/04/16/kris-orlowski-releases-new-album-help-campfire-ok-st-paul-de-vence/

THE MIXTAPE PODCAST

April 10, 2014

Ben, Mike and Lydia sat down with Sean DeTore of the Mix Tape podcast, at KIRO radio, to chat all things St. Paul de Vence: the history, the upcoming record, Brylcreem, the big show at Seattle’s Showbox on Saturday, April 12th…and so much more.  They even played a few of the new tunes in studio.  You can listen here: http://kiroradio.com/listen/9970100/

SPDV AT THE SHOWBOX

February 13, 2014

This just in: On April 12th, we’ll be taking the stage, along with Campfire OK, at Seattle’s iconic Showbox in support of our good friend Kris Orlowski’s new record!  We’re so excited to be playing a room with such history.

“On July 24, 1939 the doors opened, and fans flocked to, Seattle’s newest entertainment hot spot – a beautiful art-deco gem named The Show Box. This year marks the 75th anniversary of The Showbox, one of Seattle’s few extant entertainment venues that can lay claim to having provided local music fans with such an astonishing breadth of entertainment over the decades. From the Jazz Age to the Grunge Era to the current wave of Seattle exports – neo-folk and hip hop – the storied ballroom has featured shows by touring icons such as Duke Ellington, Muddy Waters and the Ramones — as well as those by homegrown talents ranging from burlesque queen Gypsy Rose Lee, to grunge gods Pearl Jam, to the current dynamic duo on a course for world domination Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.”

We hope you’ll join us for this big night!

4.12.14

THE

SHOWBOX

(SEATTLE,

WA)

KRIS ORLOWSKI ALBUM RELEASE
with CAMPFIRE OK

7pm doors // $12adv // all ages

STUDIO SUCCESS

January 23, 2014

So, we just had an amazing four days in the studio.  We loaded in on Friday with two vehicles full of instruments and gear, boxes of provisions, five band mates, a producer, an engineer and his in-house crew…we came out late Monday night with a lot of great sounds put to tape!

And I know that anyone born before 1985 is saying to themselves, “Tape!  Nice figure of speech.  I remember when it really was tape.”  Haha, but the kicker is we really did record to 2-inch tape, through a beautiful vintage Neve console, with some great vintage mics.  (That whole last paragraph was for anyone who likes to geek out on that sort of thing).

What I really came to tell you is that we went in there with a very ambitious plan and we somehow came out with more than we planned.  It was a magical 4 days.  Everyone’s playing was on point, and some beautiful mistakes happened that opened new ideas…we just really got into the flow of the whole thing – making an album in a way that is not done very often in these days of high-tech/low cost recording equipment.

We went into the studio as a band.  Played songs as a band.  And experienced all the energy of the space as a band.  I know you’ll be able to feel the difference when you hear it!  I couldn’t have asked for a better crew of people to work with!

So, what’s next?  Well, we captured all of the “basic tracks,” which are all the core parts of the songs that we can build on.  We recorded all of the main vocals.  We also did a lot of overdubs that we needed, added horns (yeah horns!!), electric guitars, shakers, whatever.  Next, we’ll move over to our producer, Mychal Cohen’s place for a couple days of listening through, making edits and doing any additional overdubs that need doing.  Then, it will be on to mixing…more on that when the time comes.

The journey continues!  But, we are so grateful for a harmonious, inspiring, and successful four-day run at London Bridge Studios!  Many thanks to our engineer on the project and owner of the studio, Jonathan Plum and his amazing crew.  We really were given the rock star treatment, they are amazing, and it allowed us to focus on the work and really create!

I’ll keep you updated as we move along towards a record!  For now, I’ll leave you with this gem (the image below).  On the studio wall when you enter is a photo of a very young and relatively unknown (at the time), Pearl Jam c. 1990, during the making of their groundbreaking debut album “Ten,” which was made in the very studio we had the pleasure of spending 4 days last week.  We decided to be nerdy fans and remake the photo, St. Paul de Vence style.  Haha…we’re so silly!  Enjoy!

-Benjamin Doerr

St. Paul de Vence 2013 / Pearl Jam 1990 - London Bridge Studio

WE DID IT!!

December 26, 2013

Thanks to our 357 backers, we have fully funded our Kickstarter campaign and will be heading into the studio to begin cutting our second record this January!!  We could not be more thrilled!  Thanks to the generosity and support of our friends, family and listeners we raised $15,153 on our goal of $14,750.

We look forward to sharing the new music with you!

Here’s to a new year and a new record!!

You can read all about the project and see how it went here:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/stpaulband/st-paul-de-vence-lets-make-a-record

KICKSTARTER: THE FINAL PUSH!!

December 21, 2013

This is it folks!  Kickstarter is counting down, by hours, the time we have left to reach our funding goal.  If we don’t reach it, we don’t keep any of the amazing pledges we’ve gained so far.  Nearly 300 supporters (so far) have shown their support and we are so grateful.  We need your help pushing it over the edge.  Let’s make a record together!!

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/stpaulband/st-paul-de-vence-lets-make-a-record

© 2016 Bejamin Doerr. All Rights Reserved.