Blind Willies began at San Francisco’s High School of the Arts as a duo playing covers of American folk songs and Alexei’s originals which he started writing when he was 15. After their professional debut at San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, the band’s first two releases of all original songs, The Unkindness of Ravens (2007) and Everybody’s Looking for a Meal (2008), were highly …praised. The albums defined their sound and provided them the opportunity to perform extensively at eclectic venues, from New York’s Falcon Ridge Folk Festival and San Francisco’s Djangofest to Brooklyn’s intimate back room at Barbès. They shared stages with punk icon Penelope Houston (Avengers), “Dawg Music” innovator David Grisman, and folk iconoclast Peter Stampfel (Holy Modal Rounders).
Following their sophomore release, and in search of a larger canvas, Alexei assembled a full band of experienced, young musicians, accomplished across diverse genres including rock, jazz, classical, world, and hip-hop. Now five musicians strong, the band recorded a new album, Needle, Feather, and a Rope, at Tiny Telephone, indie engineer/producer/performer John Vanderslice’s all-analog studio in San Francisco’s Mission District.
Judging by the rich landscapes Alexei’s songs travel, the band has used the various gifts of its new members to forge a dynamic and unique sound that reflects the deeply resonant American musical traditions they each brought to the table. The music is sincere, raw, and poignant, and the band’s integrity is reflected in the 14 tracks of Needle, Feather, and a Rope as well as in the recording process. “We wanted to record in the manner of our favorite classic albums,” Alexei explains, “the band all together in the studio, live to 2” analog tape, with minimal overdubs. We felt this approach not only gives the album superior sonics, but is a more honest representation of our musicianship and soul. We punched it out in 4 days, 10 hours each day, and I think you can hear the pleasure of the experience and the fun we had.”
“In a state of sheer panic, I found out that the Danny Cohen and Blind Willies show started at 7 p.m. It was 6:30 and I was in desperate need of a shower and still had bed head from my disco nap. Buckling up my pants I ran unshowered down Geary Street to get my girlfriend and grab a cab to get to the Mission District. I thought the show started at 9-ish. Doesn’t everything start after 10 p.m. in San Francisco? Not this show. Which was fantastic . . . Blind Willies are excellent. Their latest CD, Needle, Feather and a Rope, is on heavy rotation in my apartment.”
Tony DuShane, SF Chronicle
This rip-roaring, foot-stompin’, country-rockin’, honky-tonkin’, twang-buster of a band are one of the hottest country bands in the Bay Area. They are cute, they are warm, they are fuzzy, and they put on one heck of a country music show. If you find yourself sitting still through a Bootcuts show, you must not be a true country music fan. And you need to ask yourself, why the hell are you at this show.
Jessie Pony Hunt is a writer and performer from Oakland by-way-of Chicago. Her guitar playing is reminiscent of delta blues with a tin pan alley flare. Her distinct, almost ghostly voice, coupled with her personal and intimate song writing, is both vulnerable and confident and cuts straight to the heart.
Tittie Cake Junction Cupcake Pop-Up By Margaret Belton – Outside with a
portion of the proceeds going towards Breast Cancer Research