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Published: 2016/01/15
by Matt Inman

Auld Lang Syne Set 1: Neal Casal, John Oates, Yonder, Wood Brothers, Funky Meters, Moon Hooch

ALLIE KRAL (YONDER MOUNTAIN STRING BAND)

What will you remember most about 2015?

You know, I think overall I’m going to remember being in the tour bus with the guys, practicing our butts off & really goofing around and getting to know one another even more. There was a gigantic growth that happened for us in 2015 because Jake [Jolliff] and I had learned most of our new catalogue of tunes in the year prior, so it really gave us the ability to relax and have fun. Just hanging out and goofing around with one another can affect the dynamics on the stage so much. We’re really beginning to dive deep into the jams now and it’s getting crazy up there in the best way possible!

Which album or albums have you listened to most this past year?

I listened to our new album Black Sheep about a thousand times; does that count though!? I know it’s nuts but I listened to Sun Volt’s Trace album for the first time this year and I can’t picture my life without it now. For new stuff, I dove out of the bluegrass realm to hear Sam Smith’s In The Lonely Hour, and Adam [Aijala] turned me onto Tame Impala’s Currents.

What was your favorite show of 2015?

That’s easy: Our show at Red Rocks this year. It was Jake and my first time feeling the love from that crowd. I’ll never forget just before I sang Dolly Parton’s song, “Jolene,” Ben [Kaufmann] introduced me to everyone. Our LD put the lights onto the entire crowd, highlighting everyone’s faces for me as they cheered. I was blown away with emotion and started to tear up a bit! That place is unreal.

What emerging artists should we watch out for in 2016?

Oh for sure Fruition, out of Portland, OR. If they haven’t blown you away yet, you’ll get the chance to let them do so in 2016. The Brothers Comatose, out of the Bay Area… I’m in love with brothers singing together. That sound is perfect! And then Sideboob! A side project of mine involving Mimi from Fruition, and The Shook Twins’ Laurie and Katelyn Shook. We put together a tiny 15 min set for String Summit Festival last July, playing 90s R&B and hip hop on bluegrass instruments. All chicks; no boys allowed! The most insanely awesome energy and fun all in one set! We’re still getting that rolling, so you may only be able to catch us in the Portland area :)

Any big plans in the works for 2016?

We’re going back into the studio in a week! We’ll get together to track some tunes in Boulder, then we’ll do overdubs everywhere and anywhere we can! It’s how we did Black Sheep last year and it worked great for us to allow a strong tour schedule and also put out an album featuring the new band’s sound. Now that we’re growing so fast together, we gotta document it and get new music out to our fans as often as possible. Besides that we’re hitting the road hard!

BRIAN STOLTZ (FUNKY METERS)

What will you remember most about 2015?

Probably the most memorable thing was a trip I took toward the end of the year to Khajuraho, India. It was the first time I’d been to that part of the country, the state of Madhya Pradesh. There is a temple complex there that dates back to about 950 A.D. The place is a remarkable vortex of energy where the sacred and the mundane merge. I’m already looking forward to going back.

Which album or albums have you listened to most this past year?

A lot of new releases that I normally would have checked out got past me. But having said that, I did like Alabama Shakes, Sound And Color and the two Dylan releases, Shadows In The Night and The Bootleg Series Vol. 12, 1965 – 1966, 2-disc version (I’ll have to save up for the 18-disc version). Earlier in the year I listened a lot to Mikky Ekko’s debut album, Time. He’s a terrific singer and hit-songwriter from Shreveport, LA.

I revisited some gems from the past like Jeff Buckley’s Grace and with the passing of Chris Squire, his Fish Out Of Water album got played even more than usual.

The album that got played the most was probably Trixie Whitley’s Fourth Corner. It’s one of those classic records that will never grow old or become dated.

What was your favorite show of 2015?

The Continental Drifters reunion show at Tipitina’s in New Orleans. It was the most moving thing I’ve witnessed in Tip’s. They are all great musicians and singers, but what really set them apart was great songwriting. I hope they do more in the future.

What emerging artists should we watch out for in 2016?

I recently came across a trio that I really liked called The Staves. Great harmonies, brooding and intimate. They kind of reminded me of Bon Iver.

Any big plans in the works for 2016?

There will surely be some Funky Meters shows coming up this year that I’m looking forward to. And I’m currently sorting through a batch of songs with the hopes of releasing something this year. A series of uncontrollable incidents prevented me from getting an album finished for quite a while now, but it just means that I now have a nice backlog of tunes to pick from. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

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