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Published: 2016/03/22
by Glenn H Roth

Percy Hill: Back in Bloom

Percy Hill faded away in 2005 but the fans’ love for their music continued. The late 90s lineup of the New Hampshire group will reunite for two shows this weekend – Friday, March 25 at the Port City Music Hall, Portland, ME and Saturday, March 26 at Paradise Rock Club in Boston.

Nate Wilson, Aaron Katz, Joe Farrell, John Leccese are ready to recreate the magic from their 1999 Jammy-winning album Color in Bloom. For these shows, the band will be joined by longtime friend and collaborator Yahuba Garcia. Jambands spoke with Nate and Aaron about everything Percy Hill.

Getting to the upcoming shows, can you tell me the thought process of choosing the venues that were selected for those shows?

Nate: The Paradise is like home. It’s the venue we’ve probably played the most over the years. The NH Seacoast is where we got our start but Boston was the closest big city. We worked our way up through smaller clubs in town but the Paradise was the biggest room we played. We were thinking of doing just a one night only thing with the reunion but when I talked to Andy Herrick about it he suggested doing a second market. Portland made sense cause we have a lot of history there and it is also a really vibrant music town these days.

The Port City Music Hall show is sold out and few tickets remain for the Paradise show. How does that make you feel, that the love for Percy Hill is still very much alive and present?

Aaron: The atmosphere at a Percy Hill show is joy, beauty, fun, energy, love and soul. The connections people make to themselves and each other in that environment are meaningful and lasting.

Nate: The fact that we can step away for this many years and have this kind of reaction is definitely humbling. Just nice to know that the work we put into the music over the years is appreciated still.

Can you reflect back on the recording of Color In Bloom ? What memories do you have from those sessions?

Aaron: I remember the two-inch tape machine. I remember zombie rides (we looked like kids going to summer camp) in the van from Dover Street. I remember feeling like we were all doing something we genuinely loved and believed in. As far as band relationship, it was a bit like the honeymoon period when everything happening pulses with possibility. I remember the moment John made the call to track to click. I remember it feeling effortless, exciting, comfortable, fun and overall just feeling right.

Nate: Honeymoon period is a good way to describe it. I had spent a lot of time hanging with Aaron listening to his songs and we had thought a lot about arrangements – just living inside that material; well before the newer Percy Hill line-up had even come together, going back to early college days. So we had logged a lot of time on that material already. There was a lot of excitement when we got to that recording because I think it was a lot of ideas finally coming together all at once.

Color In Bloom was recorded by Chris Magruder on a 2-inch tape/Neve board with no Pro-Tools or computers of any kind.

Nate: Chris is a great engineer and has a really steady hand as far as getting performances out of everyone and keeping everyone in a positive headspace. Joe and I had already worked with him on the first Percy Hill album. I didn’t know enough to have the reverence for the vintage gear we had at our disposal but I’ve certainly developed an appreciation since.

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