Harlan County Kings, Say ZuZu, and ADHD
What a great night of music for all to see and love... tons of tones and tunes!
Harlan County Kings
Baltimore band with deep influences and up front honest songs that hold absolutely nothing back.
In the Winter of 1992, Cliff Murphy came home from his college radio gig with copies of Uncle Tupelos March 16-20 and Neil Youngs Zuma. He took these records to The Cave - the dank subterranean dwelling place of Jon Nolan in Durham, New Hampshire, where Jon, his brother James, and Cliff proceeded to listen obsessively to these two albums.
The trio had a band called Say ZuZu, which was caught between two worlds: the acoustic folk of the seacoasts coffee houses, and the ragged sounds of the bands high school garage rock origins. The Uncle Tupelo and Neil Young records would serve as a new compass for the band, out of The Cave and into a genre they didnt know was called alternative country.
By 1994, the group recorded its self-titled album, borrowing drummer Steve Ruhm from another local band called Groovechild. After a chance encounter with Willie Nelsons band (and in particular the graciousness of harmonica maestro Mickey Raphael) led to an introduction to Stardust engineer Bradley Hartman, the band went to Nashville in 1995 with drummer Mark Wentworth in tow to record Highway Signs & Driving Songs. By the following year, Say ZuZu began touring relentlessly from Maine to Texas in a converted school bus called The Bull. With the release of Take These Turns in 1997 - Ruhm now a permanent member of the band - the group expanded its touring base to Europe, where their independent releases had taken off unexpectedly.
Seasoned with some road-weariness and debt, the group recorded Bull in 1998 to critical acclaim. They attracted the attention of a number of record labels - particularly Doolittle Records, who took serious interest in signing the band. Serious enough that the group issued Live in 1999 expecting it to be their final salvo in the world of independent music.
Doolittle - home to antifolk icon Hamell on Trial and the scrappy cowpunk band Slobberbone - was on the cusp of signing Say ZuZu when the label merged with fledgling Americana stalwart, New West. Plans to sign the band were scrapped. Steve Ruhm and James Nolan left the band, and were succeeded by Tim Nylander (drums) and Jon Pistey (bass). The reformed quartet recorded Every Mile at Ardent Studio in Memphis in 2002, which was released in Europe on Blue Rose Records, before calling it quits.
Twenty years later, George Fontaine, Sr. - the owner of New West (and Doolittle) - tracked Jon Nolan and Cliff Murphy down in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. He expressed an interest in reissuing the bands back catalog and seeing if Say ZuZu had any new music it wanted to share with the world.
Unbeknownst to Fontaine, Say ZuZu had reformed for a series of reunion shows in late 2019 - as a six piece, with the Nolan brothers, Murphy, Ruhm, Nylander, and Pistey. With the momentum of those shows at their backs, the group formally reunited as a blended family. Here Again: A Retrospective (1994-2002) explores highlights from the bands road warrior days, and is now out on Fontaines new label, Strolling Bones Records, in deluxe digital and CD formats. An album of new material is scheduled to be released by Strolling Bones in early 2023, and is a testament to enduring friendships and the spirit of creative persistence.
Andrew Grimm and Dave Hadley (both of June Star) draw on their mutual admiration of the universe and literate people to play songs of freedom.
Joe Squared Basement (View)
33 W North Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21201
|Minimum Age: 18
|Kid Friendly: No
|Dog Friendly: No
|Wheelchair Accessible: No
Venue is down a long set of stairs. Bathroom is on the same level as venue, no additional stairs.