Heirlooms, an indie-folk band that hails from Hartford, CT have been making some considerable waves. Headed by singer-songwriter Jesse Stanford, the band, at least onstage, invokes sort of a hybrid of Springsteen’s E-Street Band and The Low Anthem. A very massive and dynamic sound that is almost too big for places like Rudy’s in New Haven where the 6-piece band had to perform one night back in July of 2011 on a small stage. They’ve been getting great local press, and even made it onto hipster webpage Brooklyn Vegan when they appeared at B.O.M.B Fest this year.
“The group got together in the summer of 2009 kind of in pieces”, Stanford remembers. “Myself and Neal began working on some new songs of mine together that summer and we soon got Thom and Justin involved. Shortly after, Ciara joined us and we started recording our first EP.”
On the influences of the band, Stanford explains, “My personal influences are all over the place musically. I grew up on my parents vinyl records–so the Beatles, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, John Prine, Dylan, Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt, Buffy Saint Marie, Paul Simon …
all that stuff got into my head at very early age and when I started fooling around with my mom’s acoustic guitar, it was “Rocky Raccoon”, “Graceland”, and “Blowin’ in the Wind” that I was playing before anything else. I’ll always have a foot in that kind of folk singer/songwriter stuff when I approach writing music. However, there is a lot of current music that is more experimental and probably even more influential on what I’m doing in Heirlooms. Bon Iver is probably the biggest; Also Kurt Vile, Joanna Newsom, Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, Deerhunter, the list goes on and on. Thom Servidone (our guitarist) has also turned me on to a lot of 80’s music I had sort of ignored until now–The Cure, The Smiths…I think he brings a lot of those influences to what we do.”
Empire State (Live at The Space, CT 10/26/10)
After recording a well-received 1st EP, Heirlooms cut a second one titled Heirlooms Live, Vol. 1 (Both are available for download on the band’s Bandcamp page) that sounds far more indicative of the live sound of the band.
Jesse explains, “As much as we all love and attribute much of our early success to our first EP, we began to realize how much we had grown as band in the year that followed its release. The first EP began and ended before we even considered ourselves a band, before we had begun truly writing songs together, before we stepped on a stage. In the months that followed its release, we moved out of ‘studio’ mode and put our collective energy into becoming a strong live band. And naturally we began writing new material together”.
“Heirlooms Live Vol. 1 is essentially a snapshot of the band in new clothes. We wanted to capture the energy and the dynamics and the orchestration of what we were doing on stage. We also wanted to present this new batch of songs that we had written together, and that have become staples in our live sets…By recording these songs live–in our practice space, with no overdubs and no real studio magic–in a weekend, we had a new EP we were really proud of and that was a solid representation of where we are now as a band. We set up a bunch of microphones, got Pro-Tools up and running, turned on our amps, and basically played a typical Heirlooms set. We got some amazing engineering and mixing help from our good friends Alex Cohen (Ciara’s husband) and Marc Andrew Gillig. They are both in a really great rock band Superart and were both a huge help in the making of the Live EP”.
Bloodstar (Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT 12/11/10)
Ciara Cohen is a welcome and refreshing part of this mostly male lineup using a classical violinist’s sensibility in a rock setting. “Ciara is amazing–classically trained, has an amazing ear, and she just shreds on that violin. She’s kind of the den mother–keeps all us boys in line and on task. She has this really sweet exterior, but she’ll kick some serious ass if and when she needs to. She’s our secret weapon.”
The band even has plans to release their first full-length album as well. “We have begun serious work on a new full length album. It seems like the pendulum has now begun to swing back towards the studio. We had a hard time pulling ourselves from playing live (especially in the summer with big shows like B.O.M.B. Fest and opening slots at the Iron Horse), but we have come to terms with the fact that we have to put playing shows on hold for a bit if we really want to make the kind of album we have in mind. This will certainly not be Live volume two. We have a new studio space in downtown Hartford and we plan to hole up this fall and winter and go back to the approach we took on the first EP; Lots of textures and layers and instruments and experimentation–really use the studio as an instrument itself. We might grab a few songs from the live EP for the album, but we also have a bunch of new songs we are really excited about. We’ll be underground for a bit, but I think we’ll have something really special on our hands once we come back up.”
From Hank To Hendrix (Crown & Hammer, Collinsville, CT Sept. 2010; Neil Young cover!)