The Kalamazoo indie-folk act celebrates release of its new grant-supported album Saturday at Louie’s Trophy House Grill. Discover the project’s back story and check out videos of the duo’s new songs.
THE ARTIST: Thunderbolt & Lightfoot
THE MUSIC: Indie-folk
WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: 8 p.m. July 29 at Louie’s Trophy House Grill in Kalamazoo, appearing with special guests Gerald Dowd and Lisa Mackie Moaiery. $8. Also performing at the Earthwork Harvest Gathering, Sept. 15-17 in Lake City.
SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEOS OF SONGS FROM THE NEW ALBUM
A band named after a movie that one of the two members hasn’t even seen, Thunderbolt & Lightfoot, is a little like the Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges flick bearing the same name — under the radar, enjoyable and starring a pair of individuals with whom the audience is familiar.
Guitarist/vocalist Phil Barry is known for being a founding member of Kalamazoo’s 1990s award-winning rock band Knee Deep Shag. Barry has also toured with RCA recording artist Rachael Yamagata, recently been performing alongside folk sensation May Erlewine and has been a mainstay in the Michigan Americana super-group Corn Fed Girls, of which his T&L bandmate Sarah Fuerst is also a member.
Fuerst, who mostly sticks to vocals with Thunderbolt, is an accomplished bassist who, in addition to the two projects with Barry, has also played with indie rock band Doxie and has, of late, been gigging with The Dacia Bridges Project, which will be performing at Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo on Aug. 25.
The Thunderbolt & Lightfoot duo, which put out a self-titled EP in 2015, is set to release its first full-length album, “Songs for Mixed Company,” on Saturday at Louie’s Trophy House Grill in Kalamazoo. The show will feature one set with Barry and Fuerst performing as a duo and the other with a full band. Opening the gig will be a pair of singer-songwriters, Gerald Dowd and Lisa Mackie Moaiery. Get show details online here.
CREATING “SONGS FOR MIXED COMPANY”
Recorded at La Luna Recording and Sound in Kalamazoo, the harmony-driven “Songs for Mixed Company” sounds at times reminiscent of early Simon and Garfunkel and at others, a diet version of The White Stripes.
The album, funded by a grant from the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, opens with a pair of co-written tunes, “Let’s Be Friends” and the catchy “Miss Me,” which is fueled by Mike Lynch on organ, Geoffrey Hasley on drums and Jeff Moehle on percussion.
Barry’s “Goodbye Is Not The End” was flushed out after being initially conceived on his 2011 solo release, “Between the Carolinas,” and it is one of the highlights of “Songs For Mixed Company.”
“That song has a funny history,” Barry quipped. “It was a total afterthought (on Carolinas), recorded quickly for what I thought would be a quirky little album closer. Of course, that was the one song that actually got some attention, and got used in an episode of ‘The Real World’ on MTV. I’d always wanted to re-record the song with more instruments and harmonies, and this seemed like the right time.”
Lynch plays accordion on the piece this time around, lending a vibe that one might feel while sitting at a European café and watching a boat float down a river.
“Because of the grant, this was the first time that we really had a budget going into a project, which allowed us to experiment more in the studio,” Barry said.
A BIT OF HUMOR AND DEEPER MOMENTS, TOO
“We were able to try things that we wouldn’t have been able to if we were worried about money. We weren’t worried about take numbers, and we were able to do a lot of cool mellotron
parts and bring in other musicians.”
Co-producer Michael Fuerst (Knee Deep Shag, Corn Fed Girls) added strings on “Sad Song” and some cello work on the album’s lone cover, Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire.” Fuerst also co-wrote the album-closing “Dearly Beloved” with his wife, a humorous song that Sarah Fuerst was inspired to write after reading an article titled, as she says, “something like ‘the vows you should have made on your wedding day.’”
“It’s sort of the idea that it’s the little things that count,” she said.
“Of course, the big things count too, but those aren’t as much fun to write about. We’ve been married for 14 years now, and I’d like to think I’ve got a pretty good handle on what it takes to make a happy marriage, at least with my husband. They weren’t my actual wedding vows, but Mike did help me write the music and he certainly served as inspiration for most of the lyrics.”
Lyrics such as:
“Screw tradition, not one is obey
It’s the love that we want to convey
I promise to always leave the seat down,
and no backseat driving on the way into town.
I’ll kill all of the spiders,
and no fooling around
this is how I’ll prove my love to you.”
The album has deeper moments, too, as exemplified in Fuerst’s “Year of the Monkey,” a politically charged tune addressing the xenophobia and misogynistic ways of the country’s president.
In addition to the gig at Louie’s and the band’s website, “Songs for Mixed Company” will be available for purchase at Green Light Music in Kalamazoo and by download through digital retailers and streaming services.
VIDEO: Thunderbolt & Lightfoot, “Goodbye is Not the End”
VIDEO: Thunderbolt & Lightfoot, “Let’s Be Friends”
Copyright 2017, Spins on Music LLC