Earthtone at Armadillo’s
by Sam Farmer
Drop in on Annapolis jam band Earthtone at Armadillo’s in downtown Annapolis on Friday, Feb. 16, and you’ll likely hear some of the nine original tracks from their first and self-titled album, which debuted on New Year’s Eve in a show at The Whiskey 1803 on outer West Street.
The album has been in the works since last May, but the band dates back seven years. Elementary school friends Tommy Bradel and Rick Casali, drummer and guitarist, joined up with fellow Annapolitan and percussionist Colin Stodd sophomore year of high school, then picked up South River bassist Marshal Bausum. While Bausum, Bradel and Casali continued the band at St. Mary’s College, Stodd met Long Island guitarist Andrew Bianculli at Towson, and the five-piece ensemble came together.
Live and on the album, Earthtone’s jams often center on percussive rock breakdowns. But with Bianculli, Bradel and Casali sharing the vocals, they turn out an unusual amount of singing for a contemporary electric jam band. The singing is not contrived for filling space between riffs. Bucking another genre convention, their lyrics more often strive for earnest sensitivity than for oblique humor.
Earthtone’s manager, Dave Tieff, musician and booking agent for The Whiskey 1803, arranged a regular Wednesday night gig for the band at 1803 through January. The spot proved so popular that Earthtone will likely resume it in the spring.
“Earthtone is the new generation of jam band,” Tieff said. “They have a rabid fan base, which helps any young band. Their fans are loyal and willing to travel.”
The mood before an Earthtone concert equally resembles a class reunion party and a grass roots festival. Many in the crowd trace friendships with the band back to college or earlier. Few keep their seats once the jamming begins.
On February 24, the band plays at The 8 x 10 in Baltimore.
“It’s our first time headlining there,” Casali said. “So it’s another big show for us.”