I am extremely thankful for my monthly residency Rootstock for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was a meeting about hosting it here at GCA this time last year that led me to my eventual full time job here. Also, because it gives me a chance monthly to bask in my two passions, music and community. Rootstock is still growing and changing monthly, but that devotion to the relationship between the arts, the people involved in them, and the effect that these things have on our surroundings remains the focus. Coming up on November 18th is the 7th Rootstock event, Rootstock: Flow. The upcoming Rootstock not only features two valley bands that I have immense love and respect for, but also local visual artists and collectives. Join us for a night of blues, psychedelic rock, live art making by The Mandala Goddess, and communal art making with The Paper Project. Sharing their sounds are The Medicinal Purpose and SHANTYMAN. This week, Sal of The Medicinal Purpose and Mike of SHANTYMAN each took some time to talk to me about their projects.
Hi Mike and Sal! Thanks for taking some time to answer some questions on behalf of Shantyman and The Medicinal Purpose today! We are really excited for your show here at GCA on November 18th!
When did you guys start making music? What was the inspiration or driving force between behind these projects?
SAL: The Medicinal Purpose has been at it, in it's current state, around 6 years now. It's the heart of all I do - my number one love and outlet.
MIKE: Shantyman has been a brain child of Zach and I since 2009. We started writing songs, playing acoustic music together heavily inspired by Dylan, the Beatles and the Brian Jonestown Massacre. We started playing funk and exploring our music by jamming after we saw Phish for the first time in 2009. We really dove deep into the festival and jam music scene after that and discovered some of our other favorite bands like Max Creek, Turkuaz, Kung Fu, Lettuce etc. All of us have been musicians since a young age and we’ve always kind of had the passion to continue playing as much as possible. Zach and I moved back east from Colorado last year and linked up with Joey and Josh, who brought us to a whole new level of musical chemistry. This lineup of Shantyman is easily the funkiest and most psychedelic. It’s very refreshing.
Have you guys played on a bill together before?
SAL: Don't think we've played a gig together,. but I've caught Shantyman around a few times. Great stuff.
MIKE: We’ve played a few shows with some of Jimmy’s old bands but this is the first time with Sal and the Medicinal Purpose. We’re stoked to join them!
A part of Rootstock’s foundation is the relationship between local community and local art. Who are some other local bands that you guys are currently loving or moved by?
SAL: Locally, Darby Wolf is a monster organ player, and we're lucky enough to have him with us for the Rootstock gig. I really dig Beau Sasser's playing, too. We've had him on a few gigs, and it's just heavy as hell. There's a great buncha cats out here... Lexi Weege, Bella's, Alan Evans, The Mary Jane Jones, Danny Mayer until recently... There's no shortage of talent around the valley.
MIKE: There’s a lot of great young artists and bands forming out of Northampton. We really dig Lush Honey, Dishsoap, The Greys, the Bad Signs. It’s inspiring to see such young local talent coming together and creating a scene of their own.
Is there an original song of yours that you feel captures what you are trying to do as a band more than the others?
SAL: Our newest song, Stained Glass, is turning into something that encompasses a lot of what we are... Soul grooves, heavy lyrics, atmosphere...We try to be as dynamic as possible. It'll be out soon, so let me know if I'm right...
MIKE: Not really. We’re one of those bands that falls into multiple genres. Every set we play is different and the songs we choose always vary based on our current mood as a band. We try to keep the slate clean and be one of the most free-flowing bands out there, I think we produce better when there’s no expectations.
What is something you feel is unique about the music scene in the valley?
MIKE: The music scene in the Valley is incredible. Everyone supports each other and you see so many familiar faces at each show around here. The circle is tight but welcoming and full of love and support.
Do you have any funny live show or touring stories that you don’t mind sharing with us?
MIKE: It seems like every show we play has some sort of ridiculous story attached to the night. There’s never a dull moment with this band. A few years ago we played a late-night show at the Bitter End in NYC. I remember the parking situation being a total nightmare around there, so we unloaded our amps and Zach’s cymbals and Snare drum and parked in a garage somewhere. We played a great set but when we loaded out around 3am nobody could remember how to get to the garage where our car was. We walked around NYC carrying amps and drums for hours, in the middle of winter, fighting off dog sized rats until we finally gave up and carried our gear to a hotel which felt miles away. In the moment, it felt like the longest night of my life. We napped a few hours, woke up and found the parking garage in less than 10 minutes. Those whiskey drinks were strong, man...
If you could only listen to one record for the rest of your life, what record would it be?
SAL: One record for the rest of time? Electric Ladyland, of course...
MIKE: Ah, the golden question. Abbey Road by the Beatles would be a top pick but there’s so many others. I really hope I’m never in a “one record for the rest of my life” situation!
Do you guys have any new records or big shows on the horizon?
MIKE: We’re hitting the studio in the next month or two to record a new EP and live video series. We have our Boston area debut December 23rd with our good friend and beatboxer/producer, Honeycomb, at the Middle East in Cambridge, closing out the East Coast Beatbox Battle. I’m really looking forward to that one and seeing all of our Eastern Massachusetts Shantyfam!
Thank you SO much for taking the time! I am so excited you’re bringing your sounds to Gateway City Arts on November 18th.
Be sure to also check out Casey Grenier, our performing visual artist, otherwise known as The Mandala Goddess. The Paper Project, well known for their giant collaborative coloring book, will also be on site sharing art!
Learn more about The Medicinal Purpose here.
Learn more about SHANTYMAN here.
RSVP to the Rootstock Facebook event here.
Please join us on Sunday, November 18th at Gateway City Arts. Doors are at 7pm and Music starts at 8pm. Tickets are a sliding scale of $5-$8 at the door.