Tin Bridge Brewing Bridges the Gap Between Beer and Music

A few months ago, I wrote about Within The Ruins’ guitarist Joe Cocchi’s brewery, Tin Bridge Brewing. I recently got an opportunity to chat one on one with Joe, and he was able to give me a little more background on the brewery, and balancing the brewing and being in a metal band.

Joe started out as a homebrewer, and talking to homebrewers-turned-owners always gives me hope that my own craft can become something larger than boiling water in my kitchen. The brewery got its name from a bridge where Joe used to hang out with his friends growing up in western Massachusetts. Which is fitting, since now Joe is hanging out with his friends and making beer. The brews of Tin Bridge are described as “high gravity”, and Joe said that many of them are stouts and porters with some really interesting ingredients. Barrel-aging is becoming so prevalent lately, and Tin Bridge recently picked up a used bourbon barrel from Woodinville Whiskey Company, which was also used to age maple syrup. They have plans to put a vanilla porter inside it, which is something I would love to try.

Band and breweries are two different animals, although they do have a few basics in common. Joe seems to have a good grasp on the balance of both. His partners at the brewery, which includes family and close friends, keeps a strong hold on things while he is on tour or recording with the band.

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With so many craft breweries popping up, packaging is more meaningful than ever, and really helps brand a brewery and catch people’s eyes. Joe said he that the labels on their bottles may reflect their metal background and possibly be similar to the artwork on Within The Ruins’ album covers. The band has had some really great artwork, so seeing that tied into a beer label would be pretty awesome.

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What I thought was really interesting that Joe mentioned was the prospect of Internet distribution for their beers. Having beer at the merch table while on tour isn’t a possibility. However, distributing it online would be a great way to bridge fans of the brewery and fans of the band. Not to mention attracting beer lovers from across the country and around the world.

Tin Bridge Brewing is open, but operates as a production space right now. So while there is no tasting room yet, the guys certainly welcome visitors who want to check out the brewing in progress and taste the finished project on site. Check out their Facebook for updates on what’s getting brewed! As for Within the Ruins, they will be on tour with Born of Osiris this month, which is really exciting. CT folks can catch them on Halloween at the Webster Theater in Hartford.

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Q&A: Rock, Rage, and Self Defense

Sometimes a film will hit really close to home, even when it’s about a home on the other side of the country. Rock, Rage, and Self-Defense, a new documentary by Leah Michaels and Rozz Therrien is on tour now (it stops in Connecticut on May 1-2). While it covers a subject matter that stems from an event that took place over 20 years ago, its material still holds an importance in the music community today. Mia Zapata was the lead singer of punk band The Gits who were formed in the mid-80s in Seattle. In 1993, while walking home from a bar one night, Zapata was brutally raped and murdered. The aftermath lead to her friends forming a non-profit anti-violence group called Home Alive, which taught self-defense and campaigned for social justice in the community. While the organization has changed throughout the years (all of its course material is now available online, and instructors are available by appointment to teach classes to anyone who asks), the message of “you are worth defending” remains the same.

Why is this important to Now Beer This? As a music blog, we go to concerts all the time. We hang out at cool bars and drink delicious beers. We should feel safe doing the things we love, without threat. It’s important to have outlets like Home Alive, to be aware and educated, and to have support when violence and injustice do happen.

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I chatted with Leah and Rozz, the filmmakers. What is really remarkable is that the two had never made a film before, so it’s especially fascinating to see their journey through the process.

Can you please give a little background to how the documentary came about?

The film evolved from a class oral history project at the University of Washington. The class was titled, “Making Scenes and Building Communities: boys and girls play indie rock” and the premise was to explore how these popular scenes come to be and who gets written out of the history. The who being predominately people of color and women. Being in Seattle, we focused on what is now referred to as the “grunge” scene. So, for this project student groups were assigned women in Seattle who were a part of different scenes and communities, and each group filmed oral histories. We were each assigned different co-founders to the grassroots self defense organization Home Alive.
When we finished the oral histories, we kept talking about how amazing the interviews were and how inspiring these women were. We asked our professors what was going to become of the oral histories, and they said they will be housed in the “Women Who Rock Digital Oral History Archive” for later projects. Being Juniors, we were like ummm we’ve got another year here, and we want to know more about Home Alive. So out of yearning to know more, we found ourselves making a documentary.
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Mia Zapata was murdered over 20 years ago. What helped to bring her case to life again through your studies?
Our oral history assignments brought the activism that transpired after her death to life for us. We were both familiar with The Gits and 7 year Bitch, but unfamiliar with the social activism the arts and music community in Seattle were doing at the time.
Now that so many things are immortalized forever on the internet, do you think the idea of an oral history is still important today?
We think it’s more important today than ever. We live in a soundbite era, where headlines, reports, and full news hours are dedicated to one soundbite removed from its original context. We aren’t getting the full story from those who are saying the soundbites. With an oral history, or rather our intention with making this an oral history driven documentary, is that we, as filmmakers, are not controlling what our interviewees are saying, or are not intending to prompt a specific answer. With that being said we do have the final say in the editing process, but because these are oral histories we let the interviewees tell us their truth and their histories. The importance of the oral history in the age of twitter, facebook, and instagram is that we are capturing more than 140 characters, and more than one cool photo with a filter on it. Oral histories provide an avenue for people to share in preserving their histories in the first person narrative, that might otherwise be forgotten or excluded from the larger narrative.
Was it difficult to get in touch with the co-founders? Were they receptive to the creation of this documentary?
You know, everyone was surprisingly receptive. I think having met two of the co-founders through our class project, the co-founders and Home Alive volunteers were more accessible and willing to be interviewed.
What was the most rewarding part of making this documentary for you?
Where do we begin? Haha, for both of us the past three years have been an incredible journey, as cheesy as that sounds. The most rewarding part is that these women were willing to trust us with creating a documentary about their baby, Home Alive, and that they’ve been so supportive through this whole process. They have shared their personal stories of trauma, stories of strength, and life advice. Since we started making this film, we’ve graduated (go Dawgs), left Seattle, and are now navigating our post-collegiate lives. These women and their stories have been great beacons of how to live our lives creatively and outside of the traditional 9-5 job, and how to do all that while not losing sight of the importance of grassroots activism.
 
It is also incredibly rewarding to hear responses from people after watching the film. People feel so inspired and empowered to start creating change in their own ways whether it is self-care, creating art, or wanting to start their own community self-defense collective. All of that is amazing because one of the main goals of the film is to have people start thinking about violence prevention in whatever way makes sense to them. 
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What resources are currently available for people outside of Seattle, and across the country?
The folks that are currently running Home Alive have put the curriculum, tools, and reading materials on the internet. Anyone can access the tools, for free at teachhomealive.org. There are people doing great work across the country. Oakland has Girl Army and the latest edition of Ms. Magazine had a great feature on rape culture on college campuses and they showcased a lot of awesome organizations doing really vital work. There are so many people doing so many things that this is not an exhaustive list.

Do you think this documentary could inspire others to lead a revival of the organization’s original message?

We think the collective’s original message of “you are worth defending” is still at the core of Home Alive today. We hope that the film continues conversations about community safety, sexual violence, community responsibility, violence prevention, and art as a resource for positive change.  The more we talk about these issues, the more receptive we are to take action when shit happens, and also plan to prevent these scenarios from happening.

"ROCK, RAGE & SELF DEFENSE" SPRING TOURWe are going on tour! The film is an hour and all screenings will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers and some screenings have panel discussions. All screenings are free unless otherwise marked. Facebook events are hyperlinked on the date of the event. Join us!April 12 Saturday Muskogee, OK Bare Bones International Film & Music Festival OK Music Hall 3 PM*Festival Tickets April 18 Friday Portland, OR Portland State University Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Student ColloquiumSmith Memorial Student Union Building1 PMApril 19 Saturday Portland, ORThe Red and Black Cafe 400 SE 12th Ave Portland, OR 972147 PMApril 23 Wednesday Seattle, WAUW Odegaard Library Screening & Panel Discussion with filmmakers, co-founders Zoe Abigail Bermet, Cristien Storm, and Home Alive volunteer Leah Gold1: 30 PMApril 25 Friday Seattle, WAEMP Pop Conference JBL Theatre 1 PM April 25 Friday Seattle, WAWomen Who Rock Un-Conference Washington Hall 153 14th AveClips of film 5:30 PMApril 27 Sunday Boise, ID Event Marche 2809 W. Idaho St. Screening & Fundraiser 4:30 PMMay 1 Thursday Hamden, CTThe Outer Space 295 Treadwell St 8 PM May 2 Friday New Haven, CTUniversity of New Haven Student Dining Room Bartels Campus Center3PMMay 4 Sunday Washington, DCThe Black Cat1811 14th St NW8:30 PM $8May 7 Wednesday Boston, MAThe Democracy Center 45 Mt Auburn St Harvard Square Cambridge, MA 02138  6 PM $5May 11 Sunday Pittsburg, PAGirls Rock PittsburgPittsburg Filmmakers’ Melwood Screening Room477 Melwood Ave Pittsburg, PA 152135:30 PM May 12 Monday Brooklyn, NYSpectacle Theatre Screening & Panel Discussion with Laina Dawes (more updates to come)124 S. 3rd St. (Near Bedford Ave)7 PM $5May 20 Tuesday Baltimore, MDBreathe Books 810 W 36th St # A Baltimore, MD 212116:30 PM May 22 Thursday Annapolis, MDAnnapolis Bookstore35 Maryland Avenue Annapolis, MD 214017 PMMay 23 Friday Brooklyn, NYSpectacle Theatre Screening & Panel Discussion 124 S. 3rd St. (Near Bedford Ave)7 PM $5Filmmakers will not be in attendance May 26 Monday Brooklyn, NYSpectacle Theatre Screening & Panel Discussion 124 S. 3rd St. (Near Bedford Ave)7 PM $5Filmmakers will not be in attendanceMay 27 Tuesday Cleveland, OHMahall’s 20 Lanes13200 Madison Avenue Lakewood, OH 441077 PM

Rock, Rage, and Self Defenseis currently on tour throughout May. For Connecticut residents, the film will be screened in the New Haven area on May 1 at the Outer Space in the evening and May 2 in the afternoon at the University of New Haven. These screenings are free to the public. For more information, check out the documentary’s official tumblr.

Q&A: Cerebral Ballzy

Cerebral Ballzy is a punk band from Brooklyn, that can more accurately be described as a party. From their beginnings of living off of cheap beer and pizza, the band has grown up a bit, but still stays true to having a blast on stage and bringing on new fans to hang out with them. They will be playing a show at the Space in Hamden, CT on Saturday, February 8. I chatted with guitarist Mason Orfalea.

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Cerebral Ballzy’s first self-titled record dropped in 2011 and earned some serious buzz. Their second record, Jaded and Faded is slated to come out later this year. In between, they’ve released a few 7-inch vinyls and cassettes. Since this is an analog beer blog after all, I asked Mason the most important question, whether or not their new record would be out on wax. He said something that I definitely agree with; “I’ve always liked being able to go into a record store and come out with a handful of awesome records.  Their is something different about being able to tangibly hold a record in your hands.  I think a lot of great material gets missed as a result of our fast paced download culture.” So their latest will definitely be out on vinyl, and you can pick up the “City’s Girl”/”Another Day” 7-inch here and now.

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The show at the Space, as well as a few of their other upcoming gigs, are all ages. I asked if there was a difference between playing for the all-ages clubs versus 21+ venues, but Mason says no;  “When your at a Ballzy show normal rules don’t really apply. You think we give a shit what the drinking age is?”

Rules certainly don’t seem to apply; after all, I was advised not to have any expectations of Cerebral Ballzy’s latest tour, dubbed a “nepotistic art tour”. As Mason states, “Expectations lead to disappointment, and Cerebral Ballzy never disappoints anybody ever.”

The band has been a hit on the festival circuit taking them around the world the past several years, playing fests like Leeds Festival in the UK, Summer Sonic Festival in Japan, and Pukkelpop in Belgium. This year they’ll be on SXSW, as well as the epicness that is Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas. Mason sent me a video of the last time the band was in Vegas…

Another fun fact: Lead singer Honor Titus is the son of Dres from the legendary hip hop duo Black Sheep. I asked if hip hop had an effect on Cerebral Ballzy’s sound, but Mason says not more than any other kind of music, “We listen to all sorts of music. Obviously we like hip hop, but it hasn’t influenced us any more than other genres of music.  We like good hip hop, but there’s a lot of shit out there.”

Mason tells me, “When we first started the band we would live off of 1$ Coors 24’s and 1$ slices of pizza.  We kind of had an unofficial rule that it was unacceptable to spend more than a dollar on anything.  Now we’ve moved on to drinking Cristal out of Dixie cups.  Classy shit.” Classy shit indeed. The show at the Space is sure to be a good time, with local openers Political Animals, whom I have only seen live once, but it was inside a skate park so that’s kind of a testament to their awesomeness. Rumor has it Black Sheep is going to play a set as well, since they will be performing with Cerebral Ballzy on the tour. So check it out, punk rock, hip hop, all inside a music venue that’s been bringing some of the best new artists to CT for 10 years and running. Plus tickets are under $20! Click here to pick them up ahead of time.

CT Pour Tour Kicks Off

The craft beer community of Connecticut has been buzzing lately about the CT Pour Tour. One man has taken on the task of visiting every single town in Connecticut and having a beer in each one, all while raising money for children’s cancer research. This is no new task for Todd- in 2013 he successfully visited and had a beer in every town in his home of Massachusetts. I chatted with Todd this week to get a little background on what he’s doing.
Can you give me a little background on the pour tours? What made you want to take on this endeavor, and why did you choose the charities you did?
Last year I tried to list every town in MA and could only come up with about 150 out of the 351. When I looked at a map I was shocked that there were so many towns I’d never heard of. I said I was going to have a beer in every one and raise money for children’s cancer which is a lifelong goal of mine. The reason I chose children’s cancer is just from seeing little kids with no hair. It’s so sad.
How have you gone about setting up what towns you visit and when?
I’ve been lucky to get a lot of media attention so most of the bars at this point contact me. I will talk to the bars and we will set up a date for my visit. When I get to the bar sometimes they have raffle prizes set up to raise money. The most I’ve raised in one town so far was $7,000 in Lunenburg, MA.
Were you familiar with Connecticut before you started to map out your tour? Did you find many towns that you hadn’t heard of or been to?
I live about a half hour from CT so I am a little familiar, but there a lot of towns that I’ve never heard of. There are about 10 towns that don’t have a place to drink so for those towns I depend on a resident to have me over. Some guy just contacted me and is going to take me for a boat ride in Marlborough CT where there are no bars.
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Has it been easy to find places to have a beer in each town? What towns were the most difficult for you to find a bar in?
The people that follow me on FB and Twitter have been amazing. I get suggestions all day long from people. The hardest towns so far for me are Bozrah, Hampton, Bridgewater (The only dry town), and Easton. I really need someone in each of these towns to let me come over to cross their town off of the list. Most people are happy to do it.
Connecticut breweries have been growing quickly in number; I know you kicked off the tour at 2 Roads last weekend- are there any other CT breweries coming soon on your list?
 
When I looked in to doing CT I didn’t even think beer was that popular there. Then I did some research and saw there are over 30 breweries, and craft beer is absolutely huge! I am excited to see a lot of the breweries. New England Brewing, Thimble Island, Hooker, and Back East to name a few.
 
What are you listening to in the car as you drive to each stop?
I like alternative music and top 40 (hate to admit it). I mostly keep it on 104.1 [WMRQ] while I’m in CT.
What is your favorite beer style to drink?
I like hoppy beers. The hoppier, the better.
Todd’s website gives all the information about when he’s visiting specific towns, and you can also contact him with suggestions of places to visit. You can also get updates from his Facebook and Twitter.

2013: The Pro Picks

What are the holidays without friends to share the good times, and more importantly, the BEER with? I decided to do another ‘best of’ list for 2013, but rather than just have my biased choices for beer, I asked some of my beer-and-record-loving writer friends to assist.

What is one beer and one record you loved in 2013?

Adam Spektor– BFF/host of “The Spektrum” on WRUW Cleveland

Record Of The Year: Thee Oh Sees – “Floating Coffin”

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When a band is as prolific as Thee Oh Sees, a band that’s released seven albums in six years, plus a handful of EPs and a few singles collections, quantity may prevail over quality. But the San Franciscan psych rockers defy that totem and get better with age. It’s evident from the start of the record, with “I Come From the Mountain” storming out of the gate as the band unfolds hook after hook over its driving four and a half minutes. For a band that has always a knack for writing melodies that should have been written 30 years ago, there’s no lack of them here: just pop on “Tunnel Time” or “Toe Cutter/Thumb Buster” for reference. But it’s “No Spell” that truly sets this record apart from not just everything Thee Oh Sees had accomplished prior, but everything else that came out this year. I’m not synaesthetic, but this song is as colorful as they come. Opening in an enormous major chord wash before settling into a placid kraut groove, the song presents a majestic, insistent energy, with its chorus of falsetto voices intoning over gorgeous jazzy guitar figures. The energy builds to a tee, as singer John Dwyer lets out his signature whoop. Elsewhere, it’s usually another vocal decoration; here, it’s a victory cry, the tipping point, the cathartic release. The skies open up and the band explodes into one of the most triumphant psychedelic rock riffs out there. It’s a great song. And yeah, the rest of the record isn’t a slouch either. Note the languid, cello-driven album closer “Minotaur” or “Strawberries 1 and 2” which ends songs with a marvelously sludgy coda, continuing a tradition marked by Roxy Music’s “In Every Dream Home a Heartache” and Grinderman’s “When My Baby Comes.” In a beautiful modern era where there’s no shortage of great psychedelic garage rock, Thee Oh Sees continue to set the bar for the thousands of other bands that have followed in their wake.

Beer of the year: Genesee Cream Ale, Genesee Brewing Co., Rochester, NY

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Ha ha ha, look at this asshole hipster with his O.C.s and his shitty beer. Well, listen, when you’re trying to scrimp and save whatever you can to, I dunno, save up to press vinyl or put some kid through $100,000-a-semester college someday or replace more shit in case your house gets broken into again, you gotta sacrifice some things. Genny Cream has been there ubiquitously, in a variety of forms, whenever I needed it. Be it in 40 oz bottle, 12 oz can, 16 oz can, or, perhaps most providentially, in $2 draft form at my favorite bar/venue/place of employment, The Happy Dog, Genny is there for me. And honestly, call me crazy, but I actually enjoy the taste. Stockholm syndrome or not, I find a noticeable difference between the relatively full-bodied Genny Cream and its horrible water-and-wheat-piss-flavored lite peers. And don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy craft beers, but those are like buying dessert at a restaurant. You can do it every once in a while, it’s indulgent and nice, but wholly unnecessary and habitually expensive. Genny Cream is the cheap, but filling main course, comfortably within I can afford. Don’t think you’re too good for it. You’re not.

Bram Teitelman– my metal spirit animal/editor of MetalInsider.com

Record Of The Year: Beastmilk “Climax” (Magic Bullet)

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Wow, this record crept up on me. This record is much more rooted in ‘80s post-punk than metal, despite the fact that vocalist Mat “Kvohst” McNerney has a black metal pedigree. Hwoever, the band knows their way around a hook, and I like this even more than I like some of the bands (Joy Division, Bauhaus, Christian Death) that influenced them. The fact that it snuck on to my year end favorites list even though it was just released a few weeks ago speaks to how catchy it is.

Beer Of The Year: Southern Tier Warlock

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For years, Southern Tier’s Pumking has been my favorite beer. Splitting the difference between delicious pumpkin beer and liver annihilating alcohol, it’s sweet, but has a bite. This year, they threw something new into the mix. Warlock, an American Double / Imperial Stout that was a darker, even more delicious version of Pumking. It’s like a sequel to an already perfect movie, the Godfather II of brews.

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I also checked in with Matt Zaniboni of WKKL whose top picks were Shipyard Pumpkinhead, always a tasty fall beer, and Death Angel’s latest The Dream Calls for Blood (Nuclear Blast) which I definitely agree was a tasty record from 2013.

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You can check out my top records here, but for my top beer I have to agree with Bram on the Warlock. Southern Tier topped my favorite fall beer, Pumking, with something that’s even more delicious.

Cheers to another year of awesome beers and awesome records!

Q&A: Natalie Tuttle

Working at a craft beer bar that is also a music venue definitely has its perks. It’s one thing to see great musicians every night, but it’s another to work with them. The Outer Space’s own Natalie Tuttle will be playing a show at the Spaceland Ballroom with Ohio singer-songwriter Griffin House on Wednesday, November 6. I did a quick Q&A with Natalie about some of her favorite records, being a performer who’s also an engineer, and of course, her favorite craft beer.

You have a show with Griffin House at the Spaceland Ballroom coming up. What can we expect? Are you playing solo or with a band?

I will be playing the show solo. This will be my first solo show in 3+ years. I am excited to present some brand new material!

You’re an audio engineer- how does your background in sound affect you when you’re on the other side of the console- as a performer?

Being a sound engineer and performer can make me a bit more specific at times as well as helps me find my “comfort zone” on stage by communicating with the sound engineer my specific needs.

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What are some records you’re listening to right now?
I am currently listening to “Repave” by Volcano Choir, Blackberry Light by Charlie Mars, and any Jackson Browne song I can get my hands on as well as Andy Mckee.
What are some older or less recent records that you return to for inspiration in your songwriting or performing?
I tend to find my inspiration from live performances/life experiences. Live performances by James Taylor, Dave Matthews, Tim Reynolds, Owen etc are really what inspire me to become a better performer.

As a fellow employee of the Space compound, we love our craft beer. What are some of your favorites right now?

This is a loaded question. I love our IPA selection – Lagunitas IPA would be one that sticks out.
Check out Natalie’s music here and see her live at the Spaceland Ballroom in Hamden, CT on November 6!

CT Beer Week Kickoff

In my opinion, every week in which you are drinking delicious craft beer should be considered beer week. But making it official just allows for additional celebrations, and now Connecticut will have their own. CT Beer Week 2013 is May 11-18, 2013.

The mission is more than just encouraging people to drink better beer though. The official CT Beer Week site states that the week’s main purpose “is to inform policy makers of the significant contribution the three-tier system makes to Connecticut’s economy. This week long, statewide event was created to celebrate the vibrant beer industry in Connecticut.” As a bartender at a craft beer bar, I am definitely an advocate of craft beer creating more jobs, so this mission statement sounds great to me!

CT Beer Week will kick off with the Rising Pint Brewfest, which takes place this Saturday at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. I spoke with Bryon Turner of the CT Beer Trail, who is helping to promote the event. He says, “For many of us, The Rising Pints Beerfest marks the start of Connnecticut’s brewfest season, drawing a great crowd of local craft beer enthusiasts.  This year the event will also help kick off CT Beer Week, a week long celebration of our local beer community.”

To celebrate even more, the CT Beer Trail is giving away tickets to the event, which you can enter to win online at the CT Beer Trail site.

Check out all the events happening this great week here!

New Haven Rock And Roll Q&A

punk rock birthday

I love rock and roll, especially local rock and roll. Even more so when it’s celebrating my birthday! The Elm City’s own The Lost Riots, The Defcon Five, and The Hulls will be taking over the Outer Space December 6th, and some of their members did some Q&A with me. Find out what beers they like to drink and all about their 7-inches. No pun intended.

THE LOST RIOTS

You guys did a weekly residency at the Outer Space a few months ago- home of the 30-in-30 club which I know at least one of you is a member. Any particularly memorable brews?

Jeffrey Thunders, The Lost Riots: I am the only member of The Lost Riots who is in the club. There are a lot of great beers coming in and out of The Outer Space so it’s tough to pick out only a few. My all-time favorite is Innis and Gunn (the original) and pretty much anything the Berkshire Brewing Company puts out is an instant classic in my mind.

You’ve been playing a ton of shows throughout Connecticut and New York lately- any plans to go on tour in the near future?

JT: Touring is tough when you have to hold down a full time job. I would love to do a little extended weekend thing. Maybe go down to D.C. and back or up to Portland and back. That’s probably all we can realistically do. Unless some label picks us up and wants to pay my mortgage for the next year.

You recently contributed to the “It Came From Connecticut” compilation; can you tell me a little more about it?

JT: Tom at Bonehead studios did a compilation many years back that showcased Connecticut punk bands called “Connecticut Fun “(bands like Youth of Today and Rude Awakening were on there). He wanted to do another one for underground bands of today. He actually asked me what bands he should be on it and together he and I contacted a bunch. Every band recorded a few songs at Bonehead Studios in Cheshire. There are 13 bands on the comp. It’s been a fun process and the best part is all the proceeds are going to the Red Cross disaster relief effort from hurricane Sandy. The Hulls & The Defcon Five are also on the compilation. Getting a sneak peak at all the songs was fun and there are some talented bands on it. Should be a good compilation.

What else can we look forward to as far as recordings from you guys?

JT: We have been working on a 7” for our single “Downtown” which should be arriving at Die Hipster! Records soon. Also 2013 is going to be a big year for us. Our plan is to get out as many ep’s as possible One every few months on some sort of format (Cd, Cassette, or 7”). We also want to do a bunch of splits with bands. So no need to worry there will be plenty of new stuff coming out in the next few months.

THE DEFCON FIVE

What’s your band beer of choice?

Sean: Anything free…although on the sliding scale, PBR means you want to make-out by the dumpsters while Delirium Tremens means we’re shacking up and getting a puppy.

Brett: I don’t know if we have an official “band beer” because we all have such unique personalities that manifest themselves in our beer choices (though if we did it would probably be PBR) But as for me personally I greatly enjoy a good Newcastle.

Mike: anything cold!

Moe: Schaefer…it is the one to have, when you’re having more than one

You guys got the band back together last year after a hiatus- how are things different now?

Sean: I’ve got twice as many records, and phones have cameras in them. Our practice space also has a sink in it, while our old one only had ceiling to floor mirrors and a stretching bar.

Brett: Technology exists now that didn’t before, such as iPhones, Facebook and Lady Gaga. It’s truly a different world. But due to our advanced ages I believe we have more experience and we’re playing at our peak because we understand each other musically now better than ever.

Mike: I’m older and more divorceier.

Moe: I’m a little older, a little smarter, act a little stupider, play a little better.

What’s one of your most memorable moments playing a show in the past year?

Sean: Watching Mike incite a riot at Ideat Village while quoting Black Flag lyrics as the tear gas was being unholstered. I keep thinking “if he had only chanted Bee-Gees lyrics, it would have been an orgy instead”.

Brett: Probably playing with David Liebe Hart (of Tim and Eric fame) at Cafe 9, and while this didn’t happen at a show, being nominated for best band and best punk band in Connecticut by CT.com was nice. We’re always pleasantly surprised when people have heard of us.

Mike: Falling flat on my ass at the space 2 secs into a song.

Moe: Getting to play with The David Liebe Hart Band was a real treat and Mike tanking during the first song of our show at The Space is classic.

Since this is an analog beer blog after all, I’ve heard you guys are planning to put out some 7-inches. Tell me more about what’s going to be on them.

Sean: Put out?! We’re not that type of band. Unless you buy us pizza. 2013, Mayans willing, will see even more new recordings, a split single with North Shore Troubadours, a single of our own, some more compilation and cover songs, so start investing in dancing shoes and mouth guards now!

Brett: Without giving away too many “spoilers”, I would say that there are some fan favorites on there, such as… ah the hell with it, it’s going to be The Girl With the Rock and Roll Belt on the A side, and Benzoyl Peroxide and Do You Have a Following on the B side. We’re also planning a split 7″ with the North Shore Troubadours, a great band that we share a practice space with. Look for those in 2013.

Mike: Only my hair dresser knows for sure. Sean Brett and Moe know too.

Moe: We’ve got a couple 7″s, a 10″, and a 5″, but I won’t tell who has what! But seriously, we’re planning two 45’s in the coming year. One with all new material and a split with North Shore Troubadours…so look for those!

THE HULLS

I’ve seen some posts on facebook that you guys are working on a new record. When is it slated to come out, and can you tell me a little about what the production process has been like so far?

Kevin: We’ve recorded 12 songs with Jason Duguay up at Project Sound Recording in Haverhill, MA. He’s got a 40+ year-old 16 track 2″ tape machine that we recorded all the basic tracks on. I think it’s the first time any of us have recorded on to tape, given the modern day methods of recording straight to computers. It’s basically just us, no computer tricks or fixes. It was really important to us that this recording is as close to what we sound like live as possible. We recorded everything in 2 days and the mixing took another 2. We’re really over the moon about what we’ve heard so far, we’ve got a really excellent record on our hands!

Do you have any plans for release shows or a tour in support of it when it comes out?

K: We don’t have any set plans currently, we’re still waiting for the mastering to be completed. First we’re going to look around for a label that can put it out. Once we figure out who and how it will be released, shows and touring will follow. In a perfect world, I’d say a summertime release would be the earliest we could hope for.

Since this is a beer blog, what’s your beer of choice to have at a show?

K: Well, beggars can’t be choosers, so I’d have to say the beer of choice at a show would be the free kind! Personally, Guinness tops my list, but anything imported, craft, or micro-brewed would be ideal. Not such a fan of the Buds, Coors, or Millers of the world – unless it’s free of course!

Darling Musical Specimen: Zoe Boekbinder

If there’s one thing I love more than craft brewed beers, it’s independent music. Working in college radio introduced me to so many great musicians. One awesome one is Zoe Boekbinder. She most recently released Darling Specimens, which was produced by the very talented Shenandoah Davis. Zoe is currently on tour in support of this record and I was able to do a quick Q&A with her.

As a beer and music blog, I have to ask- firstly, are you a beer drinker, and secondly, if you could have any brew on tour with you at all times, what would it be?

Selectively, yes. One of my favorite countries to tour is Belgium, for the beer and the chocolate.  Unibroue (Quebec) is once of my favorite breweries, and Fin Du Monde might be my favorite of their concoctions. I wouldn’t mind if it were in every green room I ever occupied.

That’s awesome! Unibroue makes some great beers; I especially like their labels. What is your favorite bar or place to hang out when you’re at home?

If I’m in no mood for beer I go to Pravda for absinthe. I don’t really go to bars all that often though. There is a tree in Audubon Park, locally known as the “tree of life”, that makes me feel like I’m in the movie Ferngully. The branches reach down to the ground like the outstretched arms of a giant. You can walk right up them. Sea foam colored lichen hangs from every branch and when a piece is placed between one’s nose and mouth, it makes a very convincing moustache.

You released Darling Specimens last year. Can you tell me a little about making that album and working with Shenandoah Davis?

Making that album was incredible and incredibly stressful. I’ve always worked with self imposed deadlines and albums shouldn’t be on deadlines. That said, working with Shenandoah was wonderful. She is such a talented composer and gave really great direction in the studio. Our friend, Ethan Demarest, engineered the album. He can work a microphone like no one else I know.
I remember Darling Specimens on the college radio charts. What have your experiences working with college radio been like so far?
Darling Specimens got the most airplay of any album I’ve released (on my own and with previous projects). That was really exciting. I felt like all the work I put into the album paid off when it made the top 100 list. I’ve always loved interviewing and playing songs on college radio as well.
You’ve recently been working on a collaboration with inmates at Folsom Prison. How did that come about?
I’ve been volunteering at the prison (NEW Folsom actually… right next to Old Folsom but higher security) for two and a half years, playing concerts and teaching workshops on looping (I donated two loop pedals to the music room there) and songwriting. I’ve met a lot of really talented songwriters and lyricists who are incarcerated there. I asked one rapper, who I’d seen perform in class, if I could use his words for a song. That was the beginning and now I have nine songs, using songs and poems from seven inmates, and I’m still composing. I’m going to release an album that will benefit the arts program there (which is currently funded mostly through the community and not by the state).
That’s so awesome. I can’t help but think of Johnny Cash performing there in the late 60s. Did you take any inspiration from that?
How could I not? Its not the way it used to be though. Johnny Cash played in an auditorium. Its hard to get clearance for big concerts like that now because its considered a risk, additionally the auditorium is now inmate bunk housing (an effect of overpopulated prisons). I play for smaller groups, often in one of the prison libraries. Since I play at New Folsom Prison, I sometimes joke that I’m the New Johnny Cash.
Do you have plans to make this a full-length record? If not, what are your plans for the near future?
Yes. I am taking the next year off touring, something I’ve never done, to work on the record. I plan on releasing 12-14 songs. They will be a combination of covers and collaborations. Many of the songs are taken from poems or raps. In those cases, I write the melody. I don’t know how long the album will take to complete but I feel really invested in its success because its not just mine. Not only do the songs belong to the inmates, but the profits from the album are going to go towards the arts program at New Folsom and to helping start similar programs at other prisons.
Zoe Boekbinder will be performing at Cafe 9 in New Haven on Tuesday, November 27 with Mal Blum, An Historic, and Jacket Thor, presented by Manic Productions. Tickets are $6 and can be purchased in advance online or at Redscroll Records in Wallingford.

Homebrewing In The Elm City: The Luck And Levity Brewshop

While homebrewing and craft beers are taking the world by storm lately and even giving more people jobs, there really aren’t that many local brewshops, at least in Connecticut. Maltose Express in Monroe has been many people’s go-to shop for a long time. While they are indeed awesome, it’s not exactly around the corner for everyone when you just need to run out and grab a bag of hops.

This is where the Luck and Levity Brewshop comes in. Located on Court Street in downtown New Haven, it’s a much-needed haven for homebrewers, beer fans, and generally fun people alike. I popped in to pick up some brewing supplies and chat with owner Scott Vignola last weekend to see how it came about.

A New England native, Vignola most recently worked in the Peace Corps in Morocco and moved to New Haven shortly upon returning. He told me that he originally wanted to start a brewery, but in doing some research, opening a brewing shop seemed to be a better idea. His research primarily talking with people and seeing what people were looking for. Vignola says, “Everyone had a friend or family member who made beer”. So what better than to create a place to help out the homebrewers, and give beer fans a place to congregate in an atmosphere of barley and camaraderie?

The thing I like best about Luck and Levity is that it’s more than a place to buy brewing supplies. It’s a place to hang out. Vignola tells me that he wanted to “create something to serve the needs of people and act as a nexus”. There are a lot of social components at work here- if you’re not a brewer, it’s a wonderful place to come and hang out. and who knows? Maybe being surrounded by all those grains and brewpots will make you want to start making your own. The store stocks kits from Brooklyn Brew Shop that make a super-small batch of all-grain brew in a growler, perfect if you’re not sure about investing in larger-scale brewing gear yet. Or if you want to try a small batch of something new. I was eyeing their Coffee and Donut Stout kit myself.

There are also plans at work to offer people a brewing space. Vignola says that it will be different than a class on how to  make beer. Continuing to follow the mantra of serving the needs of people, the brewing space would give people a chance to experiment and try making new beers that they are curious about but haven’t tried making at home yet. Using specific hops, or trying a unique style of beer are just a few examples of what these brewing workshops will entail.

Every Thursday evening is an open lounge from 6-8 PM where anyone can come, enjoy some beer, and chat about all things brew-related. There also plans for other upcoming events, such as a holiday party to celebrate the winter solstice, which will also be involved in a local charity. If the two-day grand opening celebration is any indication, the upcoming events at Luck and Levity will definitely be a great party. The folks there snapped a picture of me grinding my grains during the grand opening!


A simple statement from Vignola- “Beer is cool.” He goes on that there is a “long history of appreciating fermented products”. Craft breweries are growing, and in turn people want to make their own beer. Going back in history, Vignola says “every town had their own brewery”. Every town may not have their own brewery anymore, but I think every town should have a place like Luck and Levity for beer-lovers to congregate outside of a bar.