Hot Buttered Rum and Cornmeal
This Spring, San Francisco’s Hot Buttered Rum emerged from the studio with their most innovative and mature album to date, the upcoming Limbs Akimbo. Initially formed as an acoustic string band, seven years of constant touring has transformed the group into a plugged-in, percussive powerhouse that wows critics and fans alike. Their left-coast rock reveals an access to jazz, country, and world music that few groups can match. While their music belies simple categorization, the band’s songwriting and stage chemistry delights listeners at every performance.
“Limbs Akimbo,” the upcoming album’s title cut, supports its smart, soulful lyrics with West-African guitar and bell patterns, a bubbling mandolin, and a three-piece horn section. Meanwhile, the familiar guitars, drums, and chorus of a working rock act propel “Brokedown,” while the O Brother Where Art Thou-like banjo and fiddle drive “Summertime Gal.” As diverse as their palate may be, the band doesn’t rely on novelty to draw in its fans. In a world where the eclectic has become the norm, it’s refreshing to find in Hot Buttered Rum an intuitive understanding that the toe-tapping, verse-chorus-bridge pop- rock sounds of yesteryear still move the hearts – and bodies – of an audience. HBR’s diversity of sound, instrumentation, and style still rest upon the inspired genius in their songcraft; the positive, uplifting nature of their message both on and offstage; and, to borrow from critics, their “stunning virtuosity” in performance and execution. It’s the combination of being both timeless and timely that makes HBR a favorite live act – from cultured arts centers to sold-out auditoriums – and has fostered a highly devoted, national base of multigenerational fans that follows the band from town to town. In an age longing for optimism and forward movement, HBR are more than music for the ear; they are salve for the soul.
While the band busily built their sound, O Brother, Where Art Thou‘s soundtrack won a Grammy and sent the nation’s ears back to acoustic music.
The new lineup has recently emerged from San Francisco’s Mission Bells Studios, where they recorded Limbs Akimbo under the watchful eye of producer Tim Bluhm (The Mother Hips). Featuring guest appearances by Jackie Greene (Skinny Singers, Phil and Friends) and Zach Gill (ALO, Jack Johnson), the album marks the beginning of a new creative phase.
If Freight and Salvage and In These Parts served as a proof of the concept, Well-Oiled Machine as a proof of the technical virtuosity, and Live in the Northeast as proof that such virtosity translates into explosive live performances, Limbs Akimbo now marks the arrival of a highly matured, impressively listenable, stirringly rocking, and pleasantly poppy sound. In a nutshell, is Limbs Akimbo: an album that is both an elegy and reincarnation of Hot Buttered Rum’s past sound that borrows heavily from the rock pantheon while sprinkling in just a little of everything else. This is an album that evidences the acoustic string band of yesteryear while unapologetically thrusting into the scene a mature West Coast, drum-driven, pop-rock band.
Formed over 10 years ago, Cornmeal has grown from humble beginnings into a nationally recognized live music institution. 10 years together is no simple task these days, especially when the last five have seen the band spending over half the year on the road. Heavily influenced by American roots and folk music, Cornmeal blends lightning fast tempos and impeccable harmonies into an unrivaled live performance that continues to expand upon the five-piece acoustic-electric groups’ vast musical repertoire. While steeped in the tradition of the past, Cornmeal continues to forge their own path, pushing the boundaries of bluegrass, Americana and folk for a whole new generation of music lovers. With a rapidly growing fan base and ever-evolving sound, Cornmeal challenges the recipe of the bluegrass sound and live performance.