Rocket Shop 6/15/2011: Amozen; Tammy Fletcher
Words by Jack Haskell. Photos by Sarah Gottschalk.
The studio was a swarm of people as St. Albans-based band Amozen (A-MOment-of-ZEN) came in to chat with Rocket Shop host Sam Donnelly about the future plans for the band. Amozen first started after four longtime friends (Blaine LaChance guitar/vocals, Iain White guitar/vocals, Matt Pendris bass/harmonica and Matt Dulude drums/percussion) realized they all played music, but had never attempted to make some type of formal collaboration. Since that great moment took place about five and a half years ago, the band has been playing all over the northeast at parties, colleges, bars and clubs. Their sound ranges from highly structured to barely structured alternative rock/blues/jazz/ whatever, leaving them lots of room for improvisation during their live shows.
The band was on the show just hours before their seventh appearance at Higher Ground. They shared the stage with Open Source, The Cheddar band, and Stage Line in Higher Ground's Northern Exposure series. The band was excited about their show but entirely relaxed, they seemed to be experienced interviewees. "We are just going to get up there and have some fun, we always have fun playing Higher Ground, it is definitely the best place to play around Burlington." Two of the four members are UVM alumni so they have been familiar with the Burlington music scene as listeners and as musicians for a while.
When I asked the band about what influences them when they write their music I received blank stares. Either A) they had been asked that question so many times that nobody wanted to spit out the same response again or B) they draw from so many different types of music that it is a difficult question to answer. My guess is that it is a little bit of both. Amozen's sound is all over the map when it comes to picking out a genre, but what I did find out was that the band is dedicated to being all over the map. They are always finding new sounds and seeking out new styles for their songs. "Everybody helps write the songs. Sometimes Ian or Blaine will come up with a structure and then we jam off that; there is lots of room for different ideas."
In 2008 the band flew out to California in search of a new scene, better music, and maybe some better exposure. "We ran out of money, came back in within a year, and chalked it up to an extended vacation," joked Blaine. Yet despite the band's trials and tribulations out west, living together and trying to play bigger and better shows, they have stuck together through it all. They were all so calm and collected during the show and during the interview it was like talking to a band that had been playing together for decades. It shows in their music too.
Amozen is currently in the process of making their second full length album and holding it down as the house band for Bootleggers' bar at Smugglers' Notch Resort in Jeffersonville, VT. They will be gigging around the Burlington area during the summer and you can always check them out at amozenmusic.com or on their myspace/ facebook pages.
The Rocket Shop playlist: Amozen, "Amozen" (Live) Amozen, "Build A Wall" (Live) Amozen, "Leaves" (Live) Amozen, "Wheels of Emotion" (Live)
Tammy Fletcher is a great singer. She has toured all over the US and Europe with her severely soulful blues and gospel bands for the past 20+ years opening up for such bands as Taj Mahal, Old Man Winter, and Derek Trucks band to name a few. Needless to say, we were stoked to have her on Rocket Shop for a (way too short) half hour segment to play some live tunes and chat about her show TOMORROW at the Pocock Rocks festival in Bristol, VT at 12 noon.
Wearing a black dress and a pearl necklace, Tammy belted out some blues with accompanying guitarist Bob Hill. Loud, sexy and fearless, Tammy sings as though she is coaxing some type of power from deep within. When she gets ahold of it, look out, because she will throw it around like its nobody's business. "I have played all different types of music. Ya know, the cry in your beer kind of stuff. Rock. Gospel. Blues," said Tammy. "I have kept going all these years because I just can't help myself. I love the music and it gives me love back."
The full Tammy Fletcher Band consists of Jim Pitman on dobro/steel, Dakota Foley on mandolin, Simon Plumpton on drums, Thom Carvey on bass, and Bob Hill on guitar. "This is about as paired down as we can get," said Bob as he tuned up his acoustic. I can't even imagine how good the whole band is because Bob and Tammy alone got me so transfixed it made the room disappear. Early on in the show Sam commented on how much Tammy's voice reminded her of Janis Joplin. With all of Tammy's growls and masterful dynamics, it was easy to see how Sam could make the comparison. For their last song, Bob and Tammy covered "Me and Bobby McGee", two Big Heavy volunteers I talked to outside the studio thought we were just playing the original.
After slowing down to raise kids and focus on some of the other important things in life, Tammy and her band have played less and less at clubs and bars and more at outdoor festivals and events. "Playing bars every night takes a toll on you. Playing at festivals is fun because if the weather is good and its the right venue, we have been able to play to a thousand people or so." The band is spread throughout Vermont so it's hard for them to play a late night club gig and then drive back home. However, the band will be getting out there more this summer with tour dates all around Vermont. "I have tried to sell out honey, its not easy. I wish I could have gotten that one hit that would get me some cash but I am happy doing what I do now and playing shows locally. I am a Vermont girl, I was born here." Check out tammyfletcher.com, or Tammy's Facebook page for music and more!
The Rocket Shop playlist: Tammy Fletcher, "Wild & Crazy" (Live) Tammy Fletcher, "I'm A Handful" (Live) Tammy Fletcher, "Little Bird" (Live) Tammy Fletcher, "Me and Bobby McGee" (Live)