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Jam-band genre-benders Papadosio mesmerize on new ‘Acoustic Live’ album

Asheville-based outfit’s stripped-down set lets their unique jazzy, spacey, psychedelic sound shine
Album Cover: Acoustic Live

Album Cover: Acoustic Live

By Ray Chelstowski

Papadosio are a band that stands on their own within the world of “jam.” That’s in no small way impacted by the strong jazz influence that infuses their sound. The music they play has a commitment to precision in moments big and small. In both, there is almost a promise to be kept having at least one contributor bring forward a sound that is delicate and exacting. That usually occurs in “front and center” moments that deliver a weight that’s equal; regardless of whether the musician is surrounded by a modest amount of music or a blizzard of jam. 

This is put on wonderful display with their new release Acoustic Live, an 11-track album captured during their 2022 four-night run at City Winery in Atlanta, GA and Nashville, TN. The LP features carefully curated selections from the series that were all performed in a rare acoustic construct, with fan favorites such as “Epiphany,” “The Elephant I Presume,” “Unparalyzer” and “Mr. Turtles Cloud Kingdom.” Better yet, the magic starts right at the top with a shimmering 16-minute “Hippie Babysitter” opener that’s just mesmerizing. Everything unfolds perfectly from there.

Photo credit: Bradford Watkins Creations

Photo credit: Bradford Watkins Creations

The band (Mike Healy and Rob McConnell on drums and bass, keyboardists/vocalists/multi-instrumentalists Sam Brouse and Billy Brouse, and guitarist/producer Anthony Thogmartin) have always been tirelessly committed to the road, and across their 16-year history they’ve delivered over 150 shows annually. That touring ethic has established a language between each member that drives remarkable chemistry and provides a utility that can make an acoustic take like this so stunning.

It’s difficult to put a finger on whose contribution to this mix makes the most impact because everyone delivers so much on every song. The rhythm section never lets up and the guitar work is crystal clean and fluid. However, it might be Sam and Billy Brouse’s keyboards that shine brightest on these tracks. At times they seem to channel the late Joe Sample (especially his work with The Crusaders) with runs that glitter and fills that are full-bodied and firm. They add sparkle to each track without being too slick or sappy.

Originally from Ohio, this band is now appropriately part of the creative jam band community of Asheville, North Carolina. What this record makes clear is that their commitment to recording original material has been an incredibly productive pursuit; made only better by the creative minds they’ve surrounded themselves with down south. Speaking of how that region has inspired their creative output Sam Brouse exclusively shared this with Goldmine:

"[2012's] T.E.T.IO.S is the first album I worked on with the band after joining in 2010. For me, it was a dream come true because I finally got to work with my favorite band and with the people whom I had looked up to for so long. We recorded it in an old Civil War era cabin in the smoky mountains outside of Asheville where we were living over the course of two years. We wanted to make something special and a lot of time, love, and passion went into putting it together. It's super surreal that 10 years later the music has made such an impact on people's lives and on our own as well."

The music on this live acoustic record is just as compelling; so much so that it begs for more. It’s not clear what criteria were used to curate this collection of songs, but if the balance of the recorded material from these four nights resides anywhere within the realm of these 11 tracks it’s time to start assembling a “Part Two” and considering a broader set of dates. This acoustic approach is that powerful. 

Outside of Acoustic Live, the band has a busy summer ahead with several co-presented festivals (Secret Dreams, Subterranea), the 10 Year Celebration of their iconic TETIOS album at Resonance, several vinyl projects in the works, and more. Natural Funk Projekt looks forward to it all. 

  

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