Having never seen the Whiskey Treaty Roadshow myself, band musician and singer songwriter, Billy Keane, paints a picture of what the band is capable of doing on any given night … and I like it! Be it a rain-soaked day in a grassy field, a swashbuckling night in a dive bar, or hanging out beneath a “sunny glow on quilted blankets,” the WTR apparently come out swinging for the fences, night after night, and deliver a must-see kind of show.
Composed of five musicians with all kinds of talents and flavors and reasons for playing music, they banded together and started performing each others songs, gearing them up, twisting them around. And it worked. A fantastic concept. It’s Americana music, folk and rock. But done the bands own way, in the spirit of fire and rain, of community and brotherhood.
The Currier Museum Side Door Series, which has launched very strong since the series began last year, selling out, I think, every show, is a great place to mix it up for a night and hear good music. The venue is intimate with great acoustics. Couple hundred seats and drinks, if needed, at the ready. A perfect fit for the Queen City.
But enough, my job is done. Now, let Billy take over.
Q. As a band, how do you approach covering a song and putting your own flavor on it?
The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow doesn’t often cover songs, though we have been performing “Burning Down the Liquor Store” by Chris Thomas King for a number of years. Recently though we veered into the realm of cover songs, and we recorded James Taylor’s Fire and Rain. When it came to Fire and Rain, we wanted to ensure that we did justice to one of the most cherished songs of James’ repertoire, beloved by millions of people across the globe. At the same time, we intended to showcase our particular style and tone. This process tends to be very organic; Billy recorded a simple demo that incorporate his vocal choices, the acoustic strumming pattern and a number of other arrangement choices. We then sat with the rhythm section one evening to lock down the shape of the tune. Once we hit the studio we were able to layer on those various other elements of the Treaty, like backup vocals and lead guitar parts. We feel very blessed that the outcome has been so widely and well received, with James himself promoting the video on his social media and website.
Q. Americana music is everywhere, it seems, these days. How does WTR separate themselves from the legions of other Americana/folk bands out there?
The Roadshow wasn’t intentionally formed as an Americana/Folk band, though of course some of our songs fall into that genre. Many of our songs don’t however, with some rock, pop, New Orleans finger style and even Reggae influences being showcased in our songwriting and arranging. From a genre perspective, we like to think that we transcend any particular style throughout our sets. Additionally, as a collaborative group, our model is unique. We are 5 singer songwriters, performing each others songs in a collaborative and democratic way. We are all followers, we are all leaders, we are all listeners. Although we did face some initial doubts from bookers and venues because of this unorthodox setup, fans and audiences have vindicated the idea for us and seem to greatly appreciate and enjoy that aspect of our formation.
Q. What is the ideal live setting the WTR likes to play in?
As long as we have folks to play to, we’re happy. We’ve performed in many live settings, from radio halls to parking lots, from vineyards and arts centers to backyards and whiskey bars. We love it all. It’s what we do. If there is a good sound system, enough space to fit the whole Roadshow on stage, and an audience ready and willing to go on a bit of a journey with us, we’ll be there.
Q. Summers are built for outdoor festivals. How do you tailor your live shows to that setting compared to slugging it out in the clubs and bars during the colder months?
Festivals are such an incredible experience for all, audience and band alike. We love them, and are looking very much forward to playing a number of festivals this summer, like the Kate Wolf fest out in Cali, the Freshgrass festival in North Adams, MA and Cayuga fest in NY state. When it comes to live shows, whether in a club or at a music festival, the general rule of thumb is the same; read the audience, give them your absolute best every time, and enjoy the hell out of it. If the audience is a bar crowd looking for loud, raucous good times, that’s what we’ll give them. If we’re playing a summer festival in a country field surrounded by folks looking to bask in the sunny glow on quilted blankets, we may take some more time to ease into the set and dial it up slow. It’s about receiving those subtle messages from the crowd; sometimes a band needs to create a mood, sometimes they need to react to one. Being present and aware of that flow is crucial, regardless of venue.
Q. What is one aspect of WTR game that you would like to see grow and improve?
We are very excited about the prospect of hitting the studio again, this time for a full length album. We have a live album and 5 track EP in our quiver, but adding a full length record is really the next step in our process. We are hitting a wonderful stride with our touring, and our fanbase continues to expand and grow. We want to ensure that we keep pace with this growth by putting out new material (a lot of which you’ll hear during our live shows!) and by continually refreshing our discography for those wonderful folks who support us and our music by purchasing our albums.
Q. What can your fans at the Currier expect to see out of the WTR come Friday night?
They’re going to experience some great music and an energetic, engaging performance by a group of guys who really love what they’re doing. We don’t take any shows or any audiences for granted; we feel truly blessed to have the opportunity to share with fans that thing which is most important to us, our passion for music and performance. We’re looking forward to our first show at the Currier, and to meeting a new group of fans and lovers of live music.
Special entrance and check-in for the show via the side door on Beech Street.
6:00-7:15 pm: Special menu available for purchase in the Winter Garden. Cash bar available. 7:15-8:00 pm: Opening act 8:00-9:30pm: Whiskey Treaty Roadshow performs.
Limited tickets are available. Reserve your seat today! Tickets in advance: $25 Tickets at the door: $30