The Lawsuits / Derek Fawcett (9pm)
Sat, Oct 15, 2016 @ 9:00 pm to 2:00amView event on Facebook
For years, Philadelphia’s The Lawsuits have been known for a sound that cannot be pigeonholed into one genre. There is something to be said about a band that has been creating music together as long as The Lawsuits have. With that longevity comes a sort of comfort and understanding for both themselves, and the listener. “Moon Son”, the band’s second full length release, and Randm Records debut, showcases years of blending each other’s influences and sounds to create something wholly their own. They have spent their music careers up to this point dipping their toes in multiple sounds and styles to create this very identity. With a nostalgic nod to the greats of the past and a dash of modern productions and self-awareness, laced with sweeping harmonies: this is The Lawsuits.
Formed after songwriter Brian Dale Allen Strouse was introduced to vocalist Vanessa Winters & bassist Brendan Cunningham through a mutual friend, The Lawsuits then recruited fellow Temple alum, drummer Josh Friedman. Guitarist Joe Bisirri joined during the making of the groups’ first full length, ‘Cool Cool Cool’, which was produced by Bill Moriarty (Dr. Dog, Man Man). The album’s first single, ‘Onion’, was chosen as #22 of Daytrotter’s 300 Best Songs of 2013.
When Derek Fawcett‘s band (Chicago’s Down the Line) started out without a drummer, he taught himself to play the djembe (hand drum) he bought in Africa, and it became a staple of the band’s signature sound. When the group needed help booking gigs, he took the reins, ultimately landing performances with Ben Folds, Peter Frampton, Lifehouse, America, Pat Benatar, Colin Hay, Gin Blossoms, and many more over their hundreds-of-thrilling-shows, 11-year, 5-album tenure. Time and again, Fawcett went to extraordinary lengths for his music, though many of those efforts were far from the spotlight. With the October 7th release of his solo debut FEEL BETTER, the breadth of Fawcett’s talents are thrust where they belong: Front and center.
As with other artists who forge out on their own after supporting roles (see Dave Grohl & George Harrison), Fawcett’s solo debut is highly anticipated, showcases the strengths of his previous work, but boasts a full-throated, exuberant musical voice like none we’ve ever heard before. “If you loved Down The Line’s singing, songwriting, and playing, you’ll find a lot to love in this album,” he explains. “Where it departs is that I’ve put down the djembe in favor of the piano, my songs go in some new stylistic directions, and there are more moments of musical chaos and disorder.” Fawcett’s new songs are cut from a darker cloth (with a couple rays of sunshine), and the emotional weight and impact will chill (and thrill) longtime and newfound fans alike.
Fawcett’s all-star cast of collaborators represent extraordinary twists of fate that speak further to the engaging and overwhelmingly collaborative energy he exudes. A friend connected him with celebrated bass player Tim Marks (Taylor Swift, Lionel Richie, Jewel, Will Kimbrough), and Marks enjoyed Fawcett’s company over coffee so much that he offered to play on the album before Fawcett could even get up the nerve to ask him.
Even more remarkable, FEEL BETTER producers and performers Cody Fry (Hunter Hayes, Ben Rector, Charlie Peacock) and Niko Xidas (Matt Wertz) are actually Fawcett’s former music students. “Niko and Cody were such strong musicians early on that I had them play with me to accompany other students. The vibe was so good even back then, that when I was figuring out who to work with on this album, I thought ‘I’d love to play with those guys again!'”
Through ‘digging deep’ in his songwriting, he has pushed his limits vocally, as well, with stunning results. “Unwittingly, I kinda kicked my own butt with how challenging some of these songs are to sing and play,” he admits. “When we finished the vocal sessions, I felt lucky to have made it out alive!” Influences on display include the contemplative playing and singing of Jackson Browne, the angst and power of Billy Joel and Tom Petty, the chaotic energy of Imagine Dragons, and the mournful warmth of James Taylor and Bruce Springsteen.
Fawcett’s take on the future sounds like that of a pragmatic, hard-nosed performer who’s focus is rooted in the road ahead. “We’re all constantly striving, in one way or another, to be understood,” he says. “The songs on this album tell compelling, unique stories that are likely to resonate with just about anyone. My hope is that all who listen to this album will hear something that speaks to them, to the extent that it brings them joy, solace, solidarity…and hopefully, even encourages them to sing along for awhile.”