MUSIC BOX: Life from the looking glass

By on July 28, 2015

American Aquarium burns, flickers and thrives

North Carolina alt-country rockers American Aquarium, hit Town Square Tavern Tuesday.

North Carolina alt-country rockers American Aquarium, hit Town Square Tavern Tuesday.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – The band American Aquarium has been touring and making albums for 10 years. During that time, the quadruple guitar six-piece has developed a patiently rocking alt-country sound, pushed itself into various musical spectrums, coming full circle with the release of its seventh album, “Wolves,” earlier this year. It comes as no surprise the band’s namesake borrows from the Wilco tune “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.” With a fair share of rock and roll that leaves room to ingest the message behind the song, the story is often put on a pedestal with a colorful backdrop.

The 2012 release, “Burn. Flicker. Die.,” was produced by Jason Isbell and put the musicians more on the radar. The album was nominated for Best Americana/Roots Album and Best Album Artwork at the 2013 Lone Star Music Awards.

It’s kind of ironic that the record about not making it is the record that helped us make it,” Aquarium’s frontman and songwriter BJ Barham said.

American Aquarium, 10 p.m., Tuesday at Town Square Tavern. $10., 733-3886.

Grammy bassist waxes theatrical

The creativity of youth is fleeting and is seldom tapped for adult musings through art and music. But that is precisely the current journey of Grammy Award-winning, singer-composer-bassist Esperanza Spalding. She tables the trademark bassist Afro for long braids and a cape, fanning her expression of contemporary jazz, fusion, Brazilian pop and art groove in a different context.

The tour is dubbed “Emily’s D+Evolution,” and Spalding moves to rekindle her childhood interest in theater, poetry and movement, delving into a broader concept of performance like a spoken word burst or a piece of street skit or social commentary aided by visual movements. Once considered a “rookie of the year,” 30-year-old Spalding earned honors as Best New Artist at the Grammy’s in 2012, shocking a field that included Justin Bieber. She has won a total of four Grammy Awards. A gander into her roots reveals that Spalding taught herself violin at age 5 and played with the Chamber Music Society of Oregon for 10 years before leaving at age 15 as concertmaster. In high school, she focused on cello before discovering bass, which is what she studied at Berklee College of Music on a full scholarship. Broke and burnt-out, she considered abandoning music entirely before jazz legend Pat Metheny encouraged Spalding by telling her she had “the X Factor.” She currently plays a Fender Jaco Pastorius Jazz Bass (fretless), among other electric and double basses.

Fans of Wayne Shorter and the exploratory fusion of Herbie Hancock should be sure to check out this show. Mind expansion is imminent.

Read more about Esperanza as Center for the Arts folks sound off on the songstress/composer/bassist in Creative Peaks, page 16.

Esperanza Spalding presents “Emily’s D+Evolution”, 8 p.m., Friday at the Center Theater. $53-$73., 733-4900.

Winners of Wyoming’s Blues Challenge, Down in the Roots, play Haydens Post Saturday.

Winners of Wyoming’s Blues Challenge, Down in the Roots, play Haydens Post Saturday.

Accolades for Jackson blues

The Jackson based blues-rock duo Down in the Roots recently won the Wyoming Blues and Jazz Society’s Blues Challenge in the solo/duo division. Held in Casper, the competition brought together bands from across Wyoming to duke it out.

“We were unaware up until a few weeks ago that Wyoming even had a blues and jazz foundation,” laughed vocalist and guitarist Bob Greenspan.

Greenspan and Teresa Bollermann (vocals, bass guitar) will go on to compete against winners from across the globe in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN, in January. Until then, you can catch their award-winning tunes this Saturday at Haydens Post.

Down in the Roots, 8 p.m., Saturday at Haydens Post inside Snow King. PJH

Aaron Davis is an award-winning singer-songwriter, journalist, multi-instrumentalist, frontman for bands Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, and founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley.

About Aaron Davis

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

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