Mt. Joy &
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* Policy is subject to change
$125.00 – Reserved Seating (VIP)
$45.00 – GA – Standing Room Only
*plus applicable service fees
All doors & show times subject to change.
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“These dreams are more than paper things,” sings Matt Quinn on Mt. Joy’s infectious folk-rocker “Astrovan,” a warm, yearning bit of road-trip philosophy that posits the existence of a Deadhead Jesus cruising the dusty highways of the countryside, nursing a roach on his way to only He knows where. It’s an auspicious line from a band predicated on the revival of teenage dreams.
Mt. Joy started off as a rekindling of shared musical ambitions between Philadelphia high school friends Matt Quinn (vocals, guitar) and Sam Cooper (guitar). Reunited in Los Angeles thanks to the ebbs and flows of adult life, the pair met multi-instrumentalist Michael Byrnes through a Craigslist ad. They named themselves Mt. Joy as an ode to a mountain in Valley Forge National Park near Sam’s childhood home, and together, with Byrnes’ roommate Caleb Nelson producing, they recorded three songs and sent them out into the world, hoping for the best. “I knew I still wanted to write songs, but the realities of life made that dream seem pretty impossible,” Quinn says.
Much to the band’s amazement, “Astrovan” accomplished the impossible. Without initial promotion or fanfare, the song took off on Spotify, racking up 5 million streams to date. “The irony of ‘Astrovan’ was that song was really about being stuck in a life and wanting to have the opportunity to pursue a dream, and in an instant it gave us that opportunity. ” Quinn says. Mt. Joy quickly transitioned from a part-time calling into a full-fledged band rounded out by Byrnes on bass, Sotiris Eliopoulos on drums and Jackie Miclau on keyboard.
Come 2017, Mt. Joy hit the road, and hit it hard: They played tour dates alongside the likes of The Shins, The Head and The Heart, The Lone Bellow, and Whitney, and popped up at some of the summer’s biggest festivals, including Bonnaroo, Newport Folk Festival, Lollapalooza and Made In America. “We were put on some big shows very quickly,” Quinn says. “The growth for us has been exponential – we’ve really just become a family that’s constantly pushing each other and the live show to be great.” They eventually caught the attention of Dualtone Records and began work on their debut album.
Steeped in folk-rock tradition and powered by the intuitive creative connection between Quinn and Cooper, the songs on ‘Mt. Joy’ depict Quinn wrestling with his own conscience, where the mundane and the fantastic collide as he processes tragedy, society, and love. Opener “I’m Your Wreck” describes “monsters in (the) closet, using up the wi-fi” as it cycles from its desperate, spiraling verses to its swinging, stubbornly optimistic coda, while the loping, plaintive chords of “Younger Days” meditate on a frayed psyche and the fear of choosing the wrong path. “Sheep,” with its collapsing, hoarse-voiced cry of “freedom was paid in blood,” is a post-Trump salvo on the responsibilities of the fortunate to overcome political and social despondency. And on “Silver Lining,” perhaps the album’s brightest moment, Quinn surveys the damage of hard drugs and the vicious cycle of addiction, as the song’s melancholic sentiment kicks into its fervid, defiant chorus, all shout-along vocals and trilling guitars.
Taken together, the self titled ‘Mt. Joy’ LP is a startlingly open document, wracked with the anxieties and fears that come just as life seems to start working out. It’s a natural reaction from a wary band like Mt. Joy – the result of a sort of professional vertigo, as they’ve gone from virtual unknowns to hot young commodity in little over a year. But there’s a sense of hope underlying everything, girded by the fact that the Mt. Joy LP is an impressive, honest portrayal of a young band facing that moment where dreams become reality, and finding beauty in the exhilarating uncertainty of it all.
Trampled by Turtles are from Duluth, Minnesota, where frontman Dave Simonett initially formed the group as a side project in 2003. At the time, Simonett had lost most of his music gear, thanks to a group of enterprising car thieves who’d ransacked his vehicle while he played a show with his previous band. Left with nothing more than an acoustic guitar, he began piecing together a new band, this time taking inspiration from bluegrass, folk, and other genres that didn’t rely on amplification. Simonett hadn’t played any bluegrass music before, and he filled his lineup with other newcomers to the genre, including fiddler Ryan Young (who’d previously played drums in a speed metal act) and bassist Tim Saxhaug. Along with mandolinist Erik Berry and banjo player Dave Carroll, the group began carving out a fast, frenetic sound that owed as much to rock & roll as bluegrass.
Trampled by Turtles released their first record, Songs from a Ghost Town, in 2004. In a genre steeped in tradition, the album stood out for its contemporary sound, essentially bridging the gap between the bandmates’ background in rock music and their new acoustic leanings. Blue Sky and the Devil (2005) and Trouble (2007) explored a similar sound, but it wasn’t until 2008 and the band’s fourth release, Duluth, that Trampled by Turtles received recognition by the bluegrass community. Duluth peaked at number eight on the Billboard bluegrass chart and paved the way for a number of festival appearances. When Palomino arrived in 2010, it was met with an even greater response, debuting at the top of the bluegrass chart and remaining in the Top Ten for more than a year. Two years later, their crossover appeal landed them at number 32 on the Billboard 200 pop charts upon the release of their sixth album, Stars and Satellites. In addition to major bluegrass and folk festivals, they began showing up at Coachella, Bumbershoot, and Lollapalooza. The official concert album, Live at First Avenue, followed in 2013, recorded at Minnesota’s most famous venue. A year later, the band returned with the darker-toned Wild Animals, which bettered its studio predecessor on the album charts, reaching number 29. Trampled’s latest album is Life Is Good On The Open Road. TBT returns to the road in 2021 co-headlining tours with Mt Joy, Caamp and Wilco.
For Briston Maroney, it’s been a journey to arrive at the current moment. A mental, physical, emotional, and musical one. But it’s left him equipped: not only with a deep understanding of self, discovered through life’s trials and errors, but just as important, with a piece of art that reflects his personal growth. Sunflower, Maroney’s debut album, is the culmination of the past decade of the now-22-year old’s life. “It’s all of the things I’ve been stoked about since I was 12 coming together,” the wise-beyond-his-years, Nashville-based singer-songwriter says with a laugh of his striking album. “It’s been a literal and physical relationship with the record as far as coming to a point where I understand what parts of me it represents, what it means to me as a person and what it means for my entire life.”
Recorded between the summer of 2019 and early 2020 in LA with acclaimed producer John Congleton, Sunflower is “definitely a milestone,” Maroney admits. “I’d be lying to say I didn’t feel a little bit of that. And why not let yourself enjoy it?” It’s also a gut-punch of fuzzy power chords (“Sinkin”) and genteel acoustics (“Cinnamon”); deftly-composed pop songs (“Freeway”) and hard-charging rockers (“Rollercoaster”). “I put all of myself into it,” Maroney adds of the 10-track LP. In retrospect, he adds, “I definitely have this sense of calmness now. I did what I was capable of doing and I’m just glad I was around my friends and my people to help me get to this point.”
An energetic live performer with a craft first honed in basements, living rooms, and jam-packed clubs, Maroney quickly developed a style steeped in the sweat and sounds of Nashville’s DIY scene. After self-releasing his 2017 debut EP Big Shot and amassing a strong local fan base, Maroney ultimately attracted the attention of Canvasback Music. After signing with the label, his subsequent releases – Carnival (2018), Indiana (2019), and Miracle (2020) – remained entirely self-written with just a single producer credited on each project, namely Grammy Award-winning producer Tone Def and UK-based producer Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys, Adele).
When Maroney began to tour the US and Europe alongside other artists, co-writing sessions became commonplace as they created music together while on the road. It was at this point he made the conscious decision that he would seek out additional songwriters and producers to work with on his debut full-length project; as Maroney’s music world grew, so too did his desire for collaboration.
While Maroney is the first to admit he was ‘terrified-in-a-good-way’ to be working alongside top-notch talents with the likes of Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull and venerated songwriter Dan Wilson on the creation of Sunflower, over time he came to understand a simple lesson. That being, “If you’re approaching what you’re doing from a place of love and kindness and passion you can be as open and flowing artistically as you want to be with your collaborators,” he says. “I learned a ton from writing with those people,” Maroney continues. “I think the biggest thing I took away is you get to decide how open you want to be, and you get to decide how much of a stage you want to set for emotions in songwriting.”
If there was a sense of apprehension heading into such sessions, it’s only because songwriting, for Maroney, has long been such a highly personal process. “It’s been my journal for a really long time,” he explains. “There’s a beauty in songwriting. It’s a scrapbook. It’s a photo album. And if you’re really putting your heart into what you’re doing and writing songs for the right reasons, every one of them should take you back to a very specific place.” For Maroney, the songs that comprise Sunflower take him along the long and winding path to the present, from his time as a young, upstart-tween musician busking at the Knoxville farmer’s markets to playing dank basement gigs, sobering up amid personal struggles, and finally arriving right now at his most fully-realized self.
“Hopefully this record is representative of my journey,” Maroney says, singling out the opening track “Sinkin” as summing up the record to him in a single cut. “Here’s 100 percent of who I am,” he says of the brash and bursting song. “It feels the most connected to my heart.”
“I hope that people hear the record and see the songs as windows into what I’ve been experiencing and hopefully they’ll relate to that,” Maroney says, continuing. “I know these songs will continue to do that for me.”
Working with producer John Congleton, Maroney explains, was about learning to trust his impulse. While Maroney had long been the first to question initial instincts, Congleton taught him to respect his gut. “He communicates really directly and really taught me a lot about speaking precisely and speaking about what you want to accomplish with a song and a record,” Maroney recalls. “Whereas I have a tendency to be really abstract. I learned to be able to switch into that mode. He had my back the whole time.”
Maroney gushes as he reflects on the session with Congleton that resulted in “It’s Still Cool If You Don’t.” Their initial stab at writing together, “was the first experience of really letting go,” Maroney contends of the song. “Just coming in and having a silly idea and being down to see where it goes.” Working on “Cinnamon” alongside seasoned songwriter Jenny Owens Young, which Maroney describes as a “quieter more low-key song,” was by contrast an exercise in “being all gushy” and exploring his feelings on love. “That was really fun to write a love song with someone else who was also in love with a person,” Maroney offers.
Where “Rollercoaster,” an older track that Maroney and his band typically closed out their sets with, was his attempt at getting a bit raucous, the track “Deep Sea Diver,” which Maroney penned with Dan Wilson, was a far more meditative affair. Or as Maroney says with a laugh, “It’s like, well, if this really pissed off angry rock thing doesn’t work here’s my best attempt at trying to be John Prine.”
If anything, the process of assembling Sunflower was the best way Maroney learned to take his foot off the gas a bit and ease into his life in a more gratifying way. Where he admits at times throughout the recording process he was “squeezing it so hard,” completing a brilliant debut album to him “was so much about just learning to be a little more laid back,” Maroney says with a smile. “I still feel really connected to it, but I’m so stoked to share it and especially one day play it live,” Maroney adds of Sunflower. “Right now, I am just so thankful and happy.