Lost Dog Street Band brings organic sound to the Strand

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By ROB DUGUAY

Whether you want to call it folk, country, bluegrass, or Americana, a fact with this kind of music is that there has to be some genius behind it. Any appreciator of the genre can see an impersonator coming out as a bad spot, and they can also tell if a song is real or if it’s telling nonsense. There is no more real way for a band to get started than by playing on the sidewalks of different towns and that is the story behind the Lost Dog Street Band of Nashville. Since those meager beginnings in the early 2010s, the act has been in high demand and they will be performing at the Strand Ballroom & Theater on 79 Washington Street in Providence on January 26 at 8 p.m. ET. Charlotte, NC fiddler Matt Heckler will start things off.

Before the show I had a conversation with guitarist and singer Benjamin Tod about a new album the band is releasing, his experience with crowdfunding, how he doesn’t understand how five-piece bands can afford to exist. and what he hopes people take from the next album after its release.

Rob Duguay: On January 21, Lost Dog Street Band will release their sixth album Glory and it is seen as a throwback to the band’s days when they hopped on trains and played to get by. What made you want to come back to that raw feeling and that vision with this album?

Benjamin Tod: In the previous three albums we had occasional pedal steel and drums, so I thought it was a good time to take everything apart, take out the drums and take out the pedal steel. Live we never had pedal steel and more of us were going back to our roots and having a sound that you would probably have heard on the streets in the last decade or more when we were playing there. The original archetype for this album was Steve Earle’s Train A Comin ‘album, so we went back to production, started to really focus on the mixing aspect and making things really good and precise. I’m really happy with it.

DR: Listening to the single “Until I Recoup (Glory I)” it sounds really good, so I’m excited to hear the rest. Where was the album recorded and did you handle all the production yourself?

BT: I have self-produced every album I have ever made so far and it was recorded in Nashville at Anti-Corporate Music Inc. Headquarters. My good friend Dan Emery who is my manager and manages my distribution and also my sound engineer, we’ve been friends since i was 14 and he kind of raised me, helped with the production.

DR: Did you do any crowdfunding for the album like you did with previous releases or did you do something different? What do you think makes crowdfunding work for independent artists these days?

BT: I didn’t do any crowdfunding for this album and I think we’re kind of past that phase. The last one I crowdfunded was my solo album Heart Of Gold Is Hard To Find and it was really more or less set up as a pre-order type. Essentially, the prices were set at what they would generally be set. I actually think they were a little cheaper on pre-order, it was a few bucks less than retail. Then I had some exclusive items like prints of the original handwritten pages that I wrote a lot of songs on and there were trial presses available through that so it was more or less like an option to do it. ‘specialty items and a pre-order.

Before that, it was extremely important for our development. It was a way for us to finance albums when we didn’t have the legitimate means to do so without a bigger label. I think that’s kind of what opens up in general so that independent artists can fund directly through their fan base and be able to afford the production and recording of an album.

DR: With you on guitar and vocals, your wife Ashley Mae on vocals and violin, and Jeff Loops on bass, do you think your range is more utilitarian and economical without needing other limbs and instruments to capture sound than you are looking for ?

BT: If I could put them on the bus and I could afford it, who knows what I would do? It takes a special kind of magic to bring together a group of people who can stay sane throughout a tour and also be able to pay, feed and earn money on your own. I don’t know how other bands do, I’m friends with hundreds of artists, contemporaries from coast to coast, above and below me and they have five bands. I don’t know how you can afford to feed yourself and travel and settle in for the night every night and be able to make a profit yourself. It’s a mystery to me, so it’s very utilitarian, if anything.

DR: I can totally see that. What do you want people to take away from Glory when they listen to it after its release?

BT: Well, I try to make music that helps people be better themselves. This is what I am looking for, I also consider my music as a prescription for my own madness and it turns out to be a prescription for the madness of others. The idea is always individual, I want to create music that helps people be better in their own lives.

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