The place was packed with pretty girls lining the bar and guys in loose jeans nursing their beers. It was Friday night so everyone was out to let loose and take in some good old rock “n” roll. The music was blaring even from outside the famous Bitter End, the same Bitter End that hosted acts like Chuck Berry to Lady Gaga. Since 1961 it has been the stepping stone for many talented acts.
Here on April 4, 2014 the same blood and sweat was being spilled on the hardwood stage among swaying young fans. On the hardwood stage a man in a red bandana wrapped around his forehead strummed his guitar as the drummer struck a beat. His look spurred images of Bruce Springsteen and his lyrics had a touch of Bob Dylan and John Cougar. The band the Falling Birds is a group that is determined to entertain yet also educate.
The man in the red bandana was Stephen Artemis the founder of the band who hails from Albany, New York. He along with drummer David Burton and bassist Nick Albury came together in early 2013 and found a genuine musical chemistry. Since then they have made some major inroads with their music. The members all hail from different parts of America; Stephen from New York, Nick from Boston and David from South Florida.
Stephen for one was always attracted to music and the power it generates. He found it essential to portray his life experiences through his lyrics. During his time in Albany and rural America he saw the decline and economic spiral the country was experiencing. Hence he decided to express these issues through his songs.
The band as a whole has been influenced by acts like Jack White, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Their performance at the Bitter End invoked the spirit of all these artists. From Stephen playing the guitar and harmonica with the red bandana to Nick belting away the bass and David rolling one beat after another. Their set was more than well received with the audience screaming for not one but two more songs!
“The song we did off our debut EP “Arms Out Wide” was inspired by a time that I was in dark place in my life. I wasn’t happy I was dealing with a pain inside me. It is a way I release my feelings.”
David the drummer sees himself as an anchor for Stephen, he like to add color to the musical canvas. His influences run from Neil Peart (Rush) to Max Weinberg (East Street Band). Nick the bass player is the innovator who sees things in a more visual way who adds a real passion to the stage.
Their debut EP “Native America” due out on June 15th is meant to express an awareness of where America has been and has become. Stephen sees it as an iconic American folk, hard-working rock “n” roll EP an experience of what it is like to rise and fall in America. That message was clear as they belted out tracks from the EP on stage like, “If Time Allows” and “Arms Out Wide”. The band likes to invoke the message of the working man and the ups and downs of the American way of life. Besides Stephen’s switching from acoustic guitar to electric combined with the harmonica David adds some flavor by introducing another instrument to his arsenal. During the set he used what he termed a “jingle stick” that made a tambourine sound but he used it as a drum stick.
“I try to be creative and use it as an extra percussion.”
Even in today’s world were technologically has taken center stage in the music industry, The Falling Birds believe there is still a demand for live performances. They believe there will always be a bar/club that you can see a live show. Nick kind of put it best.
“I don’t believe that people would lose that desire to see a band. The analog aspect of recording into a tape machine is part of it. But we like to capture the organic part of the recording keeping the integrity intact.”
They are currently working on their next EP with enough material for an album. But their main struggle is cultivating a strong fan base. Yet judging from their performance there is no doubt that the Falling Birds, are due to spread their wings to greener pastures.
by Nick Christophers