|Boat 14||Danny Schmidt||Bob Gramann||Joe Stead|
Boat 14 is a relatively young band that had its beginnings at Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, VA almost three years ago. The group started as trio including Matt Morgan and Stuart Perkins on guitar and Matt White on bass. Within a year Jessica Zuidema and Heath Oderman added violin and drums to the ensemble. The members of Boat 14 come from very diverse musical backgrounds and influences including, classical, jazz, folk, rock, and even a little 80's glam rock. Their music has been characterized as folk rock, and they've been compared to bands such as Burlap to Cashmere, and Caedmon's Call, although they are reluctant to be placed into a strict category.
Most of the song writing for the band is done initially by Stuart Perkins and Matt Morgan, but the final product is always a result of the collaboration of the ideas of each from the band's members. Boat 14's songs focus on strong melody, and the use of vocal harmony. They try to not restrict themselves to the typical mold of a lead and rhythm guitar, but attempt when possible to change the arrangement in songs to provide for different instrumental focuses. The band's strong devotion to their Christian faith is seen clearly in their lyrics. Their desire is not to preach, but to convey musically what they are passionate about. While many songs are about life and relationships, there is a strong theme of story telling in many of their lyrics.
The Boat has played through out Virginia at various universities and colleges, concentrating mostly in Virginia Beach and locally in Fredericksburg. They can be seen frequently on the campus of Mary Washington and have played several times at the George Street Underground. Last year they recorded their first six song demo, and are currently looking to record their first full length indie release.
Danny Schmidt is a juggler, fire-eater, baker-extraordinare, and part-time shoe repairman. He's not very good at any of these occupations, hence he finds it hard getting much work, and so spends the majority of his time writing songs and singing them for people who will listen. Luckily, he does seem to be pretty good at this, and so he is not destitute financially.
Danny is 28 years old, born in Austin, TX and currently living in Charlottesville, VA. He began playing guitar when he learned that for his Bar Mitzvah, if he told all his relatives he was saving up for a guitar, they'd give him monetary gifts instead of fancy pens. This displayed a craftiness, keen far beyond his years -- though technically, he would be an adult in just a few months.
So he's played guitar a long time. His style has developed into a hodgepodge mixture of intricate fingerpicking and Piedmont-style blues. Had his family realized, years earlier, that the eventual weight of time would have led Danny to a plateau of guitar musicianship with some fair amount of tastefulness on it, they would have regretted yelling at him incessantly through the door of his room to turn that %#@t down. That %#@t was Danny's homage to the masters, as he worked meticulously and inexorably to reproduce Hendrix's interpretation of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Prideshot down, Danny switched over to the acoustic guitar when he was about 20 years old.
Danny has been writing instrumental guitar pieces since he was about 21 -- this being a natural consequence of starting to write music at the same time as he was given the state privilege of intoxication -- he had a hard time remembering all the words -- and then, eventually, any of the words. Inevitably, though, maturity weighed it's toll upon his songwriting style much as it had upon his musicianship, and at the age of 24, he wrote his first lyrical song. Also he was madly in love at the time, and so once one song had slipped out, many many songs slipped out behind it, each burning with such a passion and poetry and desperation that, by the time he cooled off, he was a spent shell of a man. Now most of his songs are the dark, apocalyptic, scalpel-to-the-bone-of-the-human-experience sort. All are rich in sincerity and heavy with the truth of their experience. His focus these days is more on the poetry of songs than with the flashy musical pyrotechnics -- though he'll throw some of these in too, when the crowd takes on the collective glassy-eyed stupor of one whose tumbler was poured too high with sincerity, and then drained in haste.
On April 25th, 1999 , Danny set about to record some of his songs to date. This unfolded in the form of a live performance and recording at The Prism Coffeehouse in Charlottesville, in front of a stacked house of his friends, loved-ones, and the inevitable gaggle of sadistic grabbers-on who will coalesce, like hyenas, anywhere a crowd is gathered in a frenzy. The recording turned out good and everyone went home either happy or full. And it was released in August of 1999 -- a debut recording which captured the essence of what Danny does -- plays what he feels, honestly and openly, right there ten-feet in front of you, where you can touch it if you want to. It is a very intimate production.
Bob Gramann is one of the founders and the moderator for the Fredericksburg Songwriters’ Showcase. In spite of the clear conflict of interest, he books himself for the showcase at least once a year. He hopes that the audience will want to see the other players enough that they will come anyway. Bob likes to write songs that tell stories. An avid whitewater boater, he draws themes from the river, as well as from family life and the changing culture of the Fredericksburg area. Some listeners find his songs humorous; others think they notice insights. Bob was voted Fredericksburg's best acoustic act in a Free Lance-Star music poll in 1995, the year his CD Mostly True Songs was published. Since then, he has written a bunch of new songs and has almost completed his next CD, tentatively titled That Squirrel Song.
Joe Stead is one of Great Britain's greatest folk musicians, collectors, teachers, recorders and performers. He is truly one of the Godfathers of British music - a true world asset. Joe wrote "I first saw Pete Seeger at St Pancras Town Hall Theatre on October 4th 1959. I was already a folk music enthusiast, but this performance by Pete totally locked me on." Joe started singing professionally in 1966 and has not stopped since. He has played all the major festivals in Great Britain, illustrious venues such as The Albert Hall and Festival Hall and has toured America more times than he can remember. He ran Sweet Folk All Recordings from 1974-1989, recording such people as Pete Seeger, Martin Carthy, Martyn Wyndham Read, Phil Beer, Alex Campbell, Stan Hugill, Jeremy Tayor and Philadelphia’s own Jim Couza. Joe has invented a wonderful way to do many of his concerts. He gives the audience a list of subjects about which he can comment in song. America, Biblical, City Life, Comical, Death, Enviromental, Failure, Fishing, Friendship, Heroes, etc. etc. - and asks them to choose. What follows is a wonderful warrn evening of wit, deep thought, sadness, humor, laughter, and every other emotion one can imagine - a true "musical feast". In an evening Joe "willingly and delightfully shares his unexpected perspective on life." Short of travelling to England yourself this is your chance to see a real master. (Dr. Bob Cohen - House Concert Chair, Philadelphia Folk Song Society.)
Boat 14 | Danny Schmidt | Bob Gramann | Joe Stead
Bob GramannAlso take a look at Bob Gramann's Web page that contains information about performing at Fredericksburg Songwriters' Showcase
122 Laurel Avenue
Fredericksburg VA 22408
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