BURLAP TO CASHMERE
Photo by Chris Phelps
Stepping back into the spotlight after a decade away takes an unusually high degree of musical integrity. For folk-rock pioneer Burlap to Cashmere, a band that built a reputation for both exceptional studio projects and as an unyielding touring act in the late ‘90s, that integrity shines through on a new self-titled, 11-track project due July 19 on Jive/Essential Records.
Its initial single “ Build A Wall” goes for adds at AAA radio on June 26 while early fan and industry buzz reflecting acclaim for the band’s refined new sound, is building.
The Tennessean took note in a recent spotlight (5/13/11): “Brooklyn’s Burlap to Cashmere took its modern folk-rock to the masses in 1998 with its major-label debut, Anybody Out There? – and followed up that Dove Award-winning effort with a nearly decade-long hiatus. In the time the band has been away, a similar blend of worldly folk has made stars out of acts such as Mumford & Sons and Fleet Foxes. With its new self-titled album – set for a July 19 release on Jive/Essential Records – Burlap to Cashmere looks to reclaim that turf in top form, with an inspired blend of Mediterranean rhythms, rootsy textures and tight-knit harmonies, which lend the unmistakable air of folk-rock greats Simon & Garfunkel and Cat Stevens.”
With its core lineup intact – singer/guitarist/songwriter Steven Delopoulos, guitarist John Philippidis, and drummer Theodore Pagano — Burlap to Cashmere returns with renewed focus, drive and energy. “There’s something about family and people you’ve known forever that makes the chemistry happen,” Delopoulos says. “There’s a sense of honesty and trust. That’s Burlap
On its first album in more than a decade, Burlap to Cashmere draws from all the influences that made it a touchstone band: Mediterranean and Greek rhythms, flamenco and classic American folk, to create a rich body of work that embraces the past while crystallizing its new creative vision.
For the last ten years, a Burlap to Cashmere reunion seemed like wishful thinking. After garnering awards, a dedicated following, and credentials earned non-stop touring alongside some of the biggest names in music, the band was exhausted and went on an indefinite hiatus.
In 2005, tragedy struck when guitarist John Philippidis was beaten and left for dead after a road rage incident near his home in Brooklyn. An extended hospital visit, which included a full month in a coma and radical facial reconstructive surgery, ultimately sparked a band reunion.
In 2010, Burlap to Cashmere headed into the studio with acclaimed producer Mitchell Froom (Elvis Costello, Paul McCartney, Sheryl Crow, Tom Waits) to begin work on new material. His rules were simple: “There would be no nudging and no Auto-Tuning. We’re going into this to capture everything that’s organic about the band.”
“For me, Burlap to Cashmere is a classic band in the best sense of the word. From the great songwriting and singing, to the deep and accomplished musicianship, they are absolutely a distinctive band,” shares Froom. “This is particularly apparent in the songs that incorporate their unique approach to traditional Greek rhythms. All you have to do is listen once to ‘Don’t Forget To Write’, and it’s abundantly clear – you’ve never heard anything quite like it. We also set out to make a record that put musical feeling and performance at a premium – live singing and playing, no click tracks, etc. Developing this kind of hybrid sound in the studio was a big challenge for everyone involved, but ultimately, what else do you hope for?”
Recalling the musical intimacy of Cat Stevens, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel, coupled with Delopoulos’ introspective and poetic songwriting, the album announces Burlap to Cashmere’s triumphant return in a record that will surprise longtime fans and intrigue the uninitiated.
Fans of modern troubadour outfits like the Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons will find common ground with Burlap To Cashmere’s output, with the added textures of the Greek and Mediterranean influences further fleshing out the band’s unique take on 21st century folk-rock music.
Burlap to Cashmere recently unveiled its new body of work to a sold-out crowd at New York’s “Le Poisson Rouge.” As part of a promotional tour leading up to the July 19 album launch, the band is making media, retail and radio visits including the 2011 Pandora Radio Summit (May 4) in New York City and a performance May 15 in Nashville as part of the Lightning 100 live concert series “Nashville Sunday Night” which broadcasts live from the legendary 3rd & Lindsley. The band returns to New York for a May 25 show at Rockwood Music Hall’s “Stage 2” followed by a West Coast run that includes two nights at Hollywood’s Hotel Café.