Artist of the day: The Ditchflowers
(Next week is the 40th Anniversary of Woodstock. To celebrate, WMNF-88.5 is throwing a tribute concert featuring local bands performing the music of artists who played at Woodstock. For the next week, we're taking a closer look at some of those local artists, as well as the legends whose music they plan to recreate. First up: The Ditchflowers performing as Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.)
With dreamy harmonies, poetically social relevance and rock history’s most cumbersome name, Crosby, Stills and Nash – or Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, depending on which time frame you’re referencing – first achieved recognition for its members’ careers with other legendary bands.
Graham Nash sang lead in the Hollies, David Crosby played with the Byrds and Stephen Stills was in Buffalo Springfield. Neil Young added his rusty wail to the mix from 1969 to ’71, specifically when the band performed one of its most memorable concerts at Woodstock on Aug. 18, 1969.
With similar super-alliance sensibilities, the Ditchflowers will re-create (mostly) the CSNY Woodstock performance. The Pinellas all-star rock ’n’ pop group may not sound a whole lot like CSNY stylistically – more comparable to Wilco and the Beatles – but the skilled musicians do excel at silky vocal harmonies and catchy guitar melodies.
Led by singer-guitarist Brian Merrill (formerly of Barely Pink, Parade in Paris and a slew of other bands) and Ed Woltil (Mad for Electra, the Headlights) on vocals, keyboards and guitar, the Ditchflowers-CSN&Y live band will also include producer-musician poobah Steve Connelly on guitar, Bryan Thompson on drums and Michael Hoag on bass.
Still down one heavyweight vocalist, the Ditchflowers invited a friend to round out the supergroup ensemble, someone up to the task to fill Neil Young’s distinctive and formidable shoes.
"Our friend Robert Vessenmeyer of Experimental Pilot is joining us to help out with the harmonies," Woltil says of likewise experienced and reputable local musician.
And what will they all play at the Woodstock tribute?
"Our song choice is historically accurate – songs (CSN&Y) performed at Woodstock – mostly. We might bend the rules a wee bit. I really wanted to do Marrakesh Express, the first CSN song I ever heard, so we're doing that one and Steve wants to do Wooden Ships – they're pretty much all prime flashback-inducing tunes."
After performing at Woodstock redux, the Ditchflowers will return the studio to recording the band’s second album.
"Then we're also doing a certain other ambitious tribute show, in the near future – but one thing at a time," Woltil announces obliquely, referencing most likely the band’s stint in the upcoming tribute to the Beatles Abbey Road and Yellow Submarine.
Catch the Ditchflowers on Saturday, Aug. 15, at WMNF's Woodstock tribute concert, which begins at 2 p.m. Tickets are $18 in advance, $24 at the door.
Click here to listen to the Ditchflowers' Love, The Conqueror.
-- Julie Garisto, tbt*