Ivan & Alyosha – Tickets – Santos Party House – New York, NY – April 18th, 2013

Ivan & Alyosha

Ivan & Alyosha

Twin Forks, Denison Witmer

Thu, April 18, 2013

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Santos Party House

New York, NY

$10-$12

Sold Out

This event is 16 and over

Ivan & Alyosha
Ivan & Alyosha
All the Times We Had, Ivan & Alyosha’s first full-length album, encapsulates the personalized blend of rousing songcraft, infectious melodic hooks and thoughtful lyrical introspection that’s already endeared the band to just about anyone who’s witnessed one of their effortlessly uplifting live shows, or who’s heard either of their two prior indie EP releases.

The Seattle combo—which borrows its name from a pair of characters from Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov—delivers its songs of struggle, perseverance and spirituality with a resilient, upbeat attitude that’s reflected in their bubbly brew of stirringly strummed folk-rock guitars, surging instrumental interaction and a bright, buoyant blend of voices that reflects the band members’ family-style camaraderie, evoking a timeless pop ideal that’s as affecting emotionally as it is pleasing to the ear.

The intrepid ensemble—comprised of core members Tim Wilson (lead vocals and acoustic guitar), Ryan Carbary (guitars, piano and vocals), Tim Kim (electric guitar and vocals) and Tim’s brother Pete Wilson (bass and vocals), plus a revolving assortment of friends and collaborators on keyboards, drums and other instruments—has spent much of the past two years on the road, traveling the highways and back roads of America, often with wives and children in tow, building a loyal fan base with their joyous, high-energy live performances.

Ivan & Alyosha’s prior releases and live shows have won the band copious critical acclaim. They’ve also done successful stints opening for the likes of Aimee Mann, Brandi Carlile, the Low Anthem, Rosie Thomas and John Vanderslice. Since early in its existence, the group has been embraced enthusiastically by alternative radio, performing multiple on-air sessions for NPR as well as receiving notable support from such key stations as KCRW, KEXP, WFUV and WNYC.

The same qualities that originally won Ivan & Alyosha media attention and a devoted grass-roots audience are apparent on All the Times We Had, which the band co-produced in collaboration with keyboardist/engineer Chad Copelin, and mixed by Jesse Lauter (The Low Anthem). The 11-song album effortlessly captures the warmth and immediacy of Ivan & Alyosha’s live performances, lending added resonance to such lyrically compelling, melodically arresting tunes as “Be Your Man,” “Running for Cover,” “Don’t Wanna Die Anymore,” “The Fold” and the album’s’ bittersweetly reflective title track, which features guest vocals by the band’s frequent touring partner and longstanding admirer Aimee Mann.

“We didn’t get it perfect, but I definitely think we got it right,” Tim Wilson says of the new album. “We really worked hard to get a live vibe, and to capture that inspiration that we get when we’re on the road, when everybody’s together and feeding off of each other. You can nit-pick and edit everything until it sounds perfect, but we were more concerned with just getting the best performances we could. I think that it’s more mature and more focused, and closer to what we do live, than the records that we’d done before. We definitely had moments in the studio where it like, ‘Oh, wow, this is special.’”

Ivan & Alyosha formed in 2007, when Tim Wilson met Ryan Carbary. Both had been in various Seattle-area combos, but the songs that Wilson was writing at the time seemed to call out for a new musical approach. The pair spent nearly a year writing material for their debut EP, The Verse, The Chorus. Released in March 2009, the EP generated an unexpected level of national exposure, with the charming tune “Easy to Love” (reprised on All the Times We Had) receiving considerable airplay. The debut EP won the band an interview on NPR’s All Things Considered and coverage in NPR’s All Songs Considered SXSW 2010 preview. A subsequent appearance at the SXSW festival generated considerable music-industry word-of-mouth.

By the time Ivan & Alyosha recorded its second EP, Fathers Be Kind, in February 2011, the group had expanded to include Tim Wilson’s bass-playing brother Pete, whose songwriting abilities contributed considerably to the band’s creative arsenal, and Tim’s high school friend Tim Kim, whose distinctive guitar work added a new dimension to their sound. Fathers Be Kind’s majestically jangly title track became a favorite of fans, critics and DJs, and reappears in a newly recorded version on All the Times We Had.

“When we recorded The Verse, the Chorus, we’d never really played live as a band,” Tim Wilson notes. “By the time we did the Fathers Be Kind EP, my brother Pete and Tim Kim had come on board, and we had done a west coast tour or two, and some dates on the east coast, but we were still figuring out how to play together. After Fathers Be Kind came out, we went out and spent year and a half touring, and became a real band. I think that’s reflected on the new album.”

Indeed, All the Times We Had demonstrates the positive effects of the band’s extensive roadwork, underlining just how far Ivan & Alyosha has progressed since its humble origins.

“I think that we all feel pretty strongly that this is what we’re supposed to be doing, playing music, trying to write good, timeless songs, and trying to connect with people,” Wilson states. “I think that we have a pretty deep sense of purpose, that this is not just some accident. I guess that the essence of faith is having felt or experienced something that maybe you can’t hold in your hand, and I think that’s how I’d describe my attitude towards music. And it’s OK if it’s hard, because anything in life that’s worth doing is hard.

“I’m guilty as guilty as anyone, of wanting certain things or wanting to be in a certain place right now,” he concludes. “But we’re building something, and building something takes time. I’m learning to enjoy the journey, and I think we all are.”
Twin Forks
Twin Forks is Chris Carrabba (Dashboard Confessional/Further Seems Forever) new project which includes members from Bad Books and The Narrative
Denison Witmer
Denison Witmer
Fifteen years and nine albums into his career, Denison Witmer is familiar with the unexpected and often quixotic intersections that can take place between life and musical career. His newest album, The Ones Who Wait, is a reflection of this understanding of self and the growth that comes through life experience. It is an intimate reflection on the meandering path of life, on family and friendships, on death balanced with new life, on endings and beginnings. In Denison's own words, The Ones Who Wait is about "patience and reverence. Being mindful and open to what you're experiencing. A desire to take hold of what's happening in your life, yet trusting the mystery of it enough to let go and participate rather than dictate."

Much like any one of Denison's previous eight records, this ninth record started as a collaboration. He and fellow producer/engineer Devin Greenwood casually started working on an EP.

In the midst of this new start, however, Denison found himself pulled back to his native Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His father, who was diagnosed with cancer 3 years previously, had taken a turn for the worse. "My father was never the kind of guy who let people fuss over or take care of him," Denison says of that time. "But in the last few months of his life, there was this kind of acceptance and he allowed himself to be taken care of. He did it really graciously and generously. It was a beautiful thing to participate in and a gift to those around hm. Those are months that I would never trade for anything. I stopped making music. I stopped doing everything. I just spent time with him."

A few months later, his dad passed away. Denison grieved with his family, and remembered.

He returned to the studio with a new approach to the EP he had first started building the previous winter. What began as an EP grew into a full-length album, as Denison added songs that reflected the changes in the intervening year.

Denison's albums have always been markedly personal, each one a significant milestone in his life. But The Ones Who Wait marks a whole new level of intimacy with listeners. Getting married, starting a business, and watching his dad close the final chapter on his life have helped Denison tell his own story better, to be more delicate, and confident. Bringing things full circle, as he wrapped up post-production on The Ones Who Wait, Denison found out he was going to be a father too.

The sound of The Ones Who Wait indicates a new maturity in Denison's musical career, a subtle sense of confidence in his voice and music. His guitar and voice sit front and center in the sound, evoking a melodic warmth reminiscent of 70s-era singer-songwriters like Paul Simon and Jackson Browne. Denison reined in his well-established network of musicians to fill out the sound of the record, including CJ Camerieri (Bon Iver, Rufus Wainwright), Devin Greenwood (Norah Jones, Amos Lee), James McAlister (Sufjan Stevens), Charles Staub (Melody Gardot), and Rosie Thomas.

His songwriting, now trademark, is a finesse he uses to balance dark and light in the songs, lament and hymn. On "Hold On," Denison sings about "How a father always starts out as a son, how sometimes you're both, sometimes you're only one. How we manifest things far beyond our means. I do this for you. You did that for me."

A Lancaster, PA native, Denison first picked up the guitar at age 16, and was writing his own songs shortly after. Mentored by Don Peris (Innocence Mission) and influenced by Neil Young, Nick Drake and Leonard Cohen, Denison forged a compelling ambient folk sound that CMJ called "deceptively powerful" and Pitchfork said was "lavish but restrained." Rollingstone.com called Denison their "favorite underrated singer-songwriter."

The Ones Who Wait is also Denison's first release for Asthmatic Kitty Records, whose employees and much of its roster have been long-time fans and collaborators with Denison. Asthmatic Kitty will also be releasing a "part two" of the record later in the summer of 2012.

Put all together, the album marks a big change for Denison: a life without his dad, a new label, a new worldview as a parent. As Witmer looks forward to the next phase of "the cyclical life" of writing-recording-touring, he is philosophical, as always, but confident about releasing an album in an overcrowded marketplace.

"I don't really have an agenda when I release my records," he says. "I just feel like I want to share something and give back to the creative community that I've taken from as a listener. My hope is that people can experience the music and it touches them in some way. I've been in this business long enough to know that you can't pick your fans. Your fans pick you. My biggest concern is I want people to feel like I'm being honest with them, and for me, to know that I've created something that I really believe in."
Venue Information:
Santos Party House
96 Lafayette St
New York, NY, 10013
http://www.santospartyhouse.com/