Along for the Ride | Magnolia Summer

“Most of the tracks were recorded with the whole band in the same room playing together. Something definitely changes in the DNA of songs when you play them as a band rather than as a studio project—the record feels a little more sparse, a little more ragged, but overall more alive and organic.”

 

 

At least for a few days in mid-March, the seasons will run ahead of schedule in Texas, when Austin welcomes summer—Magnolia Summer, that is.

With such Undertow Music cohorts as the Love Experts and Waterloo, the quintet will perform at this year’s South by Southwest, roughly three weeks before the release of their second full-length CD, From Driveways’ Lost View. On the eve of both SXSW and that release, singer/multi-instrumentalist Chris Grabau, Magnolia Summer’s genial frontman, reflected on how their sound has evolved since Levers and Pulleys, the quintet’s acclaimed 2003 debut.

“When [multi-instrumentalist/singer] Mark Ray and I were recording Levers and Pulleys,” he noted, “Magnolia Summer was more of a recording project among friends. Nowadays, I feel like there’s a core group of musicians that play like a band.

“Hopefully, the new record reflects that change a bit. Most of the tracks were recorded with the whole band in the same room playing together. Something definitely changes in the DNA of songs when you play them as a band rather than as a studio project—the record feels a little more sparse, a little more ragged, but overall more alive and organic.”

As on Magnolia Summer’s debut, From Driveways’ Lost View features the musicianship of guitarist John Horton, bassist/singer Greg Lamb, and drummer Aaron Zeveski, all of whom will accompany Grabau and Ray to Austin. Also “along for the ride,” to borrow the title of the new CD’s opener: Joe Thebeau of Finn’s Motel. Over time, Thebeau has subbed in Magnolia Summer when other commitments claimed Horton. “When they’re both available, it’s really fun to have three guitars,” said Grabau. “Joe’s also a great singer and has really been a great person to play with.”

Otherwise, as an attendee, Grabau expressed interest in a number of SXSW acts, as well as Neil Young’s keynote address and a scheduled performance by the legendary Moz: “My dream would be to find myself seated beside Morrissey while he’s face-planted in a big plate of tacos at Jovita’s.”

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