Category Archives: Pilgrims Profiles

Bird Dog: Campfire-Punk-Americana

Pilgrim Profiles: Your guide to the freshest faces in grass-roots music

By: Tim Newby

Bird Dog 2

Band: Bird Dog (Facebook Page)

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Members:  Ben Chace (guitar/vocals), Nino Chace (vocals), Mark Dobbyn (guitar/vocals), David Christian (drums), Peri Delorenzo (violin/vocals), Graham Norwood (bass/vocals)

Sounds Like: A trip to the mountains by way of  the gritty city streets while the tape-deck blasts out rhythms blown straight from a tropical beach.  Or in the words of the band, Campfire-Punk-Americana.

For Fans Of:  The National, Brothers Comatose, Dr. Dog, Delta Spirit

Bio:  Formed in 2010 by brothers Ben and Nino Chace, Mark Dobbyn, and Paul Defiglia.  Ben and Paul were students at New York University and commissioned to record a song for a multi-media vinyl project for visual artist Xaviera Simmons.  The resulting song, “Wandering Through the Pines,” was included on a vinyl release by Merge Records along side tracks from Yim Yames and Tunde Adebimpe.  Following the success of their initial foray into music, Bird Dog was born, and Ben – a filmmaker by day – solidified the band’s line-up to its current incarnation of Nino Chace, Mark Dobbyn, David Christian, Peri Delorenzo, and Graham Norwood.  The band has released three EPs since then, with a fourth, Bon Bon Voyage due out in June.

Albums: Bon Bon Voyage EP (due out June 2015), Cabin EP (2012), Rivers EP (2012), Bird Dog EP (2011)

Key Tracks:  Check out a brand new song, “High and Low,” from Bird Dog’s upcoming Bon Bon Voyage EP.

Bird Dog – Painting Lines from Ben Chace on Vimeo.

Ballroom Thieves: Heartfelt Lyrics, Passionate Melodies, and Sublime Harmonies

Pilgrim Profiles: Your guide to the freshest faces in grass-roots music

By: Tim Newby

Ballroom_Thieves-Warehouse_by_One_Love_PhotoBand: Ballroom Thieves (Official Website)

Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts

Members:  Martin Earley (Guitar/Vocals), Devin Mauch (Percussion/Vocals),  Calin Peters (Cello/Vocals)

Sounds Like: A rock-show cloaked in heartfelt lyrics, up-tempo passionate melodies, and sublime harmonies delivered with a folky-Americana edge.

For Fans Of:  Shovels & Rope, Lumineers, Houndmouth, Avett Brothers

Bio:  Formed in 2011 by Martin Earley and Devin Mauch. The pair worked through some line-up changes and a year of transition, before they added cellist Calin Peters which solidifed the band’s line-up and sound. The new line-up gelled quickly around their heartfelt lyrics, up-tempo passionate melodies, and sublime harmonies, all of which highlight the band’s first full length album, A Wolf in the Doorway, due out April 21. The twelve tracks on the band’s upcoming album are a definitive statement of the band’s powers and will surely establish the trio as one of the best new bands of the year.

Albums: A Wolf in the Doorway (due out April 21, 2015), The Ballroom Thieves EP (2013), The Devil & The Deep EP (2012)

Key Tracks:
Check out “Archers” and “Oars to the Seas” from the upcoming album.

“Oars to the Sea”:

Country Devils: A Modern Day Back-Porch Party

Pilgrim Profiles: Your guide to the freshest faces in grass-roots music


By: Tim Newby

Country Devils Press by Nina BrooksBand: The Country Devils (Country Devils – FB Page)

Hometown: Harford County, Maryland

Members:  Michael Beresh (Guitar, Vocals), David Hubbard (Banjo,Vocals), Jason Harkins (Mandolin), Bob Brooks (Bass,Vocals), Jon Harvey (Guitar, Vocals), Adam Miller (Harmonica, Vocals)

Sounds Like: A modern day back-porch party that will make you laugh, cry, and dance your butt off.

For Fans Of:  Todd Snider, Hackensaw Boys, Devil Makes Three, Violent Femmes

Bio:  Formed in 2000, after the demise of Michael Beresh’s previous band the Everything Bagels, when Beresh first met mandolin picker Jason Harkins and the two quickly bonded over their shared musical tastes.  Over the past fifteen years the band has established themselves as a musical institution in Maryland and the surrounding area.  The band is built upon the strength of Beresh’s quirky, imaginative songwriting that showcases a good-time versatility that moves from ranging cow-punk to thoughtful ruminations on life.  In addition to his work with the Country Devils, Beresh is also prolific solo artist releasing a number of albums over the years, including 2015’s Wives Tales.

Albums: The Quick and the Don’t Get Any (2014), True Tall Tales EP (2012), You Don’t Wanna Know Me (2011), 40 Miles Outside the City (2009), Country Devils (2004), A Shotgun Named Lucy (2002),

Key Tracks:

Super City: A Glorious Assault

Pilgrim Profiles: Your guide to the freshest faces in grass-roots music. 

By: Tim Newby

Super City 2Band: Super City ( Super City – FB Page)

Hometown: Baltimore, MD

Members:  Dan Ryan (vocals & guitar), Greg Wellham (vocals & guitar), Jon Birkholz (keyboards), Brian Brunsman (bass), Mike Gambone (drums)

Sounds Like: A glorious assault of thundering guitar-driven indie-pop full of catchy hooks and sing-able melodies.

For Fans Of:  Wye Oak, Spoon, Surfer Blood, Cloud Nothings

Bio:  Super City formed in 2013 around the song-writing duo of Greg Wellham and Dan Ryan while they were attending Towson University.  The pair had known each other and jammed occasionally since first meeting in high-school, but had never actually been in a band together until forming Super City.  They recruited Jon Birkholz, Brian Brunsman, and former Bridge drummer Mike Gambome to round out the line-up.  Due to the the prolific song-writing of Wellham and Ryan – which benefits from the friendly competitiveness between the two which helps fuel the bands’ fast-growing catalog – Super City released its self-titled EP shortly after forming and is working on their full-length debut which will be released early 2015.

Albums: Super City EP (2014)

Key Tracks:

What They Do Live:




The Shack Band: Late-night fun

Pilgrim Profiles: Your guide to the freshest faces in grass-roots music. 

By: Tim Newby

Shack BandBand: The Shack Band (

Hometown: Richmond, VA

Members: Josh Crowley (sax, flute, vocals), Andrew Gillespie (keyboards, vocals), Bobby Hudson (drums), Mason Owen (bass vocals), Hunter Pease (guitar, vocals)

Sounds Like:  A late-night party in your best-friend’s basement.

For Fans Of: Dave Matthews Band, Dispatch, Slightly Stoopid

Bio:  Formed in 2010 in a dilapidated shack near Blacksburg, VA.  The band became a touring machine playing over 250 shows a year leading the release of the debut EP Born & Raised 2012.  They continued to steadily tour with stops at Floydfest, Domefest, and the Pink Moon Festival before releasing their full-length debut, America, in August 2014.

Albums: America (2014), Born & Raised EP (2012)

Key Tracks:


What They Do Live:

Green Rock River Band: A Rollicking, Rambunctious Ride

Pilgrim Profiles: Your guide to the freshest faces in grass-roots music


By: Tim Newby


Band: Green Rock River Band (

Hometown: London, UK

Members: Jeremy Sachs (Banjo /Vocals), Matt Markwick (Fiddle), Paul Freeman (Guitar), Mark Duddy (Drums), Adam Bowden Smith (Bass), Rich Stillman (Washboard & French Horn), Sarah Mann (Trombone), Rebecca Freeman (Vocals)

Sounds Like:  A piss-drunk Tom Waits bashing away on a banjo while his mates from New Orleans provide a boozy, horn-laden atmosphere complete with flourishes of jazzy trombones and clacking washboards.

For Fans Of:  Devil Makes Three, Trampled by Turtles, Leftover Salmon

Bio:  Formed in 2008 by Jeremy Sachs, Matt Merwick, and Paul Freeman who had been playing with a variety bands in London.  They slowly filled out their line-up over the years until they settled on the eight-piece version they have today.  They released a pair of well-received EPs 2010’s Soaking to the Bone and 2012’s Good Times, before releasing their full-length debut, Rhinoceros, in May 2014.

Albums:  Rhinoceros (2014), Good Times EP (2012), Soaking to the Bone EP (2010)


Key Tracks:


What They Do Live: 







Artist Profile: Henhouse Prowlers – Keeping Tradition Alive

Some of the top bluegrass pickers in the country have come from the Midwest, and Chicago’s premier tradition-inspired bluegrass band, The Henhouse Prowlers, rates among the finest. Founding members, Ben Wright (banjo) and Jon Goldine (bass) along with recent additions Eric Lambert (guitar) and Grant Ziolkowski (mandolin) have been steadily touring to promote their new album, Verses, Chapters, Rhymes, and their critically acclaimed debut album, Dark Rumor.

Steeped in traditional bluegrass that is saturated with instrumental dexterity and complex chord changes it is easy to see how the quintet has won such prestigious awards as the 2010 Rocky Grass Band Competition and the 2010 Chicago Music Award.


Each member of the Prowlers contributes equally, both musically and vocally. Wright’s vocal weight lends a unique layer of depth to the vocal harmony, the rich bass resonating within the lower end of the stack. Wright’s three-finger picking style is reminiscent of Earl Scruggs with rapid and repetitive rolls. Goldine’s vocal timbre fills in the higher end of the stack as his upright bass layers in the bottom end. Lambert, the resident acoustic flat picker whose vocals are akin to Billy Nershi from The String Cheese Incident adds a seasoned flavor to the quintet. Young buck, Grant Ziolkowski, is a wunderkind on the mandolin, his cross picking mimicking senior member Wright’s banjo roll with a sweet vocal melodic vocal registration.  The shared talent makes the transition of breakdowns almost flawless as the members rotate through the melodies.

At recent show at the Mousetrap, in Indianapolis, Indiana, they shared these talents to a substantial size crowd, getting everyone moving and dancing.  “Uncle Bubba,” a tune from Dark Rumor found Goldine on vocals, his smooth tenor provoking a haunting melody about a family in 1961. The harmonics of the chorus provided chills before the breakdown sends the listener reeling with emotion.  Wrights low tessitura served to complement Goldine’s powerful voice. An older song, “Syracuse,” found Wright on vocals growling out a story about a self indulgent man traveling with his spoiled pompous wife from Chicago back home to Syracuse and the hardships of those that live life without reflection of what the human soul is about, Lambert’s acoustic melody ripped through the layers and passed it to Ziolkowski to pick away. And so it was throughout the night, the band flawlessly working a single powerhouse unit, swapping lead vocals, while Lambert’s flat picking riffs and Wright’s banjo seemed to roll on through the melody.  The band’s time on stage is a skillful display of their unparalleled musical powers.  It is a genuine treat and true wonder to be able to witness a bluegrass band perform with such tenacity and jam in the splendor of tradition.

With fall tour slowly coming to a close, the Henhouse Prowlers have announced they will be partnering with the Greater Chicago Food Depository for the Bluegrass Pitch-in at the Mayne Stage in Chicago on Friday, November 25. They also will be embarking after this on a West Coast tour, to be followed by a European tour next year.


Stream: Henhouse Prowlers (5/27/11)

Click the thumbnail(s) to view photos of Henhouse Prowlers by Amber Jennings

The Bridge & National Bohemian: Funky Little Moments

bridge6.jpg"This sounds good. How can we fuck it up," remembers Bridge guitarist Cris Jacobs being asked by legendary producer Steve Berlin during the recording of their latest album, National Bohemian, which was helmed by Berlin.

Jacobs’ longtime band mate, mandolinist Kenny Liner elaborates, "Steve’s whole attitude is you have heard everything before, so let’s try something you haven’t heard, and that is such an amazingly cool attitude to have as a band going in to record an album." 

Continue reading The Bridge & National Bohemian: Funky Little Moments

Honey Dewdrops: Heartfelt, Honest Songs

honeydewdrops2.jpg“We really latch onto heartfelt, honest songs,” explains Kagey Parrish, one-half of the folk duo The Honey Dewdrops, “We love hard hitting songs. We try to shoot for that kind of thing. Those are the kind of songs that affect us and we hope we can write in that way too.”   And with the release of The Honey Dewdrops latest album, These Old Roots, Parrish and musical co-conspirator Laura Wortman have done just that.   These Old Roots, the duo’s second album is a stripped down affair, full of sweet harmonies, lush guitar work, and deeply powerful lyrics that are given even more life by the natural chemistry that exists in the pair’s finely meshed voices. 

Continue reading Honey Dewdrops: Heartfelt, Honest Songs