Crossing the Bridge

The Bridge 3-9-06Taking time out from rehearsal for their upcoming New Years run, four of the five members of The Bridge (Mike Gambone – drums, Cris Jacobs – guitar, Kenny Liner – mandolin, Dave Markowitz – bass) took time to sit down and discuss their busy 2006 and look forward to the upcoming year.




Honest Tune:  What albums have you been listening to this year?

Cris Jacobs: I have been listening to the new Los Lobos album a lot it is great.  The new Tom Waits album, Orphans, is also pretty sweet.

Mike Gambone:  On the way over I was listening to Bill Frisell East/West.

Kenny Liner: I have been on a huge Grateful Dead kick recently, nothing but the Grateful Dead.  It is all I have been listening to.  It helps me remember where it all comes from, why I started playing music.  It’s a wake up to what the truth is, musically.  Everything that I am musically all comes from that, so it’s like the roots.  I have also been listening to a lot of My Morning Jacket, their new live album Okonokos.


HT:  In a year of highlights for you guys (release of your new album, CD release show, Fall/ Winter tour, All-Good Festival, etc), what stands out from all the rest?

CJ: Right when we walked out at the CD release show with all the people there. The vibe and energy was just great.

MG:  Nothing tops the CD release experience.  It was very unexpected, very shocking to pack the biggest venue in Baltimore.

KL: I agree with that.


Did you have any idea going in to the night how crowded it was going to be?

CJ:  We were thinking 800 would be awesome, 1000 would be absolutely amazing.  I think we had 1200 plus, I think we were 150 short of selling it out (Rams Head Live).  It was pretty sick, it just completely just blew our expectations away.


Anything else stand out?

MG: For me the All-Good festival was huge.  I had never been to a large “hippie festival” like that.  It was a whole new experience.

KL:  I also think the two shows we played at the 9:30(in Washington D.C.) club this year.  Especially to open for Umphrey’s McGee it was huge.  I have seen so many people on that stage that to be looking out was so cool.


What are your plans for the upcoming year?

KL:  We are starting to get tentative festival offers for a lot of the major festivals this summer, All-Good, Wakarusa, Smile-Fest, Bonnaroo.

CJ:  We have a really good booking agent who is working real hard for us.

KL: We are also doing our first West Coast tour, which is going to be in February.


With a West Coast tour during February and a slate of festival spots in the summer does that mean Baltimore is going to be losing their annual “residency shows” they have grown accustomed to in the Winter and Summer?

KL: No, we are going to do the summer, we already have that on the books.  And we are going to do two nights, a Thursday and Friday at the 8×10 in February.  We can’t squeeze a whole residency in during the winter, but we are still going to do eight nights in the summer.


So besides heading out west what else do you have planned for the winter?

CJ: Winter Jam Fest.  That’s down south before we head west.  We are doing a couple dates on that.


How did this year compare to previous years on the road, you seemed to play a lot more dates?

KL:  We used to hit it pretty hard back in the day, but we did play a lot of shows this year.

CJ: We had mellowed out a bit recently, as we were going through some member changes, we were just not touring as hard. We tried to not make it as hit or miss this year, like when we used to just go out and play wherever we could.  This year we were looking to play more quality over quantity of shows.


It must be nice for you as a band to have stability in your line-up after a couple of years of shuffling things around.  How long have the three of you (Jacobs, Liner, Markowitz) been together now?

Dave Markowitz:  It has been 2 years.  I made my decision Thanksgiving two years ago, but I wasn’t officially in until that New Years.



How long for you Mike?

MG:  I have been in now for a little over a year.

CJ:  It feels like you have been in the band forever.


That stability must make the potential for the upcoming year seem limitless.  Next year we are sitting here, what do you hope you can say you have done in the past year?  At the end of 2007 where do you want to be?  Where do you want to be heading in 2008?

KL: {Laughs} Shit, I just want to survive the year.

CJ:  If we can be here next year at this time and feel like we are in a better spot than the year before, and a better spot than the year before that that would be good.

KL: I think we should keep any goals for the band musical goals.  If the music keeps getting better everything else will fall into line.


Those are nice goals, but go big, tell me you want to headline Madison Square Garden next year or something.

{all laugh}

CJ:  You can’t get hung up on popularity.

KL:  We would be happy if we are at the same level, but the music has grown.

DM:  It would also be nice if in that time we could solve the whole issue of the keyboard player.

CJ:  Yeah, we are trying to find a keyboard player.  So maybe next year at this time we can still be sitting here talking about how we are trying to build chemistry so we can get a keyboard player.

{all laugh}

I think the main thing is we really feel like we are just getting started with this band…I think things are just getting started for us musically.

–Cris Jacobs

Why do you want a keyboard player?

CJ:  It is just to have something to fill out the sound. A lot of the tunes on the last record had keys.  There are just a lot of possibilities with how it can round out our sound, also maybe somebody who can sing as well.

MG:  It makes sense, so many of our influences like The Grateful Dead and Little Feat had keys.

CJ:  It compliments our sound real well.  We feel there are holes here and there that could be filled and take us in some new directions.  Everyone does their part, but we feel there could be more happening in a good way.  It is not something we can’t go on without, but it is something we would like to see happen.  Mookie Siegel (Phil Lesh & Friends, David Nelson Band) has played with us a lot recently and that has been real nice.


Do you as a band have any New Years resolutions you are trying to keep?

KL: I would like to write more songs.  That’s an obvious no-brainer, we should all try to write more.

MG: I think that is one thing we as group should focus on in the new year, writing as a band.  That is something we have never really done.

CJ: I agree.  It all goes back to the member change thing.  To catch a breath or even find time to rehearse for a gig was difficult when we were changing members, let alone being able to sit-down for an extended period of time and bounce ideas of off each other.


Since you have had a solid line-up in place have you tried writing and collaborating on anything together as a group?

CJ: We have messed around with a couple of things.


Any of those ideas make it to the stage yet?

CJ:  No, not yet. We have new stuff, but nothing that the five of us came up with together.  That’s a good resolution there – that is something we need to do.  Especially now that we are all here, we need to push forward as opposed to just to maintaining where we are at.  That has been our downfall over the past year or two through member changes and not knowing where we going…we were always just trying to keep our heads above water.





Any other New Years resolutions you want to keep this Year?

DM: I think we should continue to have more of those inspirational moments where we find things in jamming.

CJ: Yeah, we should take more chances on stage.

DM: Exactly.  Sometimes it’s happens and it is very cool.  We should just continue to experiment.

CJ:  I think the main thing is we really feel like we are just getting started with this band.  We finally put out an album that feels like our first real album.  It is the first time where we feel like all the members are hear to stay and we are moving forward. I think things are just getting started for us musically.  We tended to fall into old habits just because that is what we had done for such a long time.  We found that onstage we sometimes would play it safe, and I think we need to take more chances.  I think material wise we need more songs that allow us to change.

KL:  Plus we have been playing to a lot of new people each night and tended to stick to songs that we knew were good and we find that don’t take as many chances then.  When we play an hour set opening for a bigger band we play the quote-unquote “Bridge hits”.

CJ:  It’s tough because we are trying to make good first impressions.  It’s not like when we play at home in Baltimore, where we know people have seen us multiple times and know every song we have.

KL:  It is good to open up for people, but it is no fun to play for 45 minutes.

CJ:  That’s when we get stuck in those set-list ruts.

DM: I think the short-term goal is to hit these tours up, and all the while be creative and write more songs and hopefully by this time next we will be ready to record another album.


all photos by Tim Newby