JAMAICA — Don't let the catchy band name Drunk & In the Woods fool you. These are serious musicians creating some serious music. Their new album released last December, "Coals & Fire" is the end product of a dedicated summer of hard work and lots of happy sacrifice by founders and recent graduates of Johnson State College, Henry "Hank" Clark and Benj Spound. Both jazz majors, they found themselves in the fortunate situation of reaching a deal with a professor for free (permitted) access to the college's recording studio during the school's empty summer months. Clark and Spound dropped all of their summer plans, set up house in tents, and went to work co-producing an album. Clark has a lot of friends that do great music, and he called in every one he knew, tempting them with beer and the opportunity to make great music together for a final collaboration of more than 15 different musicians, coming everywhere from Texas to Boston. The core band features singer Emily Haley from Pittsford, as lead female vocalist, Justin Burgess from Rutland, on electric and acoustic bass, Henry Clark from Jamaica, on acoustic and electric mandolin and vocals, Jack Flynn from Northampton, Mass., on electric and slide guitar, Pat McGinn from Boston, Mass. on organ and keys, and Benj Spound from Northampton, Mass., on drums and percussion, along with 12 other guest musicians.
"Recording the album has been a hell of a ride!" Clark said. A local boy who grew up in Jamaica, he caught the musician's bug while a junior in high school after receiving an old mandolin to tinker with from a friend. He fell in love. Today he is a master of the five-string electric mandolin, and, along with his band, can play any genre with a particular fondness for gypsy jazz. The inspiration for the name Drunk & in the Woods came from his time two years ago at one of the Frendly Gathering festivals held in Windham. There he spent the weekend in tents alongside fellow music lovers, soaking in the sounds.
Clark writes, arranges, mixes and produces the band's songs, always jotting down snippets of compositions as they occur to him. Before he sets out on tour this summer, he has been on a road trip living out of the back of a Subaru Forester, writing a bunch of new stuff. He said the next album will be a smorgasbord of songs, with more funk sound.
"Coals & Fire" is available online for free through Bandcamp & Soundcloud and on Drunk & in the Woods' Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/drunkandinthewoods. The album is currently being offered for free because, as Clark said, no one is going to buy music they have never heard before. The object is to get it out there so as many ears as possible can hear it and get them known, with an ultimate goal of making a career as musicians. However, donations are accepted!
Visit their Facebook page to hear this new album, and like them to keep abreast of performances coming to the area. For venues booking and more information may be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clark said of their new album, "I hope people give the album a listen, it'll make them tap their feet. With all of the variety, they'll find something they love."