Trying to define Blue Ÿonder is a daunting task because they evoke so many thoughts and feelings with their music that it’s hard to adequately describe in words. They don’t really want to be defined anyway since that would limit the overall perception of their work and this group of musicians are completely without limits. They could have chosen any genre and made it work but they opted to seek direction from what’s embedded in their bones and it comes across as satisfying and honest as when a soul finds its home. When I want to really listen to someone’s music I find myself invariably closing my eyes while it plays, to better soak it in. Their music surrounds you and grabs hold of your attention as easily as an angel whose lost her wings. You can picture them playing at any venue, anywhere, from small town honky tonks to large venues in urban cities. Their music would fit right in at Third Man Records or any other Jack White artist project. You can truly feel their emotion spilling into their craft and it’s true to their art, beautiful, gritty, haunting, and pure. The lyrics are something special. Honestly, the words could stand on their own, as good a read as any worthy book, but the amazing music compliments them so perfectly, it might rip a hole in the sky if they were seperated. Their new EP Born of the Sky releases on Tuesday, March 28th, on all major music platforms. Do yourself a favor and check them out. You’ll be doing us all a favor because supporting true honest musicians like this is something we need now more than ever. I fell in love with Nocturna so make sure you check out the NPR Tiny Desk video further down the page. Johnny and Beth Veres answered a few questions about their project, the new EP, and upcoming gigs.
Is BŸ always composed of the same members or does it vary? Anyone else besides musicians you’d like to give credit to as being an important part of the project? We have always existed in some form or another. Not always by the name you know us by.
Joseph Johnson-lead guitar, song writer,vocals
Beth Hataway -vocals, song writer
Russell Bush -bass
Johnny Veres -vocals, rhythm guitar, song writer
Is there more to the story behind the name BŸ than where the mind automatically leads? Yes.
Has home always been Montgomery? Yes and no. It both always has and never was.
Describe BŸ members by relating each to a craft beer. Describe your own music in your own words. We’re all pretty much whiskey. Our music takes roots in parlour and flat top picking mixed with modern progressions and haunting harmonic vocal melodies. This is an excerpt from one of our texts:
Imagine yourself standing before a moving black wall of dust. Taller than anything you’ve seen, it gathers before you, sweeping quickly from the west over the flat lands before you. A shiver of electric impulses rush just beneath you skin, the hair on your arms rise, muscles tighten to move, but you find yourself unable in the face of oncoming darkness, a depth of black darker than moonless, starless night. As the maelstrom approaches nearer you began to distinguish swirling clouds within the moving monolith. Sudden, bright flashes inside the whirlwinds spread across the face of the storm. Science would explain the static electricity creating the lightning in the black dust, but you know that this is more than weather phenomena. There’s an unnatural quality, almost supernatural you think, as you being to focus on the lights. Not the hot, white flash of a lightning storm, but sheets of greenish blue phosphorescence. You continue to stare into the storm, drawn in by the sublime beauty of the lights, perceiving more rhyme than reason to their dance. Secret histories know of these strange lights from their appearances in the flumes of Vesuvius, in the illuminated moons above the lost South American city Gran Moxo, and in Galileo’s telescopic view of Jupiter’s storms. Knowledge long lost in the sands of time told of their true nature, of their interaction with Man. But this mystic enigma is beyond your mind as you realize the tempest is upon you. The alien luminescence descends on you as you are enveloped in never ending night and stinging sand. As they get closer you become aware of something foreign seeping into your consciousness. The darkness becomes infinite as the bursts of lights suddenly disappear. You are disoriented, devoid of senses, no ground beneath your feet, the singeing air gone. Though you cannot see it, you feel within your mind an emense sea of light surrounding you, colour more profound than any ocean. An unknown voice in your head speaks: Welcome to the Blue Yonder.
What were your Colorado gigs like and did you pick up some gigs on the way up and back? Colorado there and back was a blast! We kicked of in Montgomery at the new Artist Colab space’s opening party. It was cool to be a part of a ‘new momentum’ in the arts. The next night we played a house party in Ada Oklahoma where an old friend teaches at the local university. A band made up of professors opened up for us with some classic covers along with a few original tunes by a couple of the members. ‘The Band who shall Remain Nameless‘ rocked! Everyone was so kind, and genuinely interested in our work. We even got asked back for a camping Americana festival and we’re working on that… after the party we rested until about 2am and then hopped back on the road. It was grueling, but the sunrise in western Kansas was beautiful, and all the little towns along the way had a certain quaint charm.
We hit Colorado Springs around 1pm EXHAUSTED and met up with Johnny’s sister, who immediately took us to Manitou Springs for Cedar Tubs soaks while we faded in and out of consciousness gazing up at the snowy peaks. We had some unexpected schedule changes that forced us to drop a couple of gigs, with the new hole in our schedule we went and found this awesome spot, the Zodiac Venue, and played a few tunes at their open mic. There was this rad duo Snailmate, that I definitely hope to see again. https://www.facebook.com/snailmate/ Again, great people who were very receptive of each others craft. They told us they’d book us next go around, and even offered to help us connect with a couple other gigs. Checked out Mt. Flagstaff and the Flat Irons up in Boulder, and then played a set down in Denver at Declaration Brewing where we met the incredibly talented Niki Mariskanish of the Doll house Thieves and another great group Strings and the Box (https://www.facebook.com/stringsandthebox/) Our last night in town we opened up for locals King Friday the 13th and the SchwizZ out of NYC (https://www.facebook.com/ShwizZ/?ref=profile) at Moe’s BBQ on 17th. Now that’s a cool spot. Great stage and sound, plus the have a bowling alley! Russell manages a Moe’s back home so his folks took real good care of us. We booked it back straight to bham to open for Future Primitives and Medusa’s Disco. It was a blast. There and back. And we learned about so much great new music!
How was the Tiny Desk contest experience and what’s the story on that? It’s been on Beth’s list for a while. We knew we needed to do it, and it’s really helped us shift up to the next gear in our momentum as a group. Caleb Hawk of Two Hawks did our video and editing, Our engineer Robert of course took care of the sound, and Jon Kohn was there to document. It was a great learning experience for us. One of the most professional productions we’ve ever been in and it was in Johnny and Beth’s home.
(Click on the above individual photos by Jonathon Kohn Photography for a better view)
Musical influences? This would be a long list… here’s a few highlights: The Beatles, Lena Hughes, Pink Floyd, Grizzley Bear, Van Halen, Ratatat, Beach House, Dr. Dog, Taj Mahal, Andrew Lewis, Arlo and Woodie, Dylan, Blind Melon, Jeff Buckley, Beck, the list goes on… really its life and what we consume. from music, to birds, to the rhythms we find in the noises of city life.
Studio vs Live Gigs. Likes and dislikes of each? Studio time is amazing. You get to hone in and distill your work down to what best serves the song. The catch is, you could always do it differently. Searching for sound, and how to play it takes on a whole new meaning. Often in exploring ideas to answer questions about how we want to do something on a song or a particular part of it, we find ourselves creating new questions and problems to answer. It’s a dynamic puzzle and each changes causes all the other shift even if ever so slightly. It’s liberating and infuriating 🙂 And we are better musicians from it. Live gigs are awesome because we get to share directly with people. When you see a toe tap or bodies start to sway and dance, it really invigorates you and reinforces your heart for those other times when no one comes or you accidently roll up on the wrong music scene. Even then its good practice. Every time we play live we get another chance at playing our music even better than before.
What’s the inside scoop on the new EP? The EP Born of the Sky is a 5 song selection from our upcoming album.
What live shows /tours do you have coming up so fans can try to catch a show? We’ll be at the Alabama Book Festival in Old Alabama Town on Saturday April 22nd teaching a songwriting workshop at 3pm. We’re opening up for two great bands, Colony House and Elliot Root April 29th at Taco Libre on the new Western Rail Park Grounds. We’re playing the Cloverdale Bottom Park Concert Series Sunday May 21st. Johnny and Beth are playing in the June 20th Guitar Pull at the Cloverdale Playhouse. We’ve got a few other things in the works, but not confirmed/announced so we’ll have to wait!
Tiny Desk photography by Jonathon Kohn Photography http://www.jonathonkohn.com as credited on photos and Nocturna NPR Tiny Desk video by Caleb Hawk of Two Hawks Productions http://twohawksproduction.squarespace.com The Syndicate Lounge photos by Gene Schilling Photography http://musicimagesbygene.com as credited on photos.