Trio de Pumpkintown may be rooted in fiction—it’s the supposed house band for New England’s “most musically rich imaginary village.”
But when asked to chronicle the series of events that led to its members’ coming together for the project, glockenspiel player/frame drummer Peter “Potter” Irvine waxed fulsome with… presidential history?
“Tim and I have been playing music together since the Reagan administration,” Irvine says of his audio association with fellow P-towner Tim Eriksen, “and in keeping with the theme, I met Zoe [Darrow] when Al Gore asked us both to perform at the inauguration of Jonathan Lash as the president of Hampshire College.”
Though drawing on some of the influences from Irvine and Eriksen’s former group Cordelia’s Dad, Pumpkintown offers its eclectic amalgam of shape-note harmonies, Afro-Celtic sing-alongs and assorted murder ballads as an unabashedly all-acoustic affair.
The brainchild of Eriksen, the project was formed in 2012 so the then-solo artist could regale audiences with “made-up truths” over intriguing soundscapes created by everything from bowed banjos to throat singing and atmospheric percussion.
This Saturday, April 12, Noho’s intimate Parlor Room (parlorroommusic.com) becomes a veritable Pumpkin patch with the trio holding court starting at 8 p.m. Two weeks later, they’ll be at the Esplanade in Singapore performing at the Tapestry of Sacred Music Festival.
“It’s one of the long line of examples where Tim teeters on the brink of fame and obscurity,” Irvine illuminates with a chuckle. “You’ve heard bands say, ‘We’re big in Canada?’ Well, Tim is actually huge in the Czech Republic. So, yeah, it’s interesting because we are going to try and fill the Parlor Room in our backyard, then someone who found us on Facebook is literally willing to fly us to the other side of the world and put us up in a five-star hotel for a gig in a beautiful arts center. Life is kooky and you have to embrace it.”
Sound advice, and certainly a sentiment that scene stalwart Jesse Sterling Harrison seems to embrace as well. In fact, the now-40-year-old is hoping 2014 will bring a storybook ending to his more than two-decade run in biz.
And how can this not be his year? Just listen to how classic his tale is.
“Yeah, retail manager/farmer and father of seven has mid-life crisis, fixes his motorcycle, writes a science fiction novel and the greatest CD of my career,” Harrison laughs. “Can I quit my day job yet?”
If the right person hears any of the sample tracks Harrison is trickling out, then the answer is, any day now.
Unfortunately, your friendly neighborhood Crawler isn’t in such a position of power, but he was duly impressed by both the musicianship and the production on the Jet meets White Stripes foot-stomper he was fortunate enough to preview.
“I did a Kickstarter campaign to get some funds to produce it and refurbish my amp, and I’ve now decided to release the album on Bandcamp as a pay-what-you-will download,” he continues. “This allows me to get off the ground for no money, which is usually what I end up making!”
The new project is dubbed Corson Overlord, a moniker Harrison says he was given some 22 years ago when he played bass for a Missouri/Kansas-based hardcore band. The release of the eponymous 11-tune debut looks like it will coincide with Harrison’s first official foray into the literary world as well.
“I just received a three-book deal from Zharmae Publishing Press out of California,” he reveals. “My debut novel should be released either this month or next. It’s an expanded version of a novel I self-published a while back. Very exciting, and did I mention I’d like to quit my day job?”
To monitor all things Harrison—written and recorded—visit his Facebook page at .com/jesse-sterling-harrison-fiction-and-music.•
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