Ann Arbor’s transitory son, Drunken Barn Dance: “The finest, most spirited and talented collection...” (from this week's Current Magazine - photo by Doug Coombe)
“Where’s the beaten path, and how do I stay the f*** off it?”
Scott Sellwood has one of the more unique voices in the indie/neo-folk scene; seven years of banding around Ann Arbor, and we are (almost) losing him...(but, not really.) To qualify that statement, his uniqueness is not born solely from his invigorating palate — as much Cash and Dylan as it is Neutral Milk Hotel or My Bloody Valentine, born not just from the sizzle of his high range vocals, but also for his breadth of perspective, particularly for having lived/played in northern California before moving to Ann Arbor – and now, since mid-winter, becoming acclimated to his new home in New York.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about geography,” said Sellwood, who’s performed as Drunken Barn Dance for the last few years in Ann Arbor, “not only physical distance between places but emotional distance. It’s no secret the Michigan winters were murderous for me. So, despite a fiercely loyal connection to the people I’ve met here, it was time for me to end a full-time physical connection.” And, Ann Arbor is only “almost” losing him because his band-mates, Ryan Howard (drums), Scott Deroche (guitar), Greg McIntosh (guitar) and Jim Roll (bass) are all either A2 or Ypsilanti-based. Drunken Barn Dance has always fluctuated from solo-singer/songwriter, to duo, to full band – but it will technically remain Michigan-based for now (with “official second member” Steve Middlekauf—who aided Sellwood’s first recordings, currently based in San Francisco).
Sellwood said the year’s high points included, aside from the NY-transition, a poignant performance at Keweenawesomefest in March, the digital release of his latest (self-titled) collection via A2-based Quite Scientific Records, and touring down to Austin’s SXSW festival with former bandmate (of Saturday Looks Good To Me) Fred Thomas’ new project, City Center. The debut is a blend of warm earthy folk refracted by the bitter scuff of cold urban pavement; acoustic guitars shunted with Sellwood’s recording style giving it a welcoming wornness.
Going back to his unique perspective — geographically, philosophically, socially —Sellwood recounts, “In the throes of Mittenfest (in February at the Elbow Room), I gave a toast from the stage that has become somewhat infamous...that this is the finest, most spirited and talented collection of artists that I’ve ever been a part of, backed by an attentive and supportive audience that should be the envy of all scenes large and small. If everyone keeps offering themselves in this way, the nation will eventually tune in. Such attention isn’t necessary to make this scene special – it is already very special – but that’s an indication of how deeply I regard the musicians here.”7/10 - Vernor's Lounge (at the Crofoot, in Pontiac)