Airpark makes deconstructed pop music. Inspired by minimalism, melody and groove-heavy percussion, bandmates Michael Ford, Jr. and Ben Ford launched the group in 2016, one year after their previous project, The Apache Relay, quietly called it quits. The Apache Relay had been a large band, staffed with six members and armed with a thick, wall-of-sound approach. With Airpark, the Ford brothers sharpen their focus and scale back their arrangements, focusing on songs that pack a punch with bold, basic ingre-dients. Raised in New Orleans, the Fords grew up surrounded by music, from the Crescent City’s jazz to the soul of Irma Thomas and Allen Touissant. Later while living in Nashville, the two rekindled the music connection they’d kick-started back home, finding popularity — first in Tennessee, then across the country – as The Apache Relay performed alongside the likes of Jenny Lewis, Mumford & Sons and more. It was a whirlwind period that found the brothers constantly touring, forever moving and steadily swelling their sound to new heights. Michael and Ben move at a deliberately different speed with Airpark, thus finding new musical territory to explore. Taking their cues from a wide set of influences — the rhythmic world music of Tinariwen and Lijadu Sisters; the production of Air, Damon Albarn, and Fiona Apple’s The Idler Wheel; the ten-or vocal range of Big Star’s Alex Chilton and Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham, with the occasional pop crooner delivery of Harry Nilsson — the two unveil their new direction with Air-park’s debut EP, Early Works, Volume 1. On opening track “All The Time,” Michael spins the autobiographical story of a musician who’s starting over and swinging for the fences, finally coming to terms with his own ambition. “Now I know I need ittobe ocean-sized,” he sings, backed by propulsive percussion, syncopated electric guitar and his brother’s harmonies. Else-where, the two ride an abstract, atmospheric groove on “Even If,” get nostalgic with “Black Light Blue,” and reset the clock during the New Year’s Eve breakup anthem “Plenty to Pine For.” It’s a sound that targets the feet and the head. It’s pop music for thinkers. It’s dance music for wallflowers. And with the brothers pulling triple-duty as songwriters, multi-instrumentalists and co-producers, Early Works, Volume 1 — whose March 3, 2017 release arrives courtesy of the Fords’ own label, Eugenia Hall Records — is their most forward-thinking project to date, pairing the band’s growing ambition with musical chops to match.
“I wanted to make sure it was ready, and it was me” Says Adam Chaffins of his debut solo project. Equally at home leading a band and playing a support role, Chaffins is one of those rare musicians who can always bring a unique musical voice to a project while simultaneously blending in to showcase the musicians he collaborates with.
The Nashville-based singer/songwriter and bass player is a native of Eastern Kentucky and the son of a coal miner and social worker. Chaffins grew up on Country Music Highway (Highway 23), surrounded by shrines to local heroes who’ve made their mark on American musical legacy. “I never had ‘Nashville Superstar’ aspirations, but music has always been a way for people from that area to get out and experience a different kind of life,” he explains. 22
Chaffins is no small town kid anymore, and has certainly had his share of experience on the road, touring for two years with Boston-based progressive acoustic group The Deadly Gentlemen, followed by two more years with Asheville-based bluegrass outfit Town Mountain. He’s played the Grand Old Opry and the Ryman Auditorium, and such festivals as Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Pickathon, Merlefest, The Old Settler’s Music Festival, and GreyFox Bluegrass Festival.
Bluegrass wasn’t a straight path though. Chaffins played electric bass from the age of 12, but he was initially awarded a scholarship to study opera at Bellarmine University in Louisville. Though his vocal ability remains powerful and captivating, Opera was not ultimately where his passion lay. At Bellarmine, he discovered jazz, and soon transferred to Morehead State to pursue a jazz studies degree on bass. Throughout his time at school, he remained firmly rooted in the country and bluegrass music that had been such a part of his youth. “I remember searching for good cassette tapes at the flea market with my dad, that was always our big hobby together”, he says of his childhood. Upon graduating and moving to Nashville, he quickly found a home in the bluegrass scene, where his versatility as bassist, singer, and writer have made him one of the most sought after musicians in the city.
After sharing band songwriting duties for years, and winning a SESAC award for a co-write with GRAMMY nominated The Infamous Stringdusters, a solo project from Chaffins is a welcome treat. “This is the first project where it’s me representing me”, he says, “ it’s simultaneously everything I’ve learned over these past years, and everything I’ve not had the chance to do yet musically”. If his previous work is an indication, we will all be lucky to hear what Chaffins hasn’t yet done.
$7advance tickets / $10 day of show