Hailing from such disparate locales as Tennessee (Price), Iowa (Kearney), Minneapolis (Olson), and Philadelphia (Calabrese), Lake Street Dive first gathered in a room together when they were students at Boston’s New England Conservatory. “Mr. McDuck assembled the four of us, said we were now Lake Street Dive, and we were a ‘free country’ band,” Bridget Kearney remembers. “He wrote this on a chalkboard in the ensemble room that we had our first rehearsal in. We intended to play country music in an improvised, avant-garde style – like Loretta Lynn meets Ornette Coleman. It sounded terrible! But the combination of people and personalities actually made a lot of sense and we had a great time being around each other and making music together.”
Lake Street Dive makes the most of pop music virtues: solid, evocative song craft; propulsive grooves; and Price’s disarming, forthright vocals. However, it’s a personal strain of pop that is refracted through the band members’ rich backgrounds: a sinewy Motown bass line is reborn with woody heft on Kearney’s upright, Calabrese’s drumming mixes timekeeping with more adventurous jazz-inflected outbursts, McDuck’s nimble trumpet is an unexpectedly warm counterpoint to Price’s singing. It all makes for a sound with familiar roots, but with a slant that is entirely their own. Lake Street Dive’s eventual artistic breakthrough came not without struggle, and still surprises original instigator Mike “McDuck” Olson. “Now we’re a pop band, leaning very heavily on soul and rock, with hook-y writing, which I never expected,” he concludes. “If I could travel through time, I’d go back six years and play the new record for my younger self, just to assure him that the awkward, new-band phase doesn’t last forever.”
Tonight's show is FREE! Nonperishable items are accepted for Food Gatherers.