On August 4th, The Medicine Company hosted a record release party to celebrate Risk It For The Biscuit, their second full-length album. Cherry Thomas, Triggers and Slips, and a few surprise guests joined them onstage in a musical tribute.
Thomas opened the festivities with a solo set. Armed with only her electric guitar and soulful voice, she delivered half-a-dozen original R&B songs including “Blue Hour,” “Barbed Wire,” and “Black Panther,” all previously recorded and available to stream. I enjoyed hearing her in a listening room instead of an outdoor festival or crowded eatery where you can’t really groove on the depth of her voice or the heartfelt lyrics in her songs.
Triggers and Slips opened their nine-song set with “Family vs. Business,” a new song off their latest release What Do You Feed Your Darkness? Fans, especially those partial to country music, should know this under-the-radar record. Had it been produced by a major Nashville record label it would be on the charts. It’s that good. They performed “It Won’t Hurt” from the record, a Dwight Yoakam cover that rivals the original.
From the band’s 2019 release The Stranger, they played the title track before welcoming local artist J-Rad Cooley to the stage to play harmonica on “Old Friends.” Soulful rocker Sarah DeGraw joined the band for the duet “You Did It To Me Again,” a fabulous new tune that features Lilly Winwood (daughter of Steve Winwood) on the record. DeGraw lent her wonderful vocals for Friday night’s version. The band ended a fabulous set with “Sideways.”
The party’s hosts,The Medicine Company, opened with “Biscuit,” a two-minute musical interlude that served as the perfect intro to hear Risk It for the Biscuit in its entirety. Most of us at the show hadn’t had a chance to fully digest the new material since it dropped for the world to hear earlier that day. The recorded version of the 10-songs plays with indica-like quality–trippy, cerebral, and mellow. The band’s live performance of the material however, took us on a more sativa-like energized journey. “Feed Yourself Lies” brought me back to 1972 with its Stones-like guitar riff and Lou Reed-styled psychedelic-poet lyricism. Lead singer Bryant Adair’s vocals remind me of Reed and Frank Zappa. Of course, the song probably took other listeners in an entirely different direction. Good songs take you wherever you want to go (or take you somewhere you’ve never been).
The first single to drop (a few days ahead of the album’s full release) is “Mr. Chuckles.” Guitarist Chandler Seipert, lead vocals on this track, conjures up something out of the Minneapolis music scene in the mid-1980s. Of course, it’s an original piece of music by 21st century artists. When passing through my musical filter it feels fresh, but relatable. A live version of “Mojo” has been floating around the interweb for a little while now as a YouTube video. It finally found a permanent home on the new album.
On fire all night, the band brought the songs to life in a fun and energetic way. You could see the joy on their faces as they performed the music they created. When you listen to a new record, some songs stick right away while others take a few passes to resonate. For me, “Casino,”with its hypnotic Link Wray-Rumble guitar strumming and slow-rising tempo, stayed with me. Their live performance really made the song pop. They ended the homage to the new record with the final track “Just Fine.” We certainly were feeling just that.
Photography by Lily Rutherford; Colleen O’Neill
The band tackled a few of their older songs before gathering the whole ensemble on stage, including featured performers and guest artists, for a collective version of their tailor made show closer “Rusted in Misfortune.” What a fabulous night of music by a talented cadre of local artists. Fully energized from delivering a masterful performance of their labor of love, the band came back out for a couple of bonus numbers with “She Wore Blue” and Cannon’s Jug Stompers 1928 “Big Railroad Blues” (most know the Grateful Dead’s 1971 version.)
An album release offers a moment to reflect on the cumulative effort that artists put into their work. Consider the time it takes to learn a musical instrument and the thousands of hours of practice to master it. Even then it’s not a simple leap from player to composer. To construct original music and put lyrics to the notes takes a rare skill set. Once a song’s foundation is built, a community of musicians gather to further shape and mold it both on stage and in the studio. The finished product needs to captivate listeners and elicit a visceral response if you hope for any success. Packaging a collection of individual songs into an album’s worth of material is a remarkable achievement and worthy of great celebration.
The Medicine Company has a bright future and we’ll have ample opportunity to see them again. In fact, they’ll be playing Day Two of the 3-Day Psych Lake City music festival at The Urban Lounge on Friday, August 11th. They’ll be undergoing some personnel changes on bass and drums, but they’ve already created more material for another new record. Keep an eye out for this talented crew of psychedelic alt-rockers as they continue to create new music and perform at some of our favorite local music venues.
Who: The Medicine Company w/ Co-Headliners Triggers and Slips and Cherry Thomas opening
What: The Medicine Company’s Risk It For The Biscuit album release party
Where: The State Room
When: Friday, August 4, 2023