We all ended up together in the Adirondacks together last September (2011). However, I showed up in Saranac Lake, NY in Sept. of 2006. I was born in Raritan, NJ. I grew up in the house that my father grew up in, in a very old but populated part of the state. In New Jersey I had two different music influences going on, my fathers influence and my friends influence. My father mostly listened to folk music when I was growing up but also classics from the 60 and 70’s and some very strange music as well. Because I never connected with popular music in my youth I connected with music that was anti-pop and fell in love with punk and indie rock. Influences from my youth include: The Clash, Radiohead, Modest Mouse, Hot Water Music, Interpol, Ryan Adams and The Cardinals, The Band, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and so much more. My bass player Christian Cardiello is also from Central New Jersey and had some of the same punk influences but also listened heavily to Jazz and learned a lot from his older brother who was studying jazz guitar. Christian showed up in the ADKs, a year after me.
Amongst my first few months living in the ADK I was exposed to bluegrass like never before. Having students at my school (Paul Smiths College) listening to modern and tradtional bluegrass tunes daily. My first holy cow moment with bluegrass was at a Whompers show at my school. The Whompers are a band that rarely plays but its an absolute explosion of energy with everyone in the band singing and the music being group orinented rather then solo focused. Amongst my first year at school fell in love with The Hackensaw Boys, Old Crow Medicine Show, Railroad Earth, Crooked Still, Hot Day at The Zoo,Trampled byTurtles, Hoots and Helmouth, Green Sky Bluegrass and Yonder Mtn. String band. When I brought this new interest in bluegrass home my father started to show me music very deep level and introduced me to John Hartford, The Nitty Gritty Dirt band and every artist on will the circle be unbroken (Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, Vassar Celments, Roy Husker, Merle Haggared, Bill Monroe) Old and in The Way, Nelson Blake, Bela Fleck and Sam Bush and combos of traditional music and modern such Fairport Convention. A few years later when frustrated with trying to teach myself to play guitar I decided to get a Mandolin because most of the local music circles where playing bluegrass, I was falling in love with bluegrass and there really are not that many mandolin players around so I though it was a good idea to try it out.
My Banjo player James Ford and my guitar player Arthur Buezo both new each other from high school and grew up in Conn. They both decided to attend Paul Smiths college in the fall of 2011. That summer Arthur hitched hiked across the country, only 19 years old experiencing many things for the first time, including many styles of music. Arthur began playing the guitar a few years before and at first studied classical guitar. Arthur listened to a lot of singer songwriters and indie rock and roll in high school, and although he listened to some he did not grow a taste for bluegrass until reaching the ADKs.
James Ford is the odd man out and did listen to bluegrass heavily before he reached the ADKs, he was also listening to all sorts of rock and folk music. James grew up in a home filled with music, with a father who would house himself in a small attic room, with one lit light bulb, his acoustic guitar, and a banged up mic which would hang from the ceiling. James’ father was a singer songwriter, and brought James up showing him the roots of what made him a music lover. James was brought up to not only listen to the music, but to truly love it, to learn about artists and their history, to read the lyrics alongside with the songs, to analyze the rhythms melodies and lyrics and talk about them, share perspectives, and to sing along as loud and proud as possible. Songwriting was a big part of the family tradition on his father’s side, going from his grandfather’s infamous “Happy Christmas” to his father’s band Bad Press, to James’ first performance, singing along to Smashing Pumpkins on a children’s multicolored karaoke tape player. James found his way from the music he was brought up with to then expanding his taste amongst many other genres. It was not until he found himself in high school with a few friends, and began taking his guitar playing to a level where now songs of his own were being created. It was at 18 years old that James picked up his first banjo, and began finding a sound that truly defined a sound of his own. It was the discovery of acoustic music amongst Arthur and other close friends in which James allowed his true voice to come out, and he hasn’t stopped writing since.
We first played music at a party together when I had a $100 dollar mandolin and new about 6 or 7 chords. We played with kids banging on trash cans and just jamming the same chords over and over, but I felt something at that first moment that I have never felt before. A few days later we gathered all interested musicians to jam at my apartment. There was prob. 4 to 6 guitars, a bass, a banjo, and a mandolin. The music was not started with someone’s idea of I’m going to start a bluegrass band. We just all sort of ended up in the same room just to crate music and to have fun. The room was mixed, with on one end myself who may have only completed playing a song 3 or 4 times before, to our bassist Christian who had been playing since the age of 12. But he wasn’t playing bluegrass. He was playing punk rock, funk and jazz. He moved to jazz guitar in high school before moving back to the bass to play with us. But never the less we decided to come
together to play acoustic music of some sort all most every night of the week. The Music was shaped by the vibrant youthful energy in the room!
‘ A few months from here 4 guitars turned into one, and a random group of people were on the verge on becoming a band. After one little show at a local bar with beat up equipment we decided to take the first sets to being able to play out and got a PA and began to play our local venue each Weds night. This took music that used to be at about half the pace it is now and amped it with live energy. I think the music started more traditional but as we played out and developed it and our own styles of playing began to come out it developed into what it sounds like now. Although as a band we are going to push our sound in many new directions and really find the continued musical pathway that is out there for us to unlock as we grow. The same time as young pickers we are looking deeper into our instruments roots to help discover what generations of pickers have developed over the years.
I think we view this traditional arrangement as just the start of the musical concept. Although we look like a bluegrass band we are not, we are The Blind Owl Band. A musical representation of what sounds float around in our heads. We use the instruments of our ancestors, but play music of our time that is influenced by all that has happened in the musical world over years of our lives. We hope that we can achieve a unique personal sound with our music through a raw instrumentation. In a time of music and sound perfection and an expansion of the realm of sound through digital processors, we hope to inspire the use of wood and metal and take a basic approach and expanded it to a sound all its own.