A Pickathon favorite each of the two times they’ve played the festival in recent years, Lake Street Dive joins us to play songs from their upcoming record, Bad Self Portraits, due out in February. The Brooklyn by way of Boston band talks to Ifanyi Bell about their origins, their creative process, and what can be expected from their new album.
Hear the entire session (performances + interview) below:
When Lake Street Dive visited Portland on their recent West Coast tour, the band didn’t book a hotel the whole time they were here. Instead, they simply crashed at Sallie Ford’s place. Of course they did.
“Well, we share the same manager,” explained Rachael Price, Lake Street Dive’s lead vocalist.
While Portland’s own Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside is currently overseas on a European tour, having Lake Street Dive here was a welcome treat. What the two groups share extends beyond a lending of accommodation and management: both groups also have the same number of members and feature a female lead with stunning vocals and a style all their own.
But that is where the similarities end. While Ford’s sound is rooted in bluesy, spirited indie rock, Lake Street Dive is a modern confluence of soulful, pop/rock-driven rhythms laced with the precise clarity of a classically trained jazz singer.
The band is made up of a collection of musicians who attended the New England Conservatory together. At the urging of Mike (McDuck) Olsen, the band’s lead guitarist and trumpeter, fellow students Bridget Kearney on upright bass, percussionist Mike Calabrese and vocalist Rachael Price came together to form Lake Street Dive.
“Mr. McDuck assembled the four of us, said, ‘We were now Lake Street Dive’ and we were a ‘free country’ band,” Kearney says in a quote from the band’s website.
A bit over a year ago, Lake Street Dive caused something of a stir with a previous collection of cover songs, including The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.” The group made a video which featured them performing on a Boston street corner. The song attracted the attention of actor Kevin Bacon, who shared the video on social media and it eventually went viral. A year later, another cover, this time George Michael’s “Faith,” was produced as a similar sidewalk-style performance video for the SoulPancake website.
As for the name of the band, that was a bit more random than one might think. “It’s the name of a street in Minneapolis where there are a lot of dive bars,” says Olsen. Minneapolis is Olsen’s hometown. “I admit, it’s not the best name,” he adds. Rachael Price notes that “people are always getting it wrong — they think it’s Lake Street ‘Drive.’”
The next leg of the band’s tour takes them across the Atlantic where chances are they might run into Sallie Ford and company and share a few European stages. They might even stay at the same hotel.
Audio production/mixes: Steven Kray
Video direction/production: Ifanyi Bell
Video shooters: Jason Bernert / Ifanyi Bell / Dan Sadowsky
Interview: Ifanyi Bell
Executive Producer: David Christensen
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