Soule Monde is avant funk erupting from the syncopated minds of power drummer Russ Lawton + B3 wizard Ray Paczkowski. An ideal union of swagger and raw talent, the duo is cemented into an indestructible pocket, where bold improvisational leaps by either player are met by a near-telepathic response from the other. This is fluid funk, crafted for the dance floor but supported by an extensive grasp of jazz improvisation.
Members of Soule Monde have appeared at Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, on Saturday Night Live, David Letterman, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Fallon, and have shared the stage with Carlos Santana, Rolling Stones, Trey Anastasio, Dave Matthews, Victor Wooten, Mike Gordon, Viperhouse + Strangefolk.
Paczkowski has an intrepid knowledge of the Hammond B3, playing it as fearlessly as Han Solo flies the Millennium Falcon through an asteroid field, while his left hand lays down bass lines on the clavinet with the ferocity of the meanest four-string, soul-cat.
Lawton is constantly responding to his partner's attacks – pushing the groove further and deeper while holding the pocket like he's handcuffed to the snare. Don't expect the beat to drop with Soule Monde, and at the same time don't expect to get stuck in one groove. Quite simply, this is the jazz-duo your parents warned you about.
Russ Lawton has been a staple of the Vermont music scene for years. He's collaborated with a vast array of VT acts, including Mike Gordon, The Grippo Funk Band, and Strangefolk, and has been touring and recording with T.A.B. since 1998. He's credited with co-writing the Grammy-nominated song "First Tube" which appeared on Phish's 2000 album, Farmhouse.
Ray Paczkowski has been involved with a number of lauded acts over the years, first gaining recognition in the mid 90's as a member of the legendary Vermont act, Viperhouse, and later on with his power trio, Vorcza. He toured and recorded with Dave Matthews & Friends for 3 years, and has been the keyboardist for T.A.B. since 2001.
Anthony Pirog's Witch Hunt
Anthony Pirog is making his mark on the guitar playing universe, one sonically enthralling, diversely influenced project after another. From his work on Janel and Anthony's “Where is Home,” described in Guitar Player Magazine as “approachable experimentalism,” to what AllMusic described as “pristinely executed rock guitar solos” with Skysaw, Anthony displays a “crystalline tone that’s immediately recognizable as his own” in his ever-evolving conception of how a guitar can sound.
Born in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, Anthony lived in Chevy Chase, Maryland and Carmel Valley, California before his family settled in the Washington DC suburb of Vienna, Virginia when he was nine. At home he listened to his father's blues, surf and doo-wop albums and their influence can be heard in his playing today. Formerly in a surf band, Anthony's father had a 1963 Fender Jaguar and it was on this guitar Anthony first played music. In high school, Anthony was in more than a dozen bands before an interest in free jazz and experimental music led him to study jazz guitar at Berklee College of Music in Boston, eventually completing his degree in jazz performance at NYU in 2004.
As it turned out, the studying paid off. By 2004 Anthony had distinguished himself, quickly earning a reputation as a masterful guitarist, capable of using his studied yet unorthodox voice to fit a wide range of musical styles including jazz, country, fingerstyle and old time music, free improvisation, free jazz, surf and experimental music.
Anthony has played with musicians across a wide spectrum of styles and genres. He has performed with renowned avant jazzers such as Henry Kaiser, Elliot Sharp, Michael Formanek, Ches Smith, Mary Halvorson, William Hooker, Eyvind Kang, Skuli Sverrisson, Doug Weiselman, Susan Alcorn, Dave Ballou, Balázs Pándi, Gino Robair, Tatsuya Nakatani, Jessika Kenney and played in myriad jazz, electronic and improvisational groups up and down the East Coast. Some of the groups Anthony's played with include: Out of Your Head Collective, Better Than Lost, Beep Honk, Kung Fu Bastard, The Landscaping Crew, The Bobby Muncy Quartet, Ad Hoc Quartet, Inner Loop and Stylus. In 2012, he performed a sold-out show at The Stone with Violet (Jeff Surak) and Berlin filmmaker Sylvia Schedelabuer.
But jazz and experimentalism are just two of the many facets of Anthony Pirog. He's performed with rock, roots and rockabilly musicians and ensembles like Billy Hancock, Dave Elliot, Joe Stanley, The Dave Kitchen Band at SXSW 2008, The El Rays, The Rocking Bones and many, many others. Anthony also played with ex-Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlain in the rock trio Skysaw, who's album was released on Dangerbird Records in 2011.
The groups Anthony leads further reflect his eclectic influences and varied tastes. He leads several groups of his own including The Anthony Pirog Trio, Quintet, Sextet and Septet. He led a 22-member ensemble in performance of Terry Riley's “In C” at the Sonic Circuits Festival of Experimental Music, a DC area festival for new music at which Anthony has become a staple, performing for seven straight years. The 2011 performance garnered a favorable review in The Washington Post. Anthony went on to record a similar session, leading a 30-piece ensemble playing “In C”; this recording will be released in 2014. Anthony also performs solo. His solo work can be found on his record label, Sonic Mass Records.
It is as one half of the experimental duo Janel and Anthony that Anthony's diverse influences and varied styles converge most elegantly. As he puts it, “We’re able to play in all the different scenes: jazz, roots, surf, rockabilly, Persian, experimental. And then we bring all of that into Janel and Anthony.” The duo began in Northern Virginia and Janel and Anthony have toured the East and West Coasts as well as the Midwest. In October 2010 they enjoyed a residency at Pete's Candy Store in Brooklyn. Janel and Anthony's second album “Where is Home” has received international praise and radio play from places like the BBC, The Village Voice, The Washington Post, Downbeat Magazine, AllMusic and The Huffington Post. “Where is Home” also appears on 10 “Best of 2012” lists and is available on Cuneiform Records. The Washington Area Music Association (WAMA) awarded “Where Is Home” Best Modern Rock Recording for 2012. Additionally, Janel and Anthony's 2006 self-titled debut album has been re-released by Cricket Cemetery Records in 2012. In 2013, Janel and Anthony recorded an original piece, “Head and Shoulders,” composed by Lithuanian composer Arturas Bumsteinas, which The Wire Magazine called a “highly attractive work” and was released on Sangoplasmo Records.
Whether playing with Janel and Anthony or another one of his many groups, Anthony remains a prominent figure in the emerging artistic and musical scene in and surrounding our Nation's Capital. Anthony's played at many DC area venues including the Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian, 9:30 Club, Black Cat, The Hamilton, Twin's Jazz, Bohemian Caverns, The Rock and Roll Hotel, DC9, The Velvet Lounge, Iota, Galaxy Hut, Strathmore Mansion and the French Embassy in addition to playing the Sonic Circuits Festival of Experimental Music. He's appeared in numerous concerts presented by Transparent Productions, Capital Bop, Claveus Productions, Electric Possible and Brightest Young Things.
Anthony's frequent gigging has gotten recognition in the form of press and awards. In 2011, the Washington Area Music Association (WAMA), Washington's most prestigious music awards, named Anthony Washington's Best Modern Rock Instrumentalist. In 2012 he was awarded a “Jazzie” by The Washington City Paper as Best Guitarist 2012, “the hands-down victor.” The Washington Post praised his music in 2012 for its “fusion of talent and creativity.” Recently, Anthony has begun to receive national recognition as well. He was featured in a September 2012 article in Guitar Player Magazine on “Rising Artists You Must Hear.” Then in January 2013, he was featured in a 5-page interview in Guitar Player Magazine in which he was praised for his “copious creativity” and “loopy, cross-genre melodicism.”
Seemingly able to master any convention he chooses to adopt and more than capable of developing and adapting his own, Anthony Pirog challenges our preconceived notions about genre and guitar sound. As he comes further into his own as an artist, he continues to shape, tear down and reshape his unique conceptions of what guitar can be. Anthony's style is studied, yet unorthodox; avant-garde, yet accessible; faintly familiar, yet conspicuously original.