We had a few questions for the 8-person, self-described “maybe folk-rock” group River City Extension. The ensemble hails from New Jersey and will be playing the Satellite on Friday, June 15th, along with The Drowning Men, Last American Buffalo and Ben Henderson. Read on for a tragic tour story and what everyone’s last meal would be.
Can you guys introduce yourselves? Your name, what you play and what would be your last meal on earth (the three most important questions, obviously).
Joe Michelini - Vocals Acoustic/Electric Guitar - Rigatoni with roasted pumpkin and goat cheese. A fresh spinach and arugula salad paired with a super Tuscan and some ciabatta bread with olive oil.
Samantha Tacon - Vocals, Bass, Banjo - Chipotle
Mike Costaney - Drums - Chicken Soup (Homemade or GTFO) and some french bread.
Dan Melius - Trumpet/Melophone/Mandolin- Pot Roast cooked with onion and cream of mushroom soup with sweet potatoes toped with melted marshmallows. Oven fresh sourdough bread, butternut squash, string bean casserole, carrots, cranberry sauce, and a big ass brownie sundae with vanilla ice cream and caramel for dessert.
Pat O’Brien - Keys - Chopped and grilled chicken, cooked in Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ, Buffalo Wild Wings mango habanero sauce, pineapples, cracked pepper, and white rice, and a bowl of salad.
Nicole Scorsone - Violin - Filet Mignon on a tile, rice and beans, and amagro soup.
Ben Henderson - Bass Guitar/Banjo - The cream of sum yung gai.
John Muccino - Electric/Acoustic Guitars - I’d say something that my mom would make, like a pizza pie, some chicken and wine, rice an vermicelli, and a big ol’ pitcher of iced tea.
Quite a few of your songs are about places or have cities in the title. What’s your favorite song about a place?
My favorite ever is probably Country Roads by John Denver. That might be a little broad, though.
Where did the name River City Extension come from?
We got our name from the Pelasong “The Trouble With River Cities,” and there’s a line in that song that goes, “Yeah, there’s an undertow, but it ain’t got me.” I’ve tried to live my life by that line, because there always is, even when things are good. It’s important to remember there’s darkness everywhere, all around us, but it only has as much power as you give it. You just have to decide that you’re going to be who you are and do what you do regardless.
How would you describe your music? Not necessarily in terms of genre, but bands you try to emulate, influences, etc.
I mean I think at the end of the day we are a rock band. Sometimes we are a sleeping rock band, sometimes we are a pensive or mellow rock band, but when I play live with the band I realize that. I mean rock in the real broad sense. I didn’t grow up on classic rock and I don’t listen to a lot of standard rock n’ roll but it’s not about that. The difference between folk and rock has always been relatively clear and so is the difference between ourselves and folk bands. Maybe we are folk-rock. I don’t know if that’s even for me to say.
Favorite city on the tour so far?
My favorite city to visit is probably San Francisco. I’m really looking forward to going back.
Any crazy tour stories?
There was an incident back in 2010 that was on the Lydia Farewell Tour - our first national tour. We had some van trouble right before the tour, so we had to split 9 people up in 2 vehicles, a Jeep and a Mazda. We had been separated because the Jeep broke down, so we took a few people in the Mazda - myself included - and went on to play acoustic dates until they could catch up with us. The Jeep broke down in Wisconsin. It took longer than expected to get it fixed, and we ended up closing out the Lydia Tour acoustically, but we still had these tour dates we had to do back. So they’re coming to meet us in Denver, Colorado, and we get a phone call from our tour manager 20 minutes before we’re supposed to go onstage, and he said, “We hit a deer. We’re on the side of the road. The car is totaled.” I went down in the green room and I cried. We all cried. We were defeated. That’s the Reader’s Digest version. It was such a long week without the band, and with the difficulties and the money we spent, and we were so close to being back on track. It was so hard. But we went on and we played a show, and we did well, and we sold records. And at the end of the day, that’s what we needed to be doing.
What’s your dream venue to play?
I imagine it’s awesome to be on tour, seeing new places and hanging out with your friends (hopefully they’re your friends…) all the time. But is there any band who’s on the road now that you’re missing out on because you’re on tour?
I don’t usually think about it actually. I was just telling the guys I rarely look up tour schedules. I know that there are definitely a few shows I wanted to go to this June, but in my head this just feels like a duty. Getting on the road, you know? Feels like a part of reality, like breathing. So will Modest Mouse decide to play New York City while we’re gone? Probably, but I won’t be holding my breath.
River City Extension’s Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Your Anger shows a maturity not typically found on a sophomore album. The eight-piece band, based out of New Jersey, is still channeling their folk-rock roots, but with a bit more of a punch. The structure of songs like “Glastonbury” and “Slander” allow each instrument to flourish, but not overwhelm the others. Joe Michelini’s dynamic vocals fit perfectly with all the instrumentation that swarms around him. The occasional harmonies (“Ballad of Oregon”), Sam Tacon’s vocals (“If You Need Me Back in Brooklyn”) and soaring choruses (“Welcome to Pittsburgh”) add a change of pace from Michelini’s vocals.
“Khaira Arby is the reigning queen of song in Timbuktu, Mali. She’s been writing and singing in the indigenous languages of her Sahara Desert region — Sonrhai, Tamaschek, Bambara, Arabic — for decades. Her robust voice, roiling grooves and direct lyrics, often addressing sensitive issues, have made her a legend in her own time.”—NPR
Summer Fridays just got hotter with the Lunch Box Free Noon Concert Series
Grand Performances' Lunch Box series, co-curated by The Satellite, will feature some of L.A.’s best up-and-coming indie rock, pop and folk groups (with the exception of one New Yorker). Join us Friday afternoons in July and August at California Plaza in Downtown Los Angeles for free al fresco sets from eight rising bands.
Check out the line-up below and we’ll see you this Summer!
Friday, July 6 @ Noon Allah-Las The Allah-Las offer the perfect retro Sunset Blvd. & SoCal Surf sound to open the hot summer Lunch Box series. If the WaterCourt’s waves were bigger, the band would hang ten!
Friday, July 13 @ Noon Priscilla Ahn Local Korean American singer/songwriter Priscilla Ahn's dreamy blend of acoustic folk/pop has recently been featured on Dancing with the Stars and Jay Leno’s Tonight Show. Her organic sound is characterized by incredible vocal abilities, moving melodies and simple instrumentation. Her personable, story-telling lyrics give her songs the human qualities that will charm any audience.
Los Angeles’ own sister-trio Haim successfully combines Folk with R&B beats. Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, these three folk-rockin’ gals are deeply rooted in Rock, Americana, and the 90’s Pop and R&B they grew up on. Their talented songwriting, instrumental approach and tight harmonies are in true sibling form.
Friday, July 27 @ Noon Lady Danville Folk pop trio Lady Danville is best known for its well-crafted harmonies, thoughtful lyrics and refreshing dose of energy, wit and charm.
Barbara and Ethan Gruska form the sibling duo TheBelle Brigade, whose irresistibly catchy songs and seamless harmonies take root in the traditions of California’s best rock, pop and folk of the 70’s.
Friday, August 10 @ Noon Ozokidz: GP’s Bring Your Kids to Work Day Have your kids bring their maracas, tambourines and shakers, as Ozokidz’ bilingual rhymes and Latin beats make learning about nouns, pronouns, and all manner of things fun.
Friday, August 17 @ Noon No Place to Go Ethan Lipton and his Orchestra perform the songs from No Place To Go (in full production on Saturday, August 1). A worthwhile-and needless to say apropos - occupation of your lunch hour!
This eclectic five member Los Angeles-based band features sibling vocalists, Robert and Rachel Kolar with a rhythm section bolstered by a tapper. He’s My Brother She’s My Sister's unique sound exudes the earnestness of folk, the colorfulness of glam rock, the rawness of blues, the theatrics of cabaret and the hip shake of a rock-a-billy.
Do you work downtown? Well your lunches are going to get a little more interesting strating in July. The Grand Performances’ Lunch Box series will feature plenty of local L.A. up and comers for noon shows. The line up was co-curated by The Satellite and you can epect to see performances…