San Francisco Bay Area songwriting deviants, Tumbledown House, have never been easy to describe. Modern speakeasy, saloon jazz, parlor pop, and Tom Waits in a cocktail dress are some of the terms used, but none of these successfully convey the band’s incomparable ability to fuse vintage sounds and themes from yesteryear with the modern instrumentation, refreshingly original compositions, and raw energy that we expect from today’s performers. Tumbledown House will play the Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center on Friday, October 5 at 8pm. Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 at the door. Advance tickets are available at wslr.org.
Tumbledown House began in the rain-soaked streets of Portland, Oregon back in 2009. Since then, the band has performed over 850 shows throughout 25 states and has recently released their third full-length studio album, “Sum and Substance”. In 2012, the band relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where they teamed up with clarinet virtuoso Zac Johnson, upright bass wizard Ryan Lukas, and creative percussionist Aaron Kierbel, who provide the perfect sonic landscapes for the intricately crafted songs of sultry vocalist Gillian Wolfe and producer/guitarist Tyler Ryan Miller. The resulting group has become just as notorious for their raucous speakeasy parties as they are adored for their intimate seated events, which are oftentimes enriched by lush storytelling; their ability to charm audiences of all walks of life is making Tumbledown House a rising festival favorite throughout Northern California and beyond.
Tumbledown House’s latest album, Sum and Substance, is a slight departure from the vaudevillian carnival ride of their earlier work. Accessing a certain vulnerability, the album showcases the growth and maturity that the band has experienced as artists and songwriters, while still holding on to a bit of the whimsical playfulness that sets them apart from other acts (songs from the upcoming album include an ode to Josephine Baker, a commentary on the modern dating game using animal safari metaphors, and an account of a shamanic journey into the Peruvian jungle).
Photo courtesy of Tumbledown House.