Press

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 Reddit 0 StumbleUpon 0 Pin It Share 0 LinkedIn 0 Email -- 0 Flares ×

Flatland Harmony Experiment still evolving

INDIANAPOLIS-BASED ROOTS MUSIC TRIO RETURNS SATURDAY NIGHT TO THE LIVERY By JEREMY D. BONFIGLIO – Sight & Sound Editor | Posted: Thursday, January 5, 2017 6:00 am BENTON HARBOR —

Fans of the Indianapolis-based roots music band Flatland Harmony Experiment often are attracted to the band’s quick-witted lyricism, energetic live shows and three-part harmony. One of the things that makes the trio of Scott Nelson on upright bass, Johnny Plott on banjo and Kris Potts on mandolin so interesting, however, is something that it lacks – a guitar. While there may be some philosophical, sonic reasons for the guitar’s absence, truth be told, it has more to do with Plott’s personal penchant for the banjo. “I actually started with the guitar when I was like 3 or 4, but I’ve always been a fan of the banjo,” Plott says by phone from Indianapolis. “But it wasn’t until I was about 25 when I really decided that I wanted to get a banjo and try it. I’ve always been kind of a dead-head so that might have sent me in that direction, when I discovered Jerry (Garcia’s) bluegrass band, Old and in the Way. … I asked my dad for a banjo for Christmas, and I haven’t been able to put it down for a whole day since then. That was about 10 years ago now.” Plott also believes it was largely because of the banjo that in 2011 he and Potts were able to team with Nelson to form Flatland Harmony Experiment, who performs Saturday in a return to The Livery. Plott and Potts, who were then members of the gypsy jazz outfit Midwest Rhythm Exchange, decided to start a bluegrass jam on the patio of the Mousetrap, one of Indianapolis’ oldest north side watering holes. “The main guy in that band got a job and had to take four months off, and so we decided to start a bluegrass jam at the Mousetrap, which is right across the street from my house basically,” Plott says. “Scott showed up at one of the jams, we started playing together and it just clicked. The banjo is, I think, what caught Scott’s attention right away, and then there was our ability to harmonize, which just came naturally. He’s the one who sent out the calls and tried to get us together as a band.” It didn’t take much convincing. Soon the trio began writing songs, and hit the studio as Nelson eventually stepped away from a corporate job as vice president of sales to play music full time. In 2011, they released the EP “Eleventh Hour,” followed by the 2012 full-length debut “On Our Way.” But Plott says one of the biggest moments for the band, which continues to influence them today, was reaching the finals of the 40th annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival band competition in 2013, where they finished third overall. “Telluride was a big deal for us because one of the requirements was that we play with a single mic,” Plott says. “Up to that point, we had always plugged in and had separate mics, but since Telluride, that’s how we perform live. It’s just more fun to play around one mic, and our instruments are loud enough that you don’t need to plug them in. That’s one of the things that seems to separate us from a lot of bluegrass bands in the area is playing around one mic and not plugging in.” In 2014, the band released their second full-length album, “The Great Squirrel Stampede,” and after a few live recordings, came back with last year’s four-song EP “Chrysalis.” Like past recordings, “Chrysalis” is representative of a specific time and place in the band’s five-year history, best characterized by the tune “Leaf on a River,” which is based on the Inca myth that gold was the sweat of the sun, and silver the tears of the moon. As the name of the EP suggests, Flatland Harmony Experiment’s songwriting and musicality continues to unfold and grow with time. “We’ve been writing a lot of new stuff and we’ve been writing a lot of stuff together lately, which is awesome,” Plott says. “There’s a song called ‘Sundance’ that’s a good one. We wrote that one in Michigan City, Ind., as a matter of fact. We were hanging out at a friend’s house the morning after a show, and we hung out and practiced, and this song came out of it. It’s about an old, dilapidated farmhouse, and it has a great hook.” Plott adds that the band will not only be playing some new material on Saturday, but they soon will put down “Sundance” and some other tracks for what they hope will become their third, full-length album due out this spring. “We don’t have a firm date yet, but that’s the plan,” Plott says. “I think when we write together, we come up with better (stuff). And what we have been writing lately is some of the best we’ve ever done. We’re ready for people to hear it.” Contact: jbonfiglio@TheHP.com, 932-0364, Twitter: @HPBonfiglio If you go Who: Flatland Harmony Experiment When: 9 p.m. Saturday Where: The Livery, 190 Fifth St., Benton Harbor How much: Free Contact: 925-8760 or www.liverybrew.com Artist info: flatlandharmony.com

 

 

No Depression, March 13th, 2014

Flatland Harmony Experiment-The Experiment is Complete, The Results Are In!

Harmonic Resonance. It’s when tones come together to produce a vibration with sustain. A good vibration. I once attended a finger-style guitar workshop for beginners, hosted by National Finger-style Guitar Champ Pat Kirkley. Pat began by talking about tuning. He said, “You know you’re in tune when you strum a chord and the guitar begins to resonate.” It makes this pleasant vibration, at least the acoustic guitar does. Harmonics, in general, resonate from one ear canal to the other, creating this cool little vibe in the middle. It’s either on or it’s off. The Flatland Harmony Experiment, three guys from the Indianapolis area who met at a jam in 2011, harmonized, resonated, and the resonance is still ringing, reverberating, in the ear canals and frontal lobes of a whole bunch of acoustic Roots music lovers around the globe. Flatland Harmony Experiment is on. Riding the tide of momentum from being selected a finalist in the 2013 40th Annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band Competition, The Flatland Harmony Experiment is truly fresh out of the gate, up and coming, not too far from actually jumping to the next level, overnight, so to speak. They play over a hundred dates a year and have enjoyed over a thousand downloads from radio programmers around the world. The band has released three recordings, with their latest recording “The Great Squirrel Stampede”. That’s a cd per each year of FHE’s inception.

 

FHE started at a bluegrass jam on the patio of the Mousetrap, one of Indianapolis, Indiana’s oldest north side watering holes. Band spokesman, Scott Nelson, who writes and sings and plays bass, says, “What started as a jam quickly evolved into a band when members Kris Potts, Johnny Plott and me got together and recorded a rehearsal. Three part harmony immediately filled the room and an idea was hatched. The resulting recording was scribed in Sharpie, ‘the Flatland Harmony Experiment’ and a band was born.” Just like that. Well, I believe now and then the mother ship stops by and drops off these incredibly talented seeds and they pop up everywhere, hook up and multiply. Sometimes they come up in the same area and a great band is born.

https://soundcloud.com/flatlandharmonyexperiment/just-over-the-line…

I first heard FHE, which is Scott Nelson on bass, Johnny Plott on banjo and Kris Potts on mandolin, (notice, no guitar? more about that later…), at the 2nd John Hartford Memorial Festival, in Bean Blossom, Indiana. Dubbed the “Most Laid Back Festival in America”, truly, in it’s youth, a musician’s festival, having played host to the likes of Tim O’Brien and Darrel Scott, Jamie Hartford, Great American Taxi, Peter Rowan, so many great musicians, well, I’ll just say, FHE fit right in and have been invited back each year, and with each performance, they present something unique and original.

 

 

You see, some of these folks dropped off here by the Mother Ship are masters of their craft and that’s it. There are a whole bunch of folks like this. One only needs to attend the Walnut Valley Festival, Winfield KS, home of eight national and international instrument titles, to witness first hand, these other worldly kids pick flawlessly at the speed of light. The world is now full of great pickers. I’ve walked right by quite a few of them without giving them a second thought. But when I heard the vocals of FHE, above the music, I got that gut feeling that says, “listen to this”. Sibling like vocal harmony coming from these three men. It’s no wonder their popularity is rising faster than a Martha White biscuit in the oven. FHE offers something unique with their blend of original bluegrass inflected songs and traditional covers. Each of these men are self taught. They say they are a “non-traditional, vocally driven string band”. I say that’s right. But I also say they are very Newgrass. Scott Nelson is a steady man on bass, even while he sings. That’s a tough gig. Johnny Plott who sings tenor most of the time, does it while picking his own style of bluegrass banjo. Even tougher gig. Then, there’s Kris Potts, who does Django Mando, unlike anyone I’ve heard, and sings. They pull off the tightest jams, in intricacy, song after song after song, and they have the gift of pulling you into their realm. They are unassuming, unpretentious, putting on a show without putting on a show.

Harmonic Resonance. Flatland Harmony Experiment. Nothing flat here. Harmony? Dynamic and spiritual. Experiment? I think the experiment has been conducted and they’ve moved on to spreading the results all over the country and Europe is on the horizon. I asked Kris Potts how he labels their music. He told me, with a twang, “I call it Pro-grass.(praw-grass)”. It is, too. Pick any of their three albums, you’ll hear Scott’s soft voice with Johnny and Kris harmonizing the effects in the background, usually followed by an instrumental that will temporarily make you forget the vocals, then the vocals are back. All of this around one mic, a Groove Tubes large diaphragm tube condenser mic, with none of the instruments plugging in. Their sound is consistent, a result of constant work and dedication and a real love for what they do. Flatland Harmony Experiment is here to stay. They’re embarking this spring on an odyssey that will take them from Michigan to North Carolina to Wisconsin and wind up in Colorado, in support of their new album, The Great Squirrel Stampede. I googled that, by the way. The song was written about an incident in 1822’s Indiana when an area was literally overran by millions of squirrels.

You can get all of the details of FHE’s tour and discography at www.flatlandharmony.com When I asked Scott what excites FHE about a performance, he told me this. “We always rise to the occasion when we can create a conversation with the audience. For example recently at a gig we received multiple suggestions for our original songs and the audience sang our songs and lyrics with us. I can’t tell you what an honor that is for us. To see and hear our art reflected back to us is awe inspiring. I believe that there is an energy loop that can be created where we are mirrors of each other. If the audience is in, we will put on the show of our lives.” I’ve seen them do this. About the genre, Scott told me all three band members were “city boys”, and Bill Monroe would probably not approve of their “non-traditional vocally drivin string band music”. Just based on Kris Potts mando alone, Bill would definitely approve. Overall, I prefer to believe Bill Monroe would not only approve, he’d smile to see the results of this “experiment”!

https://soundcloud.com/flatlandharmonyexperiment/sleighride?in=flat…

Catch Flatland Harmony Experiment live, if you can. Ernie Hill .

‘The Great Squirrel Stampede’ by Flatland Harmony Experiment

‘The Great Squirrel Stampede’ by Flatland Harmony Experiment

April 15, 2014

Indianapolis roots trio Flatland Harmony Experimenthave independently released their latest album The Great Squirrel Stampede for 2014. Not only are the songs on the new album well composed and nicely executed, the lyrical content, which often focuses on engaging narratives, is what really draws the listener in and holds them there. And behind the lyrics and main voice, one finds a stream of quality pickers and strummers, marked here and there by impressive little vocal harmonies.

While Flatland Harmony Experiment isn’t exactly a traditional roots band, there are definitely elements of bluegrass, ragtime and Americana in their organic stew of sound. They simply tend to stir it up a good deal more than some of their contemporaries, rather than allowing it to overcook and become a tasteless aural sludge.

The standout songs on this release are the title track, “Eleanor,” “Gypsy Curse,” and “New Day.” Go to the band’s webpage and stream the songs to find out why.

The Great Squirrel Stampede by Flatland Harmony Experiment proves that this band – Scott Nelson on upright bass and vocals, Kris Potts on mandolin and vocals, and Johnny Plott on banjo and vocals – makes a fine addition to the current roots revival.

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 Reddit 0 StumbleUpon 0 Pin It Share 0 LinkedIn 0 Email -- 0 Flares ×