When Cody Beebe and the Crooks play Neumo’s on Capitol Hill on September 23rd, it’ll be a bittersweet event for the roots rock and Americana band. It’ll be their last show as a seven-piece band before going into the studio, and starting a tour as a five-piece.
A little over a year ago, the Washington-based outfit independently-released their debut album, Friends of the Old Mill, and immediately began a tour that has since garnered national attention.
“Basically as an independent band, we tried to figure out how to work backwards,” Beebe says. “We had to use that record to make some money to get on the road.”
Having funded the whole thing with merchandise and record sales, their album shot to astounding numbers on alternative and college charts. Earlier in the year, the band found themselves incredibly busy, which inspired two members – one of whom was their lead guitar player – to leave the band.
“They’re at a point in their lives where they have different goals,” Beebe says. “It’s bittersweet because it shows that we’re successful enough that we’ll be on the road a lot.”
The breakneck trajectory of the band that led to an almost disorienting, overnight success is easily traced to a larger trend in American music.
“I feel the swell, especially in Seattle, it’s a real cool thing to watch,” Beebe says. “It seems like it’s taking it back to the singer-songwriter, folk rock, resurgence from the sixties.”
But, from the introspective, pastoral songwriting of Fleet Foxes, Iron and Wine, Beirut and Horse Feathers, the evolution has been carried through by Mumford and Sons and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Even Bon Iver’s recent foray into studio production is a successful experiment in wider instrumentation and compositions.
Cody Beebe and the Crooks entered the scene just at the moment when their jam-infused roots rock was beginning to prove its worth in the already established folk revival.
“Having seven guys up there is something people haven’t seen in a long time,” Beebe says. But, Beebe is confident that Seattle is ready to support a more amplified working-man’s music.
Beebe’s funk-inspired rhythm section is a welcome new layer to the tried and true folk, country-western and jam platforms they’ve already perfected.
“A five piece on stage feels empty to us,” Beebe says. But, he adds, “I know that the five left are committed to this and we’re gonna do it.”