The place to be on Boxing Day was in Arden, Delaware at The Arden Gild Concert Hall for the 6th Annual Boxing Day concert. Headliners, The Spring Standards, a band with local roots, played 2 shows 6:30pm and 9:30pm with warm-up bands Inland Traveler and The DuPont Brothers respectively for each of the shows. The mood was cheerful and the concert hall was beautifully decorated for the holidays. I had a chance to catch the 6:30pm show. According to Ron Ozer, President at Arden Concert Gild, the show was just a few tickets away from being sold out.
The atmosphere was electric as The Spring Standards, core members: Heather Robb, James Cleare and James Smith, served up their own unique brand of eclectic neo-folk music having fun with a frolicking set of songs spanning through their diverse catalog as well as a couple of new ones. Each of the band members has a beautiful voice, is a multi-instrumentalist and likes to convey the brilliant songwriting through a focus on the intimate details of the craft. The band is joined at times by two additional guitar players adding depth and texture to their already varied instrumentation. James and James showed how much fun they were having with quick-witted banter between them, and as the night moved on, it became funnier. Musically, the upbeat tempo increased, and eventually the crowd responded to them as a dozen fans or more jumped out of their seats to find open standing room to dance to the infectious rhythm of their rock and neo-country/ folk-tinged songs. The warm-up band, Inland Traveler, was also very good, talented musically, and they provided as a highlight a stunningly sublime rendition of the 80’s classic “Head Over Heels” by Tears for Fears to close their set.
Before the show, I was happy to get a chance to catch up with Heather Robb of The Spring Standards, singer/ songwriter/ keyboard/ percussion player in an upbeat/ spirited conversation, and asked her what it means to play the Annual Boxing Day concert at Arden Gild Concert Hall.
Heather: This show has become a touchstone for us ending the year on the best possible note and just connecting back to where we all started….Everybody’s home, and so it’s always a great reunion of friends & Family and all of the people who remind you of the best things in life. So after a year of touring, this is what it’s all about: sharing music with those you love…It’s become a significant check-in about that and a reminder…. It has a really unique feel of community and bringing people together.
Jon: How would you describe your music?
Heather: It’s a hard question. We are very diverse in genre. We span a lot of different influences. The heart of it is folk music and that comes through in our dedication to three-part harmony and using our voices to tell stories…even if it sounds like a White Stripes song or an 80’s rock ballad, there is always a story being told with 3 voices. There is a lot of pop influences and straight up rock. I would describe our music as eclectic neo-folk music, and then I would just make somebody wear a pair of headphones.
Jon: What goes into the making of Yellow // Gold and how do you compare it to your previous records?
Heather: It straddles two of the furthest extremes of what we do…Part of the exercise for us was the contrast between Yellow and Gold. It was a unique concept. We had a wonderful producer who was willing to go down this road with us. We made Yellow the 1st part of 2011 and that was a pretty isolated creative endeavor. We set out to just record those songs. We have one other full length that came out before that. That material was toured pretty heavily before we got into the studio, but the songs on Yellow// Gold were kind of new. Only a few of them were played ever in front of a live audience. We were able to use the studio as part of the discovery process which was cool and fun for us. It’s a whole new level of comfort for us in seeing the studio as a creative environment because we identified mostly as a live band for most of our existence. The process made us say oh wow there is a whole other world of creativity just in the studio. Then, there was a 6 month breathing period before we even started tracking Gold. We wanted it to feel like a different process. With Yellow, we wanted to capture the folk essence of what we do. With Gold, we wanted to hit the rock / pop, more glisteny, more like bright, shiny kinda things. We are really proud of it, and love the whole process. We are satisfied with the outcome which is a feat. Of course, you always like the last thing that came out more. In comparison with our other material, we are the most proud of Yellow // Gold, and where that leaves us for the next album.
Jon: What is your most non-musical influence?
Heather: For me personally?
Heather: I love live theater and film both. I really respond with that degree of storytelling. I try to utilize that in my storytelling and my songwriting. I am a visual person. When I am writing music, I get clear pictures in my mind of what I’m writing about and an environment and influenced by an atmosphere or even just a room or an image in my memory of a place. As a collective non-musical influence is where we grew up.
Jon: What were some of the highlights of 2013?
Heather: We had a great tour early in the year. We played the Union Transfer in Philly…..It was really fun. We had a great summer. We ended up booking this house party tour so we wove in shows we already booked in various cities. So, in July and August, we had kick ass parties where we would go into someone’s home and we played a lunch show driving from Memphis to Atlanta where we stopped in Birmingham and played a lunch show for the mom and dad and 4 kids and kept on driving and ranging from that to people who had 200 people in their backyard and that was a whole sound system for us! That was amazing, a great way to connect with our fans and thank them for years of continued support….We went to Vancouver for the first time and an amazing time there, and then these last two shows will be incredible. We are very excited about Arden and New York.
Jon: Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions?
Heather: No, I need them, but we have big plans for 2014. We are putting out a DVD at some point of last year’s Live in Delaware. We are writing up a storm with the intentions of writing our best material to date in the best possible version to share with everybody. We are going to SXSW in March, a 4 week tour, with Pigpen Theatre Co. They are a theater company and a band, and they are fantastically talented and then coming back to the Northeast.
Catch The Spring Standards live. They are talented singers, songwriters and musicians and like to have fun doing what they love. What a great way to spend the evening on Boxing Day!