John Moreland

John Moreland

The National Reserve

Thu, July 19, 2018

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

The Broadberry

Richmond, VA

$20 ADV, $25 DOS

Tickets at the Door

This event is all ages

Venue Information: 

Parking is available in side lot (by Exxon)

No Smoking/Vaping permitted anywhere inside venue

Bags/purses will be checked at the door. 

Must have ID for entry 

If you do not have access to a printer, we can scan ticket from your cell phone. Be sure to have your brightness turned all the way up at the door. 

Children under 3 years old are Free. 

Kitchen is open during all hours of operation. 

For additonal FAQs click here

John Moreland
John Moreland
The replay of John Moreland’s network television debut is…glorious and affirming and a sucker punch. He is announced by Stephen Colbert, lights dissolve, and the camera slowly focuses on the person midway across the unadorned stage, revealing him beneath muted blue lights.

He is a big man.

Seated, alone, cradling his acoustic guitar.

He looks like nobody who is famous.

Then he begins to sing, to caress the song “Break My Heart Sweetly,” and all that remains is to whisper, “Oh, my god.”

In Colbert’s studio everybody stood, like they were in church.

Big Bad Luv is the record John Moreland made after, after everything in his life changed. For the better.

He sings in one of those accents from flyover country that’s impossible to locate and implausible to mimic. (Texas, by way of Northern Kentucky, but mostly Tulsa, as it happens.) He sings directly from his heart, with none of the restraint and filters and caution the rest of us would apply for public protection. He sings with resolute courage.

He sings.

And writes. Writes with simple eloquence about love and faith and isolation; the human condition; what every song and poem and novel is about, at the core: Life.

“Break My Heart Sweetly” came from his second solo album, released in 2013 and titled In the Throes. High on Tulsa Heat, released through Thirty Tigers, landed him on Colbert’s stage (that’s the LP Colbert held up). Song placements on “Sons of Anarchy,” an emerging artist nomination from the Americana Music Association.

Enough sales to compel Moreland to give up his DIY label operation, and sign with 4AD. “It grew to the point where I couldn’t really handle everything myself,” he says. “Even with a manager and a small team, I came to the conclusion that I’d like to play music and not worry about the other stuff.”
Enough success to buy a measure of peace, and not more pain. “I expected to just play in the corner of the bar and have people not really pay attention, make $100, go home and go to work the next morning, doing something I didn’t like,” Moreland says. “So, yeah, I didn’t really expect to be here. But, then, on the other hand, I did. I feel like I’m good enough to be here. And I’ve always been confident, even when I probably shouldn’t have been. I knew I was an outsider. I didn’t have a lot of faith in the music industry to let me in. But I guess they have. To some extent. That’s what I hoped for, but I wasn’t sure that would be how it worked.”

“In churches learning how to hate yourself/Ain’t grace a wretched old thing” he sings, the song called “Ain’t We Gold.” Big Bad Luv is unmistakably a rock ‘n’ roll record. If, that is, one understands the term to include Ray Wylie Hubbard, John Hiatt, and Lucero. Or The Band, maybe. Insistent songs, coming from a voice as elegant as unfinished barn wood, songs which insist upon their words being heard.
His fourth solo album, not discounting two records with the Black Gold Band and a third with the Dust Bowl Souls. Nor discounting early excursions into hardcore which were not youthful indiscretions but crucial training in the emotional honesty of confessional songwriting. A rock album, to be performed by a rock band. A partial break with the solitude of solo touring.

“Two or three years ago,” Moreland says, “it would have been impossible to picture touring with a band. Now that’s changed. I think I’ll still do some solo or stripped down shows, but I have the option to bring a band with me if I want. Ultimately it’s just what the songs felt like they should be.”

Big Bad Luv was recorded down in Little Rock, mostly with a crew of Tulsa friends: John Calvin Abney on piano and guitar, back from Tulsa Heat; Aaron Boehler on bass; Paddy Ryan on drums; Jared Tyler on dobro. And then Lucero’s Rick Steff on piano, which ended up being the catalyst for completion.

“I always start off writing whatever comes naturally,” Moreland says. “Once I’ve got seven or eight of those, then I’ll take stock and look at what I’ve got, figure out what belongs on a record together, and what might not. Then I’ll figure out what kind of songs I need.”

Three sessions over ten months, sandwiched between touring dates and life. The final sequence roughly approximating the order in which songs were written. “I chose the sequence for what I thought worked best musically,” he says, untroubled.

“Quick bursts of recording,” Moreland goes on. Gives off a quick laugh. “It’s not like we’re sitting there over-thinking the performances, I’m definitely a fan of just hit record and play it. But then there’s long stretches where I’m not in the studio, when I’m listening to what I did, asking how do I turn this into a record?”

The key turned out to be Rick Steff’s promise to record next week, even though Moreland didn’t have songs, not a one. “I went home and wrote five songs in four days and finished up,” Moreland says. Another deep, wry laugh.

Big Bad Luv is, at least by comparison…maybe…a happier record? “I don’t think I’m writing songs that are that much different,” Moreland says. “It’s always been a positive thing at heart, even if a song isn’t sunshine and rainbows. At the very least my songs have been a way to exorcise negative feelings so that I can move on. And hopefully they provide that same experience to listeners. So that’s what I’m still doing. I think it’s a positive thing. I think this record, there’s definitely a change in attitude, but it’s the same point of view.”

Oh, yeah. And Tchad Blake mixed it. “He’s also the only person I’ve ever worked with on a record whose name I can drop.”

“Slow down easy, I’ve been hauling a heavy soul,” he sings, this song titled “Slow Down Easy.” Carrying it for all of us, but no longer alone.
The National Reserve
The National Reserve
For nearly half a decade, The National Reserve has spent its Friday nights lighting it up at a Brooklyn bar, winning over boozers and barflies with epic sets and a remarkable breadth of songcraft and showmanship. Now, with their stunning new Ramseur Records debut album, MOTEL LA GRANGE, the band has captured every bit of that energy, emotion, and entertainment for all to hear.

Founded and fronted by singer-guitarist Sean Walsh, The National Reserve mine an archetypal musical seam, marrying gutbucket R&B, Laurel Canyon lyricism, New Orleans funk workouts, late night soul, and bluesy, boozy rock ‘n’ roll to create their own timeless brand of American music. Songs like “Found Me A Woman” and the indelible title track reveal a gifted new tunesmith while masterfully reminding one and all of the simple beauty of a great American bar band – two guitars, organ, bass and drums rocking out in the corner, singing their songs to soundtrack the night.

The New Jersey-born Walsh began his musical journey amongst New Brunswick’s all-ages house show punk scene, a formative experience that instilled his standing belief in the power of music to create community. New inspiration came in the form of classic American artists like The Band and Bob Dylan, whose rebellious, revolutionary spirit proved especially mind-blowing.

“When I heard BLONDE ON BLONDE,” he says. “I thought this is way more punk rock than anything I had ever heard.”

Walsh began writing songs and relocated to Brooklyn where he put together the first iteration of The National Reserve. The band worked hard, traveling constantly in an effort to both grow as artists and win over new fans.

In time, Walsh eventually united the ideal National Reserve lineup he’d been working towards – guitarist Jon LaDeau, bassist Matthew Stoulil, keyboardist Steve Okonski, and drummer Brian Geltner. Having found his crack combo, Walsh took The National Reserve off the road and began taking a more “old school approach” inspired by the paths taken by some of his greatest musical heroes.

“Look at The Band.” Walsh says, “Guys like Taj Mahal and Leon Russell, they cut their teeth doing what we call residencies now but were just a gig back then. You’d play three weeks at one club and then move on; play three weeks at the next club. You basically holed up somewhere and learned how to entertain people. And that, in my opinion, is something that has been lost.”

The National Reserve settled into their new paradigm and began playing marathon weekly gigs at Brooklyn’s Skinny Dennis in Williamsburg; four-hour sets that encompassed arcane R&B covers, classic rockers, and Walsh’s own increasingly potent original songs.

“We’ve missed maybe ten of ‘em,” Walsh says. “Last time I did the math, we had played close to a thousand hours, just at that one bar.”

Week after week of hard performance strengthened The National Reserve into an unstoppable unit. Walsh’s initial singer-songwriter approach merging with the band’s growing muscle to create a full-bodied rock ‘n’ roll that both warmed patrons’ hearts just as it kept them moving on the tightly packed dance floor.

“I just wanted to get good at playing music,” Walsh says. “I wanted us, as a band, to really learn how to communicate and learn the language of playing music together. That was the first goal. And second, I wanted to learn how to be an entertainer. I looked at all the bands and artists that I loved, and they all understood that was their job.”

Walsh still appreciated that making great records was part of said gig and led The National Reserve through a number of studio visits, chipping away in Lexington, KY, Denver, CO, and Brooklyn over the past five years, recording and re-recording tracks determined to nail it down beyond doubt.

“This group of songs is really important to me,” he says, “so I kept coming back to it. I just wanted to be sure we got it right.”

MOTEL LA GRANGE truly came together in 2017, produced by Walsh at Brooklyn’s Studio G with the help of longtime friend and collaborator, engineer Alexi Berthelot, and then mixed in Lexington, KY by Duane Lundy (Jim James, Ringo Starr). Despite a few prior National Reserve recordings, Walsh sees the album as his band’s first. Indeed, the album spans Walsh’s arc as both songwriter and bandleader, kicking off with “No More,” one of his earliest songs and still among his favorites.

“It’s one of the first songs I wrote where I thought, I’ve figured it out,” he says. “We were never able to record it properly though until now. I think I like my early songs better because I didn’t care about anything back then, I was just writing whatever I felt like writing. As you move on, you begin to get these weird pretensions in your head, but when you are just starting out, you don’t think about people actually hearing what you’re writing. That’s a constant struggle, really.”

Always determined to create a community, The National Reserve invited some of the innumerable friends they’ve made over the course of many, many Friday nights to join them in the studio, among them keyboardists Brian Mitchell (Levon Helm & The Midnight Ramble Band, Bob Dylan, BB King, Les Paul) and Brion Snyder, pedal steel guitarist Jonny Lam (Sinkane), percussionist Charlie Kessenich (Ensemble, et al.) and harmonicist Brian Hurd (Daddy Long Legs), with backing vocals contributed by Margo Valiante, Amanda Khiri (Sinkane), Kelli Scarr, and Alberta Cross’ Petter Ericson Stakee, among others. Walsh made certain the sessions caught fire by leading the band in the studio just as if they were on stage, giving full life to tracks like the album-closing cover of “Roll On Babe” (written by Derroll Adams and then made famous by the one and only Ronnie Lane) as well as the righteous R&B burner, “Other Side of Love.”

“We had no intention of recording it,” Walsh says of the latter, “but right at the end of the very last session, we had about twenty minutes left and someone said, what about ‘Other Side of Love’? We nailed it on the first take, just played it live, and as we listened back it really proved to me just how strong this band is.”

The National Reserve has now commenced their return to the road, eager to introduce audiences to MOTEL LA GRANGE, though Walsh admits traditional touring has taken some readjustment.

“At first, doing a regular 30 to 45 minute set was a bit of a challenge for us,” he says. “I can’t really turn on that fast. It takes us a couple of hours just to really get started now. So we’ve come up with a routine, we’ll play in the dressing room for a bit before the show starts, just to warm up.”

With MOTEL LA GRANGE, Walsh and The National Reserve have crafted a rich and raucous collection that instantly places them among Americana’s finest – its force, directness, and performance not unlike some lost recording unearthed from the golden age of 70s rock ‘n’ roll. Justifiably proud of what he’s accomplished, Walsh is now planning to bring all the fun and fire of The National Reserve’s fiery Friday night sets to the rest of the world, eager to pack as many folks into his band’s late night scene as possible.

“Music is really powerful,” says Sean Walsh. “It changed my life, which is why I do it. If I can reach people with our music, maybe change their life, that would really be incredible.”
Venue Information:
The Broadberry
2729 W. Broad Street
Richmond, VA, 23220
http://www.thebroadberry.com