The Krickets Album Release Party
Sunday, June 5, at 7 p.m.
Callaghan’s Irish Social Club, 916 Charleston St., www.callaghansirishsocialclub.com
Tickets: $10 at the door
The power of music has pulled a quartet of women together from across the Gulf Coast. The Krickets’ lineup features Melissa Bowman of Panama City, Florida; Lauren Spring of Port St. Joe, Florida; Emily Stuckey of Fairhope and Katrina Kolb of Mobile. All four have established reputations with their respective projects. Kolb is the bassist for Mobile bluegrass masters Fat Man Squeeze. Spring and Stuckey are known for their solo work. Bowman has earned experience performing alongside her husband in the Bo Spring Band.
In The Krickets, Kolb remains a constant on her upright bass while the rest of the group trade a variety of instruments, from the fiddle to the mandolin. While their mix of classic and modern folk/Americana, highlighted by beautiful harmonies, is extremely refreshing, this aspect is matched by their all-female lineup, a rarity on the Gulf Coast.
“I don’t know if there’s a competition or something, or women just not getting along,” Bowman said. “I think most men would be like, ‘Oh god, it’s an all-girl band. Can you imagine what goes on in that band?’ It’s nice to have girls who are willing to take a step back and not be in the limelight the whole time.”Spring and Bowman laid the groundwork for The Krickets, coming together to perform a benefit for the Sacred Heart Cricket Fund. After spending so much time performing in her husband’s band, Spring found the collaboration with Bowman to be new and exciting. Spring cites Bowman’s attitude toward their duo to be one of the most positive aspects of the pairing. Bowman created a safe environment for Spring to experiment in an unfamiliar musical capacity, which helped her evolve as a musician.
“I just got so much out of it, because it was a very safe place for me to be good or bad,” Spring said. “It didn’t matter. It was the joy of the harmony and this platform where we could get better and work at your craft. Her willingness to let me get up there is awesome. If she hadn’t created such a safe environment for my fragile ego, it wouldn’t have worked.”
As time passed, Spring and Bowman decided to add to their ranks. Bowman was familiar with Stuckey’s performances and recruited her string and harmonic talents to the lineup. Bowman also brought on Kolb, whose bass added a new dynamic to their sound. Stuckey says her participation in The Krickets allowed her to journey into new musical worlds that were both unfamiliar and glorious.
“When Melissa and I were playing together, I could harmonize,” Stuckey said. “I didn’t really know how to. When the three of us got together, it blended. Katrina adding the bass to keep the groove and everything, that really was like, ‘Wow! We got something special.’”
The quartet busied themselves creating songs for what would become their fittingly titled album, “Spanish Moss Sirens.” The songwriters of the group brought what Bowman describes as the “bones” of a song to their rehearsals. For example, the song “Sweet Home” was composed by Stuckey but morphed into its final state after the group put it through a process they refer to as “Krickifying.”
As they listened to each other’s respective songs, each member would imagine what could be added to it. Ultimately, an individual’s composition would become a group effort, with each member filling any arrangement gaps that appeared. According to Spring, Kolb completed the musical mix by adding her bass “groove.”
“It’s been amazing to me and very inspiring,” Spring said. “I had only written one of my songs when we came to the table for this album. Emily had two of them written. Everybody has to try different parts. It’s been such a generous and giving songwriting process, and you have these tools to work with to hear what this song could be.”
When they finished compiling and shaping songs, The Krickets decided to take the next step and traveled to Sun Drop Sound in Florence to record with producer/engineer Ben Tanner. In addition to being a member of Alabama Shakes, Tanner has established a reputation for being one of Alabama’s most sought-after producers.
He was the perfect match for The Krickets. Even though their vocals were overdubbed, Tanner insisted the group maintain a raw sound, so they performed the instrumental work live in the studio. Tanner also recognized the power in numbers when it came to their vocals, recording their harmonies as a group.
“He did not want us to sound produced and overproduced or lose this weird organic thing going on,” Spring said. “We may not be the most polished musicians, but once we are together we can really create some magic. He recognized that from the start.”
The final cut of “Spanish Moss Sirens” proves both the power of Tanner’s ear as well as the power of The Krickets’ music. In a time where Americana has almost become cliché, The Krickets are revitalizing it. Throughout the album, the group expertly balances both modern and classic influences. “Guinevere” is a classic country ballad highlighted by flawless harmonies. With its low-end bass and steady organ, the haunting “Song of the Spanish Moss Sirens” is one of the most powerful songs on the album. “To and Fro” mixes down-home sounds with a modern drive and just enough vocal reverb to provide a dreamlike vibe. While each song has its own personality, the group collaboration is obvious — there’s an aural bond that’s preserved from beginning to end.
With that said, The Krickets’ show at Callaghan’s may be one of the few times the public will get to catchthe band until the fall. After Callaghan’s, The Krickets will open for The Mulligan Brothers in Santa Rosa Beach on Saturday, June 11. Afterwards Stuckey will have to take a break for another big event, the birth of her child. However, this will give The Krickets a few months to plan their future.