The Sh-Booms, The Broomestix
Saturday, June 17, 7 p.m.
The Merry Widow, 51 S. Conception St., www.themerrywidow.net
Tickets: $10, available through Ticketfly
Each year, the SouthSounds Music Festival features not only established regional bands but also groups on the fringe of notoriety. Two years ago, The Sh-Booms used SouthSounds to expand their listening audience beyond its Orlando home. People who attended either their live show at The Merry Widow or their set in the “Lagniappe New Southern Music Showcase” received their first hit of The Sh-Booms’ “garage-soul” sound.
The group’s progressive mix of old-school soul and garage rock served as a proper introduction for festival-goers unfamiliar with their unique style. The Sh-Booms’ onslaught of snappy horns and garage rock overtones provided an unblemished foundation for the blasting rock ‘n’ soul vocals of Brenda Radney. According to bassist Al “The Thump” Ruiz, The Sh-Booms could not have had a more positive reception or overall experience at SouthSounds, and networked with other regional acts.
“We had a lot of fun watching all these bands that we still keep in contact with,” Ruiz said. “We played The Merry Widow, then we had the showcase the following day. It was great. We met a lot of awesome people. It’s been a highlight for us. We’ve been making weekend trips to [Mobile] now for two or three years. We’re definitely excited to come back.”
The Sh-Booms’ momentum since SouthSounds has been nothing but positive, with 2017 one of their most productive years yet. The band’s new management pitched their music to Los Angeles licensing firm Rollo & Grady, and a few months later the firm contacted The Sh-Booms with an interested party. In February, The Sh-Booms’ song “Rolling Down Like Thunder” appeared on the “Mr. and Mrs. Mxyzptlk” episode of “Supergirl,” their garage-soul sounds beamed into homes across the nation.
“It’s a nationally syndicated show,” Ruiz said. “It opened up our music to a lot of people, and we were paid well for it. So, that was cool. That was the first of a bunch of stuff that’s happened over the past six to eight months for us.”
Ruiz says the group has also been spending time reaching beyond their comfort zone on the road. With each passing month, The Sh-Booms have been venturing further from South Florida. Recently, they joined The B-52s on the road for a trip that took them to cities such as Austin and Houston for the first time. Ruiz says these short runs have resulted in a crop of new fans in each new city.
Their upcoming performance at The Merry Widow will come during the band’s longest run yet on a tour that takes them back to Austin and into San Antonio. Ruiz adds this stint to the long list of milestones the band has met since the start of the year.
“I think I speak for everybody that we’re all really excited for all the things that have been happening over the past couple of months,” Ruiz said. “We’re looking forward to playing out there more. We all want to do this full-time, and we’re on our way.”
The Sh-Booms want to use this eight-day run as not only an instrument of exposure but also as preparation for a tour in support of an upcoming full-length. This soon-to-be-titled album is “80 percent done,” he says, adding that the band is currently laying down horns, organ and “auxiliary instruments.” So far, Ruiz says, the recording process has not been as lengthy as that for their previous EP release, “Usage Fee.”
“When we put the EP out, it took a couple of years to do,” explained Ruiz. “There were so many instruments, and we were using Pro Tools.”
The creation process for this release has been different in many ways. The Sh-Booms have decided to go old school by opting for the analog recording process. With their live performance one of their best weapons, Ruiz says their choice of recording method was a group decision made in an attempt to capture the power of their stage show.
The Sh-Booms looked no farther than their hometown for an engineer and studio, recruiting Sheldon Herschfeld of Orlando garage rock outfit The Woolly Bushmen to man the mixing board. Ruiz cites Herschfeld’s garage rock background and familiarity with the band’s material as positive aspects of working with him.
“[Herschfeld] has a studio at his house,” Ruiz explained. “He’s done all [The Woolly Bushmen’s] recordings and some other local bands. They’re a legit garage band. They’re young, but they’re really talented. So, we play a lot of shows with them, and they’re our friends. They understand our sound and how to pursue it in the studio.”
Ruiz credits analog recording for the comparatively short length of time it has taken The Sh-Booms to lay down tracks for their new album. The Sh-Booms’ musical prowess served well in the analog environment. Ruiz says the bass, drum and guitar tracks were recorded live and in tandem with no click track.
“Our band has been together for a while, so our rhythm section is pretty tight,” Ruiz said.
Even though she was a newcomer to the raw, analog environment, vocalist Brenda Radney has also thrived in this aural setting. Before The Sh-Booms, Radney spent many years as an artist on Justin Timberlake’s Tennman Records. While with the label, she recorded exclusively in studios featuring cutting-edge technology. However, her first visit into the analog world resulted in what her bandmates consider one of the most flawless recording sessions of her career.
“She came in on one of the tracks, and she laid it down, and that was it,” Ruiz said. “We didn’t change anything. It felt good, so we left it there. The vibe is very important for what we want to exude on record.”
Ruiz says this continuation of The Sh-Booms’ garage-soul sound will be out in October. For now, he says, the band is contemplating whether to seek a label’s assistance or self-release the album. Until then, this unique Orlando band will continue to lay the groundwork for its release through touring. The band’s upcoming set at The Merry Widow should satisfy the curiosity of any local fans wanting to sample their new material.
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