By Melanie Stangl
Winter has finally come to Pittsburgh, and the temptation to spend nights huddled under blankets watching Netflix is strong. But this Sunday, a trip to James Street Gastropub will be worth the biting breezes. Why? Local jazz standouts The Bleil Brothers and Eastend Mile will be opening up for the Brooklyn-based world-music fusion act House of Waters. Currently on a national tour in support of their new self-titled record, House of Waters has been branded as “the most unique band in the world.” With a hammered dulcimer as the star instrument (not to mention a six-string bass), plus influences ranging from jazz, psychedelic, and indie rock to classical and West-African, that title seems appropriate.
If you dig Eastend Mile’s crowd-hyping incorporation of rock, soul, hip-hop, and funk elements, chances are you’ll enjoy what H.O.W. brings to the table. The groups share a knack for expertly distilling a broad range of genres into something fun, accessible, and original. As EM saxophonist Roger Romero puts it, “We’re all very contemporary artists. They’re world music virtuosos with a fundamentally enjoyable sense of melody/harmony, whereas we’re more of a stylized melting pot of young, jazz-adjacent artists.”
To have them both on the same bill, then, is fitting. Eastend Mile drummer Dhruva Krishna has worked closely with James Street in the past through event planning with Found Sound Music. When asked to put a show together around House of Waters, “it made complete sense to pull us to open,” says Romero, adding, “We’re crazy excited that this is finally happening! Gotta love the Pittsburgh music scene.” He’s right—it’s not every city that has such a similar and skilled counterpart to a band like H.O.W.
Taking the serendipity one step further, House of Waters was recently signed to GroundUP Music, the same label as jazz fusion legends Snarky Puppy. “To say we’re fans of Snarky Puppy is a bit of an understatement,” says Romero. “We idolize the group and the individuals who play in it. There are a good number of Eastend Mile songs/intros/jams that are directly inspired by Snarky. Their songwriting and arrangement are arguably the most influential in fusion today.” He adds, “I’ve been brought to tears on more than one occasion hearing Snarky Puppy’s music.”
To get their label’s enthusiastic support is another promising sign for House of Waters. The inspiring energy and talent that all three bands can bring is a strong argument for braving the cold. Plus, Romero asks a crucial question: “When would you ever get another chance to watch someone play the crap out of a hammered dulcimer?” He concludes, “This is music that will challenge you…I’m fully prepared to be in awe of the show I myself am opening up for.”
Doors are at 8 PM on Sunday, December 11th. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased here. Check out the Facebook event page here.
Preview House of Waters with their video for “In Waves”:
Check out Eastend Mile’s video for “Blood Moon”:
Watch the Bleil Brothers cover the Snarky Puppy song “Lingus”: