Hanging out at Leland Sundries with Nick Loss-Eaton
The story (or more likely myth) is that only 1000 people bought the first Velvet Underground disc but they all went on to start bands. What if Lou Reed grew up reading No Depression, Charles Bukowksi and Jack Kerouac and then formed a band? What would that sound like? Leland Sundries’ The Apothecary EP (L’Echiquier Records) gives a five song glimpse into an alternative universe you might want to check out. Leland Sundries is publicist Nick Loss-Eaton’s promising debut project, featuring Loss-Eaton on vocals, accordion, banjo, and resonator guitar, David Kross on bass and Adam Blake on drums. The five Loss-Eaton narratives of bus rides, trains and bars, windmills, roast beef sandwiches and Russian overcoats are penned with a novelist’s eye for detail and delivered in a wry New York baritone. If that description sounds interesting the closing track, “Oh My Sweet Cantankerous Baby”, is currently available as a free download. You can also stream “Cantankerous Baby”, “Elegy” and “Hey Self-Defeater” here.
Last week Nick and I had a brief chat about the band:
HB-“The Apothecary” is Leland Sundries’ debut. How long have you been together?
Nick-Well, in some form or another, about two years now. Leland Sundries is a moniker that could mean a full band lineup or just me, my harmonicas, and my resonator. To paraphrase a small Vermont newspaper, it means me and anyone who has the courage to join me.
HB-Cool band name! Is there a Leland and Sundries is a word you don’t hear too often.
Nick-Thanks, Hal. Yeah, I deliberated over band names for quite a while. Some were taken and some just didn’t hold up well the morning after. Finally, I took a trip down south. I noticed the word “Sundries” on a number of signs in Memphis and I’ve always liked the connotations. Later in the trip, my friends and I drove down to Leland, Mississippi to spend an afternoon with the bluesman Eddie Cusic. It was a foggy morning but it cleared up and we spent a wonderful day exploring the town and then talking to him. He taught Little Milton how to play and he had some incredible stories about playing in the backwoods joints in the ’40s and ’50s. He even picked a couple of tunes for us. He was a gracious host. Might’ve been on the plane home when I stuck the two together.
HB-Describe your weirdest gig?
Nick-There are several to choose from. Might’ve been the ice cream parlor but I’m going with the costume shop in Grants Pass, Oregon. I’m traveling with a good friend who’s backing me up and playing his own set and we arrive in this town and there are giant banners across Main Street that say, “Grants Pass: It’s The Climate.” We never figured out what the question was, but the climate was quite hospitable. We show up at the venue and they’re a costume shop that also sells some cheesy novelty items and bongs. The place had a major goth vibe. They’ve got some local bands on the bill with us. The local acts range from two 15 year olds who had a lot of courage to play their second show ever to a local jaded kid who told us later that he had stayed in town to take care of his ill step-dad. The 15 year old duo had parents in the audience and we dedicated a Bob Dylan cover to the parents. The other perk was all the lemonade you could drink. It was pretty strange. Later on, across town, we saw a bar fight. But that was in a very different kind of place.
HB-Could you name a few influences/favorite artists?
Nick-There are too many! I revere the folk and blues tradition, so I love Charley Patton, Howlin’ Wolf, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Son House, and some of those folks. Those old folk songs can be very strange and I love that: The Anthology of American Folk Music and all. The Band, The Stones, Cash, and Dylan are certainly cornerstones. Some favorites who are still out there are Clem Snide, aa bondy, Jay Farrar, Greg Brown, Elvis Perkins, and Todd Snider. I love a songwriter who can be funny and dark or can write from the point of view of an unreliable narrator. I’m also a huge fan of Sam Shepard’s writing.
HB-If you haven’t heard of them you should really check out _______ ! (name a band or two or three)
Nick-Andy Friedman. I think he’s one of the best lyric writers around right now. He’s funny, poignant, and has a great ear for dialogue. And Paul Geremia, a Rhode Island bluesman who played with Reverend Gary Davis. He’s riveting with just his guitar and a few harmonicas and is one of the last left to study the pre-war blues styles, but he sings in his own voice. Similarly with Paul Rishell and Annie Raines. I caught Jack Oblivian and the Tennessee Tearjerkers last time I was in Memphis. They’re a great, trashy, dirty, garage/soul band. I’m working on a single called “Roller Derby Queen” that’s more on that side of my musical tastes and hopefully I can get it out by the time the next roller derby season kicks off. When is that, anyway?
HB-How does it feel shifting roles from publicist to performer?
Nick-Well, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some artists whom I greatly revere and that’s been a real privilege and greatly inspiring. It’s a very different mindset, though, so there are challenges.
Here is a link to Leland Sundries’ upcoming shows