REELING DOWN A ROAD

cover of REELING DOWN A ROAD

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released 2010

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REELING DOWN A ROAD credits:
Jon Svetkey - Vocals, background vocals, acoustic guitar, mandolin
Everett Pendleton - Harmony vocals, electric guitar
Jack Cavalier - Bass guitar
Michael Cahill - Drums
Tom Simons - Electric guitar
Rob Laurens - Keyboards
Heather Quay - Harmony vocals
Jakub Trasak - Violin
Steve Sadler - Lap steel guitar
Lloyd Thayer - Dobro
End Construction (Ellis Paul, Jim Infantino & Brian Doser) - Vocal harmonies on "Reeling Down A Road"

A HISTORY OF THE LOOMERS

For over 20 years, THE LOOMERS have been one of Boston’s best kept rock and roll secrets. Starting from solid singer-songwriter roots, it’s the tale of guys who just enjoyed playing music together, and their contagious sense of fun that have kept fans coming back over five albums and hundreds live shows in New England and elsewhere. Over the years they have also served as the backing band for Ellis Paul, Don White and countless sold out ‘70s & ‘80s Tribute Nights at the legendary Club Passim in Harvard Square.

The group was formed in 1994 by singer-songwriter and Boston Music Award nominee Jon Svetkey, who continues to be the group’s primary songwriter in addition to handling lead vocals, acoustic guitar, and occasionally mandolin. Everett Pendleton rips it up on lead guitar, with Tom Simons’ able support with additional electric guitars. Jack Cavalier and Michael Cahill hold down the bass and drums. And “new guy” Rob Laurens pounds the piano, organ and accordion.

Jon was stomping on stages throughout the singer-songwriter circuit in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He put 212,000 miles on his blue Toyota headlining folk clubs, colleges and coffeehouses throughout the East Coast and the Midwest. With like-minded young upstarts Ellis Paul, Jim Infantino (who later went on to form Jim’s Big Ego) and Brian Doser, he founded End Construction Productions, the seminal songwriter’s collective that is widely regarded as the catalyst for the resurgence of the New England folk scene in the early 1990s. On the strength of his first solo album, this is NOW, he opened for some of the biggest names on the circuit, including Richard Thompson, Loudon Wainwright III, Chris Smither, Peter Case, John Gorka and John Wesley Harding, and shared bills with peers like Jonatha Brooke, Martin Sexton, Dar Williams, and Carrie Newcomer. But Jon’s driving, energetic, loud, rock-tinged folk songs needed something more than a boot heel for a backbeat.

When Jon set out to record his second solo album, yeahyeahyeah, he decided to go with a fuller band sound. He made a fateful call to the one person in town he knew who played electric guitar: Everett Pendleton. Everett had been playing around the Boston rock scene fronting the award-winning band The Amazing Mudshark and had recently begun singing at open mics. Ultimately, two ended up touring the country several times over, beginning a lifelong musical partnership.

The band came together by accident one night while Jon was watching Everett sit in with a band at an open mic in Harvard Square. The band’s leader was moving to Los Angeles and this was their farewell show; Jon mentioned to the members that he was looking for musicians to back him at some CD release concerts for yeahyeahyeah. Jon Svetkey & The Big Loud Band –– the first incarnation of The Loomers –– was born. Jon continued his solo career but the band kept pressing for more and more shows. As 1994 melted into 1995, Jon began to realize how much the band affected his music and he continued the shift from solo performer to bandleader, writing new arrangements for old songs and writing new songs with the band in mind.

Michael joined the band in 1995 with only a few hours notice for his first gig. Having played in the Mudshark with Everett for 10 years, he figured he could follow along ably enough. Together with original bassist Hugh Albert, The Big Loud Band was finally solid. Jon and the band performed dozens of shows monthly throughout 1995, and in early 1996 the quartet began working on their first CD with Bob Acquaviva (Joe Bonnamossa, Bogeymen) at Acqrok Studios in Utica, NY. One day in the studio Bob called one of the band members “a loomer” (as in, “That guy’s a loomer, hanging around over my shoulder”) and a band name was born.

The band officially debuted as The Loomers at Jon’s infamous 30th Birthday Party at Johnny D’s in April 1996. The band backed a dozen local performers –– all doing cover songs from the 1970s –– in a show which culminated with a ripping rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run.” Throughout 1996, the band played bars and clubs and colleges throughout New England and spent spare weekends driving out to Utica to finish their album. In March 1997, escalation was released. Unfortunately, Hugh decided to leave the band a month later and the band needed to find a replacement.

After spending many years slogging it out in R&B bands down in Miami, and moving to Boston for a new start, Jack thought he might never find a band that suited his warped sense of humor. Having seen The Loomers’ sold out Motown Tribute Nite at Club Passim, he leapt at the opportunity to audition. His funky sensibilities were an immediate hit at shows and he was on board for the recording of Simple as That, which was recorded live at venues in Worcester and at Johnny D’s.

Tom debuted with The Loomers in 1999 at Jon’s Club Passim Bachelor Party Extravaganza –– playing guitar and singing Slim Harpo’s “Scratch My Back” –– but he formally joined as a full-time band member in 2004 when they entered the Fortune Magazine Battle of the Corporate Bands. The contest entry rules stated that at least 50% of the band had to be employed by the same company. Since Jon and Jack both worked at PARTNERS + Simons –– Tom’s marketing communications firm –– and Tom was already a de-facto band member, it seemed like opportunity to do something fun that might just lead to some cool gigs. The band made it the finals after winning their round at Irving Plaza, performing two sets at The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland. While they didn’t win the contest, it was pretty awesome to play on that stage. Their sets were captured on Shine, with Jon overdubbing his vocals due to an unfortunate case of laryngitis during the shows, as well as additional songs recorded at one rehearsal at JamSpot in Somerville.

That same summer, the band was asked to play at a party during the Democratic National Convention. The party’s host had some very important friends, including rock legend John Mellencamp, who was rumored to be attending the party. And sure enough, Mellencamp showed up, strapped on a guitar the band lent him and led them through rousing renditions of “Small Town” and “R-O-C-K In The USA.” Two thrills of a lifetime in one summer.

After Shine, Jon decided it was time to start writing some new songs. The 16 songs he wrote became their 2006 album Tomorrow Today, their first studio recording in almost 10 years, and their first with Tom on guitar. Featuring guest appearances by Heather Quay and Sean Staples on mandolin, Tomorrow Today was a fresh set of new material, and an updated sound, for the band.

The release of Tomorrow Today put a new bounce in the band’s step. The new material shone brightly onstage. They continued performing at festivals and concerts with folksinger and longtime friend Don White, hosted another sold out ‘80s Tribute Nite at Club Passim and found themselves headlining shows for charities like The Home For Little Wanderers, Mt. Auburn Hospital, and The House Of Possibilities, where the band got to play at Fenway Park – another dream come true.

The subsequent creative success of Tomorrow Today was incentive for another album. Jon began writing –– collaborating with Tom, as well as Everett, for the first time –– and found himself thinking of an even bigger sound. So Jon once again asked Heather to sing -- and she does an incredible job on many songs on the album -- and then he called Rob. An accomplished songwriter in his own right (winning the New Folk Award for Songwriting at both the Kerrville and Columbia River Folk Festivals), Rob had been an honorary Loomer for so many years –– helming the keyboard at many a Club Passim ‘70s & ‘80s Nite –– that it seemed obvious he should play with the band more regularly. When the band began rehearsals for Reeling Down A Road, Jon asked Rob to officially join the band.

Rob's keyboards were crucial for the new material. The songs on Reeling Down A Road show The Loomers moving the sound of the band into the present while simultaneously paying tribute to their musical roots. From the souped-up Rolling Stones rockers like “Another Desperate Night,” the the Tom Petty-inspired “Hit The Ground Running,” and the REM/Counting Crows influenced title track to understated folk ballad “Oh Massachusetts,” the lush Eagles-like harmonizing of “Today’s A Day That Changed My Life” and the Buddy Miller-esque gospel roots rock of “Nobody Goes To The River,” the band’s love of classic rock and roll, ‘60s pop, contemporary roots and folk music are all apparent on the album.

The Loomers’ longevity comes down to their passion for music, their genuine friendship, and their infectious enjoyment of rockin’ out in a band. The most common compliment audience members have paid the band over the years sums it up: “You guys look like you’re having so much fun up there.” They love to be on stage together –– whether it’s at keg parties, weddings, bar mitzvahs, ship launchings –– and with any luck they’ll continue playing their music for a long time.

updated: 6 months ago