Ollabelle from Alphabet City

A few years ago, in another lifetime, Laurie and I would go down to Bar 9C in the East Village to check out the Alphabet City Opry, a throw-back, country music jamboree on Sunday nights, organized by the talented (very intimidating) Greg Garing.

I remember being REAL surprised by the kind of grass roots Americana stuff they were playing, rocking out hardcore with fiddle, banjo & harmonica, and was even more surprised by the eager crowd of hardcore punk rock East Villagers, with their tattoos and pierced eyebrows, kickin’ their heels up to old-time country (remember this was back in 1998 before vintage country was hipster cool.) It was NYC’s emerging country scene, which at the time, seemed like an oxymoron. Though tonight, while checking in on the Alphabet Opry, I was reminded that just a few blocks away from Bar 9C is CBGB’s… *C*ountry *B*lue*G*rass and *B*lues club… so maybe not so surprising afterall. The Alphabet Opry was a mighty influential musical enclave, and I’m waxing all wistful just thinking about the rich artistic opps nyc offers, even past bedtime on a Sunday night.

Anyway. This is my long-winded way of saying that my friend Jimmy’s band, Ollabelle, sprung from the loins of the Alphabet City Orpy, and named after country singer/songwriter Olla Belle Reed, is a band you should check out (album on i-tunes) because well… they’re phenomenal, and I’m sure the experience is 1000% MORE phenomenal live. Their music is a sweet celebration of rural American musical roots, a little bit o’ gospel, country, rock, blues folk, the kinda stuff re-popularized by the grammified O’Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack. (Incidentally, Ollabelle sent their demo for just that reason to T-Bone Burnett, producer of O’Brother. Burnett flew to NYC, and promptly signed them to DMZ Records, a boutique label of Columbia, started by Burnett along with the Coen Brothers after the success of O’Bro.)

Ollabelle is hot right now. They just toured with Diana Krall this summer. Last week they played the Stand Up For Choice benfit along side Lou Reed, Joan Osborne and Moby. And, this month, you can catch them opening for Ryan Adams.

Sept. 20, Los Angeles: The Wiltern LG
Sept 22, San Francisco: The Warfield
Sept 30, NYC: Beacon Theatre


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