Interview and Live Photo by Scott Preston
San Francisco’s rock quintet, New Monsoon, has been transforming audiences across the country into dedicated fans with a relentless touring schedule. Their exhilarating marriage of acoustic and electric instruments comes together in an irresistible blend of sophisticated songcraft, inventive musical exploration and down home rock-n-roll.
Strong vocals and harmonies, electric and acoustic guitars, banjo, mandolin, bass and keyboards, unify the musical styles of New Monsoon’s influences, which are as diverse as rock gods Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd and Santana, bluesman Mississippi John Hurt and world music pioneers Tito Puente, Shakti and Peter Gabriel. New Monsoon’s music is an experience of textures, rhythms, ideas and moods.
As Miller recently stated, One thing about our scene is people are still going out to support live music. God bless them for it.” In this age of digital music and file sharing, the fact the bands live performances matter so much to the band and its fans is a testament to New Monsoons musicianship and passion.
Cincy Groove: How did everyone in New Monsoon end up meeting?
Bo Carper: I moved to California in 1994 and Jeff and Phil followed soon after that. We started to get very serious about touring full time in about 2001. The High Sierra Music Festival was one of the first gigs we had with all three of us in place. We had been playing out around locally, but that festival is something I consider an important milestone in the beginning of the band.
Cincy Groove: Is New Monsoon working on any new projects?
Bo Carper: Yes, we are working on a live record. We are debating whether to go with a compilation of live tracks or with one whole show. We are in the evaluation stages right now. We have some pretty big shows coming up that we are going to tape also.
Cincy Groove: Who do you consider to be some of your influences?
Bo Carper: As far as common influences go in terms of rock bands, Led Zeppelin is a big one. Particularly Led Zeppelin III which encapsulated acoustic and electric string instruments combining. Thats something that has always interested me a lot. On a more personal side I was always into Leo Kottke, Michael Hedges, Mississippi John Hurt and a more obscure artist from St Paul called Steve Tibbits.
Cincy Groove: How do you feel about how the internet has affected the music industry?
Bo Carper: At our level its a double edged sword. It has helped us become known, I had a guy come up to us last night and say “If you ever doubt whether or not you should continue to allow your live shows to be posted on archive.org and downloaded for free, consider thats how I found out about you.” There really are two phases to the situation. One is dealing with the live music, tapers and allowing live shows to be posted. The other is when you make a studio album where you have put thousands of dollars into making it and people end up just making copies or posting it on the internet. That part of it makes it difficult. I don’t have really strong feelings about it one way or the other. If you don’t find a way to adapt you really don’t have a chance at being a recording artist. I am much more stressed about the price of fuel than I am about internet (laughing).
Bo Carper: acoustic guitar, banjo, lap steel, vocals
Phil Ferlino: keyboards, accordion, vocals
Jeff Miller: electric guitar, mandolin, vocals
Sean Hutchinson: drums, tablas
Marshall Harrell: bass guitar
Upcoming New Monsoon tour dates:
For complete show details visit http://www.newmonsoon.com
August 22nd – Quixotes Denver, CO
August 23rd – NedFest Nederland, CO
September 11th – Mulberry Mountain Music Festival Ozark, AR
September 12th – Mulberry Mountain Music Festival Ozark, AR
September 13th – Proud Larrys Oxford, MS
September 17th – Granada Theater Dallas, TX
September 19th – The Parish Room Austin, TX
September 20th – Warehouse Live Houston, TX
October 4th – Forestville Club Forestville, CA