Press & Reviews
"The Philadelphia-based fivesome with the ever-so-cryptic moniker has come into its own" -- Doug Collette, All About Jazz"The Philadelphia-based fivesome with the ever-so-cryptic moniker has come into its own" -- Doug Collette, All About Jazz
From Boris Garcia’s Family Reunion through Mother’s Finest, Once More Into the Bliss, Today We Sail, Around Some Corner, and now It’s Time For Tea, Boris has grown ever more sophisticated as they fuse Celtic, Bluegrass, and improvisational rock to create acoustic-based, beautifully drawn song portraits that add up to an utterly distinctive sound."-- Dennis McNally, Grateful Web
Boris Garcia. It’s Time For Tea. It is almost impossible to attach a style to this timeless quintet. They have been performing for years, and developed a faithful following which attests to the transformative power of their music. Hard to explain, like their name maybe, but impossible to resist. That’s because the musicians–Jeff Otto, Bob Stirner, Bud Burroughs, Ed Simpson and Dave Mattacks–have become mind-readers with their fellow bandmates. And while initially the songs might sound slightly delicate, in reality they are full of powerful strength. Produced by Tim Carbone, IT’S TIME FOR TEA is one of those double-duty discs: it invokes past music in a way that is instantly nostalgic, and then takes off from the present into the future like it is the exact next step called for. In so many ways, there is a sense of mystery woven into songs like “Everybody Knows,” “Breathe” and “Running Off the Road” that just cannot be pegged. Vocalists Otto and Stirner sing like no one else, not an easy accomplishment, and invoke different eras of modern music that in the end can only be called timeless. Using instruments like harp, banjo, ukulele, banjo, guitar and, yes, Marxophone along with bass and drums gives Boris Garcia an individualist sound and spirit so they instantly stand out from all others. Even if they sometimes recall the sonics of the Grateful Dead’s quiet side, they do it all to their own ends, sounding like no one else. Describing their band name Boris Garcia as a way of invoking a musical spirit of the East meets West is right on the money, because that is exactly what the outfit invokes. Then and now. -- Bill Bentley, Bentley's Bandstand, Americana Highways
Boris Garcia – It’s Time For Tea
Philadelphia-based Americana acoustic/bluegrass/jam band produced by Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone (fiddle/hand percussion) the 10-cut It’s Time For Tea (Dropped May 17–Porchwerk Music) was recorded in studios at the Delaware Water Gap in PA.
There is no one member of this band called Boris Garcia – it’s a 5-man operation with dreamy backup on a strong pop song “Tea Time” decorated with mandolin & friendly vocals. Could even approach a modernized Grateful Dead tradition. Vocalist Jeff Otto is not a strong vocalist, but he has an attractive whiskery tone that is sincere & has little old English touches similar to Stackridge & at times, late-career Beatles.
There are suggestions of influence that will more or less remind one who has dug deep in rock & its country affiliations to lump Boris Garcia into the respectful pile of wonderful attempts made by Seatrain, Goose Creek Symphony, The Flock Ozark Mountain Daredevils & early James Gang. What’s interesting about this band is they don’t sound like they’re performing to entertain but to rustle up.
Songs like “Love Me Only,” is chilling & “It’s Time,” has the tonality & lyrical magic of a young Steve Forbert. They avoid the country corn & apply ingredients to make it flavorful. “Just Run Away,” strides in on a Jerry Jeff walker cum Charlie Gearheart (Goose Creek) vocal tone that is admirable.
Using the idea of a Spanish woman’s dialogue over the song as Eric Burdon & War did with “Spill the Wine,” the upbeat story song “She Said To Me,” is done well, creatively & suggestively catchy.
Among the members this time around: English-born Dave Mattacks (drums/percussion/piano) – famous for work with Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Jethro Tull, Bob Dylan, XTC, Nick Drake, John Martyn, former Procol Harum members Matthew Fisher & Gary Brooker, Joan Armatrading, Cat Stevens (Yusuf), Paul McCartney, Elton John, Chris Rea, Richard Thompson & Sandy Denny.
Highlights – “Tea Time,” “the excellent “Go Long,” “Wasted,” “Breathe,” “Love Me Only,” “It’s Time” & “She Said To Me.”
Musicians – Bon Stirner (vocals/guitar), E. J. Simpson (bass), Jeff Otto (vocals/ukulele), Bud Burroughs (mandolin/keys/piano/harp/banjo/guitar/marxophone/vocals) with guests, Graham Ford & Joanne Lediger (backing vocals), Bill Patton & Mike Robinson (pedal steel guitars). -- John Apice, Grooves & Cuts, Americana Highways
Boris Garcia Live
If you’ve crossed paths with any of Boris Garcia’s four studio albums (dating back to 2005’s Family Reunion), then you already know that these guys are song crafters and talented players. But unless you’ve caught the band in a live setting, you’ve never experienced their ability to take a tune out out out to its furthest reaches simply to see what they might find there. Sure, there have been sweet dollops of jam spread here and there throughout the band’s studio recordings, but their fearless improv abilities have never been properly showcased on record.
Their new release Live offers a half-dozen cuts (the shortest clocking in at just over 10 minutes) and is a total jamfest from beginning to end.
…”Right off the bat, it needs to be acknowledged that Bud Burroughs ought to be arrested for being too damn good at too many things. For years, Burroughs has been Boris Garcia’s master of the mando and ‘zouk, his eight-string work helping to define the band’s sound. It wasn’t until the last studio album (2011’s Today We Sail) that Burroughs really stepped into the forefront with some impressive piano and organ work – and if that wasn’t enough of a “Where the hell did that come from?” moment, Live finds him propelling several of the jams to some place far away with his killer keys.” -- Brian Robbins, Brian-Robbins
Boris Garcia - Around Some Corner
Boris Garcia’s new album Around Some Corner is concurrently refreshing and reminiscent. Producer Tim Carbone gelled conspicuously with the pop-Americana sextet, polishing off their most developed offering to date. The Philadelphia based group doesn’t seem to care about proving themselves as genre bending or cutting edge since their songwriting, and musical sincerity shines beyond anything contrived. When does a group touting jammy bluegrass instrumentation legitimately sound nothing like other acts more widespread than they? Bob Stirner (guitar/vocals), Jeff Otto (ukulele/vocals), Bud Burroughs (mandolin, keys, accordion), Tom Hampton (Lap Steel guitar), E.J. Simpson (bass), Tim Kelly (drums), have something so distinctive that it’s almost a shame they’re blossoming during a time where actual bands are lesser noted on the pop charts. Still, Boris Garcia is doing their thing and regardless of aforementioned industry woes, have developed a well-deserved following the right way, on the road.
While longtime devotees of previous albums, such as Family Reunion, will vibe with familiar stylistic inklings like the Hawaiian/Reggae fusion of “Message at Twilight,” or the David Grisman-swayed “Feather and Down,” it’s their songwriting that has shaped up beyond previous efforts. “Three Steps,” is poetic drudgery at its finest, and “Captain of the Crew,” proves that a simple tale of comradery and headship in the backdrop of a ship is more fruitful than convoluted alliteration. Boris Garcia is undoubtedly playing the hell out of these songs in concert, but equally important, these tunes stand alone as studio tracks. Those who are tired of the clichéd label “Americana” used to describe any band using bluegrass instruments in a pop framework will find Around Some Corner truly singular. The opening track “Knockin’ On Wood” is point and proof, with interwoven pedal steel, piano, and lap steel, all are upfront but never overcrowded. Stirner’s melancholic words combined with the melting pot of instrumentation is just as bold as the experimentation Bob Dylan was conjuring with The Band in the Big Pink barn. We live in a time where musical anarchism is far less usual, and Americana is becoming muddled, but not in the case of Boris Garcia.
Around Some Corner is one of the finest pop albums of the year. Refined songwriting meets a band whose comfort level has surpassed any sense of ego or need to prove their chops through ripping solos (though there’s plenty of musical candy here.) Boris Garcia only has a single listed event in the works with Mount Pocono, PA Summer’s End Festival on August 26th. We can only pray for more shows, and meanwhile, indulge, embrace and celebrate Around Some Corner. Maybe next time they come around your corner, these songs will feel even warmer. This is a more than a collection of bright tunes, but a testament to a group whose full realization has led them to their finest hour. -- Dylan Muhberg, Grateful Web
A few years back, I heard Boris Garcia’s Today We Sail. It was a nice introduction to the band, but not nearly as catchy as their newest release, Around Some Corner.
This band has always had their roots deep into American folk and bluegrass. That makes for a solid foundation, but with the new release, they’ve kicked things up a few notches. The storytelling aspect has always been tight, and here, the instrumentation supports it. Tim Carbone’s fiddle sings at just the right points to lift the vocals, the pedal and lap steel provide beautiful melodic beds, and the piano, in particular, weaves perfectly through the playlist.
They made a good choice for the opener; “Knockin’ On Wood” manages to be wistful and positive at the same time. “Desiree” is tight, strong, and a love song written by an adult; it’s a great tune, and likely to garner the broadest notice. For me, though, the song that left me with a serious earworm is “Feather And Down”. With a strong, impassioned lyric and a relentless hook, that one really stands out. “Mendocino” is another that grabbed me by both ears.
If you’re not familiar with Boris Garcia, Around Some Corner offers a pleasing introduction. -- Deborah Grabien, Nodepression
Boris Garcia - Today We Sail
Ah, those Boris Garcia boys: shape-shifting tricksters who never lose track of who they are; psychedelic-folked-up-Kokopellis-of-the-highest-order; navigators of oceans of genre-blending sweet goo.
Somehow, over the span of four studio albums, Boris Garcia has managed to establish a recognizable sound and vibe while evolving and expanding their sonic palette at the same time.
Think about it: “Point of Grace” off 2005’s Family Reunion was basically multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Jeff Otto multi-tracking ukulele and bass parts over Stephe Ferraro’s brushes-on-a-pizza-box rhythm track – it could snuggle right in amongst any of the tunes on Today We Sail and wouldn’t be out of place. How do you explain it? Group understanding and dedication to a particular vibe? Works for me.
One way the Borises work their magic is to lay it on subtly: they welcome you in and get you good and comfy in the just-right arm of an old familiar tie-dyed easy chair. It’s not until you’ve already lifted off that you realize the thing has booster rockets strapped to the bottom of it – but by then it’s too late to turn back … and who wants to? Let the warm wind blow your hair back and blow your cheeks out like a Redbone Coonhound with his head out the sunroof. Never seen a sky that color before? Good for you. Just go with it and let the music play.
Try it for yourself: Today We Sail kicks off with “Walking Barefoot”, where we find Bud Burroughs’ happy mando dancing and skipping over Ferraro’s straightforward drums and Bob Stirner’s chopped-out electric guitar. What’s this – some threads of pedal steel woven in? No shock there: the band brought pedal maestro Buddy Cage in as a guest for their last studio effort (2008’s Once More Into The Bliss ) and made good use of the extra texture. The lessons learned on Bliss have morphed into the addition of Chip “Dr. Steel” Desnoyers as a full-time member of Boris Garcia … and his impact on the band’s overall sound is so right – yet so natural – that you’ll be going back to their early albums just to make sure that he hasn’t always been there.
“Everybody says I’m crazy, but I’d have to say – probably okay,” sings Stirner just before the band swirls into a break, with Burroughs laying down some English country garden tea-and-acid-laced-crumpets on the keyboards before we hear the sweet voice of Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone’s fiddle, followed by Desnoyers’ pedal steel soaring and cascading all over everything. For a moment, the music is miles-deep and full of chambers that keep opening and closing (just how many sets of strings arethere, anyway?) until everything spirals up and pops just past the three-minute mark, bringing us back to the present dimension.
How did they accomplish that? It’s hard to say … but that’s just typical Boris Garcia – it’s what they do.
Besides providing tasty guest fiddle, Carbone returns as producer on Today We Sail, having proven himself totally in sync with the Boris Garcia vibe on Bliss. It would be too easy to refer to Carbone as Boris Garcia’s George Martin, but it honestly and truly fits the bill. The insight he brings to the table as a non-member is always true to the band’s established karma. It makes for a good team.
Knowing that Stirner and Jeff Otto are the principal songwriters for the band, one might be surprised to read the liner notes and find that they didn’t actually write any tunes together. The songs dovetail nicely on Today We Sail with no obvious segregation of “Jeff songs” vs. “Bob songs” – it’s all Boris Garcia music. Both of them write solid tunes that could stand alone just fine in a stripped-down acoustic setting, but easily lend themselves to be jammed-out as the moment dictates.
More highlights: Otto’s epic and deeper-than-you-might-think “Song Dog”, featuring blistering mando by Burroughs and wild-ass steel work by Desnoyers; the slow, glorious churn of Stirner’s “Mighty High”; the joyous hear-me-now declaration of “Song of Love”; the ghostly twang-and-snap of “Long Black Hair” (which sounds like a cross between an Appalachian-flavored Robert Hunter tune and one of Steve Earle’s ballads); and the absolute sweetness of the album-closing “Christmas In June”, as fitting a place to end as “Walking Barefoot” was to begin.
Bud Burroughs has always made the transition from things with strings to keys effortlessly, but Today We Sail sees him step to the forefront with some killer piano/organ work, whether it be subtle accents or lovely leads. (Check out his where’d-that-come-from break during the funk of “Good Home”.) Ferraro’s drumming can be as straightforward or as out-there as needed; he’s equally at home sitting by the fire or soaring off on a rhythm mission to some faraway place. (Again, check “Good Home” and Ferraro’s work when the jam takes over and the band begins to roll and tumble at 3:20 – somebody’s gotta keep the thing in orbit and give the others a safe place to return to.)
All in all, Today We Sail is no surprise because it’s full of surprises – and all of them sound just like Boris Garcia. --Brian Robbins, Jambands
Boris Garcia began as little more than a group of friends playing music for fun. In time, however – and much to its own surprise – the Americana troupe found an eager audience across the nation. The outfit even caught the attention of Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone, who produced and performed on several albums, including Today We Sail. The group’s fourth national release finds the band still crafting music with the innocent intentions of its humble beginnings. With honest reflections on believing in one’s self ( “Walking Barefoot” ) and reveling in the simple beauty of life ( “Mighty High” ), Boris Garcia has perfected the science of playing from the heart. Woodsy grooves with lyrics straight from a journal entry give the homespun Today We Sail universal appeal. -- Fady Khalil, Relix
Whether Boris Garcia’s band name is an albatross is officially a moot point with Today We Sail. This recording is the work of a band well grounded in their roots and fully into the process of transcending them.
Boris sounds comfortable right from the get-go with a round of healthy solos shortly into the initial track “Walking Barefoot”(this group is not so transparent as their name might suggest). The band wouldn’t be so confident to do so in the past, but the unit can now savor the presence of two distinct vocalists in Jeff Otto and Bob Stirner as they take turns upfront.
The material usually mixes electric and acoustic instruments throughout, but the arrangement of “Mighty High” is a distinct exception with the beefy electric rhythm guitar hook. Layered in there along with electric piano is the pedal steel of Chris Denoyer, which usually boasts traditional, sweet textures, but can also assume effects such as those on “Good Home,” favorably reminiscent of Sneaky Pete Kleinow.
It’s tempting to compare Boris Garcia almost endlessly with forebears such as that man’s home, The Flying Burrito Brothers, or Grateful Dead spinoff The New Riders of the Purple Sage, but that serves no useful purpose. Rather such facile comparisons diminish the unique quality of “Song Dog,” as a composition, a chart and an authoritative performance. Meantime, such glib parallels deny the timeless quality at the heart of “Long Black Hair:” this tune sounds like an age-old folk standard.
The antique quality there resides largely within the unity of Boris Garcia as a band. Were the five men not so bonded–and Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone as producer not so empathetic–the virtues so evident elsewhere would not carry such resonance. The material usually mixes electric and acoustic instruments throughout, but the arrangement of “Mighty High” is a distinct exception with the beefy electric rhythm guitar hook. Layered in there along with electric piano is the pedal steel of Chris Denoyer, which usually boasts traditional, sweet textures, but can also assume effects such as those on “Good Home,” favorably reminiscent of Sneaky Pete Kleinow.
It’s tempting to compare Boris Garcia almost endlessly with forebears such as that man’s home, The Flying Burrito Brothers, or Grateful Dead spinoff The New Riders of the Purple Sage, but that serves no useful purpose. Rather such facile comparisons diminish the unique quality of “Song Dog,” as a composition, a chart and an authoritative performance. Meantime, such glib parallels deny the timeless quality at the heart of “Long Black Hair:” this tune sounds like an age-old folk standard. The antique quality there resides largely within the unity of Boris Garcia as a band. Were the five men not so bonded–and Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone as producer not so empathetic–the virtues so evident elsewhere would not carry such resonance. -- Doug Collette, Glide Magazine