Feb 15, 2010

Rubblebucket Orchestra - Rose's Dream


"Rubblebucket Orchestra are one of the most exciting groups to come out of Boston in recent memory..." - Seven Days

Rubblebucket is a ten-piece psychedelic poly-rock band feat. trumpeter/composer Alex Toth and vocalist/saxophonist Kalmia Traver (both members of cutting edge nationally renowned reggae band John Brown’s Body). Four piece horn section, alluring lead vocals, and a harp-like West African stringed instrument called an N’goni. Their vibe is like Bjork meets Fela Kuti meets James Brown. "The result is a genre-mashing maelstrom of hot-blooded West African funk rhythms and scorching soul melodies unlike anything that’s come before it." - Dan Bolles, Seven Days.

Rubblebucket Orchestra was born in June of 2007, out of a milk plant in Vermont. One balmy eve, two lovers – trumpeter Alex Toth and singer/saxist Kalmia Traver, who devote their lives to music and art – came head to head with percussionist/n'goni player Craig Myers. An improvised happening of rhythm and melody soared through the air at a party at Burlington's Hood Plant. Everything emerged on the spot and everything clicked. (Born and raised in Vermont, Myers has been traveling around the world his entire life. When he was 18, he was shot in the jaw by a bandit in Carlsbad, New Mexico and his life flashed before his eyes. He went on to live in West Africa for some time, immersing himself in the world of African drumming.)

Toth brought together young and feisty musicians from diverse musical backgrounds – including funk & soul, noise, avant-guard, German pop, West-African drum and dance, bebop, classical, and indie rock. By September of 2007, after a month of serious rehearsals and with the first tour around the corner, they knew they needed a name. Myers and German drummer Andreas Brade had both worked as stone masons, and so the band decided on the name of a tool the two used in their work: a rubblebucket.

The band now functions like a family, especially when they travel; like the cultish big bands of the 50's, they make their meals together, sleep en masse on open floors, and love and believe in the music. They have made several rounds throughout the northeast in NYC, Boston, Vermont and upstate NY. They are already drawing crowds of up to 300 and booking legendary clubs like Smalls, Canal Room, and Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City.

The first tracks of Rubblebucket's debut album, "Rose's Dream," were laid down in October, 2007, when the band had only been together for three weeks. In just seven months as a band, Rubblebucket has built a glowing and die-hard following, released a solid album, and forged its own genre of music. Major dance vibrations, colorful style, big PSYCHEDELIC SOUL sound with fresh beats, plump horns and alluring vocals – Rubblebucket Orchestra sparks and dots, zig-zags of desire!


“If you call us an Afrobeat band, I think you’ll piss off a lot of purists,” admits trumpeter and bandleader Alex Toth about his eclectic, world-influenced ensemble Rubblebucket Orchestra. “We’re doing something new with funk, rock and Afrobeat—there’s definitely something jazzy about it.” Though the outfit’s personnel often rotates, the group is anchored by saxophonist/lead vocalist Kalima Traver —who left John Brown’s Body with Toth in 2007 to focus on Rubblebucket—and percussionist Craig Myers, who moonlights in Mike Gordon’s solo band. The band recorded and released its debut Rose’s Dream after being together for only two weeks and has built a reputation for euphoric live shows through relentless touring in support of its latest 2009 release. “Having the JBB and Mike Gordon connections have helped give legitimacy to the project,” Toth says of Rubblebucket’s visibility, which has increased on the heels of its new self-titled record. “Getting off the ground has been such an incredible and difficult feat and we’re finally at a spot where it’s working on its own.”


An interview

In case you haven’t heard ‘em yet, Rubblebucket Orchestra aren’t the straight-forward funk ensemble that their name might suggest. Instead they are a vivid ten-piece afrobeat/rock band led by trumpeter Alex Toth and fronted by the alluring vocals of Kalmia Traver; both members of reggae band John Brown's Body. There is something behind their sneaky beats and Femi Kuti meets Bjork atmosphere that is begging to be discovered in the ears of the listeners. Having only been kicking it since 2007, the Rubblebucket secret is getting spread steadily on the east coast, Mellisa Brodeuer recently spit a few questions Kalmia's way.

What was the very first album you ever bought?

My Ace of Base tape. Then my first CD was Highlights From The Phantom of the Opera. I was kind of behind some of my other elementary school buddies who had CD players and Madonna CDs. My first cool album that I'm actually proud of was probably The Miseducation of Lauren Hill (but I think it was actually my sister's).

What is one of your favorite bands to see live now?

I love Giant Panda Guerilla dub Squad. I could listen to them all day and night. I love big wild bands like Nomo and Antibalas. I also love to see/hear a Boston-based band called Cuddle Magic.

What is the most frustrating thing about being in a band?

Nothing really... I love it. Being in a band is like having your family around you all the time. For some people that might not be a good thing but for me it generally is.

What is your favorite city to play?

It depends on the season... winter touring in the northern half of this country can be brutal, even in amazing cities like Madison, WI, Boulder, CO and of course Burlington, VT! The past few times that I have visited Fort Collins, CO I have felt so at home, and so appreciated by the audience. However, NYC might get the pick just for the pure thrill.

Are you guys concerned with your health while on the road, if yes what are you doing to stay healthy?

It is so difficult to keep my body feeling good on the road... a constant struggle. I try to always eat good food, and we make a lot of simple healthy band meals. Recently, partway through a 34-hour drive from Denver to Boston, via Chicago I made a commitment to run laps around every single rest area we stopped at. I followed through. It felt soooo right. I'm going to do that more often from now on.

What are some other creative outlets you have other than music?

I like to make art and graphics. I do lots of the Rubblebucket posters, and I did the album artwork for Rose's dream. I make so many beaded bracelets, I just can't stop. I give them to people I love.

What are some of your favorite publications?

I like the BBC, National Geographic, Utne Reader, Cabinet! I just discovered Make Magazine which seems amazing. A longtime friend of my family's, Sam Bartlett, makes an awesome zine called Stuntology and Tuneology. Also, I think that the fact Rubblebucket has a couple of Nylon enthusiasts speaks well of the band.

What do you think is special and unique about your band?

Nine geeky minds having fun and being rock stars.

In ten years I want.......

to have made a thousand bajillion beaded bracelets.

2 a.m. means A. time to party or B. time to sleep?



01. Rubblebucket
02. Red Line Beat
03. World Is Gonna Drown
04. Violet Rays
05. Kuma
06. Rose's Dream
07. Rivers
08. Kaysez
09. Fruit Trees
10. Duest
11. Scumbucket

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