Joy Williams and John Paul White are The Civil Wars, a duo of passionate performers. The first time I saw them perform there were such positive sparks flying between them, but these days they can barely speak to one another. The Civil Wars are about to release a new album — their second and probably their last for a while or perhaps forever ... we shall see.
In the 1980's, few bands bridged the gap between hardcore punk and what would become alternative rock quite like Minnesota's Hüsker Dü.
The personalities in the trio, however, were not as harmonious, and their partnership dissolved before the decade's end. Guitarist Bob Mould went on to a successful recording career. Bassist Greg Norton dropped out of music and became a chef. And that leaves ... drummer Grant Hart.
Session musician Stephen Bruner has played bass in other people's bands for more than a decade. He can play metal, R&B, hip-hop, jazz. And he's been folding all that into his own music, which he puts out under the name Thundercat.
Now, with his second album, he's stepping to the front of the stage.
Bombadil was founded by a group of friends who met while attending college in Durham, N.C. They graduated in 2006, released a self-titled EP that was well-received, and soon seemed on their way to finding an audience. But by 2009, bassist Daniel Michalak was struggling with an unexplained pain in his hands.
"I started noticing it during shows," he says. "And it got to the point where I couldn't hold a spoon to feed myself, or brush my teeth, or hold the phone to my ear."
Michalak's daily routines became increasingly difficult — and draining.