When one thinks about music emerging from the Eastside of LA, more often than not indie bands like Little Joy, Local Natives, and Silversun Pickups come to mind. But bluegrass? From Los Feliz? Well, turns out it is possible.
I recently sat down with Mike Whiteside, Tyler Whiteside, and Corey Lovett of The Broken Numbers Band. While their sound does stay true to more traditional bluegrass (we’re talking banjo, fiddle, extended harmonies – the whole kit and caboodle), their music has an accessibility that should appease even the most wary of listeners. Plus, it’s super fun to dance to. Although the band tends to frequent venues more local to their Eastside homestead, this weekend you can catch them for free at the Venice Beach Music Fest - happening Saturday at the west end of Windward near the boardwalk.
Since the band and I got a bit carried away talking about burritos and burgers (you know, the real important things in life), I’ve transcribed the best bits of the interview for your reading pleasure. If you want the real scoop on where to find some grimy eats, check out the audio of the full interview below. The boys were also kind enough to let me record a bootleg live performance (imagine three guys on a couch playing into my laptop) of their song “Strange Street,” off the album of the same name – available now on iTunes.
WELO: You guys have a bluegrass/folk thing going on – and you’re based on the Eastside. How did that happen?
MW: We’re all actually from other parts of the country, we just kinda gathered here together in Hollywood. Actually, we all live close by now, but we’re not from LA originally.
WELO: So where are you all from?
MW: Tyler and I are from Southern Illinois
CL: I’m from Colorado. Jacob our fiddle player is from Corpus Christie, Texas. And Chris our bass player is from Massachusetts.
WELO: You guys have been playing around town a bit, what are some of your favorite venues?
CL: A lot! We play around town a lot. We’ve been really fortunate – we’ve been able to play a ton since we started the band. Our favorites right now. . . I would say Villains is up at the top of the list, R Bar is always the top of the list. R Bar’s kind of like hometown for us because we started there, and they’re always super generous. When we get a chance to play the Echo we always really like that – The Grand Old Echo. Am I missing some?
MW: Yeah, we play a lot of ranch parties, the Fairfax Farmer’s Market.
CL: Those are some of the best shows – some of those outside, daytime gigs. There’s one at Union Station that was a great time.
WELO: So does that mean you’re happy and excited to be playing a new spot on the Westside? Or anxious?
TW: Yeah – the Westside isn’t unchartered territory for us, but we don’t make it out there as much as we’d like to. But yeah, the Venice Beach music scene is good cause there’s no pretention and everybody’s just out to have a good time.
CL: I think what’s cool about the show we’re doing on the 13th is that it’s a daytime, festival vibe. It’s gonna be roasting hot though, cause we’re up at noon. But yeah, it should be really fun. And it’s free I believe, so people can just come out and dance.
WELO: Is there any thing you guys have coming up in the next few months that you’re really excited about?
CL: Yeah, we have a ton of stuff coming up. It’s a really busy August for us, which is great. We’re playing Venice Beach Music Festival on the 13th at noon, which is going to be awesome. Then the 14th, the very next day, we’re playing this thing called the Roots Roadhouse at The Echo. It’s at The Grand Old Echo and outside on the back patio stage. It’s an all day event, we’re up at 3:30pm at The Echoplex. That’s gonna be an awesome day in music. It’s kind of like a who’s who of folk, Americana, country, bluegrass, some hillbilly, rockabilly stuff tossed in there. It’s going to be a great day. And for like fifteen bucks you get tickets for the whole day, so it’s a steal. We play a ton of shows, and there’s really good opportunities to see us pretty much every week.
TW: And most of them are free too. We always try to do free venues.
MW: Yeah it’s funny right now cause all of our shows are listed as either free or like twenty dollars.
WELO: Sounds like you guys are busy. Any plans to leave Los Angeles and go on the road at all?
CL: We just got back from a little mini tour. But it was great, we went out and we had a blast. We’re going to try to go again, fingers crossed, in the spring.
MW: Yeah probably in the spring, we’re going to start working on our new record in the fall.
WELO: So what are you guys listening to right now?
TW: I’m listening to a few things. Tom Waits “Heart Attack and Vine,” the new Fleet Foxes, and then just a few days ago I’ve been revisiting Slayers “South of Heaven.” That’s what keeping me going right now.
MW: I just got Gillian Welch’s new album, that’s really good. Lot of Tom Waits, a little bit of Elvis.
CL: I’ve been listening to the new Bon Iver a lot. I’m just letting it sink in, that’s pretty good. There’s a couple great songs on it. Always listening to some variety of metal. Like I have at least one bout with Pantera or Lamb of God at least once a day. And then, recently I’ve been liking a lot of Deer Tick, I’m pretty excited about their new record. And then the old staples, I always listen to Tom Petty, and recently “Highway Companion” – that record’s awesome.
It’s at this point that the conversation turns towards food, and well – I’ll let you listen to the absolute fervor with which these boys talk about burgers and ‘toes (burritos)…
For a full list of upcoming shows visit the band’s Facebook page, and catch them this weekend at Venice Beach Music Fest Saturday August 13th. The festival goes from 11:00am – 7:30pm, and the band hits the stage at noon. Their music is great, the beach is great, and free is great, so there’s no reason not to go.