June Star
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June Star

Westminster, Maryland, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1998 | SELF

Westminster, Maryland, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 1998
Band Americana Singer/Songwriter

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"Who's Everyone Seeing Live? (message board fan review)"

i can't play guitar. i can't sing.
i have tried , unsuccessfully, many times.
i can play bass, drums, and 'Ode to Joy' on the recorder.
but still, i wish so badly i could play guitar. and sing.

last night, for a $5. cover ( and with a fantastic meal), i had the privilege of seeing June Star.
shit.
THAT guy can play guitar. and sing.
very very small venue. a coffee house listening room. a shockingly small crowd. honestly, not more than 20 people. and i am being generous.
the sound was clean and clear.
Mr. June Star, Andrew Grimm, could not have been more charming, gracious, and talented.
While he was setting up, and I was eating dinner, I heard him talking to some friends of his ( from Chicago) about how
there were some good things beingspoken about the band over on the Drive by Truckers message board. :shock:
i mean, that was why or how i was there. 8-)


there are so so many talented bands playing all across the country every night that no one is ever going to see...
i feel lucky to have been introduced to so so many great bands from this board and some very generous folks.
this find came about from 3milelake.
i suggest you all check this band out.
http://www.junestar.com/coal.jpg

June Star bio mentions things like:
lucero- like,americana, indie, baritones,slippery pedal steel,merle haggard meets the dilliards, tvz
"There are obvious influences by Crazy Horse, Son Volt and Slobberbone but the band has its own sound.”
http://www.myspace.com/junestarband


so, my review of the show?
so good.
just guitar, vocals, pedal steel/steel guitar, and "songs about love."
his voice is so distinctive. strong, rich, nasally, nuanced. shades of one of my favorite voices, Richard Buckner, but uniquely his own.
his lyrics hint of an English Lit. professor but in the very very best of ways. layered, twisty, often veiled just enough to make you think or wonder.

at one point in the show,
he spoke of how from 1985 until 2006 all he listened to was Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground.
(*maybe, we could ask him to write an AOTW feature. seriously. Clams, send him an email)
he played "romeo had juliet"
fuck!
then he played "waitin for my man' and said it was what it would sound like if lou reed and jimmie rodgers had a baby.
this was GENIUS.

i had the opportunity to speak with the band after the show.
told them there were a few songs i was hoping would make it into their set but alas,did not.
and with so much goodness, they offered to play my favorite.
("if you leave")
i mean seriously?.... they went and got their guitars and sat there in the closing coffee house and played an acoustic version. just for me. right there.
blew me away. so gorgeous.


unbelievable.
not unbelievable that they would play another song.
not even that the crowd was so sparse.
not even that they probably did not even make the cash to cover the hotel and gas to get to nashville for tonight.
not even that never enough people will know this band.
what is unbelievable is ...
how if you know how to play guitar ( and play it well, with all your heart)
and sing ( with passion and eyes closed)
and write songs ( about love)
and are willing to do whatever it takes,
cover the country, driving back and forth
play small venues,
make, promote, and believe in your own product,
musicians will do whatever it takes to get to play it for others.just because they want to. love to. should.
and in return,
there are people
like so many here on this message board,
who are eternally grateful for the power of that music.
we see shows, buy shirts, travel many miles, and share the treasures we have found. because we want to. love to. should.

like i said, i can't sing or play guitar
but thank god there are people ,including those in small, under the radar bands like June Star that can. and do. nightly, across the country.
if you look and listen hard enough. - Three Dimes Down


"June Star record release show at Windup"

You’d think that today’s kids would be savvy enough to know about the “20-year rule,” which says cultural styles come back into fashion every twenty years or so, and thereby avoid it. But it’s hard to turn around without bumping into a “grunge”-influenced band of twenty-somethings. Roomrunner’s Ideal Cities comes with the promo-sticker tagline that cheekily reads: “Yes, we’ve heard Nirvana. Try harder,” to which a reviewer might equally-cheekily respond, “So have we. You try harder.” (Since the album doesn’t sound much like Nirvana to me, the snark remains hyopthetical).

So, here in the Strum und Twang department of nostalgia, we did start wondering why none of the young bands are yet bringing back the great alt-country that began when Uncle Tupelo’s 20-year-old albums that mixed the same punk songs that influenced Nirvana with Buck Owens instead of the Beatles. Partly, it’s because all the country kids are still caught up with Old Crow Medicine Show and the whole new folk revival thing-y that seemed like a novel response to alt-country ten years ago.

But, maybe we don’t need young kids to bring that shit back when there are old-timers (I don’t mean it as an insult, but more like dudes of my own generation) who are still playing like that. Which brings me to the point of this post: June Star, who have been plugging away at making original alt-country sounds since the 1990s, has a kick-ass new album, Kill the Lights, and are playing a release show at the Windup Space, Sunday night July 7.

Their last album, Slow Dance, came in third for our favorite local folk and country albums last year, and we like Kill the Lights even more. The first song, “Foreign,” kicks off with a quiet country lick and then explodes into a Replacements-like power-chord chap. Singer and primary songwriter Andrew Grimm’s vocals are both rougher and stronger than ever in their Jay-Farrar-like mix of country high-and-lonsesome twang and rock ‘n’ roll angst.

The hooks also find that right combination between country and rock. The pedal steel and the power chords on “Surprise Collapse” make me wonder why there aren’t more youngsters lined up at June Star shows stealing licks.

But, if the kids are subject to twenty-year rule, old heads like June Star don’t worry about t he trends that come and go. They just keep making great music and having fun and wait for the times to catch back up with them. - Baltimore City Paper


"June Star: Slow Dance"

June Star’s Slow Dance (the band’s third release in just over two years), opens with a song that’s anything but: An upbeat rocker with a “Woo hoo hoo” chorus, it’s the closest the band has gotten—in years, if not ever—to a pure pop rock song, and a true band effort. The title track, though, puts frontman and songwriter Andrew Grimm’s vocals (a lived-in and more broken Jay Farrar-style drawl) front and center, cradled by the masterful steel guitar of David Hadley. This dynamic, moving back and forth between songs where he’s fighting the band and the songs that really put him front and center, is a good metaphor for June Star’s life as a band: Grimm is now the only constant in the band’s multi-decade run. A live show can range from a duo with Timothy Bracken to a five-piece band that where Bracken is nowhere to be found; four-piece sets without drums and three piece sets without steel guitar.

It says a lot about the underlying quality of Grimm’s almost-but-not-always country songs that they can survive or thrive under drastic changes in instrumentation. Everything still gets from point A to point B. Fittingly, Grimm has chosen a map for the cover; it shows roads and terrain, but, every once in a while, it looks more like a dancer mid-pirouette. - Driftwood Magazine


"June Star singer at peace with alt-country band's long career"

After seven albums and nearly 15 years of leading the Baltimore alt-country act June Star, lead singer and songwriter Andrew Grimm finally sounds at ease about his band's place in the city's scene.

The six-piece has a small but loyal following, and can play its favorite venues regularly. Still, he will forever identify June Star as a group of "underdogs," a label he lists — with a wink — on the band's Facebook page
"Saying we were 'under the radar' was self-deprecating, like a way to cope, but then it became a philosophy," Grimm said. "People hear us and say, 'You should play 9:30 Club!' And I say, 'It's funny, because I want to and I keep calling them but we never hear back."

That high-profile show could come one day, or it might not. Either way, Grimm, an English teacher at Sykesville's Century High School, won't lose sleep over it. He's happy playing his favorite, more low-key venues around town, including the Windup Space (where Grimm is the regular sound engineer) on Friday. Before the gig, Grimm spoke on June Star's latest album, January's "Slow Dance," the changing Baltimore scene and more.

We're coming to the end of the year. How would you describe June Star's 2012?
It was a year of stability. We had some good gigs. Things evened out in terms of our lineup. We put out a good album, and we didn't work too hard to promote it. It might have been the first year where I didn't look at what other people were doing and saying, "How do I get that gig?" ... We got more attention from some folks, not in the press world but in the music scene. Some people called us "alt-country royalty" at some point, and I said, "Really? I didn't know people were paying attention."

You stopped teaching to pursue music full-time. When was that?
That was 2010-2011. I've since resumed my teaching career [laughs]. That was a really great year. Steel player Dave Hadley and I toured a lot heavier than we had before. We met a lot of people. Networked a lot. I don't know if I got any songwriting done but when you're an independent musician, and you want to make it a career, you have to spend eight hours a day in front of a computer, trying to figure out how to convince someone to hand over $10, one at a time. Financially, it became a thing like, "I have to go back to school." I had blown through my money I had saved. But now I have income that I can spend on the recording process. I can make sure Dave Hadley still gets paid. He's full-time, and you don't want to piss off the pedal steel player.

What's your favorite venue to play in Baltimore?
My favorite venue for a showcase show is the Windup Space. It's the easiest to book. Russell [de Ocampo, owner] is a really great guy. He's always trying to help the bands. The space is good and the P.A. is good. They have good beer. People are going to go to that show to see a band play, since there's no TVs. And I'm not saying this just because I work there. [laughs]

Bertha's has been very fun. The self-loathing party-hard dudes and dudettes on a Friday or Saturday night in Fells Point tend to skip Bertha's, so I can get away with not having to deal with people asking for "Ants Marching" by Dave Matthews Band.

What's the biggest change you've noticed in Baltimore's alt-rock/country scene?
It used to seem like there was a core group of people — like four of five bands that either hung together or played shows together. Over the years, that's spread out and I don't think that's a bad thing. That's the big change I see. I see a lot of people going to the old-timey sound, the Mumford and Sons-type of thing. I'm also paying less attention over the years [laughs].

"Slow Dance" is a record that makes a listener want to grab a beer and start dancing. Where's your favorite place to do that in the city?
I don't really dance at all. I'm horribly challenged when it comes to dancing. I look like an emotionally stunted Bill Cosby when I dance, and he's more graceful than me. But I think the more fun shows are when people dance. I never thought of us a dance band, but the irony of "Slow Dance" is that the songs are very up-tempo. I wanted it to be a little more rock than the last album. - The Baltimore Sun


"June Star - Slow Dance"

2012 – Self Released

4****

This is the seventh studio album by genre defining alt. country band June Star, with the only constant in that time being Andrew Grimm, songwriter, guitarist and classic alt. country singer. All of those recordings have been of an incredibly high quality, (although as yet I’ve been unable to track down a copy of ‘Shift, engage and initiate’) with plenty of diversity of tempos within the fairly loose alt. Country/rock genre. Personally I’ve always believed their 2001 recording, ‘Telegraph’ to be pretty much unmatcheable, being in my top ten all time favourite albums although despite this, every single one of their albums is something to savour and all worthy of at least four stars of anyones money. On this album they steer a path that edges slightly closer to rock than most of their other recordings but is still a really high quality album that includes many of their usual strong country elements.
For this recording the band consisted of Andrew Grimm on Guitars and Vocals, David Hadley, Pedal Steel, Timothy Bracken, Guitar, Bass, Backing Vocals and at times Drums, Mike Ward on Keyboards, with the production being courtesy of the band. Although not off putting the sound can seem a little too dense on some tracks, although some may actually prefer the album because of that! Having said that, where the sound is more sparse it serves to provide excellent contrasts, although on a few songs Andrew Grimms vocals do seem a little too far back in the mix. The choice of instrumentation and the playing are superb, with some of the guitar sounds being beautifully uplifting with the chiming, haunting tones and changes of tempo and atmosphere producing an album that few can match. The tremendous songs on this disc range in style and tempo from incredibly catchy rootsy rock to mid tempo country rock and some of the most hauntingly evocative ballads you are ever likely to hear.
This recording kicks off with the up tempo rootsy countryish rocker of Saint, a song similar in many ways to the classic Jayhawks sound, but with more of an edge, even including a few woo hoo hoos and some tremendous lead guitar playing for good measure. The excellent Leaned, is more of a mid tempo roots rocker, whilst Undertow is back into country rock mode and similarly is also mid tempo. Time retains much of the same pace, with the addition of a haunting steel guitar on a song that warns against counting your chickens, because nothing lasts for ever. All of the ballads are superb, with the title track Slow Dance being a gorgeous, sad country story with beautifully evocative steel guitar and sparse chiming piano on a story about someone who still retains some hope of reclaiming a love lost to someone else, despite very little chance of success. Last Lock is another slow, moody song, again with some gorgeous steel and recounts a story that seems to be about a lack of communication, in fact, all of the ballads have this same haunting quality, something that is shared by many of the more uptempo songs.
In this day of manufactured stardom irrespective of talent, wouldn’t it be nice if talent was a prerequisite for success. Were that the case, Andrew Grimm and his highly talented band of musicians would be superstars! - American Roots UK


"Sugarbird Review"

Andrew Grimm is the star of June Star, in that he wrote the music and lyrics, produced and helped mix the album, sings lead and plays electric/acoustic/bass guitars, mandolin and banjo. While Grimm may seem to have superhuman abilities, he does admit being accompanied by "satellite affiliates" Chris Plummer, John Tenney, Jay Filippone and Tom Scanlan.

There are plenty of great things about Sugarbird. All of the songs, even the "OK" ones, are very accessible and affable. One reason for this could be the common themes of all the songs -- love and loss -- to which anyone can relate. In my opinion, the highlight of the album is "Baltimore," a great narrative of promises, failure and optimism.

Another reason for June Star's accessibility is Grimm's vocals. While the instruments, background vocals and lyrics could be all across the board, it won't matter because Grimm's vocal style (a monotone baritone -- monobaritone?) actually acts as a conduit/cohesive device for all the elements.

It's not all about Grimm's vocals, though. Check out the surprisingly energetic instrumental "My Sweetheart." It's a little over two minutes -- a bit short for such an interesting tune. But, like any good performance, you're left wanting more.

The downside to this album is, well, it has a down side. There are some songs like "Acetone," "Mexico" and "Home" that take such a slow and somber pace (in tempo as well as in the lyrics) that they border on depressing. However, that's not to say that slow=bad; check out "Way Down" for a solid well-crafted song that keeps it slow. But, as I mentioned before, even the "OK" songs are of a sufficient quality to keep your interest in the overall album.

If you are looking for an album that instantly piques your interest and retains it, I recommend Sugarbird by June Star. - Rambles.net


"Shift, Engage, and Initiate Review"

First impression on hearing the music of June Star was, Sun Volt and Jay Farrar — now that can’t be bad, and you are right it isn’t

June Star possess a core band that feature guitars, keys, bass, drums and guest pedal steel on ‘Staring The End Down’ that possesses Mark Olsen-esque tendencies, and is one of two songs to figure on the five-piece band’s forthcoming double album, 'Love, Honor, And Negotiate'. Opening track, ‘Drive All Night’ is the other and it too is a superb affair.

Why put out an eight-track prior to a double album you might ask? Simple, June Star after taking four years over their previous record, 'Cora Belle', realise they needed something to keep themselves in the picture. Multi-instrumentalist Timothy Bracken and the bandleader of 10 years, Andrew Grimm share the lead vocals and songwriting duties. Based in Baltimore, the leading members playing four of the band’s older songs are captured live at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur, Georgia. Stripped bare and playing a neat little all-acoustic set a great warmth wafts from the speakers throughout.

Bracken who had previously figured only as a musician, shows him self to be a solid and innovative singer-songwriter. His singing of an emotion-filled ‘This Love Won’t Let Me Go’ and the likewise, angst-torn ‘In The Back Of My Mind’ underline the wisdom of Grimm to call on him to both write and sing more. Elder statesman, Grimm provides a couple of solid vocal presentations via the lazy paced ‘Highway’ and ‘This Love Won’t Let Me Go’ as he adds a little edge to the proceedings —now for the double album! Bring it on, boys. - Americana UK


"Cora Belle Review"

This one didn't make the cut last issue, and for the life of me I can't figure out why. Maybe it's that I've been listening to more Uncle Tupelo lately...lead singer and songwriter Andrew Grimm is an aural doppelganger for Jay Farrar.

But these aren't Uncle Tupelo (or Son Volt) songs. They're Andrew Grimm songs, and played by June Star. Timothy Bracken is the other half of the duo, and he does a lot of the playing and all the producing. The two guys make one hell of a team.

It's hard to make rolling roots music with just two people. Takes skill, devotion and a little luck. June Star has all that. These songs sound like they're being played live to tape, with just enough knob-twisting to bring out the sweet spots. Most solid.

I'm still stumped as to why I didn't dig this as much the first time around. Maybe because it is right up my alley. I just don't trust something that stabs me in the heart and twists the knife. Oh well. If I listen to a good album enough times, eventually I'll figure it out. I'm thinking it won't take quite so long for most other people. - A&A


"Know Your Product: Country Veteran"

June Star
Lower Your Arms
Dangerously Delicious

“Ain’t much to do, but sit around and watch the wolves watchin’ you,” sings June Star frontman Andrew Grimm in the sort of scraped-out Western twang that would never be mistaken for being from Baltimore or, for that matter, anywhere this side of coal country Appalachia. June Star is a country band—not “alt-” anything, or “new-” anything, just the straight-up country of open space and creeping loneliness. Which makes it one of the more novel bands in Baltimore, just by default. And after 12 years and six albums, June Star has gotten very good at its craft, delivering 13 well-rounded and simple songs—all reworkings of older Grimm solo material—of lovely singing slide-guitar-haloed music for whiskey and watching trails roll by.

That said, Lower Your Arms isn’t the most immediate record, which is entirely due to how it sticks to those bare country bones. It can deliver a big, satisfying chorus—as on the opener, “Breakdown,” which dares a “na na na na” refrain and lets out with a warm and welcoming pedal steel solo that has the natural smoothness of a riverbed stone. The real allure, however, is the slowly loping, melancholic spaces between big peaks like that, when Grimm’s sometimes overbearing vocals are dialed down some and that steel or maybe a plinking blue piano melody hit a bit of gloom on a later track, like “You forgot about love/ you were picking flowers just to watch them die” as if a morning fog hits a cold, gray body of water. To put it all really bluntly: This is country without much if any indie-anything thrown in. It takes a while to sink into June Star’s sonic world, but listeners will be richly rewarded.-Michael Byrne - City Paper


"Hearing Aid"

In its 12 years of haunting clubs up and down the East Coast, Baltimore's June Star has had at least a baker's dozen different lineups. But the one constant is determined singer/ songwriter/ guitarist Andrew Grimm. A trusty brand of roots rock, his music has never sought to break ground as much as it celebrates hallowed ground. Grimm is comfortable walking where the likes of Townes Van Zandt and Neil Young (and that pair's godson, Jay Farrar) have hiked while still, across six accomplished releases, staking out just a bit of seaboard turf that's all his own.-Rick Cornell - Independent Weekly, Raleigh NC


"All Music Guide"

Perhaps June Star frontman Andrew Grimm should get together with Willy Vlautin of Richmond Fontaine and form a support group called "Alt-Country Singer/Songwriters Who Sound a Lot Like Jay Farrar Without Really Trying." Like Vlautin, Grimm's curse (if that's the right word) is that his voice bears more than a passing resemblance to that of the former leader of Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt, which is compounded by the fact that the slow, thoughtful drift of many of the songs on June Star's third album, Sugarbird, gives them a sound and feel not unlike much of the best material on Trace. But like Richmond Fontaine's work, if you look past the surfaces on Sugarbird, it becomes clear that Andrew Grimm is a songwriter with a style very much his own. Significantly more direct and less oblique than Farrar, Grimm's lyrics deal with the nuances of life along the margins in his hometown of Baltimore, from playing a gig when even your own dad heckles you ("Baltimore") to the desperate need to blow town before love and geography can crush you (Mexico"). Grimm's stories are smart, concise, and effective, and his guitar (coupled with multi-instrumentalist Tim Bracken, who is the only other player on most of these tunes) conveys both the space and the isolation of the big, decaying city with surprising skill. Sugarbird is a strong and compelling album from a band that certainly deserves a higher profile on the current alt-country scene, and hopefully work of this caliber will not be overlooked. - Mark Deming


"Washington Post"

The first song that stands out on "Sugarbird," the new CD by the alt-country group June Star, is "Baltimore," a working band's blues. Lead vocalist and songwriter Andrew Grimm gets the tone just right, delivering the lyrics with a mixture of despair and determination: "Nobody came, but my band still played / We just closed our eyes and made believe . . . we got two channels of 700 watts / We're gonna give it all we got, tonight."

Sparsely arranged and often emotionally bleak, "Sugarbird" isn't exactly bursting with songs that are likely to draw a big crowd -- in Baltimore, the band's home base, or anywhere else. But Grimm and his compatriots have nevertheless carved out an interesting niche for themselves, a little left of the alt-country center and not far from the kind of thinking man's folk associated with the late Townes Van Zandt. Granted, Grimm's warble takes some getting used to; there are times when he doesn't sing so much as drone. But it's the sort of voice that eventually gets under your skin if you listen long enough, and that's even more true of the best songs on "Sugarbird," including the haunting, Van Zandt-like ballad "Home" and the wry, rhythmically loping lament "Belly."
- Mark Joyce


Discography

1999 June Star
2000 Songs from an Engineer's Daughter
2001 Telegraph
2004 Sugarbird
2008 Cora Belle
2009 Shift, Engage, and Initiate
2010 Lower Your Arms
2012 Slow Dance

Photos

Bio

June Star (formed 1998) plays music. No kidding.  The Baltimore based Americana type band has been playing in the Mid-Atlantic region for over 15 years and 9 studio recordings.  They have toured as far as San Francisco, and they have played as locally as their own kitchens.

The core of June Star is singer/songwriter Andrew Grimm and pedal steel/alchemist David Hadley.  Their shows are intimate, intense, and worthwhile.  Grimm's rough edge baritone clearly delivers the message while Hadley's slippery steel hugs curves and navigates the melodies.

There have been many other members of the band and every once and while you can catch Kurt Celtnieks on drums and Mark Tuminello on bass.

 

Albums released:

June Star 1999

Songs from and Engineer's Daughter 2000

Telegraph 2002

Sugarbird 2004

Cora Belle 2008

Shift Engage Initiate 2009

Lower Your Arms 2010

Slow Dance 2012

Kill the Lights 2013

Band Members