Though its sounds harken to the folk music of Ireland or the bluegrass of the Appalachian Mountains, you've probably never heard anything just like Nashville five-piece Humming House.
Crafting music with the mandolin, fiddle, and upright bass, singer Justin Tam can see how Humming House might be typecast as bluegrass or folk. But he thinks there's more variety to its music. "We play a form of Americana music, but we grew up listening to Death Cab for Cutie and Arcade Fire, so there's definitely some indie rock in us."
Tam grew up in San Diego and moved east to Nashville for college and hasn't found a reason to leave. In 2011, after hosting a regular night of Irish jams at his house dubbed "Finnegan's Folly," he found several like-minded souls to complete Humming House. Though the new album is the band's third, Tam sees it instead as a second debut, since it's Humming House's first with the current lineup.
"We played those songs for a while on the road, so they were battle-tested before we went in the studio," explained Tam. "I guess like a lot of bands' second or third albums, this one is about travel. We have one song, 'Great Divide,' about taking a risk pursuing music. We wrote it going through Colorado seeing a majestic mountain while touring through the West for the first time. We had made this crazy decision to pursue music."
A song off their upcoming album, Revelries, was actually conceived of and created in Boca Raton, of all places. "For a while, I did work as a production manager at Cruzan Amphitheatre," Tam explains. "I was walking along the beach in Jupiter during some off time, and I came up with the idea. I went back to my hotel room in Boca and wrote this Irish ballad called 'Atlantic' on my ukulele.
"It's a fictional story about a young man's wealthy grandfather passing away. He gets a decent inheritance, but it's not valuable to him since the money can't bring his grandfather back." He sings two lines from the chorus over the telephone: "'You can't buy the Atlantic/You can't buy the waves,'" adding, "It's about how money can't buy his grandfather's life back. He can't buy the beauty of nature." Though the subject matter might sound morose, Tam's mood was upbeat as he described it.
The band heads back to Boca to open for Edwin McCain at the Funky Biscuit before embarking on the Cayamo Cruise. Tam wants to let audiences know what they'll be in for during one of their shows. "We like to have a good time and enjoy the moment with the fans. This is a celebration."
Humming House, Friday, January 16, the Funky Biscuit, Royal Palm Place, 303 SE Mizner Blvd., Boca Raton. Tickets cost $35 to $50. Visit funkybiscuit.com.
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