Throughout the past year, Fort Lauderdale-based reggae rock act Bushwood has taken over dive bars and boat docks from Delray Beach all the way down to the Keys. Band breaks and experimentation with acoustic performances used to make the Bushwood experience more like an after-work gig, but more recently, the trio is in high demand. These days, they're playing a bevy of bars and venues looking for feel-good tunes, especially with lots of long, sticky summer nights ahead. After a recent boom of success, the band decided to hit the studio to work on a little something for fans to take home at the end of the night.
Steve Voronkov (guitar/lead vocals), Adam Moskowitz (bass/backup vocals) and Jon Cross (drums and percussion) produced a light and fresh soundtrack complementary to the tropical climate. Instrumental artistry shines through on the self-titled album's first track, "Red & White," featuring Voronkov's soft vocals contrasted by his passionate electric axe-shredding. Moskowitz's timed bass vibrations add depth to the foundation when paired with Cross' simplicity in the form of dub beats. Funked out island jam favorites like "Flomanja" and more introspective tracks like "Open Up Your Eyes," an intimate breakup ballad, are easy definitions of what Bushwood music is all about.
The band took a well-developed trip into the studio, documenting their recorded journey via Twitter before sending their baby off to St. Augustine and into the hands of a mixmaster called Dirty. But, the new release is as clean as could be, a guiltless pleasure to spark up or wine down with on the back porch or overlooking the water. New Times caught up with bassist Adam Moskowitz to talk about the record's influences, their love for South Florida and their new celeb fan, Dennis "The Worm" Rodman.
New Times: So, Bushwood reunited and came back with a bang last year. What was the motivational force behind your reunion?
Adam Moskowitz: Well, we discovered that we really loved playing our acoustic guitars. We started getting interest from different types of venues that didn't necessarily appreciate drummers and the decibels that came with a drum set. So, Steve and I started playing acoustic gigs around town, and what came out was improved musicianship and a deepening of our song catalogue.
And, since returning to the stage, the band has been dominating Broward County.
A few months into last year, we got back together with our drummer Jon Cross, who had been enjoying the time away from the stage, but was definitely getting the itch to play live again. As fun and challenging as playing acoustic was and still is, there's really nothing like getting back up there as a trio. tI feels like home. So we booked our comeback show at the Poor House in Fort Lauderdale and the rest is history.
You were recently rewarded with a rare Dennis Rodman cameo at one of your gigs. Do share.
Haha, what a weird Sunday evening that was. We were playing at this place Shooters/Bootleggers in Fort Lauderdale, and were halfway into our first set when we heard some chatter from friends -- they thought they might have spotted Mr. Rodman in the crowd. Naturally, there was a bikini contest by the pool right before we took the stage. We're jamming along, as we do, and next thing we know, Hall of Famer NBA star Dennis Rodman struts over with his posse. At first, we were kind of like 'What the fuck?' We gave him a shout out on the mic, then he proceeded to come up on stage, shake our hands, and reciprocate the shout out into the mic, and then asked us to play something "funky." We busted out the last track on our debut album, "Flomanja" which is a serious funk-rock jam vehicle, and The Worm was feelin' it! After that song, he requested some Sublime, and we obviously obliged.
Great segue there. So, tell us a little bit about the debut album. Why did you decide to take things into the studio?
Since I joined Bushwood in the summer of 2009, we've been constantly writing songs. We have about two albums worth of material, and we decided it was time to give our fans something tangible -- something they could throw on and let bump through the summer, and forever really. It's something for the car, the boat, the iPod. We had previously recorded an acoustic EP last summer, but since I had joined the band, we didn't have anything traditional with my bass on it. Now we do.
How did you choose the album's material?
We went in and recorded our 10 favorite songs, including a brand new one called "In Control" that we played together in the studio for the first time. The cut that made the album was actually our third take, and you can hear the freshness of it on the recording. When you hear the album, you feel like you're in the room with us, and that was completely our intention. We wanted to invite you in.
And you used social networking to track the album's recording?
We brought our video camera into Contrast Recording Studio in Boca, where we tracked the album with Audio Engineer Richard Salino, and posted an entire behind the scenes/album preview video on our site. We also were live tweeting pictures from the studio and updating our fans through Facebook on our progress.
Did you keep the production local?
Actually, we were honored to have our good friend Eric "Dirty" Kaufman, who works with The Fish Tank Studios up in St. Augustine, mix and master our album. We go way back with him. We also had another good friend, Adam Forero, to do the artwork for the album, which we absolutely love. He worked on an awesome guitar tattoo that Steve has on his left arm. It felt great to keep the whole album process in the family, and we think Dirty did an amazing job. It's evident from the final tracks that he mixed with love.
There's a mix of breezy and meaningful tunes on there. Any favorites?
This is probably the question I have been struggling with most. People have been asking me, and I honestly can't decide. I love every song on this album. It's like picking a favorite child! Steve is the main songwriter in our band, but I often co-write with him and we bounce both musical and lyrical ideas off of each other. That said, I am partial to our song "Open Up Your Eyes" because it is a song I wrote about four years ago after a breakup with my then girlfriend. Another favorite of mine is "In Control," which I mentioned earlier was brand new when we went into the studio.
Where can the fans catch you this summer?
We have been playing a lot at Kahuna's in Deerfield Beach which is right off the sand, and Beer Garden which is right on Ft. Lauderdale beach. We also play at World of Beer in Coconut Creek all the time, as well as Mickey Byrnes in downtown Hollywood, and we're talking to the Dubliner in Boca currently trying to book something in June.
After you finish your day job, you come home to a pad you share with guitarist Steve Voronkov. Do you guys have pajama jam parties nightly?
Wow what an image! Haha. Actually, there was one time right after I moved in where we had some friends over and the power went out on us. We made the best of it and lit a candle and ended up having one of the coolest, chillest jam sessions we've ever had. We realized then that as long as we had our guitars within reach, we'd never be bored at home. We also have a dock in our backyard that faces the water and we usually out there working on new jams and harmonies. There's something about watching the sunset over the water that is truly inspirational. We thrive on that, and creating something from nothing is one of the most satisfying things we can do as humans.
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Celebrate the release of Bushwood's self-titled debut album (and scoop it for $5) at 10 p.m. Friday, May 20 at Bierbrunnen Beer Garden, 427 S. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. The listen is also available to stream and is up for grabs on iTunes.