Son of ’76 and The Watchmen is Soul/Americana band from Lincoln, NE. In their five years of existence they are preparing to release their third album in June of 2010. The band was named Best R&B/Soul at the 2008 Omaha Entertainment Awards, and nominated for Best R&B/Soul and Best Blues of 2009. Primarily a local outfit, they are considering travel opportunities to spread their music to the masses.
From swampy New Orleans funk to country-flavored ballads, Stax soul to Arena rock and roll, Irish folk to Americana, the new album from Son of ’76 and The Watchmen, entitled Letters from Shangri-La, is a sprawling, 15-song journey through the American musical landscape. From the grit and grime of the south, to the wide-open spaces of Midwestern tale-spinning, the album promises to be a strong follow-up to their sophomore effort Imaginary Man which has sold over 1,000 copies locally.
Led by songwriter and band leader, Josh Hoyer, it is easy to say that Son of ’76 and The Watchmen have come into their own sound after five years of existence. Less driven by making a splash in the music market place, Hoyer’s creations are as varied as his musical tastes. This band is not about fitting into a genre or creating a marketable product with a target audience in mind. That may be suicide in the music biz, but this band embraces variation over predictability.
The stellar cast of musicians makes the band what it is. Werner Althaus, from Germany, has a vast repertoire of rock and blues chops and has been compared to Wilco guitarist, Nels Cline. Drummer, Justin G. Jones, is steeped in the traditions of Cuban and Latin music and has long studied roots rock and blues. He has toured with Billy Bacon and Dave Gonzalez as part of the Stone River Boys. Bassist, Brian Morrow, is a music teacher, and multi-instrumentalist that understands the role of a bass man and holds it all together. Pianist, Nick Semrad, has been playing since the age of 5 and is steeped in the traditions of jazz, blues, country, rock and roll and gospel. Rhythm guitarist, Luke Sticka, is prodigy of the 90s, leaning towards grunge and modern rock, yet still a student of traditional American music. It has been said that singer/songwriter and saxophonist, Josh Hoyer, “sings like an angel and blows like the devil.” Frequently called “the most talented band in town,” the possibilities are endless for what this band can create.
Comparisons of Son of ’76 and The Watchmen have been drawn to Joe Cocker, Tom Waits, The Band, Dr. John, Wilco and Little Feet. And it seems the common denominator between all these artists is an original approach to playing roots music, focusing on soul and socially conscious lyric. The band also draws from the surprisingly rich music scene of Lincoln/Omaha. They regularly play to large crowds at the legendary ZOO Bar and are cinsitently asked to play local festivals and large stages. When you catch them live, you can expect this band to leave nothing in the tank. It is also equally logical for a person in the crowd to sit and listen to the intricacies of their live show, or get up and shake their thing in the tightly-knitted grooves.