(HUDSON, N.Y.) – Since the last time Lake Street Dive performed here, the group has been discovered by the national press, with raves in Rolling Stone, the New Yorker, Hollywood Reporter and the Daily News, and championed by superstar producer T Bone Burnett. Yet the Boston-bred band, known for its unique fusion of jazz, classical, pop, swing and soul, are committed to keeping it real, returning to Club Helsinki Hudson on Saturday, September 5, at 9pm.
Lake Street Dive is a unique quartet with an approach like no other group you’ve ever heard. Four jazz- and classical-trained musicians who met at Boston’s New England Conservatory got together and formed an indie-pop band featuring a trumpet-wielding guitarist, a bassist, a drummer, and a female vocalist with pipes that can seduce you while at the same time they’re knocking you down with sheer power. The wonderful result produces a lazy, strutting New Orleans-inflected version of the Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back” or a steamy jazz-funk version of Hall & Oates’ “Rich Girl.”
Lake Street Dive find themselves on the cusp of stardom, though they insist they will always be the same people whose stage outfits once consisted of matching sweater vests. “We realize this could all go away tomorrow,” says Rachael Price. “But that won’t change what we do. We want to continue to do this for a long, long time. This is what we love. We just want to make sure we keep enjoying ourselves.”
Lake Street Dive have been performing for nearly a decade after meeting as fellow students at the New England Conservatory in Boston. The band was hand-picked by Minneapolis trumpet/guitar player Mike Olson and named after an actual neighborhood of seedy bars in his hometown. Vocalist Rachael Price came from outside Nashville, Tennessee, stand-up bassist Bridget Kearney was an Iowa native, while drummer Mike Calabrese called Philadelphia home.
“I wasn’t only impressed with their musicianship,” says Olson, who acquired the nickname “McDuck” while at the conservatory for his reclusive ways. “They were also a lot of fun just to hang out with. The first four years of rehearsals were more like glorified dinner parties.”
It took a casually made video featuring the band gathered around a single mic, performing a cover of Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” shot on a Brighton, Mass., street corner to grab the public’s attention — its YouTube hits now hurtling past a million views. What followed was nothing less than a modern-day music business success story — T Bone Burnett tapped them to perform on the “Another Day, Another Time” show at New York City’s Town Hall, featuring music from and inspired by the Coen brothers’ film “Inside Llewyn Davis,” taped for an upcoming special on Showtime.
The New Yorker raved of their Town Hall performance: “I can’t imagine then, that Lake Street Dive — a quartet led by an amazing young singer, Rachael Price — won’t be getting some air time soon.” Rolling Stone called the band “unexpected showstoppers,” while Hollywood Reporter noted the group “delivered one of the show’s best moments with the swinging ‘You Go Down Smooth,’ with stirring vocals by lead singer Rachael Price.” The New York Daily News was similarly enthused, saying Lake Street Dive “was the evening’s wild card,” and noting Price “has the soulful howl of a young Etta James.”
And just like that, Lake Street Dive went from playing for a small devoted following, to selling out venues and planning an initial European tour, with dates on several late-night TV shows in the offing.
The group’s new album, “Bad Self Portraits,” which was released by the Northampton, Mass., indie label Signature Sounds Recording as the follow-up to an eponymous debut and subsequent EP, is a microcosm of Lake Street Dive’s evolution of the band from a weird alt-country jazz group to a pop-soul juggernaut, that turns 1960s influences like Brill Building girl groups (“Stop Your Crying”), British Invasion rock (“Bobby Tanqueray”), horn-driven Stax R&B (“You Go Down Smooth”), Motown soul (“Use Me Up”) and even The Band-like gospel blues (“What About Me”).
As things are rapidly growing for Lake Street Dive, the nine years that they spent focusing on their musical development has left them with one constant to strive for. “We are named in homage to dive bar bands,” says Calabrese, “we were, are and always will be a dive bar band. Whether we’re playing for 10 people or 10,000, we want them to have that feeling.”
For reservations in The Restaurant or in the club call 518.828.4800.