Burlap to Cashmere
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Burlap to Cashmere Bibliography: (click on each album cover to view tracks and Burlap to Cashmere lyrics)
Burlap to Cashmere Biography
Imagine you're sitting at a little table nursing the beverage of your choice in some dive in Greenwich Village, New York-the kind of place that makes you feel like a mole going blind underground. The club owner takes the mic and mumbles, "Please welcome A&M recording artists blah blah blah - ," but you don't pay any more attention than you would to an airline attendant's preflight speech about oxygen masks and flotation devices. You're just here to unwind after a week of work-related stress. Then the music kicks in. It has a kind of indefinable, riveting, world-beat energy, and the next thing you know your eyes are fixed on the motion onstage and you're caught up in this textured wall of sound and in the exuberant chemistry that's somehow materialized before you in the form of seven kids from Brooklyn crammed into one tiny space playing a kind of music that five minutes ago you didn't even know existed.
Their full-length debut, Anybody Out There?, covers a stylistic range from modern pop to Mediterranean stomp with some element of the one inevitably thrown into the other. Exploring a diversity of subjects including love, war, salvation, divorce, the struggle of flesh against spirit, and the death of friends, Burlap seeks to chronicle the emotions of life, without ever opting for easy answers. Instead they show a willingness to walk every step of life's journey with deliberation, rejoicing when it is the time to rejoice, and mourning when it is the season to mourn.
A standout trio of carefully placed songs serves to establish the context for the bulk of the project's subject matter. The buoyant opener to Anybody Out There?, Digee Dime, is a joyful expression of hope. Another track, Treasures In Heaven, stands in the center of the project as a call to continually reexamine motives and return to those things that are eternally important. Finally the rootsy, closing song, Mansions, asks that, even in the struggles of this present life, heaven would dwell within us.
Burlap to Cashmere closed out 1998 with the release of Anybody Out There? and a nation-wide tour with Jars of Clay. Not surprisingly, in the first two weeks of release, Anybody Out There? sold 7,000 copies over the counter according to SoundScan. The album debuted at number 38 on Billboard's new artist Heatseekers chart and quickly moved into the top 30. Burlap to Cashmere's evolution as a band began as a college theater project of lead singer/songwriter Steven Delopoulos, and progressed into a club act with accompaniment from his cousin John Philippidis. Soon the band's manager Jamison Ernest caught the duo performing at a coffee house in New Jersey. He heard the foundation for an unusual, invigorating style which combines their vocal harmonies and utilizes both steel string and classical guitars. Soon thereafter, the three of them met at The Inkwell in New Jersey where they jointly visualized adding additional members to enrich their already captivating sound.
Burlap to Cashmere's chemistry is kind of like their name-disparate textures that move from tension to transformation. "The name of the band just sounded cool to me at first," notes Steven. "But as the band grew and developed, I realized that the thought of going from 'burlap to cashmere' was what was happening to us. God had taken nothing and began to turn it into something. A lot of us in the band come from broken homes and bad situations, but we found family together. We've all become like brothers." Technically, Steven and lead guitarist Johnny share familial bloodlines and Greek heritage through their parents, while second guitarist Mike Ernest, drummer Teddy Pagano, keyboardist Josh Zandman, and bassist Roby Guarnera were each brought into the fold through friendships that had formed years earlier in elementary and high school. Percussionist, Scott Barksdale, was adopted into the family via a classified ad.
Having pieced the band together over an eighteen-month period, the boys from Burlap began playing their moody, exalted and complex homegrown blend of ethnic folk pop on the New York Club circuit. Through gigs at the Bitter End, Irving Plaza, Tramps, and the Bottom Line, a loyal fan base rapidly accrued, even as the group began to turn the heads of record company executives. What started as a rumor in the industry buzz-mill, quickly escalated into an all-out feeding frenzy. It seemed that everyone suddenly wanted them to sign on the dotted line, yet only A&M Records was willing to take them for who they were, free of any mandate to tinker with the heart of their expression. Ultimately, the choice seemed to be made for them. After signing with A&M they recorded and released a five song EP, Live at the Bitter End, intended to serve as a teaser until the completion of their first studio project.
"Sometimes," Steven says in summation, "we'll get confused or angry or frustrated about something, and we just need to be reminded of the bigger picture, the ultimate picture. Just getting a glimpse of that is what keeps us going. That's what keeps us grounded. It's impossible to be grounded without hope." With each week of touring with Jars of Clay, Burlap's wowed audiences steadily increased the pace of the band's album sales, which led to an unprecedented week on the eve of 1999. As they bid '98 farewell, Anybody Out There? sold over 8,500 copies during the final week of the year. Is anybody out there? Indeed.