Speed the Plough takes over Union Hall next Friday

Speed the Plough at The Fifth Estate in Brooklyn. (© 2014, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Speed the Plough at The Fifth Estate in Brooklyn. (© 2014, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

It’s been almost a year since I’ve seen Speed the Plough play live. It’s not that the band hasn’t been playing — while STP doesn’t mount major tours, there have been several gigs in the area since that appearance in May at The Fifth Estate in Brooklyn. Scheduling just hasn’t worked out for me.

So I’m looking forward to seeing them at Brooklyn’s Union Hall on Friday, March 20 — and making sure the scheduling works out this time.

The New Jersey chamber pop family band will be joined by two other notable outfits: the indie super group Heroes of Toolik and Jersey-rooted Deena & the Laughing Boys.

STP and its rhythmic, classically informed pop has been part of my musical life for a long time. I can’t explain that much better than in did in a blurb I was honored to have included in the band’s 2014 retrospective album “The Plough & the Stars”:

In this crazy, uncertain world, there are precious few constants. Speed the Plough is one of them. I feel like I’ve known this band forever, even if I didn’t really discover it until 1996 … It may never displace death or taxes as one of life’s certainties, but the world is a better place with Speed the Plough giving those two a run for the money.

The lineup has changed considerably over the years, but Toni and John Baumgartner have been there all along. And there’s usually been a Demeski (first Feelies drummer Stan Demeski, whose wife Janet is John Baumgartner’s sister, and now their son John) and, for a time, another member of the Feelies, Brenda Sauter, and her husband, Rich Barnes.

Heroes of Toolik is a band that hasn’t been on my radar before, and I can’t imagine why, given its heritage. But it’s there now, for keeps, and should be on your radar, too. It has quite a heritage, drawing its notable members from a bunch of important indie bands: Arad Evans, on guitar and voice, has performed with avant garde icons Rhys Chatham and Glenn Branca; Peter Zummo, on trombone, with the Lounge Lizards; Ernie Brooks, on bass, was in the Modern Lovers; drummer Billy Ficca fropm Television and the Washington Squares; and fiddler Jennifer Coates from Jenny Get Around. The band’s sound has a lot in common with STP, as this clip demonstrates.

Deena Shoshkes is somebody I’ve been planning to write about for awhile. She may be best known as a founder of Eighties indie band the Cucumbers, which was a mainstay of the Hoboken scene centered on Maxwell’s. Her second solo album, “Rock River,” was released just last yea. It’s a delightful collection of 12 tunes  that continues the joyful, almost childlike sound that the Cucumbers created. For a sample of her latest album, tap or click here.

Doors open at 8 p.m., with the show starting at 8:30, on Friday, March 20, at Union Hall, 702 Union Street, Brooklyn. Admission is $10, with tickets available online by tapping or clicking here. Call 718-638-4400 or email info@unionhallny.com for more information.

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