“A spiritual cousin to Paul Simon’s Graceland” –Seven Days
From the front-lines at Standing Rock to the archaic streets of Jerusalem, the Sahel Desert to Carnegie Hall, music has been the source of strength for Billy Wylder. The band features Avi Salloway(Bombino/Hey Mama/Avi & Celia) joined by an inspired cast of singular artists who have performed across five continents including concerts at the Coachella Music & Arts Festival, Newport Folk Festival, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Montreal Jazz Fest, Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center. From 2013-16, Salloway toured the globe with Bombino, the Tuareg guitar hero from Niger, Africa. While on the journey and since returning, Salloway wrote a collection of new material that will be released on the band’s forthcoming album, Strike the Match (Sand & Gold Records) on September 7, 2018.
Salloway has been bringing these songs to life with the Wylder Family, a group of dear friends and musical kindred spirits. In between shows, the band spent ten days recording at Eyeland Studio in the Columbus Theatre, home of The Low Anthem. The music weaves together American folk and rock with sensibilities from the Sahara Desert: think Andrew Bird meets Ali Farka Toure, Pete Seeger and Talking Heads. Strike the Match expands on American musical traditions, building a bridge to their African roots and coloring the songs with experimental art-rock textures: gilded string lines, synthesizers, and angular guitars. Mother Earth is at its center, surrounded by stories of love, conflict, change and dreams.
Salloway shares, “This album is a reflection of the world we’ve been born into, one filled with supernatural beauty and incomprehensible struggle. My social and environmental activism work has taken me to territories that have been colonized and occupied in the Middle East, North and West Africa, the South Pacific and Standing Rock, here at home. I have experienced the creative spirit rise up in the face of darkness and adversity and it is the most life-affirming feeling I have witnessed. This record has become the artifact at the intersection of these moving events in my life.”
On Strike the Match, Billy Wylder grapples with some of the most pressing questions of our time. How can we reorient ourselves to nature as a source of strength for resistance to the forces that seek to destroy and profit from it? How can we use music to move beyond capitalism and nationalism to a global society for the benefit of the earth and all living beings? How can we reconcile our painful history with hope and optimism for the future? The album calls the listener to engage with these questions and illuminates the path towards participating in the creation of a more just and sustainable world.
The band is named after Salloway’s grandmother, Wilma “Billie” Hotaling.” She was a prolific painter, author, musician, and educator. Billie wrote Count the Stars Through the Cracks, a harrowing historical fiction novel about a young brother and sister’s escape from the Antebellum South along the Underground Railroad. Billie’s writing was raw and fearless and her book delivered a powerful narrative about America’s hard truths and the long journey to freedom. “My grandma Billie led by example, showing me what creativity looks like and how critical art can be as a form of love and resistance. She is part of me and part of the Wylder family,” Salloway reflects.
“Raised in a progressive home and taught to play by Pete and John Seeger, activism is a constant in Avi Salloway’s life and art. During the past decade, he’s performed in world crisis spots, from the Palestinian territories to Standing Rock, always delivering a message of music’s power to heal and bring change.” –The Hippo
Avi Salloway – vocals, guitar, harmonica
Rob Flax – violin, synthesizers, vocals
Krista Speroni – bass, vocals
Zamar Odongo – drums, vocals
Granite to Glass is a Lowell, Massachusetts-based, solo-artist-led collective of musicians. Led by singer-songwriter Jon Kohen, the ensemble also consists of four regular string players, and many other less frequent contributors. Together, Granite to Glass creates music with an intimate, yet powerful, and haunting, yet uplifting sound.
For several years Jon Kohen was a solo act. In 2015 he sought to record an EP with orchestral string players, and contacted his longtime friend, violinist Lilly Innella to help create the ensemble. In doing so, the two formed a studio orchestra of 14 string players to record "Curse the Darkness, or Create a Light." Thus, Granite to Glass was created.
The band joined forces with composer Derek J. Weagle to create an album with a full orchestra and choir. Work has since begun to create their first studio album, "for when you need this."