San Francisco-based Tempest will play at the Cooldog Concert Series Sunday, Aug. 10. “The stage show is very, very high energy, we can get a crowd pretty wound up,” Leif Sorbye said, lead singer and electric mandolinist.
Ian Walsh’s soulful lyrics will lead into Tempest’s untamed Celtic rock on Aug. 10, meaning that Sunday definitely will not be a day of rest for those at the Cooldog Concert Series.
The lads of Tempest have played Cooldog in the past, most recently for a Friends of Folk fundraiser last year.
“It’s almost like an earthly paradise,” said Leif Sorbye, lead singer and electric mandolinist. “It’s basically a private show.”
Not that the group hasn’t played plenty of large venues.
Now on its 20th anniversary tour, the San Francisco-based Tempest recently returned from the European leg where they elicited a huge response from a crowd of 4,000 in Norway, Sorbye’s home country.
“The stage show is very, very high energy, we can get a crowd pretty wound up,” Sorbye said.
The group’s rock sensibilities blend with Scottish and Norwegian influences and electrifying Irish reels. Driving rock songs like “Byker Hill” make way for cuts like “Whoever You Are” and “One for the Fiddler,” which sound as if listeners should be swaying to the beat, margarita in hand. Mellow at times, sure, but audiences shouldn’t get too comfortable.
As Sorbye put it, other bands touch people with their insightful lyrics. Tempest has another specialty.
“Ours just happens to be cracking a whip on the audience and get ’em rolling,” he said. It means the group often draws a crowd with an appreciation for punk energy. “We get some of those people in our crowd, too, but we can also get their grandmothers.”
The decades together haven’t made Tempest boring, according to Sorbye. It’s just made them better.
“Even if the band’s been together for 20 years, we still feel the music is fresh. And I think even after 20 years we’ve carved out our little niche,” he said.
Playing thousands of shows hasn’t hurt, either. “You get better when you play in front of an audience, not when you play in your basement.”
Walsh is 19, which means Tempest was playing together for a year before Walsh was born.
It doesn’t mean Walsh is inexperienced, though.
He got a feel for the stage by performing with Johnny Duke and Aces, even joining B.B. King on the road for a few shows.
Working with the band gave Walsh confidence as a writer, and made him realize he had some things of his own to say.
“I didn’t want to be stuck on having to write a blues song, you know?” he said.
So he started writing tracks for “Please Remember” when he was 17. He saw what started as a five-song EP released as a full-length CD earlier this summer.
His poetic lyrics could be formulaic – yes, there are songs of love lost on the CD – but the purposefully ragged edges and depth keep him from cloying and make him promising.
“I want to be more than one of those test tube pop stars you see today,” he said. “I just don’t want to be lumped into that element.”
To avoid that, the former Berklee College of Music student writes his lyrics and music, plays nearly everything on the CD and tries to keep the sound honest, not overproduced. There are ballads, but he tries to keep it as rock as possible.
“I live and breathe the Beatles, John Lennon, the Rolling Stones, Nirvana, anything by Jack White, Tom Petty, all those guys,” he said.
“Please Remember” was released this summer and Walsh is already thinking ahead to his next CD, which he said will be a bit more mature.
His sound is more experimental now, and at the Cooldog show he’ll be playing with only a drummer, which he said will be interesting.
Fans planning on supporting Walsh or Tempest at the Cooldog show should call for reservations soon, according to Cooldog’s Beth Fizell.
Unbearable heat and unexpected showers might move the concert inside allowing for fewer attendees.
Reservations for the last show filled up days from the performance, and this one could easily do the same.
If you go:
What: Ian Walsh and Tempest in concert
When: 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 10
Where: Cooldog Concert Series, near Smyrna and Dover (directions given with RSVP)
Admission: Suggested donation is $15, $10 for ages 10 to 18 and active military, free for those 9 and younger; attendees are asked to bring a covered dish to share
Information: Call 659-3855 or visit www.cooldogcon certs.com, www.tempestmusic.com, www.ian walsh.com
Email Sarika Jagtiani at firstname.lastname@example.org