Bombadil brings fresh, new music to Legends March 21

By Derek Halsey (

Article Published: Mar. 13, 2013 | Modified: Mar. 22, 2013
Bombadil brings fresh, new music to Legends March 21

Durham-based Bombadil returns to Boone for a March 21 performance at ASU’s Legends Music Hall.

Photo submitted

It has been almost three years since the Durham-based group, Bombadil, was in full-tilt mode.

The band had a heck of a run early on, recording music and playing at high-profile festivals, such as Bonnaroo, Shakori Hills and FloydFest.

Along the way, however, Bombadil member Daniel Michalak developed nerve damage in his hands and could no longer play music effectively. And so, a three-year hiatus ensued. But now, after years of therapy, Michalak and band-mates James Philips and Stuart Robinson are back with an upcoming tour and a new album of all-original music, “Metrics of Affection,” due in July.

Bombadil will perform at Legends in Boone on Thursday, March 21. The doors open at 9 p.m., and tickets are $4 for students in advance and $6 at the door and for general admission. The BYOB limit is six bottles with an ID.

The “Metrics of Affection” project is unique, to say the least. It is a combination of open-minded chamber folk and the bright and sunny pop music of the 1960s. Each song is a sonic adventure, where the arrangements are expanded upon in a variety of ways.

“The Kinks and The Beatles would be a good touchstone for us,” Philips said about Bombadil’s influences. “But when people ask us about what our band sounds like, you’re not really allowed to say ‘The Beatles.’ However, The Kinks don’t seem to have the name recognition anymore, at least with our generation. Even Queen would be a good influence to name.”

Philips and the rest of group have also been swayed by native Tar Heel State music, as well.

“Mix (the classic rock) with North Carolina folk music and that is kind of where we have ended up, I think,” Philips said. “As far as North Carolina influences go, we definitely listen to The Avett Brothers a lot, doing so while being connected to them through our management and label, and we pay attention to what they are doing, for sure. As far as other North Carolina stuff, most of my listening has been of jazz.

“Of course, I grew up listening to Doc Watson. I was really happy that I got to see him perform when we played at the Rhythm and Roots Festival. He was still an amazing picker. My dad listened to a lot of bluegrass as I was growing up. He was a Yankee, but he adopted the music after we moved South. Plus, my dad was a child of the 1960s, and he grew up with the Grateful Dead, and those guys had a big appreciation for bluegrass, so I listened to Jerry Garcia’s ‘Old and in the Way’ solo stuff.”

The challenge for the members of Bombadil is to bring their new creatively arranged studio songs to life in concert as a trio. The key, as Philip explained, is to concentrate on their multi-layered vocals, which are at the heart of the upcoming “Metrics of Affection” album.

“Well, that’s been a trick, for sure,” Philips said, laughing. “We focus a lot on the vocals, making sure that we have interesting harmonies live and that we’re are hitting those harmonies as tight as we can. And, also, not worrying about having it sound like the record. The songs are not completely reimagined, but it is a fun exercise, and I think we are able to still present them (effectively). So, we spend a lot of time practicing. It has been really fun. We all trade around a little bit on instruments. We just worked up an arrangement where I play bass and the drums at the same time, and that is fun. I think it keeps things interesting as it is a challenge to figure out how to play these songs.”

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