Traveling Broke and out of Gas: Bastard Americana
Fans of the Woodbox Gang, Giant City Slickers, Chicago Farmer, County Graves, and the like will surely extract familiarity and audio enjoyment from Traveling Broke and out of Gas. Self-described as “bastard Americana,” Traveling Broke takes their honest hole-in-shoe traveling blues Thursday, November 14 to Tres Hombres.
Hailing from Lafayette, Indiana— or more appropriately, Back ‘n’ Forth, U.S.A.— Traveling Broke and out of Gas is a near-perfect fit for the traditional audio ether of Southern Illinois. Traveling Broke and out of Gas play a modern, tasteful version of Americana and folk music with strong roots in the history of the genres, precise, rootsy playing, and thoughtful lyrics.
The group started out in 2006 as a husband-and-wife, hoboish busking duo. Busking is playing music on the streets— the glorious graffiti of the music world, music for the public. The band has since become a touring quartet, give or take a few musicians.
The current lineup consists of Rachael Yanni on lead vocals, baritone ukulele, and percussion; Cody Hall on vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica, and percussion; Davide Marzoli on vocals, bass guitar, and bass violin; and the newest member of the group, Maxx Heathcote, on electric guitar. Rachel and Cody’s eight-month-old son is also featured in the group and is said to play more often than anyone in the band. We will go ahead and assume he plays percussion no matter which instrument he is playing.
For more information and audio, visit <http://www.TravelingBroke.com>.
Check out Nightlife’s interview with founder Cody Hall:
You started of as a husband-and-wife duo busking around. Tell us about that.
Yes, Rachael and I met at a Rainbow Gathering about eight years ago. We fell in love instantly and began traveling around the country together. I was just beginning to write songs and she is/was a classically trained vocalist, so it was [the] perfect start for a band. We would occasionally busk in order to get money for food, a place to stay, or gas to get to another town.... In some towns there are ordinances against "requesting alms," so we named the band Traveling Broke and out of Gas so if the fuzz was harassing us we could say we were merely advertising the name of our band.
How did you pick up members along the way?
Well, at first, when we were still traveling, we would meet other people with wanderlust at a festival or park and we would travel together— we've made some incredible relationships this way. But one day we decided to settle down and try our hands at farming. That's when we started focusing on making our band legit, reaching out to other musicians in Lafayette.... [A]fter we settled down in Lafayette, we still wanted to play music, and hopefully save the world. Also, I despise working for the Boss and the Paycheck. I figured being a touring musician was a way out of that rat race.
How would you describe your music for someone who has never heard it before?
Hmm... You know, this is a question I always struggle with, largely because I assume that the inquisitor is seeking a comparison with another artist or a genre. We don’t strive for a specific type of sound, so that question often catches me off guard. We pull from a lot of influences: Mississippi John Hurt, Tom Waits, Screaming Jay Hawkins, Jeff Mangum, Phil Ochs.... Kind of epic psychedelic folk rock, or bastard Americana.
Who are some of your major influences?
Personally, Emma Goldman, Julia Hill, Leonard Peltier, Jermeiah Johnson, and Ron Swanson... Musically, Woody Guthrie, Bob Seger, Neil Young, the Melvins, Tom Waits, the Grateful Dead.
Who are some of your favorite up-and-coming artists we may not have heard of?
Caravan of Thieves, Chicago Farmer, Elephant Revival, Larry and His Flask.
You have three albums out. Anything currently in the works?
We just started working on a screenplay for a musical.
What are some of the themes of your songwriting?
Traveling, permaculture, love, existentialism, demons, drugs, oppression, murder.
What is the band’s spirit animal?
Pterodactyl, if you believe in dinosaurs. Otherwise it would be Waya the Trickster.
Do you believe in karma?
I believe in literal karma, meaning a complete act is inherently good and an incomplete act will come back to haunt you.
What is the point of music?
So elevators are a little less awkward. And to give musicians something to do.
What do you think aliens look like?
Who in your opinion is the most underrated band in Americana history?
I've probably never heard of them... and that sucks. Off the top of my head, I'd say Old and in the Way or Utah Phillips.
What’s next for you guys?
Right now we are focusing on touring pretty hard for the next couple of years while raising a baby and hopefully making a movie.
What can we expect at the show?
Worst case scenario... some music. At best, a physical and spiritual transformation incited by visual and audio catharsis simultaneously colliding with folk harmonies of yesteryear.
who: Traveling Broke and out of Gas
where: Tres Hombres
when: Thursday, November 14