Today we’re officially welcoming Midnight North to the nugs.net family. Led by Elliott Peck & Grahame Lesh, Midnight North has mastered their rootsy Americana sound over the last six years. Audio from eight shows is now available to download or stream in the nugs.net app. We got the chance to talk to guitarists and vocalists Grahame Lesh and Elliott Peck, bass player Connor O’Sullivan, and drummer Nathan Graham before they head out on their twenty-city fall tour this weekend.
Q: Midnight North has a unique combination of sounds, stemming from genres including roots, rock, Americana and jam. Where have these influences stemmed from?
Grahame Lesh: We are influenced by so many bands and genres. Yes, roots, rock and Americana definitely are big deals for us, but also the blues, country, funk, electronica and a ton more. We have individual influences that each member brings to the table, and those mesh together into the band that we’ve become. The single biggest influence in the band’s beginning, especially the songwriting Elliott and I did, was the way duos like Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris or Gillian Welch & Dave Rawlings sing together. Later on we evolved into really trying to draw from CSNY, the Band and the Workingman’s/American Beauty era Grateful Dead. But we never shy away from any bandmember’s ideas no matter what genre or situation they come from – “Roamin'” has Connor’s funk basslines woven into it these days, while Nathan’s clawhammer banjo playing really helped shape our new single “Long View”. Whatever helps the song, the story, and the performance is what we’ll use.
Q: You have a very old-school soulful sense of lyricism. Where does Midnight North get their songwriting done and what inspires your lyrics?
GL: We follow the song. Whenever an idea comes to us we follow it wherever it leads us. It usually starts with a fairly stripped down song idea from Elliott or myself, and then the band takes it from there and makes it into a song. Our lyrics are often inspired by our own lives on and off the road, but they also can be stories we want to tell. For our last record, “Under The Lights”, both of us naturally found ourselves writing about our experiences on the road, which led to our travels becoming an unofficial theme for the album. Despite that, I usually write lyrics at home, though I’ve found myself writing more and more in other places. Recently airplanes are a place where I’ve recently found myself jotting down lots of ideas.
Elliott Peck: We right lyrics pretty individually between the songwriters in the band, but for me, I like to draw on novels I’m reading or familiar stories that I relate to create the lyrics behind a song. Sometimes a line will jump out at me and help me launch the story idea, and other times I come up with the story line first, and then work to find the right language to tell it and create the feeling I want to express.
Q: nugs.net has hosted streams out of Terrapin Crossroads, a venue where Midnight North has played countless shows. So, we have to ask, what has the band’s favorite Terrapin Crossroads moment been?
Connor O’Sullivan: Yes, there have been so many! A memorable moment early on in TXR’s history was when Midnight North was planning to cover Gram Parsons’ entire Grievous Angel album in the bar. We kinda had this little tribute night planned. Phil got wind of it and jumped on board to play some bass as did a couple of the other regular TXR musicians. Then as we were running the tunes in the Grate Room beforehand, we find out Mike Gordon is gonna drop by! So the whole night quickly took a big turn into something unexpected and magical! Now that we’re on the road so much we don’t get to play TXR too often. When we are in town these days it’s a special evening with a full house of longtime fans and supporters.
Q: You handpicked eight shows to add to the nugs.net catalog. Which tracks stand out from the batch, and why?
“Roamin'” Garcia’s 5/9/2019
CO: As I was mastering the shows for Nugs and scrubbing through the Garcia’s show I came across the drum solo during the Roamin’ jam and it was just amazing to hear again! It got me excited to release more live material.
“Highway Song” River Street Jazz Cafe 8/23/2019
Nathan Graham: This was the first Midnight North tune I ever heard before I was playing with the band. I loved it then – and I love it now. Enjoy this lively rendition from Wilkes Barre PA.
“Greene County” Wonder Ballroom 1/25/2019 + “Ripple” Salvage Station 12/29/2019
GL: Listening back I couldn’t stop listening to the amazing guests we’ve been lucky enough to have joined us. Dan Lotti of Dangermuffin singing “Ripple” in Asheville, G Grass and Andy Hall from the Infamous Stringdusters joining us on “Greene County” in Portland – these moments are so fun and we’re so lucky to share them with our friends on the road.