Pentley Holmes has played his music for audiences across the country, yet one venue continued to elude him.
Tonight, his dream of seeing his name on the marquee of Easton’s State Theatre will become a reality.
“Once I started performing and fell in love with music… I’ve always wanted to perform there,” Holmes said during a Thursday phone interview. “Being able to perform there is kind of checking off a checklist of things I’ve wanted to do. I’m really excited about it.”
Holmes, nephew of former heavyweight boxing champ Larry Holmes, said the intimate setting of “Stage on Stage” — in which both the bands and fans share the theater’s main stage — will allow him to fully express himself and share the stories behind his songs, specifically tunes from his 2016 EP Rip Out My Heart. “Music is a real personal thing to me. I don’t think (people) get a chance to hear that,” he said. Holmes later added, “Music is everything. It’s all I have.”
Holmes, who described himself as a visual storyteller, said fans can expect to hear new music in the near future, as well as music videos to accompany those songs. (Holmes released the single “A Good Friend of Mine” in June 2018.) The forthcoming songs, Holmes said, will reflect his own personal growth and maturity since writing and releasing Rip Out My Heart.
“The whole album last time was ‘rip out my heart,’ with a girl and boy (on the album cover) and the boy ripping out his heart for the girl. Now you’re going to see on the cover, (the boy) is growing up a little bit and that’s the idea of the songs,” Holmes explained. “He’s not so much an angry, heartbroken boy as much as he is a mature young man whose not angry anymore, and understands that’s just the process of love.”
Jackson Pines singer-guitarist Joe Makoviecki echoed Holmes’ sentiments.
“(‘Stage on Stage’) cuts perfectly in between intimate, but still in a space that is reverent to music and art. It bridges the gap between DIY and old-timey, going to the theater for a show,” Mkoviecki said during a Feb. 6 phone interview. “There is an energy you can play with , and that’s really fun for us.”
Makoviecki said the band — who will be accompanied by drummer, and childhood friend, Santo Rizzolo — will be learning heavily on cuts from their recently released EP Gas Station Blues & Diamond Rings. The tone of the EP, Makoviecki said, shifted significantly from heavy-handed and brooding during its inception last year to something more personal.
“We’re not one to shy away from being a band that talks about current events because as a folk artist, part of the mission is to be up-to-date and talk about what’s happening in your country. But, what was happening in the record, I was feeling the anger was at the expense of the quality of lyrics of some of the material,” he said. “Without meaning to, I realized this EP was actually part of a song cycle of the EP before it. Gas Station Blues & Diamond Rings ended up being a prequel to the previous EP, Lost & Found.”
In addition to new music to share, Makoviecki said he and bassist James Black will be hitting the road for a slew of east cost and midwest dates, as well as more songwriting and recording demos. (Jackson Pines has opened for national recording artists Mumford & Sons, The Avett Brothers, and Band of Horses.) “We can take our time writing the next album. We’re in a comfort zone we didn't have the first two years of the band,” he said. “Hopefully we have all the tools in our arsenal to work with a couple of different audiences.”
For Boston’s Honeysuckle, vocalist-guitarist Holly McGarry said “Stage on Stage” is also an opportunity to test out new tunes on a room full of new faces.
“The full spectrum of our personalities comes out more in intimate settings,” she said.
The group spent the month of January working on the follow-up to their 2017 full-length album, Catacombs, which is being targeted for a June 21 release. Thematically, the songs that make up the forthcoming record are neatly linked and more true to their live performances, McGarry explained.
“I’ve never thought of us particularly as bluegrass, but (the music) is pretty heavily Americana,” she said. “With folk and bluegrass, there’s a lot of death and despair and things like that and we stayed in that tradition.”
In her travels while touring, McGarry said she has been pleasantly surprised by the power of music to bring others together. “It can seem scary at times the more we’re out on the road, the more we travel, but the vast majority of people we meet are so kind. It’s a a community out there on the road,” McGarry said. “It really fills the well in a nice way to meet all these people.”