Grandma Sparrow, the long-gestating solo project of Megafaun drummer Joe Westerlund, will finally debut May 20, when Matthew E. White’s Spacebomb Records releases Grandma Sparrow & His Piddletractor Orchestra.
Westerlund is a steady drummer not only for Megafaun but also for Califone and Mount Moriah, but he’s long had other musical ventures. He studied composition and improvisation at Bennington College in Vermont and brought that academic background to Megafaun’s high-minded collaborations with Wilco’s Glenn Kotche, minimalist master Arnold Dreyblatt and the band’s own shape-shifting mélange of traditional folk, classic rock and experimental music.
He brings that same training—albeit in surprising new forms—to the kaleidoscopic Piddletractor Orchestra
. Described as a “psychedelic children’s song-cycle for adults,” Piddletractor Orchestra
presents a mass of lush, intricate arrangements, courtesy of the strings-and-horn-heavy Spacebomb house band. The “audio collage orgy” draws as much from novelty music and commercial jingles as it does from psych-rock and the avant-garde. It’s a sonic playground where Frank Zappa, Charles Ives and The Beach Boys hold equal influence. Westerlund embraces absurdist humor and childlike whimsy, impulsive improvisation and pop collisions.
The second full-length release from the Richmond-based Spacebomb, Piddletractor Orchestra
offers a dramatic counterpoint to Matthew E. White’s stately 2012 debut, Big Inner
. Westerlund will don the Grandma Sparrow guise for a short tour, including two dates in Durham preceding the album’s release. Those dates, as well as album pre-order information, are below.
: Richmond, VA @ Coalition Theater w/ improv comedy by Pigeon
: Durham, NC @ The Pinhook w/ Alexandra Sauser-Monnig (of Mountain Man), Matthew E. White (DJ set)
: Durham, NC @ The Pinhook (Sunday Brunch) w/ Alexandra Sauser-Monnig (of Mountain Man)
To preorder Grandma Sparrow & His Piddletractor Orchestra
, visit this site