"Ticonderoga is the most exciting new Triangle act I saw, spinning elliptical folk songs over intricate webs of interlocking keyboard, drum, guitar and bass strands." —That's what I said, late 2004.
If you were lucky enough to catch those early 2004 sets from Ticonderoga in since-lost Raleigh spaces like Bickett and Kings, there's a good chance that, like me, you kind of treasure them. Back then, Phil Moore, Mark Paulson and Wes Phillips were three recent Raleigh arrivals from Grinnell, Iowa. They'd been playing music together in various configurations since childhood, but they only formed Ticonderoga upon moving to North Carolina. With each new show, Ticonderoga would release a new album, burned to CD-R and often sprayed with paint or scrawled with Sharpie tracklists. The pace finally slowed, in part because people wanted Ticonderoga to play more and more and because the band had to ready its first two proper albums, released by Michigan label 54º40' or Fight! in the '05 and '06.
Due to interpersonal strain, the trio eventually called it quits. Moore went on to form Bowerbirds with his then-girlfriend Beth Tacular. Paulson soldiered on as Ticonderoga, sporadically recording with Justin Vernon, who's since blown the fuck up as Bon Iver. Phillips left town for a bit, but since returning, he's quietly recorded out in Carrboro, self-releasing and freely distributing his solo debut, 15 Songs, via CD-R. One of the most interesting bassists and most intuitive musical minds I've ever watched on stage, Phillips is now slowly returning to Triangle stages. On Wednesday, March 18, he'll open for Butterflies and Husband & Wife at Local 506 under his own name. But Moore, Paulson and The Never's Jonny Tunnell will join him onstage. Hooray.
"This line-up is probably a special occasion line-up. It's very easy to play with Mark and Phil because of our history, but they are both busy. I'd eventually like to be able to do shows with a rotating 'coalition of the willing' the way Daniel Hart has," says Phillips, referring to the revolving lineup of The Physics of Meaning. "The four of us have had two practices so far. We'll have another one on Saturday. I would describe our sound as 'the best thing you've ever heard in your life.'"
Phillips probably thinks he's joking, but I would nay be surprised if it was truly the best thing I've ever heard. Plans are in the works for a follow-up called, uhh, 15 More Songs. The Bowerbirds have a record due in June. Phillips is getting married. I hear Paulson's working at Poole's now. That's about it!