with Tim Carr and DIA, Arborea
27 North Rd
Peace Dale, RI 02879
Portsmouth Book and Bar
You can read the article here
with Vudu Sister and Hannah Fair
115 Empire Street
Providence, RI 9pm
with Smith & Weeden, Bird Dog
276 Westminster St
free outdoor show
Palmer Street, Harvard Square
The House that Houlihan built
Haunt the House’s ‘Jack Rabbit Jones’
By CHRIS CONTI | May 28, 2014
Singer-songwriter Will Houlihan returns under his Haunt the House moniker with Jack Rabbit Jones (75orLess Records), the full-length follow-up to the 2013 EP Rural Introspection Study Group. Expect a packed house in the upstairs lounge at the Columbus Theatre (where the album was recorded) this Friday when Houlihan and his Housemates return to headline their album release party (columbustheatre.com). Fans of Brown Bird, the Low Anthem, Iron & Wine, and Bon Iver should grab a copy of Jack Rabbit Jones ASAP.
The album gleams with a stirring, spiritually-inflected sound that well represents the band name on the marquee, as Houlihan explained when we caught up following a particularly stunning performance a few weeks ago at Theatre 82 in Cranston’s Rolfe Square.
“I started off playing solo at open mics and people would often tell me how haunting my songs were, but it also has a spiritual origin whereby the Holy Spirit is often referred to as ‘living within you’ after Christian conversion,” he said. “Our bodies are also called the temple of the Lord, so it just made sense to me that the Holy Spirit haunts your house.”
And while Houlihan remains the lyrical architect, this time around he has assembled an impressive backing House band which includes Stephen Law (mandolin), Vudu Sister’s Amato Zinno (upright bass), Bessie Bessin (accordion/vox), and backup vocals and harmonies from the best in the biz, Allysen Callery.
“I am really happy for Will — he is one of the sweetest, funniest, and most wise people I know,” Callery said after the show. “When he asked me to sing on his new album I was delighted.”
Houlihan also enlisted the Columbus Theatre and in-house mixologists (and Low Anthem co-founders) Ben Knox Miller and Jeff Prystowsky.
“I feel very blessed and fortunate to have worked with Ben and Jeff and the Columbus folks,” Houlihan said. “We couldn’t have asked for a more friendly, patient, and professional set of engineers.”
Prystowsky had nothing but praise for the House that Houlihan built. “Will’s voice sneaks up on you, it’s subtle and intense, and before you know it, he’s jumped into falsetto and a powerful wave of musical joy washes over you,” said Prytsowsky via email. “I remember him telling me his journey that led him to music and it was so compelling it inspired me for weeks. His music is charged, not just with an aptitude for words and melodies, but with a deep feeling of soul.”
Westerly/Charlestown native Houlihan decided to once again release his music via Warren-based imprint 75orLess. Label boss Mark MacDougall met Houlihan through artist William Schaff at his Fort Foreclosure, where MacDougall screenprints CD jackets and hosts his “That’s Not Incredible” podcast. 75orLess labelmate Callery had also been in MacDougall’s ear exulting Houlihan’s music. He caught a Haunt the House set and was convinced.
“Will happily embraced reverb on his vocals, reminding me of Jim James and Roy Orbison, while the music was stark, bare, and emotional,” MacDougall told me. “When I finally got to speak with him after the show, I found out how ‘organizationally challenged’ he was, and we agreed to start working together.”
Houlihan’s vivid and stark storytelling is carried by weary yet warm vocals as his schizophrenic character ruminates over a lost lover. Each of the 13 songs on Jack Rabbit Jones portrays a conversation between the two personalities,Jack Rabbit Jones and his evil alter ego King Amish. The album is meant to be “projected into your mind’s eye, and viewed as a theatrical experience,” the Jack Rabbit press release notes.
“I initially had a grand scheme to release a small comic with it and do an elaborate stage production early on, but as I got deeper into the writing process it became clear that the songs would be cohesive enough to allow the listener enough room to imagine their own interpretation,” said Houlihan. “The songs evolved into a dialogue between two people, one of which has a split personality like a Jekyll/Hyde character, and this creates a messed-up love triangle.”
The album opens with Houlihan’s acoustic gallop on “Mosquito Coast,” where he wraps a well-worn couplet in the chorus: “Tell my body not to leave my soul, I’ll grow up but I’ll never grow old/I’m so tired doin’ what I’m told, breakin’ my back for another man’s gold.” Houlihan certainly channels Orbison on standout cuts “Black Butte” and “Burial Waltz.” In “Jealous Vow,” Houlihan’s conflicted character vows, “I will have my vengeance on your soul” and is “tortured by rushing winds” on “Pity Creek Ravine,” though on “Emerson” he confidently declares that “love can heal our scars.” And it’s no coincidence that some of the most beautiful moments occur when Houlihan and Callery are entwined around the mic, particularly on “Little Bird” and “You’ve Disappeared” (she will join HTH for the entire performance on Friday). Their rendition of “Ease Your Troubled Mind” at the Theatre 82 show held the room in total silence. This song is absolutely gorgeous.
“Will is a gifted songwriter and an amazing soul,” commended Callery. “I can’t wait for everyone to hear his music.”
with Ian Fitzgerald, Dan Blakeslee, Tracie Potochnik, Kayla Ringelheim, Daphne Lee Martin, G.W. Mercure, Kala Farnham, and Steve Allain.
Artists Exchange – Theatre 82
82 Rolfe Square
Dream Away Lodge
with The Denver Boot, Dylan Sevey and the Gentlemen, Pier Jump, The Mighty Good Boys plus: Living Art from TEN31 Productions
All ages, family friendly event.
276 Westminter St
Providence, Rhode Island 02903