Over the past four years, Berklee grads Mornin’ Old Sport cracked the tough exterior of Allston’s “Rock City” stigma with vocal harmonies and country-toned ballads. Students across the city were soothed by the beautiful jazz standards and sumptuous voice of lone lady Kate Smeal and laughed together, dancing in Pratt St. basements to “Put One Back.”
The band packed their bags last week to start anew in sunny San Francisco. But the local folk group, a favorite in Boston’s DIY music community, will make one very important pit stop before setting up shop out west: They're recording their first full-length album in scenic Carbondale, Colo.
With a solidified quartet lineup, Zebulon Krol, Scott Nanos, Jeff Price and Smeal will spend their first three months away creating a follow-up to their debut album, Mourning Sickness, on Misery Loves Co., the label the band started in their Wadsworth St. basement, in true DIY style.
“It sounded like d--k, but it worked,” said singer and guitarist Nanos, remembering their makeshift studio. Shortly after the original sub-ground recording space was constructed, the idea behind recording a full-length project came to full fruition when drummer Jeff Price’s family picked up Misery Loves Co. in Colorado.
The upcoming Houses Without Homes marks a shift in the group’s creative progression and sound evolution. Whereas Mourning Sickness had a larger cast of musicians and a focus on music, as opposed to lyrics, Mornin’ Old Sport has since come to pursue good, simple song writing.
“[A] huge driving force [for us] is that we really want to make classic songs. We want to make songs that will stand the test of time,” singer and guitarist Krol said, referring to a time when music was primarily shared through alternate renditions (we call them “covers” these days).
Smeal agreed, saying, “Throughout everything, one thing that’s really united us and kept us strong is the goal of making art that will stay alive long after we’re dead.”
With those, most ambitious of goals, Mornin’ Old Sport will enter the Misery Loves Co. studio with total freedom to produce a record with “basically unlimited studio time.”
Before hitting the road, the band released a teaser titled Your Grandparents Will Jam to These Tracks. The three-song, self-recorded and -produced EP consists of “Over the Moon,” a beautiful ukulele-composed jazz standard by Smeal; a newly re-arranged and more vaudevillian rendition of Allston basement favorite “When the Bomb” by Nanos; and a somber country love song, “Like or Not,” by Krol.
Overall, Mornin’ Old Sport will miss the town and community that first gave them life, though they’ve had some frustrating moments here -- like packing Copperfield’s and not receiving so much as a drink ticket, or the time when Harper’s Ferry shafted the band on admission some months ago and added insult to injury by over-charging the group for the beers they bought.
“I’m going to miss Allston the most. I’ve never felt so safe and accepted,” Smeal said of the westward migration. “We’re all just a bunch of mutant misfits living together, and accepting each other, and supporting each other. It’s amazing. There isn’t a stronger community in Boston.”
Download the EP for free while you can because soon we’ll be saying, “I’ve known Mornin’ Old Sport since they were playing dog weddings in Allston basements.” The best of luck to the four of them.
Photo by Ethan M. Long: Zebulon Krol at Allston's Annual DIY Fest 2011.
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