Burn the Ships
A storm gathers as elements combine and music gently falls, distantly thunders or pours forth for the members of Ironwood Rain: Scotte Burns (lead vocals, bass, live sound mixing,) Mike Kloepfer (guitar, vocals,) JJ Maestas (guitar, lead vocals, harmonica) and Gary Saint Germain (drums, percussion, vocals.) Described by a Colorado promoter as 'the bastard yet comely lovechild of Crosby, Stills & Nash, the Eagles and Jethro Tull,' this acoustic guitar/vocals driven AAA rock band writes and performs music born of their extensive life experience and musical ventures through progressive rock, blues, jazz and hard rock. Longtime Coloradoans, the band shares with their audience strong mountain states sensibilities: a pioneering spirit and history, commitment to family, community, social justice and a loving connection to the natural beauty that surrounds them. Frontman and founder, Scotte Burns says, "Music moves us through life from birth to death and accompanies us to all events in-between and after. We write about love, loss, hope, release and empathy. Along with successful recordings and live shows, our vision of 'making it' includes hearing our songs at the times that matter to folks: weddings, holidays, memorials and sung as lullabies." Ironwood Rain began it's evolution in the Spring of 2008 as Ironwood Shores when Colorado Composer's Classic and Billboard Song Contest Honorable Mention recipient, teacher, father and husband, Scotte Burns formed an acoustic rock trio to cover favorites such as ELP's "Lucky Man," and Ritchie Blackmore's "Temple of the King." When the other two original members moved on, Scotte approached childhood friend, Colorado native, and longtime musical collaborator, Mike Kloepfer about leaving his Florida gig as pirate Nigel in the performing troupe Pyrates of the Coast to join the project. Mike returned to Colorado, bringing decades of live music experience and classical training in jazz, blues and rock to the band, as well as his ethereal and mythic graphic designs to their album covers. "JJ came to us serendipitously through Craigslist. His voice, suggestive of Ritchie Havens or The Guess Who's Chad Allen spoke to me and when he played his originals, I was stunned! He has a talent for melodic hook and having just come though a heartbreaking divorce, his songs expressed passion, desperation and vulnerability. Mike and I pulled out a few of our songs and JJ slid right into them. By audition's end my cover project had changed course and Ironwood Rain was born, " explains Burns. By the summer of 2009, Maestas, Kloepfer and Burns had played forty-plus clubs, festivals and events and recorded their first CD, Trio. Following this mellow and acoustic album that features guitars and lush, tightly woven vocal harmonies, the band moved toward a more dynamic and percussive sound. Scotte called in drummer and Boston native, Gary Saint Germain, who they'd met at a local charity gig. "Gary's energy and ability to capture our ideas and work his magic to transform them into more powerful and focused songs," says Burns, "...was just what the music called for." Saint Germain has traveled through the musical realms of big bands, Elvis and Keith Moon and says, "I bring a taste of the cosmic and a lighter sense of humor, adding fire to the elements that make up Ironwood Rain." Propelled by the drums, the new Ironwood Rain produced a smooth drive and a more rounded sound, evoking the musical sprit of Train, Vertical Horizon, or a modern-day Moody Blues. Now armed with a stronger musical vision, Scotte, JJ and Mike wrote songs collectively for their upcoming CD, Burn The Ships that launches October 15, 2010. "The songs seemed to write themselves," Burns recalls, "'Where a Man Would Stand,' a song exploring the inner conflict created by my estranged father's death, emerged while I taught poetry at school. As I modeled how to write lyric poems in class, out came the first lines of the song. For the rest of the day, the lyrics emerged in five to ten minute rushes. Like birthing, I guess the song needed to arrive between moments of pain, rest and tension." Josie Quick joined the band in the studio to play violin on the track and on "Ages." Producer Steve Avedis, (Edwin McCain, Tony Bennett, Gladys Knight, Air Supply, Rita Coolidge) rounded out the team to complete the album. Ironwood Rain's varied audience includes educated middle class families, mainstream, adult alternative and indie radio fans, country cross-over listeners, and New Age enthusiasts. "Our fans often get overlooked by college radio-style bands and other young alternative acts," says Burns, "they love the bands they grew up with, but crave new music and we see an amazing opportunity to offer it to people, who like us, have diverse backgrounds but share a deep experiential link to the music that serves as soundtrack to their lives." Ironwood Rain enjoys a following that spans from Eastern Europe, Israel and South America to the United States. The band garners solid name recognition in the Denver music scene and books months in advance. Their songs play on internet radio and are accessible through iTunes, Last. Fm, Reverbnation and Jango. Like the title track inspired by Cortez, who in a leap of faith burned his ships upon arrival at the New World, Burns says, "I invested all I have in this project. My wife and our manager, Toni, and I are even selling our house to free us up for eventual touring. We believe in Ironwood Rain so strongly that we're living life without a net, burning the ships and moving forward because to accomplish great things, it's the only way to go."