Rubblebucket danced the night away recently at Baltimore Soundstage with opener Dante Elephante! And Steve Satzberg was there to photograph the show.
The following article is adapted from press releases.
Kalmia Traver and Alex Toth, Rubblebucket’s frontpersons, co-writers, and co-producers, first began a friendship as jazz students at the University of Vermont. Soon after, they formed Rubblebucket, using the project to delve into pop, funk, dance, and psychedelia; performances have spanned Bonnaroo to Glastonbury to their self-curated Dream Picnic Festival, and they’ve collaborated with kindred genre-blenders including Arcade Fire and Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears. But before their musical relationship, Traver and Toth initially bonded over another shared passion: The two were part of UVM’s Sustainable Community Development program.
Sustainability is still a part of their lives: Toth communes with nature as part of his morning routine, and Traver is adept at foraging in the band’s adopted home of New York City. Yet songwriting explicitly about environmentalism in Rubblebucket has felt immaterial—besides, the band has shared its beliefs over the years by inviting anti-fracking, reproductive justice, and other organizations to table at their shows. But Traver was interested in writing love songs for and from the natural world, and both were inspired by their parents’ work in ecology and community facilitation, from which they saw a throughline to music’s communal healing. Traver suggested “earth worship” as a lyrical prompt for their sixth record, and with this concept at its core, the duo began writing an album titled after that very theme. At Baltimore Soundstage on Nov. 13, Rubblebucket performed songs from that album, Earth Worship, along with other works from their catalogue.
Rubblebucket recorded a significant portion of Earth Worship at their homes, tracking Juno 60, Yamaha DX7, flugelhorn, trumpet and saxophones — all atop an electric bass and percussion-heavy production template Toth devised to evoke his vision of disco. In March 2021, the group moved to the Catskills’ Spillway Sound alongside their live band: bassist Ryan Dugre, trumpeter and keyboardist Sean Smith, and drummer Jeremy Gustin, who incorporated chopsticks into his playing to produce otherworldly beats.
Watch the official music video for “Geometry” by Rubblebucket on YouTube:
Joining Rubblebucket at Baltimore Soundstage on Nov. 13 was Dante Elephante. Santa Barbara-based Ruben Zarate created the musical persona known as Dante Elephante in 2013. Shortly thereafter Lollipop Records released his first two LPs, German Aquatics and Anglo-Saxon Summer, both produced by Jonathan Rado (Foxygen), which saw praise from Consequence of Sound, Funny or Die, and Brooklyn Vegan. In the summer of 2018, Elephante then digitally released a full-length, Rare Attractions, leading to appearances at SXSW, Treefort Festival, as well as tours supporting The Orwells, Summer Salt, and Real Estate. Two records and a headlining tour under his belt, Dante Elephante now offers his most accomplished work to date: Mid-Century Modern Romance, produced by Paul Cherry, features eight soulful, disco-kissed tracks, seemingly right out of 1979. It was released by Born Losers Records in 2020.
Rubblebucket have one show left on their calendar for the year — a concert in Round Top, New York, on Dec. 16. Wherever they may be next, catch them when you can!
Here are some photos of Dante Elephante opening at Baltimore Soundstage on Nov. 13, 2023. All pictures copyright and courtesy of Steve Satzberg.
Here are some photos of Rubblebucket performing at Baltimore Soundstage on Nov. 13, 2023. All pictures copyright and courtesy of Steve Satzberg.