“All I need is music; I’m gonna make it through,” Jonny “Mojo” Flores sings on “Live on Wesley’s Road,” a massive, new live-performance project by northern California’s renowned song-and-jam-makers, Achilles Wheel. The three-CD package, which fiercely delivers the jamming juke-joint dance party vibe that the band gives off on the concert circuit, is a collective humdinger.
Achilles Wheel, which has been carving an ever-widening circle of fan appreciation over the past eight years, is working on a new live recording project, the second session of which was a real humdinger in their idyllic, rustic hometown of Nevada City, Calif., on August 21.
The sad passing on October 12 of Andy Goessling, founding member of Railroad Earth, the ongoing host band for the Hangtown Music Festival (Oct. 25-28), was a unifying thread at this year’s fest, prompting outspoken love, respect, and admiration. In the end, the shared loss sparked a like-minded cause for life celebration and a shared process of moving forward amid a backdrop of fabulous music, Halloween costumes, and community.
Achilles Wheel’s fourth album Sanctuary, released on February 28th, is a collection of originals that is authentically how they sound in performance. If that’s a plain proclamation, it’s meant as a sturdy compliment. These Sierra Mountain improvisational-spirited rockers never paid much mind as to how other “jam-bands” do it, nor do they let their influences determine their sound.
The jam band problem is that any inventive act breaking onto the scene is compared to somebody already playing. And the truth about “jam bands” is that often the music is too complex to put into words. It’s more about how it feels. Jam rockers Achilles Wheel could be compared to the Allman Brothers or Grateful Dead, but we can do better than that. Their instrumentals are boisterous and inventive. Their chemistry shimmers and enthralls their adoring crowd.
Grateful Web recently took time to catch up with singer, songwriter, and guitarist Paul Kamm. Paul and the band Achilles Wheel has been drawing listeners to festivals like Strawberry Music Festival and plenty of other West Coast shindigs gaining them critical and fan adoration. Their newest album Stones to Sand is an outstanding blend of Kamm’s songwriting and energetic instrumentals.
As the web of Americana continues to be woven, artists connect the past and present through musicianship and songwriting that reflects a fluid agreement between contemporary and roots qualities. Too often is nostalgia misrepresented as authenticity, and bands afraid to develop their own sound generally don’t last the test of time. Of one Northern California’s most promising ensembles that reflects true individualism through songwriting and playing is Achilles Wheel.