The heavenly sounds of Little Cloud
Joshua Butcher and Jonica Butcher have been singing and playing music together since Jonica was an infant, so it only made sense that the father-daughter duo would someday start a proper musical project. The surprise was that the rest of the band would end up feeling so much like a family too.
That band is Tucson's Little Cloud, consisting of Geremy Cady on bass, Jonica Butcher on vocals, accordion and ukulele, Joshua Butcher on guitar, ukulele and vocals, Joe Fanning on lead guitar, Anita Hershey on trumpet and John McIntyre on drums. Hershey and McIntyre are also members of Joshua Butcher's New Orleans-flavored ensemble the Muffalettas.
TucsonSentinel.com: So how did this project get started?
Joshua Butcher: "Jonica and I had a duet called the Prickly Pair where we would sing acoustic folky-flavored songs. It was fun but nothing beats the feel of a full band playing in harmony so I pulled in my good friend Geremy Cady on bass. I really wanted a gypsy sound so we got Jonica to play accordion."
"We then enlisted Anita Hershey (whom I never imagined would be available to play with us) on trumpet. Every Tucson band should have a trumpet. I heard Joe Fanning playing with his band Cassette Culture and knew that he was the right guitarist for this band so I pulled him in. All we needed was a drummer and the best drummer I know is John McIntyre so the choice was obvious."
TS: Clearly, you're a pretty eclectic band! What's your sound or style?
Joshua Butcher: "We have been categorizing our band as "ukulele-driven dream pop" but I really don't know if that defines us well. The sound has clearly evolved from our original folk flavor to a more dynamic indie-rock but our style is clearly a Tucson sound. There are six people in the band but when people hear about the range of instruments they seem willing to squeeze us in even in small places."
In addition to the half-dozen band members, Joshua Butcher also gives a ton of props to his wife and the band's manager Andrea Buttrick for the behind-the-scenes work of booking shows, negotiating band fees and promoting, not to mention the task of decorating and costuming for some of the band's more whimsically themed performances.
Joshua Butcher: "One of the more interesting gigs was last year when we did an Alice and Wonderland-themed show in Bisbee for "Alice in Bisbeeland." We dressed up, marched down the street, and played at the park where other Alice-themed-costumed people came to watch. I think the Queen of Hearts really liked us. We are looking forward to doing it again this April. Thank you to "Magic Kenny" Bang Bang [Kenny Stewart] for making this an annual event."
Though their music began as a family project, Joshua and his daughter have grown to see each other more as musical peers as the band has progressed. Meanwhile, the group itself blossomed into a kind of family of choice, beyond the literal kinship of its two founding members.
Joshua Butcher: "Jonica and I have been singing and harmonizing as long as she has been alive. Even though we are father and daughter, the band belongs to every member of Little Cloud and everyone has something powerful that they bring. At first, I think the band might have seen Jonica as 'the young one' but as they have worked with her, and she with them, that has clearly grown to a trusted peer to peer relationship."
"One of the core principles of Little Cloud is that we would never want to play with anyone that we wouldn't want to spend quality time with. We really do enjoy playing together and we get genuinely excited about each other's parts and not just what we individually are playing."
"We see ourselves as a family which means we love each other through the good times as well as the times when we might want to strangle each other. Also, we really do love our fans, the cloud people, who feel connected with as well. We have a lot of musical needs and the fact that many of us play in multiple bands allows us to express them as well as grow. Scheduling can be a bit challenging sometimes but we don't see that as a real problem."
"Originally I wrote the songs but Jonica has been adding in more and more killer tunes. Jonica has enlisted the co-writing help for at least one song from her sister (and Joshua Butcher's other daughter) Julia Butcher. We have also had a couple of times when we have sat down as a whole band and created some songs. Joe Fanning is a powerhouse of musical hooks and Geremy Cady is an accomplished songwriter. It sometimes feels like we haven't even scratched the surface of what could come."
TS: Who are your influences as a band and as individuals? How does this feed into what you play?
Joshua Butcher: "One of the keys to Little Cloud's sound is the openness to each of the band member's music roots. Everyone was asked what their top three influences were that they bring with them to the band and they are: Jonica Butcher - Lake Street Dive, Fleetwood Mac, and Aretha Franklin; Joshua Butcher – Beirut, Neko Case, and Bright Eyes; Geremy Cady - Kim Deal (The Pixies), Sting, and Brian Richie (Violent Femmes); Joe Fanning - Danny Gatton, Neil Young, and Andy Summers (The Police); Anita Hershey - Miles Davis, Chet Baker, and Beirut; John McIntyre - Keith Moon (The Who), Stewart Copeland (The Police), and Neil Peart (Rush).
TS: What's next on the horizon for Little Cloud?
Joshua Butcher: " We are planning to do a crowd-funding campaign in April that will hopefully enable us to record out first album. When we have some material in our hands we will then do some light touring."
Up until that time, Little Cloud plays regularly but sparsely, usually at a rate of about a gig per month. You can also check out their work via streaming at https://www.reverbnation.com/littlecloudsongs
Luckily, one of those gigs takes place this Friday at the Flycatcher Lounge, 5:30 p.m, 340 E. 6th St (Downtown)
Also happening this week...
You can catch Little Cloud's "sister" band, the Muffalettas, twice this week playing their signature brand of pop music kissed New Orleans jazz, while bandmate Geremy Cady's other band, Gaza Strip, hits the stage late Friday night at Surly Wench.
Meanwhile, Tucson stages are beginning to fill with the first swells of the coming live music deluge I've been promising you for weeks, from the eclectic San Francisco "Gypsy Rock" band Diego's Umbrella, to the grandsires of Celtic folk rock, The Chieftains, at the Fox Theatre, your local music lineup is both plentiful and diverse this week.
In other words, you have no excuse to stay home. So get moving — you know what to do!
Tucson Hip Hop Festival 2018
Foremost amongst the non-"standard rock and roll" offerings this week is the Tucson Hip Hop Festival at 191 Toole.
The festival, now in it's second year, features over 100 homegrown and national acts including Tucson's own Lando Chill and headliner Bun B. The event will also include demos and workshops on everything from breakdancing to graffiti to live deejay sets as well as food trucks and an overall block party atmosphere.
For more information, check out the event's website.
Tucson Hip Hop Festival begins Saturday February 24 at 12 p.m. at 191 Toole (Downtown)
Check your local listings...
Friday, February 23
- Little Cloud - 5:30 p.m. at The Flycatcher
- Beneath The Fallen Suns, I Am Gilgamesh, Pyrotechnica, Conceived By Thunder, The Great Citizens, Death Of Juliet - 6 p.m. at The Rock (Downtown)
- Diego's Umbrella - 7 p.m. at 191 Toole (Downtown)
- Matt Knaggs - 7 p.m. at Crooked Tooth Brewing (Downtown)
- The White Buffalo with Arum Rae - 7 p.m. at Club Congress (Downtown))
- Motionless In White w/ Every Time I Die, Chelsea Grin, Ice Nine Kills - 7 p.m. at Rialto (Downtown)
- Hank Topless - 7:30 p.m. at Borderlands Brewing (Downtown)
- Canciones sin Fronteras: featuring Arnulfo Velázquez - 8 p.m. at Exo Bar (Downtown)
- Cochise County All-Stars - 8 p.m. at Fini's Landing (North)
- Billy Sedlmayr - 8 p.m. at Owl's Club (Downtown)
- The Last Call Girls - 8:30 p.m. at Monterey Court (North)
- Leila Lopez - 9 p.m. at Bar Passé
- Vamp Ft. Felony Dodger - 9 p.m. at Flycatcher
- Xception - 9 p.m. at House of Bards (Central)
- Diluvio & Half-Broke Town - 9 p.m. at Saint Charles Tavern (S of Downtown)
- The Lesser Saints, Gaza Strip, Bryan Thomas Parker & Friends, Manhigh - 9 p.m. at Surly Wench (Downtown)
Saturday, February 24
- Tucson Hip Hop Festival - 12 p.m. at 191 Toole (Downtown)
- Diane Van Deurzen & Lisa Otey - 6 p.m. at Catalina Craft Pizza (North)
- The Metros - 6 p.m. at Playground (Downtown)
- Brokedown Palace - 7 p.m. at Crooked Tooth Brewing (Downtown)
- Muffulettas - 7:30 p.m. at Borderlands Brewery (Downtown)
- Katie Haverly with Casey Golden - 8 p.m. at Exo Bar (Downtown)
- The Roilers, Lucifer The Cat, Double Darre - 8 p.m. at The Loudhouse (North)
- Greyhound Soul - 9 p.m. at Bar Passé (Downtown)
- Dead Chiefs - 9 p.m. at Saint Charles Tavern (S of Downtown)
Sunday, February 25
- Mariachi Luz de Luna - 11 am at Playground Bar and Lounge (Downtown)
- Mik and the Funky Brunch - 12:30 p.m. at La Cocina (Downtown)
- The Van Dykes - 2:30 p.m. at Borderlands Brewery (Downtown)
- Last Sunday Revival - 5 p.m. at Tap And Bottle (Downtown)
- David Wilcox - 6:30 p.m. 191 Toole
- Double Trouble - 7 p.m. at Royal Sun (Central)
- Pat Keen, Whispering Wires And Sunset Strangers - 8 p.m. at Hotel Congress (Downtown)
- Ron Pope, Jared & The Mill, The Heart Of - 8 p.m. at Rialto (Downtown)
Monday, February 26
- Eyehategod, Sex Prisoner, Woundvac, Languish - 7 p.m. at Hotel Congress (Downtown)
- Ivan Denis - 7 p.m. at Royal Sun (Central)
- Miss Olivia and the Interlopers - 7pm at The Parish (North)
Tuesday, February 26
- Tom Walbank - 6:30 p.m. at Sky Bar (Downtown)
- Al's Rockabilly Ruckus - 7 p.m. at Royal Sun
- Magic Giant, The Brevet - 7:30 p.m. at Hotel Congress
- Songs with Steff Koeppen - 8:30 p.m. at Sky Bar (Downtown)
Wednesday, February 27
- Miss Lana Rebel & Kevin Michael Mayfield - 6 p.m. at La Cocina (Downtown)
- Datsik 2018 Ninja Nation Tour, Space Jesus, Riot Ten, Carbin - 7 p.m. at Rialto (Downtown)
- The Chieftains - 7:30 p.m. at The Fox Theatre (Downtown)
- Coast Modern, The Technicolors - 8 p.m. at 191 Toole
- Infinite Souls, Andrew Goldring, Till Sunrise - 8 p.m. at Hotel Congress (Downtown)
Thursday, February 28
- The Beast Of Bailey Downs, Back Alley Pep Rally, Ocean Harvest - 8 p.m. at The Loudhouse (North)
- The Muffulettas - 8:30 p.m. at Tap And Bottle (Downtown)