Upright bassist Bridget Kearney, vocalist Rachael Price, drummer Mike Calabrese and trumpet-wielding guitarist Mike "McDuck" Olson pour a lil' of their New England Conservatory class into their infectious pop sound.
The quartet, Lake Street Dive, hails from Brooklyn, N.Y., but formed nearly a decade ago at the prestigious Boston conservatory.
"Our trumpet player pulled us together and said, 'We are going to be a band, and our name will be Lake Street Dive,' and that was that," Kearney says.
Who: Lake Street Dive
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30
Where: Alex's Plaza Restaurant, 35 N. Main St., Ashland
(In Minneapolis, where Olson is from, the "cool" bands would play in dive bars along the happening Lake Street, thus the name.)
Originally, the band's mind-set was to take a break from all the cerebral, classical music to play "free" or avant-garde country music — think Loretta Lynn meets Ornette Coleman. The sound didn't stick, but the collaboration did.
Years of trial and error later, the band had an artistic breakthrough, resulting in a sound with which everyone was happy. Lake Street Dive cleverly combines the virtues of pop music, including its propulsive grooves and lyrical content — "love songs and breakup songs" — with Price's soulful vocals and elements of rock 'n' roll from the British Invasion era, Kearney says.
"But we are not a retro band," she clarifies. "We're just a band with roots in certain eras of the past."
Last week, Lake Street Dive kicked off a West Coast tour that began in San Diego, Calif., and concludes in Vancouver, B.C. The tour includes a performance at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30, at Alex's Plaza Restaurant, 35 N. Main St., Ashland. New York's Miss Tess & The Talkbacks will open the show. Cover is $10.
With four songwriters on its roster, Lake Street Dive has an extensive catalog of original music. Nonetheless, its most recent recording, "Fun Machine," is a six-track compilation that includes new arrangements of five favorite cover songs, including "Let Me Roll It" by Paul McCartney, "Faith" by George Michael" and "I Want You Back" by The Jackson 5. A YouTube video of the easygoing band playing the latter song on a sidewalk in Boston became a 2012 Internet phenomenon, garnering more than one million views and an admiring tweet from actor Kevin Bacon.
In addition to the EP, the band has released a one live album and three, err one full-length album. "Our first two albums were in the vein of trial-and-error, which is why they are no longer available," Kearney says.
On its current tour, the band will preview original songs from a forthcoming album, "Bad Self Portraits," due out in February.