Meet the Band: Lowly, the Tree Ghost

MEET THE BAND: Andrew Arbogast (vocals, guitars), Emily McKitrick (vocals, keyboards), Laura Simna (violin), Joe Piedmonte (bass), and Alec Schumann (drums)

NOT JUST A ONE-MAN BAND: In 2009, singer-guitarist Andrew Arbogast relied on some longtime friends and Craigslist postings to transform Lowly, the Tree Ghost from a one-man bedroom project into what he's described as a "more inclusive line-up." The band benefits from male and female vocals, something Aborgast says has been a real strength. "When I first started, I was just playing songs by myself after my previous band broke up; I was the lead singer in that group, and I never had a girl in the band or had worked with anyone," he says. "Emily [McKitrick] was a long-time friend and I knew her from other bands; I enjoyed her voice and knew she was a good keyboard player. When we started playing together, it made things that much better. I never had too much confidence in my own voice and I don't think I'm that great of a musician, so I hold her to a much higher standard."

A BAND YOU CAN BRING HOME TO YOUR MOTHER: The band's mix of pop and rock melodies comes off as particularly palatable. On the group's Facebook page, Arbogast even jokes that Lowly, the Tree Ghost is a "band you can bring home to your mother." "It's the best description of our music," he says. "I enjoy playful lyrics and descriptions that have storytelling to them. I like illustrations of old kids' books that I grew up with. I never swear in my lyrics. We play to a lot of families and I don't think they would want me on stage swearing and talking about a bunch of ridiculous things like some bands do. It's not very poetic either. Poetry is important to me when it comes to the lyrics."

WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: The band's second full-length, From the Ground, features exuberant folk-pop. The album opens with "Whale Calls," a song distinguished by its mix of piano and strings that accompany harmonized vocals. "Jeremy Fisher Part 2" comes off as a pure folk number, complete with some vigorous fiddle and drums just right for swing dancing. An a cappella outro makes you realize just how well band members can harmonize too. "Twin Peaks, Wa" sounds like something 10,000 Maniacs might've recorded back when Natalie Merchant was in the group. "This is our sixth drummer," he says. "We jokingly say we're the Spinal Tap of indie rock. We started writing music with the new drummer. It felt like a whole new band. We're really proud of it. This past new year, I invested in home studio equipment and it's opened a whole level of freedom when it comes to recording. We never had positive experiences in studios in the past, not because of the studio or the people we worked with. We just didn't get to explore different sounds. With this album, we were free to do whatever we wanted when we wanted and not have that restraint on us. It's our second album but feels like the first thing we ever put out." For its upcoming CD release show, the band will play the entire album.


WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Lowly, the Tree Ghost performs with the Gage Brothers at 9 p.m. on Friday, March 4, at the Happy Dog.

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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