Seeing the Crash Test Dummies perform live may rocket you backward momentarily, with Brad Roberts‘ distinctive voice and satirical humor conjuring hits like “Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Mmm” and “Superman’s Song”, but it will also land you firmly in the present with modern folk rock perfected over 20 years of touring & recording.
Last year’s critically acclaimed Oooh La-La! [Deep Fried Records] was made using 1970’s analog toys, including the the Optigan and Omnichord. Despite the unusual nature of production, the songs on Oooh La-La! stand up as some of Roberts’ best work, both lyrically and musically. Venus Zine noted “Soaring string arrangements, Roberts’ booming baritone…captivate the listener,” and as the Huffington Post put it, these newly revitalized Crash Test Dummies “Should be taken seriously in 2010 and beyond.”
Rather than try to recreate music that was written with some rather cranky toy instruments, Roberts and company embarked on a highly successful acoustic tour around the release of the album, which further cemented the GRAMMY-nominated band’s relationship with fans new and old. Fortunately for fans, Roberts immediately discovered that he really does love playing live shows. In that spirit, Crash Test Dummies are heading out on a mini-tour in September to play the Taste of Madison (9/4); Sellersville Theater, PA (9/13); Mexicali Live in Teaneck NJ (9/14); and the Tupelo Music Halls in White River Junction, VT (9/16) and Londonderry, NH (9/17).
Roberts’ voice and offbeat lyrical sensibility have been this beloved band’s calling cards since their founding twenty years ago. Joining Roberts for this tour are Rob Morsberger (keys and accordion) and Terry Derkach (guitar). Rob Morsberger is a composer, arranger, keyboard player and singer. He created the string arrangements on “Oooh La-La!” and has toured with Brad, both as an opening act and as a keyboard player. Rob will also do a short, solo, opening set. Terry, like Brad, is originally from Winnipeg and like Roberts, has been living in NYC for many years. They’ve worked in the studio on some projects, but this will be the first time that the two have actually “been in a band together” since they were 18 years old. That band lasted one rehearsal! We have every expectation that this collaboration will be more sustained.
The live show, which never fails to impress, is “…easily the most breathtaking acoustic act you’re likely to see… distinctive voices exert amazing prowess” according to Consequence of Sound. The show touches on the breadth of material that Roberts has developed with a variety of collaborators over a storied career and nine notable albums. This new three-piece lineup will be sure to play ‘the hits’ – of which there were plenty – as well as a vast array of material that makes them such an enduring force in folk rock.
In addition to the stellar set list, the band will will offer fans a newly-released, limited edition collection of never-before-heard cast-off recording from 1996-97 titled “Demo-litions”. It is available only at the shows (and of course on their web site). Roberts states, “Put on the record, shut off your cell phones, internet, TV screen, and even the lights; then sit back, and give it a full listen through. I promise you’ll laugh, at the very least. And a laugh is worth a thousand good ideas.”
Meanwhile, while he’s not recording and playing shows, or reading and re-reading Milton’s Paradise Lost, Roberts’ Facebook and Tumblr fans continue to follow his output as a photographer, as he catalogs life around him in New York and on his travels.
To learn more about Crash Test Dummies, see videos, read Roberts’ blog and more, visit www.crashtestdummies.com.