BY JACKITA D. BASS — On an unusually cool May day, local indie rock band Blue Plains set up in the living room of the co-lead singer’s Victorian home. The band, which was born and bred in historic Hyattsville, was preparing to perform songs from its new EP for the Kingman Island Bluegrass and Folk Festival on May 13. The self-titled album is the band’s first and was released May 3.
Blue Plains is made up of five members: Lee Cain on vocals, guitar and cavaquinho; Adam Ortiz on vocals and guitar; Pete Daniels on violin; Brandon Miller on bass; and Joe Hodgson on drums.
The “Blue Plains” EP is an eclectic mix of well-crafted songs with jazz undertones and local post-hardcore rock scene beats of the 1980s. Some of the songs were written in a few days, while others were written over the course of four years. The lead writers, Cain and Ortiz, call the sound organic, melodic and soulful.
Influenced by the music of Neil Young and Nirvana, the energy of the music inspires the group. “I grew up with my parent’s music like classic rock and Phil Collins and then I had a musical awakening after hearing Nirvana for the first time,” Cain said. “I asked what is this energy? That’s what attracts me to music — the energy. Energy comes in a lot of different ways — whether it’s through the lyrics or the band but the energy is important.”
Ortiz said one of his playlist favorites is the electric rock number “Wish You Well.” It is a regretful ballad that starts slow and builds into a hard-hitting rock crescendo. “It’s the most interesting song and a little more epic. It captures the emotional content and it’s unique. Lee and I put a high premium on songwriting. We avoid cliches and we really like to see where the song takes us.”
The energy is in constant motion in the group. It took eight days to record the entire EP and it was recorded on vintage analog equipment. “Most of it was tracked live to capture the energy of the members playing together,” Ortiz said.
The diverse culture and talented citizens of Hyattsville were inspiration for the band. Two Hyattsville residents, artists in their own right, brought their talents to the new EP. The album was mastered by Hyattsville resident Pete Reiniger, a sound engineer for the Smithsonian Institute, and recorded at the highly regarded Inner Ear Studios, founded by Don Zientara.
When Blue Plains took the stage at the Kingman Island Bluegrass and Folk Festival, the band members saw some familiar faces in the crowd. About 20 Hyattsville families trudged through the mud to see the band perform at the festival. Blue Plains played in front of dozens of dancing, cheering fans. No amount of mud could stop the party.
To find out more about the band and listen to their new album, visit the Blue Plains website.