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Nashville psych outfit All Them Witches holds residency at San Francisco's Bottom of the Hill

SAN FRANCISCO -- In the space of over a decade, Nashville-based quartet All Them Witches has established a name for itself as one of the more creative heavy rock bands to emerge in the U.S. Initially a partnership between guitarist Ben McLeod and drummer Robby Staebler, the group added singer/multi-instrumentalist Michael Parks, Jr and Staebler's longtime friend Allan Van Cleave on Fender Rhodes electric piano shortly before recording their 2012 debut Our Mother Electricity.

A swampy, fuzzed-out trip into blues-drenched psychedelia, the album was picked up by German imprint Elektrohasch Schallplatten and quickly earned the band rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. Exhibiting a nuanced songwriting touch that embraced hazy atmospherics and epic, slow-building tension, All Them Witches echoed '70s greats (Zeppelin, the Doors, iconic southern rockers the Allman Brothers and the delta hoodoo of Dr. John's debut Gris Gris) and modern stoner rock (Queens of the Stone Age, Dead Meadow) while crafting a wholly original style.

All Them Witches -- Death of Coyote Woman (Bing Lounge) by 101.9 KINK.FM on YouTube

Extensive touring and the band's stunning sophomore self-released effort Lightning at the Door further spread word of the quartet's unique musical alchemy. Onstage, All Them Witches showed they could dismantle and reassemble their songs dramatically with fearless improvisational excursion that frequently veered into cover tunes and entirely new, spontaneously created compositions.

For the band's 2015 effort and first for Nashville-based label New West, the foursome decamped to an isolated mountain cabin near the Eastern Tennessee town of Pigeon Forge (home of Dolly Parton's Appalachian amusement park Dollywood) and set up a remote studio with engineer Mikey Allred for five days of intensive recording. The resulting songs on Dying Surfer Meets His Maker earned the group another round of ecstatic reviews.

SPIN Sessions: All Them Witches — "Dirt Preachers" (Live At Voodoo Experience 2016) by SPIN on YouTube

For it's fourth album, the quartet enlisted the services of noted Nashville producer Dave Cobb (who has helmed recordings by Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell and Shooter Jennings) to track Sleeping Through the War at the vintage Creative Workshop recording studio. The sessions produced some of the band's most immediate material yet on the anthemic "Don't Bring Me Coffee" and "Bruce Lee" while still allowing them room for extended improvisation as on the transporting epic "Internet," a nearly ten-minute-long jam featuring wailing harp from Willie Nelson harmonica wizard Mickey Raphael.

All Them Witches - "Bruce Lee" [Official Video] by New West Records on YouTube

The band stayed busy in 2018, issuing the free downloadable Lost and Found EP in February before announcing it's first major line-up change with the departure of Van Cleave. New keyboard player Jonathan Draper came on board and made contributions to the band's follow-up effort, ATW. Produced by guitarist McLeod, the album takes a distinctly stripped-down approach on tunes like the freewheeling opener "Fishbelly 86 Onions" and the propulsive "1st vs. 2nd." Shortly after the album came out, the band made the surprise announcement that Draper had also left the band, leaving All Them Witches as a trio.

The following year, the band would release it's first recording as a three piece -- the dark and pulverizing anthem "1x1" -- before deciding to reunite with engineer Allred for sessions at Abbey Road Studio in London in March of 2020, just before the pandemic largely shut down the live music industry for the better part of the year. Released that fall, Nothing as the Ideal brought the band another round of positive reviews for the batch of songs that ranged from the pensive acoustic blues ballad "The Children of Coyote Woman" and the dreamy, slow-burn build-up of "Rats in Ruin" to the propulsive energy of "Enemy of My Enemy."

All Them Witches - "The Children of Coyote Woman" [Official Video] by All Them Witches on YouTube

While COVID kept the band from touring to promote the effort, they did perform an epic 16 song live-in-studio set in December of 2020 that was livestreamed to fans and issued as a triple vinyl set by New West as a Record Store Day Black Friday release last November. More importantly, the band announced the return of Van Cleave to the group in April of last year, restoring All Them Witches to their original four-piece line-up with the keyboard player also highlighting the electric violin as one of the instruments in his arsenal. In January of last year ATW played their biggest Bay Area show yet, headlining the Fillmore with celebrated Portland, OR-based quartet Blackwater Holylight opening. At around that time, the quartet released its first new recording since Van Cleave returned, an extended cover of the John Lee Hooker song "Black Snake" (here retitled "Blacksnake Blues").

All Them Witches – Blacksnake Blues (Official Video) by All Them Witches on YouTube

That tune and accompanying video would be the first of a series of songs and clips released over the course of 2022 that made up ATW's "Baker's Dozen" of 13 new tracks. They included a number of lengthy psychedelic groove workouts ("Acid Face" unspools over nearly 18 minutes, while several other tracks like a cover of "Slow City" by the Finnish band Pharaoh Overlord clocked in at between eight and 13 minutes) balanced out by some less experimental, radio-friendly tunes. For this return visit to San Francisco, All Them Witches bring their current tour to the Bottom of the Hill for a sold-out three-night residency playing a different album in its entirety each night for their first set (Lightning at the Door on Thursday, Dying Surfer Meets His Maker on Friday and Sleeping Through the War on Saturday) followed by a second set of song covering their entire career. There were a limited number of three-day passes covering the entire residency available, but those passes and the individual tickets for each night have sold out.

All Them Witches Bottom of the Hill Residency All Them Witches  

An evening with All Them Witches
Thursday-Saturday, March 30-April 1, 8 p.m. $35 (sold out)
The Bottom of the Hill

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