ARTIST SPOTLIGHTS: Dandy L. Freling, Lyrid, Hurd & Galante

A wonderful night of music took place at Linneman’s in Riverwest on Friday night featuring Dandy L. Freling, Lyrid, and Hurd & Galante. It was Lyrid’s first show, and an attentive crowd filled the space with joy, warmth, and enthusiasm.

Dandy L. Freling is a singer-songwriter whose country-folk style knows how to be both sensitive and catchy. Some of her biggest influences are Bob Dylan, Mickey Newbury, and Gordon Lightfoot. Originally from Massachusetts, she lived in Texas and Colorado for some time before relocating to Milwaukee, and she’s been here for about four years now. “A good friend brought me out here,” she explained. “I was living in a small foothill town in Colorado and was looking for a city atmosphere with more diversity, music, art and culture.”

In 2021, Freling released a three-song EP titled “Lost & Bound Recordings” which was mixed by Johanna Rose. “Before they moved to Vermont,” Freling said, “they had a show and asked me to play guitar on some of their songs. We were having a practice and asked me if I had any recordings out…which I said no…and they said we needed to change that right now. So it was very impromptu; they set up the mic and recording software and I just played for like a half hour just doing one take of a few songs, and I came up with that informal EP out of it. Johanna is such a great mentor and is just so incredible.”

Since then, Freling’s been working on new music; next month she’ll be in Minneapolis working on an album with Erik Koskinen. “Coming to Milwaukee was the first time I’ve really had a live music career and have met the right people.” Freling said. “It’s time to throw down some tracks.”

On her songwriting and lyrics, Freling shared, “It’s been coming from a darker place. They’re always about a character and there’s always a story, but all the ideas and themes are based on thoughts and feelings that I personally have. I’ve never really thought that the format for me was to say these things directly; it’s always been about somebody else with how I like to portray my stories. But some of my songs are a bit lighthearted as well.”

Dandy L. Freling is taking a bit of a break from shows while she’s working on her album, but she hopes to play festivals later this year and will be doing a run with some East Coast folks in March.

Lyrid consists of vocalist Elisabeth Gasparka, guitarist Tyler Duchateau, bassist Tyson Allison, keyboardist Jackie Mich, drummer Victoria Robison and cellist/flutist Sarah Gail Luther. Formed as a reimagining of Warhola Cats, they characterize their sound as “alternative prairie pop”, featuring lush harmonies and elegant sonic textures.

Gasparka explains how one project would morph into another. “When 2020 happened, I was left to my own devices with a lot of inspiration to write songs, and so I continued doing so and conceived the name “Lyrid” as a way to label my songwriting practice at the time. Jackie, Sarah and I are good friends and we stayed connected throughout that whole time, but I was burning to do something more with the songs. Warhola Cats started kind of coming back together, hanging out and drinking wine (laughs) and through that process I had this dream to have a fuller band with Warhola Cats growing into something that was richer and fully realized. Tyson was so graciously helping me with my songs; he would come over once a week and help me organize them and think about how they could be transferred into the grid. That’s a challenge for me; I’m not a trained musician and I don’t have as much of that technical background, so his producer brain opened up new possibilities.”

Allison would soon officially join the band, and then Duchateau and Robison would subsequently join as well through serendipitous interactions. Lyrid’s first single “Seminary Wood Shrine” – which was released when Gasparka had just started the project – was released in 2020. She said about the song, “It was definitely an experiment. I had a goal of just collaborating with more people and learning what that would look like, so I ended up bringing the song to Josh Evert at Silver City Studios and he did a beautiful job producing it and filling in amazing voices like D’Amato and Treccy MT. The song was about that moment in time and feeling like having a second chance; it really jolted me and made me feel like I wanted to value my precious life, not holding myself back and being more intentional. It was inspired by going on a hike with my husband in the Seminary Wood Shrine and prancing around, feeling like the world is fucking scary and having no idea what’s going to happen, but that I’m happy in this moment.”

One difference about Lyrid from Warhola Cats is that Gasparka almost exclusively sings now rather than playing guitar. “I think on a performance level, it’s really vulnerable and thrilling and enlivening,” she said about the creative territory it’s allowed her to explore. “I feel a lot of potential with continuing to grow in that space and get comfortable on stage, relating with the audience more and more. Lately I’ve been less focused on writing and more focused on the alchemy with this group.”

That said, Lyrid’s got more material that they’re working on in addition to breathing fresh air into Warhola Cats songs. “We really didn’t get “Eros + Vibes” far into the world before the pandemic shut us down so we’re reexploring it and reinventing it, which feels exciting,” Gasparka said.

Stay tuned for more Lyrid shows in the near future!

Hurd & Galante are a band consisting of vocalist-guitarist Shawn Hurd, guitarist Joe Galante, bassist Ross Oldenberg, drummer Victoria Robison and keyboardist Nate Zabriskie. Their folk-rock sound incorporates elements of Americana and country, which has been greatly emboldened by their recent expansion to a full band. The band’s got an interesting story; Hurd & Galante met in Boston about thirteen or fourteen years ago and would go through an evolution of different formations and lineups before doing their current act since around 2018. Galante is originally from West Bend, Wisconsin while Galante is from Massachusetts; Galante moved back to Wisconsin and then Hurd would eventually follow suit.

They released a two-song EP titled “Mississisppi Sundown Again” in March of last year. “It was the two of us kind of just deciding that we needed to put something out,” Hurd explained. “We’d been starting to play shows and we wanted to show people what we do. The title track we wrote when we’d went on a camping trip together and were sitting on the bluffs just fooling around and writing, and I think that felt like the first true Hurd & Galante song.”

Their songwriting process typically involves Hurd writing the lyrics while Galante focuses on guitar. “I’m fairly new to guitar as far as people my age go,” Hurd laughed. “Originally Joe would play guitar while I’d just sing like a Simon and Garfunkel kind of thing. With my lyrics, I pull a lot from literature and I try to have fun with wordplay and literary devices. I read a lot of South American magical realism and that’s really affected my writing with not doing things so linear.”

Since dropping “Mississippi Sundown Again”, Hurd & Galante have been gearing up to release their debut album “Paris Blues.” “We’ve been working on it basically since Shawn moved to Milwaukee,” Galante said. “We actually went into a recording studio to discuss doing it, and then right after that COVID hit. So we’ve been sitting on it for about two years at this point, but hopefully we’ll have it out this year.”

Hurd & Galante have been writing a new batch of songs since forming the new band. They have no more shows booked as of now but plan to have more come spring.

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