Nobody in the Bonfire Choir expected they’d form a band out of the lengthy jam sessions concocted while hanging out around backyard campfires and porch tables, but that’s how it happened. Loose ideas coagulated into compact compositions. Out of the woodpile, the Bonfire Choir was born.
That type of loose creativity’s what’s allowed the Austin six piece to create such organic, distinct music, says Nathaniel Cox, one of the band’s two main guitarists, harmonica player and songwriters. “We’ve all known each other for years and hung out,” he adds. “So we’re comfortable taking chances.”
Such a quality’s much needed. With an instrumentation arrangement that includes two guitars, drums, an upright bass, banjo, trumpet, keys, and even a coronet, each song bears an uncanny ability to turn at the tightest edging.
“A lot of the time I don’t think we necessarily direct the instrumentation,” quips Andrew Crosby, the band’s second guitarist and songwriter. “We know everybody and trust everybody and have played with them long enough to know that they’ll come up with the right part.”
It helps that each member of the band tends to pull from different posts around the musical landscape.
“Stylistically, Nathaniel and I are pretty straightforward songwriters, but our drummer’s a jazz guy, and our bassist comes from funk,” says Crosby. “So we’ll be writing train songs with back beats underneath them.”
Recently, the Bonfire Choir jumped into the studio and emerged with a self-titled five track EP, one that fluidly and imaginatively captures the sextet’s many styles. You can hear those horns in “Smokey Mountains,” the back-and-forth revelry on “I Got a Girl,” the sweet and sour stylings of multiple songwriters on “Whiskey and Wine,” and the rough trade train outlook throughout “Blackbird.” Then there’s “Fall Down Dead,” the kind of song that jumps and dances so wildly you wish you heard it at a campfire.
Well, what about a bonfire?