BABY TV Presents: SQUIRREL FLOWER with TENCI
BABY TV Presents

Squirrel Flower

Tenci

All Ages
BABY TV Presents: SQUIRREL FLOWER with TENCI

Ella O’Connor Williams, also known as Squirrel Flower, was born on August 11th 1996, the hottest day of the year, still inside of a translucent caul sac membrane, surrounded by amniotic fluid. Born with a membrane between her and the rest of the world, yet still very much connected to and dependent on a larger life force. It’s this origin story that inspired the name of Squirrel Flower’s new album​ I Was Born Swimming​.

Williams comes from a deep-rooted musical family tree. Her grandparents were classical musicians who lived in the Gate Hill Co-op, an artistic cooperative from upstate New York that grew out of Black Mountain College. Ella’s father, Jesse Williams, spent most of his life as a touring jazz and blues performer and educator, and lends his bass playing to the album (listen for his smooth solo on “Headlights”). Growing up in a family of hard working musicians fostered a love of music and started Williams down her own musical path. As a child, Williams adopted the alter ego of Squirrel Flower. A couple years later, she began singing with the Boston Children’s Chorus while studying music theory and teaching herself to play the guitar. As a teen, she discovered the Boston DIY and folk music scenes and began writing, recording, and performing her own songs, now returning to the name Squirrel Flower as her chosen moniker. By the time Williams had begun performing live, recording and touring she was already well on her way to the signature artful songcraft heard on the album.

Squirrel Flower’s music is ethereal and warm, gushing with emotional depth that the listener can step into like a warm bath. The band on ​I Was Born Swimming​ plays with delicate intention, keeping the arrangements natural and light. The album was tracked live, with few overdubs, at The Rare Book Room Studio in New York City with producer Gabe Wax (Adrienne Lenker, Palehound, Cass McCombs). The musicians were selected by Wax and folded themselves into the songs effortlessly. At the heart of the album lives Williams’ massive, haunted vibrating voice and melancholic, soulful guitar playing. The sounds expand and contract over diverse moods, cutting loose on the heavier riffs of “Red Shoulder” or “Streetlight Blues,” both recorded in her hometown of Boston, and holding back with atmospheric restraint on “Seasonal Affective Disorder” or “Belly Of The City”.

I Was Born Swimming b​ egins with an Iowa drive down I-80 and continues to travel, poetically, between her college town of Grinnell Iowa, Boston, MA and New York City where the album was recorded. Throughout the 12 songs, landscapes change and relationships shift, “There’s so much in the record about movement and stagnation. Feeling stuck, needing to move, needing to stay still, swimming, falling, running, growing, etc etc.” said Williams. The album’s lyrics feel like effortless expressions of exactly the way it feels to change — abstract, sad and hopeful.

Williams eventually returns to the image of her in the sac; born swimming, knowing how to exist, love herself, and not needing anyone else to do it for her.

bandcamp | instagram

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Tenci began as Jess Shoman’s bedroom-folk project in Chicago in December 2018.

With the help of Spencer Radcliffe and Tina Scarpello it quickly became something more fully-formed. By spring of 2019 they’d recorded their debut My Heart Is An Open Field.

They recorded the album in Radcliffe’s home in just a couple months. Having played in the band, he understood the tenderness it needed to maintain. Half of the songs were written the week before. The album retains that spontaneity and rawness.

Shoman says “It was such a fun way to record without second guessing myself and to let things be.”

“Earthquake” kicks off the album, a peel of quavering, high-noon guitar cutting through, a flash of lightning illuminating the wide open space the record inhabits. The jarring opening subsides into a gentle shuffle— a cradle for songwriter Shoman’s wild and pure voice. The song is about that ache when you recognize a feeling or a person starting to fade. As you desperately grasp to keep it close.

“Serpent” was one of the first songs Shoman wrote. It imagines what it would feel like to get bitten by a snake and ties that to how it feels to lie to yourself and the dizzying pain it can cause, the guitar solo repeatedly sinking its teeth in. Shoman says about the song, “It’s not until you finally speak your truth and become vulnerable that you can have relief and resolution, even if that means the death of something.”

The band name comes from Shoman’s grandmother’s name Hortencia, who she feels is her kindred spirit. Her memories of hearing her sing while cooking or cleaning influenced some of the same qualities in her own voice, a sweet and shaky vibrato she could feel moving through her. The end of Side A of the record is a voicemail from her grandmother reminding Jess of how much she loves her, “Don’t get tired of my calls, love.”

My Heart Is An Open Field is about the wavering feeling of laying everything out in the open where sometimes dormant memories bubble up to show their faces. It’s about picking at your own knots and scabs and eventually joining yourself in an honest and present form. This album is filled with nuance– breaths of saxophone and flute, and touches of cello, piano, and pedal steel are hung on the sturdy folk songs of Shoman, whose vibrato and range cuts through these dreams like a loved one’s voice.

The current lineup of Tenci includes Chicago musicians she met playing some of her earliest shows. Curt Oren plays saxophone, flute, and guitar. Isabel Reidy (of Izzy True) plays bss, and Joseph Farago (of Joey Nebulous) plays drums. They’ve added a depth and playfulness to the songs that have made them even bigger and full of life.

bandcamp | instagram

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About BABY TV :: Tickets are on a sliding scale and all grant you access to the same show. Proceeds from each livestream will be split between the artists playing, the staff at Baby's All Right ineligible for government aid during our closure, a wonderful community organization called Make The Road NY, and The Audre Lorde Project.

Ticket holders will receive a link and password 30 minutes before the start of the show. Check your spam folder if you don't see it! Anyone purchasing tickets the 30 minutes leading up to a performance will receive their info in their order confirmation email.

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Venue Information:
Baby's All Right
146 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY, 11211