Rose City Band’s country psychedelic rock evokes the wide-open spaces of the American west and free spirits who call it home. The project of acclaimed guitarist and vocalist Ripley Johnson, Rose City Band has extended beyond the studio and lives in tandem as a live ensemble featuring some of the finest players in contemporary rock: pedal steel guitarist Barry Walker, keyboardist Paul Hasenberg, bassist Dewey Mahood (aka Plankton Wat) and drummer Dustin Dybvig. Garden Party is a celebration of summer and all it brings: communal gatherings, the respites offered by nature, and an appreciation for even the simplest beauty, from 12-foot sunflowers to a contorted carrot planted in the spring. Freedom, contentment, and joy were the sources for the songs. From the soaring guitar solos, to the driving rhythms, the elegant pedal steel lines to the organ grooves, Garden Party has a live band’s energy captured in exquisite detail.
At its inception Rose City Band focused on what songwriter Johnson calls “porch music”. Recorded largely at Center for Sound, Light, and Color Therapy in Portland and mixed by John McEntire, Garden Party features guest appearances by Moon Duo bandmates John Jeffrey on drums and Sanae Yamada on synths, as well as Rose City Band live performers Hasenberg on keyboards and Walker on pedal steel. With the musicians in his life in mind, Ripley’s porch has opened up for each player to step into. Despite being tracked primarily as a solo endeavor the recordings capture the twists and bends of a fully realized ensemble, and in a nod to bands such as the Grateful Dead it doesn’t stop there. “The songs won’t really be finished until we play them on the road,” says Johnson.