If you go
What: Lake Street Dive
Where: Longs Park, Lancaster
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 19.
Details: Parking is available in the park or at the Park City Center's southeast parking lot, entering the park through a tunnel under Route 30. For more information about the concert series, visit longspark.org . For more information about Lake Street Dive, visit lakestreetdive.com .
It always amuses Rachael Price when she hears of someone calling Lake Street Dive an overnight sensation.
The band has been at it for more than a decade — it's in its 11th year — incessantly touring and playing wherever they could, sharpening and developing one of the more unique styles in pop music. They played a lot of dive bars over the years; the band takes it name from a street in guitarist/trumpet player Mike "McDuck" Olson's hometown, Minneapolis, that is home to a lot of dives.
They've collected a lot of stories on the road. One of Price's favorites involves a bar gig during which a woman jumped on stage and "motorboated" her, yelling "Motorboat, y'all" after completing the act. (If you don't know what "motorboating" is, Google it and I'll wait here.)
"The audience loved it," Price said over the phone from Council Bluffs, Iowa, where the band was opening for the Avett Brothers. "It was very weird. But when it happens, you just have to move on."
There had been a lot of gigs like that, traveling from town to town in the van, hoping that, some day, it'll pay off. So last year, when the band's "Bad Self Portraits" came out and was a greeted by nearly universal critical acclaim, it was a relief.
"It's been a crazy year," Price said. "We've been doing this for a while."
The band will perform a free show at Longs Park Sunday, one of the highlights of this year's slate of concerts at the Lancaster park.
Here's what to expect at a Long's Park summer concert.
Lake Street Dive — lead singer Price, Olson, bassist Bridget Kearney and drummer Mike Calabrese — first got together at school, all of them were studying jazz at the New England Conservatory in Boston. The group started out as a jazz band, albeit one that had a lead vocalist and three musicians of prodigious talent, and then ventured down some avant garde alleys before finding a unique approach. For a while, Price said, "it was weird and undirected."
Then, she said, "By becoming friends and just hanging out, we came to learn that we all grew up listing to the same stuff, the Beatles, Motown and all of the stuff we loved. We just went with it."
And the result is something that has resulted in music writers performing all variety of contortions to try to describe what genre Lake Street Dive plays, what box to put them in. The typical description is '60s pop and Motown meets Brill Building songwriting and Stax soul and country and gospel and, well, name a genre of music.
"It's very amusing to us," Price said. "They see the upright bass and think 'country.' Or they see the trumpet and think 'jazz.' What we like to say is that we play pop music in the best way that we know how."
Take "Bad Self Portraits." The album's title track has a very '60s pop vibe. "Stop Your Crying" could be a lost Motown track. "What About Me" has a swampy country groove with some very gospel-like harmonies. "You Go Down Smooth" sounds like something the Ronettes would have come up with had they performed with the Beatles.
And although they focus on songwriting — and strong songwriting at that — they have also performed a lot of covers, homage to the days as a dive-bar band. One of their big breaks came when they recorded a YouTube video of the band performing a cover of the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" on a Brighton, Mass., street corner. The video went viral. And every Halloween, the band performs a cover of a band that has two female and two male singers. They've covered the B-52s' "Love Shack," poolside and jumping in the pool at the song's conclusion; the Starland Vocal Band's "Afternoon Delight" and the Mamas and the Papas' "Dedicated to the One I Love," complete with amazing four-part harmonies. All of the videos have one thing in common — an infectious joy.
"We love to do covers and we have a lot of fun with it," Price said. "We don't take ourselves very seriously. That's something we're very serious about."
"If that makes sense," she added.
Check out more local outdoor summer concert series here.