A native of Minneapolis, Minnesota, trumpet player/guitarist Mike Olson designed in 2004 to form a pop band from among his fellow music students in Boston, Massachusetts. He selected vocalist Rachel Price, originally from outside Nashville, Tennessee, bassist Bridget Kearney of Iowa and drummer Mike Calabrese of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. All his recruits had been singing and/or playing musical instruments since childhood. Olson named the band Lake Street Dive after a strip in his home town that housed several seedy bars. Kearney submitted a song to the John Lennon Songwriting Contest in 2005 and won the jazz category; Lake Street Dive used the prize money to record a debut CD in 2006. The band then began its concert career in 2007 in a rock club in Des Moines, Iowa. What grabbed the public's attention, however, was a casually made video featuring the band performing a cover of the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" around a single microphone on a street corner in Brighton, Massachusetts. Lake Street Dive now is based in Brooklyn, New York. The band's most recent album, Bad Self Portraits, was released on February 18, 2014.
Headlining a free admission concert tonight at Rumsey Playfield as part of SummerStage Central Park, Lake Street Dive gave a modern twist to 1960s pop rock, from Brill Building to British Invasion to Motown. The quartet's musical gymnastics remained close to pop radio groundwork, but pushed the edges a bit further as Price's strong, soulful vocals and Olson's guitar and trumpet snippets gave both gravity and flight to dynamic funk and jazz grooves. The set consisted mostly of original songs released within the past three years, but also included reinterpreted covers, including Annie Lennox's "Walking on Broken Glass," a reimagined working of Van Halen's "Jump" inserted in the middle of "Bobby Tanqueray," and an encore of Hall & Oates' "Rich Girl." Many of the songs rocked out with extended jams, but the band also sang a couple of stripped-down songs standing around a single old-time microphone for barbershop quartet-type harmonies. Crossing a healthy range of vocal and musical styles, the four musicians' energetic performances kept their pop music invigorating and refreshing.
Visit Lake Street Dive at www.lakestreetdive.com.