The New Folklore: Neulore’s “new tradition” makes storytelling the focus

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The folk revival is in full swing, with bands like Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers and The Civil Wars (to name a few), making a traditional genre cool again. In the midst of these time-turning bands is Neulore, a Nashville-based group that is putting a new twist on story-telling music.

The name of the band itself is a play on “folklore” and was coined by frontman Adam Agin to represent what he calls “a new tradition” in music.

Stories are the heartbeat of Neulore’s music. “I think of music like a whole story. I get lost in it; I dream up these big stories and plots and scenarios,” Agin says.

Don’t expect the band to tell you the story behind the songs though.

“We figured out with our last record that if you tell people what music means then that’s what it means to them,” guitarist William T. Cook says. “But if you give people the freedom to interpret it how they want to based on what’s going on in their lives and their relationships then they can connect with it on different levels than you would have ever even imagined.”

Cook refers to their last record, Apples and Eve, which was clearly inspired by Adam and Eve of biblical fame. He and Agin agree that they want to keep the meanings of future records more ambiguous.

“It’s really cool how music can mean something to me and it can mean something completely different to you,” Agin says. “When you hear [your favorite record] it takes you back to a setting. It takes you back to that summer road trip or that time that your boyfriend broke up with you and you’ve been sitting in your bedroom for three weeks. It takes you back to that time and we want to allow you to do that.”

Agin says that people have approached him and told him how one of the band’s songs helped them through a particular time in their lives and what the songs have meant to them. It doesn’t matter if it’s not what the song is about Agin says, “It’s about how you connect with it and that’s what’s important.”

Agin and Cook both live and breathe music. While they enjoy performing live, their true passion is the process of creating the music. “For me it’s always been therapeutic,” Cook says. “Writing music is like trying to embody where you’re at emotionally and psychologically at that point and how that comes out into melody and chords.”

“Getting lost in the dream of it is where I feel like I’m doing what I was meant to do,” Agin says.

They encourage everyone, whether they are pursuing a music career or not, to find what they are passionate about and do it.

“Don’t ever do anything for the money. If right after college you know what you’re supposed to be doing then go do that and you’ll figure out how to survive,” Cook says. “Practical doesn’t work in terms of happiness. I think you can be poor as poor can be, [but] if you’re still reaching for your dream, you’re still going to be happy.”

Agin agrees. “So many people are afraid,” he says. “The people that can overcome the fear are the people who actually make something that is worth experiencing.”

Although there is no official release date set, be on the lookout for a new record from Neulore in the near future. Their new single, “Shadow of a Man,” is available on iTunes and was featured in one of the latest “Kid President” videos.

 

 

Photos and Video by Rachel Freeny

stacked records

Renaissance Records

Story and photos by Leah Jane Henderson

stacked records

It’s not easy to find a great record store with classic albums or one-of-a-kind finds.

Whether it’s a 33 r.p.m., a 45 or an 8-track, Renaissance Records in Five Points South is a haven for music lovers and collectors alike.

The store specializes in vintage records but has a modest number of new artists and albums. New and used books, CDs, records, and movies are also sold for great prices, as well as posters and art.

Gary Bourgeois (pronounced Boo-schwah) is the middleman between music and the ears of listeners, bringing great taste in records and a love for his store. An English professor at Miles College, Gary finds the time to run his store in the afternoons and weekends.

When you first step through the door, you’ll hear the jangling of a worn doorknob, vintage records crackling over speakers and the rugged sound of vinyl, old French ballads, Jim Morrison’s crooning voice, or Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Red walls are plastered with psychedelic album art and classic movie posters, autographs and postcards.

Renaissance Records is a haven for music lovers and collectors alike.

A glossy, gold phonograph sits on one of many bookshelves filled with cassette tapes and jaded, valuable magazines. String lights cloak the huge front window, accompanied by soft, worn-in couches and glowing lamps on piles of thick, musty books. These are the sights and sounds of visiting one of the oldest record stores in Birmingham.

Ambition was running through Gary’s veins in 2003 when he decided to open Renaissance Records located at 2020 11th Ave. South.

“This used to be a bookstore kind of an alternative, new age bookstore. I used to work at Charlemagne (Records) back in the older days and then I started teaching in 2000 at Miles. But after a few years I missed working at Charlemagne and thought this was the perfect place and remodeled it and now we have a little of everything.”

He got the idea to open while visiting Europe after his French professor in college encouraged him to go to France.

Owner Gary Bourgeois holds up one of his favorite records

“That’s where I came up with the idea. In France they have all these shops, and in London and Amsterdam, there are all these cool shops like coffee shops, offbeat shops, bookstores, record stores, everything. That’s when it clicked in my mind, this is perfect, I’m going to make it happen.”

Bourgeois’ favorite part about running the store is meeting people, “There’s a social element when you work in a record store. Of course, I love trading records, it’s really fun and I love playing records. When you put a record on it sounds so great. it sounds 10 times better. But you get to meet all these people.”

Many people visit the store, from a handful of locals who come in every week to browse and catch up on conversation, to musicians and bands, to complete strangers whose fingers itch for the feeling of slick vinyl, to feel the spiral grooves of a 45.

The store specialized in vintage records, but has a modest number of new ones as well.

“In an urban city and area like this you’ve got crazies that come through and really eccentric characters, a real mix with collegestudents, older collectors, younger collectors, and families. It’s like a soap opera. You’ve got the regulars and the skateboard kids coming down, and we’ve even had the guy from KISS, Gene Simmons, standing in here. Who knows who you’re going to meet? From one day to the next, you have no clue.”

He compares his job to the film High Fidelity starring John Cusack, “It’s a must-read and a must-see film. John Cusack is like me, trying to pay the bills, which is my least favorite thing to do. It’s the greatest book and movie. Actually that’s our training manual. Whenever someone wants to work here we make them take the VHS or DVD and watch it, and after they’ve watched it we say okay, now you might be ready.”