By Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey
There will be ripping guitars, soaring horns, thumping bass, polished three-part vocal harmonies, some of the most versatile, swinging drums on the West Coast and, above all, lots and lots of dancing — coming from both crowd and the stage.
This is the promise of Boot Juice, a robust Americana band hailing from the Sierra Nevada Mountains set to play the Heartwood Center on Saturday, Jan. 21. Doors open at 7 p.m., with local favorites Headwaters kicking off the night of music hosted by Mattox Farm Productions and benefiting the Sandpoint Reader.
The ingredients that go into Boot Juice include seven band members, an array of acoustic and electric sounds and a whole lot of friendship, all stemming from the childhood bond of Connor Herdt and Evan Daly.
“We have a wide variety of influences in the band and I think that is represented well in our music,” Herdt said, listing rock, bluegrass, folk, metal, swing and big band music among those influences. “We just try to keep an open mind and not follow a playbook for what the music should sound like.”
As for the lyrical side of songwriting, Boot Juice’s songs are at once personal and deeply relatable. Band founders Herdt and Daly are still the project’s primary songwriters, but Herdt said that Boot Juice’s growth — both literally and figuratively — has allowed them to take advantage of “more tools in our toolbox.”
“We don’t really start with a specific vision of what the final song will be, and just try to speak our minds and be real with the lyrics,” he said. “Some songs are joyous and others are sad or angry or melancholy. Regardless of the content, we want the songs to be a positive force and leave people feeling good after listening to them.”
Boot Juice is currently working on its third LP, due sometime this year. Herdt said it differs from the band’s previous releases because every song was written “from scratch” — all of the current band members collaborated to create concepts for each track with that full-band sound in mind. Each one of the forthcoming songs will also feature the horn section, which is the band’s newest addition.
Herdt called the new album “a timeline from the last two years — from songs written during pandemic isolation, [to] the joy of returning to the road and playing live again, and everything in between.”
“It covers a wide range of emotions and energy,” he added. “We are really proud of this record, and think that it is the most representative example of the sound we’ve been developing.”
Energy continues to prove itself a guiding force for Boot Juice, which was on the road for 200 days playing 140 shows across the West in 2022. Herdt said the band holds firm to a philosophy that live shows should “just be fun,” which it accomplishes with a genre-bending, dance-inspiring sound and not infrequent crowd mingling.
“It’s a visual experience as much as an auditory one. If folks see the musicians dancing on stage, they want to dance,” Herdt said. “Music is joy, and we just want everyone that walks out of the venue to feel that and take it with them.”
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