In a time when he was spiritually and artistically aimless, Family Worship Center’s shamanistic figurehead Andy Krissberg took a brief hiatus from creating music. He embarked on a freewheeling, soul-searching journey inspired by the late ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax. Krissberg visited remote places across the country, creating field recordings of musicians he met straight to vinyl on a 1940s record lathe.
His adventures led him to fleabag motels, sketchy back alleys, lonely restaurants, and dive bars. His crusade had him rummaging through old record stores, antique stores, swap meets for long forgotten albums, singles, artwork, and books. On one of his expeditions, in a now-defunct record store in Nashville, Tennessee, Krissberg stumbled upon a 21-page bible for a strange cult-like collective that billed themselves as Family Worship Center.
Leafing through the yellowed pages, he felt a strange resonance with the Family’s communal quest for Groove enlightenment. Family Worship Center proposed a simple prescription to achieve a utopian existence: Surrender material possessions. Walk to the beat. Never hurt another Family Member. In a private mystical moment, Krissberg vowed to adhere to these beliefs, and is now eager to share the message with others through song as the band, Family Worship Center.
Family Worship Center specializes in a strain of redemptive, 1970s-styled rock n’ roll that recalls the Rolling Stones, Leon Russell, The Band, and Delaney & Bonnie. The band formed in 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee founded by prophetic visionary, singer-songwriter and keyboardist Krissberg, but it has since relocated to Portland, Oregon. In 2020, Family Worship Center released the EP Sunday A.M. (2020) recorded by Grammy-winning producer Eddie Spear (Rival Sons, Blackberry Smoke, Lukas Nelson), and featuring musicians associated/who have played with The Band, Deer Tick, Ringo Starr, James Brown, Keith Richards, and Foxygen, among others. The Family’s latest offering—it’s first long player—Kicked Out Of The Garden, features a core band of devoted musicians, and was produced by Portland go-to producer Cameron Spies (Spoon Benders, Shivas) who specializes in what he calls “mid-fi.” Kicked Out Of The Garden was tracked in Portland with additional recording done in Philadelphia and Ukraine.
Kicked Out of the Garden ain’t about trembling from the fear of the tribulation or repenting before the rapture but chasing the almighty liberation of the spirit and the body that Krissberg and crew call the Groove. Lift up your hands, affix your eyes toward the sky and get ready for a spiritual transformation in communion with the PNW collective in search of an elevated tier of existence.
You get eight 70s-styled, more-ish sweat-drenched floor fillers, which never sound outdated but always authentic. A delicious treat: a big sound, sumptuous piano melodies, raving horns, celestial harmonies, sometimes with guitars being let loose but at other moments with a gospel feel, everything. Epic.
The band managed to channel the energy of their live performances into Kicked Out of the Garden with the help of Portland producer Cameron Spies (Spoon Benders, Shivas). The result is an album that stands out in the Portland scene, with its shameless devotion to a 1970s rock-and-roll sound and hippie cult vibe. You can throw a rock and hit any number of bands playing psych rock, dream pop and even country in this town, but there is only one Family Worship Center.
This tune captures the freewheeling spirit of this band that brings to mind Leon Russell, The Band, New Orleans R&B, and contemporaries like Low Cut Connie. There is plenty of Southern-infused swagger to be savored here as the big band charges through a tune that is a smorgasbord of twanging guitar, swampy backbeats, barrelhouse piano and soul-drenched vocals. This is a band firing on all cylinders that may feel loose, but has clearly carved out the rock and roll sound they want to bring to the people.
Stumbling upon a set that keeps the midday doldrums at bay is crucial at itinerant festivals that can last upwards of 12 hours in one day, and Family Worship Center was certainly up to the task. The 13-piece group donned matching outfits that could be best-described as “disco-soul cult chic,” and the joyous noise they conjured during their half-hour set sounded almost exactly like it looked. Nestled within the Portland groups ironic gimmick is solid songwriting that lands somewhere between Sam Cooke and Polyphonic Spree, which is just what the doctor ordered when energy is flagging in the hours before the big name headliners start trickling in.
You believe in reincarnation don't you?
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