If you ever hang out downtown around Chinatown or Little Tokyo, or if you’ve ever visited the new State Historic Park on Spring Street, chances are you’ve seen the dried up concrete anded that used to ferry water across the city. Thanks to restoration projects, water does sit near Elysian Valley, but pushing south, the Los Angeles River doesn’t make much of impact anymore due to the drought. It is now used more often as a backdrop by artists in the surrounding district in photographs or as settings for film and music videos. Continuing to follow it south will lead through residential neighborhoods and eventually down the 710, straight to the Queensway Bay, which, yes, is named after the historic Queen Mary ship permanently docked at the harbor. If you traced the River northward, it curves up along the 5 freeway, passing below a cute bridge that connects Los Feliz with Atwater Village. It then skirts across Griffith Park and suddenly cuts west, where it hugs the valley for several miles. This is the crucial bend of the river that I imagine local Americana group, LA River Bend, takes as its namesake; the difference between them is that the band is very much full of life.
With their debut single, “Summer Wind,” LA River Bend breathe for the very first time. The song is a refreshing testament to love, where shimmering harmonies to elicit a faultless, jovial mood. “The calming influence of nature in LA has been a huge musical inspiration to us,” frontman Nate Weiner has said of the recording process for their upcoming EP, Run These Hills. Their sound is reminiscent of The Head and the Heart or Edward Sharpe, given the howling vocals and cello of course. Strings do a lot of heavy lifting, emotionally at least, and fit in “Summer Wind” naturally, with cellist Emily Elkin responsible for that aspect of their tune. She also sings with Weiner, as he warbles about the durability of something Joan Baez (and Bob Dylan) considers just a four letter word.
“Summer Wind” will appear on LA River Bend’s debut EP, Run These Hills. The band will be playing at Hotel Cafe on 11/9 to celebrate the release of their new EP. Follow the band on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more information.
Words: Zoë Elaine