Arts & Leisure

The Almendros release a new album

THE ALMENDROS

Sure it’s time for jingle bells and carols, but sometimes we need to mix in a few fresh tunes. Addison County band The Almendros released an album of all-original songs just before Thanksgiving. Check out “All Over the Place” on Spotify, Apple Music or at their website almendrosband.com.
The songs are written by Pete Ryan, the bassist and an earth-science prof at Middlebury College.
“Pete is a terrific, very intelligent and interesting songwriter,” said Doug Wilhelm, a local author and musician. “A couple of years ago Pete left two local bands to work on developing his own stuff the way he heard it. We started to get together Wednesday afternoons at Lion Tone, a small studio in Middlebury, and over a year or so we developed … this. We are really proud of it.”
The Almendros musicians are all based in Addison County. The group includes Ryan on bass; guitarist Mark Pelletier and drummer John Wallace, who both play in the Horse Traders and Hay Burners; and Wilhelm (who plays harmonica, conga drums and other percussion in the Hay Burners, also in a group called the Avant-Garde Dogs). Ryan brought in Naunau Belu, an incredible multi-instrumentalist from Madagascar whose wife Mez teaches in Ryan’s department at Middlebury College. And Wilhelm introduced Ryan to Liz Cleveland, who’s in the Avant-Garde Dogs and also sings with LC Jazz in Vergennes. Ryan added trombonist was Chris Hauptfeld, a college student recommended to him by Matthew Evan Taylor, a college colleague, saxophonist and classical/jazz composer.  
“It all started with Doug, Naunau Belu, Mark Pelletier and me getting together to work on songs in 2016 and 2017, in our living rooms or outside on warm summer evenings,” remembered Ryan. “Sometimes John Wallace (drums) would join, and eventually Clint (Bierman) joined us too. Then we started recording, mainly in 2018 and 2019.”
The Almendros album was completed in March 2020, just before COVID hit. Since then the band has been mastering tracks and working on getting it ready for digital release.
“We could probably go into the studio (Lion Tone in Middlebury) one person at a time to record instruments and vocals one-by-one for new songs but it wouldn’t feel right,” Ryan said. “Our method has been to play and record as much as possible as a group live in the studio.”
“To me,  this is what local music can be — and if you listen you’ll hear how much fun we had making it,” added Wilhelm.

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