The Almendros debut new album at Riverfront Park


THE ALMENDROS, FROM left, Naunau Belu, John Wallace, Clint Bierman, Doug Wilhelm, Pete Ryan, Kemi Fuentes-George, Mark Pelletier and Liz Cleveland, will perform on Thursday, Sept. 16, at 6 p.m., at Riverfront Park in Middlebury. The concert is free and open to all.

What started as a few veteran local musicians getting together in backyards and living rooms to try out one player’s ideas for new songs has led, four years later, to a new group’s new album of original music recorded in Middlebury, to be performed for the first time at the Marble Works on Thursday evening, Sept. 16.

Presented by Town Hall Theater and Neighbors Together, the free outdoor show, starting at 6 p.m., will be the debut performance by The Almendros, now a group of seven. It will feature “All Over the Place,” the album they recorded at LionTone Studio on Main Street with East Middlebury resident Clint Bierman, of the Grift and other Vermont bands, as engineer and producer.

All 10 songs on the album were written by bassist Pete Ryan of Weybridge, a Middlebury College geology professor who has played for years on the area’s music scene. Developing his songs in the studio, Ryan said, was very much a collaboration.

“What’s best for me was the group of people it brought together,” he said. “The songs feel really good, and on every one you can hear each person’s individual contribution. I brought in most of the chord structures and basic melodies, but not all of them — and in the studio we just started working with things, figuring it out.”

“Listening, knocking around different thoughts, and coming out of the studio with great new songs made it fun and worthwhile,” said guitarist Mark Pelletier of Weybridge. “The creative process of working with several others is a beautiful thing.”

As the title “All Over the Place” suggests, the songs are a lively mix of styles, from rock and country-rock to reggae, ska and world music influences. Vocals are shared among Ryan, Pelletier, Liz Cleveland of Middlebury and Naunau Belu, a Middlebury resident originally from Madagascar. 

All the players on “All Over the Place” are veterans of other area bands. Along with bassist Ryan (the Horse Traders, Deb Brisson & the Hay Burners) and guitarists Bierman and Pelletier (Horse Traders and Hay Burners), they include Belu (Gumbo Yaya) on guitar and keyboards, John Wallace of Cornwall (Horse Traders, Hay Burners and other groups) on drums, Doug Wilhelm of Weybridge (Hay Burners and Avant-Garde Dogs) on congas, harmonica and percussion, and Cleveland (LC Jazz and Avant-Garde Dogs) on vocals. Joining the group on trumpet and vocals for the Sept. 16 show is Kemi Fuentes-George of East Middlebury.

For Belu, making “All Over the Place” was “one of the most efficient creative processes I have ever contributed to,” he said. “I admired everyone’s abrupt and upscale ideas to give life to all the tunes, but what I liked the most was — and is — the band’s siblinghood. Everybody is caring, attentive and lovely. I feel home.”

Listen to “All Over the Place” on Spotify and Apple Music, and at almendrosband.com.

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Addison County Independent