This week’s Alive After Five headliner: Acorn Project
Go Listen Boise local opener: Edmond Dantes


Deep electro-funk grooves and sonic instrumental exploration interlaced with a provocative indie-rock songwriting ability have become the signatures of Bellingham, Washington’s Acorn Project. As a long-time staple on the touring circuit of the Pacific Northwest, the sextet has spent the past three years expanding their region and is a recognizable touring machine on the West Coast, British Columbia, and out through Colorado and the Southwestern United States.

Formed in 2002 from basement jam-session beginnings, original members Andy Pritiken (guitar/lead vocals), Sam Lax (Saxophone/Percussion/Vocals), Todd Benedict (Drums), and former member Kale McGuinness (Bass) came together in the most incubescent way. Not one member had played in any organized musical group. For this reason they chose the name Acorn Project in 2004, symbolizing their collective effort to grow as a musical entity with focus and dedication for their passion for live music.

Additions were made, including Oskar Kollen (Keys/Vocals 2005) and long-time guest musician and virtuoso Tristan Curran (Lead Guitar/Vocals 2006), bringing the band’s sound to new heights. Scott Vaillancourt (Bass 2010) recently replaced McGuinness and has efficiently adopted Acorn’s repertoire with over fifteen years experience under his belt as a professional musician. Vaillancourt rounds out the current six-piece ensemble as they continue to produce an irresistibly unique sound with the same focus, dedication, and dream-worthy energy of their beginnings, and current aspirations of becoming an established national touring act.

“Acorn Project, who conjures up the appealing marriage of mid-period Pink Floyd, early Radiohead and the blues-jazz-dub whap of Morphine… cuts a broad cloth that could fit classic rockers, jam fans, and jazz heads with taste for prog. Often mélanges of this kind come out mushy and indistinct, too many ingredients dulling the sharpness of individual elements, but Acorn’s production and arrangement savvy keep things bright and together throughout. A hard touring bunch… unlike many road dogs, they clearly know their way around a studio, too.” — Dennis Cook, Jambase (Editor)

Acorn Project’s debut album We’ll Be Fine, released in May of 2006, quickly spread their music around the nation. The album charted as high as #5 on the national index, and #4 on CMJ charts throughout the country. rated it one of the top 12 albums of the year, and great reviews flooded in from all parts of the U.S. and Europe. We’ll Be Fine took home the album of the year award in the 2008 What’s Up Awards sponsored by What’s Up Magazine.

Their sophomore studio effort Generation Debt, was released in September 2010 and improves where We’ll Be Fine left off. Debuting at #1 on national radio chart and holding in the top 25 for nearly three months, Debt has escalated Acorn Project’s national recognition and impressed critics with “a swinging, sensual mood prevailing in a darkly thoughtful set of songs.” Generation Debt is an intricately written and cohesively designed album that is simply perfect for its time.

Boasting an impressive resume, high profile performances are common for Acorn Project. Since fall of 2007 the band has performed with seasoned professionals such as Widespread Panic, Tea Leaf Green, EOTO, RAQ, Zilla, BLVD, Hot Buttered Rum, The Bridge, Blue Turtle Seduction, Izabella, Flowmotion, The Everyone Orchestra, Kyle Hollingsworth, Steve Kimock, David Grisman and The Motet. Acorn has been welcomed to world-renowned festivals and premier venues alike.

The Santa Cruz Metro perhaps stated it best in their show preview from 2008:

“While classic jam bands are a dime a dozen; indie rock jam bands are slightly more expensive. Bellingham, Washington’s Acorn Project gives listeners their money’s worth with funky epics that rock enough to make a good Christmas present for your Deadhead uncle but are jazzy enough to play for your hipster friends… Constantly changing and seldom boring, this is a show not to be missed.”

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