A perfect teaming of a virtuoso and a frontman, Rockwell Church is one of the most promising new acts on the acoustic folk-rock scene. Comprised of childhood friends Joti Rockwell and Nathan Church Hubbard, this Washington DC-based duo has been writing and performing together since the age of 6. Now only 23 years old, they exhibit a deep and refined musical maturity that extends well beyond their years. Never happier than when they are on the road, Rockwell Church built a national touring base while still in college and this year the duo expects to play over 200 shows.
Considering their youth, one of the most impressive things about Rockwell Church is the fact that their musical partnership has already spanned 2 decades. Joti and Nathan met in elementary school in Bethesda, Maryland and sat next to each other in first grade. At that time, they had both already begun studying music and taking lessons -- Joti on violin and Nathan on piano. By high school, their musical interests had broadened. Joti was playing viola and piano in the high school orchestra and jazz band while simultaneously exploring bluegrass guitar. Nathan had also picked up the acoustic guitar and had begun writing songs, largely inspired by the folk legends of the '60s.
While they were in college, Joti at Haverford and Nathan at Princeton, the duo teamed up with producers John Alagia and Doug Derryberry (Dave Matthews Band, Shannon Worrell, Jackopierce) to record their first studio album Inches from the Ground. The duo blended their diverse musical influences -- contemporary folk, jazz, bluegrass and classical music -- into a unique sound that immediately earned them critical attention. The independent release received 7 Washington Area Music Award nominations and earned the duo a spot on the AWARE III compilation, putting them in the company of many notable AWARE bands including Matchbox 20, Hootie and the Blowfish, Better Than Ezra and The Verve Pipe. More tour dates followed, including appearances at South by Southwest and the CMJ Music Marathon, the Birchmere (DC), the Tin Angel (Philadelphia), the Fez (New York City) and opening slots with Dar Williams, Marc Cohn, Taj Mahal, and Catie Curtis.
In 1997, Rockwell Church recorded their first Compass release and second album Through the Fall. The album kicks off with the catchy "Better Days", which was selected by Polo/Ralph Lauren to spearhead their national radio advertising campaign last year. Tracks like "Geneva" and "Holding Out" offer a lyrical and emotional journey through love, anguish and envy while "Click Your Heels" and "Back on the Bus" suggest the duo's light-hearted, humorous approach to life. Throughout, Joti's stellar guitar technique and multi-instrumental talents on banjo, mandolin, fiddle and keyboards complement Nathan's introspective songwriting and expressive tenor voice. Their close harmonies and melodic ideas make the duo seem like the perfect male counterpart to the Indigo Girls.
At a time when contemporary folk music seems to be largely the domain of talented female folk artists such as Shawn Colvin, the Indigo Girls and Paula Cole, and Lilith Fair is the hottest ticket in town, Nathan Hubbard and Joti Rockwell hope that Rockwell Church will represent the male side of folk music. With the national release of Through the Fall on Compass Records, the duo is poised to do just that.
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