If, when I die, I end up in music heaven, my requested lineup will be the Grateful Dead (Jerry Garcia intact), Crosby Stills Nash (with Neil Young) and, as the opening act, the Cordovas. But luckily I don't have to wait until I punch my ticket to enjoy one of those acts, since the Nashville-based quartet will perform Friday at Temblor Brewing Co.
Already a cult favorite in their Tennessee home, the group sounds as if it was locked in a time capsule since the early '70s, listened only to harmony-based groups like the ones listed above, before flinging open the doors to deliver its version of voice-centric music.
"Cordovas has always been about guys singing," said band leader Joe Firstman who, in addition to an extensive musical resume, was the music director on "Last Call With Carson Daly" from 2005 to 2009.
"If you removed the mics and sat on the front porch, it should be able to translate. Trade the electric instruments for acoustic instruments and mandolins — that's still the band. Why would you not sing harmony?"
Why not indeed? Rolling Stone magazine named the Cordovas “one of the 10 new country bands that you need to know,” and their sound has been described as a blend of Duane Allman's Telecaster twang, the Dead's relaxed harmonies and the familiar vibe of California's folk-rock heyday.
The Cordovas have toured heavily in the South and Midwest, most recently at AmericanaFest in Nashville. Earlier this week, on their California tour, they performed in Del Mar at the KaaBoo Festival, at Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles and Wayfarer in Costa Mesa heading north for their Bakersfield show.
Longtime booker Tom Bianchi of The Burren in Boston calls them "easily one of the best bands we've had in 20 years."
The Cordovas' current musical gem (produced by Kenneth Pattengale of The Milk Carton Kids) is "I'm the One Who Needs You Tonight" and features three-plus minutes of tightly wrung, much needed harmony and disarming familiarity. Their 2012 self-titled album released on SoundCloud is jaw-droppingly rich with songs like “All I Found” and “Southern Rain.”
— Herb Benham is a partner in Passing Through Productions, which has arranged the Cordovas' show.