There is some debate as to the exact historical moment when rock 'n' roll was born in America, but most agree it was conceived at the crossroads of blues and country music in the years following World War II. Based in Buffalo, NY, Americana band Flatbed taps deep into these early foundations and augments their style with influences from the last 70 years of popular music to form a unique, yet approachable, roots sound.
From humble beginnings as an acoustic songwriting trio, Derek Bassett (vocals and guitars), Joelle Labert (vocals) and Michael Tinsmon (bass) quickly received accolades for their original songs as well as their arrangements of diverse Americana cover selections.
Performing as Bassett/Labert/Tinsmon, the trio had early success opening for such national acts as Freakwater, Trampled By Turtles, Carbon Leaf, Quick Sand, Grady and Bobby Bare, Jr. The three friends then decided they wanted to explore a bigger sound and become a full band. Working under the name Flatbed, they augmented their sound with the addition of drums, electric guitar and other roots instruments. These changes added a layer of energy to live performances that rested on their songwriting bedrock. As the band grew, so did their audiences, and they went on to earn multiple Buffalo Music Award nominations over the last decade.
Their eponymously titled debut album (2007) "revealed an instantly likable, home-brewed, country-based collection of songs splitting the difference between the Cosmic American Music of Gram Parsons and New Riders of the Purple Sage and the folk-based country of Emmylou Harris," according to Jeff Miers of The Buffalo News.
For the next three years the band navigated several personnel changes while continuing to perform regularly and grow a loyal fan base in Western New York. In the spring of 2010, Flatbed signed veteran free-agent drummer and vocalist, Thom Davis and began expanding their repertoire to include more classic country, rock and blues while always managing to keep to their roots in original songwriting.
In 2011, Flatbed released its second studio effort, Scratches and Dents. Offering a wide range of Americana styles, the album reflects the band's ability to incorporate many of rock 'n' roll's earliest influences into a modern, original sound. "Scratches and Dents," Jeff Miers wrote in his Buffalo News review, "is to Buffalo what Lucinda Williams' Car Wheels on a Gravel Road is to Austin, Texas."
For the last several years, the group's line-up has remained consistent and allowed the band to enjoy the success of regularly occurring monthly shows in and around Western New York. They have opened for many more national touring acts, including The Bottle Rockets, Floodwood and Hey Mavis.
In January 2015, Flatbed proudly announced that it had earned a "residency" at Buffalo's famed Sportsmen's Tavern, known as one of the country's premiere venues for Americana music. The band holds down the Happy Hour show the second Friday of each month.
With its current, streamlined, four-piece line-up, Flatbed is able to offer acoustic folk, multi-part vocal harmonies, rocking electric sounds and just about everything else that could fall under the roots umbrella. Their live shows have something for every roots rock fan while keeping the song front and center.
Whether on stage or in the studio, Flatbed demonstrates the confidence that comes from decades of live performance experience and a genuine camaraderie that is easily recognizable. They are as comfortable playing in the smallest honky-tonks and juke joints as they are on the largest outdoor festival stages.
Background Photo Credit: Thom Davis
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