Jamgrass, newgrass, funkgrass, whatever you want to call it—Armchair Boogie is rapidly becoming one of the country’s hottest acts. With an unbounded sound, this Wisconsin-based quartet is known for their powerful harmonies, timeless originals, and choice covers, along with unforgettable live performances. Listed as a “Must-See Roots Artists at Bourbon & Beyond” by The Bluegrass Situation who wrote, “We recently caught this jammy Wisconsin outfit at Earl Scruggs Music Festival, where they burnt down their late-night set.”
Armchair Boogie is Augie Dougherty on banjo and Ben Majeska acoustic and electric guitars backed by tight, driving rhythms of Eli Frieders on electric bass and Denzel Connor on drums. This unconventional lineup enhances their lightning-fast bluegrass, allowing them to freely venture into the realms of funk or country. A band on the verge, Armchair Boogie is excited to independently release their fourth studio recording, Hard Times & Deadlines, on March 15.
The lead track, and first single, “Hard Times,” demonstrates the 3-part harmonies that drive home the album’s namesake. Dougherty says of his perspective of the song, “‘Hard Times’ is about my navigation of life’s realities. Entering my late twenties came with a lot of pressure to pursue musical and other professional endeavors. Feeling lost, feeling a lack of freedom, feeling like I have to push on through.”
The Hartforesque sounding tune can also take on a plethora of new meanings with lyrics like, “We’re out here all alone, this big ol’ world is our only home, What do you do, if you find yourself lost? You can find a friend, you can find a bucket, You can find a piece of wood and just chuck it. If you’re real lucky, you can find a soul… Well the hard times and deadlines pushin’ me through till the good times.”
Live For Live Music premiered the song and Michael Broerman writes, “‘Hard Times’ highlights the dualities that define Armchair Boogie. On one hand, there’s the opening picking of Augie‘s banjo, which elucidates the group’s traditional elements. By the time he breezes through the opening verse, however, the rest of the band comes alive as Denzel‘s drums awaken the track to reveal Armchair’s folk-jam sensibilities. The stylistic personalities of the four-piece—which also features Eli on electric bass and Ben on acoustic guitar [for this track]—work in tandem on ‘Hard Times,’ as Armchair Boogie powers through the hard times and deadlines to discover what life is about.”
Self-produced, this new album shows a maturing of the band’s songwriting and musical capabilities. Composing these songs around the beginning of the pandemic, Majeska and Dougherty—who sing lead on the respective songs they wrote—were experiencing the stresses of entering their late twenties.
Majeska says “Life comes with highs and lows, and Hard Times & Deadlines captures the fleet of emotions that come with it. From broken hearts and fond memories. To broad horizons and the inevitable end of this human journey.”
“Hard Times & Deadlines is a pretty literal explanation of what I felt life was turning into,” Dougherty says. “The fluffy part of college and party life was beginning to fade away and it seemed like it was time to put my head down and work.”
Once the tunes were drafted, they were brought to the whole band for collaboration. “This is where the tune truly becomes a Boogie song. Everyone adds their touch of creative input and we’re able to polish it up collectively pretty quickly,” explains Dougherty.
The ten original songs that make up Hard Times & Deadlines were recorded and mixed by Jeffrey Peterson at Lunar Lava Audio—who specializes in classic recording techniques and organic sounding results—in Fort Atkinson, WI. It was mastered by Collin Jordan—owner of The Boiler Room Mastering in Chicago.
Armchair Boogie emerged from the central waters and woods of Wisconsin, after meeting at University of Wisconsin Stevens Point in 2015. In the spring of 2018 Armchair Boogie moved to Madison and released their debut self-titled album, followed by 2019’s What Does Time Care?, and a 4-track EP in 2021—The Western.
Nowadays Armchair Boogie continues touring and climbing their way up notable festival lineups. In 2023 alone they performed at Summer Camp Music Festival, Old Settler’s Music Festival, Bourbon and Beyond, Grey Fox, Blissfest, Suwannee Spring Reunion, Earl Scruggs Music Festival, Shoe Fest, and Sugar Pine Music Festival. Adding to previous years at WinterWonderGrass, Northwest String Summit, Blue Ox Music Festival, John Hartford Memorial Festival, Charm City Bluegrass, MerleFest, Albino Skunk Fest, and more.
They started hosting their own event, The Boogiedown Music Festival, in 2021 at Driftless Music Gardens during the summer in Yuba, WI. The band has performed throughout the country, with regular stops throughout the Midwest—including sold-out shows in their hometown of Madison—as they continue to break through into new markets.
Over the years and through the shows, they’ve had the honor to share the spotlight at shows and or performed with members of with Leftover Salmon, Yonder Mountain String Band, The Infamous Stringdusters, The HillBenders, Daniel Donato, Pert Near Sandstone, and jammed with many more.
SOURCE: Official Bio