Jingle Boom (Presented by SPARKBOOM): An Interview with Cloud Caverns

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The stories of Brandon Peterson and Dan Bouza emerge from East Islip, NY roots. Their history dates back 10 years when they lived less than 10 minutes away and attended high school together and their paths have continued to converged ever since. But it wasn’t until two and a half years ago (when Brandon approached Dan with a song he felt needed to be heard), that music became an entirely new operation for the pair. What began as two friends embarking upon a single-song recording experiment in a backyard-shed-turned-recording-studio, became a brotherhood. Cloud Caverns was born and “Unto Ourselves” became the earliest recording for the Blind Willow EP.

The Cloud Caverns name unites the extremes; that which lies both above us and within our depths. When Dan isn’t devoting his time to Cloud Caverns, he works as an engineer at VuDu Studios in Port Jefferson, and is involved in several other projects. Brandon has been dividing his time between his wife (they married just last week), the band, Hotel of the Laughing Tree, of which he is also a member, and moving to Tennessee.

Check out my recent interview with band members Dan Bouza and Brandon Peterson, to gain some insight into what makes this duo tick. You can also get to know Cloud Caverns by downloading their very own “Christmas Yet to Come,” (released, hot off the virtual press, exclusively for SPARKBOOM’s Jingle Boom: Holiday Bash), and joining us on Saturday, December 20th in the Huntington Arts Council’s Main Street Gallery, for this FREE event. As you listen to Cloud Caverns at this holiday event, with the gallery bedecked in festive decorations and original art, you’ll appreciate the season and the music in a new way. Oh, and of course, don’t forget to wear your best ugly sweater, so you can Jingle Boom, all the way.


Cloud Caverns Promo 3
Photo Credit: Keith Stein, Hurricane of Lions

Lauren Jahoda: What are each of your roles in Cloud Caverns?

Dan Bouza: With Cloud Caverns it’s kind of hard to define roles, because Brandon and I–since it’s such a studio-based project– the two of us kind of do everything. So sometimes I’m playing bass guitar and keyboards, and sometimes Brandon’s playing bass guitar and keyboards. He does most of the singing and he writes the lion’s share of the stuff, and then I just come in and add a bunch of bells and whistles and production to it. And that’s how it gets made.

When you say it’s a studio project, are you referring to the band itself?

DB: Yeah, at least it started out that way. We weren’t playing a lot of shows and it was just me and Brandon in an old shed that I converted into a studio, writing songs and recording them.

Where is this shed?

DB: It’s in my Dad’s backyard, in East Islip. We have since graduated from the shed (laughs).

(laughs) What is the shed being used for now?

DB: It’s sitting empty and has all my books in it now (laughs).

What did you study in college? Was Cloud Caverns a part of the plan or was something else?

DB: I studied Music Business and Classical Guitar. I’m not entirely sure that I had a plan when I decided to study music, but I knew that I wanted to make music and I just kind of hoped the rest would fall into place later. Cloud Caverns itself wasn’t part of that plan, but the idea of something like it definitely was. I couldn’t be more grateful for the experience though. Having a creative outlet like this with Brandon has been really great.

How long have the two of you been “Cloud Caverns”?

DB: I think it’s about two and a half years now. Brandon came to me with one song. It was the last song on the EP, “Unto Ourselves,” and we recorded that and he came back with 4 or 5 other songs, and that’s when I knew we were going to keep doing this and it would turn into something.

What affect, if any, did growing up on Long Island have on your music?

Brandon Peterson: Although I don’t think Long Island has had a huge effect on us musically, lyrically I think it’s definitely part of our core. We both grew up here and it’s always been home to us. So all the memories and stories we’ve cultivated growing up here, make their way into our songs somehow.

Why did you choose “Gypsy Loft” as the title track for the album?

Dan Bouza: I had just moved into a house that was previously occupied by a family of real life Gypsies.  When I moved in, the place was a wreck. A group of friends, Brandon included, helped fix and scrub every inch of the place over a period of about two weeks. My bedroom was in the loft, which is where the majority of the album was recorded, so it seemed fitting.

a1839065522_10Album Art: AJ Estrada

What are your plans, if any, for your next album?

Dan Bouza: We have about 20 songs lined up for the next album.  We’ve been in pre-production/writing mode basically, since we finished Gypsy Loft, and we’re getting ready to start actually recording it next month. We’re pretty excited to get back into the swing of things.

How did your connection with SPARKBOOM come about?

Dan Bouza: A friend of ours had mentioned to Raj [Tawney] and Michelle [Carollo] to check us out when the album first came out. They reached out to us to play the after party at their screening of Mistaken for Strangers. We had a blast and realized that they’re really doing something special for Long Island.

Did you create “Christmas Yet to Come” specifically for Jingle Boom? If so, how did you come up with it?

Dan Bouza: We did. Brandon showed up with a demo one day after Raj had asked us about playing a Christmas song. Brandon wrote 95% of it, so it’s probably best if he answers how he came up with it.

Brandon Peterson: I wanted to write a Christmas song that transported me back to the 90s. I remember as a kid, the week of Christmas was the absolute best week ever. We’d be with our loved ones every night, go driving around to look at lights and decorations on other houses, see distant family members, etc, etc. I tried to channel all these manifestations into one song. It is also inspired by Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, hence the title of the song. It has to do with hanging on to old holiday memories, whilst harvesting new ones.

Listen here…


And join us here…


6 PM – 10 PM

Huntington Arts Council, Inc.

213 Main Street

Huntington, NY 11743


Cloud Caverns, NonStop To Cairo and Robert Sloan


Steven T. Licardi, Bri Onishea, James Kim, Frankie A Soto, and Meredith Nussbaum


Caitlyn Shea and REME 821

Craft Beer courtesy of Saint James Brewery, delicious treats courtesy of Stella Blue Bistro, and yummy water by Hint Water, prize giveaways courtesy of Sip Tea Lounge and more!


10453452_344336209071552_3438986050378823_nQuestions by: Lauren Jahoda & Andrew Kase


Cambridge Presents: Red Line Roots, Julie Rhodes, Danny Roaman, Bill Scorzari & More

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Photo Credit: Red Line Roots
Julie Rhodes at Club Passim Photo Credit: Red Line Roots

This weekend marked our very first Heartstrings visit to Cambridge, Mass., for Bill Scorzari‘s performance at Gallery 263 on Saturday night. As it turns out, Cambridge was full of great surprises.

On Friday, we received word that Danny Roaman (Jonah Tolchin‘s guitarist) would be accompanying Julie Rhodes at the famous Club Passim (formerly Club 47) Saturday afternoon, for the “Locals Covering Locals” showcase (produced by musician, Brian Carroll of Red Line Roots). Julie sang several originals and local favorites, including a cover of Jonah Tolchin’s “Mockingbird,” with Danny on guitar, alongside a second electric blues guitar, a thumpin’ stand-up bass and a smokin’ blues harp with that classic, taxi-cab microphone plugged into a dirty amp, howl. They were absolutely incredible! If you haven’t yet heard Julie sing, you need to. Julie Rhodes is the blues done right, with one of the most effortlessly authentic voices I’ve heard in years. There’s no doubt that we all will hear more about this incredible vocalist and her band in the days to come. Look for the release of Julie’s debut album (maybe this Spring?), produced by friend and mentor, Jonah Tolchin.

10325243_283753968474720_2976197881287614275_nAdditional performers featured at Club Passim were Jake Hill, Connor Millican and Haunt the House — a folk trio of guitar, accordion and stand up bass, who played a rousing set, which included Ian Fitzgerald‘s “Melinda Down the Line.” It’s inevitable that something great is on the horizon for this band. I can just feel it.

Haunt the House

The Whiskey Boys took the stage last, with their virtuoso set of bluegrass/folk music of the best kind, which even included a cover of “Feel Good Inc” by the Gorillaz.

We spoke with Brian Carroll after the show, about his vision of organizing local musicians to support each other by performing each other’s music, locally. To say this event was a great success, would be an understatement.

After the show at Club Passim, we headed to Gallery 263 for Bill Scorzari’s show with special guest, Annie Johnson — a 4th-year Berklee student from Idaho, who along with her sister, Katie Johnson, opened with a half hour of Annie’s masterfully-written original compositions.  Check out Annie’s music on Soundcloud.

Bill Scorzari then took the stage.Bill’s debut album was released this past May to critical acclaim, and can now be heard on Pandora. This night, Bill performed a collection of original Americana music slated for his second album, which is currently being recorded and produced by legendary audio engineer, Scott Hull of Masterdisk, right here in New York. Bill passionately delivered these heartfelt, real-life narratives, powered by his intense, pervading voice and sublime guitar.

An impromptu collaboration followed as Julie Rhodes and Danny Roaman joined Bill on stage to close out the night. Julie turned it on like a thousand-watt bulb, as Bill and Danny’s guitar work added to the glow. Check it out out here:

Homegrown: The Restoration Farm’s ‘Tin House Music’

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By: Lauren Jahoda

The Restoration Farm, founded in 2007 by Daniel Holmes and Caroline Fanning, is a seven-acre farm situated on the grounds of Long Island’s one-of-a-kind Old Bethpage Village Restoration. The Restoration Farm’s mission is to provide the surrounding community with fresh, sustainable and herbicide/pesticide/synthetic fertilizer-free produce. This summer, the Farm has expanded its community offerings with the inception of “Tin House Music” Concert Series. Tin House’s first concert took place on May 4 with alternative folk band, Miles to Dayton, and continues on the first Sunday of each month until their final show of the season on September 7th. All shows begin at 2 PM with an open-mic hour. Last Sunday’s show featured the Long Island Bluegrass Quartet and brought in incredible local talent, including Bill Scorzari and Tin House’s own MC.

Tin House nourishes our community, offering a combination of homegrown food and sound within the bounds of a down-to-earth and organic backdrop. Come down to the final September 7th show to sample the harvest and harmonies. Check out the calendar and get your tickets here:


(Photos by Megan Jahoda)