Lake Street Dive's star on rise

The diverse Boston-bred band is having a banner year, winning critical acclaim and a growing audience.

Lake Street Dive. Photo by Jarrod McCabe
Lake Street Dive. Photo by Jarrod McCabe — Jarrod McCabe

Lake Street Dive was certifiably the least-known act when the Boston-bred band performed last September at an all-star concert at New York’s Town Hall. Then again, the lineup included: Elvis Costello; Jack White; Joan Baez; Patti Smith; the Avett Brothers; Nickel Creek’s Chris Thile and his other band, Punch Brothers; Marcus Mumford; and Gillian Welch & Dave Rawlings. All were on hand for a concert billed as "Another Day/Another Time: 'Celebrating the Music of Inside llewyn Davis'."

But, by the time the night concluded, this two-woman, two-man group had boosted its profile immeasurably. Reviews in Rolling Stone and The New York Times singled Lake Street Dive out for praise. TV appearances on “Late Show with David Letterman” and “The Colbert Report” followed. Suddenly, the 10-year-old band found itself ascending to a whole new level.

“It was really insane for us to be around all of those luminaries from the past and present,” said Lake Street Dive bassist-singer Bridget Kearney.

Lake Street Dive

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Where: North Park Theatre, 2891 University Ave., North Park

Tickets: Sold out

Phone: (619) 239-8836


“Going into it, we didn’t know how we’d be received. I don’t think anyone there had ever heard us before. But they were so friendly and open, so that gave me some confidence, seeing such successful artists who continue to be nice and normal people

“We hung out with Costello a fair amount backstage, and he has been an influence of ours, for sure. We also met Joan Baez and Jack Ashford, who was percussionist in the house band that night and was the tambourine player on virtually every single Motown Records’ release, and he was really friendly. It was amazing!”

Lake Street Dive’s growing national popularity has been mirrored in San Diego, where it performed at Queen Bee’s last fall and the larger Belly Up earlier this year. The band’s sold-out Friday concert at the North Park Theatre marks its biggest area concert to date. (Kearney previously came to San Diego a number of times on her own to visit her brother, who was doing graduate work in political science at UC San Diego.)

No matter the size of the venue, though, Kearney, lead singer Rachael Price, trumpeter-guitarist Mike Olson and drummer Mike Calabrese easily win over audiences with their visceral musical blend.

Drawing from vintage pop and rock, classic Motown soul, jazz, country and more, their exuberant songs showcase strong ensemble work, polished, four-part vocal harmonies and an ability to achieve musical propulsion with predominantly acoustic instrumentation.

Just how well it all works is demonstrated on “Bad Self Portraits,” the band’s enchanting new album.

“There are just four of us,” Kearney noted, speaking from Los Angeles. “So, we’ve learned to use what we have to achieve the fullest possible extent of textures and styles. The great thing about being in a band, and especially a democratic band, is you get to make the music as good as you can.”

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