Bread & Circus, a rising newcomer to the Boise band scene, is one of the bands from Moscow, Boise and Spokane (see below) who will perform Saturday, April 18 at Moscow’s Hempfest.
The group formed in early 2013, releasing their first album, “Fortune Favors the Bold,” last August. The rock band features Michael Blumenstein on guitar, Jon Engelund on bass, Brady Meyers on mandolin and Garrett Finley on percussion; all sing vocals. Inland360 caught up with Blumenstein to learn more:
360: Where did the name Bread & Circus come from?
Blumenstein: It’s a Roman term. It basically denotes the idea that if we give the masses their “bread and circus” — if we entertain them — then they won’t worry about what we’re doing in the government. While we’re not an overly political band, it felt right as a moniker for this project.
360: How would you describe your sound?
Blumenstein: We’re a down home, or maybe Southern, improvisational rock band. We’re more than just a jam band. I challenge my band to play the songs different each time we play. When it works, it’s really gratifying and a lot of fun. You might hear us play one set one way one week and the next time you’ll hear it another way.
360: What are some of your influences?
Blumenstein: My favorite band in the entire world is the Smiths. They were the largest influences — I can’t help but try to bring some of that into my writing. My first concert in 1988 was the Grateful Dead, so I was doing everything I could to emulate Jerry Garcia. I’m influenced by alternative because that’s what I grew up with.
360: Bread & Circus plays a few cover songs, but mostly original music. Tell us a little more about the songs you write.
Blumenstein: Most of my songs come to me very quickly, they’re written from a place of pain or discord. Most of what I write is in metaphor, I write in symbolism. People can make the song whatever they want it to be, they can pick out a message that fits their experience. I write in a way that’s upbeat.
360: Tell us about a memorable moment on stage — embarrassing or otherwise.
Blumenstein: Most embarrassing moment on stage was July 3, 2014. I had frozen whiskey in a flask and brought it with me on stage because it was so hot. I proceeded to open it up and the whiskey ejected out of the flask and into my right eyeball. It was so painful and I had snot running out of my nose and I couldn’t see anything. And this is only the second song in. So I tried to do my best without letting anyone know. The audience didn’t notice, but the show managers got upset because they thought I was drunk.
Here’s the musical lineup for Moscow’s Hempfest:
Charcoal Squids (Moscow) 10:15-11
Galactic Tofu Farmers (Moscow) 11:15-12:15
Phoenix 99 Blues Band (Moscow) 12:30-1:30
Bread & Circus (Boise) 1:45-2:45
Plaedo – Spoken word (Eugene, formerly Moscow) 3-3:30
Endangered Species (Spokane) 3:30-5:00
Voodoo City Radio (MOscow) 5:15-6:30