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Bridges And A Bottle
PA's homebrewed smash, Bridges and a Bottle have gained national attention for their rocking hooks and soaring melodies from their two independently released CDs and video "18". Currently the band is working on their third release with producer Rich Keller.

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You can call it ambitious. You can call it elaborate. Far-reaching, even. Just donâ??t call it irrational.

Harrisburg, Pennsylvaniaâ??s Bridges And A Bottle has done what few other bands in their position rarely â?? maybe ever â?? do: professionally record and release a DVD of all new original material, without the help of any label. With the arrival of Midnight Sessions Live, the band has quietly cemented themselves as pioneers in todayâ??s fast-moving music industry, where artists are now all-but-required to think on their feet if they are to stay afloat in competitive waters and satisfy the fickle public.

Rather than go the conventional route that most bands employ and release a new collection of original music via album, Bridges decided to take the road less traveled and unveil their six newest songs by performing them live in a centuries-old abandoned barn two late nights in the summer . The band kept the songs simple: stripped-down arrangements with acoustic guitars, basic percussion, and string accompaniment from hired musicians.

â??The whole concept of Midnight Sessions is something that weâ??ve wanted to do for a long time,â? says Justin Smith, who, along with his brother Adam, is responsible for the bandâ??s unique dual-vocal assault. â??Iâ??ve always found something magical in a bare-bones, honest performance, and thatâ??s exactly what we tried to achieve.â?
The band recruited expert director Mark Eaton and his Bang Pictures crew to capture the result, but the shoot was not without its tribulations; more than 40 hours of prepping, filming, and contending with bad weather were ultimately required. Because the barn had an old tin roof that made the rain sound like an earthquake, the film crew had to halt filming every time the rain got too loud. In fact, there are a couple of spots on the DVD where thunder and lightning are unmistakably evident. Once the filming was complete, the band worked diligently with producer Rich Keller (Chris Brown, Lyfe Jennings, the emerging Laura Warshauer) to mix the audio into the final product. The result is a DVD that paints the perfect portrait of Bridges And A Bottle: exceptionally talented and determined.

â??Everybody is really happy with the overall outcome,â? Justin says. â??It definitely stands out as an original piece of work, especially considering we did it all on our own.â?

Midnight Sessions is the next logical step in Bridges And A Bottleâ??s already-productive career. The band achieved regional success with 2006â??s Trojan Horse E.P., which spawned the hit single â??Still Standing.â? The track received heavy airplay on radio stations across central Pennsylvania, and it was the fifth most played song of 2006 on WMRF in Huntingdon, ranking ahead of artists like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nickelback. The trackâ??s unexpected popularity prompted Rocco Pallotto, music director at WMRF, to hail Bridges as â??the next big band to make it out of Pennsylvania,â? following the likes of multi-platinum rockers Live, Fuel and Breaking Benjamin. Perhaps itâ??s fitting, then, that the band is managed by Media Five Entertainment â?? the firm that oversaw the enormous success of Live and Fuel in the 1990s and 2000s.

In addition to challenging themselves with Midnight Sessions, Bridges also demonstrated their innovation with the advent of their own performing venue, aptly titled Bridges Lounge in downtown Harrisburg. The club housed weekly variations of the bandâ??s stage show, â??Machines,â? in late 2007. The show featured Justin, Adam and lead guitarist Tyler Adkins performing over complex electronic samples in place of a live drummer. The bandâ??s tenure at the lounge was well received by their many loyal fans, who made the weekly trek to the lounge to show their adoration. Justin points to the success of the Bridges Lounge as yet another example of the bandâ??s desire to veer from the norm.

â??I think one of the strongest elements of the band, and certainly one of my favorite elements, is that our songs can be presented in many different ways,â? Justin says. â??Look at Midnight Sessions, and look at the lounge. Weâ??re constantly trying to switch up the presentation of our material from project to project.â?

Once it became time for Bridges to begin work on their third album, they entered the studio with Keller this spring, a choice that was easy after the band worked with the producer on the Midnight Sessions tracks. Thereâ??s an extraordinary amount of creativity and ability currently brewing in Kellerâ??s New Jersey studio, and the mix between both forces will no doubt propel the band to unforeseen heights once the album is completed.

â??Weâ??ve finally figured out our collective strengths and eliminated our collective weaknesses, and we have a clear-cut vision of who we are as musicians and what weâ??re trying to achieve,â? says Justin. â??The next step consists of attacking, creating, and then attacking some more. [Keller] is an amazing producer that we chose based on our faith that he can help us achieve the exact sound that weâ??re going for.â?

Exactly what that sound is has yet to be unveiled, but if Midnight Sessions (and any of the bandâ??s previous efforts) is any indication, the way itâ??s presented will be another shining triumph in Bridgesâ?? quest to stand out.

â??Weâ??ve been dealing with skepticism our whole musical careers,â? Justin concedes. â??People have called us â??too thisâ??, â??not enough thatâ??, and asked â??how are you ever going to pull that off?â?? The bands that break through these days are the ones that have no fearâ?¦ the ones that are able to come up with creative, sometimes overly ambitious ways to give their music to the masses.â?

- Andrew Daniels

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