Music News & Reviews

Big Fresh celebrates new EP by “sticking to what we feel like we know and do the best”

Big Fresh (clockwise from lower left): Ben Phelan, Brian Connors Manke, John Ferguson, Ben Fulton, Nick Coleman, Dave Farris, Kim Conlee, Matthew Clarke, Faith Diamond. Photo credit: Chad Stockfleth.
Big Fresh (clockwise from lower left): Ben Phelan, Brian Connors Manke, John Ferguson, Ben Fulton, Nick Coleman, Dave Farris, Kim Conlee, Matthew Clarke, Faith Diamond. Photo credit: Chad Stockfleth.

Big Fresh

1 p.m. Aug. 19 at The Burl, 375 Thompson Rd. $10. theburlky.com.

It’s sobering indeed to realize one of Lexington’s top pop squads, Big Fresh, is now 20 years old. The depth of such a statistic is not lost on band co-founder and frontman John Ferguson. With a Sunday performance celebrating the release of Big Fresh’s new EP album “Sweeps,” he is reminded of the crossroads every musician faces when time rolls on — specifically, when the generations shift and the music at hand searches for a welcoming home.

“As a musician, if you put enough years in, you constantly ask yourself if what you’re doing is relevant, if what you’re doing is something that will speak to younger generations,” Ferguson said. “You have to make those choices. ‘Am I going to be an artist who tries to keep up with the latest sounds or am I going to be among the artists who have dedicated themselves to the sound they know and love the most. I know we do a lot of genre-hopping, but even in that, I think we’re kind of sticking to what we feel like we know and do the best.”

With that, “Sweeps” (released on the Ferguson-run Desperate Spirits label) wears its love of ‘70s and early ‘80s pop openly, from its chiming, brightly constructed melodies to the synth-savvy syncopation that rules its grooves.

“People can see the obvious influences — the throwback to ‘70s and ‘80s inspirations, which means that’s the stuff we grew up on, really. But also, as a songwriter, that’s what flows out the most naturally, so I don’t feel like those sounds are forced or that I’m trying to reinvent this product to make it more marketable to 20-somethings.”

“Sweeps” was designed purposely as a companion piece to 2017’s “Fall Preview,” from the TV Guide-esque cover artwork that adorns both records to the practice of employing a team of national and international guest artists Ken Stringfellow of The Posies, Per Sunding of the Swedish band Eggstone as well as longtime local pals Chris Dennison, Reva English and Tim Welch.

“It’s a huge moment in my life to have these people whose music I grew up listening to lending their talents to this project — particularly, Per Sunding. Eggstone has been very influential on myself and a few others in the band since the ‘90s. To be able to have this collaboration across the oceans where we would send him tracks and they send the stuff back via email was very special for us.”

“As for our Lexington friends, Reva from Italian Beaches was already part of the family, so we want to take advantage of any chance to work with her. The same goes for Chris and Tim Welch. These folks are all local heroes, artists I’ve looked up to in the community for a long time. It was great getting to work with him.”

Another acknowledgment of Big Fresh’s elder status among Lexington bands comes into view when you look at the start time of the band’s Sunday show: 1 p.m.

“As a musician, you can start to get tired of the very late nights in the bar scene. Plus, we have a lot of friends that have families with children who would love to see the band. So we decided to create a family friendly, all ages environment. That’s always preferable for to us.”

Pops go the Stones

General admission lawn seating tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the gate (take note that gate sales will be cash only). Table seating ranges from $250-$400. Contact the Lexington Center ticket office at 859-233-3535. Gates open each night at 6 p.m. The concert begins at dusk (approximately 8:30 p.m.). For more info, go to lexpops.com/wp.

The Lexington Philharmonic’s annual Picnic with the Pops celebration takes to the great outdoors again Saturday and Sunday — the previously-scheduled Friday performance was moved to Sunday due to the rain — at Keeneland’s The Meadow at Keene Barn. The menu: two nights of Rolling Stones music with Brent Havens serving as guest conductor.

Havens has overseen numerous orchestral rock performances throughout the country with alternating repertoires and programs devoted to Led Zeppelin, Michael Jackson, U2, Prince and others.

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