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Paige & the Thousand

TOFU AND WHISKEY Paige & the Thousand is the new solo project from singer-songwriter Lindsay Paige Garfield. Or wait, she has also gone by just Lindsay Garfield professionally, as with her former seven-piece indie-folk group Or, the Whale. But what's in a name?

"I kind of didn't realize how confusing it was going to be when I decided to name my band after my middle name. But I just thought it sounded better than Lindsay & the Thousand," Garfield says. "And I really wanted to use '& the Thousand.' She cheerfully adds that I may call her whatever I like.

The thousand part of the band name is a literary reference from one of her favorite books, Watership Down, a 1972 adventure novel about rabbits forced from their farm because their farmer is trying to kill them, and the journey they undertake. (It's an allegory about struggle against tyranny and the corporate state.) For her part, Garfield says she doesn't personally identify with that narrative but for her, it brings to mind her Jewish vaudeville ancestors and relatives who emigrated to the States from Eastern Europe. And she wanted to honor their memory and struggles with her new music.

The sound she's been working on as Paige & the Thousand has roots similar to Or, the Whale but also travels to different offshoots of twangy folk, country, and Americana, even dipping into Celtic traditions, and shows similar chord progressions to her own rich history of Jewish music, which she long ago sang in synagogue choir as a child.

That "& the Thousand" also refers to "all the people that guided me along my musical path, believed in me, supported me."

Garfield, who lives in Pacific Heights after half a decade in the Mission, tapped into that support for her debut EP, We Are Now The Times, which she self-released late last year. She wrote the songs for it solo, usually coming up with lyrics based on literary or cinematic references, made-up tales, or true-to-life villains, but recorded the EP in a highly collaborative, two-part process. While working on the basic tracks at Magnolia Records in Novato with engineer Jeremy D'Antonio, she enlisted friends from Or, the Whale to come in and layer additional instrumental sparkle. That included bassist Sean Barnett, and Dan Luehring who played drums, along with a handful more.

She then sent the tracks down to LA's Zeitgeist Studios, to her cousin Mike Feingold, who is also in Erika Badu's band. Long working with R&B artists, Feingold's first Americana record was Garfield's EP. "I sang at his Bar Mitzvah, that's the last time we worked together," she says.

Feingold's fingerprints are all over We Are Now The Times, with production, and with a variety of instruments including baritone guitar and tuba. And he solicited the help of his friends Blake Mills (Band of Horses, Norah Jones) and pianist Patrick Warren (Bob Dylan), along with a musician in New Orleans playing pedal steel, and another friend from Boston on banjo and mandolin.

So the recording of this four-song EP was indeed a national group effort, but the songs at the core of it began with Garfield, alone in her room.

The album closer, twinkling piano ballad "Let's Descend," with which you picture barefoot dancing in the dewy summer grass at midnight, was written about a German film called Wings of Desire. It's one of Garfield's favorite flicks, which is in turn based on the poetry of Peter Handke. It seems the album title, We Are Now The Times, is also taken from dialogue in Wings of Desire. And she even got permission from the director's publishing company in Germany to license some dialogue from the film in the song.

So she's inspired by films and novels, but also the story-song custom inherit in classic folk music. "I'm not a traditionalist, but I do like the idea of telling stories," she says.

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