After a relatively brief hiatus, or perhaps more accurately a period of uncertainty, Lost Dog Street Band is back at it with new music and a tour on the horizon.
Led by prolific frontman Benjamin Tod, who has also released three albums on his own between 2017 and 2022, Kentucky based Lost Dog Street Band has been an underrated yet irreplaceable force in the country music world since their debut album Sick Pup in 2011. With seven albums in their catalog, including their most recent project Glory in 2022, Tod and LDSB have become known for brutally honestly lyricism full of magnificently thoughtful lyricism and storytelling detailing addiction, loss, and love through Tod’s countless stories from years of struggles and life as a drifter.
Their brand new single “Brighter Shade” is no exception, and with the accompanying announcement of their forthcoming and aptly titled record Survived, it’s apparent there is plenty more where that came from. Through a press release circulated by Lost Dog’s team at IVPR, Tod provided some insight into the song and the return of Lost Dog Street Band.
“I’m not sure if there is any song I’ve written that gives quite the emotions this one does. It’s hard to explain but it’s somewhere between fulfilling a last will and relief from a long hard struggle.
I thought I was done with Lost Dog, but after recording my solo album, I looked over all the songs that I had ready for a new record. These were songs for my band I had to admit to myself I wasn’t done with Lost Dog.”
For those of you who may not be familiar, Lost Dog Street Band has historically been a three-piece outfit consisting of Tod, his wife Ashley Mae on fiddle, and friend Jeff Loops on upright bass, and recently they have added Tebbs Karney on pedal steel and drummer Ben Duvall to the lineup. “Brighter Shade,” which takes on several deep-rooted meanings for Tod personally, is also a special ode to his relationship with his wife.
Give it a listen below.
As with most songs penned by Tod, “Brighter Shade” is riddled with allegorical metaphors that will likely go on noticed to even the most intent of listeners, and at face value, the accompanying music video above may seem a bit bizarre.
In the description of the video on YouTube, though, is a note from Tod himself, providing valuable insight in an effort to help the listener to grasp the profundity at hand here.
While a bit lengthy, it’s well worth the read.
“I wrote the script for the “Brighter Shade” video in the span of about five minutes. I had been pitched a few music video concepts from my management at Space Colonel, but I felt that this song needed a personal touch. I was talking on the phone with Mike Vanata about the potential of him coming out from Wyoming and filming something on my land here in Muhlenberg County, KY. Toward the end of the conversation I told him I would think of something all the while it was already coming together in my head. With 10 minutes of hanging up I sent him a basic script of this concept.
This video encapsulates mine and Ashley’s relationship in a lot of ways and the general dynamic of the feminine and masculine spirit. I have always wandered into the unknown in search of something my soul craves that has often led me into traps unforeseen. Ashley has always been there to clean me up and tame the beast within me as part of her sacred duty. As years have gone by and I have gained wisdom through risk, reward and ruin I have become more effective in bringing back valuable treasures from my quests into the darkness. Over time she has become the ultimate embodiment of empathy and patience that my soul needs to heal from those journeys. It is a tale as old as time spanning every culture and creed of human.
There are a lot of psychological connections between the visual and phonic aspect of this piece of art. Every other shot carries a dual meaning mostly related to the song and history of Lost Dog, but also to the process and people involved in the creation of the video. This song develops such an authentic and universally felt notion within the concept of soulmates. This video is an absolutely perfect interpretation of this song and in unison became a masterpiece.
I want to thank Mike Vanata from Western AF for his incredible work and the invaluable friendship we share. I want to thank Ashley Mae for being my guiding star and healing light through years of trial and misfortune most often brought on by my pride and foolishness. I want to last thank God for the incredible gifts of reason and creativity he has given me. The talents and responsibilities I carry are incredibly rare and are not lost on me now that I am fully a man. I will try and not waste it and I pray you don’t waste yours either.”
Some pretty heavy stuff coming from Benjamin Tod and Lost Dog Street Band, but if you’re at all familiar with his music and style, you wouldn’t expect anything less.
If you’re new to Tod and Lost Dog, he and Ashley Mae have a pretty wild story. To provide some brief context, Tod spent most of his childhood in the care of his grandparents. He received his first guitar at seven years old, but didn’t learn to play until he was 14. Soon afterwards, he was expelled from school and found himself busking on the streets of Nashville, years before Music City became as commercial as it is now.
His teenage years were defined by playing music, hopping trains, and bouts with substance abuse, both personally and of those with whom he surrounded himself. It was during these years that he met future wife Ashley Mae in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. A self-taught fiddle player originally from Rapid City, South Dakota, Ashley had relocated to Nashville with her mother who worked for a rock radio station. At age 17, the two set out together to hop trains and travel the country playing music on city streets.
After playing in various bands, they formed Lost Dog Street Band together in 2010. LDSB struggled initially, though, and the band’s beginning was far from fruitful. The band managed to stay afloat through those early days, and after a few timely breaks went their way, the rest is history.
With ten albums between Tod’s solo and Lost Dog Street Band work, and another on the way, they boast one of the deepest, strongest catalogs of songwriting out there. The music and the outlook, though, has changed a lot over the years. Tod, an outspoken recovering addict, and his wife Ashley Mae, have now settled on a plot of land in Kentucky that they maintain themselves and spend most of their time, leading a considerably different life than they were when they initially embarked on this musical venture.
Now they’re onto the next project, and if “Brighter Shade” is any indication, the forthcoming 10-track record Survived is going to be a masterpiece of deftly introspective lyricism and storytelling, and I can’t wait.
Lifetime of Work
Divine To Be
Muhlenberg County Line
Son of Tennessee
Lonely Old Soul
If You Leave Me Now
The album drops on April 26, and then there will be plenty of opportunities to see the new look Lost Dog Street Band live this spring and summer.
Lost Dog Street Band Tour Dates*
April 18 – Detroit, MI – St. Andrew’s Hall
April 19 – Cleveland, OH – Agora Theatre
April 20 – Pittsburgh, PA – Thunderbird Cafe and Music Hall
April 21 – Columbus, OH – The Bluestone
April 23 – Morgantown, WV – Metropolitan Theatre
April 24 – Rochester, NY – The Essex
April 26 – Portland, ME – State Theatre
April 27 – South Burlington, VT – Higher Ground Ballroom
April 29 – Boston, MA – Royale
May 1 – Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
May 3 – Philadelphia, PA – Brooklyn Bowl – Philadelphia
May 4 – Washington, DC – The Howard
May 5 – Charlottesville, VA – Jefferson Theater
May 8 – Charleston, SC – Music Farm
May 10 – Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel
May 11 – Charlotte, NC – Neighborhood Theatre
May 12 – Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse
*Support from The Resonant Rogues on all dates
And if you’ve made it this far, let’s go ahead and cue up one of the greatest country songs of the last decade, Lost Dog Street Band’s “September Doves.”