Cold Chocolate & Ben Cosgrove
at The Parlor Room
Thursday, March 7th
SHOW: 7:30pm / DOORS: 7:00pm
ADV TIX: $20 GA / $18 MEMBERS
DOS TIX: $25 GA / $23 MEMBERS
Cold Chocolate is a genre-bending Americana band that fuses folk, funk and bluegrass to create a unique sound all their own. Led by Ethan Robbins (vocals/guitar/mandolin) and Ariel Bernstein (vocals/percussion/banjo), the Boston-based duo released their fifth full-length album in the fall of 2023. “We're growing as a band, and I think that shows in our songwriting,” says Robbins. “I see this album as a leaping off point for many more new albums to come, and that's an exciting prospect,” adds Bernstein.
Punctuated by tight harmonies and skillful musicianship, Cold Chocolate has quickly gained recognition for their original music and high-energy shows. The band has shared bills with Leftover Salmon, David Grisman, and Angelique Kidjo, and regularly performs at venues and music festivals across the country. Jason Verlinde of The Fretboard Journal who covered the band’s FreshGrass Festival set noted “there were plenty of magical moments…I will never forget [watching] Cold Chocolate perform.” Kathy Sands-Boehmer of No Depression raved, "[Ethan] feels the music in his heart and soul and it shows when he plays. Ethan becomes the music on stage. There’s an almost mystical connection between his guitar and the notes that flow out of it."
Robbins began his bluegrass career at Oberlin College, where he started to explore how this hard-driving fast-paced genre could be stretched. A classical violinist from age four, he fell in love with the guitar when he turned fourteen and his father bought him five quintessential albums: The Band’s Music from Big Pink, Bob Dylan’s Bringing it all Back Home, John Hartford’s Steam Powered Aereo-plane, Hank Williams Live at the Grand Ole Opry, and the Grateful Dead’s Workingman’s Dead. Ever since, Robbins has attempted to bring those raw, rootsy sounds into his own original material.
In 2012, Robbins met percussionist Bernstein at a mutual friend's gig in Boston. Like Robbins, Bernstein also studied classical percussion in college before moving to the drum set. A master of restraint, the loose-wristed Bernstein brings a light and tasteful groove to Cold Chocolate’s tunes, filling out their sound and heightening the band’s live energy. In addition to playing in Cold Chocolate, Bernstein can be found as a sideman with Ray LaMontagne, as well as working on the records of some of the scene's finest acoustic musicians at his own Honey Pot Studios.
Ben Cosgrove is a traveling composer, pianist, and multi-instrumentalist from northern New England. He performs regularly all over the country, presenting a unique variety of original instrumental music that explores themes of landscape, geography, and environment while straddling a line between folk and classical music. “Like a sonic plein-air painter,” wrote the Boston Globe, “[Cosgrove] uses his piano as a paintbrush — and he’s made a name for himself doing it.” His “electric and exhilarating” solo piano performances are at once dazzling and intimate: music that has been described as “stunning” and “compelling and powerful,” — Red Line Roots has called him “stupidly talented” — all presented with “warmth, humor, honesty, and the easy familiarity of a troubadour.”
Throughout his career, the strongest forces guiding Ben’s composition and performances have been his deep and abiding interests in landscape, geography, place, and environment. For years, he has been fascinated and inspired by the different ways people understand and interact with the landscapes around them, and through songs with names like “Prairie Fire,” “The Machine in the Garden,” “Champlain,” “Kennebec,” “Volcano,” and others, he seeks to explore those relationships and reflect them in sound. “I don’t think of my pieces as rendering places in music,” he once remarked during an interview with Harvard Magazine, “but more just as a way of responding to places musically. Writing music just turns out to be a great way for me to process the world.”
Cosgrove’s new album Bearings, released in fall of 2023, represents the latest chapter in a career that to date has included solo performances in 49 states (all but Delaware), as well as artist residencies and collaborations with Acadia, Isle Royale, Glacier, and Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Parks, White Mountain National Forest, the Schmidt Ocean Institute, the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, Chulengo Expeditions, the New England National Scenic Trail, and NASA. To write the new record, Cosgrove relied on a novel and improvisation-focused compositional style that aimed to reflect the real experience of learning topographical space through movement. “I’ve always been a bit obsessed with motion,” writes Cosgrove in the liner notes, “and I liked the idea of forcing myself to write a whole record on the move, leaving no opportunity to overthink the songs before they had a chance to breathe. And conceptually, there was something about having to find a song in the moment by moving around the piano — feeling out its contours like you might learn those of a landscape by walking across it — that felt important and true to the way I engage with the world in the rest of my life.” While this approach unifies the album, the landscapes and ideas that inspire its songs range from Hawaiian volcanoes to Kansas skies, and from Midwestern rail yards to the writings of landscape scholar J.B. Jackson.
In addition to his solo work, Ben has performed and recorded with a wide variety of other artists from across the spectrums of folk, classical, jazz, and rock music, composed string and horn arrangements for other artists' projects, and he has contributed music to projects by clients including Florentine Films, Grand Teton National Park, Glacier National Park, Katmai National Park & Preserve, New Hampshire Public Radio, Bristlecone Media, the Conservation Media Group, and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. In 2016, his piece “Carrying Capacity,” a string work inspired by ecological data collected at Isle Royale National Park, was premiered by Wild Shore New Music at their annual festival in Homer, Alaska and then performed at Park Service sites in New York City and Washington, DC. In 2022, he joined forces with the New Hampshire writer Howard Mansfield to create and perform A Journey to the White Mountains in Words and Music, a stage production combining Mansfield’s words with Cosgrove’s music, which the two then performed in theaters around the state. Finally, Ben has collaborated, performed, and recorded with a diverse array of other musicians that includes The Ghost of Paul Revere, Max García Conover, Darlingside, GoldenOak, The Ballroom Thieves, Caroline Cotter, Steph Jenkins, Maya De Vitry, Joel Thetford, The Social Animals, Town Meeting, Kaiti Jones, Avi Jacob, David Berkeley, Jamie Kallestad, the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra, and Palaver Strings.
The Parlor Room is a BYOB venue. Tickets are non-refundable.
The Parlor Room is located at 32 Masonic Street Northampton, MA 01060
Date & Time
Thu, Mar 7, 2024 7:30 PM - 9:30 PM