Midnight North’s “The Colors Here” Featuring Phil Lesh Was Inspired By The Wizard Of Oz

[Cover photo credit to Sam Watson]

Formed in 2012 by singer/songwriters Grahame Lesh & Elliott Peck and inspired by the Bay Area music scene, Midnight North has announced their fifth album Diamonds on the Zodiac, a continuation of their musical direction they started with their 2021 record There’s Always a Story.

They have shared the lead single “The Colors Here”, featuring Phil Lesh of The Grateful Dead on bass. The track is accompanied by a lyric video by Bonez Studios.

In addition to the family bloodlines between Phil and Grahame Lesh, Amy Helm, daughter of The Band’s Levon Helm and singer-songwriter Libby Titus, adds vocals. The song is filled out by the group’s bassist/vocalist Connor O’Sullivan and guest violinist Jason Crosby.

Elliot based the piano-driven lead single on memories of tornadoes growing up in the Midwest along with the Judy Garland movie of Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz, where the screen goes from black-and-white to technicolor when Dorothy finds she’s not in Kansas anymore.

Elliot details:

‘The Colors Here’ is a song about surviving hardship and being able to experience the beauty on the other side of tragedy. The lyrics play with themes from the book & movie “The Wizard of Oz,” which became one of my favorite movies as a child. The characters, the story and of course that memorable moment when the movie flips from a black & white landscape to one of rich, magnificent color, made a huge impression on me. So did the theme of having a home where you are always welcome to return, no matter where you’ve been and what you’ve been through. It is a precious thing & one I identify with deeply.

The music and lyrics were written while house-sitting for a friend in Denver during the middle of a huge thunderstorm. And when the rain passed and the thunder stopped, I listened back to what I had written & recorded and felt it was something special worth showing the band.

The album’s title Diamonds in the Zodiac comes from the unearthed Robert Hunter lyrics for “Jupiter,” one of two extended tracks on the album. It was recorded at Dave Schools’ (Widespread Panic) Spacecamp in Occidental, California and mixed by D. James Goodwin.

The album is steeped in Bluegrass, Country, Soul, Blues, Funk, jazz and Gospel. The cover art was done by Micah Nelson, aka Particle Kid, and Willie Nelson’s son, using acrylic paint mixed with floetrol poured on wood.  

In anticipation of the album release, Midnight North will continue to embark on a busy summer tour with dates that include:  

7/29 – Salt Lake City, UT – Soundwell

7/30 – Boise, ID – Neurolux Lounge

8/2 – Mariposa, CA – The Grove House

8/3 – Nevada City, CA – Crazy Horse Saloon

8/4 – Felton, CA – Felton Music Hall

8/5 – Livermore, CA – Almost Famous Wine

8/6 – Navarro, CA – Under The Moon Festival

9/27 – Charleston, SC – Charleston Pour House

9/28 – Asheville, NC – Salvage Station

9/29-30 – Nashville, TN – Touch of Brews

11/10 – Menlo Park, CA – The Guild Theatre

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