Speed the Plough

Biography

The Plough & The Stars is a retrospective of New Jersey band Speed the Plough’s 30 year career. It includes a 17-track “Best Of” CD culled from the band’s first 4 albums, a split 12” LP with six new songs and five live tracks from a 1993 radio appearance, a 16-page booklet, and a download card with access to all that and much more. A total of 38 songs. Past and present members of the band are represented, including Feelies members Brenda Sauter (bass/vocals), Stanley Demeski (drums), Bill Million (guitar/production) banjo master Tony Trishka, Mountain Stage guitarist Michael Lipton and former Blood Oranges mandolinist Jimmy Ryan, among many others.. STP’s unique brand of chamber pop sounds as fresh today as it did in 1984.

Speed the Plough is a New Jersey-based band that has been playing since 1984. The name, from an old Scottish folk song, was plucked from a book of sheet music just days before their first gig, which was at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, NJ. Founded by John and Toni Baumgartner and Marc Francia, the band has had numerous line-ups over the years, including former members Rich Barnes, Stanley Demeski, Jim DeRogatis, John Neilson, Chris O’Donovan, Frank O’Toole, Pete Pedulla, and Brenda Sauter. Speed the Plough rose out of the ashes of The Trypes, a bandformed in 1982 by John, Toni, Marc and Elbrus Kelemet, and later joined by Glenn Mercer, Bill Million, Dave Weckerman, Stan Demeski and Brenda Sauter.

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STP released four full-length albums on the East Side Digital label: Speed The Plough (1989), Wonder Wheel (1991), Mason’s Box (1993) and Marina (1995). In addition, they released a limited edition single on the French label Acetone and had songs featured in two independent films: Strangest Deams (1990) and Paradise Park (1993).

After a long hiatus, the latest incarnation of STP was launched in the Summer of 2009 with John and Toni’s son Mike on guitar and Marc’s sons Ian and Dan on drums and bass, respectively. They recorded Swerve, the band’s first album in 15 years, which was self-released in May 2010. Later in 2010, they recorded three new songs, dubbed The Summer Sessions, in August 2010. Those songs were released in September.

2011 continued to bring exciting developments. First, Ed Seifert joined the band, bringing his distinctive guitar-picking and vocal talents. And in August, STP released their sixth full-length album, Shine, on Dromedary Records.

2012 saw the late-April release of a retrospective of The Trypes compilation, Music For Neighbors, on Acute Records. The reception to the music and the unique packaging was more than could have been expected, with raves from nearly all quarters, including Pitchfork, Dusted, Other Music, Prefix, and Boomkat. You can find out more, and get a copy, at acuterecords.com.

The winter of 2013 saw the departure of Dan and Ian, who moved on to pursue their own musical endeavors. Stepping in on bass and vocals is the talented and charming Cindi Merklee. And – in a first for the Plough – joining us on drums is another second generation member, John Demeski, occupying a spot once held by his dad.

In the late summer of 2013 the band released their retrospective project The Plough and the Stars on Bar-None Records. The package features a 17-song CD that includes songs from their four long out-of-print albums recorded for Coyote Records and East Side Digital between 1988 and 1995. Anchoring the release will be a split 12" LP, which includes six brand new songs, grouped together under the moniker Tag Sale, backed by five live songs from WFMU’s Live Music Faucet recorded in 1993. Also included are a 16-page booklet chock full of photos and reminiscences, and a download card with access to all the music mentioned, 10 additional live songs from WFMU, NPR’s Mountain Stage, the Knitting Factory and Maxwell’s, and an interactive version of the booklet, with more music and videos.