There is nothing more alluring than a powerhouse artist in red cat-eye glasses playing the living hell out of a hollow-body guitar and howling at the moon’s various phases to create a sonic seismic event that combines the most potent attributes of Rockabilly, Roots Rock and early Rock & Roll. That exactly describes the look and modus operandi of Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones, a high-octane quartet from New York’s Hudson Valley that folds disparate influences into a frenetic style that has accurately been dubbed Pan Americana.
When Hope, a veteran of a number of bands over the years, required a backing band for a 2012 summer tour, she enlisted renowned Psychobilly group The Arkhams, featuring Hope’s upright bassist husband Matt Goldpaugh, along with guitarist Chris Heitzman and drummer Dave Tetrault. The collaboration proved so successful, they cemented it by coming together under the Ark-Tones umbrella. Hope and Goldpaugh also perform together as the Gold Hope Duo, and the band even has a Country alter-ego: Lara and The Hope’Alongs.
After a couple of years of gigging and honing their unique sound as a unit, Hope and the Ark-Tones dropped their 2014 debut album, Luck Maker, to near universal praise. The album featured a broad stylistic range, jumping from chicken-wire Rockabilly to Klezmer to rousing Teutonic beer-hall Polka to jumping Americana, all of it gear-jammed into a single presentation with an almost Jazz-like sense of pacing and invention. Since then, guitarist Billy Riker has taken over the guitar slot and the Ark-Tones narrowed their musical focus without losing any of the freewheeling energy or melting pot diversity of their early output.
Hope took home the 2017 Ameripolitan bling for Best Female Rockabilly Vocalist (they could do away with the “female” tag, but OK). Not long after, the band released a sophomore album, Love You to Life, featuring jumpers like “Fast, Cheap or Well Done,” “Till the Well Runs Dry” and the Tex-Mex swinging and swaying title track, featuring the irresistible lyric, “I love you more than I did yesterday, because yesterday you kinda pissed me off.”