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A Year After Their Deaths in the Ghostship Fire, Two Musicians' Unfinished Album Comes to Life

With a little help from their friends and family. 

Chelsea Faith Dolan and Travis Hough

 

In the years since forming the Italo disco-inspired dance band Easystreet in 2007, releasing their first album in 2011, the outfit’s founders, producer Chelsea Faith Dolan and vocalist Travis Hough, had recorded enough material for a second. Last performing together in 2013, the musicians had parted ways in pursuit of other projects, but had discussed a reunion and a second album. Those plans remained unfulfilled when the two died in the Ghostship warehouse fire in Oakland last year, along with 34 other people.

Tonight, Easystreet’s second album, Into the Stars, will be released at the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, an arts incubator and performance space in the Mission. Producer Eric Bateman, who was also a member of Easystreet, spent months cobbling together countless recordings in tribute to his friends and bandmates, filling some of the missing vocals with choral tracks sung by the musicians’ friends and family, including vocals from Hough’s father, Brian.

Brian Hough, a longtime bass player and singer, said the track is the first and only time he collaborated musically with his son, who died at age 35. “We never even just sat down and played guitar together,” said Hough. “Boy, when I heard it on the completed [track] it just tore me up. If Travis was there, he would’ve been thrilled.”

Josey Rose Duncan, a childhood friend of Dolan and member of the Easystreet Circus, the band’s live stage show, also sang on the track. Though emphatic about her lack of musical talent, Duncan said the collaboration reflects the band’s inclusive spirit. “You didn’t have to have any skills at all in terms of performing or music but they would find a role for you to be on stage,” Duncan said. “It makes so much sense that the album would be finished posthumously with a chorus mostly not of musicians, but just people who loved them.”

Hough described the band as “quite a spectacle,” that included go-go dancers, people in animal costumes, a leather daddy lifting weights, and “a lot of glitter.” Tonight’s release party will no doubt be a similarly colorful affair, starting at 7 p.m. with live performances by vverevvolf, Experimental Housewife, Jason Sole, and featuring Easystreet songs by surviving members Bateman and Matthew Zipkin under the name Star Service. Brian Hough says he’ll be there too, in “full-on regalia, wearing my glittery shirt.”

 

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