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Crosscurrents

The Family Crest prepares for homecoming show

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the Family Crest Cr

Have you heard any of the Tiny Desk Concerts on NPR’s website? Musicians are invited to play for an audience of staffers at the desk of “All Songs Considered” host Bob Boilen. Back in the summer Boilen declared a San Francisco group as his new favorite band and chose the title track from their new album as his song of the week.  

That group, The Family Crest, is well known to “Crosscurrents” listeners; they’ve been the local music pick five times since 2010, the year they started performing.

The band changes shape for nearly every gig. That’s because the seven core members have what they call their Extended Family – close to 700 people now – who have performed or recorded with them. These large numbers fit with the category of their music: orchestral rock. The main players all live in San Francisco or on the Peninsula.

Two of the core members, co-founder Liam McCormick and flautist Laura Bergman, took time away from preparing new music for their December 6 show at the Independent to answer some questions by email.

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Laura: Over the past year, we’ve done three big tours and countless one-offs. I’d say we were gone at least half the year. It’s been interesting to watch our audience grow and evolve over time, but especially this year. [In October] we returned to a bunch of cities on the East Coast that we’d played once before, and we saw familiar faces, but also many new ones. Needless to say, we’re really excited to play The Independent on December 6. Nothing beats a homecoming show.

Liam: We’re a band that loves being on the road. For us the goal is to be on tour constantly. Every show we play is growth. We also love connecting with new musicians so we’ve been fortunate to share the stage with dozens of talented people over the past year.

We haven’t played a show in San Francisco since February so we’re extremely excited to be doing a show at home to close out the year. It’s going to be an epic night. We have some surprises up our sleeves.

As for next year, we have a small Midwest tour with a few festivals this January in Chicago and Madison, and we’re working on a bunch of new music. And of course we'll tour more in the spring, summer, and fall.

Constant travel can wear one down, as Liam found after confirming theirTiny Desk Concert” at NPR back in June.

Laura: The day after we confirmed, Liam became incredibly ill, and we were panicked, thinking we might have to cancel. He woke up the morning we were scheduled to play, practically without his voice, drank as much water and tea as possible, and we went in and just did it.

Liam:  I slept for about 24 hours and woke up the day of the show still really sick. I napped all the way to NPR and when we got there I told Bob [Boilen] that I didn’t know if I’d be able to sing Beneath the Brine. He told me it was his favorite song and that he’d absolutely love to hear it. He said that I was in a safe place and that I shouldn’t worry, everything would be fine. His encouragement helped me to suck it up and do my job.  

I’m really proud of that show because I made it through, and I give Bob a lot of credit for that. The whole staff at NPR is extremely supportive of musicians.  

Laura: As far as fitting behind that tiny desk goes, it wasn’t so bad! We’ve played in tiny spaces before (even a shower), so for us it was actually roomy.

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