Bandits on the Run is a refreshing new answer to the tunes of days gone by. Forged in the acoustics of NYC subway stations, the group’s signature 3-part harmonic voice stands at the center of their musical equation. Throw in some serious cello action, hooks played on various and sundry toy instruments, and a steely spine of rhythm guitar all accompanied by a suitcase drum packing a powerful punch and bang! you’ve got the basic magic of banditry — an alchemical science in which each bandits' distinct singing and songwriting voice is used in a multitude of combinations, resulting in an un-pin-down-able sound that can veer from shades of Motown to witch-pop to folk-soul to punk-rock on a dime. Bandits are also known far and wide for bringing various non-music shenanigans to their live performances including shadow puppet shows, costumed characters, and party favors.
The band was born out of a chance encounter in the subways, when cellist Sydney Torin Shepherd encountered guitarist Adrian Blake Enscoe busking on an L-train platform. The group came together in earnest when Shepherd’s longtime music collaborator Regina Strayhorn moved to NYC and Enscoe invited the two down to the subways to try their collective hand at busking. All three actors in their own right, their dynamic quickly coalesced around the romantic whimsy of old school outlaws, and they took on the Bandit alter egos (Shepherd going under the moniker Bonanza Jellyfish, Enscoe as Roy Dodger, and Strayhorn simply as “Clarissa”) in order to elevate their quasi theatrical “musical stick ups” to the level of guerilla theater.
Since their inception, they've brought their particular brand of live performance, charisma, and robust harmonic inventiveness from many a subway stop and street corner to a slew of notable NYC institutions including ROUGH TRADE, MERCURY LOUNGE, CITY WINERY, and Brooklyn’s KNITTING FACTORY and even some more unexpected music venues (from churches to motorcycle garages, nowhere is safe). In 2017 the Bandits released their debut album, THE CRIMINAL RECORD — crafted under the guidance of producer William Garrett (who was given his own bandit name: Lucky Jesus) — to much indie critical acclaim, such as picking up the Album of the Year honor by girl-power publication Sinister Girlz Radio. Two tracks off the album “What To Do” and “Funky Ghost” placed on Spotify curated playlists Folk Pop and The New Retro, (respectively) ensuring a global audience for the budding group. Later that year they entered and won the Coffee Music Project — a singer/songwriter competition based out of London — with “Love in the Underground” a tune commemorating Shepherd and Enscoe’s chance subway encounter several years prior.
2019 was kind to the Bandits, with their 2019 Tiny Desk Contest entry for “Love in the Underground” gaining the attention of NPR Music’s Bob Boilen and earning a “Top Shelf of the Tiny Desk” feature, as well as a tour across Europe and the release of an EP of their early songs recorded live at NYC’s famed Power Station.
2020 had already seen the Bandits making an appearance at Sundance’s ASCAP Music Cafe, releasing two versions of their fan-favorite song “Love in the Underground”, and gearing up to go on tour. They were slated to play The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Theater, a handful of official showcases at SXSW, and a support slot for Grammy-Nominated sister act Larkin Poe at Webster Hall when the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world. Luckily, the Bandits have been able to quarantine together and create more than ever before through the maddening storm of this year.
Recently their song “We Battle Giants” was chosen by Kevin Cole of KEXP and Bob Boilen of NPR Music as a Tiny Desk Contest Top Shelf Selection. They’ve released the companion short film to “Love in the Underground”. And they just completed a socially-distanced journey out west to Bear Creek Studios to record several new songs with producer Ryan Hadlock. The Bandits have finally found themselves back in their home of Brooklyn and are ready to face whatever comes next for them, arm in arm in arm.
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