The Bob Dylan song “Ballad of Hollis Brown” paints a bleak picture of a farmer facing hard times, who is so consumed with despair that he fatally shoots himself, his wife and his five children with a shotgun.
So, I had to ask lead vocalist and guitarist Mike Montali how he and his bandmates settled on the name of their musical ensemble — Hollis Brown.
Montali pointed me to the end of the song, which speaks of seven people dead, but also, as those seven people died, there were seven people born somewhere.
“It leaves you with that circle of life, hopeful thing,” said Montali, 31, who lives in Queens.
Like the song, “Ballad of Hollis Brown,” the band, Hollis Brown, has an unforgiving edge, an unapologetic honesty and generates through their songs a raw perspective on life.
The Queens-based band mixes a measured, Lou Reed-like approach to music with a sense of abandon that would make Pete Townshend jealous.
Hollis Brown will be in the Hudson Valley for a performance at the Rockland-Bergen Music Festival, June 23-25 at German Masonic Park in Tappan.
The band will play on Saturday.
“We’re a rock band,” Montali said. “And we’re not hiding behind effects and stuff. What you see is what you get. There are no tricks. That’s the spirit we want to give — great songs can still cut through.”
Asked about the band’s chemistry, Montali said, “I wish I knew.”
He continued, “The band dynamic works because there is a flair in our personalities. We’re different.”
Montali hopes Hollis Brown leaves an impression on its discerning audience.
“I just hope people come out and hear a sound that they’re familiar with, but in a new unique way,” he said. “We want people to have fun and leave saying, ‘Wow.’”
Hollis Brown is set to perform June 24 at the Rockland-Bergen Music Festival.
Christine Ohlman will perform at the Rockland-Bergen Music Festival.
What: Rockland Bergen Music Festival
Where: German Masonic Park, 89 Western Highway, Tappan.
When: June 23-25. Gates open at 10:30 a.m.; music 11 a.m.-7:45 p.m.. Parking lot opens at 9:30 a.m. Festival is rain or shine.
June 23 kickoff is at The Turning Point in Piermont. Show features Anthony D'Amato and Joe D'Urso & Stone Caravan. A second evening show at the Turning Point on June 24 features Joe Grushecky, Ben Arnold & Joe D'Urso & Stone Caravan. 8 p.m. 468 Piermont Ave., Piermont. Go to rocklandmusicfestival.com for tickets.
Who's performing: Jake Clemons Band, John Cafferty & Beaver Brown, Steve Forbert, Joe Grushecky, Jeffrey Gaines, Joe D'Urso & Stone Caravan, Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez, Jesse Terry, Finn & The Sharks, among many others.
Tickets & info: Go to rocklandmusicfestival.com