Meet Burlap To Cashmere

Burlap to Cashmere: Posted 9/99

"Burlap to Cashmere offers fiery, testosterone-driven, gypsy song structures and exquisite guitar work."—Prism magazine

"The passion and energy of Burlap to Cashmere makes first time listeners’ mouths drop. I’m bordering on obsession."—Cara Baker, Release magazine

It would seem a daunting task to find a band today that plays truly unique music. Some would look in London, some in Los Angeles. But believe it or not, seven musicians out of Brooklyn, New York, are turning heads with a sound unlike anything you’ve heard before.

Burlap to Cashmere was started as a college project by lead singer/songwriter Steven Delopoulos, who performed with his talented cousin John Philippides. Manager Jamison Ernest discovered the pair in a New Jersey coffeehouse, where he was impressed by their vocal harmonies and mesmerizing blend of steel and classical guitars. Later they added guitarist Mike Ernest (Jamison’s brother), drummer Teddy Pagano (childhood friend of Mike and Jamison), keyboardist Josh Zandman (elementary-school classmate of Steven), bassist Roby Guenara (high-school classmate of Mike, Jamison, and Teddy), and percussionist Scott Barksdale (adopted into the "family" after answering a classified ad). It was Steven who chose their name.

"The name of the band just sounded cool to me at first," he explains on the Squint Entertainment Web site. "But as the band grew and developed, I realized that the thought of going from ‘burlap to cashmere’ was what was happening to us. God had taken nothing and began to turn it into something. A lot of us in the band come from broken homes and bad situations, but we found family together. We’ve all become like brothers."

Though their music certainly has its influences—the guys cite Simon & Garfunkle, Harry Chapin, and Cat Stevens—their homegrown blend of ethnic folk/pop is an exciting cocktail flavored with flamenco guitar, Afro-Cuban rhythms, and old-world Greek bazouki music. That distinctive sound attracted a rabid fan base at well-known New York venues like Irving Plaza, Tramps, and The Bottom Line, and led to contract offers from numerous labels. They chose A&M Records because it was the only company willing to give them artistic freedom.

They released a 5-song EP, Live at the Bitter End, to hold fans over until the first studio project was finished. When Anybody Out There? was finally released in 1998, its infectious world-beat energy made it a smash success. Ranging from modern pop to Mediterranean stomp, the songs explore a diversity of subjects, including love, war, salvation, divorce, the struggle of flesh against spirit, and the death of friends. Throughout the album there is an unmistakable sense of hope through faith.

"Sometimes," Steven continues from the Web site, "we’ll get confused or angry or frustrated about something, and we just need to be reminded of the bigger picture, the ultimate picture. Just getting a glimpse of that is what keeps us going. That’s what keeps us grounded. It’s impossible to be grounded without hope." And although Burlap to Cashmere is grounded in hope, their young career is flying high.

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