Folky, soulful, bluesy, funky, catchy, smooth, organic. These are all proper adjectives that describe the Maryland based group Pressing Strings. Whether they are playing in a backyard, local brewery, or rocking a festival stage, the melodic quality of the music stands out among the crowd. Robust rhythms guide heartfelt songwriting that is familiar yet fresh and innovative. The three piece has been steadily creating and performing for the better half of a decade now. Members Jordan Sokel, Nick Welker, and Brandon Bartlett all grew up with a close bond to their instruments and eventually formed out of the bustling and notoriously musically rich state capital of Annapolis, Maryland.
The founding member of the band is Jordan Sokel and he has the job of writing the songs, while Welker and Bartlett bring them to life. Sokel grew up moving around as a kid from New Jersey to Arizona and ultimately ended up in Maryland where he calls home. “Moving around was good for me. It taught me to be aware and open to new things, new food and culture, different music or styles”. That openness is quite evident in the band’s music, and one of the reasons why is a bit tough to place them neatly in a genre. Sokel grew up listening to the type of music you would expect of a 90’s child. Hip hop, rock, r&b, pop—all the same music anyone with a radio was listening to at that time. That is until he was about 12 when the digital age arrived and all the sudden he had access to all of the old music he could get into his ears. It’s around this time when he first started learning the guitar and quickly began teaching himself the classic songs he’d always heard. Folk let him to rock, rock led him to blues, blues led him to soul. He grew particularly fond of soul singers like Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, and Bill Withers. Blues pickers like Mississippi John Hurt, R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, and Taj Mahal. Songwriters and lyricists like Paul Simon, Bob Marley, Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan, and Joe Strummer. Growing up he didn’t think of himself as a singer, it was just something he kept in the back of his head until he became able to sing and play the guitar simultaneously. Then the songs started to come.
The Pressing Strings name was born sometime around 2007 and the lineup has changed more than a few times since it’s birth. It started while Sokel was attending Salisbury University just outside of Ocean City, Maryland where he and good friend Joshua Kachura landed in the same beach house for the summer. Quite naturally the two found themselves playing music for a revolving cast of guests that funneled through the house on a nightly basis as the songwriting bug took hold. They performed and recorded as a duo until both of their college career’s came to an end when they relocated back to their hometown of Annapolis and began making waves around the small town. Kachura’s cousin in law Bob Novak soon joined them as the band’s drummer as well as current bassist Nick Welker. Together they recorded 2012’s self titled album in Novak’s basement. Shortly after life’s wheels continued to turn and it became evident that Kachura and Novak had other aspirations they were feeling the need to tackle while Sokel and Welker continued to push forward with the band. At this time Sokel decided to head into the studio and record a solo record with songs he had been solely composing while the band was reconfiguring, which became 2013’s Life Of A Tree.
Around early 2014 they recruited drummer Brandon Bartlett and quickly got to work on recording a new batch of material and released 2015’s EP Owe The Source. The album‘s bluesy slide-guitar driven single Angry Birds received significant airplay from local as well as national AAA radio. Rejuvenated from the bands much needed new energy, they linked up with Grammy winning NYC based producer Scott Jacoby and multi-Grammy winning producer/engineer Neil Dorfsman and headed to upstate NY to record 2016’s Most Of Us. The lead track What It Means showed the bands dynamic power and was well received by national radio. In late 2016 the band toured with power-pop songstress Rachael Yamagata across North America. Upon return the band quickly headed into the studio to record the single The Madness , which was self produced and tracked live with minimal overdubs. A bluesy rocker of a track that once again landed steady rotation on AAA radio stations across the country as well is being named one of the Top 103 Songs of 2018 by WRNR FM along with WTMD’s Top 89 Songs of 2018.