A band with one foot in the present and another in the past, the Cordovas embrace the sound of classic Americana and country-rock, with the Band, the Grateful Dead, and the Allman Brothers Band as key influences and plenty of close harmonies and dueling guitar work. The band is led by bassist, vocalist, and songwriter Joe Firstman, who had recorded as a solo artist and led the house band on Last Call with Carson Daly before forming the band in 2011. Teaming with guitarist Toby Weaver, the Cordovas issued a self-titled indie album in 2011, while earning a following through extensive roadwork. A second solo album, Love Bravely, followed in 2014, and as Firstman and the band gained more listeners, they signed with ATO Records, releasing That Santa Fe Channel in 2018.
The Cordovas are the brainchild of songwriter and musician Joe Firstman, who was born in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1979. Firstman began playing piano when he was 12 years old, and by his mid-teens he was playing in local bands. His band Firstman (also known as Isabel Sol) developed a powerful regional following, and after moving to Los Angeles, California, Firstman landed a record deal as a solo artist. Atlantic Records released Firstman's first solo album, The War of Women, in 2003, which earned strong reviews despite minimal sales, and in 2005 Firstman became the bandleader on the television series Last Call with Carson Daly. Firstman continued to record and release material while working in television, and in 2009, when he left Last Call, he began ramping up his career as a performer. In 2011, Firstman relocated to Nashville, and reconnected with Jaron Lowenstein, a friend who was a member of the country duo Evan & Jaron. Eager to play music that reflected their tastes in vintage Americana and country-rock in the tradition of the Band, the Grateful Dead, and the Allman Brothers Band, Firstman and Lowenstein formed the first edition of the Cordovas, with Lowenstein on vocals, Firstman on bass and vocals, Toby Weaver and Johnny Gray on guitars, Jon Loyd on keyboards, and Caleb Gilbreath on drums. The Cordovas soon hit the road and, before 2011 was out, they recorded their self-titled debut album.
Lowenstein soon dropped out of the band, but the Cordovas continued on, with Firstman and Weaver anchoring the lineup through a number of personnel changes. A live album, Cordovas Live from Nashville, followed in 2012, and in 2014 Firstman released a second studio effort under the Cordovas name, Love Bravely. By this time, the group was dividing its time between Southern California, Todos Santos, Mexico (where the band gigged regularly and Firstman booked a concert series), and Madison, Tennessee (not far from Nashville, where the band shared a communal home and practice space). The Cordovas' frequent touring had earned them a solid following, attracting the attention of the artist-friendly ATO Records label. ATO signed the band in 2017, and the Cordovas -- now featuring Firstman, Weaver, Lucca Soria on guitar, Sevans Henderson on keyboards, and Graham Spillman on drums -- decamped to Todos Santos to write their next album. In June 2018, ATO released the third studio effort from the group, That Santa Fe Channel. ~ Mark Deming