Keel and Co. return to West Virginia this weekend

Since we're such fans of Larry Keel (and Natural Bridge) we thought we'd rip off (re-post) their MySpace bulletin from Tuesday evening, in which they plug their in-state shows over the weekend and give shout-outs to their more North-easterly friends and fans...

Hey Folks,

This weekend we are headed back to the Beautiful Mountains of WV. Friday night we are playing Tomahwaks in St. Albans WV. Show starts at 9pm. Tickets only $8.00.

Sunday we head over to High Rocks Campground in Hillsboro WV for Nettle Fest. Uncle Earl, Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys, Sweety and more. Our showtime is 5:15. Come out early. Plenty of food, fun, crafts and treats.

Big shout out to all the folks from last weekend. We had a blast !!!!! Can't wait to get back to that DAM SHOW!!

Everyone have a great weekand be safe.


--- and don't think that just because we're cutting and pasting MySpace bulletins we're falling off, as it were. We're truly fans of Keel's rockin' version of bluegrass; if you get to catch 'em live check out their latest CD Backwoods, if they have copies available.


Hard & Heavy: Nagato @ 123 8.25

From Karma To Burn and Treasure Cat to Hovel, and most recently for us, hearing Hyatari’s They Will Surface, some of the best music we’ve heard recently is from bands that create punishing hard rock landscapes without vocals.

For Nagato, while there are vocals on some songs, this new four-piece from the Eastern Panhandle doesn’t let words get in the way. And, surprise -- there is a Hovel tie-in.

Formed from members of Martinsburg-based Vox Populi and Hovel guitarist Greg Ball, Nagato has a demo and some D.C.-area shows in their pocket, a full-length release and tour planned, and, they bring their act to 123 Pleasant Street Saturday night for their first Magic Town show as Nagato.

Former VP guitarist Paul Cogle explained the genesis of Nagato to us over email.

“We knew Greg from his most excellent band Hovel, which Vox Populi shared the stage with so many times,” Cogle said. “Although Hovel is a Morgantown band, Greg lives near us in the Eastern Panhandle. We asked him to jam with us and Nagato began.”

Cogle said that the chemistry with Ball is there, and discussed the extent to which the band has vocals.

“Jamming with Greg is a blast -- we love it! It has been a new adventure working in a band with two guitars, and we’re still finding our way around, but it’s awesome!”

“When we started Nagato, the intention was (and is) for the music to take the listener on a journey of self-exploration and this should not always have to include singing. Really it’s a fine line and kinda hard to explain.”

Nagato, which “formed out of the ashes” of Vox Populi as Cogle put it, has played a few shows in Maryland and D.C. with rocking results, he said.

“…our shows in D.C. (The Velvet Lounge) and Frederick, Maryland (Krug’s) have been well received -- we couldn’t be happier. We have free demos that are available at the shows; they’re limited edition and contain a song that will never released on anything else we put out. July 25th is our first trip to Morgantown -- gonna be a blast!”

Aside from getting the demo down and doing some shows, Nagato has been busy rehearsing every Sunday, writing songs for a full-length they’ll record later this year and have out early in 2010.

“…but first things first: killer songs first!” Cogle exclaimed.

Nagato recorded their demo on a 16-track analog Otari 1” reel-to-reel at Cogle’s studio, where they practice.

“Hopefully if things work out the full-length will be recorded there as well,” Cogle said. “But it’s really important for us to achieve the best sounds possible. So we’ll start there and if we are happy with the results, we’ll continue. If not, we do have a few options that we’ve been talking about, but nothing set in stone.”

The songs you can hear on their MySpace are killer indeed. “South of Sedona,” “Brick by Brick” and “Tora! Tora! Tora!” had us nearly spell-bound. Cogle said that even though Hovel is still around and may be recording soon (which we are all glad to hear) Nagato is no ordinary side project.

“Dude, it’s totally cool to be in this band -- we love it to death! We are all very good friends and hang out as much as possible already. We love playing music together and hope that never changes.

And Cogle did say the possibility is there for a nice tour sometime in the near future.

“We have a few friends that go out on tour all the time (Admiral Browning, Ol’ Scratch, etc.) and we’ve talked about joining them for a week or so. Just gotta be something we all can do and not cause too much stress on our families.”

And in a sense, Nagato is a kind of family for these guys, Cogle said.

“For all the members of Nagato, it’s not a phase or a fad for us. We love music and will never stop.”


High 5's and Hell Yeahs in Charleston

Naming a band is one of the more interesting discussions musicians will have, and deciding to change your band’s name isn’t something to be entered into lightly.

Recently, the Magic Town rockers now formerly known as The Revisionists changed their name to the more awesome sounding High 5’s and Hell Yeahs, for a few good reasons, drummer Brian Persinger told us recently over email.

“…there’s already a major labeled group with the same name. Also, Revisionists refer to those who “deny” the holocaust. Damage control on that is paramount, lol.”

Yeah, well we’ll say it’s time for a name change, then. Good thing they didn’t name themselves Al Kayda, or try to go to Europe as The Revisionists.

The High 5’s came to Charleston this past weekend to record with one of Bud Carroll’s Southern Souls, Jon Cavendish, recording a few songs in his Bassmint studios.

“Recording was a total fucking blast,” frontman Nate Shahan said. “…and despite some technical difficulties that always seem to pop up, we managed to bust out four songs, which we plan to release as our debut EP, sometime in late August or early September -- if all goes as planned!”

Shahan said the High 5's were pleased as punch about the sessions and what Cavendish did for them in the studio as engineer and producer.

“He did an amazing job, and was truly helpful in making our recordings sound as raw as we wanted it to sound. We re-recorded one of our tunes that we have a super-shitty recording of (“Denim Disaster“) and three newer tunes that we decided had to be unleashed onto the West Virginia music scene -- “Life Obscene,” “4’s and 8’s,” and “C.E. Overlords.”

There’s a personal connection between Cavendish and the High 5’s, too, Persinger explained.

“I grew up with Jon and learned a few instruments while hanging out at his house way back in the day.”

Shahan said that the EP at this point is still untitled, but they'll release it at 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown and sell it for cheap off their site.

And, there exists the possibility of a split release with some unnamed rocker friends of the Hell Yeahs.

“Not giving out the name of the band as of now, but they fucking rule!” Shahan said. Who'd have thought that a guy in a band named the High 5's would leave us hanging there, but we'll look forward to hearing more on the split.

So even though the name has changed, these four dudes are still putting out the punk rock. Hell yeah.

--- check out pics of the High 5's Bassmint sessions on their MySpace


WV’s Got Talent (has been CANCELLED)!

Recently a friend of ours asked us to write up a little blurb plug for him as part of a bio he’s putting together for his company. It’s actually the second time someone’s asked us to string some praiseworthy sentences together for what they do -- you know, like you see on the back of books:

“From start to finish, Legoland Has WMDs is a white-knuckle ride into the third world nuclear bazaar that this once proud country has become since Gen. Blockhead seized power. The author gives a never before seen peek into who’s making the decisions that affect us all, and offers solutions to bring democracy back to those proud, little people. You’d be MAD not to pick up Legoland Has WMDs, and the author’s first book, Who Stole My Yellowcake?
It’s fun to do, especially when it’s deserved, and we’re flattered that people’d care what we say.

But it made us think deeper about writing our own praise graphs. You see the one about us covering local bands better than everyone; we can’t prove that, but we set out to cover the coolest local bands and we’ve tried our best. So when we see the talent level bemoaned or unfairly dumped on, we at least want people to be right about it.

Our good friends in The Demon Beat were recently named West Virginia’s best new band by something called the Boston Phoenix. When we hear Boston and Phoenix together our first thoughts are about seeing the 1976 NBA Finals on NBA Classic; it’s a confusing name, for sure, but it’s actually based in Boston.

So they named The Demon Beat West Virginia’s best new band, and we don’t dispute that, although the band has been around for more than two years. The band has been to New York, appeared on radio shows, and have been winning a lot of fans all over, so it’s not a surprise that they’re getting noticed.

The Boston Phoenix, in praising Adam, Tucker and Jordan, said that there were only three good bands in the state, total, and now, The Demon Beat is one of ‘em. Congratulations, Demon Beat, we guess. It’s a kind of backhanded compliment, but hey, any publicity is good publicity.

Who are the other two good bands? If you say Brad Paisley and Kathy Mattea, you don’t understand the question. Although technically, Brad Paisley kicks ass.

And you’ve heard of X-Fest, obviously, the annual fest that X106.3 has each year. We recently came across an article Dave Lavender put together in the Herald-Dispatch talking to Erik Raines and quoting “Loud and Local” host Brandon Woolum on the 2009 edition.

So we swing by the X106.3 page and check out Woolum’s page, and after reading his take on Hydrogyn (awesome), Stitch Rivet, VOA, Split Nixon, and LTGH, we were surprised to read Woolum say “I honestly just wish the local stage would go away,” this from the host of the Loud and Local show.

We’ve talked to Woolum a few times and he is ultra nice. In his post he talks about the drama surrounding local bands being picked and “haters” badmouthing him, we’re not doing that at all. While we would love to book something like a loud and local second stage, he is in almost a lose-lose situation, so we don’t envy him there.

Now, just like all jobs, after so long you’ll probably start to hate it, even a radio gig. And, Woolum says that there’s really not much demand for having the local bands play, and there are monetary factors at play; the money that X106.3 pays the local bands could be better used on landing a national act, he says.

But for all the good things Woolum says about the local bands (with the exception of Hydrogyn, and the inclusion of Split Nixon and Jason Mays, whom we’ve also met and is quite the Kentucky gentleman) it sounds like “the X” may get rid of the loud and local second stage. He talks about there being “roadblocks” involved with putting it on.

And even though X-Fest on the whole may not be our thing (we keep forgetting it’s supposed to be mainly a metal fest), and three quarters of the local bands not up our alley, we’d hate to see it not be there for the local bands. Woolum isn’t badmouthing the tri-state’s talent pool, just kind of tired of dealing with it, it seems.

So is the X buying or selling the L&L second stage? We don’t know. We don’t listen to the radio at all, really, and they know better than us the demand for local bands at X-Fest. Our first instinct is to want to support efforts to cover bands in the form of local radio shows (the one we know about), and get ‘em on a big stage if they deserve it.

We try to give the credit where it’s due, and need to go ahead and write that blurb.


Focus on the Flyers: Jimbo Valentine @ Amalgam Unlimited

30-year old Barboursville resident Jimbo Valentine stands in front of his Unknown Hinson mural at the V Club in Huntington

James Alden Valentine III got an early start on his artistic career.

“When I got tested before kindergarten, they told me to draw a picture of myself, so I draw my little blob looking life-form resembling me, and gave it gigantic ears, because everyone always told me I had big ears. That’s the first picture I ever remember drawing.”

Since then, Valentine has definitely progressed as an artist; he has run Amalgam Unlimited, his own screenprinting and design company, for a few years now, and has worked with several rockin’ local bands, making flyers, CD layouts, shirts and merch.

When you’ve asked yourself in recent months who’s made those awesome flyers for Clutch and Karma To Burn, or who it was that painted the big Hank III and Hinson murals at the V, it was him.

You may know him as Jimbo.

He’s been doing a lot of great work, recently designing artwork for West By God's For Glory or for Flames and Treasure Cat, and he said it’s been gaining steam.

“It’s steadily growing and I’ve been doing stuff that I’m really proud of. I still haven’t gotten to the point where I can totally live off of art, but I keep getting some pretty sweet gigs that have gotten me other gigs, so the word of mouth is growing, and that’s a good feeling.”

Aside from a “couple of minor speed bumps involving wheels flying off of cars and stuff like that,” 2009 has been pretty good for him, he admitted over email.

Looking over his stash of gig posters, band art, propaganda and older paintings and art, it’s hard to pick what to include, aside from the flyers. Whether it’s his surrealist, sick apocalyptic collages to the childlike freehand art like Hellijah the Hilljack Rabbit or Overbite Oakley, it’s obvious that he’s been making art for a while, is good at it, and loves doing it.

“I just like making both, in the end I probably make more darker stuff, but I definitely still have that inner child that’s always giving me ideas as well. I’m trying to work up ideas for a kid’s book about a girl named Overbite Oakley. I have three nephews and a niece and lots of friends with kids so that really helps to keep me in tune as well. They are all so fun and random, I love it.”

And just like musicians create music as catharsis, Valentine sees his art. “There’s been times when it has really helped me through some rough stuff,” Jimbo said of his art.

“It’s a good feeling to have someone want to have your art to represent their art. Doing posters for all three of the Karma To Burn West Virginia reunion dates and their London show is a big highlight so far this year.”

Valentine doesn't just make the flyers but also dabbles in making music. Just like making art, he makes his music by himself, in the form of his electronic projects This Drum Machine Kills Fascists (a nod to Woody Guthrie) and Soul of the Phoenix, which will release Astronautical later this year.

“I plan to finish up Astronautical before the end of the year. Never played any of my stuff live, but I think it would be fun to work up a few songs to play at open mic night or something for shits and giggles.”

So you may see Jimbo opening up for a band he makes a flyer for; he said that Huntington is pretty rockin’ as far as shows go.

“The V Club has really put on some awesome shows; the Hank III show that was just there was hands down one of the best shows I’ve ever seen even if it was hotter than hell in there. It made like almost like some kind of religious experience. I’ve also seen some good shows at Club Echo lately. The Karma To Burn show there was epic to say the least.”

So Jimbo and AU are gonna keep moving forward; Valentine will continue to attend Marshall (“I’m thinking about trying to drag it out another 100 years,” he said of his continuing education), he's involved with a Treasure Cat/Sons of Alpha Centauri split called The Last Day of Summer (due out later this year) and be seen at Huntington area shows, like his big murals.

“So everyone should come down, check them out, and enjoy a few tasty alcoholic beverages.”