Singles meeting singles

Shepherdstown is as far from Huntington as you can get without entering Maryland; about 260 miles. Area bands and fans may be forgiven for not exactly being in the know when it comes to both towns. It took Teays Valley's Caustic Eye Productions to tie the two together with a few cool rock bands.

This Friday The Demon Beat will welcome Bud Carroll and the Southern Souls to Skull City for a homecoming of sorts and, to release the split single the two bands teamed up on.

Demon Beat bassist Tucker Riggleman said the idea for the limited release effort came from Caustic Eye’s Rod Lanham.

“Rod approached us about putting out a split featuring ourselves and Bud Carroll & the Southern Souls. He noticed that we had a few shows coming up together, so he thought it’d be a good idea to do a limited run to be sold strictly at those shows.”

“I knew they were having a couple of shows together, and figured a good way to promote both shows was by having something new from both of them available exclusively there,” Lanham said when reached for comment at an undisclosed location, deep underground.

“Bud has his own studio, and The Demon Beat were headed into the studio soon, so why not get new material? The big Indies do splits all the time.”

“We were all about it because we’d been following Bud for a while and were really excited about getting some shows together,” Riggleman added.

The Demon Beat has been to Huntington a few times in recent months for shows at the V Club and Shamrock’s. But it was a trip to Morgantown for a show at 123 Pleasant Street that was necessary to make the release possible, Riggleman said.

“We took the opportunity to record with good friend (and amazing engineer) Brian Spragg, guitarist/vocalist for It’s Birds. We took this opportunity to release some songs that are slightly different than what we have been doing,” he admitted. “So we put on a punk song and a country-ish song. Brian did a tremendous job, and we are really excited to get this split out to fans at the coming shows.”

The split single will be available at Friday’s show at Stonewall’s Pub (the Beat's first show in their hometown since they released their EP in November) and March 14th at Shamrock’s, when The Demon Beat will make the short drive to Huntington to play with Carroll and the Souls for what will by then be the third time. Sandwiched between the two dates is a March 7th gig in the notoriously raucous college town of Athens Ohio, home of the Bobcats.

Riggleman said the home-and-home split release series works good for both bands. “I’m really glad that we are doing these shows on each other’s turfs. I hope people respond and come out in good numbers.”

He closed by thanking Spragg and Lanham for making the release possible.

“We want to really thank Rod for taking on this project for no other reason than he really digs what both bands are doing. This is the kind of support that is helping the West Virginia music scene make somewhat of a comeback, and really get people excited about going to shows again.”


An Interview With a Gentleman

(L-R: Dennis, Brian and Bobby of Thee Drunken Gentlemen)

Thee Drunken Gentlemen, one of Charleston’s newest (and reputedly best dressed) bands, it would come as no surprise, formed “over a couple of mixed drinks,” drummer Brian Holstine admitted over email. Now, after getting a few shows under their belt, the Gentlemen have seemed to have hit their stride.

“The shows are getting better each time,” Holstine said of the handful of shows the band's played so far.

After playing their first show at the Empty Glass’ Halloween Hootenanny, the band played the Parrot late last month and recently traveled out to Shamrock’s in Huntington for a show with The Big Bad, with whom the “Gentlemen” will rock the Blue Parrot Friday night.

Thee Drunken Gentlemen are no strangers to either the local scene (having played in, among other bands, The Pistol Whippers, Rose City, and The Black Knots) or Capitol Street. Holstine admitted that the band practices at an undisclosed location maybe not too far from the Parrot.

“We can be heard, but not seen,” he said.

Compared to most bands these days, the Gentlemen have it backwards; the band has played more shows than they have songs on MySpace. But Holstine said the band plans to record with Greg Hunt “very soon” and that, if you’re looking to compare the Gentlemen with any of the other bands they‘ve been in:

“The best analogy I can give is this: Being a Drunken Gentlemen is like a MANICORN: half man, half Unicorn. A mythical beast that can’t be seen because it doesn’t exist, except to those people who choose to BELIEVE.”

--- photo: Jim the local music emperor


Meet the new band, same as the old band?

Heart Holds True (L-R: Bobby Midkiff, Brooke White, Nick McCormick, Dana White, Jake Wegman) plays their first show at the Brickhouse in St. Albans February 21st.

Dana White is open and honest talking about his old band, Holden Caulfield, and his new band, Heart Holds True. That the latter would be somehow inextricably linked to the former isn’t a surprise.

From comprising former members of Holden Caulfield and current members and friends in The Fontaine, to being named after a Holden Caulfield song, White and friends didn’t want to see the rock and roll ride end.

“Deciding to stop doing Holden Caulfield after eight years honestly sucked,” White said over email. “I hated deciding to end it, but it was time.”

Now, it’s time for his new Huntington-based five-piece hardcore act to play their first show at the Brickhouse in St. Albans February 21st. Planning on a short, sweet five-song set, White said that, with the newly added McCormick on guitar, Heart Holds True is “…kind of like Holden Caulfield if we had been listening to a lot of Mastodon.”

White described the genesis of the new band, forming in the ashes of the old one. “Bobby and I have been good friends for a while. We wanted to keep playing in a band together as an excuse to hang out.”

“At Holden Caulfield’s last show, Bobby saw Nick when he was on his way out the door and asked if he wanted to play guitar in our new band. I mentioned that Brooke could play bass and he was into it…that was that.”

One member of Heart Holds True that you may recognize from being around White is HHT’s bassist, Dana’s wife Brooke, whom he met when she’d joined Holden Caulfield as bassist. No domestic disturbance worries in the band, though, White said.

“We never argue or fight about anything. I guess we’re both just insanely relaxed and genuinely get along with each other, so it’s not weird or a problem at all for us to be in a band together.”

One hitch with Heart Holds True is finding a permanent solution on drums. “We’ve had a hard time finding a permanent drummer and we’re still looking,” White said. “We’ve played with three different people but no one permanent yet. Oddly enough, all of those dudes were in my first band at one point.”

White said the nascent band is planning on recording a self-produced four song demo for fans and potential labels, and thinks that Heart Holds True could potentially approach what Holden Caulfield meant to everyone.

“I definitely think it could...it’s a little different from Holden Caulfield, but not so much that I don’t think people that were into that band wouldn’t like this band. I’m touching on a couple of different things lyrically than I have before, but there will definitely be familiar topics as well. I’m even thinking of revisiting an old story from then from a different point of view.”

While Holden Caulfield played a lot of all-ages shows, White said his straight edge lifestyle doesn't determine where his bands play.

“When it comes to letting people know that I’m straight edge, meaning that I don’t drink, smoke, do drugs or have promiscuous sex, it’s not really a huge deal to me. I do it for myself and the people that care for me. As far as the band goes, it’s not really fun to go into a show worrying that someone is drunk or high. No one in this band does drugs and maybe one person drinks. Everyone knows that we’ll play better if we’re focused and have our heads 100% into the show, so that’s what we will always do. I don’t mind being around people that are drinking, and neither does anyone in the band. We would just rather play sober so we can play better and play harder.”

“I’m the only person in the band that actually claims straight edge, even though no one in the band is a party person in the traditional sense. We would rather play all-ages shows simply because that audience tends to be at shows just for music and hanging out, whereas bar shows are a mixed audience of people that want to see live music and people that just happen to be there to drink while you’re playing. It’s an entirely different audience, both of which can be a blast. It just depends on what bar and what bands you’re playing with. The more friends that are there, the better.”

White said that friends and fans can expect everything the new band has at Heart Holds True’s first show. “Since we decided to make it a short set, we’re going to try and make it even more intense that it would’ve been had it been longer. We’re tightening everything up as much as possible and it’s sounding pretty solid.”

And, White, ever the fortune cookie fan, admitted that there may even be a fortune cookie out there for the new band.

“You will learn drums and play for Heart Holds True.”

--- Heart Holds True will play the Brickhouse in St. Albans 2/21 with Most Ill, Beyond All Hope, Smoke and Mirrors, and Where It Ends. Show starts around 6 p.m., and cover is $7


Pawnshop puts HQ together DIY

Despite the tanking economy, Brian Carr says business at Pawnshop Skateboards in Chesapeake is good these days. Carr, who owns and operates Pawnmax and its in-house skateboard operation, explained why over email.

“Oddly in this economic time business is really good! From the actual pawn shop store business is good when the economy is good and bad so it’s definitely a win/win situation.”

Carr, a skater himself, is old enough to remember when skate parks and shops were lacking in the area. “Parks here were non-existent in the 80’s. They did have a really good vibe in Huntington with Iguana Skatepark and shop back then, but the Charleston area? Nada, Zilch!”

Over the past few months Pawnshop has been making inroads into helping invigorate the local skate community. From selling all sorts of cool boards and gear (like their own line of decks and the Steve Caballero re-issue we bought last summer) and having their own team to helping promote local music, the shop opened their 16,000 square-foot skate park headquarters across the street from the store last Saturday, and will hold a lock-in this Friday the 13th.

“…insert the Jason Voorhees chant here,” Carr said.

But seriously, folks, the Pawnshop skate park opened with a resounding success, with about 50 people showing up during the course of the day, for what Carr called “a fun experience.”

The lock-in, with Carr keeping up the Friday the 13th horror theme, “…will be secured for the time of the lock-in (10 p.m. - 8 a.m.) and anyone under 18 cannot “escape” unless their parents come to get them. The lock-in is limited to 30-40 people and once that amount pre-pays or comes in, the doors will close. So pre-register early!”

We thought we used a lot of exclamation points, but we’ll let Carr drop ‘em because he’s rightly excited about what he’s done with the shop, and now the park. Fittingly enough for a pawnshop, Carr said he put the thing together for a good (read: low, low) price.

“I was on a skateboarding blog a couple of weeks ago and posted a response to a skate park thread. People were asking how much does it take to open one up. When I told them I have spent less than 7k my email box filled up. I was told by several that a building my size would easily command 75k+ to build a park. I am very savvy when it comes to figuring out ways to make things happen on a shoestring budget and this park was definitely one. Saving money by doing most of the work ourselves with the help of friends and the community really keeps the cost down. Bartering helps as well; getting free angle iron in exchange for posting company banners in the building was another example. It really came together nice and somewhat cheap.”

So not only is Carr keeping skateboarding alive and well in West Virginia, he’s bringing back the barter system; just in time for the collapse of our economy. Oh, and he also gave us a bit of a scoop about one more cool thing.

“We have created the biggest contest this state has ever seen and will be hosting it around April. It was going to be a secret until March but I will let the cat out of the bag. It will be called King Of The Hills. The only requirement is that you have to be a West Virginia resident. This is to put West Virginia on the skateboarding map. It will be featured in skateboarding magazines, it will have celebrity guest judges and a huge cash and prize purse for the winners.”

And all humor aside, for people in our age bracket, it’s great to see Carr and Pawnshop doing what they’re doing.

“Oh man that’s what this is all about. Giving these young kids what we didn’t have. Times are different now; we’re on the scene and have firm control of the wheel. 2009 should be a wild ride.”

--- For lock-in or contact info for Pawnshop, see above flyer


Shamrock's shells out local CDs

When Ian Thornton started booking bands at Marley’s Doghouse last year, he brought something with him that some booking dudes at venues don’t; the experience of being in a band. The 25-year old Huntington resident (and former Love Coats bassist) has helped smooth the transition from Marley’s to what is now Shamrock’s Irish Pub by simply treating bands with respect.

“As a working musician I can look at the scene from two points of view. I’ve been the guy calling and emailing trying to get bars to work with you, and honestly it can be quite difficult,” Thornton said over email. “You learn that a lot of club owners aren’t very willing to work with the bands; they’re just looking for entertainment that will make them as much cash as possible. I try to take a much different approach when I book shows.”

In addition to booking bands and scheduling cool weekly events like open mic/acoustic and honky tonk nights, Thornton has come up with an idea that has to this point escaped area venues for whatever reason; selling local CDs straight out of the bar.

To this point Thornton has approached bands and artists like Genuine Junk Band, Bud Carroll & the Southern Souls, Jeff Ellis, The Demon Beat, Sarasota, The Family Conspiracy, Attack Flamingo, The Greens, Billy Matheny, The Red Velvet, The Salty Sirens, Jordan Andrew Jefferson, Kevin Arbogast, and Jess Graham about having Shamrock’s operate as a sort of local music clearinghouse to help get the word out about the bands in the area.

“This is actually an endeavor that I have taken on personally with my own money, and using Shamrock’s as the outlet,” he said. “Bands have all been great and more than helpful with me in terms of acquiring CDs. My approach was to pick out about 15 bands and purchase five copies of their CD at a somewhat discounted price. This way they get their money right away as opposed to dealing with consignment. I have told them all that no CD will be sold for more than $8, figuring if we keep the music cheap people will be more inclined to venture out and look for something new.”

So he avoids the can o’ worms that can come with spec-type deals, and is using his own money for this. Let that sink in.

“The bands have been great to work with so far. By purchasing them outright they see their end instantly, so hopefully we cancel out any sort of chance for animosity or misunderstanding between parties. They have all commented that they really like the idea and are willing to lend a helping hand however. Plus, it’s a win win, for them; they’re selling numerous copies of their CDs and getting their music exposed at a new place.”

Thornton added that neither he nor Shamrock’s profit off the sales of said CDs, but will use the money to buy more CDs and, hopefully, just make his startup money back. It’s the kind of idea that seems so crazy, it just may work, kind of like having honky tonk Wednesdays, hosted by Paul Weaver of Dig-Its fame.

“Paul is a friend of mine and when he approached me with this I thought it was a cool idea, but I was a bit skeptical,” Thornton admitted. “I mean Honky Tonk vinyls all night at an Irish Pub? lol. But honestly they’ve been going great. Paul has a great selection of stuff, and who doesn’t love “GOOD” country music? He always keeps it different as well. You’ll never hear a bunch of the same stuff from week to week. Our regulars all have a good time, and the crowds keep on picking up.”

Thornton, who’s in a new Huntington-area band called Whirling Dervish, said that while in The Love Coats, Marley’s was their favorite place to play because of the laid back rock and roll atmosphere, and that was something he and the management wanted to bring to Shamrock’s.

“I really loved Marley’s. We definitely wanted to keep the feel of “realness” if that makes sense -- not a plush place where you’re afraid to spill your beer; a place to get up close and personal with the acts on the stage. We just wanted to clean up the joint and create a great venue in Huntington where people could have a good time and see good music.”

Thornton says it’s worked so far.

“We’ve heard a lot of positive feedback about the new place. I don’t believe that we’ve had one problem with bands, which is kind of amazing. It just goes to show what can happen when there is mutual respect and not some sort of hierarchy or roles. I believe people are really happy with the way we (my brother Shane, his wife Sara and I) run Shamrock’s.”

For Thornton and the Shamrock’s crew, it’s kind of a labor of love, working with bands.

“I feel that I’m here to serve the scene,” he said. “Granted, I want Shamrock’s to be as profitable as possible so that we can keep putting on shows, but not at the expense of bands. I do my best to treat all the bands as well as possible. We’ve got a great scene here in this state and we need to fight for it to show that to people. There’s a great buzz going on in this town and I see many good things to come.”


WBG releases "For Glory Or For Flames"

West By God is set to release their new CD "For Glory Or For Flames" February 7th at 123 Pleasant St. in Magic Town. To help things along, WBG has enlisted their friends in Morgantown's killer (Alex Jones sampling) instru-metal three-piece Hovel, and fellow Magic Town acoustic Celt rockers The Staggering Cardoons. Irish + rock is always good.

We'd very much look forward to hearing the new WBG CD, if you're up that way, check 'em out, or if you're nowhere near Morgantown like us, check the band out online.