By Chuk Fowlord
New Jersey's Hudson Falcons brought their working class brand of punk rock back to Huntington once again on this humid summer night.
First up was Black Acid Over Drive. A little out of place on this bill with their modern metal stylings. Live they reminded me of Black Label Society, Lamb of God, a tad bit of Down (which I love) and other modern metal influences. I'm not really into that scene and why they were on this bill is a mystery to me but a diverse lineup for a show is good. Something for everybody.
Next up was Ashland Kentucky's The Transmissions. I love this band. Great old school punk rock. Think The Ramones, Blanks 77, Johnny Thunders, The Dead Boys, The Cramps, and all the great sleazy aspects of punk rock. Live, they deliver the goods; a great old school sound with a great bass player with chops, a vocalist that if he wanted to could be as good as Stiv Bators.
They played a great set and it's good to hear a punk rock band that actually plays punk rock in 2011. Good stuff.
After The Transmissions great set Wine and Water took the stage to continue the great night of diverse slabs of rock to be dished out to the crowd. Wine and Water seem comfortable in their new formation with Cody Lynch on drums and vocals.
Wine and Water seem to be hitting their stride as a band now. Not just as a side project for Cody Lynch -- Wine and Water is becoming its own entity. Dave Mistich handled the bass duties but needs to start shakin his booty a lil more, hahahaha. If you haven't heard Wine and Water they are a great melting pot of musical influences such as Bruce Springsteen, Hot Water Music, The Clash, etc.
This new incarnation is getting better with each show and they have been recording so be on the lookout for some new music from these guys.
The Hudson Falcons have been playing shows in Huntington for years. They have been putting out quality records for a decade plus and Mark Linsky has been the mastermind for the Falcons. The night's set was full of great songs off their albums such as Desperation and Revolution, For Those Whose Hearts and Souls are True, and La Famiglia.
An added bonus was my good friend Pete from the Gc5 (a great band you should check out) was playing second guitar for the Falcons. The Hudson Falcons on June 25th 2011 were on fire. They showed the Shamrock's crowd what a real rock n roll show is supposed to look like, sound like, feel like.
I mean they were amazing. A band that reminded me of seasoned veteran heavyweight champs that don't know nothing but being heavyweight champs being heavyweight champs. Let me tell you the Hudson Falcons knocked out the crowd for sure. A pummeling set of rocker after rocker that despite Pete having some technical issues was a sight to see, a sound to hear.
Bands like the Hudson Falcons only get that good with years of experience with members from bands that have years of experience that really put on a good show.
The Hudson Falcons crowd is the realest of the real. No bullshit posturing. The people there that night were real people that wanted to rock. A great crowd assembled for a great band. The set was long and the crowd was left sweaty and wore out. I enjoyed the hell out of myself and so did everyone in attendance.
So if you have not heard the Hudson Falcons check out their records and catch 'em next time they come to town. Which if we're lucky will be soon.
Chuk Fowlord over and out for wv rock scene.
It will come as no surprise to the readers of this blog that sometimes, bands that sound good live don’t capture that energy on a recording. And conversely, a band can have a great CD but just can’t pull it off live.
This is said here because most of what we’ve heard from the Morgantown-area “cupcakewave” four-piece Bonfire has been recorded live. From live youtube clips with varying degrees of audio quality to the exclusive WVRockscene ghettotech recording of Bonfire’s hour-long set at WVU’s Gluck Theater way back in April, they quickly became a favorite and something you would frequently hear around the WVRockscene home office.
Recording live performances off college radio shows is not something we do often -- in fact, it had never been done before Bonfire played that night. But since being introduced to the band by interviewing Zach Francis for the MAYSP benefit show at 123 Pleasant Street in September of last year, for Bonfire’s first show out, maybe only Dream The Electric Sleep has been listened to more than that live performance by Bonfire; we wanted to have that performance recorded just to document the event, as it were, and if anyone else heard it, all the better.
It must be noted that their debut seven-song release S/T is received by this reviewer with a bit of a bittersweet flavor before even hearing it; the band has apparently recently undergone a lineup change and will have The Emergency’s Kevin Post replacing Liz Toler on drums, and Rich Johnson replaces Amanda Burris on bass. The pair of Chris Quattro and Jodi Hollingshead are still fronting the group, just with a little less estrogen.
Back to Bonfire’s sound -- “cupcakewave,” really means fun, catchy pop-infused indie rock with jangly & fuzzy guitars with Moog and organ-backed atmospherics and minimalist drums and bass. Inspired heavily by acts like Henry’s Dress and The Aislers set, Bonfire is kind of a shoegaze meets 60’s rock vibe, with some hard charging, uptempo numbers thrown in, combined with the split vocals and loud/soft dynamic provided by Hollingshead (she can sing!) and Quattro, listening to Bonfire gives this reviewer the feeling of holding hands, bouncing heads back from side to side with the music, spinning around in circles, and falling to the ground laughing before getting into Bonfire’s version of The Mystery Machine to head to the show.
So yeah, a cool band with a cool, unique sound and vibe. I sound like that blonde girl on the Certain-Dri commercials: “Cool!”
But seriously, first hearing S/T it seemed the energy that was heard on the Morgantown Sound show might have been missing; maybe it was the lush, echo soaked, almost too-dreamy vocals. I am not an engineer and don’t record bands, obviously. The band sounds rockin enough on personal favorites like “Calendar Days,” “Song 1,” “Boy of Big Thoughts” and the galloping “Surprise, Surprise,” but between recording and mastering that live energy may have been diminished, if only slightly.
If this was a CD that we’d come across out of the blue, not having heard Bonfire live, it would still be a rockin CD, it would just be interesting to see how we felt having the whole thing being reversed; first heard on CD, then heard live.
And listen, honestly, it seemed like there may have been one or two parts in that live show where Bonfire didn’t exactly nail every song to a T (the band, in its original incarnation, remember, played its first show in September, remember when we talked about that earlier in the review?) but even with a missed chord or botched vocal harmony, this reviewer would still rather listen to Bonfire’s songs with the rare, slight live blemishes, than most other bands.
And that’s another thing -- S/T is too dang short! Just seven songs equaling less than a half hour? The band played for an hour on U92, maybe 13 or 14 songs?
But either way, after getting past the differences between Bonfire’s live sound versus what comes out of a studio it is quite literally all good. Would we recommend paying $5 US dollars for S/T? Yes.
And heck, you don’t have to listen to one or the other -- you can listen to both! Then you can nitpick and debate endlessly and needlessly which you might like better, making yourself sound like a jerk. Do not let us ruin this band for you. Regardless which you do like better, at the end of it all you just might find yourself bobbing your head from side to side, totally digging this band.
Bonfire’s original lineup is dead, but long live Bonfire.
--- Bonfire plays 123 Pleasant Street Friday night with The Young Reptiles
By Dave Mistich
For some unexplained reason, there has always seemed to be a lack of alt-country in the area. It's one of those styles that hasn't ever been exclusive to any one region of the country, with bands like Uncle Tupelo (Illinois), Old 97's (Texas), Ryan Adams and Whiskeytown (North Carolina), and Drive-By Truckers (Athens, Georgia via the legendary Muscle Shoals, Alabama) all springing up with little regard for their respective geography. It's just proof in point that Americana holds no reservations about where we are from: sounds and stories like these are common ground in every corner of our country.
Sure, location becomes an influence on the inflection each band has focused on. The Truckers' socio-political storytelling of the "dirty south" and the 97's twangs about Texas put an indelible stamp on each of their respective catalogues. Regardless, alt-country--like any sub-genre of popular music--has yet to be confined by it's origin and eventual audience.
But looking around West Virginia and the surrounding states, alt-country has somehow missed our scene--mostly on a local level. It's confusing, considering the lifestyle and down home ethic we find ourselves involved in from day-to-day. Saturday night at the V Club somewhat calmed all those frustrations with a line-up that was chock full of it.
Paintsville, Kentucky's Tyler Childers started off the evening with his one-man with whiskey and serious heartache style. For being (and certainly looking) so young, Childers' talent is mature--far more so than his innocent, blue-collar farm boy image might suggest.
It's difficult to speak of Childers' in the pantheon of alt-country greats quite yet, but his vocals evoke Ryan Adams and Ray LaMontagne equally. With songs about whiskey and women written by a man in his early 20s, it may seem a bit premature to hand him a trophy, but the kid sure deserves a gold plaque.
AC30 isn't quite ever going to hit alt-country the way they could or should. But that detail is minor. The gentlemen in this band are spectacularly efficient players who know their boundaries.
The band's cover of "September Gurls" by Big Star is likely the closest they'll ever come to alt-country (at least for now)--even though power-pop touches lightly on the genre's tendencies. Regardless, though, the band found ways to fit right in with the rest of the evening's lineup.
And there's a certain level of respect and honor that needs credited with the group's style of playing. Few bands--especially led by prolific players like Carroll and the rest of his semi-supergroup in Huntington care about the songs more than their own individual shining moments.
Sure, because of Carroll's status, he's the de-facto frontman (and this fact is obvious, and maybe a bit uncomfortable for those surrounding him at moments). Yet the man shares the craftsmanship of not only songwriting, but more importantly, playing with his fellow members.
But enough about that and back to the topic at hand--alt country.
Prison Book Club is widely regarded as a collective of some of West Virginia's finest. With members from The Demon Beat and The Fox Hunt, the band gets an almost instant promotion to supergroup status. While this label is somewhat warranted, neither of the two groups have attained the status past a regional scale.
However, what is undeniable about the group is the fact that they're the best alt-country outfit this area has seen. Sure, there's a lack of competition for them but it would take quite awhile for anyone to match them.
Led by the lead licks of Adam Meisterhans, the group sound comes across as a distinct point somewhere between Lucero and the Mike Cooley-penned tunes of Drive-By Truckers. His paying is exact and technical, almost sounding as if he's playing slide at moments. It's somewhat remarkable that Meisterhans, who has made a name for himself with a Pete Townshend-like persona in The Demon Beat, could match the quality of his playing in other genres--yet it's almost more impressive. He strips it down to simple strumming with Prison Book Club when needed and balances those moments with tasteful and thoughtful leads.
Singer-guitarist John R. Miller and bassist (and occasional vocalist) Tucker Riggleman are equally impressive. They may be slightly less flashy than Meisterhans, yet their ability to lock in with the fast paced drumming of Andrew Ford (Where the hell did this guy come from, by the way?) is note-worthy.
Miller seems fit for this style of music, there is little doubt. Both lyrically and vocally, he comes across as well-versed in the genre and life-experienced to back it up on a practical level. There's a level of authenticity that matches his talent--and it's one of those things that cannot be learned or practiced, but rather accepted and made use of.
With nights like these, one can only hope that new bands in the area will make note--should the alt-country scene really take off.
We’ve always admired the work Christopher Lusher has posted on his Hillbilly Magazine tumblr page. Friday night Lusher and a handful of other artists will gather in Huntington for the “Destructive Criticism” photography and art show. We caught up with Lusher to find out more about the show, the artists involved, and the art of photography.
WVRockscene: How and when did the idea to have a show like this get hatched? Who put this together?
Christopher Lusher: The genesis for the show has always been something that existed, I think, for everyone involved but it was just a matter of actually making it happen. It can be difficult to actually see anything to fruition in this town seeing how often alcohol and unfulfilled delusions can often get in the way. I put it together just by saying it existed but it’s everyone involved in the show who actually made it happen. As well if my girlfriend weren’t around this would have been a title and an idea and nothing else and I would’ve continued musing about “what a great idea that was.”
|"I'm Not Here" by Christopher Lusher|
rockscene: How close knit or supportive of an atmosphere exists between the artists showing their works Friday night?
Lusher: I’ll make assumptions and say that we all love each other like a deranged version of the Waltons. We just don’t say goodnight to each other when it’s all said and done we are more than likely carrying each other home or arm wrestling over the last beer. I think this show is all about a mutual admiration society and that we all appreciate each other we just think we’re too cool to tell each other that.
rockscene: Calling it Destructive Criticism, do you expect one of the artists to have his or her work panned? Or is everyone pretty much already a fan of the others? Was it tough to kind of draw the line at 10 artists?
Lusher: The title is just a play on constructive criticism. I’d be surprised if it didn’t get some venom strewn a bit over it. People don’t often like to be exposed to things that they perhaps have never seen or don’t understand. This show is like molotov cocktails exploding in the middle of Disneyland and Slayer provides the soundtrack. No it was easy to pick them. I just pretended I was on ‘Lost’ and had to pick who I wanted to be on the island with.
|"Introduce a Little Anarchy" by Yasmine Ganley|
rockscene: Like bands transitioning from a garage out to a live venue or bar, sometimes there can be butterflies either dealing with a crowd, taking constructive criticism, or just talking with your art in person with people in public. Some of you have done these kinds of shows, right? Nervous about it?
Lusher: I’ve done some shows before or been in them. I think nearly all of us have. The difference with this show is no one is getting ripped off or having to be exposed to rubber gloves and wine glasses.
rockscene: A few of you are not exclusively either into making art or photography. What are your thoughts on the respective mediums and forms the works take? Is it just as hard to get a good live picture of a band, a person, or put something together like a mural or painting?
Lusher: Art history and theory is for teachers and the students who romanticize the idea of being an artist. I’ll leave that to them. I just know what I like. I like a hobo with his pants at his ankles covered in urine and passed out more than I’d ever like something that say Terrence Koh would ever do. It’s all hard and getting something good is akin to being one number off on Powerball. Exciting yet defeating and often thankless except in your own mind.
|"Trusty" by Kelli Bellomy|
rockscene: Talking about where you find your influences, how much of being a photographer is just finding beauty or something meaningful in seemingly everyday things or people? Anyone can go out and buy an expensive camera but you have to have a real eye and spirit to be a photographer don’t you think? Wouldn’t you say there’s a reciprocal relationship between the subject and the photographer, what makes something/someone “photogenic” or something?
Lusher: With any kind of art it all lies in the eye of the individual and their perceptions. There is to me no one specific subject matter and a pile of garbage or dirty diapers is just as relevant as a photo of the worlds most beautiful person or a painting like the Mona Lisa. Kinds of cameras or how “good” a specific camera is has never meant shit to me. All I have ever really worked with has been cheap pawn shop cameras. Though that’s probably painfully obvious when you look at my work.
|"Air Burst" by Jason Lucas|
rockscene: More on your own influences, who is Max Snow and how big of an influence is he on you? Any other photographers make you wanna do what you do?
Lusher: Max Snow is the younger brother of the artist Dash Snow who died a few years back. Dash is a huge influence on me and Max is filling the shoes that Dash had vacated quite nicely. His work is all its own but reminds me of a hybrid of Ryan McGinley and Dash. Other photographers would be William Eggleston, Juergen Teller, Ryan McGinley, Hanna Liden, Jack Siegel, Harmony Korine, Leigh Ledare, Nan Goldin, Sally Mann, Tim Barber. The list doesn'’ go on and on I’m just hungover and can’t really remember.
rockscene: I’m familiar with the works of half of the 10 artists who will have their work featured; can anyone fill me in on these other artists and what they’ll be showing?
Lusher: Depends on what half you’re talking about. I think we all know we are here to promote regression and to get back to a more caveman mentality where we don’t have to tweet at each other but rather bash each other with our mental baseball bats in person.
|"Jimbo Over Shoulder" by Christopher Lusher|
rockscene: You’ve got some photos from [Kelli] Bellomy, [Jason] Lucas and [Yasmine] Ganley featured at Hillbilly Magazine. It looks like Ganley took that pic of you with the sad clown face; how much of an influence are these other photographers on you not only as artists, but these friends of yours, as subjects in your own photos/portraits?
Lusher: Well they influence me and I’d like to selfishly think I influence them in some way. I think we unintentionally push each other forward and make each other want to do better and better work. We’re like the Weather Underground but without the afros and indictments.
rockscene: Will anyone’s works be for sale?
Lusher: Yes. Everything must go! One day only! Going out of business baby.
rockscene: Is this free? Any refreshments or other special goings on you’d wanna mention?
Lusher: Totally free but it’s a possibly dangerous social experiment. Payment will be made through the eventual mental derangement of the viewer. As for refreshments it’ll be like that Daniel Day Lewis movie ‘There Will Be Beer.’
rockscene: As of Wednesday night 75 people have RSVP’d to the show on the Facebook page for it. You have got to be excited about that right?
Lusher: I kinda take that with a grain of salt. I mean people actually reside in Facebook. It has become it’s own fucking country. This event may be viewed by certain people as something like Farmville and that when 6 pm hits on Friday they will be taken into a Sims like virtual playground where they can purchase artworks with gold coins and by selling pigs or bails of hay.
rockscene: Do any of you have a particular favorite artist in the lineup or a piece you’re looking forward to seeing?
Lusher: I actually just look forward to seeing all of these animals together in the same room. Someone else might be better suited to answer this.
rockscene: You’ve got links to or posts on exhibits in other cities bigger than Huntington. Do you have any plans or dream of showing your work in any big cities?
Lusher: Well anything that I’d link or post would be on Hillbilly and probably have absolutely nothing to do with me. As far as showing in other cities I’ve done that in a weird way by having photos published on Purple Diary which is the website of a leading art/fashion magazine. As for plans and dreams I think I’m at a pretty good spot to say that they are both simultaneously working themselves out.
|"Destructo" by Christopher Lusher|
--- video via eyeBOX
Being a prestigious blogger and supplicant freelancer, you come across and/or are introduced to people who are mainly just into mutual handwashing. This is fine; it is how our society and culture operates.
These are mainly people who are not in bands, and will send emails out asking people to do things for them only when they benefit them. Sometimes, after people email you asking for specific things to be done, you think it would not be rude to email them back and ask them about the possibility of doing a thing or two. They are not as interested in talking to you when it is YOU asking THEM to do something.
Morgantown resident, artist, and true friend of rockscene Eli Pollard is not one of these people. Having hooked us up with a pre-emptive burned copy of J Marinelli's Pre-Emptive Skankery Sessions late last year, and sending a PSS t-shirt, all at his expense, not even asking anything in return, and at least having the courtesy to respond to an email, dealing with and hearing from him on Facebook is a breath of fresh air.
Well, Pollard and his friend Eric Hastings, together as eFACTORe, have put together a rockin official version of Loner Soul from Lexington's Arcane Rifles. You may have caught Ben Allen, Phillip Farmer, and one James Marinelli out around Huntington or Morgantown, or heard them more recently on WRFL.
Pollard and Hastings have put together a great video for their song. Check it out, check out Arcane Rifles and thanks to Pollard for for being so nice. In as much as we know him online, we'll call him a friend.