NEWSPAPER ARTICLES (2011)

12.7.2011
Five questions w/Cody Lynch of Living Saints

Photobucket
photo: Ashley Wood

Cody Lynch of Huntington punk band Living Saints performs at a recent house show. The band, together since September, just released an EP and will play anywhere, be it a house or a bar.


Reposted from The Charleston Gazette


GAZZ: You played drums in Down Goes Frazier and fronted Wine & Water, what makes you excited to be in Living Saints?

Cody Lynch: I’ve been playing in bands since about 15. It’s just something I’ve always done, something I’ve always loved and been passionate about. It’s about art; it’s about creating something and having it come directly from your heart and soul. I want to create music that I would want to listen to.

“The music that has been driving me lately and the style of writing we’ve taken on just calls for a band like Living Saints. We’re so excited to see things taking shape as quickly as they have. It’s definitely going to be an adventure, and we’re all absolutely loving every second of it, mostly. Nothing comes without a little headache here and there, but nonetheless, everyone is stoked!”

-----
GAZZ: You love house shows, compared to playing bars, what makes house shows more appealing?

Lynch: “The intimacy, the attentiveness of everyone, the respect, the camaraderie. It’s just like hanging with your friends at a house party back in the day; it’s comfortable. Oh, and we can all drink, permission granted, for way less than running up our bar tabs. But in the end, we are down for playing anywhere that is willing to have us and have a good time with us.”

-----
GAZZ: Where do you think LS fits in the whole local band thing? “A part” of it or “apart” from it?

Lynch: “We’re just trying to bring rock and roll back to where it belongs. So much these days is so obscure and fake. This is just honesty at work. There’s no gimmicks or anything like that. It’s just fairly simple rock and roll with a punk rock foundation.

“It is what it is, and it's a byproduct of the music I appreciate. As far as I know, there aren’t any bands around here doing the same thing we are. Honestly, I don’t know of a whole lot of bands anywhere near here that are even making this type of music, so I guess you could say we are alone in the local scene when it comes to genre, but that’s nothing new for me.”

-----
GAZZ: You grew up listening to Bad Religion and Dead Kennedys and politically oriented punk bands. Is Living Saints more party or political?

Lynch: “I wouldn’t say my lyrics are ‘party’ lyrics at all. There’s a message. I have something to say that people should be aware about. I write about politics, personal beliefs, the opening of the mind, social norms, relationships and personal struggle.

“I almost feel it is my duty sometimes to get things out there, make people think about stuff, change the way you think or at least consider the alternative. I too often see too much ignorance in this world, and I take it as my job as a lyricist to be somewhat informed on what's going on in the world in order to do my part to make this a better place.”

-----
GAZZ: What is it about this kind of punk you guys are playing that makes fans of punk rock so excited about Living Saints?

Lynch: “I think people just feel the honesty and intensity that comes out of the speakers. There are a lot of bands and a lot of sounds and a period of time that people have forgotten about, and we are just stuck in making our own form of it. We’re just digging up some old bones that people forgot about and building a new monster, just bringing truth and honesty back into rock and roll.

“We’re making music that we, ourselves, would want to hear, and hopefully there's a handful of people that are also into this same sort of thing.”

WANT TO GO?
Dinosaur Burps, Living Saints, Horseburner
WHERE: The Sound Factory, 812 Kan. Blvd. E., Charleston
WHEN: 9 p.m. Friday December 9
TICKETS: $5 (21+)
INFO: (304) 342-8001
ONLINE: http://livingsaints.bandcamp.com/






11.25.2011
Zeroking enjoying year of successes with new album

Photobucket
photo: Steve Dustcircle


Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

Musicians in rock bands have been known to live fast and die young.

It’s almost expected for rockers to be self-destructive. So it’s entirely appropriate that Zeroking would call their sophomore record “Kings of Self Destruction,” because the band itself almost imploded a few years ago.

Singer Andy Haught talked about being high on the band he’s fronted since its formation in 2005, the one he saw through an indefinite hiatus, the band’s nadir, in 2008, through to its 13-song sophomore release. Talking about “highs” and “reforming” are indeed loaded phrases describing the reality of Zeroking and the almost fantasy rock and roll imagery they project.

Haught sees “Kings of Self Destruction” as vindication of the hard work he, guitarist Shane Day, bassist Paul First and drummer Chris Webb have put into the Charleston-based rock/metal and “glam” band.

“This has been a great year,” Haught said from his hotel room on the day of a show in Ohio. “It’s been a building process, all leading up to the release of this record.”

Zeroking will release “Kings of Self Destruction” tonight, Nov. 26, at the V Club, opening up for their friends in Bobaflex.

“We’ve had some great experiences this year,” Haught continued. “We played X-Fest, we played Rally on the River with Texas Hippie Coalition. We’ve got a lot of radio play off of ‘Stone Cold B----,’ off the new record.”

While Haught sees Zeroking having “an upward trajectory” with a new label, publicist, booking agent, and radio promoter, one thing you can maybe start to say about Zeroking: they’re big in Europe.

“There’s an FM station over in England that’s playing “Girls of California,” Haught said with a pre-emptive chuckle, talking about another song off the new record. “They mistakenly played the uncensored track for a few seconds on the air. They were like ‘Hey we really like this song, but can you send us an edited version?’ So we went into the studio and cut an edited version of it,” Haught said, laughing hard.

Another UK music outlet also likes Zeroking. Classic Rock Magazine tapped the band to be included on a sampler CD, “Sideshow: A traveling circus of cutting edge rock,” released in October.

“They actually got a hold of us and wanted to know if they could put a track on the sampler. And I was like ‘Sure how much does it cost?’ Because normally you have to pay to be on most samplers. And they were like ‘This isn’t a normal sampler, this is unsigned bands, or bands we think might be breaking through in 2012.’ For us to get picked to be on it was just amazing, to be able to go to a newsstand and pick up Classic Rock Magazine. We all bought copies.”

So, good things have been happening for Zeroking in 2011. Especially compared to 2008, “a lost year,” as Haught described it.

“There was a period there where we took a break from each other,” Haught recalled. “We were writing for this record, getting ready to go into the studio. Our first date was March 2008. We were supposed to go back in June, and things by that point had just disintegrated. Our break didn’t last that long. After a few months, we’d been talking and hanging out and we decided to re-form.”

It was members rededicating themselves to Zeroking, taking the bad times and lost studio time, that has seen the band through to releasing the new record, Haught said.

“We started working on this record when we got back from Rocklahoma in 2009,” Haught explained. “We were like ‘Alright if we’re doing this, we need to be serious and make bold steps,’ and each year since has been a building process leading to the release of this record, and for us to launch off this cliff. And we’re either going to fly or we’re going to flop,” Haught said with a laugh.

Haught said he hopes people can relate to some of the deeper parts on the new record.

“We certainly play into that (rock and roll) fantasy thing. Some of the songs are sort of tongue in cheek like most of what we do, but there are serious parts on the record. ‘Valentine,’ is a really serious song dealing with loss, and losing someone close to you. You can pick whatever songs you like off the record, but it’s a journey from start to finish, from ‘Dead Rock Star’ to ‘Leaving Los Angeles.’

“This record, these songs represent a time period for us that does deal with a bad time, where Chris was going through a divorce, and there was that turmoil within the band. ‘Kings of Self Destruction’ really was about us.”

If You Go
Who: Bobaflex, Zeroking, The Number Six, Better Day Parade, Downtrend
Where: The V Club, 741 6th Ave., 304-781-0680
When: Saturday, Nov. 26, doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m.
Cost: $16
Info: http://www.vclublive.com/, www.reverbnation.com/zeroking



11.9.2011
Hank3 brings his blend of country, punk rock and metal to V Club

Photobucket
photo: Christopher Harper/Tophu Photo

Hank3 performs at the V Club, Saturday, November 12, 2011


Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

These days, after many years, you can say that Shelton Hank Williams III, musically speaking, is his own man.

Born into country music royalty, the son of Hank Williams Jr. and grandson of Hank Williams, “Hank3,” known for his mix of country, “hellbilly,” punk rock and now “doom” metal, is two months removed from another outlaw move in the record industry: releasing three self-produced records all at once, on his own label.

“I wanted to do something different in the music business,” Williams explained over the phone from Nashville. “And that for me was releasing all these records at the same time.”

On Sept. 6, Williams released the 30-song double country disc “Ghost to a Ghost/Guttertown,” the speed metal “3 Bar Ranch Cattle Callin’” and the nine-song doom metal “Attention Deficit Domination,” his new project which will open his show Saturday, Nov. 12, at the V Club.

Releasing such a diverse barrage of songs all at once is one thing. Putting them out on his new Hank3 Records label, well, that's something new for this 38-year old country music rebel. After five releases and years of acrimony (legal and musical) between Williams and his old label, just having a merchandise booth at shows is something new and awesome.

“I’ve never been able to sell my own CD at my own show for 18 years, because I refused to sell Curb Records’ product. So, that in itself is huge.”

Speaking openly and honestly, Williams talked about what is for him a new start with his own label.

“Now, when I make a record, I get to put it out,” he said. “If I want to make a record with Wayne Hancock tomorrow, I get to put it out. I had Junior Brown come by the house and we recorded a song, we get to put that out. It doesn’t get shelved and put in a vault until I’m dead and gone. I get to enjoy making music and being there with my fans. It’s just been a great new beginning releasing all these new records.”

Forging a new musical path hasn’t been easy for Williams, born with such an iconic name. But continuing the family tradition of playing country music wasn’t something that was shoved down his throat.

“My mom raised me, I had a very normal childhood,” Williams recalled kind of fondly. “I went to public school, and I played sports until I couldn’t make good enough grades. I was never forced into country music or rock music: I always got into it because it was what I wanted to do.

“Someone like my dad, he was forced out onstage at a young age and told to sing Hank Williams songs and to sound like him and all of these strange things for him. So he didn't have much of a childhood to grow up. I at least had some time to be Shelton and enjoy school.

“But,” Williams added, starting, then pausing, looking for words and sighing in quick frustration before finishing, “It was different, you know?”

Being “different” was a quite literal distinction for him after first being exposed to punk rock.

“I lived in Atlanta and there was a college radio station there, 88.5, and I would record the shows off the radio,” he said. “And that’s what introduced me to Dead Kennedys, The Sex Pistols, C.O.C., all these things that helped me get into hardcore and punk rock, and without that radio station I would’ve never heard of those bands.

“That was a changing point for me as a musician, playing the drums and listening to that radio station, and being an outsider, really it was like therapy for me,” he added. “If you listen to the Hank Jr. song ‘Young Country’ he says ‘Our hair is not orange and we don’t wear chains and spikes,’ but I’m the reason Fishbone and Suicidal Tendencies are in that video.

“I really identified with the energy that these kinds of bands were putting out, and I still do. It was natural for me because it was different. And I think that diversity shows in my music and in my fans.”

While the years go by and the traditions may change, for Williams, it’s still all about one thing: the songs.

“It’s hard to find your own niche when you’re in the shadow of Hank Jr. and Hank Williams,” he said. “I hope people have respected how I’ve had to create my own sound, fight my own way, do things different, and not take the easy way out of just relying on the Hank Williams name.

“Musicians like Tom Waits, who’s watched me over the years, and has gotten to know me and is on the new record, and people like Henry Rollins and Jello Biafra, getting the respect of people like that is important to me,” Williams added.

“Every day I wake up, it’s what I live for, and it’s what I’ll die for, my music. If I passed away tomorrow, I feel like I achieved something with the time I was given.”

If you go
Who: Hank3 w/Attention Deficit Domination
Where: The V Club, 741 6th Ave., 304-781-0680
When: Saturday, Nov. 12
Time: doors at 7 p.m., show starts at 10 p.m.
Cost: $20 advance, $25 day of show
Info: http://www.vclublive.com/, www.hank3.com/




11.1.2011
Knisely keeps to important things in new album

Photobucket
photo: Russ Billo


Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

Life, love and music. That pretty much sums up the story for Sean Knisely.

Known as the singer-guitarist for the now defunct Huntington-based electro-rock band Attack Flamingo, Knisely, for his 10-song solo acoustic debut, “Wilbur By The Sea,” stripped things down while keeping what was important after things with his band and in his life just kind of ran their course.

“We never officially broke up,” Knisely said of Attack Flamingo over the phone. “People were just in different life situations, and just had other things going on. It just kind of ran its course.”

While Knisely constantly wrote songs, be it in Attack Flamingo, in Coyotes in Boxes, or as a budding solo artist influenced by the likes of Iron & Wine and Bon Iver, with a voice like Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan, it was his life and his place in the world Knisely found had changed after a very real breakup.

“So, I almost married a girl in December, and that fell apart,” the 26-year old said deliberately, to give some back story to the inspiration behind the songs.

“That gave me a lot of stuff to work through within myself, and I wrote a lot about that, and that turned into a lot of music. Then, coming out of that I started to question everything. Like, that was the life plan at that point, that was what I was moving toward, and now, what am I doing? If I’m here I want to be here intentionally. I love this place, I have great friends, a family, church, a lot of support, it’s really a great community and I love it.

“But at the same time there’s this this feeling that if I’ve never really left home and left my comfort zone, not even moving but just branching out and traveling, then will I look back and wonder what might have been?”

Where Attack Flamingo’s faith-based journey was more interstellar, Knisely’s inspiration for Wilbur By The Sea took the form of an interstate love song.

“I was traveling down through Kentucky and Tennessee and down to North and South Carolina, visiting friends and writing the verses to those songs. At that point I was searching within myself, feeling stuck. I want to feel like the world is wide open. I want to follow my dreams and there’s a limited ceiling of opportunity with the arts in Huntington unfortunately. There’s a great community, but I really want to give it a shot to make music what I do,” Knisely said with emphasis on those last three words.

“In the context of how much I love Huntington, I feel like, myself and other people, need to be able to leave and explore.”

So getting out of Huntington was as much or more of a cathartic experience as it was an artistic exercise for Knisely.

“As I kept writing that stuff, and having been in the relationship and dealing with the aftermath of all that, it just became more personal and I went with it. And I just kept recording because I liked it, not knowing what I would do with it. And I realized that was what I wanted to do.”

Opening up his life to others by himself on a stage wasn’t something Knisely always envisioned.

“I never saw myself as a solo artist, maybe just because it’s more difficult. You have to push yourself, like ‘Here’s me, I play music, I’m going to get up there and play.’ It’s more vulnerable than having a band, where it’s like a team or a built-in support group. Really I’m more in my element writing a song and playing a song and recording a song than I am going out and promoting it all.”

Knisely didn’t need to look too far for a welcoming atmosphere and audience for his music, he just walked out the door of his apartment and played on his porch.

“We’re calling it porch unplugged,” Knisely said laughing. “My friend Joe, he’s always had the same exact mindset, only more intensely, of getting people together. Every other Thursday we get together, whether it’s his porch or mine. That kind environment suits singer-songwriter, and Coyotes in Boxes, well, just down home sort of folky community vibe. It’s where I think the music will thrive, in that kind of atmosphere.”

So from one comfort zone to a whole new atmosphere, be it solo musician or solo relationship status, his porch or another state, for Knisely, Wilbur By The Sea is definitely a welcome escape.

“There’s a really tiny town in Florida, and I didn’t even think it through this deep, but as you’re leaving Daytona Beach there’s this little sign and all it says is Wilbur By The Sea. It’s representative to me of traveling and seeing new things and escaping the comfort zones of life, sort of. I like that.”
 
Sean Knisely’s solo debut record “Wilbur By The Sea” is available for streaming or download at http://wilburbythesea.bandcamp.com/






9.29.2011
Longtime friendships keep the energy high for Chum reunion show

Photobucket

The Huntington-based band Chum, made up of (from left to right) Jude Blevins, John Lancaster, Chris Tackett and Mac Walker is reuniting for a show on Saturday, Oct. 1 at the V Club, 741 6th Ave., Huntington.


Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch


The story of Chum reads like a literal version of musical chairs.

Nearly twenty years after junior high friends Mac Walker and Chris Tackett called up John Lancaster to see about jamming, more than a decade after their sophomore record never got released, after numerous lineup changes and a reunion in 2005, the Huntington-based sludge rock band is back.

Chum plays the V Club October 1st with Horseburner and Tower of the Elephant.

A band’s story can read like any relationship between two people over the years: they form, break up and/or fall apart over time. But what makes Chum’s story unique so many years after original drummer Chuck Nicholas jumped ship and founding members Walker and Tackett left is that Walker, Tackett and Lancaster, friends since junior high, are still that: friends.

“We’re all deaf and hoarse right now, so bear with us,” Lancaster said with a laugh over the phone after a just-finished band rehearsal in Walker’s basement.

The guys in Chum (Lancaster: vocals/guitar; Walker: guitar; Tackett: bass: Jude Blevins: drums) have been gathering at Walker’s every so often preparing for a pair of shows in Huntington and next week in Lexington, where Tackett calls home these days. After years of on-again off-again status, it’s good to get together and have a good time, Lancaster said.

“We just make a marathon weekend out of it. Everybody comes in Friday night, and we do a few hours, then go all afternoon Saturday and Sunday. It’s been a blast.”

“We just make a big party out of it,” Walker added.

Tackett said that the enduring friendship and musical collaborations that have existed in the intervening years have helped Chum retain its energy.

“I can tell you right now it sounds really f---ing heavy. I don’t know if you can put that in there. It’s been cool because with John and Mac playing together in John’s solo project, and with Jude, Mac and myself playing in Hyatari together, it almost seems like it was inevitable that we’d get together and do this.”

Bringing Blevins on as drummer was a no-brainer and, for Blevins, who’d seen Chum open for Helmet at Ritter Park years ago, a great call to get.

“I was honored, of course,” Blevins said. “I’m sure they could’ve had anybody, any drummer they would’ve called would have jumped at it. I think it’s pretty cool.

Walker said the original chemistry is still there.

“It gets to be kind of like second nature, because you can almost predict what the other guy is thinking when you’re playing and writing. A few of these songs we are playing, we never released, so it’s great to bring those songs back to life.”

Tackett said what was once old, as far as Chum goes, is new again.

“One of the reasons I like to revisit Chum is because the material holds up even though some of this stuff is fifteen years old. A lot of the stuff we were writing back at that time, I consider it to be pushing the envelope as far as our song structures and tunings. It’s a little more common nowadays, but back then you didn’t hear it too often. The songs have held up well and have that energy and are really heavy, so I like to revisit it because they don’t feel old to me, they feel just as current as when we were writing them back in the day.”

It almost seemed like a drag, or maybe it was fitting, to ask the “heavy” questions of the guys: why did things go wrong, and when, back in the mid-to-late 1990’s?

Maybe it was the lack of label support after releasing “Dead To The World” on the Santa Monica, California-based Century Media Records? Walker addressed that angle.

“I think what happened was, the label wasn’t really into the band anymore, they weren’t liking the new material. We were rehearsing and writing new material and it just seemed like a lot of work wasn’t going anywhere. That seemed like the beginning of the end.”

For Tackett, internal chemistry issues arose after original drummer Chuck Nicholas left to join West Virginia contemporaries Karma To Burn before DTTW was even released.

“For me, when Chuck left the band, the songwriting, the whole process kind of changed,” Tackett said, speaking diplomatically. “Mac and myself feed off each other, and Chuck and John fed off each other, and we all worked well as a foursome. All the songs that were on [DTTW] and the two [1994 cassette] EPs were hashed out in a room together.

“We had that chemistry, and the songwriting was effortless. After Chuck left, we had to write with other people and it wasn’t the same, and the music started to change, not for better or worse, just different. So for me, the Chum era kind of ended when Chuck left the band.”

So many years later, Lancaster, Tackett and Walker, with mutual friend Blevins, are looking to not only keep their friendship intact, but Chum too. The internet age offers an avenue of communication that can facilitate long-distance collaboration, as Lancaster displayed recording and releasing his solo debut, “Phantom Moon,” last year.

Also, just as important, Chum’s fans are able to generate a mutually reinforcing energy, whether its picking songs for a set list, asking about merch, or remembering favorite shows from the past on the Chum Facebook page.

“It’s pretty much the main inspiration for us doing it at this point,” Lancaster said of the fans. “We get messages from people talking about the band, it’s just great to know that people are excited about it.”

Walker said, just like at practice, at the V Club show Saturday, it’s going to be a party.

“It’s great. We’ve got people coming in from all over the place, so it’s more than a reunion, we’re getting to see old friends too.”

Old friends indeed, Tackett said, summing up Chum’s future.

“We’re all basically like brothers at this point, having grown up together. I don’t see any reason for us to stop making music anytime soon.”
 
If you go
Chum, Horseburner, Tower of the Elephant
Where: The V Club, 741 6th Avenue, Huntington (304) 781-0680
When: Saturday, October 1st, 10 p.m.
Cost: $8
Info: www.vclublive.com, www.facebook.com/chumwv






9.21.2011
Five questions with Dustin White of Sundown

Photobucket
photo: Joe Maiorana

The Columbus-based psych-folk act Sundown (L-R: Blake Pfister, Grant Driskell, Dustin White, TK Webb) plays The Empty Glass Thursday night


Reposted from The Charleston Gazette

In advance of their show Thursday night at the Empty Glass, The Gazz caught up with Charleston-area native and Sundown guitarist Dustin White to learn more about the new Columbus, Ohio-based “psych-folk” rock band he started with TK Webb, Sundown’s recently released six-song LP “Mansion Burning,” and his thoughts on hailing from the Mountain State.
 
GAZZ: Sundown just released its debut LP “Mansion Burning,” what’s the response been like and how excited are you for people to hear it?

Dustin White: “Mansion Burning” is basically a document of us figuring out what it is that we do. We hadn’t played live yet. It was really intended just to be a demo, that’s why we released it on cassette, as a nod to that. And we just released it yesterday, so I have no idea what the public response is yet, but what little feedback I have has been frighteningly positive.

-----
GAZZ: You’re a Hurricane native, right? How excited are you to bring Sundown to the Empty Glass Thursday as part of this string of West Virginia shows?

White: I grew up all over the greater chemical valley, everywhere from Pinch to Hurricane. I’m excited to play Charleston, I haven’t played there since Apart From The Projector in 2000.

I’ve played some of the weirdest and some of the most life changing shows of my life in Charleston. In karate studios, flea markets, churches, trailers, living rooms, VFW halls, coffee shops, stairwells, and everywhere in between. The all-ages scene that I was lucky enough to participate in growing up here was monstrous. One hundred-plus kids at a storefront in Nitro every weekend. It seems ludicrously impossible.

I’m excited to play the Glass though. I’ve always loved the place. When I was underage I snuck in there to see Hasil Adkins, Jesco White, and Mojo Nixon! I’ve never tried to hide the fact that I’m from West Virginia. A lot of people try to hide their history with whatever character they invented when they move to the “big city” but that has never really interested me.

When we were on tour in Europe I was constantly drunkenly rambling about Appalachia. People would want to talk about New York City or Los Angeles. Those cities are amazing, but all mega cities are incredibly similar. There is no Boone county in France. That was what I was trying to stress to them is to go see those places.

Due to my pro-Appalachia rhetoric on that tour our driver watched Harlan County USA and had his mind blown. He had no idea that existed and much less had been documented.

I’m also just as excited to get a Dottie at Tudors.

-----
GAZZ: You were described in a recent interview as a “talented weirdo,” you cool with that?

White: I am beyond cool with that. I should just make a business card that says that.

-----
GAZZ: What’s the chemistry like writing songs with TK Webb, also no stranger to area shows, and what did working behind the board with Times New Viking bring to Sundown’s sound?

White: Initially I was going to help TK record some songs. Things changed completely though when TK and I actually got together. It just immediately made sense that this should be a band and on top of that not another TK Webb-and-band scenario.

The two of us have been at this a long time and share a lot of the same vocabulary. We both lived through late 90’s indie rock very first hand and watch as the now dreaded “e word” changed from something interesting and vital to the worst nonsense I have ever heard. To go from that point to where we both are now but not together is really interesting, especially because we both are blessed with serious bulls--- detectors.

In summation we work amazingly well together. When it ends up just the two of us cranking out something that sounds like Suicide and Springsteen jamming it doesn’t surprise or confuse either of us. Somehow it makes more sense to us than if we painted between the lines more.

Working with Times New Viking, especially recording “Dancer Equired,” has been amazing for me. I’ve been traveling around the world with some of my best friends who just happen to make amazing music. It happened too, right as my last band kind of hit the pause button.

The biggest thing I’ve taken from working with them to this is just a sense of immediacy. Good instincts will get more done than anything else and theirs are spot on usually. I over think things. I know this. So seeing them just constantly moving was something I picked up on.

-----
GAZZ: You’ve been in no shortage of bands, what’s it like being in a brand new band with Sundown?

White: After my last project, Moons, went on hold I haven’t had a “band.” Fortunately I started working with TNV just as that happened and there hasn’t been a real lull in that.

TNV are taking a little time off the road for now so I can pursue this without worry. I feel beyond excited about what we are doing. Everything has just lined up in this really amazing way for us. We are seriously brand new. As of right now we have played live five times and two of those were yesterday!
There are more songs being written than we can learn. It all just feels really good.

WANT TO GO?
Sundown, Love Wolf
Where: The Empty Glass, 410 Elizabeth St., Charleston WV
When: Thursday, September 22, 9 p.m.
Cost: $5
Online:
http://thisissundown.tumblr.com/, www.facebook.com/thisissundown






9.7.2011
Inaugural capital rock fest rewards hard working bands

Photobucket


Reposted from The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- You could say Jason “Roadblock” Robinson is a man on a mission.

The mission, as Robinson has chosen to accept it, is twofold: to bring excitement back to Charleston’s music scene in the form of Mission Coalition, a two-day hard rock festival that starts Friday evening at the Sound Factory, and to ensure area bands get treated well (read: paid) at said festival.

A bassist in several local bands, most recently The Scrap Iron Pickers and The Elvis Presley Murder Files, Robinson also books bands for The Empty Glass and previously for the Sound Factory. It’s the wisdom he's gleaned from seeing both sides of the music business that he hopes will make Mission Coalition a rocking success -- and an annual event.

“Where I work on both sides of the coin, I understand the business aspect a little better than a lot of bands do,” Robinson said.

Part of his motivation is his opposition to the “pay-to-play” philosophy, in which venues charge acts for the use of their facilities. Also, he hopes the festival will help educate bands on how the music business works.

“The way I’m doing this, it’s like the bands are partners in a business venture,” Robinson said. “There are expenses that come with having events, so you can’t make any profit until those are covered. But after those are covered, the bands are like partners.”

All the bands are selling tickets, so they have a vested interest in the festival, he said. Unlike pay-to-play, ticket sales aren’t a requirement to be able to perform, but those bands that do sell tickets will receive a larger percentage of the profit.

“I did want it to be that bands that sold the most tickets made more money because that rewards them for their hard work,” Robinson explained. “That’s essentially the way it should be.”

“The way it should be” isn’t necessarily the way it is when it comes to local shows and another hard rock-oriented festival, though, he said. That’s one of the things that motivated him to put Mission Coalition together.

He points out, in particular, a Huntington radio station’s online competition for area bands to play in Huntington on Sunday. The contest was basically a way for the station to get others to do its work, Robinson said.

“What they were doing was like: ‘Hey, work your ass off to make our email list larger, and then, in the end, you will reap very much of nothing,’” he said. “‘Do our work for us, and we will let you play; you will be so graced to play….’”

Robinson’s voice took on a very clear tone of anger and frustration as he described the annoyance of getting mass emailed on Facebook by band members, as well as, as he sees it, the dismissive attitude festival organizers display to area bands.

“Any time you do that Internet-contest thing, there’s always cheating,” he said. “I don’t believe any of those bands have 4,000 people sign up for an email list to win those positions.

“It also knocks down people who are willing to work hard. It gets to be quantity over quality. If a band is practicing and writing new material all the time, they don’t have time to go drink beer in a bar and schmooze.”

If people choose to view Mission Coalition as a kind of Charleston-area answer to the Huntington festival, Robinson is fine with that. He doesn’t have much love for the Huntington festival.

“The last few years, and this year, it’s a packaged tour,” he said. “They just added a few bands, and that’s it. They’re not doing any work at all; they’re just paying some promoter to bring in three bands instead of doing any work and doing something cool.”

As much as Robinson sees Mission Coalition as a chance for local bands to be rewarded for their hard work, it’s also a chance just to do something new.

“I know we’ve never done anything like this in Charleston before,” he said. “It seems like there’s a lot of excitement. Last night, I heard the commercial for it on Rock 105, like four times. All the bands are excited to be on it.

“We plan on doing more of these if this is successful,” he said. “There’s a good buzz about it, so it looks like this will be at least a once-a-year thing.”

Before Robinson starts patting himself on the back or thinking about next year, though, he’s got a festival to manage.

“I’ll be proud when it’s done,” he said with a laugh. “Right now, I’m in the middle of all the chaos.”


WANT TO GO?
Mission Coalition
Where: Sound Factory, 812 Kanawha Blvd. E.
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9 and Saturday, Sept. 10
Cost: Advance $12, at the door $15, two-day pass $20
INFO: 304-342-8001, http://www.missioncoalition.com/ or missioncoalition@gmail.com

Mission Coalition’s weekend schedule

Friday
Doors open at 6 p.m. Hosted by Byzantine’s Chris Ojeda.
7:30 p.m.: HARRAH: heavy metal; celebrating the music of singer Lee Harrah’s past bands (including Stone Ka-Tet and The Ghosts of Now)
8:30 p.m.: Tower of the Elephant: stoner rock
9:30 p.m.: The Number Six: thrash metal in the vein of Soilwork and Sevendust
10:30 p.m.: The Scrap Iron Pickers: instrumental power trio
11:30 p.m.: LineWork: metal/American hardcore
12:30 a.m.: The Suede Brothers: “Rust Belt rock”/power trio

Saturday
Doors open at 6 p.m. Hosted by Skip Cromer.
7:30 p.m.: Saprogen: progressive thrash metal
8:30 p.m.: Nuns on Fire: screamo/comedy
9:30 p.m.: DeadFaceDown: heavy metal
10:30 p.m.: Tomorrow Burns: metal/hardcore
11:30 p.m.: John Lancaster: hard rock (founder of Huntington band Chum)
12:30 a.m.: Karma To Burn: instrumental hard rock




8.18.2011
Singin’ the Blues

Photobucket
photo: Chris Harper/Tophu Photo


Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

Tyler Childers has the blues. You can hear it in his voice, and in the songs the 20-year old Paintsville, Kentucky native sings. It’s in the lyrics, in songs about whiskey and women, songs like “If Whiskey Could Talk,” “Hard Times,” “Silence,” and “Bottles and Bibles,” the title of his 13-song debut CD.

Despite not being old enough to even buy whiskey, or get into some bars to play, Childers has been developing a following in Huntington, thanks to his soulful voice and his distinctly Appalachian version of acoustic Americana.

Tyler Childers plays the V Club Saturday night with Sasha Colette and the Magnolias and The David Mayfield Parade.

Childers will play anywhere to make fans and meet new people. He recently played Qdoba Mexican Grill in the Huntington Mall. The crowd loved it, he said.

“It was nice,” Childers said over the phone, drawing out “nice” with an accent and a twang you’ll no doubt find around Southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky.

“It was a smaller place, more intimate, but it was a receptive audience. You meet cool people wherever you play, and I met some cool people there.”
It’s meeting cool people who love his songs that’s helped Childers, now living in Lexington, get more shows, this, in spite of his youth.

“It’s hard to get into bars to play, but I understand it. Everybody and their brother plays music, or thinks they do. But if you own a bar and you’re like, ‘You got to be 21,’ that takes out half of them. That’s that much more people you don’t have to deal with on a daily basis coming in saying ‘Hey you want to check out my demo?’

“And then there’s the whole liability thing; something happens, and here he is, and he’s not 21. It sucks, but I understand it. It’s just, there’s a lot of people out there who aren’t 21 yet and who have real talent.”

Getting his foot in the door at Huntington’s V Club has helped springboard Childers into a busy 2011.

“Getting into the V Club, I just went into one of their open mics one night, and everything I’ve got so far has been through that. That, and [V Club promoter] Don [Duncan] and Ian [Thornton] and them boys telling other people. But, in Lexington, I haven’t had much luck yet.

Childers said everyone has the blues, in a sense, it’s just that not everyone turns it into songs.

“We’ve all got problems that we go through. I know I’m just 20 years old and people might be like ‘What does he know about the blues? He hasn’t been through anything.’ But I’ve went through my stuff just like everyone else. The thing is to take those emotions and concentrate on them and turn it into a song and make people understand what you’re going through, and believe you, and feel your pain and heartache.”

Hearing Childers voice puts any doubt to rest that he feels “it,” deep down.
“The voice thing is really big, that’s where it’s at for me. I can play guitar well enough, but where I try to bring it home is by the way I sing.”

On the subject of “home,” singing and playing the blues, and uniquely Appalachian accents and voices, Childers, heavily influenced as a youth by Robert Johnson and “Sun” House, said being around the latter influences the former.

“Being from Appalachia, we’re just really lucky to live where we live. The people you meet, and the way they talk, just, everything they say is a song. Our language is so colorful, the way we explain things, and exaggerate things, like a bunch of old men sitting around a barbershop. That’s what really helped out my songwriting, was just listening to people.”

Childers said it should come as no surprise to people that an Eastern Kentucky boy would win so many people over so fast with such talent.
“As far as talent, this area is full of it, everywhere you look. People are raised up singing in church, playing piano, or grow up playing bluegrass.”

And, small world that it is, Childers said it was another Eastern Kentucky singer-songwriter, already known for her own soulful voice, who influenced him as a teen.

“One local influence was Sasha [Colette]. I first saw her when I was 15, and I had just started writing songs, and, I just thought she was the coolest thing on Earth,” he admitted with a laugh.

Having the support and positive feedback from so many people has helped Childers move his songs out into public over the past few years.

“It’s kind of nerve racking sharing songs you wrote in public. You sit around and think about them and write them out. And of course you like it, because you wrote it, but it could be a success or an embarrassing failure. It’s always neat seeing what other people think about your songs.

Knowing that his songs have touched people is what it’s all about for Childers.

“It really means a lot, people like Don [Duncan] and the people who’ve come out to my shows at the V Club. Like, Adam Barraclough, any show he knows that I have in Huntington, he’s been there. Just to have people who follow you, and want to know about your music, that your songs mean something to people and reach them, it means everything to me.”
 
IF YOU GO:
Tyler Childers, Sasha Colette and the Magnolias, The David Mayfield Parade
Where: The V Club, 741 6th Avenue (304) 781-0680
When: Saturday, August 20, 10 p.m.
Cost: $8 adv., $10 DOS




8.12.2011
For Christopher Lusher, It Is What It Is

Photobucket

DIY or die: Christopher Lusher didn’t wait around to have someone else feature artists in Huntington. The 37-year old multimedia artist follows up on June’s Destructive Criticism show with tonight’s show, It Is What It Is, with over 20 area artists.

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch


Christopher Lusher wears his philosophy about life, and art, literally on his sleeve: it is what it is. The 37-year old multimedia artist has the clichĂ© phrase tattooed in cursive on his left forearm, and it also happens to be the name and theme of the art show he’s hosting Friday.

“That’s exactly it, that’s the idea,” Lusher explained over the phone, laughing and describing the obviousness of the title. “Someone asked me the other day ‘What’s the theme for the show?’ And that’s what I told them, ‘There is no theme, hence the title, it is what it is, it’s everything.’ I thought it was a great name for an art show.

It Is What It Is runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at Rivers Towers West, and is free to the public.

Heavily influenced by his teenage years as a skateboarder, and after moving from comic book art and drawing as a kid in Proctorville, Ohio, to painting, collages, street photography and more recent mixed media work (all of which are featured on his Hillbilly Magazine tumblr site) Lusher said that a very real do-it-yourself punk attitude infuses his art.

“When I look back on my life and think about what informs me now, and makes me who I am today, it goes back to that aesthetic I got from skateboarding. Doing that, you become so independently minded, because back in the day, you had to have tough skin, not so much now, people would come at you with hammers. So there was always me relating to this outsider mentality and doing things yourself.”

That DIY mentality has helped Lusher corral over 20 area artists for It Is What It Is, the follow-up show to Destructive Criticism, held in June. Lusher said his first show as a curator turned out great.

“It was more of a success than anyone had really bargained for. I think five or six artists sold. The one thing it did was it seemed to inspire a lot of people to start doing stuff. Most artists are usually kind of self-conscious, and a lot of the people who went to the show, who make art, it gave them the impetus to come out of their box and start putting their stuff out there, so it was great.

“Everybody from that last show was so stoked. It was like, ‘Get it of the internet, it’s not a jpeg.’ It’s like ‘Oh my God, that thing is eight feet tall.’ You can see it in person. It’s not the size of a postage stamp on your computer, it’s in your face.”

Huntington needs a place for in your face, outsider art, with a casual atmosphere where artists can show their work, Lusher said. And if you believe that a naked woman equals porn, you might just puke with rage at Friday’s show. Lusher said he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I don’t want someone to look at something I’ve done and say ‘Oh that’s not too bad,’ because what they’re saying is, ‘I don’t care for this at all.’ But if someone says ‘This is the worst thing I’ve seen in my life,’ that, to me is the same thing as saying it’s the greatest thing they’ve seen, because they’re having a visceral reaction, on either end of the spectrum. It’s a good thing. Some people can’t handle criticism, but it’s great if you make someone have a really, really potent reaction, positive or negative.”

Photobucket

And don’t worry about monocles falling out of shocked highbrow eye sockets into glasses of sherry and champagne Friday night, Lusher said.

“I don’t want to be at a place with an atmosphere of a dentist’s office, sterile and stodgy, with a bunch of people standing close to each other and whispering. I’m trying to create more an atmosphere of a barbecue; there’s music and beer, and you don’t have to worry about holding your wine glass right.”

Lusher said giving other artists a venue to show their work in public is what it’s all about for him.

“It’s the best feeling in the world,” he said. “I think it gets to the point with everyone where ‘I’m not going to Marshall, so I’m not going to be in a gallery in Huntington,’ because, let’s face it, I mean, they’ve monopolized everything to the point where there’s nowhere to show anything unless you’re a student. My whole thing was, ‘Who cares?’ I have this space, and we’re going to utilize this space and do our own thing because nobody is going to do it for us.

“A lot of people sit around and say ‘I know I’m talented, but I don’t understand why no one is paying attention to me. But if you’re sitting around waiting for someone to show up at your door with a bag of money, if you’re into art thinking you’re going to make money, I got harsh news for you: it isn’t going to happen.

“That’s not why I do it, anyway, I just don’t know how to do anything else.”


IF YOU GO:
It Is What It Is
1102 3rd Avenue, Huntington
Friday, August 12 6-9 p.m.



Update 8.14: To see works featured in It Is What It Is, visit John Drake's Faebook set here.

Hillbilly Magazine on tumblr (not safe for work)
www.hillbillymagazine.tumblr.com/

Related: Focus on the Photographers Q&A w/Lusher from June

Video: EyeBOX Productions




-----
7.28.2011
Elvis Presley Murder Files bring improv rock to V Club

Photobucket
photo: Gordon Grant

L-R: John E. Sizemore, Jude Blevins, Jon Dunlap, and Jason Robinson (plus the not pictured Jimbo Valentine) comprise the improvisational rock project The Elvis Presley Murder Files, which plays the V Club Thursday night, and really doesn’t know who killed Elvis...


Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

Gathering on a Sunday to rehearse for just their second gig, the guys in The Elvis Presley Murder Files practice just like they play: by the seat of their pants.

The instrumental, improvisational rock outfit brought back to life by guitarist John E. Sizemore and bassist Jason “Roadblock” Robinson, whether it’s live on stage, or live at Sizemore’s house, makes it a point to shake things up and throw any semblance of musical structure out the window.

And before you get to how, really, what EPMF is doing is closer to jazz than what a lot of area rock bands are doing, you have to get the easiest, yet toughest, question out of the way: who killed Elvis?

“I don’t know if Elvis was murdered, and really, I don’t care,” Sizemore said to some group laughter, whilst throwing out the hypothetical suspects of Jerry Lee Lewis, and maybe Richard Nixon.

The Elvis Presley Murder Files play the V Club Thursday night as part of the This Ain’t No Disco series.

After the subject of “the king” had left the building, the discussion turned to what makes EPMF unique as a rock and roll project. Started out originally by Sizemore and a friend a few years ago, and recently re-animated with his Scrap Iron Pickers band mate Roadblock, the two each point out that they really don’t know what to expect on stage.

“We do the same thing here at practice that we do at the shows, pretty much,” Sizemore said. “We might start out loosely with a theme, and then somebody will start on something and that’s it. We’re getting a little more structured, but not really. There might be one or two songs structured for this next show, but they probably won’t be the same for the show.”

After recruiting drummer Jude Blevins and guitarist Jon Dunlap for their first show in April, and bringing on Huntington’s Jimbo Valentine for synth and ambient duties, Elvis Presley Murder Files was fully formed.

Photobucket

“It’s jazz,” Robinson explained. “In traditional jazz a group of musicians would show up at a club, someone would yell out a key, and sometimes they’d have a melody to go off of, and they’d start playing. It’s come to the point now where jazz is even getting more structured. And that’s why I call the Scrap Iron Pickers jazz, too. It’s almost more progressive fusion, and a little heavier. But Elvis Presley Murder Files is like pure, freeform jazz. It doesn’t matter what anybody is doing, it’s just musicians making music together in an improvisational way.”

“And not to compare us to Miles Davis, but hell, he didn’t practice with those musicians,” Sizemore said jumping back in. “They showed up for the gig and did the gig. And that’s kind of what we’re doing in spirit.”

“It’s just freeform improvisation,” Roadblock continued. “If people come to see the show, they might not correlate it to jazz, but that’s what it is. But, we don’t do heroin, so it’s not jazz, and we all take baths, so it’s not hippie,” the bassist said to much laughter.

Blevins, a member of the Huntington-area doom/drone band Hyatari, having driven an hour and forty-five minutes to rehearse at Sizemore’s Nitro home, said the Elvis Presley Murder style suits him just fine.

“It’s kind of like Satchell, when me and John [Vanover] get together; open and freeform. You’ve got to have some fun with it.”

While comparing and contrasting what they do in Elvis Presley Murder Files to Scrap Iron Pickers, Roadblock said the former wouldn’t exist if not for the latter.

“I think the Scrap Iron Pickers’ CD [Redeeming Metal/Union] actually pushed us more to do Elvis Presley Murder Files. On the second half of the CD [Union] we went out and actively looked for people we wanted to play with, and brought them in the studio to record.

“That’s the difference between Scrap Iron Pickers and Elvis Presley Murder Files; [EPMF] is just like a different personality of us. Some of the Elvis Presley Murder riffs, you might hear in Scrap Iron Pickers stuff, and vice versa. But Scrap Iron Pickers is more structured. Elvis Presley Murder Files is no limits, no rules or nothing.”

Sizemore said the collaboration in Scrap Iron Pickers, and the musical chemistry between him and Roadblock, lends itself well to the unstructured style Elvis Presley Murder is going for.

“Block’s a good friend. And he’s a good friend I make music with.”

“We kind of know what each other will do musically,” Roadblock said, jumping back in. “And we don’t have any big hang-ups in our lives outside of music.”

“We’re just musicians making music like everybody should be playing, not getting hung up on who’s writing what and playing what,” Sizemore said. “We all constantly write, so whoever wants to can bring anything to the table. There’s no standstill with the music.”

While saying that he makes it as high a priority as his and everyone else’s life allows, Sizemore said he hopes to continue the fun times making music.

“I want to keep doing this. Absolutely.”

Maybe unwittingly drawing a parallel between the Elvis Presley Murder style and their own lives, Roadblock summed it all up.

“Sometimes it can fall apart, but the cool part is bringing it back together.”

IF YOU GO:
The Elvis Presley Murder Files
Where: The V Club, 741 6th Ave., (304) 781-0680
When: Thursday, July 28, 10 p.m.
Cost: $3
Info: www.vclublive.com




-----
7.20.2011
Beats and rhymes for life: Even in retirement Chris Kessell a part of West Virginia hip-hop scene

Photobucket

Photo: Mike Ferrell

Chris Kessell, a longtime staple of West Virginia's hip-hop community, wears a shirt memorializing rapper Sam “Meuwl” Harshbarger. Harshbarger’s November 2009 death is one reason why Kessell chose to leave the hip-hop world in all capacities except teacher. He mentors teens both during an after-school program and during the annual 4-H Hip-Hop Camp, which begins Sunday.


Reposted from The Charleston Gazette


CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Chris Kessell has long been a staple in West Virginia’s hip-hop community. In addition to co-owning G-Mode Entertainment with Rasheed Jones, he’s been a producer, promoter, songwriter and DJ, operating under the aliases G-Mode as a performer and 95 as a producer.

These days, he wears another hat: mentor.

In January, Kessell announced his retirement from all things hip-hop except teaching. The 35-year-old St. Albans native is a 4-H Youth Development Associate at West Virginia State University and will work with kids ages 12 to 17 during his seventh annual 4-H Hip-Hop Camp Sunday through July 29 at Camp Virgil Tate.

Married with a 5-year-old daughter and 2-and-a-half-year-old twins, Kessell said that having children has helped him appreciate the camp even more.

“I have so much more appreciation after having three little kids,” he said. "[Appreciation] for what my parents did raising my brother and I and for everybody out there that can get a kid to that stage where they’re 14 and they’ll listen and not 14 and out running the streets.”

The camp’s activities range from artistic development to health and literacy enhancement. Kessell said it’s all about showing kids a positive side of life and giving them a healthy self-image through hip-hop.

“It’s one of the things we try to instill. The kids that want to rap or sing, the teacher works with opening their mind up to there being so much more of your life that you can talk about,” he said.

“Just because you’re a kid from the West Side and you’ve seen this or lived this doesn’t mean it’s the only thing you can talk about. Don’t be scared, just because the crowd says this is cool, to do what you want to do and talk about your life and what you want to be.”

In addition to his camp duties, Kessell runs an after-school program at the Roosevelt Neighborhood Center in Charleston called “Beats, Rhymes and Life,” where he further steers kids in a positive direction.

“When I talk to the kids at the center, where I’m more in contact with them than I am at the camp, a lot of days, they’re just in there hanging out. They might record something, but it’s more just talking about music and showing them good music.

“It opens their eyes to the wide world. You don’t have to concentrate on what’s in front of your face. There’s so much out there that they don’t even know what they don’t know,” he said with a chuckle.

The decision to leave hip-hop was not an easy one, Kessell said. It stemmed, in no small part, from the November 2009 death of 29-year old Sam “Meuwl” Harshbarger, who, with Bryan “B-Rude” Rude, composed the local hip-hop duo The Rabble Rousers.

“He was just a great guy, one of the nicest guys you could ever meet,” Kessell said. “Musically, he was the most talented person I’d ever worked with, and remember, I did songs with Freeway from Roc-A-Fella [Records]. Sam was the most talented artist I’d ever been around, period.

“I recorded his first song and his first mixtape, and we did tons and tons of songs together. He was such a good rapper; he pushed me to be a better producer. Just to know that I’ll never be able to make another song with him again sucks. It was heartbreaking to have him die so young.”

Other contributing factors to Kessell’s decision were a friend who was incarcerated and a few others who quit making music. “Everything just kind of hit all at once. I just said, ‘I don’t have the heart for it anymore.’”

Now, Kessell’s heart belongs to his wife and kids. Hip-hop comes in third.

“I still love hip-hop; I just love them more,” he said, adding that he’s happy to still be part of the genre as a mentor.

“Being involved with the kids keeps me excited,” he said. “When I see the kids out there using what they’ve learned, when being in the camp gives them the confidence to go out there and try something that they might not have tried otherwise, it just feels great.”

Trying is what it’s all about, he said. Stardom is elusive, and “99.9 percent of the people who try to be superstars aren’t.”

“It’s not about making it; it’s about having fun trying,” Kessell said. “Even though I didn’t quote-unquote make it as a superstar producer, I had a blast.

“That’s what I want these kids to feel, just have fun trying and to use this as an avenue to do whatever -- whether it’s going to college or learning a skill. Hopefully it gives them something they can use for the rest of their life.”

For more information on the 4-H Youth Hip-Hop Camp, visit www.grdi.wvstate.edu.


-----
7.13.2011
Hanging out jamming became a regular thing for AC30

Photobucket

photo: Michael Borneisen

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch


For Bud Carroll and Ian Thornton, being in AC30 is what rock and roll is all about. Items on the agenda include hanging out with friends, jamming, playing some gigs and refining songs in the studio.

What started out as a studio project for Carroll, helping Thornton and his Whirling Dervish cohort Ryan Weaver record some tracks, three years on, has morphed into the Huntington-based power pop quintet.

AC30 plays The V Club in Huntington Saturday night with Mark Bates, Ladybird, and Tim Lancaster.

Over the phone, Carroll described first hearing the potential displayed by Weaver and Thornton in Whirling Dervish, with whom he played in briefly after their lead guitarist quit.

“I just kind of stumbled into Shamrock’s one night and caught Whirling Dervish. They were kind of raw, but they were doing two things that I’m all about: featuring vocal harmonies, and, one of my favorite things has always been power pop, and I realized that was what those guys were going for. I just attached myself to them. I wanted to produce some tracks for them, but I didn’t have much of a studio at the time.”

That’s where Weaver came in. Weaver (“a legitimately schooled engineer,” said Carroll) had the gear, and together with James Barker (of Deadbeats and Barkers) the three set up Trackside Studios at Carroll’s house.

It’s having that studio, and being able to take their time with the band that has helped AC30 (Carroll: lead guitar; Weaver: guitar; Thornton: bass; Doug Woodard: acoustic; Alex McCoy: drums) blossom over the past two years, free of charge, Thornton said.

“We’d be in debt pretty big right now,” he said laughing. “It’s just one more thing that lends itself to the no pressure part. If we don’t cut the right track, we don’t have to keep it. We can just do it again. The songs have grown too, we can hang out and talk about tweaking them in the studio. It’s cool because everybody sets aside time for this project. Every Monday night is dedicated to AC30.

“So, the transition [into AC30] was pretty easy,” Thornton continued. “Ryan and I never really quit hanging out. We had started at Bud’s house trying to lay down some tracks. So the whole time, Ryan and I were still writing, even after Whirling Dervish, trying to put some songs together.

“But it’s definitely grown. For a long time it was just Bud, Ryan, and myself, sitting up at Trackside laying down scratch parts. Bud would do drum tracks and we’d do drums and bass together. The first few songs we recorded were just the three of us.”

“We were just sitting around, and I was like, ‘I play drums, and if you guys want to keep recording music, we can do that,’” Carroll said. “Ryan moved his gear in, and we’d do something every Monday night. And we kept AC30 going every Monday just as an outlet, something different.”

Something different for Carroll meant taking a back seat and letting others stand out, whether it’s everyone sharing the singing and songwriting duties, or featuring vocal harmonies. Fronting the Southern Souls, being the band leader, brought with it added pressure, Carroll said.

“It’s a lot less of a high pressure situation, for me. I got locked into this thing, especially after American Minor. It could’ve been something I did to myself, but, I think people expected me to have all these answers about how to further yourself in the music industry, things like that. It was all this pressure with Southern Souls trying to do this or that.”
Pausing to speak deliberately and honestly, Carroll said the stress got to him.

“It was nobody’s fault, it was just a lot of pressure on me to make things happen. We took a lot of time and we spent a lot of money making “Wasted Words and Best Intentions,” and I wasn’t really happy with it. It was really stressful.

“And a lot of other things happened. There was this really bizarre situation where I went out to Los Angeles; Interscope Records was trying to put together this super band. Just, strange things were happening and it wasn’t about loving music, hanging out with your friends, having a good time jamming, and writing songs that sound good.”

Together now in a band with Woodard, his high school band mate, is like garage days of old, Carroll said.

“He’s been off the scene here for a long time, but he’s one of the best singers and all-around musicians I’ve been around. He’s someone I’ve looked up to for a long time. He wasn’t in it from the beginning, but I hope people understand his contributions to AC30. I’ve literally been trying to work with him in some capacity for, like, ten years.”

“Doug fit right in,” Thornton added. “He and Alex are both cool dudes, so from the start it was just like getting together and hanging out. Everybody brings something to the table. Ryan just brought a new song in, I’ve got one, so the no pressure thing is great.

While AC30 hopes to be able to release something small for the upcoming Huntington Music and Arts Festival, and something bigger (maybe on vinyl) sometime in 2011, they’re just having fun being in a band.

“No pressure, no expectations,” Carroll said, summing up AC30. “It’s not about making it, just everyone bringing their songs in and us working together to make them sound great. There’s no pretense, we’re just having fun playing some tunes.”
 
If you go:
Who: AC30, Mark Bates, Ladybird, Tim Lancaster
Where: The V Club, 741 6th Avenue, Huntington (304) 781-0680
When: Saturday, July 16, 10 p.m.
Cost: $5
Info: www.reverbnation.com/ac30, www.vclublive.com



-----
6.2.2011
Tofujitsu “blended” by marriage

Photobucket

Sean Richardson and Karen Allen are the duo Tofujitsu. They will release a new album later this month that has been heavily influenced not just by becoming a musical couple but also a romantic one.

Reposted from The Charleston Gazette

Bands aren’t all that different from marriages; sometimes they need a good shaking up to keep things interesting.

For singer-songwriter Sean Richardson and drummer Karen Allen, together as the indie rock duo Tofujitsu since 2008 and married for just under a year, they definitely like shaking up their sound. Richardson, who fronted the Charleston-area band Strawfyssh, and Allen, who led Crazy Jane, have each taken up new roles; Richardson has honed his chops as a guitarist and singer, and Allen has became a drummer in recent years.

Tofujitsu plays The Empty Glass Friday night with Wiley Sonic and another old school Charleston band, Mother Nang.

Richardson and Allen, talking excitedly over the phone about subjects such as their long-running mutual respect for each other as musicians, how playing in Whistlepunk led quite directly to their “hooking up,” and the mid-June release of Tofujitsu’s eight-song sophomore CD ‘Blender.’

“The past three years of playing and writing together and recording has now led to this point where it’s blended us,” Richardson said, describing the name of the recording. “These eight songs represent a look into our world and how we perceive it.”

Allen said that as Tofujitsu has settled down, quite literally, into its lineup, the newer songs reflect that comfort together.

“‘Winged Cyclops’ was a cut on the ‘One Man’s Trash’ 2009 debut EP that was really a window into the future of our sound coming together. It was really one of the first songs we’d written together.”

And being in a band with your spouse?

“I highly recommend couples going out and starting duos,” Richardson said with a laugh. “It keeps things fresh.”

“Since we do get along so well, we do have that chemistry as a couple, and that comes with patience,” Allen said sitting next to her husband. “In relationships, you have to have patience, and Sean’s had patience with me as I learned drums, if you can imagine, at full volume, every day. I’m thrilled to have a musical partner who’s thrilled to try new things, find new inspirations, and continuing to challenge yourself.”

It’s these shared musical inspirations that not only motivated the new songs on ‘Blender,’ but helped Allen and Richardson fall in love while practicing together.

“We had this common space called LiveMix Studio, and a lot of musicians would play there, record, and hang out,” Richardson said, describing the then-budding romance between the two.

“I’d take my guitar there after work and practice, because I was a drummer for a long time, and a singer without a guitar before that. Karen ended up there one night and was singing harmonies to a song called ‘World Gone Mad’ that we’ll release later. And that’s when we had this inspiration, like ‘Well, this actually sounds nice together, where do we go from here?’ But we didn’t take it too seriously, it just gave us a chance to flirt and hang out,” Richardson said laughing again.

“For me it was not so much ‘World Gone Mad,’ it was The Shins song you would play, ‘New Slang,’” Allen added. “I was standing behind you, looking over your shoulder, reading the lyrics, and you’d hit that chord, it was one of those moments, I was just like, ‘wow!’

Describing a world gone mad is exactly what motivated the lyrics on the new songs, Richardson said.

“We talked about this, and when we reflected on it, what we’d written, we sing about love; the love we have for each other, and living in a polluted world, living in a perpetual state of war, and it’s extraordinarily painful and you can hopefully sense some of that frustration in the lyrics.

“We’ve been able to make music to help us through our days,” Richardson continued. “And we’re happy to have songs with an energy. It encompasses the last three years of us working together as a duo and that’s what ‘Blender’ is about.

“We’re just trying to write the best songs we can,” he said, summing things up. “We’re having a ton of fun, we’ve got a lot of shows lined up, and that’s what’s great; playing shows with our friends.”

Touching people with their songs, now in Tofujitsu is important, Allen said.

“What’s really great about the Charleston audience is when we play shows as Tofujitsu, people will come up and say ‘I really loved Crazy Jane, do you play that song still?’ It’s great for me because Crazy Jane was a special project for me, and people around Charleston have been such a faithful audience. It’s been so special for my music to have been a part of people’s lives. We’re really thankful for that.”

Want to go?
Tofujitsu, Mother Nang, Wiley Sonic
When: Saturday, June 4, 10 p.m.
Where: The Empty Glass, 410 Elizabeth St., Charleston
Cost: $7
Info: www.emptyglass.com


-----
5.25.2011
David Synn adjusts his frequency as solo artist

Photobucket

Photo: David Stephenson

All inked up: David Synn stands outside of Artistic Creations tattoo shop in Dunbar. He wears their work, and his passion for his electronic music, on his sleeves


Reposted from The Charleston Gazette

Talking to musicians of all stripes and types, more often than not the primary motivation can be traced back to one primal starting point: getting chicks.

For keyboardist and electronic musician David Synn, it’s not much different. After playing piano throughout his early childhood, he decided to shake things up and pick up a guitar after noticing a trend in middle school.

“For my age, I was considered pretty decent, but I dropped it, basically because all the girls wanted to go out with guys who played guitar,” the 29-year old lifelong St. Albans resident said over the phone, laughing hard.

Synn recently released his self-produced EP ’Frequency of Static’ on Empty Glass Records, is five songs into a new full-length, and is keeping busy over the summer, with shows lined up in Charleston and Huntington.

While Synn, excitedly and with humility, tells a similar story as far as getting started in his musical career, when it comes to pinning down his influences, it gets a little nebulous.

With a techno flavor, nods to KMFDM and going through the obligatory Nine Inch Nails phase, for Synn, it was guitar-driven, synth-backed bands that gave him the kick in the pants to make his own music.

“I got really big on Faith No More and Dream Theater, types of bands that really mixed the genres up,” Synn said. “As far as electronic music, I don’t listen to a lot of it; I listen to a lot of rock and metal. So when I make the stuff that I write, I don’t know even that it’s even been done. I know that when I listen to electronic music a lot of it seems to get real repetitive.”

“Actually I didn’t start out writing electronic music,” Synn said, continuing to describe getting into and finding his own style. “I started out writing progressive rock. My first album was released under the name Synnthetx, and it was prog rock with guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, and me singing, just not real well,” Synn said, again having a laugh at his own expense.

As necessity is the mother of innovation, Synn shed the thought of having a band, and embarked on his solo career three years ago.

“I felt like with the progressive rock thing I needed a full band to play, and bands are hard to get going anywhere, really, with jobs and everything. And I thought what I’d do is drop the progressive thing and have more of an electronic sound; no band, just me and four keyboards, a drum machine and a mixer. It’s kind of backbreaking, carrying it all back and forth, but it’s worth it to play out.”

Playing out as a solo, instrumental electronic artist has its pros and cons, Synn noted.

“A few times, at shows, I’ve blew the place away. And a few times, there have been just dropped jaws looking at me with no applause,” Synn said, looking back and laughing.

“I never really wanted to be a front man, I just wanted to be a keyboardist. I don’t feel like I have that rock front man, thing. I try to get people going with my music.”

This is in contrast to two of Synn’s biggest influences on keyboards, Roddy Bottum of Faith No More, and Josh Silver of Type O Negative. “Now that I’m older, I look back and notice they have that stage presence; they just rock out, and I just love that.

“Sometimes I almost wish I was in a band, because I don’t feel comfortable getting a crowd motivated. I’ve got further with my solo stuff than any band I’ve ever been in though.”

Synn said while he plays out solo, he’s had some help from others getting his music out.

“Oh it’s huge to me,” Synn said of the help. “Rod [Lanham of Caustic Eye Productions] and of course Roadblock, Jamie Skeen, who does live recordings at the Glass, they were all real cool and gave me advice. I’m really happy ‘Frequency of Static’ got put out on Empty Glass Records.”

Whether it’s Charleston or Huntington, Synn said it doesn’t matter where, he’s just glad to be getting out playing.

“Just getting out finally after all these years, and watching my friends doing what I wanted to be doing, and finally getting to do it, it’s a big deal to play either town, really.

“I’m proud of myself that I’ve gotten this far with it. It’s not easy, especially on your own. I’m glad that I’m starting to get out there, and I’m going to keep playing out anywhere that’ll have me.”
 
Info: www.davidsynn.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/David-Synn/182823475098279
‘Frequency of Static’ is available at Cat’s Back Records in Nitro and at http://www.emptyglass.com/




-----
5.26.2011
Maryland hard rock band Clutch set to play V Club on Sunday

Photobucket

The hard rock band Clutch, made up of (left to right) Jean-Paul Gaster, Tim Sult, Dan Maines and Neil Fallon, will perform at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, May 29, at the V Club

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch


Neil Fallon answered questions about Clutch over the phone from Norfolk, Virginia on the second day of a nine-date string of shows. But the first subject wasn’t Clutch re-issuing their 2004 release ‘Blast Tyrant,’ on their own label. On this Saturday, it was that the much-ballyhooed rapture didn’t occur after all.

“I was thinking that’s a business I need to get into, because the end of the world is pretty lucrative,” the singer said. “I need to start making some predictions myself.”

Clutch, the Frederick, Maryland-based hard rock band started by four high school friends, just re-released ‘Blast Tyrant’ on its own label, Weathermaker Music. And while Fallon has a clarity only 20 years in Clutch can give in hindsight, he did have some music related predictions. One being that Clutch will head back into the studio to record studio album number ten this year. And secondly, and maybe anyone can predict this, his band will continue to tour relentlessly.

“A lot of our fans already have the records,” Fallon said of the strong sales the two-disc ‘Blast Tyrant’ re-issue has seen since its release May 10. “But rankings and charts are never an accurate litmus test for anything. We’re a live touring band, and of course, we want people to buy our records, but more importantly we want them to come to our shows.”

Prince, quoting Public Enemy’s Chuck D, once said ‘If you don’t own the masters, the masters own you,’ talking about who really owns the songs, the musician or the record label. This is a situation all too familiar with Clutch, who has re-issued its DRT Entertainment releases, ‘Robot Hive/Exodus,’ ‘From Beale Street to Oblivion,’ and now ‘Blast Tyrant.’

“The three records that we did with DRT, we knew it was coming to an end because it was a three-record contract,” Fallon said. “So we would’ve started Weathermaker regardless. But we hadn’t really foreseen getting these masters back. We went to court and sued them over royalties they owed us because they quit paying us, and the judge found in our favor, and they still couldn’t pay us. So in lieu of the royalties we were awarded the masters. At the time we could’ve used the money because going to court is expensive. But now in hindsight those troubled waters have come and gone and we’re better for it in the long term to have these masters.”

Fallon, even now, looking back with the luxury of having his own label, said he wouldn’t change a thing.

“Cutting out the middle man you can sell records cheaper, and exercise more control over them. But at the same time when we were starting out in the 1990’s, labels gave us money to go out on tour. And because of that, we established our own fan base. And we wouldn’t be in the position we’re in today without having gotten tour support to go out on tour with Sepultura or Pantera or dozens of other bands.

“But now that we’re in this position, and I think a lot of bands are in a similar position, I think you’d be fools not to put out your own records if you have the means to do so.”
Getting back to his lyrics, whether it’s anthrax, aliens, or mind control, Fallon said writing in Clutch affords him some liberties.

“It’s one of the things I enjoy most about making songs,” Fallon said of the back stories behind the lyrics. “It’s one of the reasons I gravitated towards conspiracy theories and esoteric stuff over the years is because no one’s an expert, and you can say what you want and you’re still right. And there’s a lot of cool imagery to draw from. I’m glad I’m afforded that luxury, it’s a pretty good spot to be in.”

Another prediction from Fallon? Before it’s all over, he’d like to be a published author.

“Yeah I have, I do all the time,” Fallon said when asked if he’s thought about writing a book. “It’s an intimidating proposition. When you write a song, once you write the chorus, half your work is done. But a blank page is pretty intimidating and a formidable sight. It’s something I hope to do before I die. I haven’t got there yet, though.”

Where Fallon is these days is touring out with Clutch, whether it’s with Motorhead, Corrosion of Conformity, or Flogging Molly, with three high school friends in the only band he’s ever known.

“It’s crucial, if not the most important part,” Fallon said of the enduring friendship that’s helped Clutch last 20 years. “A lot of bands, their demise comes when one person wants it to sound like this, and one person wants it to sound like that. We’ve never had that conversation. It was just a collective instinct, for lack of a better term. We don’t have to talk about much, we just have to do it.

“I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” Fallon said, continuing his look back. “If you’d have told me we’d still be doing this even 10 years ago I would’ve laughed. We’re in a good spot; we’re putting out our own records and we’re a self-sufficient entity. We’re not looking for fame and fortune, we do it because we love making music and if we can just make enough money to continue this as our full-time job I consider that the height of success.”



If you go:
Who: Clutch, Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, Groundscore
Where: The V Club, 741 6th Ave., Huntington (304) 781-0680
When: Sunday, May 29, 8:30 p.m.
Cost: $19 adv., $22 dos
Info: www.vclublive.com


-----
5.19.2011
‘70s bands’ influence heavy in Suede Brothers
Working-class trio brings Rust Belt rock to The Sound Factory

Photobucket

Cleveland’s Suede Brothers -- (from left) bass player Kevin Naughton, guitar player and frontman Dylan Francis and drummer Mike Varga -- come to The Sound Factory Friday night. They count among their influences the late comic book writer Harvey Pekar, who is considered one of the city’s working-class heroes. They’re also big fans of ‘70s rock, and they sound like they are, too.

Reposted from The Charleston Gazette

For The Suede Brothers, Cleveland does indeed rock.

Home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, sure, but more importantly, the hard work ethic that’s inspired the throwback version of “rust belt rock” the power trio has become known for since 2007.

“We all have day jobs,” singer-guitarist Dylan Francis said matter-of-factly over the phone as his band prepared for a mid-week jaunt through Chattanooga and Lexington that will bring them to The Sound Factory this Friday.

“Nobody in this region was willing to give up when the steel factories left and everyone had to go around looking for new jobs. So the attitude of the people in this area is what we’re trying to display. It kind of gives us a hope, being from an underdog city, like Detroit. We’re proud to wear that on our sleeve, because for us the only way out is up.”

That Midwestern work ethic found its way into the recording of The Suede Brothers’ recently released record ‘The Night,’ recorded in just 36 hours.

“We’d get in there early in the morning and chug a pot of coffee and get to work,” Francis said. “It goes back to the Midwest work ethic, and it’s something West Virginians can relate to; get up, get in there, and get the work done.

“Actually a lot of the people in Northern Ohio are native West Virginians; they came up for the jobs in the steel factories in Ashtabula and Cleveland. The attitudes of the people we’ve met in West Virginia, talking to people after shows, it’s the same attitude you find up here.”

That attitude was (and still is) embodied in maybe the band’s biggest Cleveland-based influence, comic book writer Harvey Pekar.

“He was born and raised in Cleveland. He just wrote stories about his daily experiences. In his comics there’s no heroes or action, just day-to-day life. He took s--- and just kept on running. The aesthetic that he displayed in his comics and in his writings is exactly what we try to go for with our music.

“He passed away last summer, and sometimes it takes someone passing away to realize the void they left behind. It really hit us hard realizing how much of an influence he had on the people of Cleveland. He was the personified working class hero of Cleveland.”

Relating to West Virginians is something Francis can talk about not only geographically, but musically. The Suede Brothers, barely old enough to get into bars, count Morgantown natives Karma To Burn, with Daniel Davies in Year Long Disaster, as huge contemporary influences.

“Oh yeah!” Francis said excitedly when asked about the bands. “They’re West Virginians at heart, you know? And that’s how we want to keep our attitude toward our band. Not every band or artistic endeavor has to wear their geographic region on their sleeve, but we like to, because it’s the attitude and the sentiment of the people in the region. But like Karma To Burn does, because they’re West Virginians at heart, we do because we’re Ohioans at heart.”

One of the biggest pushes for us to start The Suede Brothers was hanging around Year Long Disaster a lot,” Francis continued. “We played some shows with them, and they stayed at our house for a while. [YLD] was one of the first modern bands that really rang true with me. It’s hard for me to find bands that move me like a lot of the classic rock bands do. We’re definitely influenced by bands like [YLD] and [KTB]; riff-based bands who’ve stuck to their guns and haven’t changed, it’s definitely influential for us.”

Discovering classic rock was also a huge influence on an adolescent Francis.

“We could’ve grown up in the 70’s,” Francis said. “We walked around with long hair and wore Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath t-shirts. I found Sabbath’s ‘Master of Reality’ album at a thrift store, so I had to buy a turntable to play it. I mean, we had computers and everything, but I wanted to hear it on vinyl. There’s just something more tangible about bands from that generation, thirty years ago, before the MTV era. I don’t know what it is.”

Turning rock fans onto their music isn’t much of a problem these days, but starting out, not being old enough to get into bars, presented a problem for the young Suede Brothers.

“That was a huge problem for us the first year or two,” Francis said. “We had to play battle of the bands shows and stuff because those were the only shows where we could get into a bar. When we started, [drummer] Mike [Varga] was 15, and [bassist] Kevin [Naughton] and I were 18 and 19. The first time we played Chicago we all brought fake moustaches with us, just in case,” he said laughing.
 
These days, with three records under their belt and more music on the way, Francis said it’s a little easier getting gigs lined up.

“These days we’re to the point where if we can talk to a club manager, and send them our music and get them to listen to it, we’re in the door so it’s not a problem, it’s just a matter of making the time to tour.”



Want to go?
The Suede Brothers, John Lancaster, DeadFaceDown
Where: The Sound Factory, 812 Kanawha Blvd., East (304) 342-8001
When: Friday, May 20, 10 p.m.
Cost: $5
Info: www.facebook.com/suedebrothers




-----
5.14.2011
Area bands’ mutual admiration goes beyond the music

Photobucket

Photo: Haley Marie McClelland

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

Ten Carp Lie singer Kevin Brendler and Threefold Theory singer-guitarist Scott Niles talked about their bands over the phone like they make their music these days: together.

Their Huntington-area melodic hard rock bands have gigged out around Charleston and Huntington (and beyond) for years (since 2002 and 2004, respectively), a lot of times playing shows together. But after a herniated disc sidelined he and 3FT back in 2008, Niles has since joined his friends in Ten Carp Lie, and they’re three songs into their sophomore release, recording with Jason Mays of Ashland, Kentucky’s Split Nixon.

Threefold Theory will join Ten Carp Lie Saturday night at the V Club, with Alexis Cunningham opening.

Niles described the process of getting into Ten Carp Lie after being a friend and fan for so many years.

“I was more or less not really actively playing with Threefold Theory, and whenever TCL would play a show, my wife and I would go see them play. And they’d invite me up to sing with them on one of their songs, and it was a good time for me. In 2009 they invited me to come jam with them, and it just clicked. After a couple of jam sessions they asked if I wanted to join full-time.”

Brendler said Ten Carp Lie’s sound these days is a little heavier than a few years back; “Fade,” “Ridiculous,” and “Mad” available on the band’s Facebook page, are the result of working with Mays in the studio, and for Brendler, a natural, exciting evolution in the band’s sound.

“We’ve got those three in the bag. Recording with Jason Mays is a dream. He knows what he’s doing in the studio. You can hear from the first three songs, he’s given us a product we haven’t had before. Everybody really seems to like the new material we’re doing.”

Over the phone, Niles conferred with his nearby wife, and was reminded just how big of a Ten Carp Lie fan he was, and still is.

“Oh yeah, that tells you how much I love these guys; I asked them to play my wedding reception,” he said laughing. “It was amazing. They made the reception, I’ll tell you that much.”

The feeling between the bands is mutual, Brendler said.

“It’s a blast,” the singer said of sharing a bill with Threefold Theory. “One of my favorite bands to go out and see was Threefold Theory. I love doing shows with them; we have the same kind of vibe, it meshes real well.”

While both bands had their high points a few years back, with TCL opening for acts like Tantric and Saving Jane, and 3FT playing with Fuel and Seether, both Brendler and Niles still love making music and rocking out together. They both have everything in its proper perspective after a decade or so on and off in their bands.

“I consider the band thing my golf,” Brendler said. “I tell my wife I’d be gone longer if I played golf. It’s my only real hobby. It’s something I’ve done my entire life. I’ve been on hiatus before and hated it. It’s painful, physically. I’ll do it as long as people keep coming out and we keep getting shows.”

Niles said after his own literal physical pain in his neck, he’s stoked to be in Ten Carp Lie and Threefold Theory these days.

“For a while, I couldn’t physically play music, and like Kevin said about being on hiatus, it was painful for me. Being able to recover and make music again, I am so happy. It’s worked out for the best and I’m so lucky to be able to do it. I’m definitely blessed to be able to do it and for people to be able to enjoy it.

“It’s not always easy to be easy to be in two different bands,” Niles continued. “But the way our groups work, it’s been easy since 3FT doesn’t play that often. I’ve become close friends with them, and writing with these guys, everything seems to be built from the ground up, and the three new songs are just amazing, they’re great. For me it’s the best of both worlds musically.”

“They’re my best friends, they’re my buddies,” Brendler said of his musical cohorts. “We get together and go to a bar and play music. What more could you ask for?”
 
If you go:
Ten Carp Lie, Threefold Theory, Alexis Cunningham
Where: The V Club, 741 6th Ave., Huntington (304) 781-0680
When: Saturday, May 14, 10 p.m.
Cost: $5
Info: www.vclublive.com




-----
4.28.2011
Give It Away: The Glorious Veins return to Huntington with debut record

Photobucket

The New York City-based indie rock band The Glorious Veins (L-R: Lee Grasso, Matt Howels, Paul Pangman and Wiggy Colmenares) return to Huntington Thursday night for a show at Shamrocks Irish Pub

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

With members from Wisconsin to London to the Philippines, and back now to New York City, The Glorious Veins are a veritable United Nations of rock and roll.

It’s rare to see a band with a guitarist from London, and a drummer from Cebu City, an island in the Philippines, but even more rare to have the band members meet on Craigslist.

Together for just over three years or so (guitarist Matt Howels and drummer Wiggy Colmenares hadn’t moved to the U.S. until 2007) the indie band, with four U.S. tours and South by Southwest already under their belt, is excited to get its recently released self-titled debut album out and play more shows.

And when they say album, they don’t mean CD, they mean an actual vinyl record, part of the retro trend audiophiles have spearheaded. Of course, like so many other bands these days, before they dropped their vinyl debut, they went ahead and gave it away online for free, or, whatever people wanted to give to support the band.

The Glorious Veins return to Huntington Thursday night for a show at Shamrock’s Irish Pub.

Guitarist Matt Howels, originally from London, steeped in the blues and having played in several bands across the pond, described meeting singer and songwriter Paul Pangman, who had moved to New York from Wisconsin to attend Columbia University.

“I think that even at our first meeting we knew that we’d work well together musically,” Howels said of the early collaboration of the nascent Glorious Veins. “His vocals and my guitar playing have always meshed in a good way.”

Howels said recording and releasing the debut Glorious Veins album was a hard fought reward in itself.

“It’s very cool to know that people are digging it and appreciate our music,” Howels said of the praise and warmth with which the debut record has been received. “We put a lot of sweat and soul into it.”

The decision to release the record at “pay what you want” prices on Bandcamp was one that put financial and artistic ethos up against each other.

Not surprisingly, with influences ranging from Talking Heads to Arctic Monkeys, describing their sound as “bluesy post-punk dance rock from Mars,” the rock and roll ethos won out.

“Making the album available online prior to releasing it on vinyl was a great idea,” Howels said. “The most important thing to us was getting our music out there. The album was definitely downloaded for free more times than it got paid for, but we found that there were a lot of people out there who really dug it and were willing to donate a little money when they downloaded it. I’m pretty sure we made fans that way, and we made money that went towards paying for the vinyl pressings.

“I think there was definitely an artistic element to it as well,” Howels added. “We were saying ‘Look, we want our album to look and sound as good as possible, and only vinyl will give us that,’ Screw CDs.”

“There’s more music being made today more than ever before,” drummer Wiggy Colmenares said. “Digital recording made it easy for many to just do it on their own. Just imagine how difficult it is to get people to listen to your stuff, let alone buy it from a band that they never heard before.

“We depend on our friends to spread the word. In return, we give the music away for free. If they want to support, they buy a physical package or give whatever. Or better yet, come to one of our shows and hang with us. At this point in time, when we all still got jobs, it’s more important to us that people have our songs rather than us making a buck from them. We work day jobs to be able to do what we love.”

Making music and touring the country is what these guys love, Colmenares said.

“Just being able to travel, visit different places and meeting different people is already amazing to me. I wish I could be playing every night.”

Having drawn members from three continents, meeting on an online forum, with so many fans after such a short period and having made it work, Howels said a mixture of pride, thankfulness and hard work sums it all up for the band.

“I am a little surprised, very proud and forever grateful that we managed to pull something special out of the crap shoot that is Craigslist. We’re all settled in. We’re in it for the long run.”

If you go:
The Glorious Veins, Sly Roosevelt, The Good Fight
Where: Shamrock’s Irish Pub, 2050 3rd Avenue, Huntington (304) 523-5825
When: Thursday, April 28, 9 p.m.
Cost: $5
Info: thegloriousveins.bandcamp.com/



A Part Meant from Brendan K. Russell on Vimeo.




-----
4.23.2011
From rock to folk now back to rock, for Alan Griffith, the song remains the same

Photobucket

Blue Million (L-R: Alan Griffith, Andy Lewis, Gary Cash) returns to The Empty Glass with a new CD Saturday night

Reposted from The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When it comes to rock and roll, things have come full circle for Alan Griffith.

The Madison native and longtime Charleston resident was first exposed to the rock and roll of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s as a youth, then went through a more recent folk and Americana period with The Cheapbeats. Now, he’s back to playing the blues-inspired riff rock he grew up on in his longtime three-piece Blue Million, which performs at The Empty Glass on Saturday.

“I was playing a tennis racket in front of the mirror before I ever played guitar,” the singer and guitarist said, recalling his first experiences with rock and roll and his fondness for Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Cream.

“My older brother Mike loved it because he was into music but he couldn’t play. He said, ‘If you want to play like those guys, you've got to learn to play the blues.’ And I went back and learned all the blues I could.”

By the time he was 16, Griffith was hooked on guitar, and 35 or so years later, he still is. He’s also still a huge fan of Led Zeppelin.

“I was always so in love with Led Zeppelin I and II,” he said. “Like when I heard ‘Heartbreaker’ way back when, I thought, ‘That’s the coolest damn rock guitar, drums and bass recording I’ve ever heard.’ So that’s what got me.”

It’s Griffith’s addiction to the big riffs of an electric guitar that pulled him back into Blue Million. Together for about 15 years at this point, the band recently released a new CD.

“I missed the riffs that I loved when I was 16 or 17 when I fell in love with rock,” he said. “Everything on the new CD, it's obvious it's late ‘60s, early ‘70s blues influenced. When I write I have that in mind.

“I love acoustic and folk, but there’s nothing like a big, crunchy Les Paul. And there’s only one way to get it, and that’s to plug it in.”

Plugging back in is exactly what Griffith did after a few yeas as a folk rocker in The Cheapbeats and as a solo artist. But even before Blue Million, Griffith got his feet wet in the ‘80s in straight-up rock bands like The Stanley Lewis Band, where he was influenced by college rock, U2, REM and especially Lou Reed.

Griffith’s folk period was introspective and largely somber with influences ranging from the old (Woody Guthrie) to the new (Josh Ritter). His CDs “230 Second Avenue” and “Now and Then” were permeated with an air of depression, isolation and sometimes bitterness.

“I know,” Griffith said, drawing the phrase out in a combination of embarrassment and acceptance of the bad times that influenced the songs. “‘230 [Second Avenue’] was made during the divorce. Nowadays I’ve got a better handle on things. I don’t know what it was, the primal scream or whatever, but I was letting a lot of s--- out at that point. That period was a real low point for me.”

But now he’s back to a plug-in-and-go rock and roll mentality with his old friends in Blue Million.

“Me, Gary [Cash] and Andy [Lewis] have played together forever,” he said. “The cool thing about these guys is we all have pretty much the same influences; we’re all on the same page musically.”

Even if he turns the page again musically, though, Griffith doesn’t plan to stop playing any time soon. In fact, he says he plans to do it “until I drop. Really.”

“It’s never been a fad for me,” he said. “The one thing I'm most proud of is that I didn’t quit. There’s always been a project going. It’s quite a feat to start playing guitar at 16, and at 52 you’re still playing.

“It’s one of the greatest things for me. People fish and golf into their old age. I do this.”

The Nanker Phelge and Blue Million
WHEN: 9 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: The Empty Glass, 410 Elizabeth St.
COST: $5
INFO: www.bluemillionmusic.com or 304-345-3914

photo: Patricia Ansley




-----
4.8.2011
Drama, tragedy, love, life and death: Dream the Electric Sleep brings debut concept record to Huntington

The Lexington, Kentucky-based four-piece Dream the Electric Sleep brings their debut CD “Lost and Gone Forever” to Huntington Saturday for a show at the V Club

Reposted from the Huntington Herald-Dispatch


“Why can’t music deal with drama and tragedy at length?”

This was the question Matt Page asked himself as he embarked on writing Dream the Electric Sleep’s debut concept record, “Lost and Gone Forever,” two years ago.

“I wanted to see music as something greater than entertainment,” the singer-guitarist said.

The fourteen-song, 76-minute long prog rock opus, broken up into three parts and told quite beautifully (and heart wrenchingly) from the perspective of an Eastern Kentucky miner and his wife, was recently made available as a free download by the Lexington-based four piece.

Dream the Electric Sleep (Page; Trevor Willmott: guitar; Chris Tackett: bass; Joey Waters: drums) plays the V Club this Saturday with Suede Brothers and John Lancaster.

This is more conceptual art than a collection of randomly arranged songs. From the album’s art through the interweaving narrative of the husband and wife on the songs, as they journal their hardscrabble travails in life, love and death, to the samples of Harlan County, USA interspersed throughout, “Lost and Gone Forever” is itself a story.

Page talked about how seeing the 1976 documentary Harlan County, USA, that, and his family’s own history in the coal industry, influenced him to tell the story of Jack and Clementine, the narrators on the record.

“I wanted to take on coal and see if I could not promote or demonize it, but unravel the dense complexities of energy consumption and production within the lived lives of a small Appalachian town, to recognize the real lives bound up in this issue, and to not let binaries oversimplify the issue.

“In many ways, it was also a portrait of my wife and I, struggling to make ends meet, feeling trapped, and unable to wiggle out of difficult situations in our own lives.”

Page said the concept of “Lost and Gone Forever” largely grew out of the death of his maternal grandparents, who then became the influence for writing from the perspective of Clementine and Jack.

“This album was loosely based on my grandmother and grandfather,” Page said. “While writing this album, both of them passed away. I was there with them in their last moments. I began writing what I had just experienced, seeing them on their deathbeds, a lifetime of stories passing on with them. All I could imagine was that somehow they were able to leave records of their lives with the spirits there to gather them, that somehow reciting all they had done, all they had loved, was a rite of passage into the beyond.

“For me, this album became a necessary way of understanding what was lost with my grandparents, but like many works of art, sometimes their inspiration is not revealed until the work is complete.”

Drummer Joey Waters, himself with family in the mines, said he thinks if people pick up on the themes explored and the story told by Page on the record, it will blow up like so much dynamite.

“My uncle Roger was a career miner in Virginia,” Waters said. “He is long since retired, but is dealing with the health hazards of his profession on a daily basis. I have spoken with him and my aunt about some of the themes that Matt has brought to life on the record. Hearing their firsthand accounts of that lifestyle made the album have an even greater impact on me.

“I think that if a listener was to pick up on the heavy themes of the story that Matt has created, the album will absolutely have a greater impact.”



There’s also the visual concept to the band’s music. While it’s hard to pin down one genre to plug DTES into (the band sounds like Queensryche’s singer joined a heavier version of Pink Floyd) the band plays in the dark on stage, silhouetted only by a choreographed light show, which Tackett runs live through a Midi pedal.

Tackett explained that adding to the visual experience of the live show was something he’s wanted to do forever, whether it was in Chum, Hyatari, or now, in Dream the Electric Sleep.

“DTES talked about adding some visual elements to the live show, but we couldn’t quite put our finger on it,” Tackett explained. “Then I saw the band M83 at the Wexner Center in Columbus. I really liked the way the theater lighting looked. I bought some LED wash lights and starting thinking about what we could do with them. I talked to the guys about possibly playing in silhouette, and the idea just grew from there.”

Between the lighting, the synthesizers and the samples, Dream the Electric Sleep, a long-time studio band, does a good job bringing their big sound and expansive vision to the live show, Page said.

“All in all, we manage pretty well,” Page said, with one important drawback. “Unfortunately, most live shows, we have to play fewer songs because of time constraints, which disrupts the sense of narrative. But we figure if someone likes what they hear, they might actually download or buy the album and dig into the narrative.”

Digging into the past to better appreciate the present manifested itself in another way for Page.

“I actually decided to learn the banjo for this album. I wanted a way to really connect with a certain heritage that, despite living in Lexington my whole life, had never taken on with any interest seriously. I think losing my grandparents, and that sense of needing to keep some memory alive, drove the sound towards a bluegrass aesthetic.”

Maybe the most important listeners are the ones waiting on the CDs to get in.

“My family hasn’t heard it,” Page said. “They’re waiting for the CDs to come in. I think it will mean a lot to my mom though, knowing that her parents, my grandparents, are part of this project that lives on. I really wanted to write a drama, something that dealt with real life and real people.

“This project has barely seen the light of day, and I really hope it has a chance to live on.”

Want to go?
Dream the Electric Sleep, John Lancaster, Suede Brothers
Where: The V Club, 741 6th Ave., Huntington (304) 781-0680
When: Saturday, April 9, 9 p.m.
Cost: $7
Info: http://www.dreamtheelectricsleep.com/




-----
3.31.2011
Huntington-area punks reincarnated, reinvigorated as stoner rock band Tower of the Elephant

Photobucket

(L-R:) Mike Schritter, Blair Yoke, Jason King, Garrett Babb, and Josh Harshbarger, together just a few short months as Tower of the Elephant, have been making a name for themselves in Huntington.

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

You could say that with their version of “weed metal,” Tower of the Elephant has been generating a nice buzz around town.

Like any organic process, the Huntington-based “stoner rock” band’s formation was quite chemical in nature. Two cells; one, lead guitarist Mike Schritter and drummer Jason King (ex-South Point, Ohio punks No Heroes Here) served as the nucleus, and the other cell, singer Blair Yoke, rhythm guitarist Garrett Babb and bassist Josh Harshbarger (ex-Beer For Blood members) merged through some symbiotic, osmosis-like process that bands seem to go through as they are born and die only to become new bands.

But they’re no different than any other local band just starting out. They face the same challenges; from getting together for practice, to booking and playing shows, not so much the latter recently.

“Between jobs and families, it can be really hard getting the five of us together to practice,” singer Blair Yoke said as a few band members convened to answer questions.

Comprised of veterans of (and band mates in) various Huntington-area punk bands, Tower of the Elephant is able to kill two birds with one stone; they practice and play where Yoke lives.

“We’re mainly more apt to play house shows there because Blair lives there,” Harshbarger said, a day after the band played a house show at 636 Trenton Place.

Tower of the Elephant: “Orbital Exile” @ 636 Trenton Place 3.26


Harshbarger said house shows have been important in helping Tower of the Elephant, together since just last October, develop a following.

“We hardly ever turn down the chance to play house shows. There isn’t much of a chance to make any money, but the setting is more intimate and it seems like you get a much better vibe from the crowd.”

Tower of the Elephant welcomes Morgantown stoner rock legends Karma To Burn back to Huntington Friday night for a show at Shamrock’s Irish Pub, with the Austin, Texas-based hard rock trio Honky in tow.

“It’s been really exciting,” Harshbarger went on, talking about the band. “The response to our music has been huge and immediate, from just word-of-mouth, to the amount of shows being offered to us in such a short amount of time. We have such a tight group of seasoned musicians that know what sound we’re looking for and I think that has come across in our music.”

Harshbarger said it’s their appreciation for the more classic rock and metal influences that has helped Tower refine their own version of “weed metal,” as they call it on their Facebook page.

“We all have pretty different influences, but most go back to the classics,” Harshbarger said. “We’ve all played punk rock in the past, but a lot of our sound comes from a heavy influence of classic stoner rock bands such as Kyuss, Black Sabbath, Fu Manchu, and Mountain. It really came to us naturally because we’ve listened to groups like these for so long.”

King described the formation of the nascent Tower of the Elephant with Schritter, who fronted the now defunct Huntington punk band Sarasota.

“Mike and I started the band in my kitchen, playing on a small amp and electric drums,” he said.

They soon absorbed the trio of Yoke, Babb and Harshbarger.

“Josh was the first person we brought in,” King said. “Then we had Blair sing for us, and as soon as the first words came out of his mouth, I knew he was perfect.”

“Up until we started Tower I’d only been in punk bands,” Yoke said. “It feels great to be able to actually sing, opposed to screaming.

“It started out more in the metal vein and became groovier once Garrett and I joined,” the singer went on. “We started playing in late October, and within a week we had three songs done. We played those three songs at a Halloween house show in town and got a great response from the small crowd that was there.”

Babb described how he, Harshbarger and Yoke brought their own experiences in Beer For Blood into Tower of the Elephant.

“Beer For Blood was pretty much where the three of us got our chops as musicians. Everything clicked with us and we played what we wanted, but learned a lot from each other as musicians.”

“Babb brought something to the table I didn’t even know we needed until he started playing it,” King added. “Now it’s a key part in our music.”



Babb said he loves being in a band with Schritter.

“When we write, it’s the most laid back and comfortable atmosphere. The riffs we write together are decided on being used when we can play them together, look at each other, and laugh our [expletive] off at what we just did. The chemistry is great. He’s a master at leads, and I’m proud we can play guitar together and share our knowledge of the instrument with each other.”

Tower of the Elephant is sitting on a four-song EP entitled “Journey of the Leonids,” set for seven-inch vinyl release in May.

Yoke said, at least for him, but likely speaking for the group as well, Tower of the Elephant is something he’s been looking forward to being a part of for a long time.

“I’m extremely excited about this band. Since the very first practice I’ve found that lyrics come to me easier than in any other band I’ve been in. It’s exactly what I’ve wanted to do musically for a long time.”


If you go:
Karma To Burn, Honky, Tower of the Elephant
Where: Shamrock’s Irish Pub, 2050 3rd Ave., Huntington (304) 523-5825 (call for tix)
When: Friday, April 1st, 9:30
Cost: $10 advance, $12 at the door
Info: www.toweroftheelephant.bandcamp.com/, http://www.k2burn.com/

photo: Josh Harshbarger
video: Chuk Fowlord




-----
3.17.2011
Keller Williams talks about kids, music in the digital age, and Martian apocalypse in advance of V Club show Friday

Photobucket

“One-man jam band” Keller Williams comes to Huntington Friday for a show at the V Club

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

For Keller Williams, it’s all about balance. Whether it’s balancing his home life and solo career, his involvement with various collaborations and side projects, or just juggling all the instruments he brings on stage, the “one-man jam band” seems to pull it all off effortlessly, in typical Dead Head, laid back, definitely far out style.

Now, with countless fans due in large part to twenty years worth of captivating live performances, the Fredericksburg, Virginia native, speaking over the phone in advance of his first Huntington show Friday night at the V Club, said his life is pretty much perfectly balanced.

“The past year and a half or so we’ve adopted the weekend warrior mentality,” Williams said en route to the airport to catch a flight to Milwaukee for a show. “We’ll leave on a Wednesday and come back on Sunday, and it’s been great. I’ve got two kids at home, so it’s great to have that balance.”

One thing that’s changed recently is Williams’ bringing his funky genre-skipping mix of bluegrass and folk stylings to kids. With last October’s release dual release of his “Kids” CD (his sixteenth record) and 33-page kids book “Because I Said So,” Williams now quite literally has fans of all ages.

Maybe you could say he’s balancing out his fan base.

“It’s just been a natural progression for me and my type of music, and the amount of records that I’ve done, that a kids record would be done,” Williams explained. “It’s something I’ve been tossing around for years and years and I’ve finally kind of allowed it to happen. And I’m glad I did, too; I’m really proud of it.”



As part of his expansion into, or landing on, the kids’ world, Williams has started to play a few select kids matinee shows. And whether they help benefit a charitable cause, as they often do, for Williams, it’s about finding the right mix of fun and responsibility.

“It’s a fun record and doing the kids matinee shows is where I get to play these songs, it’s important focusing on the kids music and the kids book, that never really do the kids world and the adult music world meet, as far as these songs. You know, I don’t play these kids songs at the night time adult shows.

“But the kids show matinee is just a great venue for these songs, and that’s what makes the kids shows super fun for me because I play stuff that I don’t get to play at the adult shows.”

Williams, famous for his live looping and array of guitars and instruments on stage, and collaboration with other musicians, said that not only has being a parent changed him, but gave him the perspective of wanting to have some music that everyone can enjoy.

“There wasn’t a whole lot of hesitation whether to do it or not,” Williams said of putting out a CD specifically for children. “We just wanted to make sure we found the right home for it, so to speak. I guess the only hesitation was that we wanted to approach this correctly. I knew the record was okay for the parents, as well as the kids, and that was the direction I went. I wanted to make sure the parents could laugh, and have the kids in the back seats groove a little bit. Hopefully it can achieve some peace and balance in the car ride,” he said laughing.

Williams said he was looking forward to playing the V Club, and wanted to make clear he wouldn’t stop the show to yell at someone taping or filming his performance.



“I’ve always allowed taping and recording at my shows. I’ve always been into the taping community, and that’s really what propelled me in my career in the beginning, especially in the mid to late 90’s, was the taping community and getting to open for bands like String Cheese Incident, where the taping community was really vibrant.”

And Williams said while he hopes his fans will still pay for his music, either online or at a record store, if they want to listen to it for free online, he says pass it around.

“The internet has always been my friend. As far as where the music industry has gone, as far as the whole digital download age and the disappearance of locally owned record stores, the whole idea of the album going away and now people just put it online and people can pick and choose. The way I’ve come to grips with the digital age, whether it’s a computer or on a cell phone is, it’s just another medium for music to be heard. You know, tapes, records and CDs always get scratched or tore up, so it’s neat to be able to have the music online in pristine, digital form so it can be passed around. It’s on the road to becoming immortal.”



And rounding the interview out, maybe only half in jest, but totally “out there,” Williams said one day he hopes his music can indeed bring some balance to the universe.

“I’m thinking along the lines of my music being sent up into cyberspace, if the world gets blown up by Martians, they can accept this transmission floating around in cyberspace. My hope is, after I’m gone, and the Earth is gone, my music will be played in other galaxies by beings intercepting the signal.”

If you go:
Keller Williams
WHEN: Friday, March 18, 9:30 p.m.
WHERE: The V Club, 741 6th Ave., Huntington
COST: $20 in advance for first 150 tickets sold, $22 after the first 150, $25 DOS.
INFO: www.kellerwilliams.net/, www.vclublive.com

photo: C. Taylor Crothers




-----
3.3.2011
Funkster Freekbass returns to DJ roots with latest project

Photobucket

Reposted from The Charleston Gazette

Long known for his freaky garb and even funkier bass playing, Chris “Freekbass” Sherman says his new electronic-themed duo FREEKBOT isn’t such a stretch. In fact, it’s taking things back to his own roots.

As the Cincinnati native (influenced by friend and musical cohort, P-Funk’s Bootsy Collins) has progressed over the years through his funk roots into the more recent electronic-based super group Headtronics into FREEKBOT, a collaboration with DJ Tobe “Tobotius” Donohue, Sherman admitted over the phone that DJs have always influenced him.

“I started off heavily influenced by DJ culture, and of course funk, everybody knows I’m a huge funk guy,” Sherman said, speaking excitedly about the new duo. “But I started out totally into DJ culture. The only difference was, growing up, instead of having a turntable, I had a bass.”

Touring with DJ Tobotius as FREEKBOT grew quite organically out of the live Freekbass act.

“He plays in the full band with me and he also plays in Animal Crackers, an all DJ group. Him and I started writing more together and during the live set, the drummer and guitarist would leave, and we’d jam. It started feeling good and connecting with people. And we said ‘Hey, let’s go out and do some shows.’ And the name has such a cool ring to it, like a freaky robot or something,” Sherman said laughing.

FREEKBOT plays The Empty Glass Friday night.



“But it’s different from a lot of electronic projects, in that Tobe comes from a DJ and hip hop culture, and I’m coming from the funk culture, so it’s definitely danceable, definitely funky.”

It wouldn’t surprise people to hear of the bassists that influenced Sherman, but the DJs, maybe.

“One record that influenced me a lot was ‘Endtroducing’ by DJ Shadow. Shadow and Tricky, from England, were big influences, and I was a huge, huge Dr. Dre fan, still am. When I first heard “The Chronic,” and “Doggy Style,” the basslines on those records, I played those nonstop. One of my dreams is to work with him one day in some capacity.

“So, as much as funk moved me, DJ culture did, too. So this progression just feels natural, and puts more of a spotlight on my bass playing; it’s my muse, you know? I enjoy singing and writing too, but just focusing on getting all the voices I can out of my bass, it’s always been my calling card. With a name like Freekbass, it better be,” Sherman said laughing.

In addition to the DJs that influenced him, Sherman is collaborating with a handful of DJs on his own still untitled new EP, due out in a month or so, and set to be made available as a free download on his website.

Sherman said just as his own evolution (or reverting back) into DJ culture is a learning experience, so too is making records.

“Obviously, each record you do, if nothing else, you feel more confident about what you’re doing. On my first record, I had no clue,” he said, laughing hard. “So each record is a learning process; about yourself musically, as well as becoming a better player and musician, you’re working on becoming a better writer. And on each record, if anyone’s real hardcore into what I’ve been doing, the first couple of records were me trying to find my voice and find out what world I felt comfortable in.”

And Sherman said don’t be surprised if you see him out in more subdued attire these days.

“It’s nothing that I’m ashamed of or anything like that,” he said of Freekbass’ more Bootsy-like clothing. “But, like we talk about the evolution of my music, I’m just not so much that guy right now. I kind of dropped him off at the end of the street. I’m just more focused on my bass and the music, and I’ll let the music get the crazy out of me. But the fur coat and cowboy hat was something that I was feeling at the time. Now, I’m a different guy. I’ve evolved as a person and a musician.”

Sherman was definitely excited about getting the new Freekbass EP out in the coming weeks, and said he was happy to give it away.

“My thing is just to get it out,” he said of the free download idea. “I love that people would get it and put it on their iPods, or play it at a party. I think it’s great; download the music or listen to it online, and come to the show and know the songs, and connect with the music even more.”

Sherman said that’s what he hopes to do with his music, whether it’s as Freekbass, in Headtronics, or now as FREEKBOT; make a connection.
“I had an accident a few years ago in Montana, after a show. I fell, and kind of came close to checking out. It was a serious accident. I don’t want to get too deep here, but the biggest thing I took away from it was to live every day to its fullest, and music is the perfect platform for that.

“Not to sound cheesy, but waking up every day and being able to make a living making music, I definitely feel lucky. It’s such an amazing thing, to connect with people on so many different levels; it’s special. I pinch myself all the time.

“Bass obviously ended up being my muse and what I gravitated toward, but whether I’m listening to music or playing it, it’s just such a gift for anybody to be able to experience that.”

WANT TO GO?
FREEKBOT w/C2J2 Quartet
Where: The Empty Glass, 410 Elizabeth St., Charleston (304) 345-3914
When: Friday March 4, 10 p.m.
Cost: $8 adv., $10 DOS
Info: http://www.emptyglass.com/, http://www.freekbass.com/
Photo: Michael Weintrob




-----
2.17.2011
Jimbo Valentine unveils Soul of the Phoenix at the V Club tonite

Jimbo Valentine stands in front of his Hank III mural outside the V Club. Valentine, known for his flyers and photos and art, takes his ambient/doom electronic music project Soul of the Phoenix out live for the first time tonite as part of This Ain't No Disco at the V Club

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch


Nobody has been more instrumental in promoting Huntington-area rock shows over the past four years than James Alden Valentine III.

The 32-year old Fairmont native and Huntington resident has, through his Amalgam Unlimited screenprinting and design outfit, been making flyers and designing art for Huntington shows over the past few years, specifically for the V Club.

Whether it’s a big mural of Unknown Hinson on the side of the V Club, art for Hank III or Karma To Burn, band photos he’s snapped at the V, CD art he designs, or flyers, Valentine’s edgy work has been an important part of the Huntington scene.

Now, Valentine will unveil his long-running electronic musical side project, Soul of the Phoenix, live for the first time at the V Club Thursday night. Welcomed and brought out by his friend Brett Fuller (aka DJ Franklin F---in’ Furnace) for the “This Ain’t No Disco” series at the V, whether you call him a musician or not, you, like his many friends, can call Valentine by his normal name: Jimbo.

“Both playing guitar and singing are terms that be can used loosely,” Valentine said over the phone, laughing hard at his own expense, describing the logistics of his first live show.

“Oh man, yeah I’m pretty nervous,” Valentine said of getting up on stage for the first time. “I’ve been stressing out pretty hard. I’ve never planned on playing this live, so now I’m trying to figure it out. I haven’t had as much time as I would’ve liked, but I’m excited about it at the same time.”

Valentine has been busy sorting and arranging the material he’ll play live, taking what he does at home with guitar, synth, drum machine and some samples, and playing it off his laptop, mixing in some live guitar and vocals.

“I’m going to incorporate some new stuff, which is called “Meditations.” It’s a little more ambient. Almost like a little movie soundtrack, with some movie samples sprinkled in.”

Photobucket

Valentine has already released six Soul of the Phoenix CDs online, and has enough unreleased material for a few more releases, he said, whether it’s “Meditations” or his other solo side project, This Drum Machine Kills Fascists.

Valentine, pointing out he’s “not a musician,” said he actually comes from a long line of musicians.

“I grew up in a family that played music,” Valentine said. “My grandfather is a great old school country steel guitar player, my cousin is a country singer, my mom played piano when I was growing up. I always wanted to make music, but just never got into doing it when I was younger.”

While the music may be different (this isn’t your grandparent’s mix of ambient and doom) Valentine faces the same challenge more traditional performers have always faced: keeping people’s attention on stage.

“I’m going to work in a couple of more upbeat tracks at the end, if everyone’s still awake,” Valentine said laughing.

“I just don’t want to bore everyone to death. But that’s where the second guessing comes in; ‘Oh this is going to drag everyone down, they’re going to be nodding off, or whatever.’”

Valentine said he wouldn’t be bringing his solo act out live if not for the support of Fuller.

“Oh it’s really cool,” Valentine said of “This Ain’t No Disco.” “Every week or so there’s been different bands, different styles, and he’ll cater his set to whoever’s playing. But it makes it comfortable for me. He cornered me and asked me ‘Hey man, would you want to do this stuff live?’ I’ve been wanting to but haven’t attempted to put it together. So if it would’ve been anything else I wouldn’t have been as comfortable with it. I’m excited to do it, I’m excited to do it at the V Club, those people are like family to me, so I’m excited.”

Regardless of whether or not casual show goers like his music, or if it’s a “disaster” of a show, Valentine knows he’s made a lot of great friends at the V Club in particular and around Huntington in general.

“I’ve actually made a lot of great friends down here. There are certainly some bad things about Huntington and people that complain about it all the time, but there are great people here who are so supportive of me, especially since I started doing the murals and the art, people come up to me and are like ‘Hey, I seen you at the V Club!’ That’s the diamond in the rough down here for me, is the people and my friends.”


IF YOU GO:
Soul of the Phoenix, Franklin F---in’ Furnace
Where: The V Club, 741 6th Avenue, Huntington (304) 781-0680
When: Thursday, February 17, 10 p.m.
Cost: $3
Online: www.vclublive.com

--- To see Valentine’s artwork and hear his music, visit http://www.amalgamunlimited.tumblr.com/

Related: Jimbo Valentine Focus on the Flyers feature

Soul of the Phoenix @ the V Club 2.17
"Skyhook"

"I Hear Hell Is Nice This Time of Year/Obsess Compulse"


Video: Chuk Fowlord




-----
2.16.2011
Sasha Colette Can’t “Leave It Alone”

Photobucket

“Heaven’s doors are closed to those with bloody hands,” sings Sasha Colette in “Ballad of Nicole Penix Vanzant” about an unsolved 2009 murder in Eastern Kentucky. Colette brings her band, The Magnolias, to The Empty Glass Friday.

Reposted from The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sasha Colette’s story reads like it’s right out of Hollywood: small town Eastern Kentucky girl raised on church music and some hard times is brought through them with her free spirit and faith in herself to make music and fans after leaving home.

Colette has gone from piano lessons at age 6 to guitar at age 12 to a 16-year old waitress looking to record some demos. Now 22, she has, along with her band The Magnolias and multi-instrumentalist Bud Carroll, just released her third CD, “Leave It Alone.”

She’ll bring her version of Americana and folk to The Empty Glass Friday.

Fresh off the release of the new eight-song CD, Colette talked over the phone about her self-described “poetic life.” For the past six months or so, Colette, born and raised in Olive Hill, Ky., has lived just up Route 60 in Morehead, Ky.

“I have a home now,” she said of her living situation. This is noteworthy because for a few months last summer, Colette found herself living as a “professional camper” before making the move.

“There are people here who play music,” Colette said. “The original core of the Magnolias are all based out of Morehead. We’re spending a lot of time together now as a band. I enjoy being where my friends are, where my people are.”

Morehead is home to Morehead State University, a school that factors heavily into musical path Colette and the Magnolias have found themselves on. It was a music program there that helped Colette find her soulful voice as a formative 16-year-old.

“I took lessons for about a year from a lady on campus, and she worked with this black gospel ensemble. It was mostly African Americans -- well, there were two white girls -- and I was the youngest. They just had that soul,” she said emphatically, trailing off in awe. “They gave me some soul, for sure. They taught me how to sling it out there.”

Colette’s soulful voice is on display on the new CD, which also features Carroll’s contributions on guitar and in the studio.

“I don’t want to call him a rock star, but he’s a rock star,” Colette said laughing.

“With Bud, I’d play through a song and he encouraged me to do it my way and not try to step in and take over. Most musicians would take the reigns and stamp it with whatever they’ve got, but he was encouraging enough for me to say ‘I did that myself.’”

Last year, Colette did a collaboration of another sort. She teamed with reporter and writer Fred Brown Jr. on “Ballad of Nicole Penix Vanzant,” a swaying country song about the still unsolved 2009 murder of the 27-year-old Frenchburg, Ky., woman. (Frenchburg is about 25 miles from Morehead.)

“I’ve worked with him before on some songs,” Colette said of Brown. “He gave me the Nicole Penix Vanzant song and told me to see what I could do with it. I put some music to it, and we figured we could do it for this Fuse the Muse project here in town, where a local art center had a program to bring two mediums together, whatever they may be.”

The song was put to a video and has since been viewed by thousands of people on YouTube as well as featured in local and national press outlets. Colette says the song is as much a search for justice as an exercise in creativity.



“The video has been super well received,” she said, slowing down, speaking carefully. “But it’s strange being involved in something like this because what you’re saying for TV interviews or wherever, talking about this, it’s not just for fun, you know? It’s enjoyable [playing the song] but it has a serious, responsible part to it as well.

“I got to meet Nicole’s mom, at the show, when we premiered the video. And that really sealed the deal right there. I was so happy that I was involved in a project that I would want to happen if I were to have had the fate that Nicole came to.

“If that happened to me, and my mom was left like Nicole’s mom was left? She had no closure. All she knows is, it’s really unfair. It’s unfair and it’s just heart wrenching. Nobody deserves to be left like that.”

Whether the ballad brings about justice or not, it’s just another case of Colette doing what she loves to do.

“I’m just taking pen to page as best I can because it’s what I enjoy.”

WANT TO GO?
Sasha Colette and the Magnolias
WHEN: 10 p.m. Friday
WHERE: The Empty Glass, 410 Elizabeth St.
COST: $5
INFO: www.reverbnation.com/sashacolette or 304-345-3914




-----
1.26.2011
Zach Deputy brings ‘island-infused ninja soul’ to Charleston

Photobucket

Zach Deputy got his first guitar at age nine and hasn’t looked back. He comes to The Sound Factory on Saturday.

Reposted from The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Zach Deputy remembers his formative music years: being run out of the house by his mother when he first picked up a guitar at nine years old; puking on someone in the front row during church choir, too nervous to sing solo.

Twenty years later, Deputy has come a long way as a performer.

Deputy’s vibe, with the genre hopping and soulful vocals, might remind listeners of a one-man version of Sublime, if they’d been from Myrtle Beach via the Bahamas.

Deputy brings his version of “island-infused ninja soul” to The Sound Factory this Saturday night.

Born and raised in Bluffton, S.C., near Hilton Head, and influenced by his parents' roots in St. Croix and Puerto Rico, Deputy says his parents’ musical influences on him were indeed sublime.

“It had a huge impact,” he said over the phone. “It’s almost a subconscious thing. I grew up with that stuff. It’s not something I had to learn when I got older. If you grow up with it, you don’t learn it; it’s just natural.”

After he admittedly “guilt-tripped” his parents into getting him a guitar at age 9, Deputy began cutting his musical teeth and finding his voice in and around Hilton Head. Over the years, Deputy and his brother played in a few Motown and funk-type bands before Zach briefly moved to Colorado and got into the jam-band scene.

Deputy described the process of finding his way into a solo career:

“At first, I didn't think this was going to be my main gig; I always thought the band was. This just kind of grew into something, on the side, while I played in a band. I didn’t just break away from the band. It was just that there were 400 people showing up for my solo shows and 50 people showing up for the band gig. It just evolved on its own.”

Touring, living and playing near a big tourist destination helped Deputy make a name for himself.

“When I first started touring, I built a pretty big fan base,” he said. “And of course people would come [to Hilton Head] on vacation. I was really big there, and when people would come into town, people would tell them to check out my show.

“And all the tourists would come out and see me. So when I first played Ohio and Kentucky, even though I wasn’t known as a national artist, there would be a hundred people showing up. That ain’t bad.”

To help move his career forward, out of necessity as well as his own preference, Deputy utilized available technology to do what is referred to as live looping during his shows. (Live looping is a technique of recording and playing back-looped audio samples in real time; with it, musicians can remix their music on the fly.)

“It’s really cool,” Deputy said of the various pedals (two Boss RC 50’s and an RC 20) he uses for drums and guitar synths (Roland GR-33) and mics he uses for other effects.

“I have a very specific idea when it comes to grooves and rhythms. I’m very groove oriented, and when I’ve been in bands in the past, it’s sometimes been hard to communicate that, me being a drummer. I have a very specific idea of how drums are supposed to sound. Being able to do this, I’m able to get my ideas across.

“For me, there are two kinds of musicians; those that wait for music to happen, and those that have the music in their minds and they’re wanting to find a way to get it out.”

Like so many other musicians these days, Deputy uses social-networking sites to bring his fans into his daily world. But he admits he’s not a techie, and he’s not putting on a front, either.

“It’s interesting,” he said laughing. “I’m personally not much of a buff to go on the computer. It’s kind of like a foreign language to me. It’s a fun format, to spend time and spill my guts about something.

“A lot of artists, they want to paint an illusion of a human being, to make them out to be something they’re not -- and they want to market that and sell that to people. I like to just put it out there as me being a normal guy, in all its entirety, with all the bumps and the perks in between.”

You can see Deputy doing just this on his Facebook page, where you can check out short video clips of him slurping Chinese noodles or playing a makeshift coin-toss game in a parking lot to pass the time.

Following his two full-length releases, ‘Sunshine,’ and ‘Out of the Water,’ Deputy said his fans should look forward to his upcoming release, ‘Another Day,’ in 2011. On it, he’ll continue to show his personal side.

“I’m really looking forward to that album coming out,” he said. “It’s a personal, heartfelt record, focused on the songwriting. There are still some dance numbers, but it’s different from my other albums.”

Deputy said West Virginia fans were ahead of the times catching onto his unique vibe.

“I love West Virginia; it almost feels like home. Pretty much from day one, they’ve supported me. The people at The [Empty] Glass have been so great. It’s got so packed in there, it was like sardines in a can.



“They supported it faster than a lot of other places. Now, people all over the country are picking up on it, and that's exciting, but Charleston was faster than most other places.”

With more humility than pride, Deputy says it’s no surprise he’s doing what he’s doing.

“I think you have to search your heart,” he said. “I’m thankful that I’m able to make the music I do. Before I ever got a guitar, I said, ‘That’s what I’m going to do.’”






-----
1.25.2011
Jason Sells (aka Slate Dump) coming to V Club

Photobucket

Reposted from The Huntington-Herald Dispatch

Talking to Jason Sells over the phone, you get the sense that he has an old soul.

The 33-year old Beckley native and Memphis, Tennessee resident’s humble Raleigh County roots come through loud and clear.

“I don't care to talk about myself, honestly,” Sells said from Memphis as he ferried Sao Paulo, Brazil’s Jam Messengers (Rob K and Uncle Butcher) about, sightseeing during a few days off on their U.S. tour, which Sells (also known as Slate Dump) jumped on.

The tour brings Sells and The Jam Messengers to The V Club, 741 6th Ave., Friday, Jan. 28.

“I’m going to show them around Memphis,” Sells said. “We’re going to hit Graceland, Sun Studios, visit some graveyards, record stores and Beale Street. When we get to West Virginia, Marco (Butcher) is a big Hasil Adkins fan, and we plan on going to go clean Hasil’s grave and maybe lay some hot dogs down in his honor. We’ll maybe see if my buddy Jesco’s home, see if he wants to tag along.”

While Jesco White’s family calls Sells “nephew,” they’re not really related, just good friends.

“People ask me if I’m his nephew, but I’m not, in actuality. He’s been a close friend for over 10 years; I’ve taken him to the store, the post office, I took him to get his I.D. made at the Kanawha Mall,” Sells said laughing.

Sells, playing out as the minimalist, bluesy, roots-based Slate Dump for about five years, described how he got introduced to these Brazilian acts.

“About four or five years ago, a good friend of mine and another one-man band, J Marinelli, gave me the ‘Attack of the One Man Bands’ compilation CD,” he said. “He told me about guys like Chuck Violence, Chucrobillyman, Fabulous GoGo Boy from Alabama, and Uncle Butcher, of course. And I just fell in love. They’re doing cooler things than a lot of Americans right now. I kept in touch and told them if they were ever in America I’d be glad to try to set them up some shows.”

For Sells, even though he's in Memphis, after calling Morgantown home for a few years, his musical roots lie in Raleigh County.

“Raleigh Hollow, growing up on McQuillen hill,” Sells said. “My great-grandfather, Hughie McQuillen, had eleven kids, and during the depression he worked in the mines and played stringed instruments in bars at night, and was able to support all of his kids. I learned all my rudimentary chords from him and my grandmother, Doris McQuillen-Bennett. She’s 73-years old and still plays guitar. She loves Chuck Berry, Bill Withers; my grandmother is rockin’. Yeah, I learned the only four chords I know from them,” Sells said laughing.

There was also inspiration from other sources.

“My mom and my biological father used to take me to blues and folk festivals and let me run around naked, that had something to do with it,” Sells said. “Her record collection had a big influence on me, too. My stepfather introduced me to the Ramones, the Kinks and Butthole Surfers, which really warped my brain.”

After playing in a few bands as a teenager in and around Raleigh and Fayette counties, Sells kicked off his career as Slate Dump with more help from his grandmother.

“It wasn’t until 2005, I picked up my grandmother’s 1960 model Gibson, and the songs started comin’. In about a 48-hour period I wrote five or six good songs and I didn’t even know what to do with them.”

After a tough period “couch surfing” in Morgantown “living on Ramen,” Sells has found happiness in Memphis with his fiancĂ©, Marly Hazen, who he met while she was studying at WVU. Hazen penned the lyrics for one of Sells’ songs on his most recent release, 2010’s ‘Electric Punching Machine.’”

“Yeah, she wrote the lyrics for ‘Collarbone,’ which has been requested pretty much everywhere I play. It's one of my favorite songs to play.”



Sells said he can’t wait to bring The Jam Messengers through Huntington and Morgantown.

“The college towns should love these guys,” he said. "They’re everything; glam, trash, punk and blues, and raw. They’re the kick in the (butt) that America has been needing for a while. I hope to continue bringing in this Brazilian influx, because we need the rhythms. We need to get back to the roots. I flip on the radio here in Memphis and there’s no blues or roots stations. One station will play blues from 9:30 to midnight. There’s rap, pop crap and top 20 country. But the Jam Messengers are going to kick all that in the (butt), I can promise you that.”




-----
1.19.2011
Musicians unite to shake up Charleston music scene

Photobucket

Local musicians and music supporters recently gathered at The Blue Parrot for a meeting of Charleston United. The group, organized by Jake Ong (front row in black shirt and glasses), will divide the musicians into new groups to record and play shows in an effort to encourage enthusiasm for the Charleston music scene.

Reposted from The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- To help reinvigorate Charleston’s music scene, Jake Ong had to engage in a little creative destruction.

The 29-year old Dunbar resident runs sound at The Blue Parrot and The Sound Factory. He had seen too many area bands not draw enough people out to shows.

Ong, who most recently sang in the Charleston-based metal band Strangled by Statues, didn’t know whether it was a lack of excitement, the downturn in the economy or something else. About six months ago, he had an idea to shake things up.

To bring the Charleston scene together, he had to break some of its bands apart.

He came up with the idea to start Charleston United, a group of like-minded musicians and fans, to spotlight the local talent and try to bring some excitement to town.

The musicians participating in Charleston United will break into teams, with captains leading the groups in the songwriting process. A handful of songs will be written by each team, recorded at Ian McNealy’s Rhyme Rock Records studios free of charge, and the bands, playing musical chairs, will play shows to help McNealy recoup recording costs.

“It started off with being in bands,” Ong said over the phone. “I noticed the local scene was lacking, not in musicianship, but somehow the attention was not being brought to them.

“It just seemed like the excitement wasn’t there. I remember growing up, Common Grounds was the place to be because that’s where the music was. I don’t know what happened.

“It’s different from the way it was in the ‘90s in Charleston. I don’t go to the mall anymore and see a bunch of people wearing local bands t-shirts. I remember that time period growing up. I was a part of that. It was good times, some of the best times. There’s got to be a way to get people back into this, to get people to free up their time.”

Ong actually lifted the idea for Charleston United from Roadrunner Records’ Roadrunner United, where the label shook things up to come up with new material and new releases.

Ong offered up some reasons about exactly why attendance at and excitement for local shows in some instances is lacking: the economy; late nights, the Internet. (“It sucks to think local music is losing out to ‘World of Warcraft,’” he said.)

“One thing that’s always been a problem is we’re always in direct competition with each other, but we’re all friends. So there would be this headbutting between the bands. I thought, ‘How can I get over this hill?’

“The only thing that came up was, ‘Why don’t I break the bands apart and put them back together in a different order, to show off the musicianship, and not just show off?’”

Ong first spread the word informally amongst area bands and fans, then Charleston United had its first meeting a few weeks ago at The Blue Parrot to hash things out. A captain’s meeting, where teams will be picked, is slated for Monday.

The response to the project has blown Ong away.

“When I finally let everybody know for sure it was going to happen, I invited seven people to the Parrot, and 30 people showed up. It was just amazing. I couldn’t believe the level of support, and how many people wanted to help who weren’t musicians, like Amanda Fitzwater, Leah Davis and Rudy Panucci. I’ve had people I’ve never met before coming up saying ‘I want to be a part of this.’

“It’s started to consume my life,” he said laughing.

One person who’s been totally into the idea is Lee Harrah, singer for bands like HARRAH, The Ghosts of Now, Stone Ka-Tet, and more recently, known for his spot-on impersonation of Ozzy Osbourne.

He first heard about the project during a chat with Ong at The Sound Factory. Though he liked the idea, he was unsure of whether local musicians would embrace the concept.

“I said, ‘It’s going to be really hard roping all of these wild little animals in one room and getting them to drink from the same trough. Let’s hope that everyone can put their egos and beefs aside.’ And by god, he did it.

“We’re getting together to create something that’s going to save the local music scene, ultimately. Everybody’s so used to ‘Let’s play the Parrot, let’s play the Glass, let’s play the Sound Factory, let’s try to play Huntington, let’s go home.’ People thinking outside the box is something that you don’t find much anymore.”

Ong says there is no one more excited about the project than Harrah. “He’s the heart and soul of all this.”

Ong, who is slated to join the Navy in about six months, hopes to leave something worthwhile behind with Charleston United.

“This is their thing,” Ong said of the musicians and fans involved. “I just want to help put this place back on the map and help everyone have fun again.”


Photo: Sheila Hook/Alternative Eyes Photography




-----
1.12.2011
Morgantown band isn’t stumbling into Charleston

Photobucket

The Staggering Cardoons bring their brand of rousing Celtic rock to The Boulevard Tavern Saturday.

Reposted from The Charleston Gazette


CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The guys in the Staggering Cardoons conducted their interview the same way they formed their band -- hanging out, jamming and likely drinking a few beers.

The Morgantown-based acoustic Celtic rockers, who play The Boulevard Tavern on Saturday, answered questions together before an evening band rehearsal.

“We try to get together once or twice a week,” singer Chris Herrington said.

“We practice at [bassist] John Lynch’s apartment above the Morgantown Brewing Company. It works out great because [guitarist] Erik [Rieder] and I live right down the hall.”

The band, which also includes guitarist/mandolin player Michael Brown, fiddler Nick Sickles and drummer Curt Battrell, infuses elements of bluegrass, rockabilly and punk into its Irish-themed acoustic-rock sound. Its members enter 2011 looking to tour more and follow up last year’s debut CD, “Thundermug.”

“We’re all loving what we’re doing right now. We’re trying to work out some new songs and hope to have a new CD sometime in the spring,” said Herrington -- or Doak Dugan, as he’s known informally in the band.

Herrington isn’t the only member of the Staggering Cardoons to have a cool-sounding Irish moniker. The nucleus of the Cardoons is guitarists Erik Rieder and Michael Brown, who go by Slugger O’Toole and Angry McGee, respectively. Bassist John Lynch’s moniker is Johnny McGirk.

Of course, the band also enjoys one of the more popular Irish habits, tossing back a few pints -- usually at McClafferty’s Irish Pub in Morgantown, their home away from home.

“I was just about to say we’re a drinking band with a music problem. Wait, don’t write that down,” Herrington joked. “You can almost always see me on stage holding a beer. We cater to our clientele.”

It was the members’ shared love of music and drinking that led to the band’s formation in 2007. They would hang out and cover tunes from Johnny Cash, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Social Distortion.

“Mike and I have known each other since high school,” said Rieder. “He’d moved out of town, and I’d started playing guitar a little bit. Later on, he moved back to town, and we just started hanging out on the back porch, jamming, having a few brews.”

“We always used to hang out on the back porch and jam and everything,” Herrington said. “I’d sing on a few songs, but never really thought much about it. When they actually formed a band, they asked me to come on and sing. I was really excited about it, and it all took off from there.”

“More and more, people started to come around to jam. We were like, ‘Well we’ve got a whole band sitting here, we might as well learn some songs and try to entertain some people,’” Rieder said with a laugh.

“Playing music was something to do while we were hanging out,” Brown added.

For Rieder, two of the more famous Irish-themed punk rock bands, Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly, served as big influences.

“I’ve always been a fan of traditional instruments, and I’ve always been kind of a punk rocker, as well,” he said. “Those bands definitely influenced me a lot, because I loved the fact that they could use some of these traditional instruments and have more of an energetic sound, more of a traditional sound for a new generation. Those two bands were two of my biggest influences, for sure.”

Besides drinking and playing music, the Cardoons also love the outdoors. They started their own outdoor festival, Staggerfest, last August. Herrington spoke with a mixture of pride and excitement, describing the weekend-long event.

“We got rained on a little bit, but everybody stayed and had a great time throughout the entire thing,” he recalled.

“We started Staggerfest because we knew there was a lot of great local talent and potential around Morgantown, but not one place to have a festival that a bunch of people can get to. We thought we’d have it out on [my parents’] farm -- we’ve got about 100 acres out there -- with a bunch of great bands. We had a lot of big local acts play that gave us a lot of support.

“We’re hoping to do it again this year and have even more people,” he added. “We hope to build on it.”

Whether it’s at outdoor festivals or indoors at a bar, Herrington said, the Cardoons hope the fun they have is reciprocal.

“We always like to inspire a good time,” he said. “We just love seeing people get into the music.”