Big Right Hand's "Flanjam" 2009

Mark Flanery of Magic Town's Big Right Hand laments the lack of rocking area festivals, and says he's gonna try to book his own up in Morgantown -- in his own back yard.

Sounds promising; people taking the initiative to have their own outdoor summer fests.

We actually got hooked up with their Greatest Hits CD, rocked it, lost it, sticking it in some random CD case, but that doesn't mean you can't support Flanjam.

Read more on their MySpace blog, and check out Big Right Hand.


CD Review: "Guitarmageddon"

CD: Guitarmageddon
Artist: Black Knots

On their self-produced sophomore effort Guitarmageddon Huntington's Black Knots seek to redefine what kickass can be over 10 songs in less than an hour. If, in recent months or years, you've asked yourself 'What the fuck happened to rock and roll?' the Knots have the answer, and it's as big as the record's name implies.

From the opening riffage of "The Rapture" to the anthemic, angelic closing of "A Change Is Gonna Come," the Knots -- fronted by out-of-control bassist Jerry Lee Queen and powered by the insane solos of lead guitarist Greg Gatlin -- capture an unparalleled frenetic sound on the CD.

It's too bad that Undisputed Attitude is already taken; would've made a nice alternate title. The phrase pops in your head listening to Guitarmageddon.

Listening to their songs, you're instantly struck with the idea Angus Young started a punk band with James Hetfield or something, influenced by Turbonegro and Supersuckers. As you roll through "Redefining What Kick Ass Can Be," "Steel Rails" and "Bout Fuckin' Time" the Knots take you on their version of a hardcore rock and roll fantasy.

"Gypsy Cobra" and "Tokyo Ho's" are nice surprises, but the band wisely saved the best for last, placing "A Change Is Gonna Come" at the end of the CD. This song stands out with its more melodic power-chord flavor, anthemic whoahs and angelic backing vocals provided by Queen's ex-girlfriend.

Queen sings "And I've been told that a change is gonna come" over a ringing intro before defining what the Knots mean to him -- "kicking ass" and "running wild," living and loving, the good and the bad, all through rock and roll -- all over drinks, naturally.

"These good times tonight we take 'em back," Queen sings before one of Gatlin's huge, soaring solos over the female space auhs. The song is at once an ode to the band itself, and still deftly attempts to be something bigger without seeming political at all. It's just the power of rock and roll.

Where most Knots songs have a gnarly, balls-to-the-wall, plug-in-and-go mentality -- the thought that these guys could have rented all their instruments and would have to take them back at the end of the day, ending everything, emerges -- a hopeful, approachable hit song is the result. A real anthem.

You get the sense that Queen and the Knots don't take themselves too seriously, but when it comes to rock, they're dead serious. You can picture them pulling up at a show in their old school "Gnarly Cobra" van, bringing nothing if not a kickass rock and roll party.

The Knots approach the pinnacle of their craft on Guitarmageddon. They've definitely made progress since Hell Bent To Kick It Out; they've brought guitarist Bobby Balboa in successfully, toured regionally, recorded and produced one hell of a great rock and roll record by themselves, found the favor of a few independent labels, and, with Guitarmageddon it doesn't seem like the end is anywhere near for the Knots.


Focus on the Flyers: Rob Summers @ Willey Works

We’ve been a fan of Rob Summers' art for a while now, having been exposed to his work on his flyers for Morgantown’s West By God, and his drawings at Willey Works, his graphic design company. In the first installment of our “Focus on the Flyers” series, we talk to the 32-year old Ripley native and Fairmont resident about his art, life, work, influences and musical preferences.

WVRS: To open with a personal question: how long now until you’re a proud parent?
RS: Little bear will be here soon, real soon. We made it through this weekend’s full moon, which had me on my toes. This is our first and we are very stoked. We never found out what the gender is, so it’s going to be one of those TV cliché moments where I get to run out and scream “IT’S A _____!” To anyone who reads this, who are planning on having a new baby, heed these words: Do not start remodeling any part of your living quarters.

WVRS: You still working at Cashland Pawn?
RS: Yeah, locally I’m everyone’s best friend and the guy everyone hates all wrapped up in one. It’s a pretty sweet job and there is never a dull moment. Working the family business is always a good thing. It is not the original plan I had for myself by any means, but I have always been one to follow the path that divine intervention lays before me. It’s working out pretty good for me. I try to run that store differently from your stereotypical, shady asshole pawnshop, and I think it really gives us an edge.

WVRS: How old were you when you thought you had the artist’s bug as it were?
RS: From the beginning. I was drawing before I could tie my own shoes. I had one of those dysfunctional, secluded childhoods that seems to produce so many artist and musicians. All through school I rocked every art class I could. I thought my journey to Motown would get me closer to the Art Institute of Pittsburg, but I got sidetracked. After two years of art school here at WVU a certain professor pulled me aside and told me that the “cartoony shit wasn’t going to cut it,” so I bounced and finished with a degree in advertising in 2004.

WVRS: Any particular artists or comics motivate you growing up?
RS: All of ‘em. The comic artists back then all did the house styles of DC and Marvel like they were all just drawing to mimic their predecessors, which was cool but the early 90’s brought fresh new looks that really wowed me. Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, and all those guys who, at the time, had the new fresh style and broke away to become successful by doing their own thing. Still today I get motivated by everything cartoon I see, from cereal boxes to Venture Brothers.

WVRS: So you’re involved with Notion Comics as an illustrator? Was that through that contest, you just promoting that? How/when did you hook up with Notion?
RS: Notion Comics is the brain child of Swiff Tiny Tales creator Drew Augustin. He threw out some contest just for bragging rights in the myspace community a year back or so. They were cool tournament style competitions that I participated in just for fun. He recently did a shout out for artists and writers on this new project of web comics. I jumped on board just to be doing something different. When all you do is draw for commissions and logos to get paid, it gets pretty mundane and really reflects in your work. I thought this would be a good chance to draw just to be drawing. Notion comics is new and still developing. Drew is a young pup who’s going to go far. He’s rock steady and has more ambition then anyone I know. Hopefully Notion Comics will be a good starting point for us and all the other great artists and writers involved.

WVRS: Looks like you’ve had your art featured by a few folks, who all has used your art?
RS: Ah man, I’m all over the place on the world wide web nets. My portfolio has gotten fairly big over the last few years. One of my biggest one to date would be a logo I did for cheaternews.com. That site got featured on CNN, unfortunately a few months before I did the logo. I do a lot of toons for start up websites, a lot of which go the distance and some that just die within a year. I get a lot of commission work from guys with great t-shirt ideas. They think they can get me to do a piece for them cheap and they will sell tons of shirts. I wish that was the case, I would be loaded. That’s one of the best things about America though, you can promote and sell anything if you just bust your balls and do it right.

WVRS: You do commission work, what are the pros and cons of the bouncing off ideas between you and the client? Headaches or smooth sailing?
RS: Most of the customers I deal with are super cool. I do this stuff dirt cheap compared to going other professional routes. The way I see it I can go work at an advertising agency and make 10-20 dollars an hour while they charge the clients 300-500 dollars a pop for goofy cartoons, or I can do it myself from home and still make my $10-$20 an hour. I have to do it cheap cause there is so much competition out there. Most of my clients understand that and that they will get what they pay for. Every once in a while I will get a real jerk off who wants to run me though the ringer on some $30 cartoon logo. I use to put up with it cause I could always use some spare cash but lately I have learned to just refund their cash and tell ‘em to piss off.

WVRS: You’ve got the “cartoony” animation geared more towards kids and then you have the deviant art section that may include some gratuitous T&A; you get in trouble w/the Mrs. for any of that or is she cool with it?
RS: I got a little burned out on the custom cartoons and logos so I found this eBay niche for people wanting original pin-up comic character art. The way I see it, the day I don’t enjoy drawing large breasted, scantily clad women is the day I hang up the pencils.

I get some really creepy requests sometimes. I once did a cartoon pin up of a transvestite in a two piece bathing suit for a “women with wangs” website. Yeah I’ll do anything for money. My wife is the coolest chick on earth. She knows that the only time I’m really at peace with myself is when I am drawing. I really need it. Drawing soothes the beast within and keeps me from killing everyone in a ten block radius.

WVRS: Then you’ve got the more gory type art, is that just an outlet for your daily urges on using people’s entrails and flesh for practical everyday purposes? Haha
RS: I was one of those creepy kids who drew the shit in algebra class that would make you not want to sit by me at lunch. I still have a very dark side, as we all do, but my art has kind of outgrown it. I still like to do some gore stuff here and there.

And yes sometimes I do want to make flesh capes and skull caps to wear while I dance around with my junk tucked under.

WVRS: You’ve made a few flyers for West By God, got a particular favorite flyer you‘ve made for those guys?
RS: I would have to say the evil coal miner flyer is my favorite to date. It was heavily inspired by Derek Hess, the greatest flyer artist of all times. I would trade a limb for his talent. The West By God guys are great. I enjoy doing these flyers for them, they tell me the fans really dig ‘em too.

They are one of my favorite local bands. For Glory or for Flames rocks. I’m not on the local scene like I was back in the heydays of heavy drinking and womanizing. I would have to say the Weedhawks are my other favorite local band. Bobby and Ruby are awesome and real crowd pleasers. I hope to get back in the mix and catch more shows from them and the WBG boys.

WVRS: If you could make a flyer for any other particular local bands, who would you pick?
RS: I would have to resurrect Who Killed Teacher from the ashes of despair. They were bad ass and talented way before their time.

WVRS: What might Rob Summers do in his spare time beside drawing or preparing for parenthood? Play PS3? Read?
RS: SHIT man, I don’t even have enough time to shower regularly like a normal human. It has been like this for years. I did break down a few months ago and I have started to force myself to relax and do things I used to enjoy doing. Currently I’m am squeezing in time for some PS3; playing Viking Battle of Asgard now. I started watching the Shield seasons and I’m now on season three. I’m also half way through the complete run of the Conan trade paperback collection by Dark Horse.

WVRS: Any particular art projects or work you’re looking forward to this year?
RS: I just want to become a better artist and find my own style. I’m kind of all over the place. I hope to get discovered by someone who wants to pay me for doing my own thing at my own pace. A lot of my customers tell me they are going to have tons of work for me and it never happens or they just want to stick it in me with out even taking me on a date first. My first goal is to finish the web site. I started rebuilding it before all this baby stuff and its kind of in internet limbo.


CD Review: "Stick To Your Guns"

CD: Stick To Your Guns
ARTIST: The Gentlemen

We can remember a few years back a friend of ours was like "Man, you need to listen to Dropkick Murphys" and at first, hearing about the Boston-based Irish-themed punk band, we thought it was all part of some global conspiracy to sell more Guinness and Irish Spring. Or, he'd eaten too much haggis, maybe.

Well, suffice it to say, after hearing so many DKM CDs (we bought the DVD!) we understood the power of mixing punk rock and traditional Irish music. We ended up playing "Forever" at our wedding, and have taken up saying that we're "way more Irish" than others.

All this matters because hearing the hugely anticipated (by us) sophomore effort and full-length debut Stick To Your Guns from Magic Town's resident eight-piece Celt-punks The Gentlemen not only reminds us favorably of DKM, but this band has the richly textured, softer side (with the bagpipes, whistles, fiddle, mandolin and piano) DKM has, mixed with more of a thrash punk sound.

Like DKM, they open with a bagpipe intro. Once you've heard bagpipes cut through loud, boisterous punk rock songs, you'll understand the power of the pipes. After calling out everyone from Nickelback and Nancy Grace to Brittany Spears, Bill O' Reilly and politicians in general on their shitlist of a punk rock opener "Embarrassment," the band launches into 10 songs worth of stellar material.

And, our advice to the band: do not mess with those Nancy Grace fans. DO NOT MESS WITH THEM!

From standout songs like the anthemic polemics of "War Time In North London" and "Belfast Boy," to the sprightly whistle and acoustic-based "Under The Rowan Tree" and the piano ballad-meets-punk rock tribute "Molly Malone" to one of our favorites, "Fat Tim's Life," lyrically the band covers traditional Irish fare -- hard times, drinking, loving and fighting (both the drunken personal and the bloody Catholic-Protestant variety) -- over delicate intros and verses and the hard-rockin' sing-along punk rock choruses. And no doubt they hate wankers just as much as we do.

Can't sing? You can do the whoahs!

Singer Matthew Linehan shares the singing duties in parts with (among others) Corey Forindi, who plays the pipes and whistle. Like DKM's vocal combo of Ken Casey and Al Barr, the split singers just add to the band's range and sound, and make the songs seem like more of a party in general.

The CD, in true punk rock fashion, was recorded DIY by bassist Tommy Bailey at his Bebop Studios in Morgantown. Kudos for that; some locally produced CDs come through low after mastering and all that. The songs on Stick To Your Guns are loud, perfect for you to sing along with just like you're in a pub with the band.

A half-dozen or so guest musicians, who play on most of the songs, add even more depth to the band's already big, well-arranged sound. And, like most great punk rock, the songs average just over two minutes in length, so if you have a short attention span you can still rock out with The Gentlemen.

The band (Linehan, Forindi, Bailey, Geoff Wells and Drew Smith: guitar, Isaiah Richie: fiddle; Nathan Jones: mandolin; Zach Hogbin: drums) together for just over three years at this point, are at once ahead of schedule as a band, and at peace with what they want to sound like. They've already played with NYC punks The Toasters, New Jersey's Bouncing Souls and Mustard Plug; big-time punk bands each, and you know The Gentlemen will never switch up and become Brit pop.

The Gentlemen are or were trying to play Warped Tour 2009, compared to some of the acts we've heard playing that tour, getting The Gentlemen on it, or seeing the band end up on a major punk label, like Fat Wreck Chords, would certainly not be a surprise.

Whatever ends up happening with these guys, this CD is a hit with us. You know a CD is good when it's over and you're all like "What the hell? What happened to the music? That's it??" but that's the feeling we take from hearing Stick To Your Guns; as The Gentlemen follow their own rocky road to Dublin, we wanna hear more.


Scott Niles, 3FT back "into the fray"

After noticing that Huntington’s Threefold Theory was back, playing Sharkey’s Saturday night, we caught up with frontman Scott Niles (above) to see how things had been the past year or so, and what’s up in general.

It’s been a rough year basically. Last July I herniated a disc in my neck and had to take a hiatus from playing music. It was pretty awful; I couldn’t even lift a jug of milk, let alone a guitar for a long time. At the same time, Pete found out he had major lower back problems.

Luckily for me, I have been and continue to get better. Unfortunately for Pete, his injuries are just too severe -- he’s still injured, and is out of commission for the time being. I hate it for him.

Add to that the fact that Nik moved to Akron in January for a new job, and it was just one thing after another!

But, rather than declare 3 Fold dead, we just kind of hibernated it for a while. Nik still comes in town frequently, and we had this June 2009 gig booked in advance that pays well, so as soon as I knew I’d be good enough to play it, we got together and I called Steve Hall, a friend of ours who’s a Marshall University music professor to fill in for that gig. The Sharkey’s gig on June 6 just kind of fell in our lap.

So in a nutshell, we’re still not 100% sure about the future of 3 Fold Theory, but I’m pretty sure that if it started up again fully, it’d just be me with two new people, and at that point I’d rather just start over with a new band name and whatnot.

As for June 20, Ten Carp Lie is playing the V Club for a benefit show, and asked me to open up with a solo acoustic set. I do some originals, including 3 Fold material, as well as covers. It’s pretty cool.

Bottom line is that I was down, but I’m coming back like McRib! LOL...I’m ready to play music again, and after October (when I get married!), I’ll probably be looking to start/join a new band.

I can’t wait to get back out playing music on the regular.


We're all friends here! (No out-of-state bands or bot promoters, though)

It recently came to our attention that we had our MySpace settings to not allow bands to request us as friends. We're pretty sure that was done when we were under cyber-attack from bots, getting phished and having to change our password all the time.

We've cast off the reigns of oppression over there and if you're a band, reading this sentence, you can now freely send us a friend request without fear of having it bitchslapped straight to Hades. Or worse, sitting in the new friend request "purgatory" of the inbox; never to be accepted, in online limbo forever.

We're always glad to hear new bands not only from West Virginia (that we like) but all over the country; from Cambridge, Massachusetts' (Arms and Sleepers), to Sarasota, and even plumb to Ohio! (Whiskey Daredevils, Legbone) -- You know our feelings about Buckeyes -- we've found a few rockin' out-of-state bands.

We've also got a lot of good offers for our "band" over at the MySpace; from gig opportunities to professional promotions for MySpace bulletin posting. Surely there's someone on the other end, right? Making money off posting MySpace bulletins?!

And for the purpose of this post, yes, Sarasota is a town in Florida, there are way more cool out-of-state bands that have come through, and we post unique content, right? We can at least take up some space and make a post until we get our next killer features up in the next few days.

Mission accomplished.