They Will Surface: Hyatari returns to The V Club 8.31

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

There aren’t many bands around that sound like Hyatari. The Huntington-based “drone” four-piece, together for about six years, returns to Huntington Tuesday night for a rare show at The V Club.

But what makes Hyatari’s sound so unique? On its two releases, 2005’s “The Light Carriers” and last year’s “They Will Surface,” Hyatari plays what could be called a down-tempo version of heavy, plodding, yet melodic, atmospheric metal, without any vocals.

Made up of Chum members, bassist Chris Tackett and guitarist Mac Walker, with DJ Brett Fuller (aka Charlie Brown Superstar) and recently added drummer Jude Blevins, getting the guys together is an event in itself. About a year ago, Tackett moved to Lexington for work, Blevins lives in Pineville, West Virginia and Walker and Fuller live in Huntington.

“I don’t think we get together nearly enough,” Tackett said. “It’s not cheap to run back and forth, but we make it work. Rehearsing is tough because we have to re-learn the songs, because they’re so long. Ultimately, I’d like to spend that time writing new material, but we have a good time when we do get together.”

Tackett said that Hyatari has some new material under its belt, and is shooting to release a new CD in 2012. It’s a long, slow process, kind of like the band’s sound.

Hyatari, influenced by bands like Sleep and Neurosis, gained some notoriety and critical acclaim in the drone genre right from the start.

“We kind of went out on a limb with the first record; we knew we were pushing the envelope,” Tackett said. “Usually those efforts go unnoticed. So any recognition we’ve received has been an unexpected surprise. The doom/drone genre has really sort of caught on over the last few years, but back then nobody was really doing it. If they were, I didn’t know about it.

“The drone aspect of Hyatari is a direct result of three guys in a room with loud amps and no drums; that’s how we came up with a lot of that early material.”

Tackett said the sound is something more nebulous than set in stone.

“On “They Will Surface” we never did what we intended to do, which was a whole album with no drums and more of the quiet, trance stuff. We decided we couldn’t make a heavier record than “The Light Carriers” so we tried to shake it up a little. Some of that material made it on the record, but what we ended up with sounded more post-rock than I wanted it to. I think on the new record we’re going back to the dark, brutal heaviness.”

Walker, Tackett’s longtime friend and band mate, described the songwriting process for Hyatari.

“Actually, most of the material originates with Chris,” he admitted. “My contribution really is to bring to life the musings of a frustrated guitarist disguised as the bass player.

“Writing instrumental music is pretty challenging in regards to generating interest with the listener. You don’t have anything out front to draw them in. A lack of vocals forces the songwriter to take an approach that they normally wouldn’t with a typical song structure. Hopefully the end result is interesting, and it’s able to stand on its own.”

Fuller, the DJ and “noise” guy in Hyatari, provides the ambience and atmospherics that help make Hyatari’s sound unique.

“We wanted Brett involved because we all think alike, we’re good friends, and he brings different ideas to the table,” Tackett said. “He has the freedom to wing it and call up any kind of sounds he wants in the moment.”

For a few years, Hyatari was known to employ a drum machine. About two years ago, they welcomed Blevins into the fold.

“I think we were all a bit apprehensive to bring in a fourth element,” Fuller said. “Chris, Mac and I have known, lived and worked together, been through a tour together; we know each other pretty well by now. I think there was a question whether anyone could come in and be a fit both personally and professionally. It took about five minutes to realize there wasn’t going to a problem with Jude. Not only did he get along with the rest of us famously, he’s one the best drummers I’ve ever heard.”

“It took us about two seconds to say ‘This is our guy,’” Tackett added.

Despite the distance separating the band members, and their involvement in other musical projects, they all said they consider Hyatari a top priority, and since they’re all friends, fun.

“I just recently realized that this process began in 1987 when Chris and I first started hashing out bar chords on amplified metal strings in my parent’s attic,” Walker said. “For me, it’s as fun now as it’s ever been.”

“Yeah, I never really think about it, but we’ve been making music for like twenty years,” Tackett said. “We wanted to do something different when we started, and that’s what we did.”


Andy Bean and Fuller Condon put it in your ear Friday at Shamrock's

Two dudes, one well-mannered party: Fuller Condon (aka “The Councilman”) and Andy Bean bring their gentlemanly act to Huntington Friday.

If Tenacious D were around 80 years ago, they might have sounded like The Two Man Gentlemen Band. The Long Island-based duo (Andy Bean: tenor guitar, banjo; Fuller Condon: upright bass) have that same kind of interplay and hilarious lyrics permeating their 1920’s sounding version of Vaudevillian Hot Swing.

Great harmonies, pretty much a shared singing and songwriting role, dressed in the attire of the time, and, again, the irreverent, downright funny lyrics and catchy tunes make these guys a pair of characters, for sure.

On their new 13-song CD !Dos Amigos, Una Fiesta! (Serious Business) Bean and Condon, on songs like “Chocolate Milk,” “Me, I Get High on Reefer,” “Franklin Pierce,” “There’s Something In My Trousers” and “The Leisure Class” display their chemistry and musicianship, putting their own contemporary spin on an old thing.

Not only were we transported to a long forgotten era, we had more than a few laughs along the way.

In advance of their show Friday at Shamrock’s Irish Pub, we caught up with Andy Bean over e-mail to learn more about the Gents, the new CD and to see if these two guys really are gentlemen…

WVRS: You two seem to have quite the chemistry together making music; how long have you two known each other/how did you meet?
Andy Bean: The Councilman and I met at an audition for a college rock band. We both passed. This was about 10 years ago.

WVRS: What appealed to you guys originally to play this particular style of throwback music?
AB: We like old records a lot. So when we went to make music together it came out sounding a bit old fashioned. It wasn’t really intentional; just how it happened. But what we do never seems particularly throwback to us because we’re playing our own tunes. Most of the groups out there doing this sort of style play old standards. We’re playing new songs that sound old.

WVRS: You guys were buskers in NYC? How would you say that made it easier for you guys to have a warmer interaction or chemistry with audiences at shows?
AB: Since most people on the street, in a subway station, or in a city park tend to ignore street musicians, we learned how to handle rejection very well. This is a valuable skill to have as a musician.

WVRS: You got to open for Dylan and Willie last year, how cool was that?
AB: Pretty darned wonderful. The Two Man Gentlemen Band has tasted the big time. And we liked it.

WVRS: So this is your sixth full-length release; do you think this is going to put you into the leisure class?
AB: If “The Leisure Class” is defined as one step above the abject poverty common amongst touring musicians, than yes, we hope so.

WVRS: As far as press and just the public’s response to the new CD, what’s it been like so far? All-around thumbs up?
AB: Hopefully thumbs up. We’re very fragile. I don’t know if we could handle too many negative reviews.

WVRS: What do people need to know about Franklin Pierce that they might not? Is there some kind of conspiracy you’ve uncovered -- The Pierce Affair?
AB: He was widely considered our drunkest and handsomest president, a fierce combination.

WVRS: Playing the kind of music you do, touring around the country, is there any kind of music you like to listen to that might surprise your
fans? Like Slayer, or techno or something?
AB: I listen to Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher” once every few days. Other than that, it’s mostly 20’s and 30’s music.

WVRS: Will you have copies of the new CD available for sale at the Shamrock’s show?
AB: Yes we will, for sale at very reasonable prices.

WVRS: You’ve played Shamrock's a few times, how have the shows there gone? A party?
AB: We’ve been handed a jar of local moonshine every time. So yes, it’s always been a party.

WVRS: If someone at a show was going to buy you dudes a glass of wine, do you have any particular favorites, or will you just drink anything?
AB: We are too polite and well mannered to turn down any drink that’s offered.


Sunday evening video theft: Hyatari live @ the Thirsty Whale 8.15.09

In the normal process of putting stuff together on Hyatari for the Huntington Herald-Dispatch, we happened upon drummer Jude Blevins' MySpace page.

There, not for the first time, but maybe most appropriately this time, we spent some quality minutes watching the band perform "Collapse" off their debut The Light Carriers (not the 15 minute version), and their cover of Seam's "Autopilot," ending their 8.15.09 set at The Thirsty Whale in drone-tastic fashion.

Of course, normal readers of this blog (hi, you two!) will recognize the date, and maybe even the sound, from the live download Hyatari recently made available from the show.

Hyatari: “Collapse”

Hyatari: “Autopilot”

Maybe you got their most recent full-length, They Will Surface, and didn't get Light Carriers; you can find a link to download it online if you look. You can also find our review of Surface if you search this site; we know you won't.

Kudos to dozens12 for uploading this; very good job. And maybe look for something awesome on the band in the paper in time for their 8.31 show at the V Club.

flyer: Jimbo Valentine


Staggerfest this weekend

Whole lotta cool bands lined up for the inaugural Staggerfest this weekend in Morgantown, hosted by native acoustic Celt rockers The Staggering Cardoons. We would've loved to have heard the Cardoons CD, but lo, it did not come to pass.

Hopefully it doesn't rain. But if it does, that just might make it even more awesome. And, as long as nobody gets arrested you can consider it a success.

But you don't have to miss out on Staggerfest 2010 if you're up this way this weekend; too many killer Magic Town acts to pass up.


Shack Shakin' Good Time at the Glass Friday

The Legendary Shack Shakers (L-R: Duane Denison, J.D. Wilkes, Mark Robertson, and Brett Whitacre) bring their version of “Agri-Dustrial” to The Empty Glass Friday night.

You know you’re a badass when Jello Biafra and Hank III call you the best rock and roll front man in the country, your onstage antics are compared to Iggy Pop and Tom Waits, your lyrics evoke William Faulkner, and you are referred to as “Colonel”.

J.D. Wilkes and the Nashville-based Legendary Shack Shakers roll into The Empty Glass in Charleston Friday for a night of “Southern Gothic” insanity.

The singer and filmmaker brings his Shakers’ hybrid of blues, punk & country to town as part of their show-per day U.S. tour, maybe with their recently released CD Agri-Dustrial.

Check out the Shakers online to hear the tunes, and check out the trailer for Wilkes’ critically acclaimed documentary about Appalachian and Delta culture, Seven Signs.

If you’re one of these people who hate “new country” with a passion, these guys sound like they’re right up your alley.

Pic: Joshua Black Wilkins


Jeff Ellis covers the distance @ Live on the Levee

How many times can you say you’ve seen a war hero who’s also a rock star? Or vice versa?

Well, If you were at Live on the Levee in Charleston Friday, you could say you did. Huntington’s Jeff Ellis was treated a hero’s welcome home, and joined by his friends Bud Carroll and the Southern Souls, rocked songs off his last three CDs, as a complete full-band, five-piece lineup.

It sure beats being in Iraq, or Kuwait, or wherever he’s been spending most of his time in recent years, as part of his duties in the Army Reserves.

Over the past four years or so, with A Front Seat For the End of The World, Covering the Distance, and his most recently released CD, The Forgetting Place, Ellis, joined in the studio by Carroll and the Souls, has been winning fans, and would have, regardless of the fact that he’s in the army.

But it wasn’t a surprise to see Ellis being interviewed by local TV news people before the set, and signing autographs of his CDs; not a surprise at all.

photo: Chris Morris

Nor was it a surprise to see people paying $4 or something for a can of Miller Lite or whatever swill they were serving. Hey, everybody has to make money, right?

So as what seemed to be a few hundred people trickled into Schoenbaum Stadium, braving the sweltering heat, around sometime after six it was time to play some music. I had to listen to Jim Strawn talk about how awesome it is being at Highland Hospital, thinking of how many times the Highland Express van could’ve been called on my hind end.

Well, after all that drivel, Ellis, with his black Chuck Taylors and with Carroll and the Souls backing him, busted into “If He’s So Good To You,” off The Forgetting Place, and in case you didn’t know anything about Jeff Ellis or Bud Carroll, you’d know that together, they merge their rock powers to from something akin to Devastator in Transformers.

photo: Brianna Atkins

With Ellis out front, Carroll on lead, this is something that you’d see on the bigtime. Americana, alt-country, bluegrass (especially with Carroll on slide guitar) and heck yeah -- rock and roll, this is great stuff.

So many bands that get famous these days, well, they suck, and it’s a waste of time to listen to ‘em, honestly. But these days it’s becoming less and less of a secret how talented these dudes are in their own right, and, combined. Tom Petty’d do well to have these guys open for him someday.

photo: Chris Morris

After that the band rocked probably the best song off Covering the Distance, “I’m Not Leaving This Time,” and, be it about going back to the desert or just being able to make a relationship work, the song rocks; the organ really rounds the sound out, like on a lot of his songs.

photo: Brianna Atkins

It was around this time that my handwriting and notes started to become some sort of illegible chicken scratch; I blame this on the recent spate of earthquakes. But I can tell you Ellis, and by this point the hot, sweaty Souls ran through killer versions of what I think was “Fade,” (?) “Russell and Honeybee” and “When You Come Back Around,” before closing the set with “Red, Red Sky” off Front Seat.

It’s neat to think about how much great music Ellis and the Souls have teamed up to make over the past few years. From AFSFTEOW, through the more rockin’ Americana of Covering the Distance, into the folksy, bluegrass kind of vibe of The Forgetting Place, if you stacked all these releases up, and mixed up the songs, you’d still have a coherent Greatest Hits CD type thing.

Then there’s the fact he’s writing a lot of the material in the army overseas, and Ellis can still put out all this great material. Prolific.

photo: Brianna Atkins

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to stay and see Carroll’s set, as my presence was quite abruptly requested elsewhere. I already know he's a force of nature on guitar, but it still sucked that I had to leave. I really, really had to go. It wasn't up to me.

But it was great to get to see Ellis run through a nice representative sample of what he’s been doing the past few years, and see him so warmly received.

--- Related: The WVRockscene Roast of Jeff Ellis and Bud Carroll: From "I Don't Believe You" to "When It All Hits You"


Black Seas: Dana White & friends can't stop now

Black Seas (L-R: Dana White, Bobby Midkiff, Dwayne Hinkle, Cody Gore) looks to follow up on the success of Holden Caulfield, and represent Huntington

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

“Oh, hey I just walked in the garage and realized my PA was still on from last night’s practice,” Dana White noted, talking on the cell phone about his new band, Black Seas.

White answered questions on his day off. But it’s been a rare day off over the past few months for White, the ex-Holden Caulfield and current Black Seas singer, as he is now the proud parent of a baby boy.

So, White doesn’t have all the time in the world to dedicate to rehearsing, touring and shows. But White says his wife, Brooke, who played bass in the original incarnation of Black Seas, Heart Holds True, is super cool when it comes to him being in a band these days.

“Brooke has always been real supportive of me. She’s wanted to see every band I’ve ever been in succeed. But it does change things a little,” he said of parenthood. “I have to think about ‘How are we going to do this when we go out of town? ‘Is Brooke going to be okay with watching Christian?’

“We actually had a show the day after Christian was born,” White said. “Normally I wouldn’t have agreed to that; the show was supposed to happen before, but he came early.

“It was a house show and it was like five minutes from the hospital, and I kept telling everyone, ‘Call me when the band before us starts playing,’ and lucky enough for me Brooke and the baby were asleep, so my sister and me get in the car and rush to the show.”

It’s just one example of how White has to manage his time and his daily life now as a parent.

Few, if any, West Virginia bands over the past decade have been able to develop and sustain the loyal fan base the way Huntington’s Holden Caulfield did, both in-state and all over the country. After eight years, though, the members of Holden Caulfield went their separate ways.

But White and his good friend Bobby Midkiff, who played guitar in Holden Caulfield, weren’t ready to stop. Now, White leads Black Seas with Midkiff and ex-Most Ill members, bassist Cody Gore and drummer Dwayne Hinkle.

Black Seas plays Shamrock’s Irish Pub in Huntington this Saturday, August 14.

White said Black Seas, together in its current formation for a few months and influenced heavily by Mastodon, is working hard to get its name out, be it at a bar, or some dude’s house.

The band has begun working on a concept record titled “Destined to Never Feel at Home” about White’s own hometown of Huntington.

Lyrically, from Holden Caulfield to Black Seas, White said writing about his life and hometown is what it’s all about, the good and bad.

“This EP is about living around this area all my life. And it’s time to do a little more, and see a little more, but this is still home. It’s about watching the decline of our town. On the surface, if you drove through here ten years ago, and you drive through here now, it looks like things are getting better.

“But then, you start comparing the crime rate between just five years ago and now, and it’s dramatically worse. And it’s because of the influx of drug dealers from certain cities, mostly Detroit, it’s no secret, everyone in this town knows it.

“It just kind of like goes into; there’s this problem, we need to fix it, and we have to fight for our home. But it comes back to it’s mostly our fault because we didn’t do anything about it before. ‘Oh my gosh!’ And it kind of just ends there.”

You can hear one example of how important Huntington is to White and Black Seas on their song “Long Live The Jewel City,” on the Black Seas MySpace page.

Black Seas enlisted engineer and co-producer Ethan Howard from Black Bird Studios in Nashville, who has worked with Kings Of Leon and Rush, to work on the new album.

White said he knows that Black Seas is not Holden Caulfield, but regardless, he’s still awed that the fans are still there.

“We’re doing it for the love of the music and making friends. I don’t necessarily want to be as big as Coldplay, but if I could play music for a living, my gosh, I’d love that.”

And, ever the fortune cookie aficionado, White described what one made for Black Seas might say.

“Things might get horrible, but you can’t stop trying.”

If you go:
WHAT: Waking Lions, The Fearful Jonah, Black Seas, Towers of Veritas

WHEN: 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 14

WHERE: Shamrock's Irish Pub, 2050 3rd Ave., Huntington 304-523-5825


ONLINE: www.myspace.com/black_seas and www.myspace.com/luckypub

--- photo: Chris Moore/Obsolete Images

Aaron Fisher sails his Ghost Fleet to the Blue Parrot Friday

Local alt-country/rock group Ghost Fleet is (from top) Jason Bays, Aaron Fisher, Derek Thompson and Nathan Shrewsbury. The band lists Tom Petty and Drive-By Truckers as big influences.

Reposted from The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- After so many years sitting behind the drums and filling in on guitar, Aaron Fisher is finally the captain of his own ship -- or at least his own band, Ghost Fleet. He’s drummed for years and played in bands like Dog Soldier and with Mark Bates and the Vacancies, but now he’s out front, singing and playing guitar in the recently formed alt-country/rock band.

Fisher, an accomplished studio engineer and producer at his 101 Productions in Sissonville, now gets the chance to write and arrange his own songs.

“Right around the start of the new year is when I got sick and tired of trying to track down a singer that was cool and would come to practice and wasn't a diva and could sing songs that I wanted to be a part of.

“I said, ‘You know what? I’ve always wanted to sing in a band, and I’ve been playing a lot of guitar, so I’m just going to go ahead and step out and do it -- and if it works, it works; if it doesn’t, it doesn’t’, but so far it’s worked. I’m really happy about it.”

Fisher and Ghost Fleet have been playing area shows regularly since the start of the year and are finishing up work on their debut EP, “Jesus Is From Texas.”

The band plays the Blue Parrot on Friday.

When it came time to record, you could say Fisher knew a guy, but just because he was recording his own band, it wasn’t a cakewalk. Fisher admits that his obsessive tendencies nearly took over.

“Typically, it’s not as bad as it’s been this time around,” he said. “Usually, I’ll just nitpick the mix.

“At this point, I'm writing the songs, recording all the music and mixing; I’m doing everything, and trust me, it’s not by choice. I’d much rather go to someone else. This whole self-produced thing is overrated.

“I think the reason a lot of bands self-produce is just the cost of recording,” he said. “It’s the same story producing your own music.

“It’s a nightmare for me, because I keep wanting to go back and re-hash or fix something. The process goes from, ‘In two weeks, we’ll be done’ to ‘In a month, we'll be done,’” he said laughing.

Ghost Fleet is Fisher, guitarist Jason Bays, bassist Derek Thompson and drummer Nathan Shrewsbury. While the songs are Fishers own, he says it’s his bandmates that really make them work.

“I’m shocked at how easy it’s been for me to manage the singing and the songwriting,” he said. “I come in with an idea of what I want, and those guys just get on board and make it really great.”

Fisher said he'll have pre-mastered sampler versions of the new EP to pass out Friday. He’s looking forward to the show because he says the Blue Parrot is a place Ghost Fleet has been well received.

“The Parrot is always a great place to play. I have a feeling this show on the 13th is going to be pretty big; there’s Live on the Levee that night, with Bud Carroll and Jeff Ellis, so the styles are really going to mesh. I’m expecting a nice crowd for our show.”

The performance is just another highlight in what Fisher feels like, in terms of his music and his band, is a high point in his life.

“I feel like an artist, instead of just a drummer or a rhythm guitar player. In the past, I was the guy everybody called to play drums. I’ve just been driving the nail into someone else’s house, you know? Now I’m creating something from scratch, like an actual artist. It’s all happened so easily. Now I’m just waiting for that writer’s block to come.”

Ghost Fleet
With Nathaniel Good and the Boot
WHEN: 10 p.m. Friday
WHERE: The Blue Parrot, 14 Capitol St.
COST: $5
INFO: ghostfleetband.com or 304-342-2583


Hyatari surfaces with live recording

Some of our favorite recordings of all time are of the live bootleg variety.

So, it was with great excitement and anticipation when we heard Barry Smith talking about working on a live Hyatari recording on Facebook.

Fast forward a few days, and somehow, we get hooked up with it.

Just as being on Facebook has its perks, finding out about stuff, sometimes, we’re glad we started this blog, because we get hooked up with cool music.

We cannot disclose at this time the party that leaked the recording to us (we’ll call him J. Blevins) but we were so happy to get it we actually, finally, downloaded a piece of software that allows us to convert .rar files.

But what about the friggin CD?

Well, here at WVRockscene, some of us can’t get along half the time; some of us are more into doom, some prefer sludgy, elemental-yet melodic drone rock -- you know, the kind Hyatari smelts into existence like so much slow forming lava. But, regardless of who here is who is way more doom or drone than the other, we, generally speaking, love music without words.

So, this open air recording, captured by Smith at Hyatari’s August 15, 2009 show at the Thirsty Whale in Huntington, won’t let you down due to poor vocals. Heck, the band doesn’t even need a mic, period, as over the course of the five songs and 30 minutes or so set list, there’s no “Let’s make some noise!” or “Can someone bring me a beer?” although we’re sure that’s implied.

Joining Hyatari onstage for this show is ex-Chum band mate John Lancaster, adding to the sound. Basically, for people not familiar with Hyatari’s sound, it might best be described as sounding like Trent Reznor’s instrumental soundtrack to a movie about the slow process of tectonic plate shifting. Slow and heavy, yet melodic enough with cool progressions and chord changes that it isn’t unlikely it would in parts evoke instrumental NIN.

Between Chris Tackett (bass) and Mac Walker (guitar) maybe the wild card in Hyatari’s sound is Brett Fuller on “sounds,” as credited on the CD. Whatever he’s doing as far as synth or noise or programming, it makes Hyatari great.

The CD opens with the title track off their most recent CD, They Will Surface and “By The Throne.” On a few song you’ll notice drummer Jude Blevins jamming more ad-libbed, rocked out type fills. Killer.

Songs from The Light Carriers, “Harvesting Sod,” and “Collapse” round out the short set before closing out with the really beautiful, apparently unreleased up to now Seam cover, “Autopilot,” maybe evoking crashing into Mars on a terraform mission or something. Whatever you do, do not click on the link to the download of the song on Jude’s MySpace blog thinking you’ll be redirected to Hyatari’s site, because we weren’t.

But, look, again, we love getting live bootleg recordings. Especially when it’s from bands whose CDs we rock out on a consistent basis. They Will Surface has, much to our dismay, ended up with a scratch on it due to repeated plays, and is in constant danger of skipping.

Whether you’re more into Light Carriers or They Will Surface, we think Hyatari fans will agree, this was something worth putting out. Maybe some jerks will say something along the lines of asshole ball, whatever, screw them. And we’ll definitely look forward to maybe more Hyatari output.

Kudos are in order first to Barry Smith for doing a good job on the recording; Jimbo Valentine for going back and reworking his flyer art for the show into the cover art for the recording, and finally to Hyatari’s drummer for leaking this to us.

WVRockscene is not the local music blog equivalent of Wikileaks, but hey, we’ll take this kind of thing any way we can get it. This is the kind of thing we’d buy for $5 or so at a Hyatari show, to kind of document the event, as it were. We’d love to see more bands be able to cut live recordings and turn ‘em into CDs, especially when we love the bands so much.

We don’t know whether or not Hyatari indeed even plans on making this available, either online or in physical form. But, if you’re into the music these dudes make, holler at ‘em and pester ‘em to do so; it’ll be well worth it for this live recording to surface, somehow.

--- Download: Hyatari Live at The Thirsty Whale 8.15.09


Hucklebuck goes on a "Bender"

Danny Cumbo, bassist for the Sharpsburg, Maryland-based Americana/roots act Hucklebuck, recently hollered and was saying we should check out his band, talking about their soon to be released CD Bender. We listened to a few tunes, made sure Cumbo's story checked out, and thought we'd throw a few questions at em in advance of their show Saturday at the Dub V Pub in Martinsburg...

WVRS: So you guys are based in Sharpsburg Maryland, but a few of you have ties to West Virginia, right?
Jonathan Helta: Two of us live in West Virginia, two of us live in Frederick, Maryland, and one practically lives on the border in Sharpsburg. Borders tend to matter more when you live further away from them. West Virginians are our neighbors despite the invisible lines.

WVRS: The band formed, as it says on your MySpace page, out of acoustic jam sessions, right? So you guys are all friends even pre-dating the formation of the band?
JH: Yes, and that's probably why we still play. It's really lucky to have the best of both worlds, good friends and good players. It keeps it fun.

WVRS: It says on your MySpace that you work hard but don't take yourselves too seriously. Obviously you want to have fun playing music, but do you think that some musicians and/or bands sometimes take themselves too seriously?
JH: Ego and personality can take over and unfortunately it ruins it for the rest of the band and the music can suffer as a result. Why put yourself and others through that? It's just poor human skills.

WVRS: You've got a few songs off your soon-to-be released full-length debut, Bender, finished. Where did you record at and when will it be ready to drop?
Danny Cumbo: We started recording at Echoes Recording Studio in Sharpsburg back in December 2009. What was originally meant to be a 4 or 5 song demo turned into Bender. The first weekend of recording drum and scratch tracks started snowballing and we just kept blasting though all of our songs, recording one after another. Next thing we knew, we had the foundations of 12 of our originals in the can. We whittled that down to 10 that we kept, and that's when the process slowed down, as we started going back and adding all the guitar and vocal tracks. Our last meeting with the engineer was on August 2nd and it should all be finished and ready to send out for a first run of CDs shortly.

WVRS: Between forming the band out of acoustic jam sessions, picking up more of an electric backing, and the recording of the debut, how much do you think the band's sound and approach to songwriting has progressed since you started a few years ago? Were you able to bring a fun atmosphere to recording or was it all business?
DC: Naturally, the songs have all developed and evolved over time, but before we hit the studio, we spent a lot of time rehearsing and taking notes on exactly how we wanted some of the songs to be structured and sound when we recorded them. As the songs developed, they went from three guitar players all strumming the same chords in unison to say, Jarod [Brechbill] holding down the fort on rhythm parts while Jon did a lot of lead and JJ bringing in some slide guitar licks. It gave the songs a lot of new dimensions. We definitely approached the studio with 'fun atmosphere' in mind while trying to be mindful that we are paying for every hour we're in there.

WVRS: You've got this show out in Martinsburg, and some of you are from WV. How well are you received out there in the Eastern Panhandle, and how much do you like playing WV in general?
DC: We love it. We used to play at a place called Moods in Hedgesville that is no longer open and had some of our best crowds there. We started seeing a lot of familiar faces every time we played there and are excited to be playing in the area again. We hope to see a good mix of new and familiar faces out there in the crowd when we play the Dub V Pub on August 7th.


Greetings (From The Inner Self)

I was recently approached by the proprietor of this blog site asking if I’d be interested in contributing to a new series here on WVRockscene.

As communicated to me, the focus of this series would be the music scenes based in and around Huntington, Charleston, Morgantown (and surrounding areas) of the 1990’s, before the Internet Age made it possible for every musician to more easily promote themselves and sell their original music to a seemingly endless audience.

I was intrigued by the idea and immediately signed on, which is why you are currently reading this.

Quite honestly, and although some of you may already know this, I’ve entertained a similar idea as the basis for the book that I’ve yet to write.

That book, which is still a goal of mine, would concentrate specifically on Huntington’s music scene, 1989-1998, 10 years bookended by the opening and closing of the city’s two most infamous live music venues, Gumby’s and Drop Shop.

Anyone that spent any significant amount of time at either joint can attest to the numerous memorable moments that took place at 1318 4th Ave., where both places called home.

Whether it was G.G. Allin, The Afghan Whigs and Kyuss at Gumby’s, or Godflesh, Type O Negative and Corrosion of Conformity at Drop Shop, these were shows that people still talk about to this day.

But perhaps what people most remember, at least from the perspective of those whom frequented Gumby’s, is John Kerwood, the man most responsible for helping plant the seed for what would eventually become a vibrant, local music scene.

Kerwood was, in the eyes of many, Gumby’s.

Although I was only 17-years-old at the time, I was first introduced to him in 1994, when I was asked if I’d be willing to help promote a Cannibal Corpse show that he and Gumby’s booker, Brian Barlow, were putting on.

It would be another couple of years, however, before we would cross paths again, as Gumby’s would soon close and Drop Shop would take over residency at its former home in the fall of 1995.

We ran into one another in 1997, at Davidson’s Music and again, most memorably, in 2002, when two friends and I made the trek to Charleston to pay a visit to the newly renovated Sound Factory, for which he was, quite proudly, responsible.

None of us knew it at the time, but it would be the last time we’d see him alive, as he passed away a year-and-a-half later.

In the years that have gone by since John Kerwood died, many new music venues have propped up in and around Huntington, and the Sound Factory is still thriving in Charleston.

What I often wonder when I find myself in one of these establishments, though, is whether or not those whom are present realize how it all came to be.

Unfortunately, and I’m a pessimist by nature, the only answer I can usually find is “no.”

Call it an unfortunate characteristic of society, but a great many of us don’t have a sense of history or, most disturbingly, don’t even care to.

It’s an epiphany such as this that motivated me to sign on as a guest blogger when I was offered the opportunity.

Too often we take for granted what we’ve been given, a na├»ve perception that says “It’ll still be there in the morning when I wake.”

Well, you have to hang on tightly to the things that are important to you because there are no guarantees in life, and even though the sun may rise tomorrow, the place you once called home may not.

An adverse symptom of the “here today, gone tomorrow” disease is the notion that once something is out of sight it is out of mind.

In my opinion, those words best sum up Huntington’s formative years as a burgeoning music town and, sadly, people like John Kerwood who helped build it.

It’s this premise that has prompted me to only write this, my inaugural contribution to this site, but a lot more in the coming months.

You may call it informative reading, but I’d like to call it a history lesson.

Stay tuned.