Huntington Music & Arts Fest 10.2

Probably the best lineup we've seen is set for this Saturday at Ritter Park in Huntington. The Huntington Music and Arts Festival features a reunion of American Minor, Jeff Ellis, The Demon Beat, and a whole slew of other solid acts.

Ian Thornton, who books bands at Shamrock's Irish Pub out there, has put together quite the event, in this, the first of what we hope will be an annual thing out there. If you are so inclined, there's a HMAF after-party at Shamrock's that night, with Bud Carroll, Attack Flamingo and Sasha Colette.

Kudos are in order for Thornton; kudos indeed. Check out Dave Lavender's article on HMAF in the Herald-Dispatch, and this is something to definitely check out if you're into the rock and/or roll.

--- Update: Lavender talks in extended fashion and in more detail with Thornton and Carroll about the HMAF and the Huntington scene, past, present and future in Thursday's H-D


Todd Burge brings his Odd Urges to town Friday

Reposted from The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There are few more accomplished, respected musicians in West Virginia than Todd Burge, who Larry Groce dubbed the “dean of West Virginia singer-songwriters.” The 46-year-old “Mountain Stage” staple and West Virginia Music Hall of Fame board member, is much loved for his irreverent, witty -- and sometimes dark -- version of Americana and folk.

Burge was first known for his role in Morgantown rock band 63 Eyes and more recently for his solo work that’s taken him to CBGB’s and the Country Music Hall of Fame. Last year, he formed a new folk-flavored alt-country band, the Odd Urges.

The band -- Burge, Billy Matheny, Rodney Crihfield and Joseph Hale -- released the 10-song CD “Distraction Packed” in March. They play The Boulevard Tavern with Jeff Ellis Friday.

Burge, a Vienna, W.Va. native, has a story not unlike many other West Virginia residents; he and his wife moved away for a while, living in Austin and Pittsburgh, before coming back home to settle down.

On the phone, Burge is honest, thoughtful, open and funny, just like he is on his songs. For someone so highly praised, he dispenses a healthy dose of self-deprecating humor, trying to avoid referring to himself as an old hippie, taking praise in stride and maintaining that he works hard at his craft.

“Working my a-- off until I hit a zone,” is how he summarizes his songwriting process. And while it is work, Burge says it's not something he over thinks.

“I think of songwriting as just an improvised, off the top of your head kind of thing,” he said. “I try not to edit myself. I try to write about anything and everything and just be free with what comes out.”

And what comes out, generally, is a lot.

“When I sit down, I think, ‘I’m just going to write something.’ For me, bulk is the answer. If I write enough bad songs, I’m eventually going to write a good one.”

Being in a band has allowed Burge the freedom to write lyrics from a darker character perspective, he says.

“In 63 Eyes, I wrote from this other person’s point of view, and it allowed me to be wicked and not me. [On ‘Distraction Packed’] I had this character in mind, and I was taking him through these phases; he lost his family because he was wrapped up in songwriting. Then he starts dating online, and that doesn’t work out, so he turns to drinking and drugs, then he has an intervention.”

Burge says the change from a solo career is welcome. “It’s enabled me to do songs that wouldn’t work solo. We’re creating new sounds.”

In addition to making his own music, Burge showcases the talents of others with his Songwriter Night series that records live concerts, primarily from regional acts, for podcasts.

It was at a Songwriter Night in Morgantown where Burge first met a young Billy Matheny. “He was like 16 years old at the time, I think,” Burge recalled. “I thought, ‘This guy’s a force to be reckoned with; I need to play with him.’

“I’ve played with some real professionals, and there’s nobody more professional than Billy. He can take my songs and arrange them in ways that are just great. He’s just brilliant in every way.”

Burge gets his own share of high praise, and while he’s appreciative, he doesn’t let it go to his head. His grounded approach to writing, he says, is what keeps things fresh.

“I’m happy that people dig what I do. I’m humbled by it, and blown away by stuff that people like Larry Groce have said.

“I’m never really comfortable, though, and that keeps me motivated. I’m always working hard to do something different, something that is more interesting to myself.”

Known for his “offbeat” lyrics, Burge said his most welcome praise recently came from his wife, Lisa.

“I wrote a new song the other day called,” he paused, clearing his throat, “‘Looking For My Nuts.’ I wrote it after watching a squirrel in my backyard.

“My wife asked, ‘Would you play that in front of your kids?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I think I would.’ It suggests something else, maybe, but it’s about a squirrel.

“And then my wife listened to it again, and she said, ‘You know what? Nobody is singing this song, anywhere. There’s nobody that's ever written a song like this. And that’s why it’s a good song, and why you should do it.’

“That pleased me, because if I can keep doing that, doing different things, for me and for others, I’m content with that. Doing that is a constant struggle that I enjoy.”

--- photo: Andi Roberts

Todd Burge & the Odd Urges
With the Jeff Ellis Band
WHERE: The Boulevard Tavern, 806 Kanawha Blvd. E.
WHEN: 10 p.m. Friday
COST: $5
INFO: www.toddburge.com or 304-205-7951


Todd Burge talks about 63 Eyes' "Cassette Days"

As part of our “Cassette Days” series, Todd Burge talked with us about his time in the Morgantown-area band 63 Eyes. Pictured below are some tapes Burge has managed to hold on to, with brief descriptions from Todd.

Hear our mp3 interview with Burge at bottom...

(Clockwise from top left)

Bunj -- “Worthless Serenade”

This was a cassette only release post-Larries, pre-63 Eyes. Landed me a recording contract that took me places...places like, nowhere and then back...ha

63 Eyes first Underground Railroad show Oct 30, 1986. Recorded from the sound board.

Todd Burge -- “New World Out of Order” (1991)

My second solo release, on cassette only. This was a recording of tunes written around the time of the first Gulf war, thus, the play on Bush’s “New World Order”

Perry Kirk, drummer for 63 Eyes at the time, did the cool cover photo. It isn’t a double exposure and of course, not photoshop; he stapled stuff on plexi-glass

Owen Davis and Todd Burge -- “Live at Maxwell’s Morgantown” (1992)

Owen Davis is my musical hero.

63 Eyes -- “Gravel” (1993?)

A cassette only release, recorded at the recording workshop in Chillicothe on the same board used on John Lennon’s “Double Fantasy.” That didn’t make the recording any better, but it is a cool thought to me. Might release this one next year.

63 Eyes self-titled cassette (1996, I’m thinking??)

Various songs from unreleased and compilation recordings.

mp3: “Cassette Days” 63 Eyes interview with Todd Burge

Powered by Podbean.com

--- Related: Charleston Gazette article on Todd Burge, and our review of Todd Burge & The Odd Urges' CD Distraction Packed

See also: Greetings (From the Inner Self) -- Justin Johnson kicks off “Cassette Days”

--- bumper music: Billy Matheny & the Frustrations

Rock show! The Demon Beat w/FOX Japan @ 123 Pleasant Street 9.24

Two of the coolest bands to appear on our radar converge in Magic Town Friday night for a show at 123 Pleasant Street. The Demon Beat are set to join Morgantown's FOX Japan for the first of two cool shows at 123 this weekend (more on that later).

The WVRockscene monkeys are on strike, so why not revisit some recent articles in the Huntington Herald-Dispatch on these bands? Also, you can hear FOX Japan frontman Charlie Wilmoth's recent Red Light New Music piece from Monday (click top left of the site to stream).

6.11 FOX Japan H-D article (reposted here)

The Demon Beat in the H-D 4.22

--- photos: Brian Scott (Demon Beat) and Nikki Rotunda (FOX Japan)


Bad Employees werk well together

The Huntington-based electronic rock duo Bad Employees (Andy Rivas and John McComas) have made a name for themselves since starting out in 2005

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

Talking to Huntington’s Bad Employees over a video chat, it was easy to pick up on the duo’s chemistry, and, the chip on their shoulder they feel as a local electronic rock duo.

Together since 2005, Andy Rivas and John McComas, friends since their days as classmates at Huntington St. Joe, have been working hard making a name for themselves at Huntington bars like Shamrock’s Irish Pub and The V Club.

Bad Employees play Shamrock’s Saturday, September 25 with Morgantown indie rockers FOX Japan.

Rivas, the techno-influenced studio technician, and McComas, the guitarist and singer, have formed, as Rivas called it, “a Kraftwerk-rock and roll mesh,” and have been winning fans the hard way.

With their format; a synth dude, a rocker guy, and a video projector, it wasn’t easy winning fans over originally, McComas said.

“People, especially in less urban areas, don’t want to like you off the bat because they don’t see a drum set,” he said. “It’s been like that since electronic music started. Depeche Mode were booed a lot in England, early on. Human League had their equipment spit on.”

“Yeah they’d throw fruit or vegetables at their stuff so they had to put glass over it,” Rivas added.

“We never had anything like that happen,” McComas said. “But people sometimes would walk out, or shake their heads.”

Rivas said verbal abuse wasn’t rare in those early days. “Some people would just straight up talk s--- to us while we were setting up!”

A more recent, contemporary comparison to Bad Employees might be the recent collaboration between techno stars The Chemical Brothers and psychedelic rockers The Flaming Lips.

Rivas described his feelings seeing those two acts together.

“It was cool because I was like ‘Yeah, we’re on the right track,’ but it sucks because people don’t pay much attention to the little guy.”

“The little guy,” in this case being Bad Employees, can trace their formation to a trip the pair took to see Chemical Brothers in St. Louis in 1999.

“We were both blown away,” Rivas said of the experience. “I was mystified and curious as to what these guys were doing. I’d never seen anything like it. Then when I came back, I had saved up some money and bought an Akai MPC sampler/sequencer/drum machine.”

Between 1999 and 2005, Rivas honed his skills, and McComas played drums. While they hung out and jammed together, it just wasn’t the right time to form a band.

Since 2005, they’ve established themselves in Huntington. Branching out for shows in other parts of the state, though, hasn’t been easy.

“We get put to the side quite a bit, compared to some of the more straight ahead rock acts,” Rivas said, speaking carefully and deliberately. “And I’m still amazed how difficult it is for us to get shows booked in Charleston, Morgantown, or Shepherdstown. We’ve played with a lot of these bands, they know who we are.”

“The club owners will say, ‘We don’t want you because you don’t sound like the other bands.’ Or the promoter will say we’re too different,” McComas said.

“We’ve basically stopped trying,” Rivas said with obvious frustration. “It was easier for me to book a show in New York City than it has been to book one outside of Huntington here in West Virginia.”

Rivas said a goal of Bad Employees is to simply pack up and take their act to New York City.

But in the meantime, Rivas and McComas have been working on songs for a follow-up to their debut CD, “Looking For Werk,” drawing inspiration from their recent DJ sets.

“We realized we loved it when people would start dancing,” McComas said. “We’d get out in front of our equipment and start dancing with them. Now we’re getting even more into dance oriented music. Still putting our own spin on it, and actually more pop than we were before.”

“And, we’re not really DJs,” Rivas said. “Most people in electronic music start out as DJs and then move into producing. For us, it’s the opposite. It’s way more exciting when it’s something you made, as opposed to playing someone else’s record. It’s like, ‘Yeah, we made this.’”

So not only have they made good music together, they’ve made a name for themselves since those initial shows, overcoming the hecklers, McComas said.

“We were so nervous, and we overcame, nothing broke down. We didn’t mess up, and we celebrated. It was a great feeling because we realized we could pull this off.”

Reiterating their dedication and seriousness about their music (“a fun way of being serious,” McComas said) and their unique combination of techno and rock, McComas said it’s special.

“I feel like any musical idea or creative spark can be realized,” he said. “I can wake up with a melody in my head, and within a week we can make it happen with our combination of instruments.”

“And usually,” Rivas jumped in, “take it a lot further than what we’d initially imagined.”

If you go:
Bad Employees, FOX Japan
Where: Shamrock’s Irish Pub, 2050 3rd Avenue, Huntington (304) 523-5825
When: Saturday, September 25, 9 p.m.
Cost: $5
Online: www.bademployeesmusic.com, www.myspace.com/foxjapanband

--- photos: Taylor Kuykendall


The Red Velvet: The Better Side of Nowhere

Jordan Andrew Jefferson and Russ Fox led The Red Velvet into the studio this week

One of our favorite bands that we haven't heard from in a long time recently announced that they were going to be recording new songs.

Huntington power-pop four-piece The Red Velvet, after a seemingly year-plus long hiatus, have indeed started the recording process, and we have confirmation.

Guitarist Russ Fox told us over email that he was taking his Broadmoor gear on the road to set up a mobile recording lab in their rehearsal space. This is something we'll definitely look forward to hearing.

Since you've read this much, why not check out our review of Lights Won't Go Out, released what seems like a decade ago, back in May 2008. And hopefully we can get an update from Russ, we just wanted to spill the beans.

Here's our chat with Russ Fox...

WVRS: You guys mentioned on MySpace a few months back you were going to be recording; how much time has gone into the new songs and how long do you expect to be recording?
Russ Fox: We've continued writing and recording demos since our last album "Lights Won't Go Out" that came out in 2008. We had around 12 tracks floating around for a new recording in various forms. Some were full songs, some were basic skeletons that needed pieced together. After much discussion, we collectively decided that we would narrow down the best 5 songs and record an EP.

Our last 15-song album took one year and three months to record, so we thought going the shorter route would be the best choice with so much time passing between the last album. Plus, we feel these songs best fit where we are as a band. We hope to have everything wrapped up within a few months!

WVRS: What the heck has been going on with the band's kind of hiatus? Same lineup, right?
RF: I know it seems like we've dropped off the radar by not playing too many shows or posting much info about our current status, but so much has been going on the past few years outside the band. Jon, Mark, and I all took on different jobs that make scheduling a bit tougher and Jordan has spent a lot of time working on his solo recordings. There were even a few months were we didn't do much at all, but it was good to step back and give it a rest. But like I said before, we've managed to just keep writing all new material since our last album and patiently wait for things to lock up.

We also have a new rehearsal space now that has given us a fresh outlook and environment for tracking the EP. We also have some new gear that we've picked up since the last recording that we're excited about using on the EP.

And yes, it's the exact same lineup that will always make up Red Velvet.

WVRS: When can fans of RV expect the new CD?
RF: We hope to have the recording out by late December or early January 2011.

WVRS: Between the debut EP, the reworked versions of a few of those songs on "Lights," incorporating some vocals or sounds that evoke your Sinks of Gandy, to the LFO-type noise on Tiptoe, how might you characterize any directions the band is going in? Electronic? Piano-based? Uptempo? Pls scoop...
RF: I don't think the new EP will be far removed from what we did before, just a bit more unified and somewhat more spacey than before. Jordan, Jon, and I still share vocal duties throughout. Even though there's been somewhat of a hiatus, we still have grown as a band from the last album. We all really share much different tastes in music and things we like, but at times we'll have influences that cross paths and creep into the development of a song.

We've always said that all these different directions have made us who we are as Red Velvet. We also have a unique way of piecing songs together in the sense that we always write together and finish the songs as a group. Normally someone has a hook or whatever and it just seems to blossom from there.

WVRS: You talk about moving Broadmoor to the practice place; where do you guys rehearse, and how do you think this different setting will/might affect the outcome?
RF: Moving the Broadmoor Recording gear to our practice space is just a temporary move. Jordan has a new house that was perfect for rehearsing and one day we thought why not just do the EP here. We all thought it would be great to do a recording in the same space we practice. And yes, we're hoping the different setting will give us that fresh vision we're looking for.

WVRS: How excited are you to be making music with these guys and getting a new RV CD out?
RF: When I met the other Red Velvet guys, I had just finished my solo album in 2006 as Sinks of Gandy and was looking for other members to play with. I stumbled upon a few demos they had posted on MySpace under the name Red Velvet and liked what I heard. I knew Jon, Jordan, & Mark through a previous band I had recorded, so I got in touch with them to see if they wanted to just get together and just chat. After catching up, I soon realized that they were hoping to add another guitar player to the mix. We played one rehearsal and realized it was what we were both looking for, so here we are four years later.

mp3: “Tonight” by The Red Velvet

Powered by Podbean.com

--- photo: Taylor Kuykendall


Byzantine: Back From Oblivion

Chris Ojeda, pictured during a performance at the Blue Parrot in Charleston, and his band Byzantine will perform today, Sept. 18, on the Loud and Local Stage at X-Fest, at Harris Riverfront Park.

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

Chris Ojeda is at a different stage in his life now. Talking over the phone, the singer and guitarist for Byzantine explained where he is now, compared to a few years ago.

Byzantine, the Charleston-based metal band, achieved wide critical acclaim for its progressive, melodic version of thrash, signed to a record label, toured all over the United States and Europe with big name metal bands, then, promptly dissolved after releasing its third record, “Oblivion Beckons” in January 2008.

In the years since, Ojeda became a proud parent of a little girl and started his own home improvement business.

Now, Byzantine itself is in a different stage, with a new lineup and a refocused energy as an unsigned, local band. The group finds itself headlining the “Loud and Local” second stage at X-Fest today, Sept. 18, at Harris Riverfront Park in Huntington.

After Byzantine’s reunion tour of West Virginia in March, the band members promptly found themselves at a crossroads.

“It was either break up or keep going,” Ojeda said.

They kept going.

With lead guitarist Tony Rohrbough living in Charlotte, N.C., bassist Skip Cromer in Pennsylvania, and the band having learned the hard way the economics of touring and the red tape that comes with being on a record label, Byzantine and Rohrbough decided to go their separate ways.

“It was very businesslike, and kind of cold,” Ojeda said of the e-mail exchange between Rohrbough and the band. “We rarely talked because he lives in Charlotte. We had his blessing, though, so we’re going to continue with it. We’ve already caught hell about it on MySpace; some kids were tearing us apart about it. But what they don’t realize is, we’re not signed, we’re just a local band now. If we want to keep changing parts out to have a band, we’re going to.”

Enter Split Nixon guitarist Brian Henderson.

Ojeda explained how Byzantine drummer Matt Wolfe helped bring the lead guitarist for the Ashland, Ky.-based band into the fold.

“Matt told me a couple of months ago when we knew we were looking for a new lead guitar player, he said, ‘Man, every time I get around Henderson, he’s playing [Byzantine songs] ‘Justicia,’ ‘Jeremiad,’ he’s playing ‘Hatfield,’ He knows all these songs by ear. And that was a really big step because we knew it was going to be tough for someone to learn Tony Rohrbough’s parts. But with Brian knowing a lot of the rhythms and being such a wonderful guy, he was a great choice.

“Right off the bat he knew three songs from start to finish, without even practicing. It was like ‘One, two, three, four,’ right straight into it.”

Ojeda said that despite the differences in sounds and styles between Split Nixon and Byzantine, Henderson really is a perfect fit.

“We’ve always known he was a phenomenal guitar player,” he said. “A lot of people listen to Brian in Split Nixon and think ‘OK, he kills it, but can he play the fast heavy metal stuff in Byzantine?’ The answer is yes. He’s actually a tried and true metal head.”

But Ojeda had his own weight still to pull in Byzantine, enduring a “24-month heavy metal writer’s block.”

“After “Oblivion Beckons,” we kind of hung it up, and I focused on the family and the business. It just felt like I was writing crap. And I thought, ‘God, what’s wrong with me? Do I need to be signed to write heavy metal?’ Now we're writing again, but I don’t know what happened.”

While Ojeda admitted the possibility of a fourth Byzantine album exists, signing to another record label? Maybe, maybe not, he said.

“We’ve not even talked about the label thing together, but economically, it’s the best way to get your record out to people. We definitely want to do a new album on our terms. We want it to sound as good as the last couple of albums but we won’t have the same budget.

“So I don’t know if we'll sign a one-off deal with a label or just sell it out of our cars,” he said laughing.

Regardless of how or when Byzantine puts out new music, or what the critics say, Ojeda said he loves his band and its fans.

“Sometimes I take for granted that I’ve been in this band. I think, you know, everybody’s in a metal band that tours and has great fans, and then I think ‘No, they’re not,’” he said laughing.

“But I’m super thankful and blessed,” he added. “I can go to my day job and have nobody ever recognize me, then I can go to X-Fest and play in front of a couple thousand people.”

Unveiling the new Byzantine at X-Fest is something all the guys are looking forward to, Ojeda said.

“I’m super, super stoked,” he said. “I’m nervous. Actually all of us are nervous. A lot of time people expect the band headlining the second stage to blow everyone else away and sound just as good as bands on the main stage. I don’t know if we can pull that off, but we’re going to try.”

--- photo: Ian McNemar


Black Knots finding new life as a three-piece

Huntington’s Black Knots (L-R: Greg Gatlin, Jerry Lee Queen, Jason Church) return to action this Saturday night at Shamrock’s Irish Pub

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON -- Anyone who’s ever interviewed Black Knots singer and bassist Jerry Lee Queen knows that you’d better be recording it. Don’t even try to dictate his responses; even the most seasoned reporter would have difficulty keeping up.

Queen talks about his band in about the same fashion as they play: a mile a minute with, to borrow a phrase, undisputed attitude. Answers to individual questions turn into short stories about the Knots, and long-winded rants and/or diatribes about the state of rock and roll these days.

It’s Queen’s own integrity and love for rock ‘n’ roll that has kept the Huntington-based Knots together since 2001. The group will play at 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, at Shamrock’s Pub, 2050 3rd Ave., Huntington.

Despite a few lineup changes, Queen and guitarist Greg Gatlin have formed the nucleus of the Knots for the past six years, releasing “Hellbent To Kick It Out” in 2007 and “Guitarmageddon” last year.

Now, the band, influenced by the likes of Danko Jones, Zeke, and Turbonegro, has downsized into a three-piece.

But, the Knots are still sitting on their third record, “None More Fresh,” waiting on a good time to release that, and are working on a fourth full-length in their spare time.

Queen described the Knots redefining themselves as a three-piece.

“Greg and I, we made a decision after losing (Captain) D and then Bobby (Balboa). We’re changing the general idea of the Knots into a three-piece. So there’s no more worry or trust issues that reflect badly on me and Greg.

“We’ve always written songs planning on there being two guitars. Then, when you start breaking that down, there’s nothing more asinine than writing and recording something you can’t play live. It hurts to watch. Rock and roll live is what it’s supposed to be all about.

“Now, instead of writing songs assuming there’s going to be a rhythm guitarist, we just write knowing we don’t have to count on one being there. So there’s not a chance on things being hollow.”

The longtime Knots fans are still there, too, Queen said.

“As a three-piece, we’re getting a lot of love lately. People are like, ‘You’re still going?’ But it’s like that because we have such a solid base.”

Jason Church, the Knots’ new drummer, has been a breath of fresh air, Queen said.

“Our new drummer is killin’, he’s someone who really seems to want to put the work in.

“(Captain) D played with us for about six years, so someone new coming into a band with a catalog and on a label, it can be intimidating. But Church kills, he’s awesome.”

Queen said having their own label, Oil River, has always been an asset for the Knots, despite any lineup changes.

“The big thing with us, the thing that has kept us going is, we’re completely self-sufficient. We don’t have to pay to record, why? Because we own our own gear.”

And Queen said rehearsal space isn’t a problem, either.

“We practice at Knuckles Sandwich, downtown. Since I own the restaurant, after all the businesses let out, we just move some chairs, set up and jam. It’s great.”

And as for the Knots’ sound, what once was old is new again.

“The whole metal indie thing cracks me up. For the longest time we caught a lot of crap about having tappin’ and big leads and double harmonizing stuff. So now it’s like ‘Dio’s cool again? It was always cool to us, whatever.’”

The Knots are well into their fourth album, Queen said, having fun rocking out.

“Right now, we’re having a whole lot of fun, the new guy is super stoked. It’s just been fun like it hasn’t been for a long time.

“People have counted us out for so long, they’re like ‘Oh, the Knots will never die,’ but it’s what me and Greg love to do. At the end of the day, if you ain’t smilin’, you ain’t rockin’.

“We never tried to be something we’re not; we write party anthems and play songs about having a good time because that’s what we’re about, you know?”

And it’s his friendship and working relationship with Gatlin that has helped make the Knots what they are, Queen said.

“Greg is my brother. He means the world to me. We play, we work; we take it very, very seriously. Realistically, I’m in my favorite band. I put “Hellbent To Kick It Out” in the other day and was like, ‘God this album rocks.’

“This is my world. This is my band. I’m 29-years old. I’m at peace. Good rock and roll, it never gets old.”

--- photo: Most Exalted

If you go:
WHAT: Black Knots, The Demon Beat, Pat Pat
WHEN: 9 p.m., Saturday, September 11
WHERE: Shamrock’s Irish Pub, 2050 3rd Avenue, Huntington 304-523-5825
ONLINE: www.myspace.com/blackknots, www.myspace.com/thedemonbeat, www.myspace.com/patpatwv


Magic Town helps MAYSP this 9/11 @ 123 Pleasant Street

Some of the coolest lineups we’ve seen for area shows are benefit shows. Maybe no group of musicians has put on more cool benefit shows than the community of friends and/or rockers in Morgantown.

This Saturday night, there’s another one lined up at 123 Pleasant Street.
Juna, Dave Bello, Michael J. Iafrate, D.C.’s The Common Cold and a new Magic Town act, Bonfire, come together to help raise money for the Morgantown Area Youth Services Project. MAYSP basically helps at-risk kids deal with whatever problems they might have (drugs, delinquency, etc.) and hopefully stay out of and away from the more hardcore criminal/juvenile justice system -- always a good thing.

And these kids better straighten up -- the Director’s name is Danny Trejo! Haha.

Seriously, we caught up with Iafrate and Bello to get their thoughts on the benefit show scene up there, and talked to MAYSP juvenile counselor Zach Francis to see what motivated him to arrange the show, and learn more about what MAYSP does (see mp3 interview below).

WVRS: What were each of your reactions when approached about playing this MAYSP show?
Michael J. Iafrate: I know people who work there and people who are involved in setting this thing up, and they are good people so I said yes.
David F. Bello: I was totally into it. Most of the time when someone asks me to do a benefit show, I agree, just because I like playing shows more than not playing shows, but it’s typically a great cause. This is definitely a great cause, and I was really glad to be given the chance to help out.

WVRS: Iafrate -- Have you decided on a set list? Are you playing all covers?
MJI: I usually will throw one cover song into a set but I don’t think I have ever played a set of all covers, so I will probably play all covers just for fun.

WVRS: Dave -- What’s your set gonna consist of? Any special lineup or songs or anything?
DFB: I’m playing solo with electric guitar, which is what I’ve done the last couple times I’ve played. I used to do that exclusively, but then I got into doing solo shows with just my vocals and a delay/looping pedal. Now I’m back playing all the songs I couldn’t do in that format... really old ones, really new ones.

WVRS: Iafrate -- You described your music as “Theo-folk,” saying your religion makes its way into your songs. Do you think this kind of background, maybe a social justice perspective, makes you more likely to lend your music to a cause like this?
MJI: For sure. I’m a critical participant in a particular religious tradition, and one of the themes I keep coming back to is the hypocrisy that is almost inherent in this tradition, a disconnect between what people say they believe and what they actually stand for in politics and in real life. Social justice is a concern of mine in my songs and in what I try to do as a musician, but not really only because of the religious themes that happen in M Iafrate (& The Priesthood) songs. All of the bands I have ever been in have played a lot of benefit shows because I started playing music in more of a punk rock context and the social concern thing is a strong part of that. Certainly I think bands that sing about social justice should try to embody that in how they operate as a band somehow rather than just preach about it.

WVRS: Bello -- What is up with any projects you’re involved with, musical or otherwise creative?
DFB: Well I’ve been working on my next solo album for far too long, but it will be ready soon. Also, me and my band are starting to work on a full-length together that should blow any of my solo recordings out of the water.

WVRS: Iafrate -- What is the status of this new record, “Christian Burial,” or the outtakes CD “Idolatry,” how far along are you on either of those?
MJI: M Iafrate & The Priesthood started recording a new full length that is tentatively called Christian Burial. Dave Klug, who plays drums in the band, is recording it at his studio in Pittsburgh. I have about 15 songs I’m bringing to the sessions and we'll probably trim that down to ten or something. We’ve only had one session so we aren’t very far along in the actual recording, but in terms of production this record will be a bit harder than the last one but also a little more twangy, with lap steel guitars and fiddles and things.

WVRS: For people who might not recognize Common Cold and/or Bonfire, are they local acts? Is one of these a debut-ey band?
DFB: I don’t know about Common Cold, but Bonfire are a bunch of my friends who have been in really cool bands around here before, and I’m really excited to see what they come up with! As far as I know, this is their first show.
MJI: The Common Cold is from Maryland/DC area from what I understand. Don’t know anything about them other that. Bonfire is a long-awaited new local band featuring members of Depresbyterians.

WVRS: There have been no shortage of cool, progressive kind of benefit shows at 123 in recent years; what is it about the community of musicians and friends who come together to help good causes?
DFB: I think everyone is pretty motivated to play shows regardless of money involved, so the opportunity to play a show where the money that’s made goes to something more important than a couple cases of beer or whatever is pretty tempting.
MJI: I think because it is just that: a community. Not to idealize the Morgantown scene, but it really is a community and out of that comes a concern for what’s going on in the community and what we can do about it together.

“A Few Good Minutes” mp3 interview with Zach Francis

Powered by Podbean.com

To contact Zach at MAYSP:

bumper music by: The Emergency


High Five? Hell Yeah! New EP release tonite @ the Blue Parrot

Originally founded as The Revisionists, Morgantown punk/garage rock four-piece High Fives and Hell Yeahs come to Charleston tonight to release their debut EP at the Parrot. This is a release we anticipated hearing, but alas, it did not come to pass. Should still happen, though.

You don't have to miss out; you can pick up a copy and see what you think. If you're unsure, you can hear some tunes on their MySpace site.

If you still want to learn more about the band, why not check out our thing on the band from last July with Nate Shahan and Brian Persinger? It's not a suggestion, it's an order.

It's fun and informative though, so we linked it up.

And if we end up getting the EP we'll end up putting more words together on it, we expected to get it and put something a little bigger together on the band, so look forward to that. If you get it and wanna talk about it, why not visit us here and/or comment us up?

Also appearing with H5HY tonight is the Fabulous Bros. Steele, the AK Forty Sexuals, and Grinder Pump (not Nanker Phelge). 10 p.m., bring money.


Local "gutter-folk" quartet The Buttonflies founded on a fib

The Buttonflies got their start when Andrea Anderson lied to Dave Frazier (top) about her banjo skills during an open mic in Huntington. That was two years ago, and the band, now a four-piece, is going strong.

Reposted from The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Buttonflies, a local folk group and thrice-monthly staple of The Empty Glass, got their start by way of a little deception.

It’s not rare for someone to lie about themselves to impress someone, and that’s exactly what Andrea Anderson did upon meeting Dave Frazier at The Java Joint's open mic night in Huntington a few years ago.

“I tried to impress him by saying I had a banjo - but I couldn’t play it at all,” Anderson said. “I started learning how to play banjo behind his back because I felt left out when he would play music.”

“She lied to me, and told me she could play the banjo,” Frazier said. “We became really good friends, and the next thing I know, she’s amazing at the banjo.”

Now, The Buttonflies, together for just over two years, are a four-piece with their own version of irreverent “gutter folk.” They’ve become a staple of Charleston and Huntington’s music scenes, including hosting The Empty Glass acoustic open mic nights the first three Mondays of each month.

This week, they have another gig at the Glass, where Anderson helps run sound part-time, today and play at Shamrock’s Irish Pub in Huntington Friday.

“The Glass is like our home,” Anderson said. “We have a lot of support there, and we feel very comfortable on that stage.”

It was at the Glass where Anderson and Frazier, as a duo, cut their musical teeth after The Buttonflies went through some initial lineup changes.

“We played as a duo for a while, and started hosting open mic at The Empty Glass, which in some ways solidified our vibe as songwriters,” Anderson said. “I got over my stage fright, and we learned how to behave like professionals, mostly.”

The Buttonflies also include Max Venoy on trumpet and Mike Knight on bass. They were originally a six-piece band. Downsizing to four forced Anderson and Knight to split drum parts. Now she plays kick snare and he kicks on suitcases in lieu of a bass drum.

“Mike and I fell pretty naturally into the alternating foot drum thing,” Anderson said, “but it’s not always easy to wrap our heads around it. If you stop to think about the fact that you’re playing two instruments at the same time and singing, you might miss a beat.”

After settling on their lineup, The Buttonflies continued playing, either at area bars or some of their favorite coffeehouses.

“We try not to swear as much at coffeehouses,” Anderson admitted. “We actually stopped writing swear words into songs because of a coffeehouse gig.”

Frazier says sometimes stuff happens, though.

“Sometimes, I can have a really foul mouth. If I’ve been drinking, there’s no doubt that I am going to drop an f-bomb or tell a dirty joke or heckle the crowd,” he said. “I don’t really do that in coffee shops, just out of respect, but in a bar, I know everyone there is old enough to handle it, so I let it all fly out.”

“The bar crowds seem to like being sworn at,” Anderson added.

Frazier says he's glad Anderson lied to him about her banjo skills a few years back because, if not for her initial ruse, The Buttonflies wouldn’t exist.

“It’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done,” he said. “I don’t care what anyone thinks because this band is for us. We all need this in our lives.

“If people like it, that’s spectacular. If not, I’m sorry but we’re still going to be doing it until we aren’t happy doing it anymore.”

The Buttonflies
With Smokestack and the Foothill Fury
WHERE: The Empty Glass, 410 Elizabeth St.
WHEN: 9 p.m. Thursday
COST: $5
INFO: www.myspace.com/thebuttonflies or 304-345-3914

--- photo: Chris Lusher