Documentary filmmaker to screen “From the Back of the Room” at Blank Gallery
Courtesy photo

Washington, D.C.-based documentary filmmaker Amy “KC” Oden (above) comes to Huntington tonight for a screening of From the Back of the Room, her recently released film about the contributions women have made to the punk/DIY scenes over the years...

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

There is no vast, benevolent collective consciousness that oversees punk rock like some sort of deity. People bring their own attitudes and yes, ignorance into outlets (songs and shows) that for so long embraced, at its best, progressive causes and solidarity, at its worst, violence, racism, and sexism.

For Washington D.C.-based documentary filmmaker Amy “KC” Oden, it was an ugly incident at a local show that drove her to make “From the Back of the Room,” which chronicles the contributions women have made to the punk, hardcore and do-it-yourself movements over the past few decades.

Oden comes to Blank Gallery in Huntington Saturday night for a screening of the documentary.

“The first thing that really attracted me to punk, like so many people, was the energy,” Oden said over the phone on the way to Detroit for the Allied Media Conference and a workshop on D.I.Y. film production.

After starting going to punk shows in the D.C. area as barely a teenager in the mid-90’s, and getting turned on to D.C. punk bands like Bad Brains, Amy was indeed a punk rocker.

It was only after her feminist perspective crystallized as an adult, and one particular incident at a local show Oden was clued into, that combined to serve as the impetus to make the documentary.

“This guy was approached by a friend of his who told him she was treated really inappropriately at a show and was being pushed around and she wasn’t sure she wanted to participate in this community anymore, and it was really heartbreaking for her,” Oden said.

“He was the kind of person who’d thought always about these ideas, and he’s been involved in collective organizing for feminist events in the D.C. area. So I think something clicked in his brain and he was like ‘Alright we have to do something about this.’

“He actually got in touch with me, and we just started talking and it went from there.”

Four years later, after traveling the U.S. and Canada to interview notable female punks like Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill/Le Tigre) among others, “From the Back of the Room” was released in August of last year to critical praise and a warm embrace from those in the punk/hardcore/D.I.Y. community.

“Kathleen Hanna was definitely awesome,” Oden said. “Another favorite was Anna Joy from Blatz, just because I listened to them a lot growing up. She’s an English teacher at a university in California and she’s just really articulate and in touch.”

Oden said one thing that surprised her was the diversity of opinion inside of the community of rockers she interviewed.

“You know, it’s funny, you don’t think about how nuanced things are until you look at something up close, like anything, even a group you consider yourself a part of.”

Bringing the stories of how important punk and hardcore have been to these women over the years, in person and at the screenings for the documentary, is what it’s all about for Oden.

“At first I was intimidated, because you’re just meeting people all the time. But I’m into it, it’s been really fun doing the screenings. It’s almost like an immediate reward for the work that I put in. it just feels really good that people care enough about it to show up.”

“From the Back of the Room” screening

WHERE: Blank Gallery, 1102 3rd Ave., Huntington
WHEN: Saturday, July 7
TIME: 7 P.M.
COST: $5 donation strongly encouraged

Lucero brings “Women & Work” to V Club Untitled
Courtesy photo
Lucero (L-R: Rick Steff, Brian Venable, Ben Nichols, Todd Beene, Roy Berry, John C. Stubblefield) performs at The V Club Tuesday night as part of its Summer “Women & Work” tour.

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

Given the very rich rock and roll history Memphis, Tennessee has, it wouldn’t surprise anyone that the critically acclaimed alt-country band Lucero was influenced by it, in ways both subtle, and overt.

What may surprise some is the music they bonded over before forming 14 years ago.

“For us as a band, we all grew up punks, and we all met at punk rock shows,” guitarist Brian Venable said over the phone from Carrboro, North Carolina, where Lucero kicked off its Summer “Women & Work” tour.

“When you’re young, you might not realize where you’re from,” he added. “Everyone wants to go somewhere else, to get out. We were trying to do something different.”

Lucero performs at The V Club Tuesday night with Houston-based country rocker Robert Ellis, who was just nominated for Emerging Artist of the Year by the Americana Music Association.

“Women & Work,” Lucero’s eighth studio release, finds the band embracing its Memphis roots; a bigger, more soulful sound, with horns, steel guitar, and piano/organ. Lucero also recently played with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra’s Opus One musician series, and in May, recorded some songs for the PBS-syndicated Sun Studio Sessions.

“Just being from Memphis, playing with the musicians and knowing the people and the history and recordings, you realize you’re a Memphis musician, and there’s a lot to be said about that,” Venable said.

Released on ATO Records, (home to Drive-By Truckers and My Morning Jacket) a lot of positive things have been said about “Women & Work” since its March release. The record, a raucous soundtrack to a bar-based weekend, with some gospel nods (hear the female chorus on “Go Easy”) thrown in, has received praise from Rolling Stone and The New York Times (among others) and that’s cool, Venable said, if a little unreal.

“It’s one of those things where it kind of doesn’t seem real. But it doesn’t affect our day-to-day touring. It’s also something that your grandparents and people like that, you can go, ‘Look, the New York Times likes us.’ They all know what The New York Times is. It’s like getting your records into a Best Buy or a Wal-Mart. Your relatives are like ‘Oh, you’re a big deal,’” Venable said with a laugh. “Sure.”

But Lucero is a big deal to their fans. That the hard livin’, hard lovin’ songs singer-guitarist Ben Nichols and crew come up with means so much to the fans, means that much more to the band.

“That’s the awesome thing,” Venable said of the love Lucero is constantly shown by its fans. “Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. We’re so busy making music and living day to day, and you get people who come up and are like ‘Your music got me through a divorce,’ or ‘We’re getting married to your music.’

“Music means a lot to a lot of people, but sometimes as a musician you miss out on the importance of it to people. I mean, I have favorite bands, but it never occurred to me that my band would be someone’s favorite band until they came up and told me.”

The long, winding musical path Lucero finds itself on? Venable said the journey is the destination.

“We’ve been really lucky being a band for 14 years, to be able to stretch our legs, so to speak, creatively, where a lot of bands if they break up after six or eight years, they might not get to try it like we have.

“It’s just one of those things,” he added. “None of us have real job-qualified educations. The joke is we’re too dumb and too uneducated to do anything else. We’re lucky enough to play music for a living, so we’re going to run with it as long as we can.”

w/Robert Ellis

WHERE: The V Club, 741 6th Ave.
WHEN: 9:30 p.m. Tuesday
COST: $18
INFO: or (304) 781-0680

“CVI” follows Royal Thunder to V Club Untitled
Photo: Christy Parry

Atlanta-based Relapse Records artists Royal Thunder (L-R: Josh Coleman, Josh Weaver, Mlny Parsonz, Lee Smith) brings its debut record CVI to the V Club Tuesday night with Valient Thorr, Holy Grail and The Kickass

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

Numerology is of course a very real thing. Whether or not the number 23 is actually appearing everywhere in some sort of cosmic conspiracy, it’s a neat thing to think about.

It can also make you insane, apparently.

For the Atlanta-based rock band Royal Thunder, 106, or, as they’ve titled their new, critically acclaimed Relapse Records debut, “CVI,” is that number.

“The 106?” singer and bassist Mlny Parsonz (that’s how she spells it for the band) asks back over the phone, almost like you don’t know about a horror story she doesn’t want to talk about.

“No, it’s actually a pretty significant story,” she continued. “Originally Royal Thunder was an instrumental band, and the drummer was born on January sixth, 106. They found $106 in the street one day, and it led to some woman crying, and it turns out it was her money, and they got into a lot of trouble with the cops thinking they stole the money.

“And the original drummer went to stay at a friend’s house, and when they woke up in the morning, the drummer was talking to the guy’s grandmother and apparently she was dead, and he didn’t realize it, but she was 106 years old.

“So whatever it means, this number has followed us on a daily basis.”

Royal Thunder, with “CVI,” released May 22, following the band quite literally around the country, comes to Huntington tonight for a show at the V Club with Valient Thorr, Holy Grail, and The Kickass.

Parsonz said praise from outlets like NPR and Revolver Magazine for Royal Thunder’s version of Southern-infused hard rock and metal in general, and for her vocal range and power in particular, is always cool, given the band’s modest aspirations getting started.

“Our hopes and dreams for this band were to just be a successful Atlanta band,” Parsonz said just a few days removed from Royal Thunder’s CD release show and a three-day jaunt of shows with Baroness. “Of course, everybody wants something more than that, a lot of musicians do. You just hope you can pay your bills with it one day.”

But fielding questions about songs like “Parsonz Curse,” spelling out some sort of generational affliction on her dad’s side of the family for strangers in the press? That’s taking some getting used to.

“It was a little uncomfortable for me to even be as personal as I was,” Parsonz said of her lyrics. “We were just another band, I thought we could be off-the-grid, and people wouldn’t focus on it. But all of this is happening, and people are focusing on it, and I want to be open but still keep my boundaries and not just give all the details all of this personal stuff.”

Parsonz, on the subject of personal stuff, said that, yeah, being married to founding member and lead guitarist Josh Weaver makes for smoother chemistry in Royal Thunder.

“I, um,” Parsonz said, pausing to calculate the time they’ve been together. “I’ve been with Josh for almost half my life, and we’ve been married for eleven years and just always have had such a connection with music. You would never know we’re married; we’re like best friends. We don’t really bring our marriage into the music, but inevitably when you’re playing music with your partner it’s going to translate in some way whether it’s energy or subconscious chemistry.

“I do think it makes for a chemistry and energy you can’t really explain.”

And all that flattering praise for the new record? There may be one person not following it too closely. “To be honest, I don’t read a lot of the press because it can make me feel too much pressure, and it makes me feel bad,” Parsonz said with an almost apologetic laugh. “But I hear a lot of good things, and I’m grateful for that.”

Parsonz said that as much as the number 106 has followed Royal Thunder, the band doesn’t believe they’re cursed, or, alternately, given their rapid ascendance in popularity, blessed.

“No, we definitely worked our asses off,” Parsonz said about any cosmic benevolence the number may carry for the band. “I think it’s just interesting. It was like, 106 was such a huge part of our lives, and now it’s being sent out even further into the universe. It’s really cool.”

Valient Thorr, Royal Thunder, The Kickass, Holy Grail

WHERE: The V Club, 741 Sixth Ave.
WHEN: Tuesday, June 12, 9 p.m.
COST: Advance $10, at door $12
INFO: or (304) 781-0680

Valient Thorr: rockin’ from Venus to V-Club
Hard rockers from our sister planet to hit Huntington on Tuesday night
photo: Gary Copeland

Valient Thorr, which claims to have come from Venus to save its people and the Earth with the power of rock ‘n’ roll, consists of (from left) guitarist Sadat Thorr, singer Valient Himself, bassist Dr. Professor Nitewolf Strangees, drummer Lucian Thorr and guitarist Eidan Thorr.

Reposted from The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- June 5 was Venus transit day, a twice-in-a-lifetime chance to see our neighboring planet traverse the face of the sun. While coincidental, it’s wholly appropriate for an article on the Chapel Hill-based stoner rock band Valient Thorr, which appears at Huntington’s V Club on Tuesday.

See, as the band tells it, they traveled through time on a mission to Earth to save Venusians and Earth itself with the power of rock ‘n’ roll.

“A lot of people over the years have been skeptical that we came from another planet,” singer Valient Himself admitted over the phone as the band made the much shorter trip to Memphis to start a six-week U.S. tour.

“Our one true purpose was to find a place for the Venusians to live,” he said. “So it was like ‘Did we fail?’ because we never saw whether all the Venusians came with us in whatever time stream we were in. Or did we succeed because we can live where we can have [an environment similar to] what we had in the beginning? We’ve basically come full circle.”

Since self-releasing their debut, “Stranded on Earth,” in 2003, these time-traveling Viking rockers have released three more albums, toured with bands like Mastodon or Motorhead and have fans, called “Thorriors,” around the world. They’ve also found a home and a new mission.

“We were from Venus, but right now we live on Earth. We cavort with earthlings,” Valient Himself said. “We’ve accepted it as our home now. “At a certain point, we said, ‘People are destroying the Earth. What is our best weapon to stop this?’ We decided it was our music, and that’s what we’ve been putting all our efforts into.”

Valient Himself said the band needed some time off after a European tour, but now is ready to get back on the road. “We had a month off. Sometimes you have to take some time off. Your message gets stagnant and stale, and we want to stay relevant.

“Our message is often a political one, and often it involves what’s going on in the world. We have to pay attention to what’s going on. Sometimes, when you’re on the road for so long, you can become immune to what’s going on; you can’t pay attention to it. The inertia can make you dizzy.”

Speaking excitedly, with a bit of an esoteric and philosophical bent, Valient Himself said reclaiming rock music is Valient Thorr’s main mission these days.

“I’ve always said that when rock lost the roll, it lost its soul,” he said. “I’ve put it like that as far the hair-metal thing being a killer in the ‘80s. I view it as rock going away in the U.S., but not all over the world. If you think about it, in the ‘90s in the U.S., rock was big. If you look at movies like ‘Airheads’ and ‘Wayne’s World,’ there are scenes where huge crowds are listening to hard rock music.

“So there have been times where, even in the popular culture and on mainstream radio, there was rock music, and it has charted since the ‘80s. It just goes through cycles. It never went away; it’s just the U.S. is very fickle when it comes to what’s popular at the time.”

As out-of-this world of a back-story as Valient Thorr has, the more important story is the one its members live every day as a rock band.

“It’s not about where you’re from; it’s where you’re going,” he said, contrasting the interstellar versus interpersonal story of the band. “Where are our lives are heading? We’re in a van heading to Memphis. Whose lives are we going to touch tonight? Who’s going to impact us? It’s a fantastic story that’s writing itself.”

And even rockers from Venus hear about West Virginia’s own legendary rockers.

“We’re really excited to come up that way,’ Valient Himself said.

“We have lots of friends up that way, and I’m a particular fan of Hasil Adkins, so we’ll try to channel some hunchin’ [Adkins’ dance] and see what happens.”

Valient Thorr With Royal Thunder, The Kickass and Holy Grail

WHERE: The V Club, 741 Sixth Ave., Huntington
WHEN: 9 p.m. Tuesday COST: Advance $10, at door $12
INFO: or 304-781-0680

Making “Tracks” -- Sly Roosevelt to release “Animal Tracks” at V Club
photo: Alene Baldwin

One step at a time, Sly Roosevelt (L-R: Matthew Marshall, Megan and Alexander Durand, Sean McDaniel, Jyoshua Sanders) have built their own studio, recorded their own record, and put it out themselves. The Huntington-based indie band releases their debut full-length "Animal Tracks" at the V Club Friday night.

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

It’s an exciting time to be in Sly Roosevelt. The Huntington-based indie band has spent eight months working like dogs, putting time and money into their studio and publishing outfit. Friday night, the band will release their debut full-length, “Animal Tracks,” at the V Club.

Since forming in 2008 with the nucleus of singer-guitarist Sean McDaniel, bassist Alexander Durand and drummer Matthew Marshall, and after welcoming lead guitarist Jyoshua Sanders and Megan Durand on keyboards a year or so later, Sly Roosevelt has been making a name for themselves with their highly charged version of indie rock.

Speaking over the phone from their studio in the Prichard Building on Sixth Avenue, McDaniel said that Sly Roosevelt is ready to get “Animal Tracks” out.

“I’m relieved to have it done, it seems like it’s been years in the making,” the 28-year old Proctorville, Ohio native said. “I’m extremely proud of how it went down and the decisions we made to do it ourselves.”

That do-it-yourself ethos pervaded every step in the process. With Alexander Durand and Marshall handling production, and Durand’s Bully Good Publishing handling duplication and packaging, Sly Roosevelt literally controls the method of production, no small luxury for a band.

“Matthew and I were interested in creating a studio environment, and fantasized about all this great equipment,” Alexander Durand said. “That went on the backburner for a few years. Then, when we had the opportunity to get the gear, it was just thrilling to have our own studio.”

McDaniel said everyone going in on the studio has paid off. “About a year ago we made a decision, every band has to make the decision, whether they want to go into a studio or build their own. We took a couple of thousand dollars, everyone pitched in money, and we started to accumulate gear.

“It gave us the freedom to comb through, to have control that we wouldn’t have had if we had to spend two months hovering over an engineer’s shoulder. That would’ve never happened and we would have never got the results we have if we didn’t put in the time and effort to build this thing.”

“We’re able to do it now the way we want to do it,” Megan Durand added.

“The wait has been totally worth it,” Sanders said of the new record, which was mixed by Jon Parsons and mastered by Russ Fox.

“The EP, “Old ‘P’” it does vary drastically from the album because it’s a totally different recording, and we got to see it with new eyes,” Sanders added. “It helped us realize that this is important, we need to be serious about it and it does takes precedence in our lives.”

While not necessarily a concept record, “Animal Tracks” is tied together lyrically and visually, with CD art provided by local artist Jarrod Schneider.

“There’s all these references to animals in the lyrics,” McDaniel said. “And the animal metaphor is crucial to the whole album, how it plays off different symbols, how we’re all animals, and these are our tracks,” he said with a laugh.

To help promote the album, Sly Roosevelt has been putting out a series of “Meet the King” episodes on YouTube, with a drinking, cursing Michael Bradbury dressed as a lion, and recently debuted the official video for “Lion,” off the new record.

Everyone in Sly Roosevelt is looking forward to an out-of-state string of shows in June, taking their music (evoking bands like Modest Mouse and At the Drive-In) to an unfamiliar audience spanning nine states.

“People have to want to listen to our music,” Marshall said. “They have to want to break away from the monotony of normal, popular music. If they have that mindset, I think they’ll love our band.”

“This is a pretty monumental time for us,” McDaniel added. “Getting the album done, establishing Bully Good, having all these things come to a head is a huge milestone. The tour is too, we’ve all been so excited, and terrified at the same time.”


Sly Roosevelt CD Release w/Love Culture and AC30

WHERE: The V Club, 741 6th Ave. (304) 781-0680
WHEN: Friday, June 1, 10 p.m.
COST: $5

The Tom McGees throw own benefit -- for themselves Untitled
photo: Bill Hairston

The Tom McGees are (from left) Christopher Itson (baritone sax), Bill Hairston (trumpet, vocals), David Scarpelli (tenor sax, vocals), Chris Woodall (trumpet), Ross Anderson (drums), Bryan Flowers (bass), Mike Withrow (guitar, vocals) and Adam Dittebrand (vocals). They play The Empty Glass Friday to raise money to record an album.

Reposted from The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It’s rare to see ska bands forming these days, especially around Charleston. It’s even rarer to see ska bands forming named after famous-but-retired local TV news anchors. The Tom McGees, billing themselves as “West Virginia’s only ska/punk party band,” are both.

Comprised of members of The Concept (Charleston punk) and veterans of the Orlando (via Charleston) ska band 69 Fingers, the eight guys in The Tom McGees (Adam Dittebrand: vocals; Mike Withrow: guitar/vocals; Bryan Flowers: bass; David Scarpelli: tenor sax/vocals; Christopher Itson: baritone sax; Chris Woodall: trumpet; Bill Hairston: trumpet/vocals; Ross Anderson: drums) like to have fun, judging from all outward appearances.

Gathered at the McGees’ rehearsal space at Cerberus Studios in Charleston, Withrow, Scarpelli and Itson met up to answer McGee-related and ska-themed questions, and talk about recording their debut record in a few weeks. Across a chalkboard, various obscenities and NSFW drawings are scribbled, along with a long list of Tom McGees songs.

Grabbing some seats in a sea of instruments strewn about, the first, most obvious question was got out of the way: is the real McGee a fan?

“He knows, and thinks it’s flattering and funny,” Withrow said. “We would love to have him come to the show when we release the album, or even on the Fourth.”

The Tom McGees play their own benefit show at The Empty Glass Friday night, seeking to raise funds as they head into Innovation Studios in Steubenville, Ohio May 20 to record “This Just In.” The band will have production help from friends Steve Soboslai and Paul Menotiades from the Pittsburgh-based pop-punk band Punchline.

To help raise money, the McGees set up a fundraising page where fans can contribute/pre-order (until May 17) among other swag, the debut record, shirts, house shows, and, a serenade from Withrow over the phone for fifty dollars, among other hilarities.

“It’s been great,” Itson said of the response to the McGees’ online fundraising efforts. “I hope people keep it up. We worked hard on the site, and have been putting up new videos to keep people’s attention.”

The most recent video clip has the McGees excellently spoofing Sarah McLachlan’s ASPCA commercial, with each member playing the role of sad puppy in slow motion to “In the Arms of an Angel,” but instead of a home, they’re looking for tiered levels of pre-orders to fund their record.

“I like the idea of being a ska band from Charleston and I’m not ashamed of being from Charleston,” Scarpelli said with emphasis. “This is where we’re from. I’ll represent the city and if someone wants to donate ten bucks just to say ‘I helped a band from Charleston go and record and do big things’ just to represent Charleston, that’s great.

“It’s better than going door to door and asking for ten dollars.”

“It’s cool because even people that don’t know us can see how hard we’re working and kind of get to know us,” Withrow said. “They can see that we’re doing what we love and we’re passionate about it.”

For both Itson, new to being in a ska band, and Scarpelli, a veteran of so many years in 69 Fingers, being able to make ska music in a band is special in itself.

“I always wanted to play ska, but played middle school band, concert band, jazz band,” Itson said. “All the punk bands that came out of my school, they didn’t want horns. So, I was stuck playing jazz, not that I don’t like jazz, it’s a lot of fun, but I always wanted to play in a ska band, but never knew anybody that was into it. So when I met these guys, it was like a dream come true.”

“At first, I played ska at first because it was such a big thing back in like ‘97, ‘98, around when we started 69 Fingers,” Scarpelli said, reflecting. “But now, I think the reason I still like doing it is, “ska” is such a bad word to so many people, nationally. They hear the word “ska” and they’re like ‘(sighs dismissively,) It’s so 90’s,’ like grunge, I guess.”

“People don’t even know what ska is half the time,” Itson said, jumping in. “People ask ‘What kind of band are you in?’ And I tell them ‘Hey I’m in a ska band.’ They think it’s punk rock with horns.”

“I like to think that it’s a challenge to get that sound out there, so people can hear us and go ‘That’s a ska band there. I think I’ll give this a chance. I think I’ll listen to it.’” Scarpelli said.

“I hate labeling it, but at the same time I don’t mind, because in 69 Fingers, for years, we were like ‘Don’t call us ska, don’t call us ska,’ but it’s always been ska,” Scarpelli summed up with a laugh.

“We’re starting the fourth wave,” Itson said to hard laughter, referring to ska’s previous three waves over the decades.

“I don’t think it’s ever gone away. It’s always been there,” Scarpelli said, continuing on the image of ska bands as 90’s-generated record label fads, versus the reality of the rich history of the genre and the ska fans who have been there and still are.

“Living in Orlando, playing shows, 69 Fingers would have thousands of kids come out to a ska show. It’d be ska-punk, ska-funk, ska-metal, whatever, and there would be a packed house. So obviously people still like this music and still want to hear it.”

The Tom McGees Benefit Show w/The Concept, Dinosaur Burps, Nation, InFormation, Three Chord Me

WHEN: Friday, May 4 8 p.m.
WHERE: The Empty Glass, 410 Elizabeth St. (304) 345-3914
COST: $7

New “Moon” over Morgantown
photo: Suzanne Reynolds

Together in various incarnations for twenty years as Moon, The Phantom Six (L-R: Woody O'Hara, Clint Sutton, Billy Matheny, Billy Sheeder, Mark Poole) plays its first Huntington show with a new name and new energy.

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

Whether it’s his band, The Phantom Six, or his studio, Zone 8, Mark Poole is all in when it comes to both.

After twenty years, the mutually reinforcing processes of writing and recording songs have, for Poole, culminated in and with The Phantom Six. But The Phantom Six isn’t a new band; Poole has fronted his Morgantown-based rock band for years under the name Moon.

“For me, it’s pretty much the most exciting time it’s ever been,” Poole said over the phone, describing what it’s like fronting the band he started back in 1990.

The Phantom Six’s 13-song debut effort “Plastic Rain,” released last October, has been getting a warm welcome from fans and critical praise as well.

“So far, it’s been great,” the singer, guitarist and producer said when asked about “Plastic Rain” getting airplay on Chicago radio station WXRT and thumbs up in general from online outlets. The Chicago station named “Corianna,” the opening song on “Plastic Rain” its Big Beat song of the week in late February.

“Getting those accolades on the radio is a thrill for me,” Poole continued, describing the response to what would have been Moon’s fourth record.

“The [powerpopaholic] blog, those guys are pretty well respected. There’s a whole big subgenre of like, power pop geeks,” Poole said with a laugh. “It’s weird, because we’ve always kind of marketed ourselves as a garage band, but we don’t really fit into the garage band genre. I feel like we fit more comfortably in with those power pop fans.”

The Phantom Six plays The V Club Friday night as part of a weekend jaunt that takes them to The Empty Glass in Charleston Saturday.

Evoking something more recent, like Tom Petty jamming with Matthew Sweet, but with nods to and roots in everything great from the 60’s and 70’s, The Phantom Six, not surprisingly, reflect Poole’s own decades-long love of rock and roll.

“Musically, I can’t hide my influences, and it’s basically stuff I heard on the radio as a kid growing up,” he said. “So a lot of British Invasion bands like The Beatles, The Kinks, the Stones, The Who. And 70’s power pop stuff like The Raspberries, Big Star, I liked them a lot. Even if I tried, I don’t think I could hide those influences.”

You could say The Phantom Six are pretty much to Morgantown what AC30 is to Huntington: a local all-star power pop super-group. Poole is joined by twenty-year friend and band mate Billy Sheeder on guitar, Billy Matheny, a prolific rocker in his own right, plays bass, Clint Sutton plays drums and Woody O’Hara rounds out the very rich, hard rocking sound out with percussion. Sheeder moving from drums to guitar gave the band a whole new energy and bigger vocal harmonies, Poole noted.

Despite any lineup or name changes with his band, Poole said not a whole lot has changed; it’s just him writing songs.

“I knew I wanted to lead a band, just for the sole reason I knew it would never break up,” Poole said. “It’s frustrating when you put everything into a band and someone loses interest, and then it’s gone. So having my own band, writing my own songs, has allowed me to have some consistency, even though the lineup would change every couple of years.”

It’s been roughly twenty years since Poole, frustrated with early Moon recordings, decided to clear out his house and take out as big a loan as the bank would give him ($5,000) to start the nascent Zone 8 Recording studio in Granville.

“I think it was a little more of a risk in, I guess it was around 1993 or 1994, that I took out the loan and did all that,” Poole said with a laugh, remembering the days when home recording became financially feasible for musicians.

“I was working at a Phar-Mor store, like stocking shelves, and it was just a [expletive] job and I hated it,” Poole said continuing. “So in my mind it wasn’t a risk, I was trying to plant the seeds for some kind of future where I could get away from that job.

“But part of it was just, every band I’d ever been in, we’d go into a studio, and it would cost a fortune, and I’d come home unsatisfied with it. We couldn’t ever afford to take our time doing a recording.”

The Phantom Six has begun and will likely finish a new record this year, Poole said. So he is looking forward to time in the studio with his band, doing what he’s been doing for so long.

“The two are so closely intertwined for me,” Poole said when asked about the symbiotic relationship between Zone 8 and his band. “I started the studio to record my own band, and as I got better at it I started recording other bands. Having the studio as my job was kind of a byproduct of starting a studio so I could make a record that I thought sounded good.”

Given his passion for his own band and studio in particular, and rock and roll in general, Poole said the more things change, the more they stay the same.

“It’s a cliché to say it, but it’s a huge passion for me to write music,” Poole said almost solemnly. “Basically, since skateboarding wore off, there hasn’t been anything I’ve found as fun as playing music, writing music, and recording music. I think I’m going to be doing that well into my old age.”

AC30, The Muggs, The Phantom Six

When: Friday, April 6, 10 p.m.
Where: The V Club, 741 6th Ave.
Cost: $5

Morgantown’s Sleepwalker closes out Glass’ free Thursday shows Untitled
photo: James Braswell

Morgantown-based indie band Sleepwalker (above L-R: David Bello, Jason McCarty, Tyler Grady, Patrick Manzi, Will Foreman) performs at The Empty Glass Thursday

Reposted from The Charleston Gazette

Friends move in and out of each other’s lives over the years, and this is definitely true of the college experience. For college students, keeping bands together during this time period can prove exceedingly difficult as members graduate, drop out and/or move away.

For the guys in the Morgantown-based indie rock band Sleepwalker, it was the dissolution of old bands and friends leaving town that necessitated its formation and unveiling last June. Both Tyler Grady and David Bello, who each write, sing, and play guitar in Sleepwalker, said the beginning was quite organic.

“We all met through drinking a lot while we were in college,” Grady explained. “No joke.”

Bello said, aside from any solo stuff he may be doing, getting back into a band with friends was something he’d been looking forward to.

“My old band David Bello and His God-Given Right was ending because everybody moved to separate places around the country and Kyle Vass even moved to g-dd--- Taiwan, so me and [drummer] Pat [Manzi] were looking to do something new.”

“Something new” became Sleepwalker.

Sleepwalker plays The Empty Glass Thursday, March 29, for the last in a series of no cover Thursday nights at the Glass.

Grady said the pre-existing friendships that existed with the Sleepwalker guys didn’t guarantee chemistry and success as a unit.

“Being friends doesn’t guarantee that your band will have complete creative chemistry…I had no idea what this group of people would sound like as a band. It was a complete experiment.” The chemistry experiment soon proved fruitful once Grady, Bello, Manzi, guitarist Jason McCarty and bassist Will Foreman got together.

“Once everybody was on board to play music with each other in the same room all at once with our amps turned on and all that, we pretty much knew it’d be a band,” Bello said.

Sleepwalker might be an appropriate name for the band; dark, foreboding tones, maniacal, sometimes even murderous lyrics and shrieking vocals, and the aforementioned experimental bent, permeate most songs. Heck, Sleepwalker even named its five-song debut EP “The Dark One,” and that title fits just as well.

Even a faster Sleepwalker song like “Emile Ajar,” written by Bello, while it stands out stylistically as Sleepwalker stands astride the dark indie/post hardcore and grunge genres, isn’t necessarily sunshine and rainbows.

“Having a song like that in our set makes more sense than it might appear at first glance; it’s pretty dark.” Grady said. ““Emile Ajar” does sound upbeat,” Bello added, “but I was kind of hoping for that, since all of us like playing different styles, that we could get the chance to do so at shows. Plus the lyrics for that one might not be as abject as the songs with “shock” lines in them, but the story it tries to tell, about Romain Gary killing himself, feels to me as harsh as those others, and as harsh as I try to make all my lyrics.”

In Sleepwalker, Grady and Bello share singing and songwriting duties, and so far it’s worked out, all joking aside.

“I’ve never been in a band where I don’t get along super well with everybody in it,” Bello said. “So I don’t really know any other way how it feels to be in a band, it’s pretty awesome. Except for Tyler’s jealousy but all I can say to that is don’t hate, appreciate.”

Grady, showing the friendship and chemistry that exists, jumped off Bello’s joking jab.

“David is a horrible bandmate. He never brings anything to the table, and I do all the work. He gets all the girls, and doesn’t drive. I regret his very existence.”

Seriously though? “It’s been great!” Grady exclaimed of being in Sleepwalker. “As for our writing differences, we notice, but we don’t care. I’m not comparing us to Ween, but I don’t mind the idea of having a set of songs that each take you to a different place.”

The fans they’ve made and the praise they’ve received is definitely welcome, but Grady said, for him, it’s all about the shows.

“Praise is good, but progress is better,” Grady said of moving Sleepwalker forward as a band. “While I appreciate that people say nice things about our music, and performances, I’m mostly interested in trying to push my skills as a songwriter. It’s the punk in me that will tell you that I don’t do this for your collective approval. Also, more praise sometimes means more gigs, and performance is my favorite part of the whole thing.”

Sleepwalker w/The AK-Forty Sexuals

Where: The Empty Glass, 410 Elizabeth St.
When: Thursday, March 29, 10 p.m.
Cost: Free

Band and couple Jucifer bring unique mix of metal to V Club Photobucket
Together for almost 20 years in Jucifer, Edgar Livengood and Gazelle Amber Valentine return to The V Club Thursday night.

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

Life in Jucifer is pretty much exactly like their sound: hard and heavy.

The nomadic, non-stop touring life that singer-guitarist Gazelle Amber Valentine and drummer Edgar Livengood share in Jucifer, is also a love story.

Formed in Athens, Ga., in 1993, the pair soon married, and set out on a musical path that since 2001 has found them living and touring out of their RV, making fans across the U.S. and Europe with their own version of (very loud) sludge metal and/or stoner rock.

Valentine, enjoying a few rare days off between shows, said life constantly spent on the road is indeed a love affair for her and Livengood, but it isn’t easy.

“It’s more work than I think people can really even imagine,” Valentine said. “Partly because we have a lot more equipment than most bands. The math: four thousand pounds, moved two times for every show, divided by two people equals four thousand pounds per person, per show. Wanna arm wrestle?”

Jucifer, with Valentine’s wall of amps, returns to the V Club in Huntington at 10 p.m. Thursday, March 22.

With their own appropriately named label, Nomadic Fortress, through which they released 2010’s “Throned In Blood,” Valentine and Livengood are, in a sense, small business owners, and they’re the boss.

“There’s some saying about how you’ll never work harder than when you work for yourself, right? Our workdays are 18 to 22 hours, and our off days are just different kinds of work.

“So it’s physically draining; you feel like you’ve been beaten every day, and you’re covered with bruises and scratches. It’s mentally draining; you’re always thinking how to solve a new problem, how to keep problems from coming. It’s a lot of different jobs at once and we’re never off the clock. And with all that going on, you still have to find space and motivation to be creative.”

Known far and wide for all the amps, and the apocalyptic volume at which she plays, Valentine said there haven’t been many venue owners or sound dudes tell her to turn it down.

“None too recently,” she admitted. “But for the record it’s truly incredible how many people watch us build that insane wall of speakers and assume we won’t be loud because they think the whole thing won’t really be working. Even after watching all the cords get plugged in for an hour or so and seeing my six-foot amp rack.”

Aside from the hard life and the loud amps, Valentine said it’s Jucifer’s ability to defy easy categorization inside the genre of metal, live, but especially on their records, and still make fans, that makes them unique.

“For me, and for Edgar, too, it was, if I like something, why divide it from other things I like? And it was also, when I’m experiencing something, I’m not thinking how to categorize it or worrying if liking it makes me more or less “cool.” I’m just feeling it how it hits me. I know there are others who approach stuff the same way, I’m sure they’d relate to that about us.

“Some people probably dislike us for the same reasons; that we’re not stylized, we combine things in our own way and don’t worry about fitting a subgenre, which turns some people off.

“Even though what we’re playing is, ultimately, metal; it’s our own weird kind of metal that relates to some very clear genres without actually belonging to them. I think that, and the fact that we go way outside metal on a lot of our recordings, definitely is part of why a lot of musicians like us.”

Valentine said that it’s the love, for each other, and the music she and Livengood share, that makes Jucifer work. “I can’t even imagine doing this without being together,” she said of being in a band with her husband.

“Being a couple doesn’t just make it easier, it makes it possible. But no, I don’t think we’re like a lot of married couples, I hear a lot about how other couples can’t stand spending too much time together. We love being together all the time.

“But, obviously we chose to do this, chose to do it all the time, and chose do it in this excessive way that’s so far beyond what people playing in bands ever do. It’s grueling but we love it.”

Jucifer plays The V Club Thursday with Hyatari and Deckard

The Heptanes reunite for St. Patrick’s Day V Club show Photobucket
photo: Shannon Guthrie

After a decade apart, Chris Tackett, Kevin Allison and Alex Kendall are back as the Huntington-based psychobilly trio The Heptanes.

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

Together again with the original lineup for the first time in over a decade, The Heptanes March 3rd rehearsal at The V Club was all of the above: effortless, energetic, and, electric.

“Once we started playing, we were firing on all cylinders,” singer-guitarist Kevin Allison said over the phone. “Even though it’s been ten years since we all played together, it went well, despite the electrocution.”


“I’ve got a vintage amp and it’s actually got the original plug on it,” Allison explained. “I had a ground thing rigged on it, and when I started to play the vibrations knocked it loose, and I went to sing, and I got electrocuted right through the mouth,” he said with a painful chuckle.

“I’ve had that happen several times. You can taste your fillings, it sucks.”

Drummer Alex Kendall said that despite the time apart, he, Allison and original bassist Chris Tackett hadn’t missed a beat.

“When the three of us get together, it’s effortless,” Kendall said over the phone. “It’s not that we’re great, or that we’re amazing, it just clicks.”

There’s definitely some effort put in, though. Tackett has to drive in from Lexington, and Kendall has a bum ankle leading up to the show, not a pleasant experience for a drummer. Still, the show must go on, he said.

“As soon as I heard about [the show], I think my response was, ‘I’d like to see who’s going to stop me from playing this show,’” Kendall said laughing. “Regardless of whatever health problems, I’ll take a shot of whatever steroid or miracle drug, or if they have to lower me into a giant metal casing to keep me upright, I’ll do whatever it takes to make this show happen.”

The Huntington-based psychobilly trio reunites for a St. Patrick’s Day show Saturday night at The V Club with Deadbeats and Barkers and AC30.

Formed in 1999 out of Allison and Kendall’s work together in Fuzzbucket, and their mutual appreciation for The Stray Cats, The Heptanes, after recruiting Tackett, released their debut, “Phantom Cadillac” a year later.

The attraction of rockabilly, the energy, and fun, was apparent to Allison and Kendall even in Fuzzbucket.

“It’s actually kind of funny, because the way we came upon the idea was kind of like how The Stray Cats did,” Allison explained. “They had their band the Bloodless Pharaohs before The Stray Cats, and they’d do a few rockabilly tunes before closing out their set. And we’d kind of do the same thing in Fuzzbucket.

“In fact, one of one of the Heptanes’ tunes, “U.P.D.,” was written when we were in Fuzzbucket. We’d play it at the end of the shows, and people would just get up and dance, and I mean, it was funny because we’d play the whole night, and then we’d play that song and everybody would go crazy,” the singer-guitarist recalled with awe.

Gigs were booked, fun was had, but, like so many other bands, they couldn’t keep the band intact.

“To be honest with you, with all the other times we’ve done the band without the original lineup, it never really felt right,” Allison admitted. “To have it back to the original lineup, it’s pretty cathartic, I have to say.”

While the show on St. Patrick’s Day is a reunion for the band, both Allison and Kendall stressed their desire to have old friends and fans of the Huntington scene from the 90’s reunite, too.

“With the band and the whole scene we had going at the time, we’re trying to get people who went to Calamity Café or Gumby’s back in the day to get together,” Allison said.

“You’ll see on my Facebook page I’m trying to pump this thing up and bill this as a Huntington reunion,” Kendall added. “I’ve heard from a lot of people who are coming to town, booking rooms to get back together and see everyone again. I’m hoping for a big reunion of the old school people.”

Allison recalled first being exposed back in the 90’s to the preeminent, pioneering psychobilly artist, who also just happened to be a West Virginia resident.

“I saw a flyer one day on campus for a Hasil Adkins show, and I thought ‘Oh this sounds interesting.’ So I went and checked it out and it blew my mind. To me, in my heart, part of this music, psychobilly, was created by HIM, HERE. He had a huge impact on the whole reason I got into rockabilly.”

It’s that excitement, both for the music The Heptanes play and for the experiences shared with friends and fans over the years in Huntington that Allison and Kendall say they hope to recapture Saturday night.

“It always feels good to get back out there and do it,” Allison said. “I think the reason we were popular back then, was, it was a very straight forward version of high energy rock and roll.

“For us, the basis of a Heptanes show was to entertain people,” Allison said, summing things up. “There’s no big message. People just want to enjoy themselves when they go out, and that’s what it’s all about. We all still enjoy it, and that’s why we do it.”

If you go:

AC30, The Heptanes, Deadbeats and Barkers

Where: The V Club, 741 6th Ave., Huntington (304) 781-0680
When: Saturday, March 17, 10 p.m.
Cost: $5

Legendary NYC ska band The Toasters to play 123 Pleasant St. Sunday Photobucket

After 30 years, numerous lineup changes and seeing countless ska bands they influenced form, Rob “Bucket” Hingley (with guitar) brings The Toasters to 123 Pleasant Street Sunday

Reposted from The Daily Athenaeum

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Such is the case for Rob “Bucket” Hingley and The Toasters, the ska band he’s fronted since its formation in New York City in 1982.

After enduring numerous lineup changes, and seeing the popularity of ska bands ebb and flow like the tides over the years, Hingley and his legendary “third wave” two-tone ska outfit keep doing what they’ve been doing, touring and playing shows all over the U.S., and the world.

For Hingley, this is what has kept The Toasters going. On the road to Toledo for a show, bringing ska music to its fans, just like he did after crossing the pond from the United Kingdom back in 1980, is what it’s all about.

“We go and play places where people don’t or won’t reach,” Hingley said over the phone, when asked about The Toasters scorched Earth tour schedule, a show per day since mid-January. “That’s been the secret to our success, is that we’ve been road dogs. That’s paying us back in spades right now.”

The Toasters return to Morgantown for an all-ages show at 123 Pleasant Street Sunday.

Over thirty years, ten studio albums, and countless trends and fads generated by the music industry, Hingley has seen it all pretty much. He said that arriving in New York City, leaving a bustling ska scene in the U.K., finding ska practically non-existent, was a bit of a culture shock.

“There wasn’t any ska scene at all to speak of, which seemed strange to me,” the singer-guitarist said with some lingering bewilderment. “I came to New York in 1980, right at the high water mark of ska music in the U.K, maybe the high water mark was 1979. But coming from that environment where everybody knew what ska was, and bands like The Specials, and The English Beat, and Madness were coming off of number one hits. And coming to the U.S., where nobody seemed to know what it was about at all, even to the point of going to the Roseland Ballroom and seeing hardly anyone there to see The English Beat, it really was like going from feast to famine. So, getting the band started in 1982, finding like-minded people and musicians wasn’t easy.”

Fast forward thirty years, after seeing bands The Toasters influenced, like The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, achieve some level of commercial success, Hingley said ska music has went where it’s most loved: back underground.

“The support goes up and down, it depends what the flavor of the week is, the way the industry tends to focus on different kinds of music. The way it is now, it’s kind of back in the underground, and that’s probably the best place for it, because it’s a little more nurturing.”

Hingley recalled with fondness playing Morgantown in the past, and the support ska in general, and The Toasters in particular, were shown.

“Of course, big cities like New York, Chicago, L.A., there’s obviously a lot of support there. But we’re seeing pockets in some of the smaller towns, like Morgantown. That’s a real yardstick of how healthy it is when you can come play some of the smaller towns and still have the support. Back in the day, it’s 123 now, it was the Nyabinghi, they had a lot more reggae and ska bands coming through, and I’m talking ten, fifteen or even twenty years ago, there was a lot more support then. But if it’s coming back now it just shows that ska is rebounding a little bit.”

It’s the spirit embedded inside of ska that, despite any trends generated by the music industry, still attracts people to the sound, Hingley said.

“One thing you have to understand about ska music, you got to take it back and look at where it came from. It came out of the Trench Town ghetto in Jamaica, which at the time was a very, very poor area. And the explosion of ska was associated with Jamaica gaining independence from British rule about that time. It was rebel music coming out of the ghetto. It was an expression of freedom, the same as reggae music.

“It was rebel music,” Hingley continued. “In a way it’s managed to retain that energy, because even though ska music was exploited by the mainstream record companies in the 90’s, it wasn’t really the roots bands and not what I would point to as the real ska bands and the core two-tone bands that were exploited. It was punk bands with horns, or studio creations like Smash Mouth that have nothing to do with the ska scene. But because some record execs put that label on it, that was the flavor of the week. But fortunately that didn’t destroy ska music and the real ska bands.

“I think a lot of kids, when they come into it, they see that there’s fifty-five years of roots and culture, they might start out liking Mighty Mighty Bosstones as a portal, and they can trace that tree all the way back to those early artists from Jamaica. They see that it’s real, and people identify with it. It’s not a Frankenstein monster created in some major label lab.”

Coming back to Morgantown for an all-ages show and exposing a whole new generation of fans to ska

That just goes to show the fact that the style is really resilient, and has something to say to young kids. Because if they didn’t like it they wouldn’t come. It attracts kids from whatever they come from, whether they’re punk rock or metal kids. If you can find a way to mean something to kids, they’ll still come out.”

When asked how much The Toasters have left in the tank, how much longer they’ll be playing out, Hingley said he doesn’t expect any changes anytime soon.

“You have to ask my wife that,” he said with a laugh. “We’ve got a few more years, there are still some places we haven’t been yet.”

--- The Toasters play 123 Pleasant Street Sunday with The Staggering Cardoons, Black Action Cop, Call us Next Tuesday and special guests The Business Fairy and QUOTE. Doors open at 5:30, show starts at 6 p.m., cover is $8 in advance and $10 at the door. All-ages.


Life on Parade: David Mayfield Parade to perform at V Club Friday

Known for chaotic, energetic live shows, David Mayfield (above) brings his “Parade” to the V Club Friday

Reposted from the Huntington Herald-Dispatch

Steeped in bluegrass and country music tradition, with a chaotic live energy and onstage presence that embodies rock and roll, David Mayfield’s musical career has indeed been a long, strange trip.

The 29-year old Mayfield, talking over the phone from his childhood home near Kent, Ohio, said it’s the little things that are most important for him as he’s moved from being a backing musician into fronting his own band. The little things, like sitting at the DMV for four hours, registering your sister’s van to go out on tour.

“I’ll be pulling into Huntington in her old touring van, because mine broke down,” Mayfield said with a laugh.

The David Mayfield Parade plays The V Club in Huntington Friday with Sasha Colette and the Magnolias.

Mayfield said he and the Parade, Wes Langlois (guitar), Shelby Means (upright bass), Kristin Webber (fiddle) and Joe Giotta (drums) have finished recording their sophomore record and hope to have it out later this summer.

For Mayfield, though, who now calls Nashville home, it’s now time to get back out on the road.

“It’s been my whole life,” Mayfield said fondly. “My parents met at a bluegrass festival, and have always played music together. When I was twelve years old, I decided there’s no reason for them to go and leave and play music and me to have to stay home, so I learned how to play the bass. I went out on the road with them, and my sister joined up after that. I dropped out of school in the ninth grade to play music, and my parents sold our house, and we just traveled around in an old bus living that gypsy lifestyle I guess.”

Mayfield, after graduating as a youth from bass to guitar and mandolin, said he learned firsthand the responsibilities of being a performing musician from his parents.

“What my parents really instilled in me, is we’re providing a service, just like an electrician or a plumber. People spend their hard earned money to go out and be entertained. That’s the biggest thing I got out of the family band experience, was learning that people are coming out to the V Club because they want to be entertained and put their problems and cares behind them for a few hours and kind of go on a journey. It’s something more than just some people standing on stage singing a song. It goes to different places.”

Mayfield and the Parade got their start going places thanks to immediate support from alt-country rockers The Avett Brothers.

“I had been playing with Cadillac Sky, and we decided that we were going to break up,” Mayfield recalled. “I didn’t know what I was going to do. I played some of my original songs for Seth Avett, and he was real encouraging. He said ‘You’re a good enough songwriter, these songs deserve to be heard. You’re more at home on stage, you’re more of a performer. You shouldn’t count out going out on your own.’ Then when I put the band together, I think I had the Parade together for about a month, and the Avetts invited us to open their big New Year’s Eve show. And then, when it was time to make the record Scott and Seth both came and sang harmonies on like, half the album. So right out of the gate we had a great opportunity.”

It’s those opportunities, playing big festivals like Bonnaroo, or opening for Willie Nelson or The Avett Brothers, that, in just barely a year together with his Parade, blows Mayfield’s mind.

“It’s been nuts, you know? I’ve been doing this for so long, either as a side man, backing people up, or making records for other people. And just in one year to have been offered so many big opportunities, it’s pretty surreal, and terrifying at the same time.”

Describing the live show, Mayfield said it approaches something like controlled chaos, without much control, maybe terrifying, but definitely, a thrill.

“It gets pretty crazy from time to time. We played one festival, I climbed up on the scaffolding and threw an electric guitar into the ground like a lawn dart, and then, kind of fell down a little bit. But other than that, it’s just normal bruises and scratches from an acrobatic, crazy, two-hour set of nonsense,” Mayfield said with a laugh. “We like to keep the spontaneous energy in the air. At one of our shows you really feel like everything could all fall apart at any moment, and someone could die.”

With equal parts humility and responsibility, Mayfield, asked about the Parade’s budding fan base, said it’s still all about the music for him.

“It’s definitely exciting. One guy come to one of my shows and he had my face tattooed on his arm. I had people telling me “Breath of Love” was their wedding song. I still feel a little like ‘Why me? Go listen to that guy, he’s better than I am,’” Mayfield said laughing. “It’s definitely flattering, but it also gives me this sense, of pressure really, of keeping up to those standards, and to not let people down.”

The David Mayfield Parade w/Sasha Colette and the Magnolias
When: Friday, February 10, 10 p.m.
Where: The V Club, 741 6th Ave., (304) 781-0680
Cost: $8 adv., $10 door
Online:, ,

Sasha Colette & the Magnolias release “Ridin’ Away” at the V Club Saturday Photobucket

Sasha Colette and the Magnolias will break out the red bandanas Saturday night for the release of their new Appalachian prairie themed concept EP “Ridin’ Away” at the V Club in Huntington.

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

Things have definitely changed for Sasha Colette over the past year.

The 23-year old singer-songwriter has relocated from Eastern Kentucky to Huntington, and now has a new band backing her as she prepares to release “Ridin’ Away,” the follow-up to 2011’s “Leave It Alone.”

Sasha Colette and the Magnolias will release the prairie-themed “cry for wide open spaces” concept EP “Ridin’ Away” Saturday, January 28 at the V Club in Huntington.

Over the phone, Colette described first life after the move, now living home on the range -- in Huntington.

“I really do like it,” Colette said of moving from Morehead, Kentucky to Huntington in August of last year. “This is the first time I’ve lived in a neighborhood sort of feel. I enjoy having neighbors,” she said laughing. “Me and (lead guitarist) Jeremy (Short) moved up from Kentucky to be closer to the other band members. (Bassist) Chris (Justice) lives in Ashland, and (drummer) Steve (Barker) lives here in Huntington.

“There’s a good circle of musicians here,” Colette continued. “It’s nice to have friends who play music, everybody’s always working on their new projects or whatever. It just keeps me encouraged, the circle of friends. That’s been one of my favorite things about Huntington, is I just feel like I fit in.”

It’s one thing to hear about fitting into a new town, but it’s surprising to hear Colette talk of fitting into her own band. That’s just the change that she thinks stands out since releasing “Leave It Alone” last year.

“I’ve been playing with this band for about a year now, and it’s been really cool. They’ve given me a new form of confidence as far as how as I perform. They’ve helped me improve my vocal performance so much more,” Colette, already known for her soulful and powerful voice, admitted.

“Ridin’ Away” has a distinctly more country music sound than the mix of folk and rock found on “Leave It Alone,” something that’s happened naturally as Colette and her new band mates have congealed into a unit.

“Someone like Ryan Adams, what he does, you can’t place it exactly,” Colette said of the sound on the new record. “This album, not only does it have a nice concept throughout, but it also introduces the band. These guys, they weren’t on the first album. I never really had a particularly stable band before. I didn’t have a specific direction then because I didn’t have anybody steady in my life, as far as the music goes. But this album, the reason it sounds so good and so fitting is, we’re used to each other, and we’re all here to stay in this thing.”

Colette said capturing the sound the new lineup has been working on at Aaron Fisher’s 101 Productions in Sissonville is something she’s proud of.

“Man, the album, I love the sound it has because this is what we do at live shows. The other album, it was difficult to translate that into a live show, it was kind of misleading occasionally. But this album, there’s a lot of truth to it, whether it be from the lyrics, or the sound of the album to the sound of the live show.”

It’s the truth found in her lyrics (which Colette dutifully cites as examples) and on one song in particular on “Ridin’ Away,” that Colette is maybe most excited about.

“This album has a song on it called “Leroy,” and lyrically I am more proud of that song than any song I’ve ever written because the wordplay and just the story behind it, and the truth behind it, the offensive truth. It embodies what, um, what’s kind of going on in some people’s lives. “A simple enough life/giving up your daddy’s name to marry Leroy,” you know?”

The inspiration for one song on “Ridin’ Away” came from others finding out about Colette’s life as a “professional camper” after a Charleston Gazette article on her in early 2011 described her very real nomadic life at the time.

Photobucket“Like a tumbleweed I been out a roamin’/now my secret’s out and everybody knows,” Colette said, reciting the lyrics from “Red Bandana.”

“When I read [the article] I was like ‘Oh, they put that in the paper!’” Colette said laughing hard. “Some people don’t know how to react to that sort of thing, they think you’re a ruffian or something.

“Red Bandana” is kind of a cry for some wide open spaces. But people are diggin’ the idea of like a prairie-related album.”

So the pack-up-and-go themes explored on “Ridin’ Away,” are not so far divorced from reality for Colette. “You know,” she said, sighing, and thinking about her life, where she’s been and still may go, “I’m still young, I’m twenty-three, and maybe it’ll never leave, but I have a real big urge to just get up and go all the time. I want to question tomorrow.”

But for now, Colette is focused only on her band and changing other people’s lives, with her songs.

“I’m really excited to have the CD to introduce the band to the fans. People really love our sound so much, they want to take it home with them. It can be a life-altering experience, if you listen hard enough.”


Sasha Colette and the Magnolias CD release
W/Tyler Childers, The Switchmen

Where: The V Club, 741 6th Ave., Huntington
When: Saturday, January 28
Time: 10:30 p.m.
Cost: $8 (includes a copy of “Ridin’ Away”)

Related: Colette piece in The Ashland Daily Independent
Artwork by Jimbo Valentine/Amalgam Unlimited

Prison Book Club returns to Huntington for show at Black Sheep Burrito & Brews Photobucket

Photo: Kimmy Bowen

Prison Book Club (L-R: Adam Meisterhans, John Miller, Andrew Ford, Tucker Riggleman) returns to Huntington tonight for a show at Black Sheep Burrito & Brews...

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

It’s fitting that John Miller and Tucker Riggleman shared the interview duties for Prison Book Club.

After meeting through mutual friends at a concert for the Memphis-based alt-country band Lucero in 2005, (Lucero served as a big influence on PBC) the pair became friends, started hanging out and sharing tunes. Miller and Riggleman have shared the singing and songwriting duties in the Shepherdstown-based alt-country rock band since its inception.

They’re such good friends, already being in The Fox Hunt and The Demon Beat, respectively, Miller and Riggleman are so dedicated to Prison Book Club that they have matching PBC tattoos.

But Prison Book Club, having released their self-titled sophomore record last August, has at this point moved out of the shadow of The Demon Beat and The Fox Hunt, made fans and a name all on their own, and turned any discussion about the band from one of a side project into talk of being a force all its own.

The band (Miller: rhythm guitar, vocals, bass; Riggleman: bass, vocals, guitar; Adam Meisterhans: lead guitar; Andrew Ford: drums) returns to Huntington Monday, January 16 for a show at Black Sheep Burrito and Brews as part of a 16-show, 18-day tour of the Southeast.

“This is definitely the longest that we will have been out together,” Miller said of the steady string of shows. “I had gotten used to traveling with The Fox Hunt at least as much, if not more, than being at home and I’m excited to get back out.”

As favorably as their sophomore release was received, Prison Book Club has all new songs that they’re taking out on the road.

“We do have a handful of new songs that I believe are some of the strongest we’ve ever done, which is a good sign,” Miller said. “You don’t want to make a record and then go back, work out some new songs and think ‘man, this sounds the same’ or ‘man, we’re slipping.’ We’re very excited to have the chance to tighten them up a bit on the road.”

Riggleman, strictly a bassist in The Demon Beat, gets to write and sing his own stuff in Prison Book Club. It was Miller who helped Riggleman, then a student at Shepherd University, get started as a singer and songwriter, helping him overcome any anxiety he may have had by providing a friendly ear. Also, these late nights laid the groundwork for an enduring friendship that would one day turn into Prison Book Club after the duo welcomed Meisterhans on for PBC’s first gig at a friend’s wedding.

“Personally, when I started writing songs I kind of always wrote them with a full band in mind,” Riggleman said. “I think John and I had kind of always wanted to get something going, like a rock and roll band, but we just had to wait for the right moment I suppose.”

That right moment also provided Miller some level of lateral movement musically, still offering him the opportunity to write down-and-out type songs, and sing with his instantly recognizable, tough-but-touching country music voice, only in a rock band.

“I really wanted to write songs outside of the string band dynamic that we have in The Fox Hunt, and Prison Book Club offered an opportunity to bring some different things to the table,” Miller explained. “It’s not apples and oranges, but there’s a little more freedom there. And really, we’re all good friends; we all sort of came together when The Fox Hunt and The Demon Beat were first starting to play locally, but certainly things would have been a lot different if Tucker and I hadn’t been buddies from the outset. We’ve put up with each other’s crap for too long to discredit that.”

Miller added that Prison Book Club has enjoyed a renewed energy, “cohesiveness and focus” and welcoming drummer Andrew Ford on in early 2011 is part of that.

“We’ve definitely taken the jump from ‘this thing we do every now and then when we have the time’ to ‘this is its own band,’” Riggleman added. “Bringing in Andrew on drums has been great as well, and we feel like he really pushes us to play better, being that he’s a very talented dude.”

For now, Prison Book Club is looking forward to taking its new songs out on tour, making fans the old fashioned way: playing out as much as possible. And for Riggleman, the friendship that exists between the members of Prison Book Club is what it’s all about.

“I couldn’t imagine being in a band with strangers or people I didn’t like. Making music with some of your best friends really is about the best thing there is, in my opinion.”

If you go:
Prison Book Club

Where: Black Sheep Burrito and Brews, 1555 3rd Ave., Huntington
When: Monday, January 16, 10 p.m.
Contact: (304) 523-1555

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