DownTown Mystic Blog – The Power of Music Part 1: The Band of Heathens

 

DownTown Mystic Cover

Since this is my blog, I get to share my personal experiences with the world and promote my music, while hopefully providing some insight into what I do. And since this is my blog, I can talk about anything I want. From time to time I would like to “pass it forward” and talk about other bands and artists I find noteworthy.

Probably the earliest memories that I have of growing up, is always hearing music playing on the radio in my house. I think it got under my skin and instilled the love of music in me. Fast forward to the present day, and I still can’t get enough of music. So much so, that I’m writing and producing it more than ever. One of the things that have kept me going has been to discover new music for inspiration. That’s what fuels my fires. Hearing something new that makes me take notice and want to create something new for myself.

One of the great things about doing the DownTown Mystic project was releasing it in the Americana/Roots genre. There’s a serious appreciation from fans of this type of music, and for me, I’ve discovered new music from Artists that are totally new to me. Case in point, when I released Standing Still in 2010, I was doing a promotion with an internet radio station. I was sponsoring an Alt/Country station and I would check in from time to time to listen to it.

Every time I seemed to tune in I would hear a track from this one band I had never heard of. But every time I heard them it reminded me of what it was like hearing The Band or Little Feat for the 1st time, which got my attention. These guys weren’t just about writing a song and recording it. There was something more in regards to sound, arrangement, performance and creating something to capture on tape.

Luckily, the station would provide a list of the artists that had just been played, and I found out that the band I kept hearing was called The Band of Heathens, out of Austin, TX. I was so impressed with their sound that I went and checked them out on Amazon.com. To my surprise, I found that they had more than 1 release. How could a band this good have more than 1 release and this is the first I’m hearing of them?? Amazing, I thought! It showed me just how much the music industry was broken. How could a band this good not have gotten signed by some major label? Even a decent Indie?

I was shocked! I was also hooked. I bought all their cds on Amazon and became a fan. Like me, The Band of Heathens had a DIY attitude and I could tell that they really cared about “making records”. In the past when something was called an “indie record”, it was meant as a put down for 2nd rate product. But that was not the case with BoH and it really provided some inspiration for me.

In April 2013, 3 years after I had discovered BoH, I went to see them play in a club in NYC. Before the show I met the 2 main guys, Gordy Quist and Ed Jurdi, who also happened to be 2 of the nicest people you could meet. I got to hang out with them after the show and talk to them about their music. I told them how much I enjoyed their music and how much of an inspiration they were to me. I thought it was very important that a band like BoH was out there, setting an example for others.

Robert with Gordy Quist & Ed Jurdi from Band of Heathens

Robert with Gordy Quist & Ed Jurdi from Band of Heathens

By the time I saw them there had been many big changes in the band. Besides having to replace their long time bassist Seth Whitney and drummer John Chipman, they also lost founding member Colin Brooks at the end of 2012. I asked Gordy & Ed about Colin and they were still a bit dumbfounded about it too.  Maybe it was all the touring because this band tours constantly. I can understand how people can get to a certain point in their life and say they’re done, because the road can wear people down.

Whatever is the case; Colin was a big part of their sound and recordings. I certainly would miss him. His voice and playing have such an authenticity to them. They all do, but Colin has something unique. One of the interesting things for me about BoH was that Colin, Gordy & Ed were all singer/songwriters who put out their own solo albums and decided to put a band together, which is not something you usually see. I asked Gordy what it was like to start a band with 3 singer/songwriters. To my surprise he said that the band originally started with 4 of them and then just gave me this look that said “that’s completely nuts, right”? LOL

At the start of  October 2013 they were in NYC again to play, having just released their new Sunday Morning Record a few weeks prior. This was Gordy & Ed’s new version of BoH, which had to have been taken on with a good deal of forethought. Trevor Nealon steps up more on keyboards, while the new guys, Richard Millsap on drums and Scott Davis on bass are very organic together. The result is The Band of Heathens evolving into a newer version that is very solid.

Sunday Morning Record is the 4th studio album by the band and the 1st one without Colin. Just before taking the stage, I saw Gordy and congratulated him on the new record. I told him that I thought it was a step up from the previous one and Gordy agreed, saying they liked it better too. I thought it also showed in the band’s live performance. Compared to the show back in April, they seemed to possess new energy and were really kicking it.

Their show was also a good omen for me. I had just received the new DownTown Mystic cds from the pressing plant earlier that day, in time for the show. So after the show, I gave them the new DownTown Mystic cd, and believe me; it wasn’t lost on me that I was holding my CD Release Party with The Band of Heathens. LOL

It was very cool and quite symbolic for me to have them be the 1st ones to get my new CD. To have been listening to such a great band for years and then get to meet and hang out with them, for me, it doesn’t get any better than that! Such is the power of music. 🙂

Check out The Band of Heathens

 

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