COVER- Under the radar and dreaming: Who's the next big band from Charlottesville?
In March 2007, the Hook asked a few veterans of the local music scene to predict which up-and-coming artists might break into the big time and become the next famous band from Charlottesville. A little more than a year later, some of those upstarts have done just that.
Since gracing last year's cover, popsters Sparky's Flaw inked a deal with Mercury Records and have been jetting from Charlottesville to Minneapolis and Los Angeles to put the final touches on their soon-to-be-released debut album. All the while, they've closely followed the model of fellow Red Light Management artists Dave Matthews Band by playing every college bar and club from Miami to Hoboken, winning an increasing legion of fans, including enough MySpace friends to fill John Paul Jones Arena.
The much-praised country rockers Sons Of Bill also seem poised to make the leap to the big time. In addition to being signed by Red Light Management, the band of brothers and two others have played for increasingly bigger audiences, earning a loyal following with a tour playing for our fighting men and women in Asia, and opening for heavy hitters Gretchen Wilson and Robert Randolph and the Family Band.
Members of both Sparky's Flaw and Sons Of Bill– in addition to a bevy of other tastemakers, houserockers, and veteran chart-toppers– are on this year's panel. We asked them, who's next?
...on 6 Day Bender: Luke Nutting is a great frontman, to say the least. It's a unique sound, the way they mix country, bluegrass, and rock 'n roll. They're so much fun.
...on Tim Be Told: For a band that just started at the beginning of the school year, they're incredible. They blew me away the first time I heard them open for us, and they still do every time, because they just keep getting better and better.
...on Alex Mejias: One of my favorite singer-songwriters. He could slay at higher levels than Charlottesville. He has the songs and the looks and the talent.
...on Six Chasing Seven: Dickey Redding has one of the best voices I've heard locally, and the band is one of the tightest I've ever seen.
...on John Carden: Epic. That's all I have to say.
...on Tim Be Told: They won the UVA Battle of the Bands this year, which has also been won by Sparky's Flaw and Sons Of Bill. They're keyboard-driven power pop in the vein of Maroon 5 or the Fray. There's some terrific songwriting going on there, and if they keep playing more gigs, they'll gain a following really quickly.
...on Morwenna Lasko and Jay Pun: We've had a lot of success on our station with Rodrigo y Gabriela, and I think this has the same appeal in that they're an acoustic duo with really catchy, memorable songs despite the fact that it's mostly instrumental.
...on Birdlips: Their EP is excellent, straight-ahead indie rock. I was surprised to find an upstart with such a good live sound. You'll be hearing a lot more from them.
...on Marianna Bell: She's been recording in New York and LA since the summertime, and we're really excited by her new material.
...on the Sometime Favorites: They're a UVA band, but there's a song in particular called "Can't Stop Fighting" that could definitely lead to something else. Their stuff is wonderfully hooky.
...on Nice Jenkins: In terms of style, they have a little bit of everything. They're really into harmonies, and they never take themselves too seriously. Some of it reminds me of the Beatles, some reminds me of Brian Wilson, and some of it is jokey like They Might Be Giants.
..on Thismeansyou: There aren't enough girl-fronted bands in Charlottesville, and Kim Dylla is one of the most amazing live performers I've ever seen. So rock 'n roll. Her stage presence just keeps getting more and more over-the-top, and her voice is getting better and better. They're being courted by a lot of the metal labels right now. It's nice to see a band that's been around for a few years but not stuck in a rut.
...on Jway: He does ambient techno stuff, which we got really into toward the end of Clare Quilty. The loops he chooses work so well with the way he plays guitar and keyboard.
...on the Falsies: When Lance Brenner went from Naked Puritans to putting on a chicken suit and sitting behind the drums, I didn't know if it was going to take off, but it's so much fun.
...on Phoenix Noir: Another girl-fronted band featuring my old bandmate in Clare Quilty, Juliet Trail, plus Wally Worsley from Navel. I saw them open for Bella Morte, and they have a great, goth, Tori Amos-kind of vibe.
...on the (All New) Acorn Sisters: It's Sarah White from Sarah White and the Pearls and Sian Richards. I love their tight country harmonies on everything from old Carter Family songs to their own stuff. They have classic Grand Ole Opry stage presence, too, the way they joke around and bring people in.
...on 6 Day Bender: I guess you'd call it mountain rock, but they're just a great, very uptempo party band.
...on Barling & Collins: Brandon Collins is probably the best cello player I've ever heard, and Stephen Barling writes really funny songs, which is impressive because it's so hard to be funny in any other medium than comedy.
...on Kings of Belmont: A lot of those guys were in Peen, the Ween tribute band, and there's that same element to this band in the way that you can't tell if they're being serious or funny.
...on Accordion Death Squad: I love their whole gypsy, klezmer vibe and how I can't tell if their stuff is original or centuries old.
...on the Blackout Project: They're a must for purchasing. I want to hear more.
...on Nice Jenkins: They're very cool alternative with great lyrics.
...on the Hamiltons: Great harmonies, and I love their acoustic/soul mix.
...on Kate Starr: "Little Miss Liberty" is a hit with the right exposure.
...on Andy Thacker: I'm choosing to focus more on individual, unsung musicians than bands, and this is one of them. He's the mandolin player in Old School Freight Train, and he plays in Peyton Tochterman and High Society. Not just an amazing bluegrass player: he also has a great sense of melody.
...on Charlie Bell: He's the dobro and pedal steel player from Jim Waive and the Young Divorcees. He adds great depth to that band, and I've really enjoyed playing with him on my solo project.
...on Sarah White and Ted Pitney: Normally, she's with the Pearls, but I played a double bill with them recently, and the two of them really work well together. She's a great songwriter with an old soul, but she brings a modern twist to it. He used to be in King Wilkie, and he adds a lot to what she does.
...on Shannon Worrell: Sorry to self-promote again, but I just finished playing on her album, and while she's not an up-and-coming artist per se, this will be the album that introduces her to a whole new group of fans and brings her back onto the scene the way she was 10 years ago.
...on Darrell Muller: He's one of the most solid bass players in town. He plays with Helen Horal, he plays with me, he plays with Seshinn, and he covers all styles. His work in the studio is always fast and flawless.
Adam Gottschalk & Nick Noe
...on Under The Flood:
Adam: They had 3,000 plays on their MySpace stuff during one single day this week, they're already making the Billboard rock charts, and nobody in Charlottesville has even heard of them!
Nick: Other bands are are seeking them out to tour with them because of the national following they've built. Their next tour is a package tour with Nonpoint and the Exies, putting them in some big venues, in front of some influential people.
...on 6 Day Bender:
Adam: Incredible talent mixed with real depth to the lyrics.
Nick: They clearly have fun playing music together anywhere. They'd play on street corners.
Adam: As a matter of fact, they have played on street corners.
...on Tim Be Told:
Adam: Tim Ouyang is, quite simply, absurdly talented. Their music and pop sensibilities put them in line to become the next Sparky's Flaw very soon.
Nick: What are pop sensibilities? Are you just trying to sound educated?
Adam: I think it's a kind of food.
...on the Blackout Project:
Adam: Their studio stuff is some of the best music we've heard in a long time. They just need to tighten the screws and get out there and start putting it in front of people.
Nick: And just for the record, the last three winners of UVA's Battle of the Bands were Sons of Bill, The Blackout Project, and Tim Be Told. Not bad.
...on Kate Starr:
Adam: This high-energy rocker has become an indie superstar in New York but still calls Charlottesville home. Radio-friendly sound, too.
Nick: And you have to believe she has karma on her side; her bassist is an actual monk of the Order of Ishaya.
...on Sparky's Son:
Adam: This band doesn't actually exist yet. But Nick and I are gonna start one to capitalize on this wave of local music.
Nick: We're gonna be good. I think a keytar will be critical.
NOTE: In the print edition, we mixed up Brad Savage's comments about the Sometime Favorites with those about another band. They have been corrected in this online edition.