Happenings in the Valley
(page 2 of 6)
SHED-BRED BANDS OF IDAHO
Local Weekend Rock Stars
While many big-city bands claim their roots are garage-born, in Idaho our boys (and girls) are “shed-bred.” Hay-filled barns, woodshops, lean-tos and late-afternoon porches all serve as the seedling spaces for the Wood River Valley’s weekend rock stars. Here’s a rundown of some of our favorite local shed-bred bands.
OLD DEATH WHISPER
Old Death Whisper sprung from the old Damphools band nearly seven years ago—although no one can seem to remember exactly when—and is now a five-member, in-your-face, beer-and-whiskey, Western-style roots band. Inspired by American music and steeped in Idaho history, their songs are “about where we live,” said member Troy “Chuy” Hartman. “Trains and hobos and mining. All that [stuff],” added band member J.R. “Rico” Hood. And with five song-writers with diverse influences—blues, rockabilly, punk, country and honky-tonk, to name a few—it’s hard to pin them down as anything other than just raw musicians.
When members Rico, Chuy and stand-up bassist Kent Mueller first began, they played for free up and down the Wood River Valley and only practiced during live shows. “We kinda sucked,” laughed Rico. “We really sucked, actually.” After a change of players, sometimes-member Wes Walsworth joined, followed by le artiste Drew Tomseth, who they pulled on stage during a show at Whiskey Jacques because their drummer bailed. After three years together, they’re now beloved in local circles—folks flock front-row, beers held high, to foot-stomp and scream along. “They [the fans] party like they live,” said Chuy. “And that’s how we like it.”
In the summer of 2012, they took Idaho cow punk transcontinental during a European tour, where newest addition Cole Wells impressed Belgian audiences with the American pedal steel—the “Swiss Army Knife of Instruments”—a type of horizontal electric guitar that uses metal bars, pedals and knee-levers. After more than a few weird adventures with absinthe bongs and Dutch goat cheese, playing in local prisons and old bars, they came back to work on their upcoming album, scheduled to be released soon after the New Year.
In the meantime, once a week they leave their families and day jobs—bartending, fly-fish guiding, grilling hot dogs and selling hot tubs—to get together at the “Rockin’ Hell Ranch” (Chuy’s house south of Bellevue), where they self-recorded their first album. “We’re just riding out the crumbling of society with music,” concluded Rico with a sideways smile. Go to olddeathwhisper.net or stop by a watering hole throughout the Valley, like Whiskey Jacques, Silver Dollar or The Wicked Spud, to find them.
“We like to play loud and fast,” said Josh Pate, guitarist for El Stash. “We aren’t your typical mountain cover band.” Their style is a fusion influenced by the Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys and Grateful Dead, with a bit of indie rock thrown in. And while they mainly cover favorites like Dinosaur Junior and Guided by Voices, they’ve started writing more and more originals from their Hailey band room. Pate said he and the four other members were hunting and fishing friends who, one day, just starting jamming together. Now, two years later, as he explained, “We suck a lot less. We might even be ready for Twin Falls.” The perfect party band (just ask them to bring the squirrel suits), these five locals “just wanna rock.” And do. Mustaches welcome. Keep an eye on the Whiskey Jacques lineup in Ketchum and the Silver Dollar Saloon in Bellevue for upcoming shows.
UP A CREEK
On Thursday nights, in a quiet Bellevue neighborhood, the backyard shed of band member Bill Sprong is converted into a raucous backcountry jam-sesh studio for the local dads/musicians of Up A Creek. “Our style is ‘folk ‘n roll.’ At least that’s what we call it,” said Wood River Middle School teacher by day, guitar-playing vocalist by night, Raul “Rojo” Vandenberg. What started as an Irish-inspired folk group soon evolved, with drummer Scott Seaward and bassist Jeff London, into a “country rock ‘n roll dad band.” Serving up some good ol’ honky-tonkery, with a family-friendly vibe and a dash of old outlaw soul, Up a Creek is still “sifting through the pieces,” as they say. Visit upacreekmusic.com for more info.
Cameron Bouiss, drummer for Finn Riggins, said a friend described their Boise-based band as “a mash-up of Talking Heads, the Pixies and Sesame Street music for adults.” And he wasn’t far off. “I call it rock n’roll,” said Cam, “but that genre is so broad. There are elements of progg, noise, pop and experimental stuff—the kinds of things that challenge a listener, which is important.” The band first came together in northern Idaho, circa 2006, where all three members studied musicology at the University of Idaho. Since then, they’ve crisscrossed the country in a 15-passenger tour van, released a handful of energetic and exploratory albums and relocated from Hailey, Cam’s hometown, to Boise in 2009. Now in the big city, members Lisa Simpson and Eric Gilbert (also husband/wife) divide their time between kids with special needs and organizing the next Boise Treefort Music Festival. Meanwhile, Cam works with his father at their start-up pool cover and decking company, BBDeck, Inc., but as always, Cam said, “Music is in the forefront.” Catch them countrywide, all over Boise and at home. Go to finnriggins.com for tour dates and videos.
Ever since local band Cow Says Moo first morphed into cakefacejane in the winter of 2011, adding a few new names to the roster and original songs to the set list, they have undergone one transformation after another. “We are still evolving,” said guitarist and captain, Henno Heitur. One day they’re bluesy, one day funky, another day they’re alternative rock. And with musical backgrounds ranging from semi-professional to self-taught, and music tastes ranging from hardcore heavy metal to dub step, they’re able to inspire one another in uncommon ways. “We stretch each other to try things we normally wouldn’t have thought to try,” said drummer Dave Olbum. “But we also have veto power. That’s why you’ll never hear us cover R.E.M..” Cakefacejane.com has all the band’s details, including free demos. -Kate Elgee