It was a happy accident stumbling upon singer/songwriter Ryne Doughty in a bar last night in Des Moines. Truth be told, when I found out I needed to come to Iowa for a business trip, I did a little poking around to see what bands might be performing (on the docket for tonight – Columbus’s own Blueprint at Vaudeville Mews) and I knew Doughty was going to be playing at El Bait Shop, a beer joint not that different from places like World of Beer and Bodega in Columbus (in other words, they have probably 100 beers on draft and another couple hundred in bottles).
Turns out, the people I was with wanted to grab a drink after work and we headed to El Bait Shop. I couldn’t have planned it better. Doughty and guitarist Darren Matthews (Thankful Dirt) set up in a corner and started playing around 8pm. We only stayed through the first set, but I became a fan within seconds of the first note being strummed. Doughty’s one of those guys who’s not really an alt-country artist but I think he’s probably influenced by performers like Ryan Adams and Steve Earle (who he covered during the set). Columbus readers might understand this reference, Doughty’s deeper vocals reminded me quite a bit of Sean Beal’s (Feversmile, Train Meets Truck, Big Back Forty) and that, for people who know me, is a great compliment as Beal is one of my favorite singers to come out of Ohio.
Take a listen to Doughty’s most recent release, To the Factory. He did tell me, during a break, that he’s planning on releasing new material in the near future so stay tuned.
The Mooncussers sound makes total sense when you take a look at the resumes of the guys who make up the band. While a few of them played in noisier rock outfits in the early ’90s up and down High Street, as everyone grew a little older/a little grayer, the good ol’ Americana sound so prevalent in the midwest (is Ohio REALLY in the midwest?) started to creep into the different projects that these guys were involved with.
The end result, which I think was sort of a stroke of luck that originally was conceived as a Todd May (Lilybandits) solo album, is The Mooncussers whose backroom, late-night bar sound isn’t so much alt.country as it is “tractor rock” (ie rock music that sounds like it was written by rural boys who grew up listening to Tom Petty, Skynyrd, Jackson Browne, Rolling Stones and Gram Parsons records).
Not sure if the EP is getting a physical release or if you’ll just have to settle for digital, but The Mooncussers will be playing these tracks (and others) during a special happy hour show on Friday at Rumba Cafe.
The Mooncussers happy hour show runs from 6pm – 9pm at Rumba Cafe. Tom Evanchuck and The Mallards (formerly Big Back Forty, minus Barry Hensley, plus Jason Sturgis) will perform before The Mooncussers hit the stage.
Editor’s note: “Overlooked in Ohio” is a feature in which we ask an Ohio-based artist/music enthusiast to tell us about a few bands (past or present) from the state of Ohio that deserve some love. Our third installment comes courtesy of Bela Koe-Krompecher, a staple of the Columbus rock scene and head of the soon-to-be-revivedAnyway Records — former home of Gaunt, The New Bomb Turks and countless other “important” Columbus bands, including this volume’s subject, Greenhorn. …This is a long one, but do yourself a big favor and read the whole thing… (All photos by Jay Brown.)
In 1990 there was a force in Columbus that shook the walls and very foundation of such hallowed halls as Stache’s and Bernie’s. While it may be the easiest assumption to think that this force was The New Bomb Turks, Gaunt or the Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments (who were all sharpening their guttural and whiny blasts of intellectual yet primordial rage to be unleashed on an unsuspecting public), none of them could hold a candle to the utter force of Greenhorn. Consisting of two sets of brothers out of the ashes of the first Datapanik band, Two Hour Trip, Greenhorn was Midwestern to the core, but they inflicted an audio assault that ranks with the best of American rock and roll.
The Columbus music community gathered around Greenhorn like ants around a dropped sucker. Everybody loved them — the punks, the junkies, the feminists (riot grrls?), indie-rockers and even the college crowd. There was nothing ironic or tongue-in-cheek about the music nor the lyrics. In fact, primary songwriter Dan Spurgeon was not afraid to let his emotions hang on his sleeve, and many of his songs consisted of paeans of love to his future (and ex-) wife. As any good-minded record geek knows, being this upfront and exposed in music is a dangerous and daunting task, especially for a male songwriter. Chan Marshall may be able to do it, but you’d be hard-pressed to believe Steve Malkmus could ever do it with a straight face, let alone Ron House.
Part of the effect of Greenhorn was the sheer potency of the Greenhorn live show; these fuckers stacked the back of the stage with a wall of Marshall amps. From floor to ceiling, the rhythm section consisted of Pat (drums) and Steve (bass) McGann, two intelligent, good-old boys with handsome boyish charm that flooded the stage with exuberance whenever they played. Steve had an intrinsic “I-dare-you” attitude that he wore on his bass, playing this out by removing two of his bass strings — the musical equivalent of “we don’t need any stinking badges!” Dan sang and played rhythm guitar while his older and shirtless brother Mark played lead, adding snaky leads over Dan’s simple yet vigorous songs.