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Class of 2018: CAAMP

While assembling this year’s Class of 2018, there was an inherent professionalism that formed a common thread throughout the picks. Not exactly manufactured bands, or sell-outs for that matter, as much as the bands were “put-together,” tirelessly polished, and aimed for a pop(ulous) center. In other words, they worked for both a sing-a-long and a [...]
Kevin J. Elliott

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While assembling this year’s Class of 2018, there was an inherent professionalism that formed a common thread throughout the picks. Not exactly manufactured bands, or sell-outs for that matter, as much as the bands were “put-together,” tirelessly polished, and aimed for a pop(ulous) center. In other words, they worked for both a sing-a-long and a spotlight. And no one is to care, or is to blame. It’s heady and corporeal all at once.

Speaking with Evan Westfall, who along with Taylor Meier form CAAMP, was somewhat surreal. Here was an acoustic duo, with a banjo and guitar and coal-mining harmonies, far out on the West Coast, touring sold-out shows in venues like the Fillmore with little more than an EP to show for it. Chalk it up to millions of streams, or the co-sign from a band called Rainbow Kitten Surprise (who is a group entirely lost on me, but poised to rule the world any day now, mark my word).

But even then, the duo’s campfire laments do not not exactly jibe with that band’s “Appalachian Genesis” abomination, so it’s still somewhat a pauper’s life on the road.

“At this point it’s hit or miss every night,” says Westfall, of a somewhat idyllic situation touring the utopic West. “This is our fifth time on tour with them so many times it will be the die-hards there for RKS, front and center, waiting to see them for hours and they’ll just give us blank stares. But if we look a little way back into the crowd, we’ve been noticing that we have fans who remembered us and know the music.”

Thankfully CAAMP don’t have to adhere to wild theatrics or incomprehensible trends; instead, they focus on the song and sound. There are unfettered wilderness fantasies about moving to Alaska, bohemian groves, Cherokee drums, mountains and rivers. They may not live out or have lived out those hirsute adventure hippie trips, but the songs do. And really, that’s the American Dream after all, right? To make your own reality?

“We’re truly living the storybook story,” Westfall said.

Westfall and Meier started innocently enough as Ohio University hopefuls, who subsequently dropped out, but remained in the bucolic confines of Athens where a string of open mics organically brought them local acclaim. Before long they were getting plenty of attention and gathering crowds around just the idea of  “that banjo and guitar duo who play on Wednesdays.” A “bedroom demo” followed and that led to the idea to form CAAMP (the extra “A” added a year later when they realized how hard it was to find them digitally with only one vowel in the name). By the time CAAMP had taken off, and the two knew it was a serious quest, their friends who remained Bobcats had graduated, and the next logical step was Columbus. What started as a simple musical partnership between friends, bloomed almost overnight.

“Neither of us have had lessons. We learned everything on our own,” remembers Westfall. “We would discover everything by sitting across from each other and working from the ground up. There were no rules. It was our thing. We were convinced that we had to take it to a new audience.”

In a sense, it would be hard to call CAAMP a Columbus band, per se. Before they had even moved into their newly-shared apartment here, a song from that self-titled demo, “Ohio,” was a huge success on an unsigned Spotify playlist. and managers, labels, and talent buyers were elbowing each other to be the first to catapult CAAMP to fame.

“We’ve definitely heard all of the horror stories about the industry,” says Westfall. Currently CAAMP have management but have yet to sign with a label. Instead choosing to release their new album Boys independently, and in halves, digitally. “We were hesitant at first to jump into that world. But we knew it was something that we’ve always wanted to do and right now is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. These people might not come knocking down the road.”

For now, it’s those outside of the city who look to their “contemporary folk” as something that is the next level past peers like the Mumfords or the Lumineers of the world. CAAMP is  leaner, more explicitly built to elicit old world wanderlust and perhaps inspire others to take up cowboy balladry as anachronistic art-form reborn. Columbus will assuredly catch up, and years from now we may likely be pinching ourselves for not seeing them the time they played Lancaster’s Duck Creek Log Jam, but the window is wide open, and through it the dulcet tones of countrified clemency.

For music, tour dates, and more information visit caamptheband.com.

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Music

Local rocker Angela Perley shines on solo debut

Mike Thomas

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Folk, alt-country, or indie rock—however you choose to categorize her sound, Angela Perley remains a pillar of the Columbus music community—and highly in-demand as a national touring act, to boot.

(614) caught up with Perley to discuss her new album, life on the road, and what it takes to make it as a musician in the Capital City.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

(614): YOUR NEW RELEASE, 4:30, IS YOUR FIRST AS A SOLO ACT. WHAT LED TO THIS CHANGE?

AP: Since 2009 until last year, I had the Howlin’ Moons. It’s always been myself, Chris Connor on lead guitar, and then we had bassist Billy Zehnal in the band up until last year. We’ve had a rotating extended family of drummers. Billy’s not in the band anymore, and we were also on Vital Companies, which is a studio/label in Columbus that did our previous albums.

https://open.spotify.com/album/04pKByd2ygDHXdvl1TcdWP?si=6njCmRpfR5GRWe5kLNghVw

So this one—it’s a solo one, it’s my first independent release. There’s no label involved, I own the masters to the songs. It’s hard to keep a band together, so Chris, who’s been in the band since the beginning, and I, we’re kind of the only members, and we have an extended family of really great and talented people who have other projects they’re in. It just works a lot better with what I want to do.

YOU USED KICKSTARTER TO HELP FUND THE ALBUM. WHAT WAS THE CROWDFUNDING EXPERIENCE LIKE?

Before, with Vital, they had a studio and video production, and they took care of all of our recording in-house. We didn’t realize how expensive everything was. We had paid for studio time [for 4:30] through show money, but to look at all of the other expenses of making a record happen and trying to get it out there, it’s pretty intense! There have been a lot of independent artists that we know that will do Kickstarters, and I’ve never done anything like it before, so I was really nervous doing it. But it was a success, and I actually just finished sending out all of the preorder vinyl that people ordered.

YOUR SOUND IS OFTEN DESCRIBED AS ANYTHING FROM AMERICANA, TO ALT-COUNTRY, TO PSYCHEDELIC ROCK. WHAT’S IT LIKE WORKING WITHIN THOSE TRADITIONS IN 2019?

You kind of have to make your own path, because although there is a resurgence of rock ‘n’ roll, everything’s been done before. It has those roots, but we’re not breaking the mold or anything. You just have to be true to yourself and to the music, and just go from there. Everyone’s voice is important as an artist, so that’s important to remember.

YOU’RE ON THE ROAD TOURING QUITE A BIT. DO YOU STILL KEEP TRACK OF WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE COLUMBUS MUSIC SCENE?

Columbus is definitely growing, and moving toward doing things independently. I’ve seen a lot of bands touring, which is good. It’s an affordable place to tour out of, and there’s a community here for sure. Whenever I have a chance, we go out to the shows. We love The Cordial Sins, and we’re having them as our special guests for our album release. The High Definitions, Souther—there are just so many good bands.

When I go to other cities and I realize that there’s not really much of a scene going on, it is kind of cool to see that in Columbus, people are very aware and supportive of musicians. Even the businesses around here, everyone’s trying to work with musicians in some way. There are so many gigs, be it at breweries, at restaurants, or little festivals that pop up. There’s work for musicians here. And some other cities, there’s really not.

IN THE PAST, YOU’VE PLAYED SOMETHING LIKE 150 SHOWS A YEAR. ARE YOU KEEPING UP THE SAME PACE THESE DAYS?

I’m glad that we played that many shows at that time. We were playing anywhere and everywhere, and a lot of that was pressure financially. If that’s the way you’re making a living, you’ve got to take every gig. We’ve spread out the shows since, especially since we have been doing it for this long. We’re kind of gearing more towards quality shows. I will say, playing that many shows—I needed that. We needed the experience, and just the repetition. Every venue is different, every environment, every crowd. You cut your teeth and it makes you stronger.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO LOCAL ARTISTS HOPING TO MAKE A CAREER IN MUSIC?

It’s tough, because for each person it’s so different. Getting out there and working hard, playing as many shows as possible—that's all really great experience. But also focus on the music itself. If you’re going to make a music video or a recording, take your time—don’t half-ass it. Wait until you know what you’re doing. Although, you kind of have to learn from your mistakes, too.

Catch Angela Perley with special guests The Cordial Sins on September 6 at Skully’s Music-Diner for the release show of her new album, titled 4:30.

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(614) Sessions

614 Sessions: Doc Robinson

Mike Thomas

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4QdxpbrZgg&feature=youtu.be

Doc Robinson, the collaboration of Columbus music stalwarts Jon Elliott and Nick D’Andrea, joined us for this session in the 614 offices to share their unique brand of "Backyard BBQ Breakup music."

While here, the duo played stripped-down acoustic versions of their songs "Wilderness" and "Wild Beauty."

To hear more from Doc Robinson, follow them on your streaming platform of choice, or visit https://www.docrobinsonofficial.com/

Be sure to catch the group at Woodlands Tavern on Saturday, September 21, when they'll be joined by Hebdo, Parker Louis, Honey and Blue and many more for their Family Jamboree.

Spotify:
https://open.spotify.com/artist/5O0efDEpkqEmWbXD2zpkjz

Apple Music:
https://music.apple.com/us/artist/doc-robinson/1116027164
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Producer: Mike Thomas
Videographers: Adam Fakult, Mitch Hooper, Mike Thomas
Audio Mixing/Mastering: Jared Huntley
Video Editing: Mike Thomas
Contact: [email protected]
Website: 614now.com

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(614) Sessions

(614) Sessions: The Turbos

Mike Thomas

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ThYK1D0000

The Turbos’ high-octane heroics have earned the group a fierce following in the Columbus rock scene and beyond. Combining shredding guitar virtuosity with soaring, anthemic vocals, co-frontmen Alex D. and Lucas Esterline lead the group in a sound that combines the best of the old and the new. Rounded out by the multi-talented Cameron Reck on bass and mononymous local music veteran Jahrie behind the kit, the Turbos are leading the charge for a new generation of rockers.

For the first of what we hope will be many in a new music series we're calling The (614) Sessions, The Turbos joined us in our offices for a stripped-down acoustic set. Despite leaving the electrics at home, the power of their performance was still enough to garner multiple noise complaints (sorry, neighbors).

For show dates and more, be sure to follow The Turbos on Facebook. Big thanks to the group for sharing their music as our first-ever guests in this new endeavor!

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Producer: Mike Thomas
Videographers: Mike Thomas, Adam Fakult, Mitch Hooper
Audio Mixing/Mastering: Jared Huntley Video
Editing: Mitch Hooper
Contact: [email protected]

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