On The Radar: Fun Fun Fun Fest


The 9th annual Fun Fun Fun Fest (FFF, F3F) in Austin, Texas is right around the corner and that means it is now time to get start getting stoked for everything this year will have to offer, (assuming your stokage hasn’t yet begun.)

Like ACL and SXSW, FFF also has a cool abbreviation. But for those who have yet to experience a FFF, the amenities and entertainment are, at times, staunchly different from the other well-known festivals in Austin. As one of my friends so elegantly put it, FunFunFun is a “less cluster-fucky ACL with better music and beer, and skateboarding.” So really, what’s not to be excited about? Here are just a few things you should know about F3F 2014:

  • You can still buy passes here! 1 Day, 3 Day, and Ultimate Smooth Passes are all still available.
  • Any pass grants you free admission to FFF NITES which includes over 100 performing artists and a selection of aftershow-only sets.
  • Food will be provided by over 20 vendors, including some of Austin’s most street-famous food trucks.
  • There is a taco cannon. A cannon that shoots tacos.
  • 250+ acts (many of which have yet to hit a national stage) across 4 more-or-less genre specific stages:
    • Orange Stage – folk/indie/alternative
    • Blue Stage – hip hop/R&B/electronica
    • Black Stage – metal/punk/hard rock
    • Yellow Stage – comedy
  • The Volcom skateboarding team will be there with a full roster skating the Volcom Super Collider, a course as ridiculous as the name entails. There will be tricks, and there will be blood.
  • You can start mentally preparing yourself now with the FFF app which offers all of the set times, maps, a Taco Locator, as well as the full NITES schedule.

But with all of this excitement to see, how can one possibly manage to get a full FFF experience!? Chill. Allow me to offer some perspective. Below is a short list of my FFF “must-sees” and small explanations as to why.

  • Atmosphere – This indie-rap duo just so happens to be my favorite thing of all time ever. So much so that I have a tattoo artist’s rendition of an Atmosphere album cover that takes up nearly all of my left ribcage. Bias aside, I can honestly attest to the fact that Atmosphere puts on one of the greatest live hip-hop shows ever (this will be my fourth one). This isn’t your average emcee rapping over a pre-recorded mp3 instrumental. This is a full live band playing a selection of emotionally driven tracks from a catalogue of over 300 songs. Given the underground following that emcee Slug and deejay Anthony Davis have garnered over the last decade and a half of work, you can bet your ass that this crowd will be one of the most energetic audiences at FFF this year. Atmosphere is widely credited with creating the American independent rap scene.
  • Nas –  The father of modern hip-hop. More than just the greatest of all time (GOAT), Nas is the GOAT’s GOAT, he’s your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper. Since 1994, Nas has released eight consecutive platinum and multi-platinum albums and sold over 25 million records worldwide. His first album, 1994’s “Illmatic” is usually referred to as the hip-hop bible. When it comes to rapping over beats. Nas literally wrote the book.
  • King Diamond – Because of this scene from “Clerks 2” and because King Diamond is flat out the heaviest of metals. They should probably be handing out buckets to this show so people’s faces don’t melt off onto the ground.
  • Judas Priest – As a child, my dad would often violate traffic laws while I was in the car with him. Things like running red lights, not using a blinker, speeding, etc. Everytime he did, he would sing the chorus of Judas Priest’s ‘Breaking the Law,’ something he still does to this day. Judas Priest literally invented leather-metal. Listen to ‘Hell Bent for Leather’ or ‘You’ve Got Another Thing Coming’ and try to tell me you don’t want to at least hear this legendary metal band from afar.
  • Modest Mouse – Do I even need to explain myself? ‘Float On’ will be forever be a staple of this generation. This band was indie before you or I even knew what indie was.
  • Dinosaur Jr. – This band is the bee’s knees, his legs and his arms. Feedback, distortion, classic rock influence, and lyrically angsty enough to get you through puberty again. This three-piece rock dynamic managed to make it out of the 80’s era of rock and continue to release solid albums, live and studio, as recent as 2012. You can’t deny the talent behind 20 years of making music and playing shows.

To be honest, my “must-see” list includes about 50 artists/bands. Consider the above as a backbone for any and all FFF attendees. Even if the music isn’t enough to shiver your timbers, events like the Air Sex Championship and Live Action Battle Rap (plot twist: definitely not what you think it is) are enough reanimate the dead.

To put it bluntly, you’d have to be Hellen Keller in a hazmat suit to find yourself not enjoying this year’s FunFunFun Fest.

You can listen to a Spotify playlist put together by FunFunFun Fest here to introduce yourself to some of the bands you might not know, and make sure you’re properly prepared for the ones you do know

Also, you can check out (and follow) my personal playlist updated on the weekly. No rules, just 13 tracks guaranteed to tickle your hear-holes in a good way: The Weekly Dyl


– Dylan Huddleston

Intern Spotlight: Drew Knight


As part two of our Intern Spotlight series, allow me to present another one of the amazing human beings you can find running around the Grand Stafford office and theater.

Meet Drew. He assists in multiple departments around here, but I know him as an editorial sensei. He sees everything I type before it hits the blog and is always there to fix my silly mistakes. On top of that, he’s a way talented writer. I got Mr. Knight to answer some questions for me and hopefully shed some light on his identity for all of your curious readers out there. Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, Drew Knight.



-Give us the low-down on how you ended up at the Stafford and what it is you do here?

– I had a friend freshman year who was one of the original interns and he told me about the internship. I went to a show that Defacto put on (The Rocket Summer at Wolf Pen Creek) and talked to Jose, then I applied, interviewed and I’ve been helping out ever since!

What is your favorite Stafford memory?

– My favorite Stafford memory was opening night. When I started the internship, we were working together to get the Stafford reopened. We saw the theater before any renovations were done and was really cool seeing it rise up out of the ashes.

– Favorite musical experience?

– My favorite musical experience was seeing MGMT at FunFunFunFest last year. Jose was able to hook us up with free tickets for helping out with the festival’s publicity. They were on my bucket list of bands I have to see before I die and being able to see them from the rail was rad. There was all kinds of funny things in the air…

 -If you had an opportunity to change something about the music industry, what would it be?

– I wish people still bought physical copies of albums. The Internet is like a double-edged sword for helping out the music industry: It’s super easy to find out what your favorite bands are up to, but it’s also easy just to stream their music or download it in other non-legal ways. I just think it’s unfair that there’s so much money artists are getting shorted of these days.

Who is your favorite artist/band?

– It changes from week to week, but I’ve really been into The 1975 lately. I think their sound is pretty different from a lot of other alternative artists on the charts, and their super chill and they’ve got awesome style.

-What are the last 5 songs on your “Recently Played” list?

– “Robbers” by The 1975

– “400 Lux” by Lorde

– “Of the Night” by Bastille

– “Little Death” by The Neighbourhood

– “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High” by Arctic Monkeys

-Would you rather go blind or deaf?

– Blind for sure. I just think it would be easier to go through life without sight than without hearing. I don’t think I’d be able to survive without being able to listen to music.

-Where did your appreciation for music come from?

– My dad, a teen in the 70s, always played 70s rock like Tom Petty and The Eagles on road trips, which I think had a big factor. But I was also kind of a weirdo in high school and listened to a lot of pop-punk, which gave me a lot of dumb angst and made me feel like I belonged somewhere else.

-Aside from the Stafford, where else do you go on a night out in Downtown Bryan?

– Murphy’s Law Trivia Nights! They have great deals on beer and it’s a lot of fun to share a pitcher with friends and realize how bad we are at trivia.

-Do you have any embarrassing stories about Jose?

– He’s a great dancer. Enough said.




– by Dylan Huddleston


Downtown Bryan is Way Cooler than You Might Think


photo by: Nikkie Marie Smith http://fineartamerica.com


As of September 11, 2014, Downtown Bryan is officially recognized and listed as a Cultural District within the great state of Texas. What does this mean exactly? It means that a visit to Downtown Bryan will make you infinitely more cultured than your peers, of course! While that may be pushing the envelope a little bit, it is important to point out that the Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) now recognizes Downtown Bryan as one of twenty-six designated Cultural Districts in Texas. Downtown Austin, the Dallas Arts District, Houston Theater District, and now historic Downtown Bryan!

This new-found title solidifies what many of the people who have experienced a weekend in DB already knew: Downtown Bryan is an amazing place. To be recognized as a Cultural District, a nominated zone must show itself to be a focal point for business and cultural development, with an emphasis placed on cultural assets such as museums, theaters, art galleries, and events that support and showcase the arts. You can check out the official article regarding the TCA’s decision here.

It is all too often that I hear cohorts of mine complaining about the lack of a “scene” in the Bryan/College Station area. To that, I say, “HA! YOU FOOL!” There is always, and I do mean always, something worth your attention to be found on the quaint streets of Bryan’s downtown district.

Art galleries, theaters, venues, museums, bars, coffee, pastries, live music/comedy/poetry, booze, delicately lit streets reminiscent of a 1950s noire film, dark alleys dotted in street art, ice cream, comfortable benches, convenient parking, wonderful people here and there and there and here, and, of course, the Grand Stafford Theater. If you’re struggling to find a scene in BCS, you just aren’t trying hard enough.


This weekend, the 27th and 28th, Downtown Bryan will play host to the 8th annual Texas Reds Steak & Grape Festival. Throughout the newly defined cultural district, there will be 50+ bands (local and regional) across six stages, shops and vendors, Texas wineries and craft beers, artists, craftspeople, and a high probability that you will experience something new — and never forget where you were when it happened!

Texas Reds is just one of the many festivities that frequents Downtown Bryan. If you still aren’t convinced that the DB is the place to be, let me enlighten you on a little event called First Friday, straight from downtownbryan.com (yeah, there’s a website):

“First Friday is a monthly event held on the first Friday of each month. The event is hosted and coordinated by the Downtown Bryan Association (DBA). It is a fantastic opportunity to come out and enjoy a variety of arts & culture related activities and demonstrations. First Friday is a free event open to the public.”

But it’s so much more than that! There’s artists, there’s street performers, there’s food trucks with delicacies that your palette will forever thank you for, there’s live music, there’s crazy people wearing crazy stuff, and you can attend for FREE.

In conclusion, it was an obvious decision on the part of the Texas Commission on the Arts to classify Historic Downtown Bryan as a legitimate Cultural District. I’ve barely scratched the surface of how many facets of cultural expression and support for the arts goes down on the streets around here. Don’t take my word for it though, come out and see for yourself.

Texas Reds Steak & Grape Festival Sept. 27th-28thhttp://texasredsfestival.com

First Friday Oct. 3: http://www.downtownbryan.com/play/1stfriday/

By Dylan Huddleston

Be sure to check out and follow my weekly Spotify playlist “The Weekly Dyl.” 13 tracks a week for your listening pleasure: The Weekly Dyl 9/24/2014

Intern Spotlight: Dylan Huddleston


Hello again Stafford faithful.

The GST blog is back! This time around, things are going to be a little different. We’re peeling back the skullcaps of everyone who puts in work here at the Stafford to give you a glimpse past the headliner on stage, beyond the realm of the concert and into that of how/who makes it all happen.

As part of the new blogging agenda, allow me to introduce the first in a series of blogs appropriately titled “GST Intern Spotlight.” There are a lot of amazing people that come through the office doors every week, and it is my duty to introduce them to you and shed some light on their amazing-ness.

The first run in the series is a self-service job. This time, we focus on one of the GST’s press interns: Dylan Huddleston (AKA Me!). I joined the Stafford team in January of 2014 with a stint in production and a continuing presence in the press field. On a regular basis, I enjoy skateboarding, listening to gangster rap, smoking cigarettes, and driving around aimlessly at night. On a less regular basis, I enjoy listening to country, reggae, ska, metal, folk, classical, EDM, jazz, chamber music, prog-rock, experimental blues, and Weird Al Yankovich, drinking green tea, people watching, “How I Met Your Mother,” and indulging in conversations about cats with my 52-year-old roommate.

My love for music and ineptitude for making music came together on a field of compromise. While the only instrument I can play is the rubber-band, I am really good at listening to music. I discovered my obsession in 6th grade while learning all of the words to Eminem’s “Encore” album during reading class. Sorry, Mom. That was tough talk for a 12-year-old on the playground, so I took to Internet forums to discuss music and trends at the age of 13. At that age, I hadn’t even considered my life after 8th period, much less a path towards music journalism.

I come from a dusty ol’ town by the name of Odessa, Texas, where the scent of crude oil is inescapable and the water tastes a little like stale dirt. Growing up in Odessa is a lot like growing up in purgatory. The Odessan youth spends his/her precious developmental years floating around the town, bumping into other unsure bodies, scratching their heads and basically waiting for the next moment of revelry to release them from the monotony that is a city without a scene. Don’t get me wrong, I love my hometown, but it’s the plain truth that if you’re not involved in some sort of illegal activity as a youth in Odessa, you spend your weekends sitting at home, staring at screens and not thinking of much beyond the city limits.

I saw my first live band at the ripe age of 15: The Doobie Brothers live at Ector County Coliseum, hardly a hot spot for aspiring artists or anybody under the age of 30, really. However, I was a fresh 18 years old before I was exposed to a live music scene. That birthday was accompanied by a road trip with my best friend to see my favorite hip-hop group, Atmosphere, play at Stubbs in Austin, Texas. I remember walking down 6th street with saucers for eyes. Music was practically pouring from every bar, dive, lounge or restaurant we walked by. I became instantly enthralled. Up until that point, I had never taken a serious interest in anything to do with music. I left ATX that weekend convinced that it was destiny for me to pursue a life in the field of music.

That fall, I began my first year at Texas A&M University. A few weeks went by and I had drawn the conclusion that, yet again, I was a resident of a town with no music scene. Then, in November, a few friends of mine from Odessa joined me in attending Rock the Republic. That was the night I became captivated with Downtown Bryan. Walking around that Friday night, I felt remnants of my first trip to Austin, but the sensation was different this time. Whereas the “Live Music Capital of the World,” with sheer size alone, can leave one feeling overwhelmed and intimidated, Downtown Bryan conjured a more wholesome feeling in me. Coincidentally, that was also the first time I attended a Grand Stafford show. Before long, I was a new member of MSC Town Hall, a concert programming organization run through Texas A&M. Before too much longer, during a Town Hall meeting, I was listening to Jose Arredondo talk about the possibilities of interning at the Grand Stafford Theater.

Lo and behold, here I am. Twenty-one years old and still just as determined to make my mark in the music industry as I was at 18. These things take time, and for a musically-talentless soul like myself, I feel there is no better fit for me at this moment than behind a keyboard in the Grand Stafford office space. I have been granted a platform, a voice to speak upon music and all its extensions, and a role in the realm of live music that transcends beyond the position of spectator.

Needless to say, I’m hyped to be back in the saddle! Stay tuned, things only get radder from here.

-Dylan Huddleston

Be sure to check out and follow my weekly Spotify playlist “The Weekly Dyl.” 13 tracks a week for your listening pleasure: The Weekly Dyl 9/4/2014

The Octopus Project: Experimentation Gone Wild

“And here’s a vote for The Octopus Project as the greatest band ever.” – The Boston Globe

Tally the votes, count ‘em and recount ‘em. The Octopus Project IS the greatest band ever. Straight out of Austin, Texas, this four-piece indietronica band has been producing masterful blends of sound since 2002. Drum machines, synthesizers, guitars, basses, real drums, keyboards, theremins, glockenspiels, bells, whistles – The Octopus Project loves to experiment with noise, and their yield is always incredible. The band has spent the last 12 years developing an impressive discography (5 albums, a slew of EP’s, film scores, and video game soundtracks) and an even more impressive fanbase for their live shows. The Ocotpus Project has appeared at Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, All Tomorrow’s Parties, SXSW, and many more renowned festivals as well as touring with artists like the hip-hop underground hero Aesop Rock, Devo, and Explosions in the Sky.

Their latest effort, “Fever Forms,” is “representative of The Octopus Project live experience – dense and ecstatic, a concentrated dose of frenetic beats and exuberant melody set in a brilliantly-colored sound world.” As far as live experience goes, The Octopus Party has always pushed itself to completely immerse their fans in sound and visuals, pushing eyes and ears to the brink of sensory overload. At SXSW 2010, The Octopus Project produced their magnum opus (to date) by defining what is the live audiovisual experience. The Octopus Party placed itself in the middle of two outer rings. The innermost ring was composed of audience, and the outermost formed by 8 speakers. Playing on the tent screens above the performance were 8 synchronized video projections. During this particular show, no matter where you listened or looked, there was something to remind you that The Octopus Project kicks ass. “The performance required an integrated eight-channel audio and eight-channel video system, hence the name “Hexadecagon,” the geometrical term for a sixteen-sided object — a sixteen-sided audiovisual panorama.”

If it isn’t apparent yet, The Octopus Project is all about the experience of music. Ambient at times, bringing down the damn roof at others, this band has mastered the art of eye-ear concert coordination all the while creating intuitive and original music that never seems to grow old.
Check out The Octopus Project this Saturday!
March 29, 2014 @ 9:00 pm
Doors @ 8:00 pm
$12 tickets at the door and online
By: Dylan Huddleston
photo courtesy of: www.austintownhall.com
video from: www.peekaboorecords.com/hexadecagon/

The O’s: Sweaty and Texan

Taylor Young and John Pedigo are The O’s. The O’s are Taylor Young and John Pedigo. One time, while they were out cocktailing, Pedigo threatened to Young that he was going to buy a banjo. A new banjo meant a new band; both Young and Pedigo had been in numerous band lineups up until this night in 2008. Following the bar, the duo sat on a bench at Vickery Park for 8 hours and came up with their band name, then they enjoyed some to-go tacos. The glamor doesn’t stop there, though. Three months later in 2009, the band’s first album “We Are The O’s” dropped on Idol Records. Then came the tours: statewide, nationwide, worldwide, festivals, gigs, TV-shows appearances- you name it, The O’s have been all over it. There has never been a venue too small or large for The O’s, they travel alongside their unofficial mission statement: “make good music for good people.” In 2011, the band teamed up with Grammy award winning recording engineer, Stuart Sikes, and dropped their second album, “Between The Two,” an album in which every instrument was played by either Young or Pedigo. As the duo matured, so did their music, and their adventures around the world, all the while staying true to the mantra. Their third album released in July 2013 under the production of Chris Smith at the legendary Sonic Ranch Studio in Tornillo, Texas- an album filled with good music, made for good people.

The O’s simply cannot be marginalized by genre. Even their self-description changes with their setting: “Sometimes we are an indie band with fiddles; sometimes we are the bluegrass band at a country show. We are from Dallas, Texas, so we have all the Texan tendencies, but for indie rock shows, we are just the twangy band. At a country show we’re the emo band.” Regardless, The O’s are a good time. The kind of boot-stomping, off-the-cuff energy one would expect from native Dallasonians armed with banjos, harmonicas, and guitars. Their Texas-bred energy spawns pools of people who “want to get drunk, sweaty and loud,” a mix that is heavily reciprocated in their music. Take for instance the song “Tryin’ To Have A Good Time,” a twangy, train-engine groove with a poppy sing-a-long hook that’ll have you dancing towards the closest bottle of whiskey with a grin on your face by the 5 second mark. The O’s are nothing short of fantastic musicians, but they’re even better performers. Since the beginning, they’ve simply been tryin’ to have a good time making good music for good people, and have succeeded in every aspect.

Grab a bottle and some dancing pants, things are gonna get rowdy.

Wed. Mar 26, 2014 @ 8:00pm

$5.00 tickets available online and at the door.

Event is all ages.

Doors @ 7pm.

by: Dylan Huddleston

photo courtesy of:  www.dallasnews.com

Votary in Stock at The Stafford

Born out of the Commons’ dorms at Texas A&M, Votary has moved past its once untitled and acoustic ways to become a rather well-known act around the BCS area. In the beginning, there was Jack Thweatt (lead vocals and guitar,) and Travis Thompson (pianist and keyboardist,) bouncing ideas off of each other in the Commons’ lobby. Before long, Conner Wright found his place in Votary manning the drumsticks, and Michael Burgess behind the bass. After winning the Town Hall: Battle of the Bands at Texas A&M, Votary garnered a spike in popularity. In 2013, they released their debut album, “Ground Beneath Us,” and a 3-track Christmas EP, “I’ve Been Nice.” Now, with plans to release another EP this spring, Votary seems to be establishing itself as a potential force to be reckoned with in the Texas music scene.

As a “contemporary pop band” Votary can lend at least some of its past success to straight up supply and demand. “If music is a product, almost everyone around here is either country or blues rock, so that makes it easier,” says Wright. And he is right. Votary is a diamond in the rough, a pop in the country, a sing-a-long in the saloon, if you will. Drawing influence from artists and bands like Ben Rector, Young the Giant, and Walk the Moon, Votary makes the cut for picky indie-fanatics, yet they remain poppy enough for the casual listener. As far as live shows go, the band seems to have it figured out: “We had one show where Travis decided to wear a Jango Fett mask throughout the entirety of the performance.” Votary is on the rise, and as the Mandalorian bounty hunter put it (in Attack of the Clones, fyi) “They’ll do their job well. I’ll guarantee that.”

Come support your local artists!

March 20, 2014

Doors @ 8:00 pm

Tickets available online and at the door.

By: Dylan Huddleston

Photo courtesy of maroonweekly.com

Aaron Behrens and The Midnight Stroll

You may have heard of Ghostland Observatory. You may not have. Either way, this is not Ghostland Observatory. It is, however, Aaron Behrens, the lead singer of Ghostland Observatory, currently expressing himself musically with The Midnight Stroll. This is all new, and it’s all good. Rock & roll, rhythm & blues, lyrics and grooves. In this recent setting, Aaron Behrens has stylized his sound from the “fabric of his soul.” You can expect the same amazing Ghostland-stage presence from Behrens, but the similarities stop there. The Midnight Stroll brings the nitty-gritty, and Behrens sounds like a darker, ominous Robert Plants. Although the band is collectively young, they thrive in live settings. In 2013, Aaron Behrens and The Midnight Stroll played at the Austin City Limits music festival and was featured as an exclusive performance on Austin360.com’s Youtube channel. Word of mouth and gigs has brought them thus far, and they have rocked the whole way. Check it out Saturday night!

Doors @ 8:00 pm

$10.00 tickets available online and at the door

By: Dylan Huddleston

Photo from www.aclfestival.com

Ishi Is as Ishi Does: Nonstop Dance Party at the Stafford

When JT Mudd and Brad Dale began their musical experiment in 2006, they probably didn’t consider that they would one day be sharing stages with acts like New Order, SBTRKT, Phoenix, Passion Pit, Pretty Lights, Big Boi, Neon Indian, Toro y Moi, and Marina & the Diamonds. Lo and behold, they have. Ishi has long passed the gauntlet of festival validation, playing SXSW, Meltdown Music Festival, Wicker Park Festival, etc. to great audience and critical acclaim. In 2010, the release of Ishi’s critically acclaimed freshman album “Through the Trees”  won awards from the Dallas Observer for Best New Act & Best Electronic/Dance Act. The sophomore album, “Digital Wounds,” was released in the spring of 2013 with the goal of creating a mental dance party experience for the listener. This expectation is met with literally every track on the album. It never stops. Ishi never stops. The only thing better than the imagined disco lights, feather boas, crazy-cool glowing sunglasses, and nonstop jig action is the real thing.

You can’t pass up an Ishi show. You just can’t. Seriously, just look at this:

Ishi is the physical manifestation of everything you wish you could be all of the time. No inhibitions, the energy of pure methamphetamine, glow paint, bitchin’ lights, bitcin’ attire, and bitchin’ music. Ishi exists in a realm free of insecurities, thus the goal of their live shows is to take the audience to that realm with them. There’s no need to waste time by comparing them to other Soul, Funk, Folk/Electro, Techno/House groups that draw inspiration from Muskogee Creek Indian heritage, so I won’t go there. What is important to talk about is how much fun a live Ishi show is.  Every time this dynamic duo hits a stage, they do everything in their power to exert an “entirely unique environment of mysticism, awareness, love and acceptance.” It’s Woodstock, neon, and synthesizers in a blender set to “Dance.” Ishi is an unparalleled experience, and a must-see for everyone. Be there Friday the 28th!

Doors @ 8:00 pm

$10.00 tickets available at the door and online

By: Dylan Huddleston

photo from http://www.ishimusic.com/



The Vespers, Born and Raised Music

Back in 2008 at a small Nashville campfire, homeschool met public school, two sisters met two brothers, folk vocals met rock licks, and a band was forged over the flame. The Vespers are what you get when worlds collide (properly). Composed of sisters Callie and Phoebe Cryar, and brothers Taylor and Bruno Jones, The Vespers are quite the hand: two pair of two very different suits, all led by an ace-high passion for music making. From a young age, Callie and Phoebe have been synchronizing spirit and voice. They first started singing professionally around the age of 8 and 9, and around the age of 13 years old, Callie and Phoebe performed in a children’s chorus on a Dolly Parton collaboration album. The Joneses, both ex-members of southern-rock trio Fuel to the Fire, grew up under the influence of their dad’s record collection. What you get when you mix the Cryar’s and the Joneses is what you get when you mix peanut butter and chocolate: some people don’t like it, but other people (like me) enjoy it so much that they smear it on their faces. Evidence of this perfect concoction litters the group’s latest album “The Fourth Wall,” especially so on songs such as “Got No Friends,” a rabble-rousing folk cut with just enough grit to necessitate some floss afterwards. The Vespers are performers first, writing most of their songs while on the road and playing them at shows long before debuting them on records. “The Fourth Wall” is an album that exemplifies that showmanship, as Phoebe puts it, “What we were trying to do is break that fourth wall down. Just with the way we interact with the audience. That (term) really struck a chord with us.” As for the creative process behind writing and playing shows, she goes on to say that the band is “Just doing what comes naturally.” All natural, homegrown music. The Vespers have noted many artists that they enjoy listening to, but they tend to stray from taking anything away from their favorite acts, “We try not to feed back on anything that anyone else is doing creatively, that’s the integrity of our music is our sound. We can’t help but have that sound. It’s just what happens when we get together.” You can’t deny The Vespers of their originality, for one, because they won’t let you. The Cryars and the Joneses have remained steadfastly independent thus far, staying in creative control, and it has worked out well. “The Fourth Wall” came to be out of a successful Kickstarter campaign that reached its goal of $15,000, and much of their current popularity has been garnered simply by word of mouth and playing shows wherever they can. As Callie elegantly puts it: “We want to avoid selling out and signing away business control just in order for us to be famous, basically. We kinda want to get to where we can have some success and at the same time have our own independence, too.”

There you have it. No gimmicks. Straight up Nashville, hemmed by the angelic Cryar harmonies and starched to the riff by the Joneses. The Vespers have come a long way since 2008, and they’ve done it without losing sight of who they are or the importance of putting on a damn good show. Check out The Vespers this Thursday the 27th!

Doors @ 8:00 pm

$8.00 tickets available at the door and online

By: Dylan Huddleston

photos courtesy of www.thevespersband.com