Ask around town about favorite local bands, and you are very likely to find Sparky’s Flaw at the top of many people’s list. Ask Sparky’s Will Anderson about the reason for the band’s popularity, and he will give you the most nuts-and-bolts answer there is: “Good songwriting, good live shows and hard work.”
Touring up and down the East Coast, from Georgia to Connecticut, Anderson says that the band “has never been so excited about making music.” They have played the beautiful Paradise Club in Boston, and are looking at a future New York gig at The Knitting Factory. Along the way, they have managed to put more than 15,000 friends on their MySpace page, a figure that resonates with industry types.
iTunes has also helped the band a lot, Anderson says, and digital distribution can definitely “boost a band’s legitimacy.” Anderson does not even describe the sound of the band’s music to anyone anymore. Instead he says, “Just go on MySpace and hear it.” He also credits CDBaby with getting the group’s CDs into Amazon and Aware Store.
Despite all the modern technology, the members of Sparky’s Flaw still draw great joy from being in a live band, and still believe in making CDs. You can credit them with a strong work ethic, as well—the band will go into an undisclosed studio this year to record their third disc. While SF relies in a big way on a DIY mentality, Anderson says the band would definitely entertain an offer from a big label, and that their third recording is a push in that direction.
Believe it or not, all of the band members are all still in school, and Anderson, who is a music major at UVA, says that his professors understand the business and have been very supportive. He also gives a shout-out to Red Light Management for helping the band with advice and support.
If you haven’t seen them yet, better get a ticket soon, because they regularly sell out their Starr Hill shows. And since the band’s last scheduled gig was the first ever rained-out Pavilion show (thanks to Tropical Storm Ernesto), it’s been a good while since they’ve played locally. Also, demonstrating their marketing smarts, the band members carry show tickets for sale right in their pockets—so if you see Will, Kit, Alex, Eric, Peter or Johnny walking around, you can secure your entry right there. The show on September 29 also features alt-country locals Dreaming Isabelle and alt-rockers Moses Mayfield as openers.
More recently on the rock circuit, Birmingham, Alabama, transplant Kate Starr made a pretty major splash on the national scene before returning to town to play gigs with her band. As one of four finalists (out of 2,000 bands) in the Lollapalooza Last Band Standing contest, Starr’s indie-rock trio got to play Chicago’s Double Door club with the other finalists, and then go to the festival. Starr’s influences? Jane’s Addiction, Sonic Youth, The Pixies and Bob Dylan.
Starr, bassist Mike Ishaya and drummer Seth Johnston are recording an EP of original music in Lance Brenner’s studio. The disc should be available in a matter of weeks, and you can pick it up at live shows. Starr plays the almighty Atomic Burrito this Thursday, September 28. Starr says that she loves playing the Burrito. “The energy is fabulous, right in your face, and I am all about that.”
She also says that Charlottesville is filled with talented musicians and good bands, “but one thing that I have noticed is that the indie sound, like Built To Spill, is kind of hard to find here—I’m hoping to bring some of that to town.” Fans are catching on, and her last Atomic gig was nicely packed. So come catch a charismatic performer.
How often can your faith in rock music be restored in front of an audience of 10? At Gravity Lounge recently, Kid Congo Powers (Nick Cave’s former guitarist) played a tremendous show for a very small audience. After the show, I got to ask Kid what tunes were on his player. Here’s what he told me: Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On (“The time is right for that album again”), Patti Smith’s Radio Ethiopia (“Recently I saw her live, and I rediscovered how incredible and strange that music is”) and The Liars’ latest, Drum’s Not Dead (“I appreciate a band when they find their own thing”).
Now a D.C. resident, Kid Congo will almost certainly be back—to a fuller house, I hope.