Get bent

Get bent

Feedback loves bands that aren’t afraid to mix things up. So when we arrived at The Virginian on a Sunday night, we were excited to see members of 6 Day Bender out on the Corner busking. Bassist and harmonica player Mark Schottinger even danced a jig for us!

Take a listen to "Down The Line" by 6 Day Bender:
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Courtesy of 6 Day Bender – Thank you!

"This isn’t a usual night for us," the guys said. "Lauren [Moses] isn’t feeling well, so she’s staying home and we’re going to play acoustic. We’re not sure how it’s going to work." Clayton Avent noodled on his Cuban tres (a guitar-like instrument with three groups of two strings) as the band told us about their past and upcoming endeavors. Starting in 2004 with Moses (who spends her days in the ad department here at C-VILLE) on fiddle and Luke Nutting on banjo, the band describes themselves as rock ‘n’ roll with a bluegrass foundation. They’re finishing up recording a live album, which they’ll release at their October 19 show at Outback Lodge, and also gearing up to lay down a proper studio album which they hope to have out by next February before embarking on a national tour.

Rock ‘n’ grass: Catch three nights of 6 Day Bender this weekend.

At 11pm we followed the band inside as they grabbed their instruments and perched themselves near the bar. "Hello, we are the 6 Day Mariachi Band," they shouted to the audience before busting into a scorching rendition of The Band‘s "Evangeline" followed by an equally impressive take on the Stones‘ "Honky Tonk Women."

And that was just the beginning. As the place began to fill up, the band lived up to the mariachi moniker, hopping from booth to booth and belting out songs to the beer-sipping crowd. Though Feedback had to head out before the night ended, Nutting later told us that things culminated with the whole bar singing along. Man, we regret missing that. But there will be some great chances for us (and you) to catch the band’s full lineup. If their Outback show on the 19th isn’t enough for you, they’ll play Atomic Burrito on the 20th and their weekly Virginian gig on the 21st. Hit up all of those shows and you’ve got yourself a three day bender of 6 Day Bender. And, if you’re already planning your Halloween jaunt, you should know that the band will be dressing up and covering Velvet Underground songs at Orbit on the 31st.

MV & EE refers to the Vermont-based duo of Matthew Valentine and Erika Elder, but it leaves out the initials of another regular member of the group, the couple’s dog Zuma. In the liner notes for Gettin’ Gone, the band’s latest release, Feedback noticed that the canine is credited with playing bells. Curious about logistics, we asked Valentine about Zuma’s bell-playing. "Well, we tie the bells around him," he says. "We kind of alter them a bit so that they don’t have those stock sounds. Then we sort of let him run loose. You can hear them more on some of the new stuff. We realized he had quite a technique, so we put him up in the mix."

Get free: MV & EE, a.k.a. Matthew Valentine and Erika Elder, bring groovy folk to the Tea Bazaar.

Bell duty wasn’t Zuma’s only roll on the album, either. "He made a few mix moves, too," Valentine explains, "which was probably a greater contribution than his bell work. His vibes kind of told us when certain solos should be louder." Zuma wasn’t the only additional contributor, though. The Golden Road, the backing band on Gettin’ Gone, includes Dinosaur Jr.‘s J. Mascis and Sunburned Hand of the Man‘s John Moloney, as well as others.

Feedback caught MV & EE (and Zuma) when they passed through town back in February, but we can’t recall whether the pup was sporting his bells or not. The duo, however, did crank out a relaxing, late-night set of meandering psychedelic folk. This time around, when they play in town on October 23, drummer Chris Davis will inject a little more oomph into MV & EE’s live sound, a nice addition considering the heavier grooves that they have carved out on Gettin’ Gone. "It’s really good for us because the new record has more sound where the drums bring us in a different direction," says Valentine. "So I’m glad we’ll be going back to some of the same places with this different lineup."

A video preview of MV & EE’s Gettin’ Gone.

What lead to this heavier sound? Valentine says that, after writing the songs last winter, they hashed them with a short tour in June. "We did two weeks on this thing we were calling the ‘Ringside Seat/Nosebleed Tone’ tour. It was a very low budget tour, very rough rooms for the kind of music we do. It was much more of a bar scene that wasn’t necessarily out to check out the show, just people there to drink. We just blasted out most of the songs from Gettin’ Gone for two weeks in that scene, and I think that gave some of the harder edge that you hear on this record."

MV & EE will play with Richmond folksters The Great White Jenkins (another Feedback fav) at the Tea Bazaar on Tuesday, October 23, so stop in for some laidback but groovy tunes. And don’t forget to give Zuma a pat on the head.

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