Striking chords

Striking chords

While in the band Oneida, Pat Sullivan stopped through Charlottesville quite often to bask in Tokyo Rose‘s red glow. In time, though, he grew away from that group’s noisy, chaotic trajectory. "My roots are in stricter songwriting," he tells Feedback, "very chordal, melodic, harmonic things. The kind of things I was doing with Oneida at the time were loud and kraut-y."

So what did he do? He started a new group, of course. Leaving Oneida to its more spaced-out journeys, Sullivan went on to form Oakley Hall, which takes its name from the American Western novelist and aims for an energetic and cowboy-ish twang (they hit the bull’s eye with their new album, I’ll Follow You, which comes out September 11).

Six shooter rock: On September 7 Oakley Hall will take dead aim at Satellite Ballroom.

Feedback loves Oneida’s noisy ramblings and kraut-rock trances, but listening to Oakley Hall makes us understand why Sullivan made his choice. Based in the Big Apple, the group combines big-city energy and a rustic American heart. "The idea is that it could be roots-ish music that could be anything," says Sullivan. "It didn’t have to be alt-country or sound a certain way."

Oakley Hall isn’t just Sullivan, though. The band’s wealth of talent makes them stand apart. Rachel Cox teams up with Sullivan on vocal and songwriting duties, and the three other members round out the mix with consistently terrific chops. "The people in our band are traditionally good players," Sullivan says. "So we’re able to take a certain weirdness and add that to people who can play really intricate, crazy things."

Take a listen to "No Dreams" from Oakley Hall‘s I’ll Follow You:
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Courtesy of Merge Records – Thank you!

Like a roving group of cowboys (and cowgirls), Oakley Hall has spent the last five years touring the country and performing with acts like Bright Eyes, Gillian Welch and M. Ward, and Sullivan says it’s been tough but rewarding. "There are definitely bumps, because you’re living on the road," he explains. Everything you do is part of that experience. But when everyone’s in the same vibe of letting it out, it’s ecstatic."

Ecstatic it must be, as Oakley Hall is a renowned live act in their hometown of NYC, the haven of many scoffers and naysayers. "I think there’s a certain energy that we kick up all together," Sullivan says, "and when people see someone who isn’t doing it just to get something off their chest, that actually has this kind of hook in it, I think it’s exciting." Be part of that energy (Feedback certainly will) when the band plays Satellite Ballroom this Friday, September 7.

From Wal-Mart to Argentina

When Jonny Fritz (or, to go by his stage name, The Corndawg) gets an idea in his head, he just runs with it. One day the Esmont-raised Fritz was at a hardcore punk show when the power went out. Seeing the band get nervous about not being able to hide behind their decibels of distortion, he decided to start an unabashed, unadorned a capella act.

Three chords and an airbrush: Jonny Fritz, a.k.a. The Corndawg, will entertain you with his Wal-Mart-inspired Americana at the Tea Bazaar on September 10.

He called himself Corndawg and started singing songs. "Eventually somebody was like, ‘You need to get a damn guitar,’" he says. So he got a few lessons from Charlottesville’s Hillbilly Werewolf. "He taught me the first few chords on guitar and that was about it. I pretty much just play those three or four chords."

Where has that handful of chords gotten him? Wherever he wants, it seems. Fritz has played music in Australia, Cambodia, Thailand, India, Spain, Italy, Germany, Argentina and nearly every state in the U.S. (oh, and don’t forget Puerto Rico). His favorite country? "Argentina, hands down," he says. "The people there are just so amazing. Every single person there just seems to be on another level."

Though he’s traveled far and wide and now lives in Philadelphia, Fritz takes his inspiration from rural America. "It mainly comes from impoverished people like Wal-Mart workers," he says. "I try to put myself in somebody else’s shoes. That’s usually where the songs come from. Lately I’ve been inspired by people who are married and in uncomfortable, awkward situations."

Music isn’t Fritz’s only artistic outlet. He also makes airbrushed t-shirts (no joke). "Airbrushing is my favorite form of art," he says. "I’ve been making a lot of t-shirts lately. But they take a really long time, like two hours to make one. And it’s hard to sell a damn t-shirt for more than 10 bucks. No matter now long it takes, it’s still a damn t-shirt." Ain’t that the truth.

The Corndawg playing "Oversteppin.’"

To pick up one of those shirts, or just to see what Corndawg is all about, head to his show at the Tea Bazaar on Monday, September 10. You might also be able to snatch up the new Corndawg album, still untitled, which Fritz hopes to have ready by then. "Hopefully it will be released on September 11," he says, "but there’s no label yet, so that’s still up in the air." He enlisted the help of fellow Philly-by-way-of-Charlottesville band The Extraordinaires on the record. "I’m really excited about it," he says. "It’s going to sound like 1970s Waylon Jennings."

A Jailbreak fundraiser

When Feedback called up Brad Perry, the drummer of local rock band, Worn in Red, he answered, "Hey, sweetie." We think we have a pretty close relationship with the Charlottesville music scene, but we were still surprised to get such an intimate greeting. "Sorry, I thought you were my girlfriend," he explained.

Bang the drums: Brad Perry and his band Worn in Red will return to Charlottesville with a show at Outback Lodge on September 7.
Take a listen to Worn in Red‘s "Break It Down Now":
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Courtesy of Worn in Red – Thank you!

Putting the awkwardness aside, we asked Perry what he was up to, and he told us that he was stranded in Florida, where Worn in Red’s van (named Jailbreak after the Thin Lizzy song) had broken down on the way to the last show of their tour. Bummer! Luckily, the band was able to rent a minivan and make it to the final show, and Perry said that he has a lot of friends in the area, so they weren’t completely SOL.

Other than the breakdown, the tour was really great, Perry says. All of the shows were fun, he said, and in Atlanta they played to a living room packed with about 125 people. Worn in Red will return home for a show at the Outback Lodge this Friday, September 7, with the Fingerpainters, Punch You In The Face, Big! and Fred Gable. Given the recent development, it’ll be a benefit show for the Worn in Red van, Perry says. Well, Feedback wishes Jailbreak a swift and speedy recovery, and, for filling us in on his band’s latest endeavors, we’d like to tell Perry, "Thanks, sweetie."

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