We All Rise Up Together

There are many musicians, promoters, booking agents, venues and fans that do not understand what I’m about to tell you. These vampires are in it for themselves; driven by egos or just because they just don’t get it. They haven’t been awakened. In contrast, there are humans in this business that make very little money from it and do what they can to support it. These people just love being a part of something bigger than themselves. Two of these wonderful humans are Erika Berry and Maggie De Los Santos.

Some of you may have worked with either of these wonderful ladies in the past. Erika, the former owner of Blue Max in Midland, Texas; now Someplace Else Club and Maggie who tends bar and ensures road weary musicians like ourselves and people who tend to the oil fields of West Texas enjoy watching some rock n roll.

It was a lightning stricken, cold and wet evening in Midland, Texas. Lightning bolts were crawling across the sky and reaching to the Earth for hours prior to our arrival at the Some Place Else club. On our way to the show we were notified that the house sound engineer had a family emergency the night before and would not be available. We have just driven for 2 days from San Diego to Midland, Texas and were concerned we wouldn’t be able to play our first show and also not have a chance to make a couple bucks to fill the gas tank. Being the amazing person she is and searching for a solution, Erika asked if we could run sound. Absolutely! Being the small club that it is and not having the house engineer there that evening provided some small issues with having enough microphones, stands and cables to ensure a successful show. So like any smart touring band should do, we provided a few of our own that we carry with us just in case. Failure to plan, is planning to fail.

QUOR was honorably sandwiched between two cool local acts; Wake The Weary and Thy Kingdom Denied. The show was a smaller show with an audience of about 30 people, but the energy that was coming from the stage from all the bands and radiating from the walls of the venue rivaled any large capacity venue. People were moshing, experiencing (IHBs) or Involuntary Head-Bobs, and were conversing and carrying on all night. It was a great night of music on a wet and cold night in the oil town of Midland, Texas.

The energetic and impactful night came to a close and QUOR said their goodbyes to Ms Berry and Ms Maggie; thanking them for being such gracious hosts and helping make the evening a success. After packing their gear at 2am, QUOR drove off into the oil fields headed to Austin.

The next day, while making the six-hour drive to Austin, I got an extremely strong sense that I left my personal microphone at the Some Place Else club. I didn’t remember putting it in my stage bag, nor did anyone else see it. So we sent Erika a message and asked her kindly if she could look around for the $120 Shure SM58 Beta. The one with only my lung butter and no one else’s. She said she would call Maggie or the club and find out. The tour went on through Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado. A week and a half or so later we hadn’t heard back. No worries! We would send a follow up message. A few hours later, Erika replied with a positive identification of the microphone and that Maggie was going to put it in the mail and ship it to my home in San Diego. Two more weeks went by, we arrived home from tour, and still didn’t see the microphone.

I followed up with Erika again and asked politely if she knew what the status of shipping the microphone was and she kindly replied that Maggie had put it in the mail, but it didn’t get enough postage and had to re send. 5 days later I received my microphone.

I lot of people in this business are in it for themselves. A lot of people fail to look out for each other and to do the right thing. They walk around daily with a mindset of “It’s not my problem. So I’m not going to worry about it”. Every touring band has experienced this time and time again. This was definitely not the case with Erika and Maggie. They showed what being in this business is all about; teamwork, unity, and commitment to each other. They are true Dirtbags and even though they may not know it, they showed this Dirtbag how “We All Rise Up Together. Thank you for keeping it real.

 

Love,

Smitty

 

Never Buried – song review

I first spoke with Jeff Jones via the Dirtbag Clothing facebook page. He mentioned Never Buried was currently writing some killer new music in the studio. That’s what all of us musicians think while we are diligently chipping away at our art and craft under the microscope. Its all killer to us, but what will the fans think?

It was unusually warm in San Diego the morning Jeff sent me a new track titled Novocaine. I put my extremely hard and uncomfortable apple earbuds in and opened the sound-cloud link at 7am as I waited for the metropolitan trolley to take me to jury duty.

I pushed play on my phone and was immediately and delightfully greeted by a tightly knit, heavy and riffing guitar, something similar to Killswitch Engage. I’m ok with this because KSE is a favorite band of mine, one of many. The entire instrumental arsenal of Never Buried sonically punches the listener in the face at 0:11seconds with a mean and definitive groove transitioned by synchronized and punchy footwork including cymbal chokes.

The crunchy, gritty, and aired out vocals of singer Chris Frost enter at 0:34 seconds; a modern metal track standard. Heavy and to the point, Chris Frost drives the point home during the verses and gives the listener a melodic hook during the choruses all while keeping it heavy and hooky.
There I am standing a few feet from the trolley tracks staring at the sun getting higher in the sky and warmer on my face, bobbing my head and tapping my foot to the full, layered and rhythmic guitar tones Novocaine has to offer. The trolley pulls in front of me and the door opens. I step onboard and sit down in the seat, just as Novocaine enters the bridge of the song. Good timing too. I had to tame myself a bit at this point because I wanted to air drum, and scream, and play air guitar right in the other passengers’ faces; but I held back.

I enjoyed the bridge, clearly designed to take me away for a bit using clean and full guitars with a little grit for texture to get the job done. The drums slow the groove and the clean frosty vocals come back melodically singing and building into a monster scream. This transitioned my attention into a smooth and smoking guitar solo lasting until the music breaks and the carved out throaty bass guitar introduces me to the final portion of the song. I don’t know if the band did this on purpose but I feel like every band member got a bit of the spotlight during the bridge. Good sharing kids.

The band digs in during the heavier ending of Novocaine. The energy feels like they are giving it everything they have together, united in aggressive groove, looking at the light at the end of the Novocaine tunnel. This is where the percussion section of Never Buried gets a special shout out. Specifically for a great performance song wide and the energy that is delivered on the way out the door with intricate double bass work and snare shots for days.

This is a great song. The groove of this song is nothing new, but makes me want to hit repeat. I am curious to see if these guys can reproduce the same sound live, but most importantly, the same energy? I expect to hear some good things in 2016 from Never Buried. If you are ever in the South Texas area… please check these guys out http://www.facebook.com/NeverBuried. I would easily pay $20 to hear this band in its full glory with a beer in my hand or from the pit, whichever you fancy. It’s official. My brain has been numbed by a special type of Novocaine; the Never Buried kind.

NOVOCAINE song click here

Dirtbag Smitty (4 out of 5 horns)
4-of-5-Horns