Pabst Blue Ribbon session with Red Wanting Blue at Do317 Lounge

There’s much to be admired in any act of longevity. When longevity comes in the humble pursuit of happiness in a volatile industry known to lift up one buzzed-about, celebrated act after another – before deriding it and calling it a sellout as it’s chewed up and spit out – to achieve longevity is absolute cause for celebration. Such volatility is the unforgiving nature of the music industry over the course of any given month, let alone each of the dozen months in a given year for a span of more than sixteen years.

Sixteen-plus years: That’s how long it has been since the perpetually under-the-radar, but intensely adored, rock and roll engine that is Red Wanting Blue formed in Athens, Ohio. Red Wanting Blue certainly aren’t the first band to plug-in and blast away night after night with wheels ceaselessly spinning from town to town in nondescript clubs, bars and rooms for years on end to cultivate a devoted following, but they surely are one worth championing.

Singer-songwriter Scott Terry, Mark McCullough (bass, vocals), Greg Rahm (keys, guitars, organ, vocals) Eric Hall Jr. (guitars, lap steel, mandolin, banjo, vocals) and Dean Anshutz (drums, percussion, glockenspiel) do, in fact, have a devoted following, to say the least. From college town to college town throughout the Midwest, the perseverant Ohio rockers laid a foundation for what would become a groundswell of support that has solidified not just a worthwhile career or a successful band, but an entire lifestyle bigger than themselves that is built on faith, paid back with interest in loyalty, and dripping with pride.

That’s not to say there haven’t been considerable setbacks in the journey; odds are Terry and his bandmates can vouch that the only journeys worth taking are the ones with roadblocks, detours, breakdowns and U-turns. They’ve survived lineup shake-ups (an irreconcilable rift between Terry and original RWB guitarist and collaborator Brian Epp was a turning point), a seemingly endless string of albums without label interest, the ubiquitous mental and physical toll of relentless touring, and sixteen-plus years of evaporating industry trends that could (and have) filled entire tomes – not to mention the explosion of internet culture, the digital age, Napster, iTunes, the rise of the blogosphere and anything else that has registered as even a speck of a drip in the turbulent waters of millennial and post-millennial pop-rock music. Hell, read enough music features these days, and you’ll be resigned to ignorance or outright denial if you believe guitars and and rock n’roll music as a whole weren’t stamped with a non-negotiable death certificate years ago.

Nobody must’ve told Red Wanting Blue. After all those years of playing to new ears in college towns, harvesting a growing fan base, refurbishing said fan base after seemingly every graduation season, and doing it all with self-released records in a concentrated, faithful Midwestern attack, Red Wanting Blue are in the thick of the most successful year and a half of their commendable career. January of 2012 saw the release of From The Vanishing Point, the first new album of their career to enjoy label support courtesy of Fanatic Records (Caroline/Capitol Music Group), which yields the three songs – “Cocaine,” “White Snow,” “Dinosaur” – Red Wanting Blue brought to this session at the Do317 Lounge, which just so happened to fall in the midst of the veteran band’s first-ever national tour to reach the West coast.

After all the years and miles of refraining from grasping at every new trend registering Top 40 hot flashes, surviving with negligible radio support and failing to attract label attention for more than 13 years, how is it Red Wanting Blue are not only still around, but thriving when we are led to believe nobody is shifting units in the music industry and rock and roll is dead?

The simplest (see: only) answer is Red Wanting Blue have never treated their band, their songs or, most importantly, their fans as an industry. Their band, these sold-out shows and all the tens of thousands of miles in between are an all-inclusive, modest lifestyle built on connection over commerce. The connection is a constantly lit fuse perpetuated by Terry’s sincere, relatable songwriting primed for impact with penetrating hooks, and that lit fuse swells into full-born conflagrations on a nightly basis at sold-out clubs as Red Wanting Blue delivers the goods without leaving an ounce in the tank.

In writing, Terry has mentioned how greatly Red Wanting Blue’s lifestyle deviates from the stereotypical rock and roll existence. Revealing that he would “have a hard time trading” the satisfaction that comes with long, unglamorous nights on the road with his band, Terry mentions “the road brings out an honesty that tends to get lost when you’re in the same place for too long.” He attributes the sustained, earned success of Red Wanting Blue to being able to allow such honesty to bleed into their performance onstage – “passionate about being honest,” he calls it.

No matter how many trends come and go and how many painfully cool, zealously hyped acts burn out or cave in though the changing seasons in the popular music industry, some of us have faith that a few of the hardworking, humble and talented souls will find the smarts and the strength to persevere. Red Wanting Blue have done exactly that, and they aren’t taking that success for granted.

Red Wanting Blue’s From The Vanishing Point is out now via Fanatic Records (Caroline/Capitol Music Group).

 

Filmed by: Doug Fellegy / Joe Skibinski
Edited by: Doug Fellegy
Recorded and Mixed by: Spencer Hooks
Written by: Justin Wesley

  • Red Wanting Blue

    July 18, 2013 [ 2:41 am ]

    All records and music are fantastic. Just love Red Wanting Blue

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