|Pitttsburgh, PA, USA|
|hard rockin’ modern country|
|North Of Mason Dixon, aka NOMaD. Geographically, this sextet can be traced there, but pinning them down musically and emotionally is a whole lot harder. All originally from working class areas of Western PA, the four core members Dave, Bobby, Brian, and Geo been writing, recording, and performing music together past the better part of a decade and a half. Truthfully, it’s not always been the hard rockin’ modern country music that you hear from them these days, but each step along the way has led emphatically to this point.
The beginnings of the North Of Mason Dixon sound can easily be traced to one particular summer. The band, still known by another name, was recording a more pop/rock oriented CD with Dave Hanner, of Corbin-Hanner fame, at Dave’s “Play On Recordings”. Dave had just gotten a song placed on Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance” CD, and all parties involved started discussing the “modern country” sound, as it compared to the modern rock scene. Lead singer Dave August picks it up from there. “We were talking about how we, collectively, had listened to Garth, Vince Gill, Brooks & Dunn and countless others throughout our lives, and Hanner pointed out to us, very specifically, how our songs actually fit into that mold.” The band was intrigued by Hanner’s comments, and started to discuss it amongst themselves. “In rock ‘n roll, we were definitely coming from a more classic and melodic place than most modern bands were”, continues drummer Bobby Kunkel, “and we weren’t hearing that in the genre, hence realizing we were trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. The band had actually been writing modern country songs without even realizing it. Dave Hanner was wise enough to see that, and we thank him every day for it!”
The band became energized with this new discovery, and was liberated by being able to write and play their kind of music without having to mold it to fit in with the hordes of nu-rockers flooding the scene. Guitarist Geo Bennett explains it like this. “Not just musically, but in presentation and attitude as well, we are very much a band that conveys a good time, positive vibe. We absolutely love what we do, and have no problem showing that in our songs and shows. Having to put up an “angry young man” front just isn’t our thing, and now it is a non-issue. We are writing and performing music that is true to who we really are and enjoying it even more in the process.”
Who they really are turns out to be an exciting mix of familiar influences molded into a unique package that the band hopes will be the next step in the evolution of modern country music. “From KISS to The Eagles and Urban to Cash” jokes bassist Brian Osburn. “In all seriousness though, we all have numerous influences from various genres, but try very hard not to get too wrapped up in them.” That approach serves them well, as many of their songs feel very comfortable, even upon first listen; almost like you already have a history with them. The band attributes this to their near obsession with strong, accessible melodies. A bit of “pop songcraft” if you will. They’re not afraid to venture outside the box occasionally, but when they do it serves to compliment the song, not overwhelm it. The songs, as important as they are, are still only half of the equation.
The NOMaD live show is, as Yogi Berra might say, “the other 90 percent”. In keeping with their upbeat creed, the band purposely brings their irreverent and sometimes wild sense of humor to the stage along with their instruments. They feel that if someone is willing to spend hard earned money to come and see a show, then they deserve a party. The music is always at the center of it all, but these guys insist that the live experience be “elevated at least 7 or 8 notches above sitting on your sofa listening to the CD.” explains Bobby K. “We want our shows to be a celebration of all that’s good in life and for the two or three hours you spend with NOMaD, we want to make that the focus. If you enjoy the music enough to sing, dance, sweat, have a good time, and hopefully come back for more, then we’ve done what we set out to do.” And with the addition of John Waclo (rhythm guitar) and Cassandra Sotos (violin/fiddle) in the spring of 2004, the bar has yet been raised again. These two bring a new, even higher energy to an already overflowing level that exists. A chemistry has developed quickly to make this combination a winning one to take it to whatever level NOMaD desires.
The group knows that they might be facing an uphill climb to success. There are plenty of country music purists that will feel they push the envelope too much, and others that think it’s just impossible for anything with a fiddle or pedal steel in it to pack a punch. They just hope that preconceived notions like that don’t keep anyone from enjoying the band on any level. Whatever they do, they do it honestly and with passion. That much you can see, hear, and feel for yourself whenever you take a trip North Of Mason Dixon.
|For more info please visit www.northofmasondixon.com|