I know what you're thinking out there.
You who, when faced with an ever-narrowing range of music choices from disposable dance-pop, derivative hip-hop, and rock bands whose influences apparently run the gamut from Pearl Jam's "Ten" to Alice In Chains' "Dirt", asks yourself, "Doesn't anybody write songs anymore? Songs that sound just as good when you strum them on a porch as when you hear them blasting from a car radio or out of a PA system set to eleven?"
The answer to your hypothetical question is, "Yes." There are a few out there doing it right and struggling to be heard. One of those bands is Shrug, whose bio you're holding in your hot little hands.
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Shrug pulls off a combination of absorbing the good stuff from all different styles coupled with a go-your-own-way-ness that is unique to the midwest, where things tend to move slow and safe and where you need to be an alpha cat to keep from getting sucked into the routine. (Or you need to be deranged. Trust me - There is no eccentric like midwest-eccentric.) But I digress. Let's get to the heart of the matter, like I mentioned earlier: the songs.
Imagine the structure and attention to craft of Tom Petty's Heartbreakers combined with the edge of Johnny Thunders' Heartbreakers. Imagine Counting Crows' party being crashed by Nirvana. Or Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie refereeing a battle between Elvis Costello, The Who, REM, Steve Earle, Jeff Buckley and the Jayhawks. That should give you an idea of what Shrug is about. The singer/guitarist grew up on classic rock radio. The drummer grew up on 80s pop. The bassist's a jazzer, and the other guitarist's into psychedelia and other English weirdness. Put these ingredients in the stew, and out comes Shrug, with both a reverence for the past and a desire to take it somewhere new.
In a region where other outfits have withered and died, Shrug has survived, playing energetic, heartfelt, literate rock 'n' roll to a devoted following that knows a good thing when they hear it. Give 'em a try. I think you'll be glad you did.
The song lives!
Having celebrated a decade of existence in September of 2004, Shrug show no sign of stopping.
Shrug have enjoyed critical success throughout their career while winning various "band playoff" type contests in and around their native Dayton, Ohio. Their musical range has led them to share the stage with groups as varied as Guided By Voices, Peter Mulvey, The Verve Pipe, Twilight Singer Harold "Happy" Chichester, and Dan's childhood heroes, Men At Work. They were a finalist in the 2002 WOXY "97xPosure" contest, earning them airplay on the internationally famous station. In 2003, their song "Jenny" was chosen by ASCAP as one of the top ten songs, submitted from bands throughout Ohio, for their song-writing workshop. In fact, ASCAP judges found it challenging to decide on only one Shrug song to make the top ten, as they also found "Lady Malaria" worthy.
In the last few years, some line-up changes have opened up new possibilities for singer Tod Weidner's song-writing. Bryan Lakatos signed on as the new bass player after Eric Cassidy joined the band on second guitar to fill out the previously three-piece sound. Together with band co-founder Dan Stahl on drums, Shrug's "new" sound has brought on a wealth of new music incorporating the talents and influences of all members.
Tod Weidner - guitars, vocals
Dan Stahl - drums
Eric Cassidy - guitars, vocals
Bryan Lakatos - bass, vocals
Patrick Himes - keys, guitar, vocals
5 discs: 'Straight To Beta,' 'Everything's Blowing Up Roses,' 'The Sampler EP,' 'Shrug.' and 'Whole Hog for the Macho Jesus' - two more still-untitled albums due out this fall
Chaos A.D. : The Highs and Lows of the Third Annual Midpoint Festival
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"...Most venues were jumpin' and kickin' out jams, some fuller and more rockin' than others. We did..."...Most venues were jumpin' and kickin' out jams, some fuller and more rockin' than others. We didn't have time to check out every band at every venue, of course, but of all the places we went, we did notice this: With the exception of maybe (repeat: maybe) Cincy natives The Ass Ponys, no venue was packed fuller than The Courtyard Cafe at 10 pm.
We tried to squeeze into the completely packed venue to see Shrug. We got in and squeezed tight around 150 other people who wanted 50 ccs of emotional rock and heartstring-manipulating lyrics. People were piled on top of one another on the stairs. There were about three people per every square inch, and the club owner was squeezing more in with a crowbar.
Shrug played some material from the upcoming album that the fellas are hard at work on now. They were even passing out some promo CDs of very mouth-watering demos. Shrug had technical difficulties all through the set. There was a power outage and someone at the venue even turned the jukebox on "accidentally." Shrug played brilliantly well despite this, considering some bands don't even play well without the detriment of jukebox heroes.
Later, I ran into my old friend from sonicbids.com...and he told me that Shrug was by far the best act he'd seen all weekend. He'd never heard them before, but peeked in to the venue to see what had so many people captivated.
"I saw that Rhonda Everitt and members of Buckra and Sleepybird and other bands were in this bar and just knew whoever was playing had to be the real deal and they blew me away," he said."
They love us in Carbondale
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"Weidner's mastery of the strings gives voice to his captivating guitar along with powerful lyrics d..."Weidner's mastery of the strings gives voice to his captivating guitar along with powerful lyrics destined to be timeless. Shrug blends an assortment of musical styles and genres with a personal touch that successfully creates a new dimension of rock necessary in the world today. It will be interesting to see which big record label scoops these guys up!" -- Jack Piatt
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"One of Dayton's premiere bands, Shrug combines clever lyrics and memorable hooks for a truly satisf..."One of Dayton's premiere bands, Shrug combines clever lyrics and memorable hooks for a truly satisfying result. In this day of 'one-hit wonder' bands, Shrug has an entire library of great songs... They have honed their sound for quite some time now, equally capable of rocking out and turning a subtle ballad. Quite simply, Shrug is a great rock n' roll band." -- Tony Peters
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"If you want a category for the band, it would be easy to say they are alternative, but no category ..."If you want a category for the band, it would be easy to say they are alternative, but no category really fits and that is what makes Shrug such a great band. They mix elements of jazz with rock and come up with a very unique sound. They build quite a wall of sound... Their latest album is good enough to earn the band major label interest. The production and mixing are very professional ... this sounds like a big budget release." -- David Kotlinski
all grown up
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"... don't expect hippie-dippy love songs from these guys. Instead, Shrug serves up heartbreak, alie..."... don't expect hippie-dippy love songs from these guys. Instead, Shrug serves up heartbreak, alienation, and lost love on a canvas of maturity that can only be achieved by a band that has paid some dues and is still standing." -- Greg Spence
Shrug's typical setlist runs about 1:00-1:30 long, though that can be adjusted easily in either direction, and is 98% original work. Covers are rare and chosen with intent. Some examples: Watching the Detectives (Elvis Costello), Baby's On Fire (Roxy Music), Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie), The One I Love (R.E.M.), I Got You (Wilco)
There are no upcoming dates at this time.