Bell Dora
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Bell Dora

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


"Versatile band melds rock, country"

Michael A. Brothers
Melissa Horine and Stacey Rios admit it's been a long road from playing the classics to being in an alt-country band. The singer/songwriters began their musical careers very young playing classical music, Horine on violin and Rios on cello. While they still have deep love and respect for that music, their tastes have evolved over the years to encompass rock and country as well. Those influences have manifested themselves in the band Bell Dora, which is anchored by bassist Donnie Kraft and drummer Mark Pearl. After two years together, the group is releasing its first CD, "Blackberry Hennessey" at a show tonight at the Outland...Horine began teaching herself guitar in college. Rios began playing guitar at age 14..."Blackberry Hennessey" is a collection of twangy rock songs, weepy ballads and upbeat anthems. With two of the saddest songwriters in history-Hank Williams and Lucinda Williams-as influences, Horine writes and sings most of the band's ballads. Rios' writing style tends to be more along the lines of guitar rock and pop. She cites Led Zeppelin as a major influence...The CD was recorded at IndySoundWorks, which is located in the old Lipscomb dog food factory downtown. Many of the cuts were recorded in the building's massive spaces, which provided excellent acoustics...Although Bell Dora's newest songs have been leaning slightly more toward rock than country since the album was recorded, Rios says it's a great musical snapshot of the band's sound. - An excerpt from the Springfield Newsleader 20 September 2003


"Hometown Heroes Interview: Bell Dora"

CFP: How long has Bell Dora been together?
Melissa: Stacey and I have been together with different rhythm sections since 1999. Donnie and Mark joined in 2001.
CFP: Can you tell our readers about the studio that you recorded Blackberry Hennessey in?
Melissa: It was in the Old Lipscomb grain mill, better known as the Houn' Dawg Dog Food Factory. The sound in the huge concrete rooms of the factory is amazing. It has a slightly creepy atmosphere that seemed to suit some of the songs on the album.
Stacey: The studio had a dual personality, the finished rooms and booths you would expect from a recording studio, and the factory. The factory had a lot of atmosphere. We had to record in the middle of the night so no traffic noise would be picked up in the recording. And then there was Caleb, the factory ghost, who has made numerous apperances on peoples'recordings.
CFP: You mentioned your next album is going to go in a harder direction. Are there still going to be slower tunes like Too Late and Steady Man?
Melissa: I'm glad you liked the slower tunes. However, we used to play a lot of ballads and didn't get much response from the audiences, but as soon as we started to play more rock that all changed. People that heard us in the early days might not even recognize us now. As far as the next album goes, right now there's one song that is in the same vein as Steady Man, but that's it. That's not to say we won't do more mellow stuff in the futrue, but right now we like the rock.
CFP: It sounds like you listen to a lot of Emmy Lou Harris and Lucinda Williams, but I'm always amazed at some of the listening habits of musicians. Are these artists an influence? Also, outside of the alt-country genre what different artists do you listen to?
Stacey: Emmy Lou Harris and Lucinda Williams are great. I grew up with a lot of old country and classic rock, so those influences are inevitable. And we have all played classical music.
Melissa: Lucinda has definitely been an influence, but lately I've been drifting away from the alt-country world in my listening habits. I can't say I really grew up listening to anything but pop radio and classical a little later, though I did love my Thriller cassette! My favorite right now is the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Lately, it's also been AC/DC, Bowie, Tom Waits, PJ Harvey, and Missy Elliot.
CFP: After hearing your live version of "Dead Flowers" I was surprised to learn that you styled it after the Rolling Stones version. Have you ever heard the Cowboy Junkies' version?
Stacey: We have always been compared to the Cowboy Junkies, whom I loved since I was a little kid. But with Dead Flowers we just wanted to cover a great song and rock.
Melissa: People have always asked us about the Cowboy Junkies, but I've barely listened to them. I've never heard their version of Dead Flowers.
CFP: It seems to me that you have different styles to your lead vocals. Do you determine who sings lead by who wrote the tunes or by the style of the tune that you are recording? The different tone in your voices makes for some great harmonizing!
Stacey: Whoever writes the song sings it most of the time. I sing a few songs Melissa has written, one of which is on the album.
CFP: Most of the tunes on Blackberry Hennessey have to do with relationship troubles. Is that because you have terrible love lives or is that because you find writing a great outlet for when those situations arise?
Stacey: Both! Everybody finds disappointment in relationships, so it is an easy subject to write about and for people to identify with. Not everything I write about is from personal experience, and a lot is just my way of trying to figure people out.
Melissa: Yes...both. It hasn't been all bad, but I find it much easier to write about hearache and dysfunction than happiness. It's much harder to write a good happy song that doesn't sound one-dimensional and boring. Some of the songs are more or less autobiographical, some are not at all, but I'll never tell which are. - Community Free Press Midweek May 2004 Bill Glahn


Discography

Blackberry Hennessey-LP
Five Songs-EP

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Bell Dora takes the sounds of middle America, from traditional country and classic rock to modern post-punk and alt-country rock, and fuses them into something neither corn-pone nor headbanging, just tight songsmithing.

The band makes it’s home in the heartland of America in Springfield, Missouri. The rich musical traditions of the Ozarks region and the variety of Springfield’s active music scene add up to a wide spectrum of influences at work within the band. The band moves effortlessly from sparse, country-tinged, tear-soaked ballads to fist-pumping, guitar-crunching, straight-ahead rock tunes with AC/DC-style guitar riffs and female vocal harmonies that recall Heart and Loretta Lynn in equal parts. Passion, swagger, variety, and a sincere love of making music win over audiences.

Bell Dora’s self-released debut CD, Blackberry Hennessy, was recorded in Springfield at Indy Soundworks in the former Houn Dawg dog food factory and was recently named one of the top ten local albums of 2003 by Springfield News-Leader music columnist Michael Brothers. Brothers also counted Bell Dora's CD release party for Blackberry Hennessy as number ten on his list of the fifteen best live shows in Springfield, MO of 2003. (The Wynton Marsalis Quintet was number nine. Bela Fleck was thirteen.) The eerie desolation of the empty factory/recording studio combined with the whiskey-soaked heartache of the songs recalls lonely barrooms and good times with a dark side. The band recently recorded a five song EP that reflects a shift in direction from americana to pure rock n’roll.

The band’s songwriters, Melissa Horine and Stacey Rios, met in high school orchestra in 1993 and have been playing music together ever since. Melissa and Stacey began performing as Bell Dora in 1999. Bass player Donnie Kraft and drummer Mark Pearl joined the group in December of 2001. Since then the band has steadily built a following in their hometown, Springfield, Missouri and has ventured to St. Louis, Chicago, Kansas City, Columbia, Stillwater, and Tulsa. The band has performed at the Roots Deep and Shadow Moon Festivals as well as the MORawk.com Rawkfest in downtown Springfield and D-fest in Tulsa. Bell Dora has also opended for national acts Michelle Malone and Split Lip Rayfield, as well as up-and-comers, The Supernauts. "Sick, Sad & Sorry" was recently included in the open mic portion of NPR's online program, All Songs Considered.

Melissa Horine is Bell Dora’s primary singer and songwriter. She is a classically trained violinist currently finishing a Master’s Degree. She has appeared as an instrumentalist on several local albums. Stacey Rios plays lead guitar and is the band’s other singer and songwriter. Prior to her work in Bell Dora, Stacey played keyboard in a jazz-fusion group. Donnie Kraft has worked extensively in rock, country, jazz, and funk bands. He has appeared on a number of regional albums and engineered Big Smith’s gospel album. Mark Pearl has worked as a drummer and percussionist in the Springfield area for over fifteen years. He has played with country, swing, rock and jazz groups.