Roadside Attraction
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Roadside Attraction

Band Rock Funk

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The best kept secret in music

Press


"Roadside Attraction: Offering jam with a plan"

Forget the adult bookstores and homemade peach cider, this Roadside Attraction is worth stopping for. A no-frills rock ‘n’ roll band peppered with funky grooves and a hint of jazz, local band Roadside Attraction deliver a high-energy show of mostly original tunes with a few carefully selected and altered covers, ranging from Jack Johnson to Stevie Wonder.
You won’t find any sappy love songs among Roadside Attraction’s tunes. “I try not to sing about girls. John Mayer has done enough of that,” says singer-songwriter Casey Kalb, who delivers smooth vocals and tight, acoustic rhythms and writes about perseverance and ambition, setting his lyrics to electric, and sometimes haunting, melodies that lend themselves well to explosive jams.
On his lead guitar, John Poland switches between acoustic grooves, tight electric riffs, and bluesy slide. Poland’s no-showboat style allows him to solo, then step aside while uber-talented bassist Ben Bennett cranks out a get-off-your-ass-and-dance bass line.
Drummer Leroy “Mr. Luv” Harper keeps the band in check, largely staying in the pocket, but isn’t afraid to solo either.
Thus far, Roadside Attraction have gracefully sidestepped two traps by playing original music in a largely cover-band circuit and not being lumped into the vastly overused stereotype of “jam band.”
Playing original music, while rewarding, can also be daunting. Entertaining crowds with songs they’re not familiar with can be a challenge, but it’s one the band is willing to take.
“We have a unique funky groove and if you understand good music and good musicianship, it allows you to open your mind to something new,” Harper says.
Being considered a jam band is something Roadside aren’t to fond of. Not that the guys don’t enjoy jamming. They do jam – and they do it well – but it doesn’t define their style. All four members take pride in being able to, as Poland puts it, “Procrastinate the end of a song,” and, at the same time, not lose sight of where the piece is going.
“You can lose your audience in some jams, but for the most part, when we go off on a tangent, we keep the song bold and intense. Kind of like the old punk rock philosophy, keep it loud and intense; keep ‘em on their toes,” Poland says.
The effect is a high-energy, circular jam, with Poland and Bennett bouncing solos off each other and Harper interjecting with his funky drum beats. The sound changes so often that the listener doesn’t get lost in incessant runs and repetitive beats delivered by so many jam bands. Then, as if perfectly planned, the four find their way back to the original song and wrap it up with a crisp ending.
“I don’t think there are many other bands that can jam like us and bring it back around so neatly, completely unrehearsed,” Bennett says.
The chemistry of the four musicians is evident in their ability to play live shows without a set list or much rehearsal time. All four members have their hands in other projects and other jobs.
Poland and Kalb both work full-time and play occasional acoustic sets together, something they’ve been doing since their college days at the University of Kentucky where they solicited a following by challenging their audience to “bong a beer” with the band.
Harper and Bennett are both Charleston natives, each playing music since he could pick up an instrument. Harper recently opened Southern Wave Studio, a recording studio and rehearsal hall on King Street. He lends his talents to several other local bands and is working on a gospel project. He’s also an on-air personality with WXTC Heaven 1390.
Bennett works full-time and also plays with other local bands, including the Mickey Baker Project. He’s also collaborating with Harper on a funk project due out next year.
Between live shows and other projects, Roadside Attraction are fast becoming a fixture in the Charleston music scene, playing regular gigs all over town. Catch them at the Kickin’ Chicken on James Island tomorrow and Kickin’ Chicken Mt. Pleasant on Friday. On Sunday, Aug. 8, they’ll be outside the Wayback Bar on James Island for The Taste of the Island Benefit. Roadside will join Brandy Robinson, Tom Crowley, and Calvin Taylor in a fund-raiser for ReadyAbout, a non-profit organization that helps victims of domestic violence through sailing programs.

(Written by: Kristen George)
- Charleston City Paper: August 4, 2004


Discography

Casey Kalb/John Poland released four tracks on the Wild Oats Records New Artist Series Vol. III

Roadside Attraction is currently polishing up their recent studio session for an upcoming EP

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

AS THE PATHS of two pairs of talented tandem musicians converged in Charleston, South Carolina, Roadside Attraction became reality.
Guitarist and songwriter Casey Kalb began developing his eclectic, acoustic sound in Lexington, Kentucky in 1998, and as his talents became evident, the search for a band hit stride. Accompanied by lead guitarist John Poland, another Lexington musician exploring new avenues, Kalb appeared on the UK college circuit with a solid repertoire of original music.
In a few short months, Kalb and Poland had assembled a band, recorded a demo, and begun performing at small venues around central and northern Kentucky. Wild Oats Records, an independent label based in Nashville, recognized the band’s talent and extended an invitation to the group to record their material in Music City. Much obliged, Kalb and Poland headed to the Tennessee studio, but without the remaining band members, who declined the opportunity based on personal conflicts.
Nonetheless, Kalb and Poland went to Nashville and contributed their efforts to the New Artist Series compilation disc released by Wild Oats. Upon completion of the Nashville sessions, the duo resurfaced in Charleston in search of new band mates and warmer musical climates in which to further the sound they had worked so voraciously to develop.
A year of adjustment and adaptation would follow, as the duo explored the local open mic scene with open minds and tuned ears. A seven-month search yielded stellar results, as Kalb and Poland connected with bass phenom Ben Bennett and in-the-pocket drummer Leroy “Mr. Luv” Harper. Bennett and Harper, Charleston natives who have played together for nearly eight years, bring extensive multi-genre experience and solid musicianship to the table. Neither member of this talented rhythmic tandem were looking to add to their backlogged list of projects, but the duo saw enormous potential in the Kalb/Poland repertoire and were confident they could fill the void. A handshake and an abbreviated rehearsal later, Roadside Attraction was ready to take the stage.

DESCRIBING the Roadside sound is no easy task. Influenced by multiple genres and a wide array of artists, there’s no pigeonholing this band into any of the pre-labeled bins prevalent in the modern music scene. You’ll hear a hybrid rock/pop/funk/jazz sound that’s acoustic-based, but the band isn’t shy about breaking out the raw edge of electric instruments and experimentation. You won’t be listening to a “jam band” per se, though Roadside’s improvisational aptitude allows the listener to discover each musician’s contribution to the collective sound without losing interest. But don’t take my word for it, keep an ear to the ground for the unique experience that is Roadside Attraction.

Jared Hamm-RA Promotions