Gilpin Railroad Incident
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Gilpin Railroad Incident

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GRI Chugging its way to the top
The 'GRI' chugging its way to the top
Friday, June 16, 2006 - Bangor Daily News
So what, exactly, happened at the Gilpin Railroad Incident?

"We all grew up near this little dirt road in Orland called the Gilpin Road," laughed Chris Soper, singer and guitarist for the above-titled band. "There are a lot of different memories from that area. We've all been hunting and fishing there. We've all been there. The railroad thing comes from the fact that our shows could either run smoothly or be a train wreck. And the incident - well, the incident is still happening."

Turns out there really was a Gilpin Railroad Incident, discovered after Soper typed the band name into Google and read about such an event in Colorado a while back. But this incident involves a group of lifelong friends and a penchant for acoustic guitars, and it's anything but a train wreck. The Bucksport-based five piece has been cranking out funky, heartfelt roots rock as fast as they can write the songs.

Co-singer and guitarist Brad Radley and bassist Becky Bowden had been playing together in the cover band Nuthin' Fancy for a couple of years, when Bowden decided she wanted to take a break. Radley invited Soper, who said he'd never played guitar in his life, to join the band as a bass replacement, and current GRI drummer Wayne Gross moved back to Maine from North Carolina and started to play drums in the cover band, renamed Northern Rage. Soper quickly picked up the bass as well as acoustic guitar, and started writing songs with Radley.

"What happened was Brad wrote a song called 'This Kind of Free'," said the 27-year-old Soper, who by day is a teacher at Ellsworth Middle School. "We put it together, and then we called Wayne and Becky to see if they wanted to make a basement recording. When we got together, everything just flowed. The dynamic was great. It was like it was meant to be. Within four months we had a complete CD written."

That was in September of 2005; now it's June of 2006 and the GRI is so busy it has to turn away offers to play shows. They recently won a Battle of the Bands at the Grand Theatre in Ellsworth. They're getting airplay on WKIT 100.3, the locally owned classic rock station in Bangor. That "crappy" home recording of "This Kind of Free"? As of June 13, six days after it was uploaded on www.soundclick.com, it reached number 11 on the acoustic rock charts. And they just added a fifth member, singer Sharla Hamer, to provide some lead vocals and backup harmonies.

The GRI members share a love of Southern rock - from oldies like the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd to newer stuff like Kid Rock and Gov't Mule. Their songs run the gamut from the anthemic, unofficial theme song "Gilpin Stomp" to their "hit single," "This Kind of Free".

Soper attributes their initial success to the fact that the band says what they mean, and means what they say.

"Our basic goal is to write music that everyone can relate to," he said. "We don't try to make it too complicated. We want to make it so everyday people, from a guy in a trailer park in the woods to someone in a skyscraper in NYC can understand it. We want everyone to be able to relate."

Bowden said she thinks the fact that they're all buddies helps a lot as well.

"We're all friends," she said. "We're one big musical family. The Bucksport crew."

Up next is a string of shows over the weekend at Tozier's II in Bucksport, and a headlining spot this Tuesday at Club Gemini's new open mic night. They're working on a studio EP, though copies of their home recordings are available. Soper and Radley also play as a duo, and their monthly gig at The View in Bucksport is on Saturday, June 24.

Secretly, the band is whispering about taking it to the next level. Sure, everyone does that once they get a little taste of the spotlight - in your head, you're planning out record deals and national tours and magazine covers. But the GRI is being realistic. One step at a time.

"I'm not holding my breath," said Soper. "People tell us we're gonna make it, and they're reacting really positively, but we're just happy to play out and have people enjoy it."

The Gilpin Railroad Incident will play at Tozier's II in Bucksport from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, June 16 and 17. They will also play a late night set at open mic night at Club Gemini in Bangor on Tuesday, June 20. All shows are 21+. For information, visit www.myspace.com/gilpinrailroadincident.
Emily Burnham can be reached at eburnham@bangordailynews.net.



--Bangor Daily News (Emily Burnham) Friday June 16th 2006 - Emily Burnham Bangor Daily News


Discography

we have had several songs played on various radio stations in Maine, but we havent ventured out of the state for more broad airplay as of yet.

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Bio

Our music is based on relating to everyday people with everyday issues. We take pride in developing a dynamic sound music wise, and love to stack vocals on top of each other. We try to describe our style as if Allman Brothers, Crosby Stills and Nash, and Little Big Town had reproduce...GRI would be the product. Our live shows set us apart from any other bands. Our music seems to strike a chord with the vast amount of people, and we hope to continue to do what we love.....and that is to WRITE good tunes