Mount Carmel
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Mount Carmel


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"Fishin for the Blues"

Fishin' for the Blues
Mount Carmel plays it straight - honest blues, family style

By Adam Scoppa


As I hike over the rocks and knobby tree roots that line the Olentangy River, I approach Matt Reed, who is standing knee deep in the water. He squints downstream and laments the elderly fisherman busily ruining the day's potential.

"He's just pulling fish out of the water, look at him," Reed complains, shaking his head and casting his line again to no avail. A few yards away, his brother Pat's luck is no better.

I don't have a fishing permit, so I just keep to pacing up and down the bank. Kevin "Young Buck" Skubak doesn't have one either, but that doesn't stop him from catching a small mouth bass a few minutes into our expedition.
To be fair, Skubak doesn't fish much, and his being the only catch of the day was noticeably irksome to the veteran brothers Reed. No matter, they still love Skubak like a brother anyway.

It's a little late in the season to score a decent catch, but local rockers Mount Carmel and I were taking advantage of one of the last sunny days of the year. It's fitting, too, because the band - singer/guitarist Matt, bassist Pat, and drummer Skubak - plays a brand of blues-dripping rock 'n' roll that comes as natural and organic to them as an afternoon spent fishing.

If you have any appreciation for the history of rock music, it's easy to walk into the middle of a Mount Carmel set and immediately rattle off a few of their obvious influences. Any reservations you may have about their uncompromising adherence to that type of music, however, are sure to melt away upon realizing they've just hypnotized you for a whole eight minutes.
It's the blues, it's what they play, and they're damn good at it. They would prefer you to take that or leave it.

"The blues is everything to us," Pat states.

"We're not blues traditionalists," Skubak clarifies.

Local band, Mt. Carmel
Photo: Jamarr Mays
"Yeah, because we're not good enough," counters Matt in jest.
While the Mount Carmel sound certainly has more in common with the British blues revivalists than their Mississippi Delta forebears, all three members are worthy scholars of the most resilient genre of American music. They practice hard and play tight, and they want it to show.

"It's been rehashed so many times, but you have to do what you want to do," says Matt of the blues. "I like the idea of playing something typical, but creating something emotional that's not too over-thought."

Matt and Pat Reed have been writing and playing music together since they were teenagers, but different paths prevented them from forming a serious project. A little over a year ago, circumstances arose ideal enough to make them feel that at long last they could get something off the ground.

"I finally got a chance to play with my brother the way I wanted to," says Matt. "I told Pat, we've got to do our own thing, because if we don't, we're never going to do what we really want to do."

They advertised online as a band in need of a drummer and, after quite a few auditions, netted a 17-year-old talent in Skubak.

From the outset, Mount Carmel has been a formidable power trio. All three are self-taught and perform with an intuition that borders on telepathy.

Matt croons in a soulful tenor, unspooling curling reams of blues licks as though possessed. Pat follows in lockstep, bouncing up and down scales with equal dexterity.

"They have that brother thing," says Skubak. "They can go off on tangents and come back to the same point, spot on."

No slouch himself, Skubak's rolling, jazzy fills blur the line between Buddy Rich and Mitch Mitchell. His ceaseless forward momentum is the ideal accompaniment to the Reeds' familial fluidity.

Mount Carmel couldn't care less about appeasing a scene. With them, there's no ironic role-playing, no jaded posturing, and no tongue-in-cheek wanking. They play the blues in earnest and with respect, and it shows in live performances. Their colorful, dizzying highs are some of the best you'll hear this side of 1971.

"We just made a decision that we're going to come across with all of our chips on the table, with all of our vulnerabilities in sight," Matt says, "rather than have some real gimmick to hide what we don't have the balls to do."

"People have to believe you," he added.

All things considered, it's been a busy year for the young band. They haven't gotten too far out of town thus far, but their solid sound has attracted the attention of Siltbreeze Records, who will release their EP this winter. For now, Mount Carmel is content to sharpen their skills as a live band and as songwriters.

"We just want to do what's going to allow us to get in front of a lot of people, and work as hard as we can," says Matt. "We have a lot of work to do."
- 614 magazine


Record out in May on Siltbreeze SB-129



Three peice blues rock band from columbus ohio