Off in the Woods
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Off in the Woods

Polson, Montana, United States

Polson, Montana, United States
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"Guitarist rides "Ride the Divide" to new recognition"

Guitarist rides “Ride the The Divide” to new recognition
Guitarist Jon Dillon Schumaker hasn’t been much of a fixture on regional performance stages. But starting next week, the 20-year-old Polson musician will be heard in movie theatres around the west and beyond, when the film, “Ride the Divide,” begins a series of screenings in Canada and the U.S., with Montana stops in Whitefish, Helena, Missoula, and Bozeman.

The film, which follows a group of riders as they complete the grueling, 2,745-mile Tour Divide mountain-bike race from Canada to the Mexican border — the longest mountain bike race in the world – features one of Schumaker’s original tunes in its soundtrack.

The song, titled appropriately titled “Off in the Woods,” features Schumaker’s multitracked guitar-playing over a backdrop of hand-drumming (which Schumaker himself performed on the body of his guitar), creating a lazy, backporch groove punctuated by chiming melodic fragments.

Schumaker said in a phone interview that he was contacted by the film’s producers after posting the song on his profile at SonicBids, an online musician promotion service. The song can also be heard at Schumaker’s personal Myspace page.

“It was pretty cool to have that happen,” said Schumaker. “When I put it up there (on SonicBids), I wasn’t really sure what might happen, if anything.”

Despite its daunting length, the Tour Divide race isn’t particularly well-known, except among hard-core mountain bikers. Starting in Banff, Alberta, the race follows a route created in 1998 by Missoula-based Adventure Cycling, winding southward through the Rocky Mountains to Antelope Wells, N.M. Montana claims the most mileage along the route, with riders traveling through Whitefish, Lincoln, Helena and Wise River.



Ride The Divide Movie Trailer from Ride The Divide on Vimeo.

The film will be playing in Banff on June 10 — the eve of the start of this year’s Tour Divide race — and then in four Montana cities that lie on or near the route: Whitefish (June 13, 7:30 p.m., at the O’Shaughnessy Center), Helena (June 14, 7 p.m., at the Myrna Loy), Missoula (June 15, 7:30 p.m., at the the Wilma Theatre), and Bozeman (June 16, 7:30 p.m., at the the Emerson Cultural Center).

Ticket information can be found on the film’s Web site, www.RideTheDivideMovie.com.

The filmmakers will be in attendance at all shows and will be conducting Q&A sessions after the screenings. Musician Dominique Fraissard, a guitarist from British Columbia whose music is also featured in the soundtrack, will be playing live music at the screenings.

As to Schumaker, he’s focused on getting out and performing more with his band, also named Off in the Woods.

- Nickell's Bag


"Coming home to "Montana Soul""

By Justin Franz, 11-11-11
Even if the stage was familiar, something felt very different when Off In The Woods entered the Polson High School auditorium a few weeks back, bass player Sean Burress said. A lot has happened since they last played on the old wood stage.

In the three or four years since Burress, Jon Schumaker, Layne McKay and Nathan Nobel graduated from Polson, their high school band has played numerous shows and festivals around western Montana and the Northwest, recorded in Seattle and released an album this fall, “Smoke Signals,” which is now available online. Their success is impressive when you consider they’ve barely practiced together in recent years, with members of the band strewn about from Kalispell to Missoula. Burress said it’s just the chemistry they still have.

“The comment we get a lot is how tight we are. We can almost read each other’s minds,” Burress said. “We all play (separately) and do our own thing, so when we do play together we all impress each other.”


Off In The Woods first formed in the summer of 2010, but its roots go back farther. In high school the four musicians played in the school band and would perform in talent shows. It was during that time they developed a unique sound and style, Schumaker said.

“We’ve all kind of come to the conclusion that it’s Montana soul, because there are so many styles presented: old rock, reggae and even some Indian influences,” he said.

After high school, the four friends went their own ways – some went off to college, some stayed closer to home – but surprisingly the band never faltered and in the time since has only grown stronger. Slowly, the four members are making their way home and Schumaker said their new album reflects that pilgrimage back.

Off In The Woods band members Nathan Noble, Jon Schumaker, Sean Burress and Layne McKay, left to right.- Courtesy photo


The band’s nine-track album was recorded in Seattle and released this fall. It is true to their style, mixes various types of music and even features instrumental tracks, and tells the story of how each member left and then returned to where they are from. So far it has been well received, especially back home in Polson, where about 100 friends, family and locals filled the school auditorium. Both Schumaker and Burress said it was great to play for a crowd that wasn’t focused on their drinks, a problem with playing in bars. It also gave them hope that maybe, just maybe, their band could see wider success in the future: “It’s definitely something that could take off,” Schumaker said.

“None of us are opposed to paying the bills with music,” Burress said.

For now though, Burress’ bills are being paid by his job as a baker. Schumaker was taking time off from his regular job last week to fly to Los Angeles to attend an online music conference and brought with him a stack of CDs. He hoped to get his band’s music out to a larger audience and make some connections. Schumaker will be back this week though when Off In The Woods plays the Boiler Room on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m.

For more information about the band and to hear some of their music visit www.facebook.com/offinthewoods. - The Beacon


"Off in the Woods, out in the open"

Posted: Monday, October 24, 2011 7:30 am

Off In The Woods, out in the open Dylan Kitzan The Leader Advertiser


POLSON — Individually, Sean Burress is a baker, Nathan Noble is a waiter, Jon Schumaker is a store manager and Layne McKay is an electronic engineering student at the University of Montana. Together, however, these Polson High School graduates are known as Off In The Woods, a scintillating band with a myriad of styles.

Back in middle school, Burress, Schumaker, Noble and McKay connected. All were musically talented, with Burress, Schumaker and McKay playing saxophone in the middle school band. Their ability, coupled with their dedication enthusiasm for music, offered them a chance to do something special: release their first album, Smoke Signals.

The process, which can be long for many artists, was not a quick one for Off In The Woods. Some of the songs on the album were written as long as two years ago. They then spent eight months putting the album together before heading to the studio for six days, recording for four of them.

The arduous process paid off at the beginning of September when Smoke Signals became available to the public. To celebrate, the band got together for a three-stop album release party, which began on Oct. 14 at Craggy’s in Whitefish and concludes Oct. 20 in Missoula. Between those, the band returned to its roots with an Oct. 15 performance at Polson High.

Getting together isn’t as convenient as it used to be for the band. Burress works in Kalispell, making reuniting difficult. But the band loves playing gigs and a release party mini-tour was the perfect opportunity.

“We’ve definitely spent more time playing gigs than we have practicing,” Burress said. “But we have great chemistry, so it works out.”

That chemistry is evident in their music. Burress and Schumaker are the primary songwriters, but McKay is making strides in that department, while Noble has written a song, but spends most of his time rocking out on the drums.

Off In The Woods also features a collection of sounds ranging from the guitar and bass to hand percussion instruments, but can’t quite put a definitive genre on their music. It’s a bit of everything with one common theme.

“It’s all very soulful,” Schumaker said.

Smoke Signals may just be the beginning for the local group. According to the band, they have enough material for three or four CDs and are itching to put together their next album.

“We’re excited we can celebrate this one and move on to the next project,” Schumaker said.

From live gigs to their first CD, the process is one the band can feel great about, and seeing results makes their work even more satisfying.

“Being able to put the songs in the public that you’ve worked so hard on is rewarding,” Burress said.

“It’s nice to see a reaction,” Noble said.

“A reaction to your passion,” Burress added.

Smoke Signals, along with their singles, are currently available on iTunes and Amazon.

- The Leader


"Off in the Woods Smoke Signals"

Off in the Woods | Smoke Signals
Published: January 6, 2012


It's always interesting to listen to Montana-inspired music. Songs seem to teem with references to Big Sky Country, being away from it, trying to get back to it, reveling in it. This first effort, from some young Polson men who call themselves Off in the Woods, is no exception.


Fronted by talented vocalist/guitarist Jon Schumaker, the four-piece band plays its way through nine self-penned tunes, all but one by him. Schumaker is joined by Sean Burress, bass and guitar, Layne McKay, sax and guitar, and Nathan Noble, drums.

The fellows are several years removed from Polson High School, having attended there together. They went their separate ways for awhile, but then came back home and decided to get serious about forming a band.

The songs are lengthy, yet the lyrics are simple expressions, wrapped around Schumaker's dynamic vocal presence. He has a habit of repeating lyric lines and phrases, sometimes just words, and embellishing them with dips and bends and wails, to stunning effect. He sounds a bit like ex-Doobie Brother Michael McDonald, already possessing outstanding control.

Background chatter opens the first piece, the slowly thoughtful "Place to Ponder," with its echo-y effects and bluesy vocal bent. "A Man and His Guitar" has strummy, sustained guitar chords, thick bass and cool drums ("My guitar has no soul of its own, so I give it mine on a short-term loan").

The title song, "Smoke Signals," is syncopated and jazzy, cool and percussive. It recounts the urgency of getting out of the city, being called home by Montana's lure ("Montana fired-up").

Burress's composition, "Turquoise Trail," is the lone instrumental; it's bluesy, with an almost Latin feel, peppered with great sax and percussion that weave around a simple melody.

"Aspen Grove" is sweetly country, romantic. And the boys channel the seminal spaghetti western on "The Good, the Bad, the Dubly." How fun! It's moody and minor-keyed, reggae-fied, with high vocal wails, chunky sax honks, squirrelly electric guitar, muscular bass … Yowza! I smell a hit.

The group frequently gets into a jam-band frame of mind on their tunes, but the instrumentation is so good and Schumaker's voice so powerful, the music continues to appeal. Besides, dancers like that.

Production is sparse and wonderful. McKay attended engineering and recording school in Arizona and interned for engineer Robert Lang at his Seattle studio, and through that connection Off in the Woods got to record this CD there. Watch for more good stuff from these guys.

– Mariss McTucker



- The Lively Times


Discography

We have finished recording and mastering our first album "Smoke signals" in Seattle at Robert Lang Studios. Now we are on to the next album "Blue Butterfly", hopefully we can finish it up by the spring of 2013.
We have a lot of air play in our local markets and have had press in the major local publications.

Photos

Bio

All four members of Off in the Woods hail from the small mountain town of Polson, Montana. Having gown up together, Off in the Woods displays a sixth sense connection; that connection between players that allows a smoothness of musical flow and execution to shine though. After four years of gigging hard as Off in the Woods this band is ready and eager for more!
They have played a wide variety of shows; big summer festivals, bars, clubs, live radio shows, benefits and small auditoriums. They're music has been used on film too, for the documentary "Ride the Divide" and the independant film "Bella Vista". "Every show we see more people and every show we the band improve upon our performance. We are always striving to move forward, looking for new ways to expand our reach and audiance". says vocalist/ guitarist Jon Schumaker. They have played in Washington and Oregon but mainly play up and down Western Montana where they support a strong local following.
The music and lyrics are all original. A combination of Rock, Funk, Reggae, and even alittle jazz, which the band has dubbed "Montana Soul Music". Off in the Woods has prepared four hour long sets, so they are ready for any long time slot. There are times were the band loves to mix it up by switching instruments aswell, which their audiances have always loved. Alot of open tunnings are used, bringing a classical indian flavor to the mix. "Our goal is to keep moving the art forward, we are not afraid to push the boundries. We just want to bring somthing fresh to the table". Off in the Woods.