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"Suitcase: 'We're no one and everyone'"

For most folks, a suitcase is little more than a carrying device for travel.
But for one local band, it also represents a way of life and an incredible music experience — as well as the perfect name.
Suitcase is no stranger to the local music scene, having been performing since 1998. But during their first decade, the pop-rock band released only one album, “Brief” in 2001.
Fortunately for fans, Suitcase has returned to the studio for a new series of albums, including their latest EP “Home.”
Don Jenkins and Joe Tappe call “Home” the second part of a three-part story they started telling with a self-titled album, “Suitcase,” last June.
The story began in the early ’90s when Tappe bumped into Jenkins at a concert for Jenkins’ former band, October Reign.
“I think all I said was, ‘Hey, man, I like your shoes,’” Tappe recalled. “At one point, I auditioned for his band. He turned me down.”
But by 1995 Jenkins and Tappe had joined a five-piece cover band. Playing together, the two found their niche in writing original material. They left to try their own musical venture.
They came up with a name for their band when Jenkins saw a sign from above — specifically a wooden sign hanging from a ceiling.
Standing in front of a restaurant wall covered with antiques, Jenkins noticed a sign displaying a single word: “Suitcase.” He immediately called Tappe, who was thrilled with the name suggestion.
A suitcase “has a lot to do with movement … and getting ready to go somewhere,” Tappe said. “There’s sort of an anticipation with a suitcase.”
Each member of Suitcase is an accomplished vocalist and guitarist. In addition, Tappe is the band’s pianist, while Jenkins serves as the drummer. Travis Williams, who joined last March, completes the band as their bass guitarist.
For years, Suitcase had been working on a home studio so they can record their material. Now they are ready to release a backlog of original songs that they have collected for more than a decade. For starters, the band is releasing three, five-song albums, their latest being “Home.”
Jenkins described the songwriting process as often beginning when a member suddenly gets a new tune stuck in his head.
“From there, you’ve got the responsibility of adding lyrics,” he said. “I say ‘responsibility’ because you can really mess up a nice melody if you add the wrong lyrics to it.”
To help promote their new albums, Suitcase had their friend Todd Hartman shoot a music video for the song “Can’t Stop.” As with many of their promotional photos, the band didn’t show their faces in the video.
“Well, Don is not all that good-looking, so...,” Tappe joked.
In reality, he and Jenkins want listeners to envision themselves as the face of Suitcase. “Our first names are Don and Joe. Put them together, mix the letters around, and you get ‘Jon Doe.’ In other words, together, we’re no one and everyone.”
Suitcase is about more than emotional baggage. The band wants to inspire today’s generation for a greater good. “Our music is not about, ‘Hey, look at us!’” Tappe said. “It’s about three every-men on a mission to save the world. And they are trying to figure out how to do it.”
As they unravel that mystery, Suitcase is already working on the final part of their album trilogy, due this summer, while also preparing to shoot another music video. Friday, Suitcase will perform at Sixth and Vine at 10 p.m., sharing their biggest hits as well as personal stories.
The band has plenty to anticipate in 2013. But no matter what’s down the road, Suitcase is packed and ready for the ride. - Relish


Home, EP, 2013
Suitcase, EP, 2013
Brief, EP, 2013

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Suitcase is a songwriting and performing project out of North Carolina. While piano, bass and percussion form the bones of the group, so much more colors the recordings. Don Jenkins and Joe Tappe have been honing their partnership for years, a partnership aspiring to the synthesis of the great partnerships of the past. With this new project, and the addition of Travis Williams on the bass, suitcase continues to define its voice.

"Suitcase", a self titled, self produced EP, was the first of a 3 part story recounting the story of 2 every-men on a mission to save the world- a mission to face the basic challenges of being human. A new follow-up EP "home" was released in January of 2013. The final installment is due out in the summer of 2013.

Though thoroughly rooted in pop music, the project is not pigeon holed in the world of singable pop songs. The project has journeyed into the world of commercial work, movies, and TV. Nothing is off limits.

Suitcase is backbeat that gets inside, music that infects...the rebirth of "feel pop."