The Station
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The Station

Springfield, Illinois, United States | INDIE

Springfield, Illinois, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Funk


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""Speed of Sound" Review"

The Station: Speed of Sound

Here's the thing about jam bands: The ones that can really play their asses off usually have vocalists for whom singing isn't much of a priority. Enter The Station. This quartet not only boasts a dynamite singer, but the same guy also plays guitar and tenor sax. Dave Littrell by no means carries this band on Speed of Sound, a two-CD live set, but he ensures that The Station aren't just another progressive jam band that you'll soon forget.

When trying to conjure comparisons, Umphrey's McGee comes to mind first, but these guys don't noodle around nearly as much as their Illinois brethren. (That said, "Nothing to Hide" does sound more like UM than anything else here, thanks to delicate harmonizing and staccato improv.) Rather, The Station balances its jams on a metallic edge, adds a dash of funky machismo and even summons its Southern-rock roots to provide a fine introduction for new listeners.

Despite a running time of nearly two-and-a-half hours — all but two of these 12 songs clock in at longer than 10 minutes — Speed of Sound remains a far-from-laborious listen. The Station jams creatively while still focusing on the songs' melodies, structure and overall effect. Highlights include "Illuminator," which boasts jaw-dropping guitar and sax solos, and the heartland anthem "Midwest Moonshine." But, really, cue up just about any of these tunes, push "play" and let your opinion of jam bands likely be altered for the better.

Track Listing
Disc One:
1) Shoulders of Giants
2) Illuminator
3) The Other Side
4) Vagabond Slim
5) Another Dawn
6) Les the Gypsy

Disc Two:
1) Drop of a Hat
2) Midwest Moonshine
3) Something's Gotta Give
4) Nothing to Hide
5) Questions
6) Smile and Nod

Added: August 21st 2008
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Score: 4 stars! - Sea of

"The Station "Most Likely to Make It Big!""

The Illinois Times 2008 "Best of..."

Over 10 years of constant touring across the U.S. took The Station a long way from its humble beginnings in Chatham, IL. Every step of the way the quartet has concentrated on being an original band, from live shows to recorded releases. Even while actually playing more cover songs than most cover bands do (this Halloween they'll do the entrire Dazed and Confused soundtrack at the City Nights Theater in Springfield), the group's dominant work is writing and performing original tunes. They just finished a nearly four-year run playing every Wednesday at Marly's Pub in downtown Springfield and were nationally recognized for cross-country consistency as Top Ten Road Dogs of 2006 and 2007 by, an online source for jam band fans.

In between the steady gigs, the band released three studio CDs, and in 2008, Speed of Sound, a live double-disc set culled from the numerous road shows. Fronted by guitarist/vocalist/saxophonist Dave Littrell, and powered by Dave Carter on percussion, drums, and vocals, the group jams out with Kevin Lemen on lead guitar and Josh Kerska on bass. It made sense to IT readers that the best original band should be the best local band likely to make it big and we agree.

- The Illinois Times

"Jambase Review"

The first standout performance of the weekend came from the Springfield, IL band The Station. Their set was characterized by dissonant, jazzy melodies that would snap instantly into catchy choruses, with blazing guitar and sax work to top it off. Jam after jam peaked perfectly, with some pleasantly surprising excursions into trance territory a la The Disco Biscuits. The talent of lead axe man Kevin Leman was undeniable; he sounded conspicuously like a young Jimmy Herring, shredding through dissonant jazz scales but displaying a keen sense of ear-pleasing melody.

-Neil Salsich, -

"2009 Live Album of the Year"

LIVE ALBUM OF THE YEAR: The Station - Speed of Sound - Live at Marley's offers two plus hours of ambitious, genre-bending rock and roll. The songs are characterized by incredibly strong guitar work, energetic, effusive lyrics, and a stark mixture of musical styles ranging from progressive rock and horn-driven funk, to spacey jams that remain sharp and on point. - The Homegrown Music Network

"The Station Announces Newest Member"

The Station announced the addition of virtuoso Howard Freitag as the newest member of this volatile and versatile band in transition. Last fall another master musician, bassist Jeff Cunningham, came on board to join in the Station’s mix of funky fusion and pop jams. Now with Freitag adding his immense talent and years of experience into the mix along with founding members drummer/percussionist Dave Carter and vocalist/guitarist/saxophonist Dave Littrell, the band appears to be unstoppable on the way to bigger and better things. Already a well-respected name on the jam band circuit with a successful touring schedule in place, The Station stands poised to rise to another level in the industry. Whatever happens, incredible jamming and dynamic playing is a given. Check out the first Springfield appearance of the new lineup Saturday night, March 6, starting around 10 at Bar None. - The Illinois Times

"Review of Speed of Sound"

The Station’s 2008 double disc, “The Speed of Sound – Live at Marly’s” offers two plus hours of ambitious, genre-bending rock and roll.
The songs are characterized by incredibly strong guitar work, energetic, effusive lyrics, and a stark mixture of musical styles ranging from progressive rock and horn-driven funk, to spacey jams that remain sharp and on point. The quartet, which hails from Springfield, Illinois, has been playing for 9 years and has toured relentlessly across the Midwest in that time frame, releasing three studio albums in the process before “The Speed of Sound.” Fusing mathematically challenging compositions (think Rush or Umphrey’s McGee) with sterling guitar work (a la Phish and 1970s era Jerry Garcia), “The Speed of Sound” presents an engaging “live” double disc package that will satisfy the seasoned fan, yet garner the interest of the new.

The tracks contained on these discs were recorded across two different days in late 2007 and showcase the band’s “live experience” and the dizzying talents of guitarist Kevin Lemen. The first highlight of the album for me would be the spectacular, funky groove of “Illuminator,” which explores various rhythms and sonic textures with Lemen’s guitar and Dave Littrell’s energetic saxophone work. This “party song” clocks in at over 12 minutes, a characteristic shared by most songs on the album. These longer songs provide ample room for soloing and exploratory improvisation, yet remain tight, focused, and meaningful, without pointless noodling. “The Other Side” is a jubilant, buoyant track that highlights Dave Littrell’s strong voice and Lemen’s trademark guitar showmanship. “Vagabond Slim” begins methodically with lingering, haunting notes that set the stage for an exploratory jam that sounds reminiscent of “Shakedown Street” era Grateful Dead. This song ultimately concludes in spectacular fashion with scorching interplay from Littrell’s saxophone and Lemen’s guitar. “Drop of a Hat” begins with Lemen’s crunchy guitar work before transitioning into looser, more melodic waters. This song exhibits many swings in mood as these more melodic moments are then starkly juxtaposed against Lemen’s blistering solos. The collection’s shortest track, “Midwest Moonshine,” with its likable, liquor-soaked sensibility, reminds me of early Widespread Panic and would be a sure fire winner in that crowd.

This album, with frenetic, paint-peeling guitar solos and funky open-ended jams, offers lots for the listener to chew on. I found myself drawn to the musicianship and “jams” in the album, more so than Littrell’s lyrics and vocals, but this is purely a matter of personal preference and taste. After playing this album several times, I found myself playing Disc 1 the most, as its tracks offered a pleasant, energetic mix of guitar work, vocals, and songwriting. In reviewing The Station’s “live” album as a whole, I feel that the album displays many different swings in mood, manner, and delivery and does so with satisfying results. This collection aptly showcases The Station’s showmanship and songwriting abilities and presents them as an undiscovered treasure in the jam scene. The “Speed of Sound – Live at Marly’s” offers further evidence that The Station is worthy of our attention.

- By J. Evan Wade

- Homegrown Music Network


"FUMUNDA" (2001), "all that lies between..." (2004), "Playground" (2005), and the double-live "Speed of Sound" (2008)



Musical worlds colorfully collide in the form of The Station. Paired in a music scene long-dominated by excessive, guitar-heavy outfits dropping into 10-minute jam after jam of trading solos, they have been able to discover a newly-formed and rarely traveled crevice in today’s wall of sound. While guitar-rich in essence, The Station has managed to produce a sound void of the same all-too similar, stagnant riffs. Somewhere tastefully aligned between the progressive rock style of Geddy Lee’s Rush, American hard rock, the latter days of John Coltrane and the many fiery incarnations of saxophonist extraordinaire Skerik lies The Station.

At the core, this seasoned quartet is a straight-ahead rock band; not necessarily in the traditional sense, more so as a basis for beginning a description. Perhaps most intriguing is the dexterity the four members (Dave Littrell - Sax, guitar, vocals, Howard Freitag - lead guitar, vocals, Dave Carter - drums, percussion, vocals, and Jeff Cunningham - bass, vocals) possess with their respective instruments. In the increasingly overwhelming jam scene, a scene stuffed with too many of the same flavors, The Station delves into a different path, incorporating a deep rooted rock sound with seductive sax and precision playing. Relying heavily on concise compositions spotlighting varying song structures, timing and progressions, The Station veers away from the norm, instead vying to tackle complex arrangements filled with metal-tinged textures. They perform thinking-mans music, a colorful concoction of diverse sounds fused together into an elaborate brew. Yes, there are improvisational jams, but they remain concise musically, sometimes straying into the stratosphere while others times sticking true to form. Improvised sections remain tight and guided, leaving the listener immersed in a seemingly composed section. Think of it as compositional rock, a term foreign to many but when taken in the context to the band’s dynamic delivery, a rather fitting conclusion. Rounded out by one of the most tight-knit rhythm sections around, The Station is able to develop and deliver a multitude of sounds.

Most noticeable in the band’s impressive sound is their knack for song writing. Challenging compositions are capably conquered by a group of musicians who dare to discover new sonic depths. Without fear, they deliver focused, melodiously mesmerizing forays, taking elements of the past (think Led Zeppelin and Frank Zappa) and fusing them with slivers of metal, funk and even bluegrass. “In our improvs we use hand signals to steer what could be mindless one-chord vamps into composed progressions, motifs, defined sections and generally on-the-spot compositions,” says Carter. “We're creating musical compositions on the spot. It’s something that helps us stand apart from the dime a dozen guitar solo equals improv mindset.”

Where the complications arise is in a complete and definitive definition. With the Prog Rock scene already risen and fallen and the jam band scene encompassing everything from The Roots to The Grateful Dead, placing a finger on The Station sound is daunting: It envelops little facets of all that lies in-between. Delta blues couple with American funk, meshing with 80’s metal and a touch of Tortoise. Taken together, they envelop a wide swath of modern music, combining influences to produce a decadent sound that’s intriguing to ears of all types of listeners.

“We're really trying to infuse progressive rock more into the jam band world. In the era following the (Grateful) Dead and Phish, we're taking the musical attributes of these bands, the song structures and tendencies, and imposing them over a rock band. (In other words) kicking things up a notch,” says Carter.

Now in their tenth year, The Station finds themselves reinvigorated and replenished, steadily moving forward with a healthy dose of live performances from throughout the midwest and ample new song writing. After already releasing three studio albums-2001’s FUMUNDA, All That Lies Between (2004) and Playground (2005), the band released the double-live monster "Speed of Sound", winning the title of the Homegrown Music Network's 2009 live album of the year . Considering the band was recognized and revered as one of Jambase’s Top Ten Road Dogs of 2006 & 2007 the band hasn’t allowed their tireless road schedule to get too much in the way of their burgeoning live and studio success. Planning a fourth studio album later this year, The Station is gearing up for big things to come in 2010.