The Wells
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The Wells

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Band Rock Americana

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Jun
08
The Wells @ Moonlight Medicine Show

Columbus, Ohio, USA

Columbus, Ohio, USA

May
26
The Wells @ Ravari Room

Columbus, Ohio, USA

Columbus, Ohio, USA

May
17
The Wells @ Ruby Tuesday

Columbus, Ohio, USA

Columbus, Ohio, USA

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Music

Press


With the Wells, you get several bands in one. Included in the current roster is lead guitarist Nick Mancini and vocalist Lori Parsley from the Sure Things, and solo artist and Spikedriver Megan Palmer on violin, building on the three-piece base of Robert Loss on lead vocals, bassist Andy Gard and drummer Bill Heingartner.
They’ll amass at the Ravari Room for the release of the Wells’ first full-length disc, The Outcasts Will Make a Strong Nation. Its sound is simple but rich, bringing to mind smooth whiskey and the stomp of a boot on a bare plank floor. You’d never know it was born on Hudson Street, where Heingartner has a professional studio.
The songs offer a collection of misfits filtered through the band’s big influences, Nick Cave and Richard Thompson, feeling more extroverted than either artist, and more deeply, irresistibly rooted in rock.
There’s not a bad track on it, but the best of them, like “Blood Always Tells,” “Knockdown Dragout,” the impressively epic “Sixteen Coaches Long” and the personal favorite “Big Tent Revival,” promise a hellacious barn-burner of a live show.

- Melissa Starker, Arts Editor - Alive


Americana or alt-country or whatever the hell you want to call it has always found a home in Columbus. The sound has never been more than an earshot away, especially if you frequent watering holes that feature live music. But the downside of such a popular sound is that it’s hard to find much of merit in the scene, especially given its traditional, purist leanings.

There are, however, exceptions that prove the rule. The latest disc in that evidence file is The Outcasts Will Make a Strong Nation by the Wells.

Formerly a trio, the band has since enlisted guitarist Nick Mancini and vocalist Lori Parsley, as well as violinist and solo artist Megan Palmer. The talented ringers in this expanded lineup are the perfect fit for the Wells, as the richness and depth of this batch of songs demands something more than a country power trio.

Robert Loss could not be more aptly named, as his songs are positively drowning in their own weight, tiny vignettes of pain and longing that hit like a fist.

Loss and Company’s willingness to stray from convention is the ace up their sleeve. Outcasts tips its cap to numerous songwriters outside the Grand Ol’ Opry circuit. Shades of American Music Club’s engagingly confessional frontman Mark Eitzel and underrated national treasure Joe Pernice rub shoulders with expected influences like Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young in a voice that can hold his own with his predecessors.

The album opens with “Hanging Tree,” which recalls Nick Drake at his sunniest moments and, as the song progresses, the aforementioned Pernice at his loudest. This tendency to rock is even more prevalent on “I Shot Tom Joad,” a song that surprisingly holds its own against Woody Guthrie’s ad Bruce Springsteen’s songs about the protagonist from The Grapes of Wrath.

Drummer Billy Heingartner’s warm, naturalistic production is the perfect fit for the Wells, and after more than a decade behind the mixing board for countless acts, this may be his finest production hour – as well as one of the best sounding local albums in some time.

January is a bit early to start naming top albums of the year, but you might want to earmark Outcasts. It’s a long way to December.

- Rick Allen, Music Critic - The Other Paper


“A great rock and roll band from Columbus, Ohio, the Wells have an interesting hillbilly lean to their rock ‘n roll, evoking long-forgotten memories from a long-abandoned coal town.” - Eric Leighton, The Athens News - Athens News


“A new Columbus combo, the Wells take cues from rustic Appalachian folk music and drawling country twang with a churning rock sensibility underneath. The songs on their debut record, New Death Valley Blues, paint vivid, desolate Midwestern portraits of ‘Ford truck skulls’ and ‘slag highways.’ Originals sit comfortably among reworked traditional numbers, with Robert Loss’ vocals flashing pleasant glimmers of Tom Waits and Mark Lanegan.” – Karen Graves, The Other Paper. (5.27.04) - The Other Paper


“There are worse things in the world than to be favorably compared to Bruce Springsteen’s Pete Seeger tribute We Shall Overcome. Let’s just jump right ahead and make that comparison. Robert Loss’s lead vocals and this Columbus-based band have channeled a loose, rollicking folk, blues, and roots-rock sound that is immediately accessible and foot-stomping. Where other bands choose to brood, the Wells kick out the jams as they chase the devil.” – Jeff Weiss, MilesofMusic.com
- MilesofMusic.com


"...a gem [in] the long line of albums that fall into the realm of 'Americana'...tunes with styles and sentiments in common with Warren Zevon, Driveby Truckers and Tom Waits." - Aaron Beck

- Columbus Dispatch


Discography

The Outcasts Will Make a Strong Nation (Jan. 2007)
New Death Valley Blues (EP, June 2004)

Photos

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Bio

Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, the Wells began as a trio in 2003 featuring Andy Gard (bass, vocals), Bill Heingartner (drums, vocals), and Robert Loss (guitar, lead vocals). Their first release in May 2004 was an EP entitled New Death Valley Blues, described in Columbus’ The Other Paper as “rustic Appalachian folk music and drawling country twang with a churning rock sensibility underneath.”

Seventeen basic tracks for their new album The Outcasts Will Make a Strong Nation were recorded over a four-day session in December 2004 at drummer Bill Heingartner’s professional home recording studio, where he’s worked with plenty of fine Columbus rock bands (Jive Turkeys, Guinea Worms, Bygones). Seven songs fell by the wayside, and the album’s only acoustic track, “I Had a Dream, Jesse,” was recorded in August 2006 to round out the album. Mixing and mastering was done by Bill Heingartner.

Most of the songs on Outcasts are ballads; folk and blues motifs collide, like “shake sugaree” (from Elizabeth Cotton’s song, not the Dead) and “if tomorrow was Christmas Day” (from Robert Johnson’s “Hellhounds on My Trail”) while literary references (The Sound and the Fury; Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory) mix with fantastic tall tales like “Big Tent Revival” and enigmatic whodunnits as in “Knockdown Dragout”.

Robert Loss began as a folksinger in Cleveland and traveled the east-of-the-Mississippi countryside, playing everywhere from CB's 313 Gallery in NYC to the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, until he moved to Columbus to pursue his MFA in creative writing at OSU. He currently teaches English at various local colleges, a step up from when he drove an ice cream truck.

Andy Gard, also from Cleveland, is in the process of obtaining a PhD in Math at OSU and until joining the Wells had played mainly solo material.

In addition to running his own recording studio, Bill Heingartner is the drummer for local faves the Bygones and has played the kit for Columbus bands like Heifer and the Sophomores.

Contributing to this record are a few familiar faces from the Columbus scene. Lori Parsley (vocals) fronts the Sure Things with Nick Mancini (lead guitars); Mancini now plays guitar with the Wells while Parsley sits in on occasion. Prominent on a few tracks is the violin of Megan Palmer who, in addition to backing performers like Rick Moranis, Tim Easton and local newgrass favorites The Spikedrivers, has also released her own solo album.

The Wells have appeared at just about every rock club in Columbus including Andyman's Treehouse, Little Brother's, Carabar and the Ravari Room. Recently they performed an in-studio on WCBE 90.5 with host Maggie Brennan. Outcasts has received favorable reviews from the two local weekly papers in Columbus and is included on the Miles of Music catalogue.