Before their summer tour takes them to a couple of festivals you might have heard of -- Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza -- the musicians of Roadkill Ghost Choir will take the stage Friday night, May 16, as Nightfall headliners. Since their Facebook page lists only a single band interest -- long hair -- we cast our net a little wider to see what others are saying about this indie folk/rock band from DeLand, Fla. Here's what we gleaned from their website and other online sources.
¦ Who they are: Three Shepard brothers make up half of the band: Andrew (vocals, guitar), Maxx (drums, vocals) and Zach (bass). Rounding out the six-piece ensemble are Kiffy Meyers (pedal steel, banjo, guitar), Joey Davoli (keys, trumpet) and Stephen Garza (lead guitar, vocals).
¦ How they started: Originally, Andrew Shepard began writing and recording music alone. By the end of 2010, he was offered a solo gig but decided performing alone would be "terrifyingly boring," he told a River City Eco Fest blogger in Jacksonville, Fla. He first turned to his brothers to play drums and bass, then Meyers "came out of nowhere to play pedal steel. ... A few shows after that, Garza joined to play guitar, and that's how it all happened."
¦ How the name came about: A story in the University of Georgia student newspaper, The Red & Black, has this explanation from Garza: "There really isn't much behind it. I started with another band, and the name was Lester Possum and the Roadkill Ghost Choir. When I joined these guys, they needed a name, and they really liked Roadkill Ghost Choir, so we stuck with that."
¦ Influences and sound: Their "spacey rock music" is influenced by Wilco, Gram Parsons, Bob Dylan and Fleetwood Mac, with undercurrents of Radiohead and Nirvana, along with Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Kurt Vile and War On Drugs.
¦ What: Roadkill Ghost Choir headlines Nightfall.
¦ When: 8 p.m. Friday, May 16. Paul Hadfield and The McCoys open at 7 p.m.
¦ Where: Miller Plaza, corner of M.L. King Boulevard, Market and Cherry streets.
¦ Admission: Free.
¦ Phone: 423-265-0771.
¦ Website: www.Night fallChattanooga.com.
Paul Hadfield & The McCoys is a local Southern rock/alt-country outfit formerly known as Paul Hadfield & the Tucker Hollow Band. It features Kentucky transplant Paul Hadfield on vocals and guitar, LaGarron Chastain on guitar, Stephen Hare on bass and Daniel Hooker on drums. The band's debut digital album, "On Our Feet Again," was released in February. Find out more at paulhadfieldandthe mccoys.bandcamp.com.
¦ Accomplishments so far: They've opened for Band of Horses and played other big-name festivals, including Shaky Knees and twice at South by Southwest. They made their national television debut in January on "Late Show With David Letterman."
¦ About that Letterman show: Rick de Yampert of the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports the band members were looking to come off the road to record their first full-length album after months of nearly nonstop touring when they were confirmed for the show -- "a one-song gig no rising rock band can pass up," he says. They were allotted three minutes and 30 seconds, according to de Yampert, so they played an abbreviated version of "Beggars' Guild" from their debut EP, "Quiet Light," released in September 2012.
"That banjo-propelled song is representative of Roadkill Ghost Choir's sound: an amalgam of Americana and roots rock with varying degrees of modern indie rock and spacey, ambient vibes," he writes.
¦ Positive reviews: Absolute Punk has this to say about "Quiet Light's" six tracks: "The power and grace showcased in just these songs is enough reason to think that this Florida band is just a few short steps away from making a masterwork." Adds Consequence of Sound: "Standout cuts like 'Beggars' Guild' and 'Drifter" are driving folk numbers that showcase a taste for Wilco as well as Fleetwood Mac ... You can just about feel Radiohead under 'Devout,' a mark of Roadkill Ghost Choir's impish edge with broad appeal."