The Set List
By Brian Washburn
The Northwest Arkansas area is synonymous with blues. From Bikes, Blues & BBQ to the blues driven bands found on Dickson, it’s hard to listen to much music around NWA without hearing a blues influenced guitar riff. However, modern blues has taken on a new tone and the Fayetteville based Indiana and the Byrds are taking that tone and their relentless work ethic, and giving NWA a listen.
“Bands here always talk about going to LA as something you have to do. You don’t have to go there, you have to go on the road,” said singer Rob Lee who cites The Raconteurs and Jack White as major influences. “You have to work your way up, but luck is part of it. You can tour and do everything, but you still have to be good and honest.”
What started as a solo project for Lee turned into a full band project when he recruited friends from previous bands and the local music scene to round out Indiana and the Byrds — Lee, guitarist Eddie Mekelburg (who is also a member of the Air National Guard), guitarist/pianist Clay Prater, bassist Jason Mitchell and drummer Noah Taylor. But while other bands in the local music scene try to diversify their music through sound or vocals, Indiana and the Byrds are attempting to do it through the array of musical instruments they try out, including the piano, egg shakers, harmonica (provided by Taylor’s dad) tambourine and even an attempt at a mandolin.
“Being creative sets us a part from the rest of the scene. We don’t do the same thing or sound the same throughout our songs,” Lee said.
The band does fuse different genres, such as blues, soft rock and rock on their debut EP “Danger, Danger” which will be released at their EP release show tonight at Dickson Theater. The six-song EP, takes on subjects from school shootings to ex girlfriends to the legalization of marijuana, which the band says should be 110 percent legal. While the EP offers energetic songs mixed in with softer tunes, the band says their live shows is where the real energy kicks in.
“The live show is extremely energetic. We feed off each other and we can get crazy,” Lee said. The band will even pump out a 30-song set if the show is right.
“It’s the energy [of the live show], not the tempo [of the songs] that matters,” Mekelburg said.
Even though the band does think there are some really good bands in the local music scene, they believe Fayetteville’s biggest festival — Bikes, Blues & BBQ — should take the opportunity and give exposure to more local bands, while also booking modern blues bands.
“The Allman Brothers were good in ’75, but now it’s 2008. I am glad Thanks For Nothing was featured [in the festival], but I wish more bands were,” Lee said.
“The main thing is to have fun. Let’s be honest, a lot of times we’re playing in a bar. People come to have fun and if they have fun then they will come back,” Lee said.
Lee does admits, though, that the band has progressed in the midst of having fun.
“Our writing abilities are tighter and we are writing together and being more collective,” Lee said. “We’re starting to pick up on things and becoming a lot smoother.”
Indiana and the Byrds plan to release a second EP by next March and also hope to purchase a van and trailer to start their life on the road.
Final Thought: While Bikes, Blues & BBQ does bring in a substantial amount of people yearning to hear old school artists such as ZZ Top and The Allman Brothers, it could definitely include a few modern bands, as well. Who wouldn’t want to hear The White Stripes, The Raconteurs or even Kings of Leon in Fayetteville?
The Set List