Band of the Week
By Emily Kaitz
Their first CD was recorded in two weeks and “sounded like it.” But Gary Szmyd and Mike Harrod, the core duo of Old Dime Box, took three years to complete their second release “Take What You Need” at Fayetteville’s East Hall studio with Chris Moore engineering and co-producing. Now it’s time to celebrate tonight at the Mount Sequoyah Conference & Retreat Center in Fayetteville with other members of their band and some special guests.
Szmyd (pronounced “Shmid”) and Harrod have played music together for about 30 years, and are also brothers-in-law (Szmyd’s wife Jill is Harrod’s sister). They have performed as everything from a duo up to a six-piece band, and the new CD features their full line-up with Thomas Cochran on drums, Wayne Gustafson on bass, Sally Gustafson on vocals and Bob Holland on fiddle and mandolin.
All the songs were written or co-written by Szmyd, who sings and plays acoustic guitar. Harrod also sings and is responsible for the blistering electric guitar solos that, along with the drums, make the recording more of a rock album than a folky one. But there’s still quite a bit of variety on the CD, between the psychedelic gypsy strains of the title track, the down and dirty groove of “I’m Free” and the Beatlesque “Life’s Funny That Way” (co-written by Gary’s brother Johnny and also Trout Fishing in America’s Keith Grimwood, who plays bass and does a cameo vocal on the bridge). There’s also the dreamy surf rhythm of “See Ya Later Jerry Don,” which Szmyd wrote in tribute to his father-in-law on the day he died, and the pop finale “Tonight’s the Night” which was inspired by a dream Szmyd had about writing a new theme for the Johnny Carson show.
Szmyd and Harrod originally named their group after an east Texas town that neither of them has visited. Originally called Crossroads, they soon learned the name was more evocative of a blues band. In seeking a new name they began to consider the names of various Arkansas towns, but settled instead on Old Dime Box, which was mentioned in a favorite Willis Alan Ramsey song, “Northeast Texas Women.”
Tonight’s CD release party is free, and runs from 7 to 10 p.m. in the Bailey room, which has room for dancing. Old Dime Box will perform with all six band members, with Zane Harrod, Mike’s teenage son, subbing for Cochran on drums. There will also be some guest appearances. Expect to hear songs from the new CD along with a lot of danceable cover tunes. Copies of “Take What You Need” will be on sale for $10.