'A new day' begins Obie Call

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-111401608620233.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of www.obiecall.com’, ‘Rockford’s Obie Call performs at the Independent Rock Barn Union March 5. The group’s CD is available at CD Source and Phoenix Traders and through its Web site.’);

n Local band brings mix of punk, reggae, country and rock to its new album, Bar Rock

“It’s a new day.” Those four words have been whispering around the streets of downtown Rockford since the April 5 election. The root of that simple statement seemed to generate a sort of communal electricity at Mary’s Place April 9 at the Obie Call CD release party.

It might seem like a stretch, or a clumsy way of plugging the winning mayoral candidate, but with Larry Morrissey on his way into office, it seems as though the winds of change are blowing around the street corners and through the night clubs in a most positive manner. Maybe it was the subconscious knowledge that Morrissey is and always has been a strong supporter and patron of local arts that lent the refreshing buzz throughout Mary’s Place as The Mutinous Mutt, Jimmy Shuckama’s Victory Slap, Cosmic Donkey, Gods Got Guns and Obie Call (OBC) took the stage.

These three bands (and Mutt, who emceed the event) have always been involved with one another, and there was no surprise that Jimmy and Donkey were chosen to open for OBC. Every time I hear Jimmy, they sound better and better; April 9 was no exception.

Loud but tasteful rock, blended with Southern-influenced guitar picking, funky rhythms, and theatrical vocals, left the audience wanting more. Solid song writing also adds to their appeal, as they can jump from “sarcastic rock” to sensitive musings from song to song. With “Pudge” sitting in on drums, Jimmy Shuckama certainly “slapped” the audience with energy.

I don’t know how many times I need to put this in print, but why doesn’t Donkey have bar owners fighting over who gets the group to play for them? They’re reliable and are excellent musicians, and the “basically bluegrass” mixed with gypsy swing jazz they play is conducive to any kind of venue. I wouldn’t want to cross em’ in any manner (donkeys can kick), but I would like the option of being able to see them play more than once a month in different venues. The energy they conveyed April 9 was spectacular, and anyone who wasn’t there missed Donkey at their finest.

Unfortunately, I missed Gods Got Guns’ performance. However, the Mutt informed me that GGG played a very interesting set of almost entirely instrumental punk/hard rock/metal. As far as I’m concerned, if Obie Call likes em’, they’re OK by me.

Obie Call, who played their new CD, Bar Rock, earlier in the night, closed out the evening with their signature rock/pop/reggae/funk/country style. This band truly represents the finer side of Rockford’s music scene, and are of the same potential as the rest of the hit-it-big bands that have exploded beyond the city limits.

With Dave Slater on drums, John Picot on lead guitar and vocals, Pat Andres on bass and vocals, and Austin Guzzardo on rhythm guitar and vocals, all members have been working the music circuit for a long time. The members’ backgrounds in punk, reggae, country and straight-up rock ‘n’ roll show through their music clearly. One audience member claimed he especially liked the songs Slater wrote, “even if it is silly white boy reggae!” I wouldn’t go so far as to use that description, but the comment (in context) does display the free and easy relationship OBC has with their friends and fans.

The most frustrating part about knowing about a band like Obie Call is the knowledge that theirs is not yet a household name. That’s sort of how the Rockford music scene has always worked. Audiences come to see the bands they’ve heard of frequently, not because some music reviewer said they were good. Let me encourage the Rockford populace to remember the name Obie Call, and if you find yourself in the same room as them, ask them what it means.

Bar Rock is available at CD Source and Phoenix Traders, and will be coming soon to other music retail stores around town. With a CD cover like theirs, it’s hard to miss. Call Acme Records to find out if they’ve agreed to distribute it, and keep your eyes open at Media Play and Borders.

For more information, go to www.obiecall.com, where you can check out music samples, bios, pictures and even play the Obie Call game. There are also links to Obie Call’s favorite bands’ Web sites.

From the April 20-26, 2005, issue

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