Click read more below the green ad to preview of just a few of the bands on the City Paper Stage at China Garden.
We expect the mainstream media to cover the only all local music stage about as well as the report on things like the St. Patty's Day commissions, so we figured we would give a heads up on a few of the bands. Perhaps some of the local talent will utilize the mp3 upload feature and you can listen in advance too... -Paul Blake
By Ryan Kitchens
Zach Fowler & The Essentials
Having played countless shows across Columbia in just the past year, Zach Fowler & the Essentials are one of the city's most recognizable new names. Often praised throughout the southeast for their uplifting stage presence, they are certainly a group of up-and-comers to watch. Their laid back singer-songwriter approach draws some quick comparisons to Jason Mraz and John Mayer, but the band fits in right at home with other Columbia locals Devon Wolfe and John Jett. Zach Fowler actually began playing on his own two years before teaming up with his current band mates. Their 2007 release Caught in Between reached out beyond Fowler's solo act, showcasing a solid collection of pop-tinged romance songs from a band coming into its own. Zach has outlined a number of goals and objectives he wishes to accomplish with the band, making note that he wants to evoke emotions through his music that will inspire others to create their own. While you're most likely to find Zach Fowler out playing as a two-piece with guitarist Evan Tyler, the Essentials also include friends Patrick Grice, Brandon Kersbergen, and Megan Sullivan who are all working on the band's new album which is due out in April.
The Fire Tonight
The Fire Tonight is the new official moniker for the Collin Derrick Band. The name change comes as part of the band's ever expanding sound in addition to some solo work we can soon look forward to from Collin. His 2005 The Consumer's Gospel, a fairly low-key indie pop album and possible homage to Thom Yorke, was one of the most exciting local pop releases since the Guitar Show. With the other band members beginning to make a more prominent appearance, The Fire Tonight elaborate heavily on their brit pop influence, shaking things up from song to song with sounds that wind their way from high-energy arena rock bombast to pensive tales of self-destruction where every note rings with purpose. As The Fire Tonight continually challenge themselves into taking the band in new directions, they find their influences piling up, tempting them to create music with a comforting collective input instead of simply remaining, "Four guys playing songs," as drummer Stephen Ross put it. Overwhelmed with enthusiasm over their growth as a band, The Fire Tonight have set up a short, regional spring tour before setting out to record their new album this summer in Tennessee.
The Starseed Project
Harking back to late '90s alternative rockers Our Lady Peace, The Starseed Project's lofty brand of clamoring guitars and downcast vocals explores a similar territory while bearing a bit of Columbia's enigmatic loud rock allure. Memorable riffs and pummeling basslines forge their sound into an intricate layering of post-grunge that fans who are still lingering onto the sound that Collective Soul, Tonic, and Pearl Jam struggle to keep alive are sure to enjoy. The Starseed Project, although just completing its lineup in early 2007, originally began as a three-piece a couple years ago, but decided that it wasn't ready to play live until finally bringing on guitarist Robb Winde and vocalist Marc Shipley. The band is comprised of ex-members from an impressive number of defunct southeastern bands, including Shipley's locally-praised Five Minute Major. So far The Starseed Project have recorded seven songs which are all available for free on the band's website, but have yet to record a wide release. The band plans to ramp things up later this year, which includes performances on both WXRY 99.3 and WARQ 93.5, along with their recent participation in Jillian's Battle of the Bands.
These bands will playing on the City Paper stage in the China Graden lot in Five Points during the St. Pattyâ€™s Day Festival. $3 Miller Light will also be available. Local Matters!