Have you heard about this radical battle of the bands that Music & Arts happens to be putting on? In case you haven’t, you can check out some information on it here. It plans to be fabulous. It plans to be fun. It plans to be … a battle. In anticipation of the extravaganza, we reached out to all seven finalists and asked them all the same five questions. What shall we do with the five answers we received to the five questions? Well, we shall share them with you. That’s what we shall do. First up is JB Dunn of Israel Creek, who will be representin’ Frederick. They’ll be competing a week from tomorrow (that’s next Thursday for those keeping score). The fun begins at 5 p.m. The venue is Champions. Go rock. Go roll.
First, tell us a little about the band. How did it come to be, how long have you been together and how would you describe your music?
Israel Creek really started with Kimbrey (Havens) and I. We met at Cafe Nola’s open mic and had a similar interest in folk-driven singer-songwriters with a more vintage sound (ie: Civil Wars, Steeldrivers, The Lone Bellow, etc.). After about six months of farting around at various open mics, we brought in my good friend (and bandmate in Secondhand Ramblers), Scott Blecman, on upright bass. After that, Kimbrey started seeing Brian Murray (formally of The Field Hands), an amazing fiddle player, and it just made sense to us to round out the sound that way. We wrote one song, “Red Clay Dirt,” together, and incorporated a song of Kim’s and one of Scott’s into our sets. Beyond that, while we do play a lot of covers, we have a rule about only covering stuff we listen to and that means something to us. As for a description, I’d say it’s definitely bluegrass-driven folk music. I’m hesitant to call it true, traditional bluegrass out of respect for the guys and gals out there that really do play straight up bluegrass, but that’s definitely one of the defining characteristics.
Have you ever competed in a battle of the bands before? If so, how did you do? If not, do you have a strategy going into this competition?
I’ve never personally competed in one before, and to my knowledge, no one else in the band has either. As for strategy, I don’t think we have one besides just having fun and doing the best we can. We’re not super competitively minded, so there haven’t been a lot of planning sessions. We just really love playing with each other, and as long as we get the chance to do that, I think we’re pretty happy.
What do you think is the most perfect song ever written and why?
Oh, man. This is such a tough question. I definitely think that there is a lot that goes into making a song good, and there are so many variables. I’ve always thought that “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys is just the best written piece of music ever. But then there’s Paul Simon’s entire career, writing songs on a guitar that modulate the way you would on a piano. And then there’s guys like Tom Waits and Ryan Adams who turn the whole concept of songwriting on its head with grit and angst packaged in a pop format. If I have to choose one song for right now in this moment, I’d say “If I Am A Stranger” by Ryan Adams (the acoustic “Follow the Lights” EP version). It’s just so friggin’ honest, to the point where the protagonist in the song is absolutely awful, but you can’t help but relate to him. I think that’s Ryan Adams’s real gift as a songwriter.
What’s the best part about working for Music & Arts?
The discounts on gear (laughs). No, I can say with 100 percent honesty that what keeps me coming to work every day is knowing that in some way I’m helping people that I may never meet make something that matters to them. Even if my effect is entirely anonymous and peripheral, I know that I’m a part of that.
And finally, how would you spend the $1,000 gift card, should you take home first place?
I think our first order of business is to get each of us personal monogrammed eye patches. We’re toying with the idea of transitioning into a pirate themed thing, so clearly, that’s the best option.