Bell-bottoms and Wigs – Roadside Mystic
Contributing Writer – Garret K. Woodward
Often within the origin of unbreakable bonds forged through musicianship resides a unique circumstance coming to fruition from the strangest of places.
“We came about because of a project that we were invited to play in about five years ago called That ‘70s Band,” said guitarist Brad Hurlburt. “After wearing skin-tight bell-bottoms and wigs and literally seeing the band implode on stage during a double bachelorette party, we had caught the bug for playing live and developed a really solid friendship.”
Taking that friendship ball and running with it, Hurlburt, alongside Derek Lavoie (bass), Scott Renderer (drums) and Russ Cook (guitar/vocals), formed Roadside Mystic, a Keene Valley (Upstate New York) group finely tuned in the early styles of the Delta blues and backwoods melodies of haunting musical ghosts.
“Our sound is pure raw rock ‘n’ roll,” said Hurlburt. “We use tube amplifiers turned way up, vintage drums and a minimum of effects. Our influences range from the Mick Taylor era of The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers and Led Zeppelin. We also draw from a heavy base of country-blues artists like Mississippi Fred McDowell and R.L. Burnside.”
The quartet (which also molds itself into the acoustic side project Back Porch Society) evolved simply with a few passionate people playing music in their own time, in their own space.
“Brad and I both live in Keene Valley, and our houses are only about half a mile apart, so we spend a lot of time together,” said Cook. “Brad’s back porch became our home base. Once we had the chance to start our own project, we began to study as many early blues masters as we could get our hands on, including Willie Johnson, John Hurt, Elmore James, Willie McTell and the Reverend Gary Davis.
“Out of this eclectic mix, both of the projects were born, which have given us a chance to continue to explore both of our passions — acoustic blues and full-tilt electric blues-rock.”
Currently, the band is in the process of recording their first album at Bullfrog Audio in Vermont, a studio owned by Victor Forbes of Fine Art Magazine. The release date is tentatively set for next summer, with several live shows to be sprinkled around the region until that time.
“Our approach is a no-compromise attempt to make music that we love and believe in,” said Hurlburt. “We are motivated by the challenge of taking the project as far as we can with both the quality of our recordings and live shows. We try to make music that we are excited about, and hopefully, that will translate to our listeners. As a band, we thrive on the interplay between the band and the crowd and the energy that is shared between the two.”
Renderer looks at the project as a chance to make a difference in a diluted industry.
“The music industry in its current state is pretty sad,” he said. “Let’s get back to rock ‘n’ roll and listening to a complete album, start-to-finish, on a turntable. Digital downloading has sucked the magic out of music. We all love opening a real album and checking out the artwork, reading the liner notes, and, most importantly, hearing how a complete work flows from one song to the next.
“In our genre, taking from the past and making it relevant in the present is a time-honored tradition. We try to be a worthy link in that chain.”
Roadside Mystic will be performing at the Monopole in Plattsburgh, New York on February 25 and the Cascade Cross-Country Ski Area in Lake Placid, New York on March 26.