Dallas… St. Louis… Mississippi… for generations, places like these have been the breeding ground for that musical style known as the blues. But a little further north, in a basement of Elmira, a group of EDSS students are preparing to join the pantheon as they await their biggest gig yet.
On August 9, Elmira’s The Suns will hit the main stage of the Kitchener Blues Fest. In 2012, Scott Metzger (vocals), Nate Dowdall (drums), Angus Mulrooney (guitar), Christopher Paleshi (guitar), and Nick Rorai-McNeil (organ) formed the Suns out of the ashes of an earlier band (which split due to “drumming problems”). Two years later on March 25, they won the Youth Legacy Showcase at Bobby O’Brien’s in Kitchener.
How can you tell when a band has chemistry? “It’s really when someone says, ‘Let’s play this song in this key,’ and everyone says, ‘Okay.’ It’s no longer, ‘Everyone practice for the next four weeks and get together and do the song,’” said Angus Mulrooney.
“Or it’s like, you’re on stage and you just look around and see everyone … and all of our spirits exist our bodies and become one. It’s just our souls floating around in this big pool. … We’re no longer the Suns, we’re just a soul pool …”
Well, not quite. But the group agrees that they have come along way since their humble origins in 2012.
“I view it as more theatre than music now,” said Metzger. “We go, put on a show, push as many buttons, get as people’s faces in the audience, make them question who they are …”
“You can close your eyes and make weird faces …” interjected Mulrooney.
Jim Recchia, a friend of the group, was a bit more forthcoming. “They play a lot more original music than they used to. These fellows can jam – all starting from nothing – and almost write a tune from beginning to end, just playing. That’s musical chemistry.”
“Normally, Nick will come up with a bass line,” said Metzger. “Then the drums will just creep in, the guitar swoops over top, and I’ll just try to think of some obscene words or something …
“There’ll be times when we’ll just be like, ‘This isn’t anything, but then there will be that one take where it’s like, ‘That’s pretty awesome.’”
The group cites the Allman Brothers, the Doors, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Santana as influences.
“We don’t just stick to one genre,” said Nate Dowdall. “We’ll add funk or jazz into blues feel so it doesn’t get boring. It’s not the same thing every time we jam.”
What can we expect when the boys hit the stage at the Kitchener Blues Festival? “More like, ‘What not to expect?’” said Metzger. Whatever is in store, it goes down August 9 at noon.