Comedy and sex appeal combine to form Un5gettable

If Weird Al and Progressive’s Flo had a family who grew up to be a boy band, the result would be Un5gettable.

Composed of Joe Cameron, Kyle Cothern, Brendan Hawkins, Ryan Richards and Zach Harris, Un5, as they are affectionately called by their fans, came from the local civic theatre, where they were relatively above average performers, at least as far as community theatre goes.

According to their website, Cameron met Cothern when Cothern was a toddler because Cameron went to school with Cothern’s older siblings.  Cameron loved Cothern’s perfect pitch, and they became friends.  Richards lived across the street from Cameron.  Richards and Cothern were in grade school together, where they were often mistaken for twins.  Hawkins and Richards were in show choir together in high school.

Years later, Cameron, Hawkins and Richards were cast as brothers in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.  The circle was complete when Cameron and Harris were cast in Crazy for You.  They began playing music together, and the rest, they say, is history.

The group was formed in 2002, and has been playing around the Midwest ever since.  They released their latest videos, “Sorry” and “I Wish” on March 30, and they are freaking hilarious.

What hits you first are the perfect vocal harmonies and the simple piano and guitar instrumentation.  But once you listen to the lyrics, you can’t help but start laughing inside.   Cameron is a true wordsmith, crafting realistic lyrics that combine to tell a story that is funny enough for Weird Al.

The videos also show the comedic timing and abilities of the individuals of the group, each of whom shine forth.

If you are in need of a laugh, then Un5gettable is the band for you.  Check out their website and Facebook pages, follow them on Twitter and Instagram, and definitely subscribe to their YouTube page.


Black Sheep Tour lands in Missoula

One of the joys in working as a music critic over the past 20 years is the chance to become friends with some of the artists that I have come across, and to get the chance to watch their career progress.  One of those artists who has become a special friend is none other than Iowa’s Midwestern songbird, aka Sara Routh, who we profiled in our Women in Entertainment series.

I have had the privilege of booking Routh at several venues in Los Angeles, including the Viper Room, the Derby, Genghis Cohen and the Burbank Film Festival.  She has always delivered, and her recent stop at Missoula’s Stage 112 as part of her Black Sheep Tour was no different.

On the road since March 17, Routh arrived in Missoula on day 15 of her tour, the next to last leg of her journey.  We had the privilege of hosting her, her tour mate Rae Davis, and Chad Taylor, a local Iowa blogger who was documenting the tour.  You can check out that blog here.

After getting them settled at our apartment, we headed downtown to grab some dinner, opting for MacKenzie River Pizza on Front Street, where we all grubbed out on some very delicious food before heading over to the venue for sound check.  Upon arriving at the venue, we found out that they would not be performing on the stage, but on a small riser in the lounge.

After sound check, we took Routh out for a walk around Missoula, ending up at Grizzly Liquor so that she could take home a bottle of our local whiskey from Montgomery Distillery.  Once back at the venue, we learned that Davis had met a female comic named Sara Reynolds and had invited her to open the show.

It being “First Friday,” the venue convinced them to postpone their show until 9 p.m. so that more people would be available, and as the appointed time arrived, that advice proved sound.  Reynolds turned in a good set with a few great laughs, and then it was time for Davis to perform.  Davis definitely has a way with words, and her music reflected her musical journey.  She has a great voice that comes from deep within, and her skills on her baby Martin were likewise good.  She turned in a set of about an hour that kept the locals listening and buying drinks, which was a good thing since they were being paid a cut of the bar.

Finally it was time for the star of the show.  I was impressed with the maturity in Routh since the last time we had seen her perform, more than three years ago.  Her new material, while different from some of her earlier stuff, still reflects the small town Midwestern girl who has spent some time in the big city and in another land, and the lessons she has learned along the way.  She honored us by singing one of the first songs she wrote in LA, “Hills of Gold,” the very song that made us fall in love with her music.  She continued with her calvacade of hits spanning the whole time we have known her, including one of our favorites, “Drinking with the Devil.”  The time went by far too fast, and once again we knew that we had been in the presence of greatness, even if the world does not yet know it.

We got up early the next morning and took them to Paul’s Pancake Parlor for a hearty breakfast before they headed off to Denver for the last show of the tour.  All too soon our brief visit was over, leaving behind more great memories of time spent with one of our favorite indie artists.  Thanks for your friendship and your music.  We love and appreciate both gifts.

For more on Routh, check out her webpage and Facebook, follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to her YouTube channel.


Jonnie & Joy’s new EP hits on all cylinders

Most of us have memories of the 80’s – the hair, the music, and the search for a good time.  Jonnie Rockwell and Joy Tolbert, aka Jonnie & Joy, have memories of their own.

Back then they were members of an all-girl band called Starchild, playing all over the island of Manhattan at clubs like Trax, Gildersleeves and Limelight, as well as amusement parks and other events.

Why did they split? Jonnie & Joy – the moniker of their fresh, explosive, very contemporary new duo – can’t recall the specifics.  All they remember is the magic they created back then, and the foundation it laid for their dynamic musical partnership. And now, reunited after their mutual association with guitarist Justin brought them back together more than two decades and many musical lifetimes apart, Jonnie (keyboards, backing vocals) and Joy (lead vocals) are focused on the future and jamming full steam ahead with the release of their fiery and infectious pop-rock driven debut EP.

Running Home was produced by the legendary Gary Katz, renowned for his groundbreaking recordings with Steely Dan as well as legendary figures Diana Ross, Joe Cocker, Laura Nyro, Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen and many others.   Recorded at Avatar Studios, Alchemy Post Sound and The Bunker, and mixed by Gary Katz and Aaron Nevezie, tracks the title song as well as “Night Stalker,” “Can You Hear Me,” “Hold Tight,” “Lost Soul” and “Never Gonna Cry.”

Every song on this EP is amazing, reminding this reviewer of the great tunes from the musical Rock of Ages.  Listening to these songs feels like cruising the Sunset Strip, long hair blowing in the wind, and rock music screaming from the speakers.

“Never Gonna Cry” starts out sounding like Abba and ends up sounding like Night Ranger, with a touch of Journey and Pat Benatar thrown in for good measure.  Every song that follows builds that momentum, but our favorite was “Lost Soul.”

So how did this new collaboration come about?  After the band broke up, Jonnie played with Scarlet Fever and Baby before quitting music to become a doctor.  However, her love of music never stopped.  She gradually began to return to music by combining her love of sci-fi with music to mount an off-Broadway show called The Anthem, which ran for eight weeks in 2014 at the Lynn Redgrave Theater.  Joy, on the other hand, toured and recorded with her band Restless Soul and scored a unique recording credit when former Iron Maiden singer Paul Di’Anno asked her to sing the background vocals on a cover of the T. Rex song “Children of the Revolution” by his band The Killers.

About two years ago, Jonnie called Joy out of the blue and asked her if she might be interested in resurrecting and re-recording some of their old tunes.   Joy agreed to re-join her fabulous friend and see what kind of magic their new creative journey would create.

Ironically, because of distance and their busy personal schedules, the two collaborated digitally for a while before actually meeting face to face. Joy says, “We exchanged MP3’s and booked studio time to record them, and I initially went into the studio alone to lay my vocals on these tracks without her. Then we booked a session at Avatar and recorded in the studio together. It brought back old times, and it was instantly comfortable yet also exhilarating because there we discovered so many new possibilities in these songs. Ironically, we had recorded at the same facility years before when Avatar was known as Power Station.” Jonnie adds, “Joy walked into the studio like she had never left. She was as brilliant as she had always been.”

Katz got wind of the duo’s recordings and listened to tracks on SoundCloud.  They both loved the way Katz’s “golden hand” brought more depth to their songs. Jonnie explains, “He took the songs and made them sound more dynamic and exciting. He has the ability to bring out a deeper level of magic in a single take.”
“It was great to talk to Jonnie again after so many years,” Joy says. “We had a blast taking the core of them, changing things up and making them fresh and new.” Jonnie adds, “Joy was always so brilliant and beautiful, such a strong and insightful storyteller, sharing through songs her life experiences and the ups and downs of finding love and losing love. I consider these storyteller songs that perfectly balance lyrics and melody. We were always such a strong songwriting and performing team and working with Joy again is a delight and we are looking forward to an amazing ride.”

Running Home is amazing and strongly recommended by Indie Voice.  We can hardly wait to see where this duo will go from here.  Check them out on Facebook.

Special thanks to Jen Lyneis of Ue3 Promotions for turning us on to the band and for providing the background info.