Once upon a time, there was a little local (Southwest Virginia) band called the Benways. It went through a lot of changes, both in the lineup and the band’s sound. After awhile, like a lot of indie bands, the Benways broke up – or broke down, it’s hard to say which.
Then, like a phoenix from the ashes (or some kind of metaphor) rose Scratch River Telegraph Company (SRTC). Formed in 2010, they quickly drew attention in the Tri-Cities area and beyond for their unique sound; a sound which is hard to describe. But let’s try!
Scratch River is like a fusion of folk, blues, rockabilly, straight up rock and roll and just a little touch of country or bluegrass in the mix for seasoning. They are able to appeal to an assortment of tastes and to audiences of all ages thanks to a broad range of sounds and a wealth of original material. Since the band’s members can play multiple instruments, they often change up from one song to the next, which adds to the sense of a far-reaching musical style. Another way in which their material varies is the tone: SRTC has funny songs, sad songs, scary songs, slow, fast and everything in between.
Most independent bands play a lot of cover songs and toss in a few of their own tunes. SRTC isn’t like that. They play THEIR stuff. Occasionally, they might cover something familiar by request, for a special occasion or for fun (a particular favorite of mine is their version of the classic “There Is A Time” which was featured prominently on the ‘Andy Griffith Show’!) but by and large, when you listen to Scratch River Telegraph Company, you’re listening to something NEW. Even on the rare occasions when they play someone else’s song, they make it their own!
I myself have been lucky enough to have seen them perform many times over the last couple of years and, if you get a chance, see them live because honestly, they go all out to entertain.
I often see familiar faces at SRTC shows, as loyal listeners try to catch them whenever the band comes to town.
There have been some roster changes over the years, but the band’s sound has not changed so much as evolved. Their first album, ’40 Days…’ was a while ago, but they have been in the studio recently and I hear good things!
Soon, I’m going to be interviewing the band members about their new album and their music in general. Meanwhile, they have a Facebook page. Go ahead and check them out. I think you’ll like what you hear.
Catch them live, along with ‘The Deathwells’, at O’Mainnin’s in Bristol on December 21.