News Column

Josephine Expo features four local acts

October 4, 2013

YellowBrix

Oct. 04--The Josephine Expo will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 5 at Civic Arena. And although most of the ladies will attend to peruse the booths, take in a fashion show, shop the various wares or indulge in some delicious food, the expo also will feature four solid local music acts.

Therapeutic singer/songwriter Stephanie Glenn will kick off the music at 10 a.m., and local bluegrass band Whiskey for the Lady will follow at 11 a.m. The indie folk band Eyelit will ring in the afternoon with a performance at 1 p.m., and roots and rock band The Wood Pile will wrap things up at 3 p.m. Let's take a brief look at all four of the acts.

Stephanie Glenn

Josephine readers may recall Glenn as the nursing program instructor who works in Atchison, Kan., and just so happens to be an indie folk singer/songwriter on the side.

Each year, Glenn brings her guitar to class around Thanksgiving and plays for her students at Highland Community College, not only to let them see her outside of academia but also to add a dimension to her curriculum. Now, she's taking that talent from the community college to the community at large.

With her latest album, "Ruby Slippers," Glenn provides an uplifting if not slightly spiritual soundtrack that draws more than a few parallels to "The Wizard of Oz." In the upbeat "Let It Come To You," for example, she urges listeners to "find the strength to carry on." At other points, she proves to be more poetic, but her prose rarely strays from the dense, inspirational and motivational. She provides strong, textured narratives with songs like "Clarity" and "The Best is Yet to Come."

Whiskey for the Lady

Those suffering from bluegrass withdrawals after attending Bluegrass Battles Hunger should love the get-down sounds of Whiskey for the Lady, who kicked off the event last Friday.

The five-piece band -- Phil Craven (vocals; mandolin), Mallory Edson (violin), Frank Bower (guitar), Ricky Deal (banjo) and Brad Price (bass) -- has played a number of festivals, sharing the stage with a multitude of national acts including Mountain Sprout, Big Smith and Umphrey's McGee. Through rough-edged, foot-stomping tunes like "Beautiful Things," "Courteous Lies" and "Wrong Road," the group's variety of influences is more than apparent.

Whiskey for the Lady borrows from bluegrass acts like Deadman Flats, HonkySuckle and Dirt Foot just as much as rock bands like Tool, Pink Floyd and Grateful Dead. That's why every Whiskey show -- which includes originals and covers -- boasts a mix of traditional bluegrass, modern folk and just a little bit of rock 'n' roll.

Eyelit

Of all the acts performing at the Josephine Expo, Eyelit has earned the most acclaim. In the last year, the band -- which includes singer/guitarist Austin Marks, singer Dansare Marks, banjo/glockenspiel player Ryan Johnson, trumpet/accordion player Sam Stephan and drummer Tyler Saxton -- has received radio play on 96.5 The Buzz in Kansas City and performed at the Mid-Coast Takeover during the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas.

Eyelit crafts mellow, emotional folk tunes that occasionally draw comparisons to The Civil Wars, Andrew Bird and Iron & Wine, yet several of the group's songs come from a place of heavy-heartedness and self-discovery.

Austin Marks wrote "Sun" about the gloominess that young adults go through when they realize they have to try to find a place in the 9-to-5 work structure. His wife, Dansare, penned "Holding My Own" about a girl who's realizing the importance of self-independence -- finding that it's OK not to spend every waking moment with her significant other. But Eyelit cheers people up on occasion, too, with songs like the harmonica-driven "She Holds His Hand Tight," a positive tune about a girl getting over her insecurities.

The Wood Pile

The Wood Pile follows the path of its two singers, songwriters and guitarists -- Matthew Coman and his father, Michael. Rounding out the band are Rhonda Coman (Michael's wife) on percussion and Rick Allen on bass.

Nailing down a sound for The Wood Pile proves to be difficult as the band sways between experimental guitar rock, vintage blues, toe-tapping Americana and hard-edged folk. Michael's original songs tend to be more contemplative and just may remind listeners of tunes by Eric Clapton, Elvis Costello and Tom Waits. Matthew's songs feel a little more ambitious, taking on alternative rock, guitar-driven blues and vintage psychedelia that have the fingerprints of Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin and even Pearl Jam on them.

The group has been known to mix its catalog of rootsy original music with an eclectic smattering of covers, ranging from Merle Haggard and Tom Petty to REM, Wilco and The Vines. But it's the band's covers of The Beatles that have received rave reviews. The Wood Pile often touches on some of the Fab Four's popular numbers -- like "Here Comes the Sun," "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" and "Across the Universe."

Shea Conner can be reached at shea.conner@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @stjoelivedotcom.

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(c)2013 the St. Joseph News-Press (St. Joseph, Mo.)

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