News Column

Rock the Music

June 26, 2014

By Catherine Godbey, The Decatur Daily, Ala.

June 26--Chris Kemp could not ignore the numbers. The 13 tornadoes that hit north Alabama in April resulted in four deaths and 300 homeless families.

A self-described "doer," the music producer posted a Facebook message -- if he organized an event to help tornado victims, would bands participate? He simply wanted to judge the interest of artists.

The Facebook post laid the basis for Saturday's River City Lights on Bank Street, a fundraiser for the American Red Cross.

"People are amazing. Forty acts responded. Then my DJ friends got jealous and said, 'Hey, we want to help out, too,' " Kemp said. "We are almost at $0 in expenses because everyone has been so supportive and generous."

The two-stage music festival will kick off at 2 p.m. and last until 10 p.m.Renegade Workshop, an event company owned by Kemp and Zane Brown, organized the event.

"All that is needed to enter the event is a donation to the Red Cross," said Beth Tutwiler-McGuire, executive of the Red Cross' Morgan-Lawrence County Chapter. "It can be $2, $10, $20 or more."

Initially Kemp wanted to charge admission. Tutwiler-McGuire convinced the organizer to settle for donations.

"I realized there may be tornado victims who would want to come and could not afford, say, $10. They can give one penny and get in," Kemp said. "I would like to see people who can afford it give $10. Hey, if you feel led to give $100, we'll take that also. None of it is going to us."

Featured performers include country artist Cheryl Llewellyn, singer-songwriter Josh Allison, folk-rock group Renegades of Funk, bluegrass pickers Iron Horse, rock bands 5ive O'clock Charlie and Rearview Ghost, heavy metal group Illicit Ties, and southern rockers Stone Senate. Manning the DJ station will be Ralph and Louie, Bustin Stallone, Tryptone, Don Darko, Oreo DJ Drago, nboy and MTBA.

"Chris is always trying to do something positive for communities and we are the same way," Rearview Ghost bassist Flip Cooper said. "And this one really touched home with us because it is targeted with helping tornado victims."

Like many in north Alabama, the Huntsville-based band experienced first hand the devastation of tornadoes. In April 2011, a tornado destroyed the band's Tanner studio and $5,000 in equipment.

"After the tornado, we went out and helped with the cleanup. We saw how lucky we were because we didn't lose our home and no one we knew died," lead singer Josia Fiore said. "We want to do whatever we can to give back."

Clint Woolsey, frontman of Nashville'sStone Senate, echoed Rearview Ghost.

"We jumped at the opportunity to do this," Woolsey said. "We're really excited to be part of such a cool event that is going to do so much for the relief effort."

Along with music, River City Lights will provide visual entertainment with projection mapping from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Using the Old State Bank as a backdrop, computer projection artists will create a 3-D light show.

"With its columns, the Old State Bank is a projection mapper's dream," Kemp said. "Basically, the mappers build the bank inside the computer and project onto that different images that will make the bank come alive. It's pretty amazing."

For an example of project mapping, visit

Before the projection mapping, Kemp will announce the winners of the raffle prizes, including an acoustic guitar. Each ticket costs $5.

Every dollar collected through donations and raffle tickets will go to assisting tornado victims.

"I would love to raise $15,000. I think we could do a lot of good and help to change a lot of lives with that money," Kemp said.

Get to know headliners Rearview Ghost and Stone Senate.

Rearview Ghost

When a DJ interested in forming a house band introduced Josia Fiore, a third-generation Italian-American raised on opera, to Flip Cooper, a Southerner raised on a mix of country gospel and the Beatles, he created chemistry.

While the house band never performed for audiences, the practices established a connection between bassist Cooper and singer Fiore.

"During practice we were doing popular covers, but doing our own versions, so they were kind of becoming original songs. We wanted to take it a step further and write our own songs," Cooper said. "Josia can sing anything she wants to. As a songwriter, it is really inspiring because you know you don't have any limits."

Inspired by Charlie Daniels, Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin, Cooper, Fiore and guitarist Craig Shadix found a hard rock voice as Rearview Ghost.

In the past eight years, the band has released two albums and built a regional fan base.

North Alabamians voted the group Best Local Rock Band, Best Local Female Singer and Best Overall Band in the Best of the Valley 2013 poll created by Valley Planet.

"I hope when people see us play live that they see our passion and our honesty. I hope that is what they respond to," Cooper said.

Released in May, Rearview Ghost's sophomore album, "Revolution of an Open Mind" is available on iTunes and CD Baby. Michael Wagener, who produced or mixed albums by Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica, MÖtley CrÜe, Skid Row, Janet Jackson, Alice Cooper and Extreme Cooper, produced the record.

"Success for me would be making a living by playing music. We haven't purchased houses, a lot of us haven't gotten married or had kids because that is another dedication. Music is our life," Fiore said. "On another level, success would be helping to create a stronger indie scene in north Alabama."

Plugged-In with Fiore and Cooper

Band members: Josia Fiore, vocals; Craig Shadix, guitar; Flip Cooper, bassist.

How did the single "Devil's Backbone" come to be?

Fiore: One of our friends suggested us for Michael Wagener's competition to find a band he wants to use for a workshop. Michael Wagener decided he didn't want to do the competition. He just wanted to use us. Talk about pressure. So we had to write a whole new song. I had this line in my head for a year. "It started with the whiskey." I really wanted to do a party song and repeated the line to the band. Flip immediately goes, "and ended with a fight." That was the first line of the song.

How did Wagener end up producing "Revolution of an Open Mind?"

Cooper: What was really cool is that we became friends. There was this chemistry. Michael Wagener said, "We should do more together." We were like, "Yeah." We came home and had two months to write five more songs and raise $2,000, which we did through an indiegogo campaign.

What was the name of your first band?

Fiore: My first band was in college. It was a small cover band with a French drummer, a Chinese bass drummer from South Africa, a Parisian guitarist and me. We were called Crazy Encina.

Cooper: Mine was about as goofy as it gets. We were called Contagious. We were middle school friends. It was a goofy name, but we were doing our own thing with it.

What do you love most about music?

Fiore: When we're connecting to the people. I think one of the things people love about music in general is to be about to go back to a memory and a feeling. For me, it's really therapeutic. I could have gone into any type of music, but I really wanted to connect with people, and to do that you have to be yourself.

For more information on Rearview Ghost, visit

Stone Senate

On Saturday night, Stone Senate will make its debut performance in Decatur. But, lead singer Clint Woolsey said, the band knows about the city.

"Oh, we've visited Decatur before. We have eaten at the Big Bob's," Woolsey said. "Our bass player is a big BBQ guy, so he knows all the hot spots to eat at around the country."

For those unfamiliar with Stone Senate, expect an entertaining, high-energy Southern rock show with original and cover songs, ranging from The Allman Brothers and the Doors to Stone Temple Pilots and Alice in Chains.

Along with Woolsey, the band consists of drummer David Zettler and founding members bassist Paul Zettler and guitarists Marcus Brown and Mike Thompson.

"We got together four years ago. We were all in different bands, and when they broke up, we got together and decided to try the three-guitar Southern rock kind of sound," Woolsey said. "We added the drummer in August."

The band recently signed with a management agency and will release its second EP later this summer. The album will be available on iTunes and

Plugged-In with Woolsey

How did you come up with the name?

The original name was The Shakes, but several others out there were using it. We wanted something no one else was using. We were kind of stuck between The Senate and The Stone, so we just decided to combine them.

What about your songs connects with people?

The songs are real and about our past experiences. They have that Southern storytelling sort of vibe. Really, they are all written from the heart.

Do you have a favorite song or lyric?

"Hard to Say When." Believe it or not, it's about a woman and a breakup.

How would you define success?

I think we are a success now because we are able to perform, have fun doing it and make a little money. Now, it would be really nice if we could quit our day jobs of laying carpet and construction and do music full time. Maybe that will be our next step.

Catherine Godbey can be reached at 256-340-2441 or Follow on Twitter @DecaturLiving.

If you go

What: River City Lights, a fundraiser for the American Red Cross

When: Saturday, 2-10 p.m.

Where: Bank Street

Cost: Donation of any amount


--2 p.m., Cheryl Llewellyn, country

--3 p.m., Josh Allison, singer-songwriter

--4 p.m., Renegades of Funk, folk-rock

--5 p.m., Iron Horse. The four-member group from Muscle Shoals re-imagines rock hits with a bluegrass feel. Songs range from Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine" to Modest Mouse's "Float On" to The Marshall Tucker Band's "Fire on the Mountain." The group's cover of Metallica's "Enter Sandman" has received more than 974,000 views on YouTube. Check out the performance at

--6 p.m., 5ive O'Clock Charlie, rock

--7:30 p.m., Illicit Ties. The Huntsville-based heavy metal band has opened for Incubus, Three Days Grace, Filter and Fuel.

--7:30-10 p.m., projection on Old State Bank

--8 p.m., Rearview Ghost, rock

--9 p.m., Stone Senate, Southern rock


(c)2014 The Decatur Daily (Decatur, Ala.)

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Source: Decatur Daily (AL)

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