Multi-Sport Stars: The Communion Tour with The Weeks and The Dough Rollers, January 23 at RIBCO Print
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Friday, 10 January 2014 09:36

The Weeks. Photo by Emily B. Hall.

The title of The Weeks’ Dear Bo Jackson does more than name-check the famous two-sport professional athlete – an All-Pro running back in the NFL and an All-Star outfielder in Major League Baseball. It also articulates a mission statement for the Nashville-by-way-of-Mississippi band.

“Bo Jackson, as good as he was at baseball and football, he was just called a ballplayer,” said guitarist Sam Williams earlier this week. “Bo Jackson just kind of does what he wants. That’s sort of what we were going with, musically. ... I just want to be a rock band. ... I think this record has a lot of different genres. We kind of skip around a lot.”

To extend the metaphor, Williams said “the bashing rock-and-roll songs” represent The Weeks’ football career, while the slower songs are baseball. “They take a little longer to develop,” he said, but they have their share of “triples and homes runs.”

Of course, bands hate being pigeonholed, but The Weeks make good on their chutzpah. When the latest edition of the Communion tour hits the Quad Cities on January 23 (at RIBCO), the bill features a pair of throwback bands. Both The Weeks and The Dough Rollers play rock that neither needs nor warrants additional modifiers; it’s music largely out of time.

The Weeks moved from Mississippi to Nashville in 2010 with “no plan whatsoever” and no contacts, Williams said. They picked up a manager and an attorney on their first day, and after that they worked on honing their craft. Williams said they played roughly 50 shows in Nashville alone in their first six months: “Every 15 minutes we could get on a stage somewhere, we were there.”

The need to play shorter sets, he added, “was a perfect situation. You have to figure out what you do best, and then you’ve got to figure out how to do that consistently. When you play 45 minutes, you can kind of ease into the set energy-wise. When you have 15, you’ve got to go out there and bash it immediately. There’s no getting acclimated to the stage.”

And Dear Bo Jackson – released in April on Kings of Leon’s Serpents & Snakes label – reflects that refinement, in the sense that its 11 tracks are lean and shapely and as comfortable in rock’s rougher dives as in its respectable homes. Williams said every aspect of the album’s creation was given more breathing room – from writing to recording – than previous releases.

So the Bo Jackson thing is by no means an overreach. But there is a problem with it, in the sense that Jackson’s professional football and baseball careers were short and marred by injury. So Williams offered another comparison – of a baseball player whose career lasted well into his 40s and included 399 home runs: “We’re going to try to be the musical equivalent of Andrés Galarraga. ... We’re planning on doing this for the rest of our lives.”

The Dough Rollers

The Dough Rollers: An Inevitable Shift

To date, the Dough Rollers have officially released two songs. Those were a single for Jack White’s Third Man Records (released in July), and in seven minutes they offer tantalizing promise: the dirty Southern rock of “Little Lily” and the ’60s-tinged “The Sailing Song.”

Plus, the band comes with the highest recommendation (“amazing”) from Sean Moeller of Daytrotter.com, which is co-presenting this stop on the Communion tour.

And the current version of the band came into being largely because of a tour supporting Queens of the Stone Age in 2011.

It’s dangerous to infer too much about a band from a pair of tracks, but those are sterling credentials, and the songs suggest that they’re deserved.

Until the Queens tour, the band had been an acoustic blues and country duo, with guitarist Jake Byrne and singer Malcolm Ford playing old music they loved. (Byrne is the son of actors Gabriel Byrne and Ellen Barkin, and you might have heard of singer Malcolm Ford’s father Harrison.)

That tour, Byrne said, pushed the band down a new path. A pair of guys doing covers on acoustic guitars probably wasn’t going to play well preceding hard rock’s reigning Queens.

The shift toward original rock songs “was always what was going to happen,” Byrne said last week. “What we were doing at first was never really something we planned on doing for too long. It was kind of accidental it lasted as long as it did. ... That tour just gave us an excuse to do it on a more permanent basis. It was something we had fooled around with but never committed to.”

So The Dough Rollers as a rock quartet was born. The group has an EP slated for release this spring, and an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman is scheduled for early March.

But don’t expect Byrne to sell the band himself. He said he was happy with the Third Man single, but when I asked him what in particular pleased him about the songs, he said: “I like that I don’t hate them.”

The Communion tour – with The Weeks, The Dough Rollers, Bedroom Shrine, and Centaur Noir – will come to RIBCO (1815 Second Avenue, Rock Island) on Thursday, January 23. Admission at the door is $15, and advance tickets are $11 and available at RIBCO.com.

For more information on the Communion tour, visit CommunionMusic.com.


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