I write this in the middle of Arkansas. The nearest Wal-Mart is 25 minutes, which is saying a lot considering it’s a bloody Wal-Mart. I watched Winter’s Bone last night, the 2010 film about a meth ring in Southern Missouri, because I felt like it fit the tone of my town. The town, by the way, has a population of 1,100, and the sign hasn’t been updated since the 2000 census, according to Pawn Kings store owner, Gerald, who hunts varmints on the weekend for fun.
I am not making fun of this universe. It is a universe that I am quickly learning about and appreciating for reasons that go beyond the scope of this piece. But, I believe ‘Dr Z Presents Super Sonic Blues Machine’ would openly value and appreciate the lay of the land here.
Let’s clarify. The band is called Dr Z Presents Super Sonic Blues Machine, but they also go by Super Sonic Blues Machine. Dr Z is no one in particular. The band consists of a seasoned trio. Bassist Fabrizio Grossi opens the group’s sound, while the group is rounded out by Lance Lopez on guitar and Kenny Aronoff on the kit. The group’s constantly shifting blues/folk sound seemed born right out of the underbelly of Hope, AR. It’s all real and truthful. It is the best you could ever ask for from a sound that is made authentic by its understanding of the raw Americana- the one that is hopeful but hard. A Rihanna single, this is not.
I pulled up a map to get the lay of the land for the group’s debut record, West of Flushing South of Frisco. My research surfaced a land that kind of exists. Flushing is in Michigan, and Frisco is right outside Dallas, Texas.
Which brings us back to Arkansas and the place I am staying. It is also West of Flushing and South of Frisco, kind of, and it represents a cultural spiritually embodied in the frolicking jangling guitar work of Super Sonic Blues Machine. The band hardly winces their sound and words in the album, jamming along spectacularly in “That’s My Way” or the dastardly inclusion of keyboard on “Can’t Take It Anymore” that is impossible to miss.
The band is having a great time. They know the world that is encompassed west of Flushing and South of Frisco. They know the hard truth of the world dissected in Winter’s Bone. The great thing is that they see hope and they see excitement. It isn’t the best world, and as I sit here in Arkansas I am left exploring the path of my own life. But, it is a world worth knowing- peek under the door and find a group of friends jamming in the darkness.
Ryan Merkel is a cool writer guy and contributor all over the internet, from blogs on music to magazines about music to sites about playing music. He is currently founder of SunState Investing and is head editor of the music entertainment magazine, CultureTease. He has written two novels, and is currently working on a third full-length novel, surprisingly, not about music. His novel “Splatter the Noise” earned accolades for independent publishing. Be sure to check out: www.sunstateinvesting.com
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