Two brothers grew up playing guitar and singing together in Barnesville, and two years ago when their sister announced she was having a baby, neither could have known that along with their new niece, a band was going to be born.
Old Northern is a modern alternative band from Belmont County. The band is comprised of four members; Steve Myers (bass), Mark Mowery (lead guitar), Kyle Hoops (drums) and Ryan Mowery (vocals/guitar).
Mark and Ryan Mowery had been involved in music since childhood and have played professionally around the Ohio Valley both individually and with different groups. The pair never found a true fit for their musical style separately, so they decided to pair back up and try making music together. As fate would have it, a move back to the area to be close to the family would find Mark moving in with his sister Megan and brother-in-law Kyle Hoops. Hoops had been a musician wanna be his entire life, drumming on cans and boxes and playing air guitar. As fortune would have it, he found himself dwelling in a new home with guitars and drums.
Old Northern, a modern alternative band from Belmont County, will perform at the Mystic Valley Festival Summer Solstice this weekend. The band is comprised of four members; Kyle Hoops (drums), Mark Mowery (lead guitar), Ryan Mowery (vocals/guitar) and Steve Myers (bass).
Expressing interest in learning to play, Mark was willing to teach the eager student, and fortunately, Kyle was a quick learner on the drums. Soon the two were jamming with Ryan, and the trio began to perform some original songs.
Ryan is the writer and brings lyrics and the basic melody to the sessions where Mark intuitively filled in the sound. "We have been playing together for 12 years and work so well together," Ryan said of his brother. "I guess you could say that in a musical sense he smoothes out the edges."
All that remained to complete the band's sound was a bass player. Once again it would be a stork delivering a new band member to the group. Growing up the two brothers could not have known that both their sisters would move away and then return with a musician for their band. This time Melissa would bring Steve Myers from the Salem music scene.
"Steve was a great addition to the band," Ryan said. "He comes from a totally different background musically, but he is such a natural talent that once he hears the chords and melody, he fills in the bottom like we had been playing together for years."
Coming from a successful classic rock and reggae group playing Columbiana County and surrounding areas, Steve brought experience to the group. As the oldest member, he is also a uniting force for the group during family quarrels that arise during the rehearsals.
The four found a practice space downtown and began honing their sound. Adding some recording equipment, work began on their first demo.
Deciding to make their public debut, the group chose the Holy Grounds Cafe in Martins Ferry at the recommendation of friend Justin Turner from the group Stellar Winds.
I had the opportunity to catch the show, and crowd feedback was positive for the foursome. Justin performed solo ahead of Old Northern, and as a special treat, he and Ryan performed some duets between the sets. The favorite performance on the night by far was "Grit Their Teeth" featuring Ryan on vocals and Mark switching between lead guitar and harmonica solos.
"That song, like all of our lyrics, coincide with things that happen in our lives," Ryan explained. "I can always count on Mark to come up with a lead part, and if we need another instrument, he seems to be able to play any instrument he picks up."
The groups is back in the studio cutting tracks and wrapping up their first album. The 2014 schedule is filling up for Old Northern, and there is much excitement and anticipation as they take their music to the public.
They will be in the line up of bands this weekend at the Mystic Valley Festival Summer Solstice, June 20 through 22 in Limestone, W.Va. Cost is $15 per person at the gate. Free camping. Rain or shine.
Tentative Line up of Bands (subject to change):
Friday, June 20:
5:30p - Shenoa
6:00p - The Primatives
7:00p - Hillbilly Jack - Storyteller
7:30p - Rundown
8:30p - The Yogi Poets
9:30p - Hello Mingo
10:30p - Mr Fancy Pantz
12a - Drum Circle
Saturday, June 21:
2:00p - Stellar Winds
3:30p - Old Northern
5:00p - The Yogi Poets
6:30p - Heaf
8:00p - Brown Bear's Revival
9:30p - Concrete Teepee
11:00p - Don's Barbershop Presents