Monday, February 20, 2012

In The Spotlight--Duke Of Owls

Dayton's Duke Of Owls join us March 12th
A revolving door of band members, an all too common theme among bands we've talked to, ultimately led to the final lineup, and formation of Dayton based Duke of Owls "We are everybody who was left after a couple of our bandmates left for college, and rather than try to replace them we decided to change the name and make ourselves an entirely new band," they tell us.  All those previous efforts provided the group with a solid foundation to the new effort.  "The four of us are best friends and we've been playing together for a few years under different bands, so we're pretty comfortable with each other musically so our songs form somewhat organically."

The group describes themselves as "pretty fresh on the live scene," having played their first show in late December at W.O. Wrights in Fairborn, a Dayton suburb.  But even as a 'new' band, their music has quickly been recognized, as they've been played on WYSO, the Dayton NPR station.  They also told us, "We currently hold the February residency at Southpark Tavern in Dayton. We also do occasional acoustic acts at Adobe Gilas at the Greene in Beavercreek."  They are working hard toward a goal of being "able to quit our day jobs and make a living wage playing our music."

Part of that quest will clearly be moving on from the safe confines of the home Dayton market.  "We're going to keep working to build followings within the cities around us, expanding whenever we have the opportunity, being accessible to fans, and putting on awesome shows!"  Getting doors to open in those surrounding markets however can be a big challenge.  "We would love to book in the Cincinnati and Columbus areas as well, but our list of contacts and connections with artists and venue owners in those areas is still pretty short, so getting bookings is difficult."

Bridging the gap between Cincinnati and Dayton, something we at the Galaxy are intently focused on, is a task the band says is daunting.  "Even though Cincinnati and Dayton aren't very far, it can be an ocean for an emerging artist. When an act is starting out their audience is limited to friends and family, and because of that it is difficult for a Dayton band to go south and for Cincy bands to come north due to venue owners being either reluctant to book or ineffective at promoting within their area."  You can add to that the general difficulty in getting crowds out to any show, though they think it's slightly harder in Dayton.  "Both Cincinnati and Columbus have some great music and arts communities that seem a lot more involved than those in Dayton, which may stem from the universities. Dayton has two large colleges (Wright State and UD), yet for some reason inspires NO 'college town' atmosphere. So even if your band is good and the venue is cool, it can still be difficult to get people out in Dayton."

Successful promoting requires a team effort with both the bands and the venues working hard.  "Obviously you can't place the responsibility of promotion squarely on the shoulders of venue owners, but there's only so much an artist can do to promote in an unfamiliar area where they are still trying to build a following and network. By booking smart, relevant EVENTS rather than just 'shows' that include all artists from the state and surrounding area, I think we can make a great local music circuit."  The band primarily uses the internet for their efforts, saying, "Most of the 'old fashioned' ways are pretty much dead, and they don't seem to be missed very much. Cities and communities tend to be pretty prickly about flyering on public property, and business owners are only more so."

The band's unusual name comes from multiple inspirations, including tragedy.  The group explains, "Our name is somewhat derived from the animated movie 'Rock-a-doodle', which is about a rooster at odds with his enemy, the Grand Duke of Owls. The Grand Duke of Owls apparently 'loathes' rock n' roll. We loved the irony and that's what gave birth to the idea. The reason I say 'somewhat derived' is because we did not immediately decide upon the name. While we were recording our demo during the summer we were still nameless. During the tracking of the CD the studio intern of where we were recording went missing, and was found dead a couple days later in the river. It was a very shocking experience for us, as we had begun to get to know him and had been hanging out and talking with him throughout our time at the studio. His death, and seeing the pain of everybody in the community who knew him, was very profound and saddening. He had liked our music, and the name "Duke of Owls" when we'd told him we were considering it. He had also gone missing (and was subsequently found) wearing a t-shirt imprinted with an owl, and that eerie coincidence ended the discussion for us. Rest in peace Cody Pressler."

Duke of Owls joins The Albrights, Place Position, and Mad Anthony on what promises to be an outstanding show on March 12th.  This show like most of our events is an all ages, five bucks at the door music extravaganza.  Thanks to the band for talking with us, and we'll see you at the show!

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