Brooklyn Arts Center
516 N. 4th St. • 4/30, FREE!
TThe 2000s revival in southern rock has never sounded as euphonic or genuine as the music made by Georgia band Ponderosa. Adding a dose of psychedelic rock energy to guitar-heavy anthems, the five-piece released their first record, “Moonlight Revival” back in January. They will be performing a free show as part of The Brooklyn Arts Center debut on Wilmington’s music scene this Friday, April 30.
“Old Gin Road,” the band’s infectious first single begins with aggressive bass guitar riffs and a moderately fast-paced beat. The jam inevitably invites listeners to rock along to dynamic, catchy hooks that echo, “Hold on to what you think you know / It don’t make no difference to me / Hold on, you know I got to go / You know this ain’t no way to live free.” On extremely quick, upbeat songs like “Revolution,” notes from an organ give the song’s sound a juicy ‘60s punch and emphasize a gritty edge when filled with intense drums and guitar.
What ultimately sets the band’s style apart from any other Southern-infused rock outfit is lead singer Kalen Nash’s grainy but rich vocals, touched with a faint drawl that uplift each ballad. Nash’s talent enlivens each song on the album, adding to the band’s overall classic, mature sound.
The members of Ponderosa are no strangers to professionalism. They had all been in previous bands over the past six or seven years. After meeting and becoming friends at a Georgia recording studio, their collective ears solidified quality sound, both live and in recordings. Nash and drummer Darren Dodd took some time out of their national tour to speak exclusively to encore.
e: While growing up, what role did music play in your life?
Nash: My great grandfather was a songwriter and my mom sang in church her whole life. Everyone in my family is pretty musical, actually, so that really influenced me growing up. It’s nice; because of those musical roots, they’re all very supportive of me being in a band.
e: You just put out your first album in January. What was the process like with making that album, and what was the driving force behind the songs on it?
Nash: Well, we recorded the record about two and half years ago. We shopped around and kept touring on our own, met New West Records and they eventually put the record out. The whole thing took about 18 or 19 days to record. I think that there are a lot of various points of inspiration for the songs on the album. Since it’s been a few years since the recording, a lot of the lyrics were written from a much younger perspective than where we’re at now. It’s really just about growing up and having fun along the way.
Dodd: Everyone’s come from different places, but especially since we’re from Georgia, the south has been such a big influence. It sounds pretty stupid to just sit around and say, “Well, we all inspire each other.” Our inspiration is really from the south itself; the music and the culture as well as [singer] Robert Johnson. Just really the essence of southern rock; southern, sexual music.
e: Since the release of your album, what has this tour been like so far?
Nash: We’ve pretty much been on the road nonstop for the past three years, being broke and trying to make a living. There’s been a lot of McDonald’s food along the way. We’ve had some good runs over the past couple of months. We were in Texas and then California, which were awesome shows with a lot of people. It’s a lot of fun, though sometimes it can be a slow-go. Usually, we’re playing anywhere from nobody to 30 people a night. One time at a show, people started throwing glass bottles onstage at us in Arkansas. Darren had to go to the hospital, because he got his face busted open by one. That was pretty wild. I mean, it was a hardcore [punk genre] show, and we were just kind of thrown on the bill.
Dodd: It was actually out of gratitude that they were throwing things at us. I just want to clarify that. I guess in Fayetteville, Arkansas, if [a band] really throws down at a hardcore show, it’s actually like, a gracious thing that takes place. It was technically a good thing, but just not for me because I don’t have health insurance. But in hindsight, I guess it was good for the band and good for our draw in Fayetteville. And a draw of blood from my head.
e: What is the next step for Ponderosa?
Nash: We’re constantly writing and recording, but we’re trying to finish up our next record in July. It will probably be released at the beginning of next year.
e: Anything else, for the record?
Dodd: Wilmington is fun! We can’t wait to perform there.
Nash: John (organ, vocals) says that we would prefer that girls come to our show dressed as Ke$ha fans.
Ponderosa goes on at 7 p.m. at BAC, but doors are at 6 p.m. It’s a free show! For more information, call (910) 538-2939. Ponderosa’s music is available for purchase on iTunes.