OWENSBORO, Ky. (3/12/13) – Owensboro has been the birthplace of hundreds, if not thousands of bands over the years.
One of the stand out groups gaining notoriety these days is a band made up of four master musicians who have succeeded in blending their unique backgrounds into world class harmonies and a big slice of acoustic Heaven.
Their name may be The WoodaBenz, but it sounds very much like the best is yet to come. Matt Gray, Steve Jones, John Calhoun and Nick Wade make up the group.
If you've been a follower of the vibrant Owensboro music scene for any length of time, these group names are most likely familiar: Mayhem, Kickback Jack, The Velvet Bombers, Bad Kitty, Bad Penny, Gridlok.... The list goes on and on. Although these groups have sadly come and gone, four survivors of this laundry list of bands have now come together as The WoodaBenz.
Band members Matt Gray, Kevin Jones, Nick Wade, and John Calhoun are four masters of just about every instrument known to man, this group has created a totally unique acoustic, super tight harmony blend that has quickly gained a very strong following. Performing mostly covers, but working on originals as well, The WoodaBenz have no problem taking songs like The Beatles' "Norwegian Wood" and making it sound fresh and new.
Matt Gray, lead guitarist and owner of Gray Sky Studios, says what he likes about this group's lineup is "working with professional musicians who already have the experience and are comfortable on stage. Also, it's a joy working with guys that are naturally entertaining, laid-back, and like having fun on stage."
Lead singer Kevin Jones agrees.
"I love performing with three of the best musicians I have ever known,” Jones said. “We've been friends for years, but now to be working together in the same band... well, it just doesn't get much better for a band."
Bass player Nick Wade is loving it too, with only one complaint.
"Our individual time constraints limit the amount of time we can invest. I feel had we met 10 years ago we would be working on our second double-live album by now," he said, half kidding.
But who knows? It might still happen. So far though, the group is managing to work around their "day job" schedules, performing in clubs, special events and private parties.
John Calhoun, drummer, worked most recently with what may be Owensboro's best known and longest lasting band, The Velvet Bombers.
"I actually came on board after the other guys had put the band together. They already had this great three part tight harmony acoustic thing going that's just magic, and I came along with my drums and threw a monkey wrench in the whole thing," Calhoun joked.
Their knack for that magic tight three part harmony transforms rock standards by Gnarls Barkley, Duran Duran and Hall and Oates, and gives each a whole new, unique sound. .
Their first original song, available on YouTube is called "Shine Your Light". It was inspired by and dedicated to the brave children who fight childhood cancer with help of the staff of Saint Jude Hospital.
As word spreads about The WoodaBenz, what's next?
Jones puts it best.
"As long as we're having fun and our fans are with us, I'll put no limitations on what we can do. I can't wait to hear what the future holds," he said.
Catch them in concert March 23rd, at 7pm, opening for Brasher Bogue at Pangea Cafe on Carter Road in Owensboro.
Photos by Nicole Gray
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