By Guy D'Astolfo
Red Wanting Blue’s March 12 show at Kent Stage might one day prove to be a turning point in the band’s career.
The Stage is known for two things: the fine array of folk and Americana artists it books, and its crystal-clear acoustics.
RWB fit in on both counts.
After a dozen or so years of barnstorming the country, playing in bars of all shapes and sizes, the Columbus-based band lately has picked up a lot of momentum.
It signed a recording contract last year with Fanatic Records and is working on its next album. A film about the band was released a few weeks ago (see story on Page C9 in this edition of Vibe).
But it could be that Kent Stage show that winds up playing the biggest role in setting the course of the band’s direction.
Folk/Americana music is enjoying a tremendous resurgence, with bands such as Mumford and Sons and the Avett Brothers owning the sales charts and selling out tours. With its meaningful lyrics and warm-but-powerful sound, folk’s return is likely a reaction to the shallowness and sameness of much of pop music.
RWB obviously was right at home at Kent Stage, albeit in its own rocking niche. The band’s passionate lyrics, mood- evoking melodies and tight ensemble playing were made all the more obvious by the room’s pin-drop quietness.
Frontman Scott Terry couldn’t deny that the Kent Stage show was special. He played with an acoustic guitar slung over his shoulder the whole night and delivered a lot of stage banter — both atypical for him.
At this point, Terry wouldn’t mind seeing the band morph into one that mainly does theater shows. He would love to make Kent Stage RWB’s home base in that college town, which is a longtime stronghold for them.
Folk/Americana acts tend to have long and serious careers, even if they seldom reach rock-star status.
But if RWB ever repositions itself into that genre, it will have to come organically.
“We’ve been naturally evolving over time, maturing,” said Terry in a phone call this week from Columbus. “We’re trying not to figure it out too much. A few songs on the new record lend themselves to that direction. But others are still very much rock ’n’ roll.”
The band played four of those new songs at Kent Stage. The show, incidentally, was divided into two sets with an intermission between them.
Fans who turn out Friday night to see the band at Cedars Lounge in Youngstown also will get to hear some new material, said Terry.
The as-yet-unnamed record tentatively is set for a late- summer release.
Terry also is tentative about setting any new musical direction. In his mind, a folky turn might correspond to getting older.
But he also couldn’t deny that the Kent Stage show was epic.
“Acoustic stuff feels more intimate,” he said. “I’ve always liked acoustic-style shows, and with a quiet room, it gives you the ability to talk to the people. You know, we’ve been performing for a really long time, and you come to a point when you just say, ‘Aw, the hell with it — I’m just going to start talking.’”
It’s the natural progression of things.