Music just flows from Waterband

By John Benson

Look all you want on Mog or Pandora but you won’t find the obscure genre folkadelic-funk-pop. Actually, the style, your run-of-the-mill jam-band sound, is a self-coined name used by Cleveland-based jam-band act Waterband to describe its music.

“We’ve been all over the map,” said bassist-vocalist David “Dreadlock Dave” McDougald. “Folkadelic-funk-pop has been our little buzzword for years. We go everywhere: ballads, acoustic singer-songwriter stuff, funk, reggae, jazz and even heavy-metal-sounding stuff. It’s really kind of whatever comes out, and just a reflection of my influences. My favorite albums are albums that do the same thing.”

McDougald points to the diversity of The Beatles’ “White Album” as being the compass for Waterband’s decade-long career. With more than 100 songs in its catalog, the quintet — McDougald, Josh Laird (guitar), Ryan Mitiska (keyboards and vocals), John Welton (guitar and vocals) and Dan Carter (drums) — plans on releasing not one but two CDs later this year. This includes its first concert recording, which the group plans on recording in November at the Beachland Ballroom, as well as its fifth studio effort. Both projects could find new songs such as the funky “[Expletive] Yeah” and the hardcore reggae “Eco-Revolution.”

In the meantime, the outfit continues to expand its touring base. In fact, it was quite a busy summer for Waterband, playing more than 30 shows within a 250-mile radius of the Rock Hall City.

“We’re just picking up speed constantly this whole year, so it’s been good,” McDougald said. “I think it’s just our time after doing it for a few years in various clubs and building up a following. It’s weird — we actually do better in Erie, Pittsburgh and Columbus than in Cleveland.”

As for Youngstown, McDougald said the group’s following in Mahoning County is based more around the fact the act considers nearby Nelson Ledges to be its home base; however, he’s looking forward to Waterband’s ruKus-festival headlining gig Saturday at the B&O Station in downtown Youngstown.

“We only played Youngstown a couple of times, and these ruKus guys are trying to shake things up a little bit,” McDougald said. “It’s very cool. They’re very supportive of independent artists, especially locally here in the scene. I actually have my own radio program on ruKus radio. So I’m doing my part to spread the local vibe and showcase artists only from Northeast Ohio.” You can catch “Dreadlock Dave’s Groovy Music Bag” at 8 p.m. Sundays on

Spreading a local vibe — something McDougald stresses reeks of patchouli — is what he hopes Waterband will accomplish at its upcoming ruKus-festival show. In fact, he’s pretty confident those who don’t catch the folkadelic-funk-pop band’s gig will regret it later. As in, “Hey, remember when Waterband headlined that downtown festival?”

“If they miss our set, they’ll miss one of the best bands in Northeast Ohio,” McDougald said. “You know, it’s just a good time, really.”

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