Trio of bands feels resurgence in local sceneWritten by Mike Bauman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
When Mind Fish frontman Dean Tartaglia returned home to Toledo from Ohio University this summer to do his internship and play shows with his band, he was not anticipating much out of the local music scene.
“I had no expectations going into the summer,” Tartaglia said to Toledo Free Press Star. “Even in early June I had little expectations, and now strangely enough it’s August and I have a lot of expectations for Toledo in the future within the next couple years.”
The seeds for those changed expectations were planted in April, when Mind Fish was on the bill at Frankie’s Inner City with GOLD and The Fight Within for Tropic Bombs’ first show.
“[Mind Fish] came up to Frankie’s in Toledo and played a gig with us, and we ended up having Dean actually come onstage with us to promote a film we were doing,” said GOLD vocalist/guitarist Zach Ruetz. “We made him wear this rabbit mask and, like, jump around with a poster of our movie. That was right after we met him.”
Tartaglia and his band forged a friendship with GOLD and Tropic Bombs that night, one which has led to a productive summer in Toledo for all three groups. On Aug. 27, Mind Fish, GOLD and The Strong Talk will play a free show at the Ottawa Tavern.
Rather than wearing a rabbit mask, Tartaglia has since been playing saxophone with GOLD in addition to jamming with Mind Fish and his other pursuits. This summer, Tartaglia was an intern for The James Poure Consultancy, which is consulting for Creadio founder/CEO and TEDxToledo curator Will Lucas.
TED — which stands for “Technology, Entertainment, Design” — started 26 years ago in California and is a nonprofit organization dedicated to “ideas worth spreading.” Tartaglia said that Lucas commented on how there is a growing arts scene in Toledo he has never seen before.
“It’s just cool because it’s real easy for someone within the scene to know that ‘Yeah, we have a good scene’ or whatever, but when you have someone completely removed noticing it, that’s when you kind of get the idea that maybe something bigger is going on than you could have even expected,” Tartaglia said.
Adam Sattler, who does booking, marketing and promoting for the Ottawa Tavern, said the venue’s attendance keeps improving and that touring acts making stops in Toledo often comment on the positive response they get from locals.
“The other thing that I see is sort of a disappearing of a generational gap,” Sattler said. “Some of these older guys that have been in the music scene for a long time — Jimmy Danger, Dave Piciutto, guys like that — come out and support the younger bands, and the younger bands go out and support these guys. I think that more than anything as far as camaraderie goes, I’ve noticed that in the last, say, six months or a year.”
Tartaglia has noticed support on nights which typically do not draw big crowds, nights like the Tuesday he played saxophone at Manhattan’s.
“It was my friend’s 21st that night, and I brought my sax and was playing and it was, like, ass-packed in there by midnight on a Tuesday night,” Tartaglia said. “I was absolutely shocked that’s even happened on a Tuesday in Toledo.”
Sattler said more local bands are producing and promoting their material.
“GOLD and Mind Fish, they do it right,” Sattler said. “Just with this show, they didn’t wait for us as the venue to create a Facebook event. They did it, and they want to self-promote. The difference between the bands that promote themselves and [the bands that] don’t is one band plays to 200 people and the other plays to 50.”
Tartaglia credits that promotion as a big factor in how this summer has gone for Mind Fish, GOLD and Tropic Bombs.
“It’s the energy of the promotions going into the show because I’ve known a lot of bands that have a lot of great energy and bands that draw well over the past some-odd years,” Tartaglia said. “I know GOLD and Tropic Bombs — I’m sure they’d say the same about us — just the amount of promotion that goes into it, it’s hyped up. There’s a lot of buzz and we all know that, but we’re still real dedicated, real professional about what we’re doing.”
Beyond the promotion, GOLD used Garage Band to self-produce its 2010 six-song EP.
“It’s a pretty simple program, but you can move really fast with it,” GOLD bassist Tom Martin said. “That’s not a plug for Apple, though. I’m glad we did it ourselves because of the problems with some of the early bands me, Zach and Jacob [Czerniejewski were in]. When we went into a recording studio, you’re on the clock and it’s not a very comfortable atmosphere, and the technology has become more affordable.”
That affordability is one of the pluses Sattler highlighted for local musicians.
“In a city like Toledo, a band can get a record made for half the cost of what they can do it anywhere else, and you’ve got people doing it,” Sattler said. “I know GOLD recorded theirs on their own. Thirty Three and 1/3 just put an album out. I know that bands aren’t having to pay what they used to, and so I think Toledo’s really good for that. And not to mention, we’re surrounded by five great music markets that these bands can head out for a weekend and do a show in Columbus, or Cleveland or Detroit.
“Toledo’s a great place for a band to start.”
Irons in the fire
Mind Fish, GOLD and Tropic Bombs all have future, full-length albums in the works. While each band has its own distinctive sound, they all try to make the live shows as fun and energetic as possible.
“I think that’s what the three of us bands have in common,” said Ruetz, who at 24 has been playing music with Martin and Czerniejewski for eight years. “It’s all really positive stuff, and I think we need that right now in these times, in the recession and everything. People want to be entertained.”
Tropic Bombs vocalist Ryan Wayton echoed Ruetz’s sentiments in a July interview with Toledo Free Press Star.
“We all feel this resurgence, which is what we wanted out of the music scene,” Wayton said. “I feel like a lot of the people — like the fans and friends and stuff — are having a good time. A lot of them I think just embrace it because it takes them back to the old days with Promise of Tomorrow and stuff like that from what they’ve told me. It’s great.”
Tartaglia said Mind Fish plans to play in 15 different cities during the next two months with the ultimate goal being to do local spotlights on 89X. The band is aiming for a January release of its new album and will soon launch its new website — themindfish.com — as well as a Kickstarter.com project to try and produce hard copies of the new record.
“I just hope it keeps spreading exactly how it is right now, just little by little,” Tartaglia said. “I don’t think I can ask for anything more.”
Mind Fish, GOLD and The Strong Talk will perform a free show Aug. 27 at the Ottawa Tavern, located at 1815 Adams St. in Toledo. The show starts at 10 p.m. In addition to the concert being Tartaglia’s 21st birthday, Mind Fish will release two new songs off its upcoming album that show attendees can pick up for any price they choose, including for free. The band will also have new, $10 T-shirts available, while GOLD may play some new tunes as well. For more information, call (419) 725-5483, or visit http://otavern.com.