Folk-Rockers Second String claim Battle of the Bands victory
Considering the 40-person party local folk-rockers Second String threw last night, their house is surprisingly clean.
In the large basement room that serves as the band’s rehearsal space, there is only a slight scent of stale beer. But don’t be fooled – there was quite a bash here last night, and the band certainly had reason to celebrate.
Second String won first place in CU’s fourth annual Battle of the Bands on Friday night in the Glenn Miller Ballroom.
“Going into it we thought we had a pretty good chance,” said Ben Meis, the group’s lead singer. But the band was impressed by the other acts’ quality.
“There was a lot of talent there last night,” said Ryan Ramsay, who plays guitar in Second String.
But the soothing folk tunes and precise musicianship of Second String ultimately won the first place nod from the panel of judges, despite stiff competition from bands like Some Random Band, which came in second, and Now Hear This, which won third.
Friday night was not the first time Second String won a competition. In fact, the band formed in 2004, one month before the City of Northglenn Teen Music Festival – a music competition for young musicians. The nascent Second String won the competition, earning four hours of studio recording time, which the band used to produce a three-song demo titled “Put Me In, Coach.”
Carrying the momentum from that experience, Second String recorded their first record, the EP “At The Edge,” and then spent $1600 of their own money to rent the Flatirons Theatre for a night, where they played their first full-fledged concert.
“We put a lot of work into promoting that show,” Meis said. “We put up posters, made handbills, posted Facebook bulletins, MySpace bulletins … and there was a lot of word-of-mouth.”
The hard work paid off, as nearly 250 people attended the show, billed as “Rock The Hill.” The band even managed to recoup all their money, plus $80.
The bulk of the band’s songs are written collaboratively by Meis, Ramsay and Ryan O’Grady, who plays bass and guitar.
Ramsay said that some of the songs take weeks to be become fully realized, while others pour out in a matter of hours.
“We’ve written some of the songs and still perform in like one and a half hours,” Meis said.
O’Grady said that the band is always working with new song ideas.
“There are always songs on the backburner,” he said. “We’re working on about three new songs right now.”
Drummer James Robinson said the musical connection the band has developed over the years continues to strengthen.
“We’re at the point where I know what I’m thinking, but I also know what’s happening inside Ryan’s head, and inside Ben’s head,” Robinson said. “We’re coming to know each other like we know ourselves.”
Meis and Ramsay, who have been close friends since they were kids, share an especially close musical bond.
“Working with Ben is really easy,” Ramsay said. “He always manages to translate things exactly how I want it to feel. Ben and I have known each other for a very long time.”
The current lineup of Meis, Ramsay, O’Grady, Robinson and fiddle player Kellen Zakula has existed for about a year. Before that, the group underwent a series of member changes, as they searched for exactly the sound they desired.
They have found that sound now: a melodic blend of bluegrass-tinged acoustic folk, which draws influences from Nickel Creek, Dave Matthews Band, James Taylor and Counting Crows.
And the band continues to mature.
“For us, music is getting our name, our ideas, our feelings out there,” Meis said. “We don’t throw a lot of bullshit into our lyrics. I’ve been working on putting a lot more emotion into the band and my lyrics.”
Ramsay said he is pleased with how the band is developing.
“We notice visible progress in the group every time we play,” he said.
Second String plans to continue playing together for as long as possible. Meis said he would like for the band to get a record deal so they can make a living playing music.
“The goal is to take our music and use it to support ourselves and keep the project going,” he said.
For now, Second String is reveling in their Battle of the Bands victory, and plans to cash in on their first place prize: a 10-song studio mastering deal from 8 Houses Down recording studio in Denver. Additionally, the band will play an upcoming Club 156 show, the date of which hasn’t yet been announced.
“Whether or not they know it, everybody likes folk music,” Meis said. “It’s always nice music to listen to.”
Based on Friday night’s results, it appears quite a few people agree with him.
Check out Second String online at www.secondstringmusic.com and www.myspace.com/2ndstring.