Local musicians taste success

PARKERSBURG – Making it big in a band is a dream for many.

Few have had the commitment to make the dream come true.

Local musicians have tasted various levels of success, from playing local venues with local fans to recording albums and having fans around the world.

Current members of the South of the River Band have been performing for more than two years at festivals in West Virginia and Ohio with its mix of country and southern rock. The band includes Tarah Marie, Austin Clark, Zac Windland, Adam Spaur and Thomas Eaton.

It hopes to expand into other areas, like on a recent trip to Maryland and providing a song for an independent film, said Marie. Marie sings lead vocals and plays rhythm guitar.

“We want to get into some of the surrounding states to let people know who we are,” she said.

The band has come a long way since it started in 2009, said Clark, an original member who sings and plays lead guitar.

“We are becoming more and more known each year,” he said.

The band has opened for Nashville country stars Luke Bryan, Jason Michael Carroll, Randy Houser, Bucky Covington, Little Texas, Jimmy Wayne, Cledus T. Judd and Brett Eldridge.

In 2011, the band’s single “Goodbye” was locally played on WNUS 107.1, WGGE 99.1, WCEF 98.3, and WBYG 99.5.

The band has been in the studio recording an independently produced album it will sell at performances along with other merchandise. The album will have at least 12 tracks of mostly original material.

“People will be able to feel each person in the band in each song,” Marie said.

The band has done other recordings in the past, which were popular with its fan base.

“Our fans are wanting the new stuff,” Clark said.

The advent of social media, such as Facebook, has allowed the band to keep in contact with its fan base, let people know where they will be performing and receive feedback.

“It has helped us out a lot,” Marie said.

The band’s Facebook page has 2,331 likes and 99 friends talking about them through posts.

The goal for the band is to make it to Nashville and get recorded by a major record label.

“We hope someone hears us, either a record label or a producer, and they want to work with us,” Clark said.

But for now the band wants to expand further from West Virginia and into the surrounding states.

It is rehearsing weekly. Songs have been written individually and as a group.

Clark wants the group to be successful, but he wants it to remain enjoyable.

“I want to keep it fun,” he said.

Jim Gustafson of Parkersburg is the guitarist for Poobah, the hard-rock psychedelic band that has been performing since the 1970s. The band has been featured in polls in Rolling Stone magazine and Classic Rock Magazine, in Europe alongside such acts as Rush, Alice Cooper and AC/DC.

Poobah with its 12 albums worldwide is on iTunes, Amazonmp3 and Google Play.

Poobah holds the world record for most shows played at the Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with 12 appearances. Another Poobah album is scheduled for June 2013 through the Ripple-Music record label in California.

Gustafson recorded an album with Jimi Hendrix bassist Billy Cox.

“Learning a musical instrument takes some time and dedication,” Gustafson said. “It’s fun when you get it sounding good, and can sometimes lead to some situations where you can actually make some money from your songs.

“Music is also a very good way to ease your mind,” he said. “Playing an instrument, like guitar, or keyboards, can take you away from problems, giving your mind and body a break.”

Having played guitar for years, it has helped him through many stressful situations. As far as making music a job, part-time or full-time, everyone has different ideas of how important a career as a musician is to them, Gustafson said.

“Success is measured differently by most everyone, so some only seek to have fun with friends, maybe playing in a band a couple weekends a month, or in the basement for fun only, while others have decided to dedicate their entire life and being to trying to make a worldwide mark with their art,” Gustafson said. “This may require a lot of work hours, a great plan, and maybe someone investing a lot of money in the band, or soloist.

“Like any business, the equipment can be pricey, and moving it around with gas prices gouging your budget, plus vehicle and equipment upkeep, all take someone’s funds,” Gustafson said. “The downside is only some ever make the money invested back, like any business. Having another job can sound like the right approach, when your phone bill is due at the same time as the rent.”

Gustafson said band have to deal with a lot of criticism and fame can always be elusive.

“Fans will be the deciding link in the chain, on fame or fortune,” he said. “They are the final frontier, over magazines, radio, press, as they are the ones who decide in the marketplace, who they will buy music from, and there are many choices for them to pick from. Unless your uncle is friends with the right industry leaders, you need a sensible plan to make it happen for you.”

Talent can take people far and there are times when hard work can get your foot in the door, he said.

Bands need to play in local venues, developing their sound and gathering strong local followings.

“It is a special thrill ,when you form an act, or band, that gets popular in your area, and lots of people enjoy what you are doing,” Gustafson said. “When you can draw a crowd, the cash register will ring, and club owners will love you. Don’t be afraid to ask everyone you know to come see your show.”

People may not understand a musician’s vision or style of music. A band has to take it all in stride, he said.

“Some can’t take rejection and give up easily,” he said. “Others get back up and try again. Perseverance helps.”

The internet has changed the way clubs book bands. Presenting a good resume, show flyers, album art and press kits are valuable tools.

But it’s important bands let the people who listen to them be their strongest supporters, Gustafson said.

“Let others say that for you, or you just sound like so many unworthy saying how great you are, without true earned merit,” he said. “One more thing, try to keep from talking badly about the competition to talent buyers, as you never know when it will come back and bite you.”

Gustafson said he has been lucky over the years and continues to love playing the guitar.

“I have always just tried to enjoy what I have, be satisfied with the luck and good times I have had, because you never know what tomorrow may bring,” he said.