By Catherine Connor
Funky beats and classic make up the sounds of the local group Summertime Whisky Band. Guitarist Andrew Robinson, bass player Michael “Mitch” Dean, and drummer Matthew “Matt” France started jammin’ together back in March 2007 and they have been playing gigs in Cullowhee and Sylva ever since.
The band’s first album, “The Forgotten Funk,” varies in tempo from the slower Pink Floyd-esque groove of “The Answer Undefined” to the wailing guitar and gritty lyrics of “Shewolf.” Summertime Whisky’s sound is a mix of dynamic guitar rhythms like those of Jimi Hendrix, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and JoJo Mayer combined with their own kind of “funky sound.” Their hit “Shewolf” was “inspired by a breakup,” according to Robinson, and remains a favorite during their performances at Guadalupe’s café and Big Rick’s On Main in Sylva.
However, the history of the band was not as smooth as their funk. In fact, Dean and Robinson did not get along in high school before forming the band at WCU in March 2007. “We really didn’t get along at first,” Robinson admitted with a laugh. “The idea for the Summertime Whiskey band formed after Dean and I discovered we shared an interest in music. We started creating original material together after that.” The band started with drummer Steve Harrinberg, but after playing only a few shows, Harrinberg quit and Summertime Whisky was short one drummer.
Mitch and Andrew took a break until January 2008 when they found a replacement drummer who went by the name Vince. Dean and Robinson got a show at Guadalupe’s, but just days before their performance Vince abandoned the group. Fortunately, Robinson called his friend Matt France to see if he could fill in at the last minute and France agreed. “I choose France because I knew him from playing in Western’s Jazz Band. Dean and I knew he could play really well and that he would probably fill in at the last minute,” Robinson recalled. “When we got on stage and played, it was the best sound we’ve ever had.”
The show at Guadalupe’s ended up being their best. After that, Dean, France and Robinson agreed to keep playing shows together. Dean recalled the event and said, “You can write or practice all of the music you want, but without the right people, it just isn’t music.”
Currently, the band is working on their next album and hoping to perform in towns like Asheville and Atlanta. When asked how to spend their free time, Dean laughed and said “we love to prank our friends with “Rock n’ Roll wakeup” when people come to stay over at our house. When someone passes out on our couch, the next morning we pull out the amps and guitar and give them a “Rock n’ Roll” wakeup!”
You can check the Summertime Whiskey band’s music and schedule at www.myspace.com/summertimewhiskyband or live at Big Rick’s On Main in Sylva on October 25th.