Aquabear is putting on a great show this Friday, April 17th at Donkey Coffee at 17 W. Washington St. in Athens, Ohio! Oxford, Mississippi’s Andrew Bryant (of the amazing Water Liars) comes to town to play songs from his brand new album This is the Life and is joined by Chicago’s The Gunshy and Athens, Ohio’s own Mike Elliott. Show starts at 8:00pm and tickets are $5 in advance at Haffa’s Records in Uptown Athens or $6 at the door.
Bryant describes his own background this way, “I was born 34 years ago in Oxford, Mississippi, to a sawmill father and a church piano playing mother. One taught me how to work and the other how to sing, and I try to do both as much as possible. Maybe the work isnâ€™t as backbreaking as it was for me when I was younger and maybe the songs have changed, but I learned a lot in those day about what it takes to keep going, to not give up. I learned how to sing when my soul was down. Now I find that I just canâ€™t quit.”Â He has been making music his whole life but has released 6 solo albums (including this year’s beautiful record This is the Life which you can buy right here) and made a few more with his band Water Liars.
Whether alone or with a piecemeal band, Matt Arbogast has spent a good part of the last ten years on the road. His most recent effort Silent Songs is largely a reflection of his decision a few years ago to take a break from touring and, ultimately, to return.Â Silent Songs is The Gunshyâ€™s first full-length record since 2007â€™s Thereâ€™s No Love In This War. That record, based on letters Arbogastâ€™s grandfather wrote to his grandmother during World War II, earned attention from quite a few folks. From Magnet and The Onion to a 45 minute interview on NPRâ€™s The Story, the album was well received and seemed to stick with its listeners. Enough so that NPR did a follow up interview with Arbogast the following Memorial Day.Â Arbogast and company have shared stages with Elliott Smith, Andrew WK, Mountain Goats, Magnolia Electric Co., William Elliott Whitmore, Deer Tick, Lucero, Murder By Death, Langhorne Slim, Frank Turner, and many others.
Mike Elliott is one of Brian’s favorite songwriters in the world and a longtime supporter and lifetime Aquabear Legion member. Mike hails from Athens and plays out and puts out records with his band Supernobody that join an extensive catalog of solo albums. If you haven’t seen Mike play, you should. And if you have, then I hope to see you there anyway.
The world of music lost one of the finest songwriters and human beings we had when Lorain, Ohio’s own Jason Molina passed away this March. As we mentioned back then, Jason had many close personal connections to Aquabear Legion, Aquabear co-founder Todd Jacops grew up with Jason and played in bands with him including the original version of Songs: Ohia and their high school band Spineriders and we were left with heavy hearts. Almost immediately a decision was made to find some way to honor Jason’s memory. Given Aquabear’s mission it made sense to do something with the over 20 year old Spineriders recordings, Jason’s band before he was in Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. Aquabear started talking to our good friends Leo DeLuca (of Misra Records, Southeast Engine), fellow Spineriders Carl Raponi and Mike McCartney, and Dave Straub (of Cleveland Continental, and countless Cleveland bands over the years) and Misra Records offered to put out Spineriders Hello Future Tinglies as a limited edition cassette only release (its original format) as a benefit for the Musicians Emergency Medical Association, they are a wonderful non-profit organization that offers help and assistance to musicians in getting healthcare. Something that Jason and many other musicians and artists often cannot afford on their own. Please pre-order this amazing album and piece of Ohio music history, your purchase supports a just cause and the memory of one of the finest musicians to come out of Ohio. It comes with a download, and there is a special package with a limited print from Spinerider Carl Raponi. Help spread the word and share this post and link, you can also take a look at the article on Pitchfork from July 25. Thanks to all who made this happen.
In the late â€™80s and early â€™90s, Jason Molina played bass and sang backup vocals in the Spineriders â€“â€“ a Lorain, Ohio punk band attending nearby Admiral King High School. Our aim in unearthingÂ Hello Future TingliesÂ is to provide an invaluable window into the life, circumstances and experiences of a young Northeast Ohio native whose extraordinary gift would grow, take form and awaken the world in innumerable ways.
Great artists rarely uncover their muse overnight. Inevitably, it is the summation of their life experience. Before Jason Molina was known as a beautiful, heart-wrenching songwriter, he was an angst-ridden teenage bass player. The Spineriders provide the context within which one of independent musicâ€™s most beloved artists was born.
The official release of this material is born out of a friendship between Todd Jacops (founding Spineriders and Songs: Ohia member) and Leo DeLuca (Misra Records manager) â€“â€“ both Ohio natives. Todd played on the debut â€œNor Cease Thou Never Nowâ€ 7â€ (Palace Records), the â€œOne Pronunciation of Gloryâ€ 7â€ (Secretly Canadianâ€™s second release),Â Songs: OhiaÂ (debut LP), andHecla & Griper. After Jason passed away, and the original Spineriders were consulted, the two decided to excavateÂ Hello Future Tinglies.
The 1991 recording is being issued on cassette â€“â€“ an effort to stay true to the times. Spineriders drummer Carl Raponi produced a limited run of Jason Molina screen-prints for the occasion and Jacops created an online memorial at spineriders.com. With the approval of the Molina family, all proceeds will go to the Musicians Emergency Medical Association (memafund.org). We hope you enjoy this artifact.
Reilly Lambert, an old, dear friend of Jason Molina, looks back on The Spineriders
The first time I met Jason Molina was at a local metal show at the Lorain, Ohio community center. It was around 1988 and we were all wearing jean jackets and sporting mullets. My friend Jeff had been talking about how cool Jason was for days. When we were first introduced, I expected him to be six-feet tall.
Jason was a genuinely great guy from the second we met. He commanded the room (in this instance, he commanded the sterile hallways of a Lorain community center) and possessed a confidence I saw over the years in many different places. It was as if he knew the venue by heart, leading me around to show me how things worked. Jason was at home where music was played. Looking back, I see that it was his passion that came across in meeting people and sharing his love of music.
One could say Lorain created the Spineriders, but that would be too poetic. It would give the Rust Belt a glory that it doesnâ€™t deserve. The Spineriders were a result of the culture. Lorain was a factory town, and there were unspoken rules of conformity that begged for resistance. They knew what they wanted before they could express it. Barely old enough to drive, they had this amazing ambition to create something new.
I could go on about their punk and metal influences and even how Jason introduced blues folk to everyone in the band. However, doing that takes away from the music that these four kids created on the rusty shores of Lake Erie.
The band was Jason Molina on bass, Todd Jacops on guitar, Carl Raponi on drums, and Mike McCartney on guitar and vocals. Everyone who heard the Spineriders started a band. In Lorain, that was about fifteen of us.
The Spineriders made a name for themselves by competing in high school talent shows and battle of the bands competitions around Cleveland. I always got the idea that they did the high school talent shows on a lark, and they all seemed to have smirks on their faces as they played. Â When they won a Battle of the Bands, they won studio time. Chris Keffer, a judge at one of the battles, produced their records. He introduced them to the studio, showing them how to work in it, and essentially becoming the fifth member of the band.
Their demo got them gigs at clubs around Cleveland. They even rented a community center in the area with other local bands. Somehow, they managed to get a decent enough crowd to cover the costs of both a P.A. and the room itself.
As they got older, their music got better, more intense. And with all high school bands, they eventually split up due to everyone in the band moving on after graduation. Todd went on to record more music with Jason on breaks from college. In 1994, they recorded songs that were completely different than what the Spineriders had produced. It was a new direction that would eventually evolve into Songs: Ohia. Todd and Mike played on early Songs: Ohia records: the debut â€œNor Cease Thou Never Nowâ€ 7â€ (Palace Records), the â€œOne Pronunciation of Gloryâ€ 7â€ (Secretly Canadianâ€™s second release),Songs: OhiaÂ (debut LP), andÂ Hecla & GriperÂ (Todd only). Carl went on to become a drum and bass DJ. Todd and Mike play in bands to this day.
I can go on for hours about how Lorain, Ohio is a shit town, but I wonâ€™t. Jason and I would talk about how much we hated it, about how we never wanted to go back. When I listen to the Spineriders now, I remember that period as such a creative time for the band and for everyone involved in the scene. Going to their shows and listening to their music gave me my best memories of Lorain. The background in music and the drive to be creative would shape them for years, especially Jason, who had ridiculous drive and creativity. He was prolific. I imagine Lorain is part of the darkness he always wrote about.
In 1993, I asked Jason what he wanted to be when he grew up. Heâ€™d just finished his first year at Oberlin College. He was disillusioned about school and dealing with financial aid. It was a sunny day. He was playing a beat-up acoustic guitar, fitted with nylon strings. There were only five strings on it and tuned in some odd way that he was fond of.
He stopped strumming, looked in my direction and said, â€œI want to be a rock star.â€
This weekend the world of music was saddened at the news of Jason Molina’s passing. Jason was an Ohioan (and fellow Lorainite) and was an amazing songwriter, musician, and human being making beautiful music throughout his life under his name along with the projects Magnolia Electric Co. and Songs:Ohia. Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time. Here at Aquabear Legion the news was especially devastating. Aquabear was started by myself and Todd Jacops back in 2004, and Todd grew up with Jason in Lorain and they were very close friends. Jason and Todd (along with Carl Raponi and Mike McCartney) started their musical careers in The Spineriders and Todd later joined Jason in his first years with Songs:Ohia, playing on the self titled “Black Album” and touring across the country. They were very close friends, spending their formative years in the halls of Admiral King (a school I would later attend myself) and playing in rock and roll bands, so as you can imagine this already crushing reality was even harder to comprehend. I cannot even begin to imagine how hard this is for Jay’s family and friends.
Myself, I only met Jason a few times. But his impact and influence on me were far reaching, in fact you can see it right here on this website. Jason Molina was not only an amazing songwriter, I could identify with his point of view because he was from the same place as me. Finding out at the age of 16 that someone who was from Lorain could be a musician and put out records and tour the country was like lightning. In addition to a deep appreciation of his music and a peripheral connection through very close friends and a couple handshakes over the years, I also was connected to Jason through the same ways one is to anyone from their hometown: his father was my junior high Science teacher at Lorain Middle School and his sister married one of my brother’s best friends. It was always amazing to me when friends of mine would find out (often because it was something I could gloat about in regard to my hometown) that I had met Jason Molina and we were from the same face, and then watch them get blown away when they found out Todd Jacops had played drums on that first Songs:Ohia album. That was the impact Songs:Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. had on people who loved music, those songs hold some powerful weight to anyone who listens and it is a shared experience between me and most all of my friends and peers. Â These were songs that I listened to in times of great pain (the final Magnolia Electric Co. album Josephine was on repeat for me during the loss of my own grandmother a few years back) and in times of joy (the fantastic “The Dark Don’t Hide It” closed on the mix cd I gave my wife Sherri for our first anniversary, while the next track on What Comes After the Blues “The Night Shift Lullaby” opened the one I gave her on our second anniversary). This was one of our generation’s finest songwriters, one hell of a musician, and from my encounters and those whose opinions I trust well, an amazing human being.
It’s been a tough week here. And while I think losing someone you care about is an incredibly difficult process, those who made a real impact are never far from your mind. The amount of beautiful songs left behind by Jay are plentiful, albums and albums of wonderful music to remember him with, along countless b-sides and live bootlegs and what I’m sure will be even more of those to come. His art will not be lost, this is music that will continue to survive on and on, with countless other 16 year olds finding copies of Jason’s albums at crucial moments in the their life.
Thank you Jason for your songs. Rest in peace friend.