Crooked Coast: Playing for the Locals
By: Sam Houghton, February 8, 2012
Elise Hugus - Crooked Coast (formerly The Rumrunners) set the tone for summertime every Friday at Quick's Hole last year. Now that it's winter, they play for the masses at Grumpy's and in various settings in Boston.
At the end of a long, backwoods road in Woods Hole, there lies a compound of nautical- themed houses overlooking the ocean. It seems like a couple of Nantucket Red-wearing lushes should be ambling about with badminton rackets and birdies – or it could be a perfect backdrop for a Vampire Weekend video shoot.
But it is winter and those who prefer lavish lifestyles have fled the harsh terrain. Inside, in an empty, high-ceilinged room, a three-piece band is getting heavy into a practice session.
The band is Crooked Coast, made up of Luke Vose (formerly of The Firewater Band) on guitar and vocals, Ben Elder (of The Commonwealth) on bass and Charles Parker Walton (of every band you can think of) on drums. The music is a smooth and moving blend of hip-hop, reggae and rock: think Tom Petty with some Sublime raked in over a pounding Caribbean drum.
Music for the locals
In an interview with The Coozies, iO’s Ben Runnels asked about the typical Cape Cod bar band’s tendency to play purely cover songs. Their remarks were sobering: bands cater to a tourist crowd, a crowd that wants to hear “Don’t Stop Believing” a hundred times and dance like wild animals to cap off their perfect Cape Cod getaway…
It is a notion – a self-restricting, unwritten law – that many bands regrettably abide by.
As for the locals, we can often feel neglected, like whipped dogs left longing for something that we can call our own.
But The Crooked Coast sees things differently. They have written a good selection of original songs, many of which are solid numbers that evoke this feeling of neglect, combined with the pleasures of living in a seasonal beach community.
“Bars don’t care as long as people are staying and paying money,” says Vose. “It’s kind of a cop-out to say the bar won’t let you play originals.”
A happy accident
Made up of Falmouth natives, Crooked Coast’s music has an indisputable connection to Cape Cod.
“A landscaper with a drug problem,” is Vose’s response when asked to personify the local lifestyle. As for his songwriting, Vose insists it's not political.
"It’s more about telling stories that people can relate to. It’s not about me getting my inner demons out. It’s not about pushing an agenda. I just want to make people feel something,” he says.
The band formed this summer as The Rumrunners after Elder lined up a weekly gig at Quick’s Hole… but without a band. A week before the gig, he got in touch with Vose and the two came up with a Venn diagram of songs they could work with. Parker Walton joined in without so much as a shrug and things naturally progressed from there.
Fueled by their success at Quick’s Hole, the trio began rehearsing and writing more originals. They are in the process of putting together a debut album with The Commonwealth’s John McNamara.