Young guns, The Congress, refine a classic southern sound
When you think of the word Congress, what often comes to mind, is a collection of politicians meeting a few times a year to pass legislation that no one can agree upon. Instead, imagine a group of musicians, each influenced by their own political agendas, but agreeing on one thing all the time: rock ‘n’ roll. Meet The Congress, a fresh foursome from Denver, Colo. with a southern twang.
In the early days, the guitar duo—formed by long-time friends Scott Lane and vocalist Jonathan Meadows of Richmond, Va.—were “running an open mic and writing together. And that’s kinda how it all started,” remembers Lane. Eventually they got into the studios, “took the tunes we had written and the people that were around us at the time, and just had fun with it.”
The Congress reflects Richmond’s heavy soul, jazz, and blues scene, 100 percent. “When you’ve been around that sound growing up, playing music later in life, you can’t help bringing that into what you’re doing,” says Lane. But, he admits, “really what we are at heart is a rock and roll band. You could just name whatever from the ’60s and ’70s—as long as it’s a rock and roll band—and we’re probably heavily influenced by them.”
Led Zeppelin had a strong delta blues feel, Pink Floyd had its gospel soul choruses, but neither grew up in the diverse music culture of Richmond. The Congress lucked out—now they can dedicate all their time to refining that sound. Their signature, based on Meadows’ angelic voice and the wailing moans of Lane’s guitar solos, lets all their influences and personal expressions run together.
Their unique mash-up is drifting across the nation, now that the band is playing festivals and blowing up in popularity. But Lane fondly remembers the band’s humble open mic beginnings. “Especially when we play in a town where we’ve never played before—and haven’t developed a huge following—it’s great to play in a smaller atmosphere where it feels more intimate. It’s just a better time for everybody.”
The guys are excited to “keep in touch with that [intimate setting],” this week at Moe’s Alley. Without the chaos and the physical separation between the band and the audience often experienced festivals, the quaint Santa Cruz venue will allow attendees to practically join the rockers on stage. And hopefully, make the band feel right at home.
INFO: 8:30 p.m., Wed., June 29. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $5/adv, $8/door. 479-1854. Photo credit: Robert S. Mann.