In a dimly lit bar a band is in full swing, busting out a hip-shaking honky tonk ballad. Out of nowhere, the lead guitarist starts traveling outside of the song, the standup bassist grabs a bow and, in a matter of seconds, the band is diving through a classical piece before finishing the set with a jazz standard. Welcome to the world of Shotgun Suitor. “I think we’re bringing a missing genre that a lot of original bands only touch on,” explains keyboardist Kyle Hamood. “We cover all of the bases.” And they certainly do, from original pieces to standard rock covers with a twist. It’s an impressive feat considering that Shotgun Suitor is still stretching its musical legs; forming only two and a half months ago, after singer and rhythm guitarist Chas Crowder moved to Santa Cruz from the soulful streets of Memphis. “[Bassist Paul Gerhardt] started calling me a couple of months ago saying, ‘You’ve got to get out here!’ So, I did,” Crowder says nonchalantly. Gerhardt and Hamood already had a budding musical friendship, so with Crowder in the mix they decided to call upon drummer Dallas Ezell, lead guitarist Wes Davis and vocalist Emily Gold.
Together they’ve been speeding their way through genres, using their keen sense of individuality to mix eclectic backgrounds into what Gerhardt likes to call “weirdo rock.” Gold agrees, “It definitely blends in a very special way.” A perfect example of this is “Ode to a Decapitated Lover.” Written by Crowder’s mother, Tennessee’s own Memphis Annie, the song is upbeat country swing—giving the rare female’s perspective on burying an unfaithful lover. “In this way we aren’t just representing ourselves,” Crowder begins, “but our music is a representation of our friends and family too.” By keeping their influences fresh at hand, Shotgun Suitor spins a web of music that dares anyone, regardless of age or musical background, not to listen and enjoy. With Gerhardt hinting at what’s to come—“The best part is that we still have plenty of music that’s untapped,” he assures—the band is a heavy-hitting contender at any live gig.
INFO: 9 p.m. Saturday, March 19. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz. $5/adv, $7/door. 423-1338.