Kingston After Dark: Muster’s bluster and the Scottish Rites

Sevendust’s Lajon Witherspoon is one of the best. (Catharina Christiana/C3 Photography)

Greetings, gremlins. If you are like me and can’t believe that Black Panther didn’t take Best Picture on sheer cultural impact alone, you might need some cheering up right now. Let’s face it, despite a few nice days here and there the weather has been generally pretty dismal and while picturesque at times a lot of people have been feeling down in the dumps and in need of some electricity in their lives. With all the wind this past Monday blowing down trees left and right, it seemed as good a time as any to write about some rock music leaving a blustery indentation on our area.

Nu Groove-Metallers and road warriors Sevendust are not just aging gracefully, they are still thriving. While Deftones, System of a Down and Korn are probably the biggest bands in the Nu Metal genre, I feel like Sevendust pound for pound have most often shown the most consistent talent. The band brought their high-intensity crunching but melodic hard rock to The Chance earlier this month along with Creed graduate Mark Tremonti’s solo band and rocked the house. Sevendust never fail to deliver on their well-earned reputation as one of the most unstoppable and respected live bands in metal. Not to downplay his solid shouts, but Lajon Witherspoon has long been one of the best clean singers out there. He is also just flat out engaging and so adept at weaving relatable narratives into songs filled with pain, spiritual yearning and hope for catharsis via stark confession. These qualities as a frontman combined with the innovation and drive of his band have made sure Sevendust have endured scene sea changes to remain one of the most hard-working hard rock acts in music today.

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Sevendust are still supporting their 2018 All I See Is War release, with top single “Dirty” racking up millions of views on YouTube and proving the band still excel at hooks, back up vocal intensity and punishing, shifting but somehow danceable rhythms.

Would you like another heavy show of note that you still can catch which is coming up at The Chance complex in Poughkeepsie? I’ve got you covered, baby. Mark your calendars crossover fans, a metallic hardcore night to remember is coming on Friday, March 15. Just a few weeks away, NYHC monsters Merauder will perform along with local support from Parkbench Messiah and the very heavy new band Sickbay (who remind me of Skinless a tiny bit).

“I had first heard about Merauder through my friend/mentor and local legend Drew Smerdon back in the mid 90s when we had a project together. Then I believe it was at a Biohazard show sometime later that I saw Merauder for the first time. Interestingly enough years later Drew would join the band for some endeavors as well as a South American tour,” Jay Avery, vocalist of Parkbench Messiah reminisces. “Their live show intensity and unique NY/HC sound is definitely one that I’ve drawn from over the years. At one point I did get on a bill with them either with Beneath the Remains or Painmask.”

Parkbench Messiah are going to be making more of an impact on the scene with a steady 2019 planned. Kicking things off with a Merauder opening slot is not a shabby way to start and the band will also be at Tubby’s in early May with noise architects Gridfailure and black metallers Zud.

“I was as honored then as I am now with my new project Parkbench Messiah to have this opportunity to share the stage with Merauder. They are undoubtedly one of the OG crossover metalcore bands that have laid the foreground for many to come,” Jay rightfully claims. “We are also currently finishing up our first full length album at Magnetic North Studios in Saugerties, which should be released sometime late spring.”

Scottish rite

Lastly this week, who likes kilts? Beer? Pizza? The Kington Kilt Fest Kickoff Party is happening at beloved Kingston institution Tony’s Pizzeria on Saturday, March 9 from 2-10 p.m. A kickoff party for the Shamrock Run, you can purchase a kilt for the next day, see bands for free and consume intoxicating beverages. AOH Pipes & Drums, Vince Fisher, bagpipe punkers Alternative Ulster, Backseat Hooligans, Mickey Rickshaw from Boston and more talent are expected to fill your ears with cheer.

Tony’s is one of the most fun places to dig in for a long party day or evening in Kingston. The friendly atmosphere and long bar as well as the history of the place creates an infectious mood and conversation is easy to find (though it might be hard to hear over some bagpipes). 

Before we part, I wanted to mention that The Oscars iced Sondra Locke (Ratboy, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Willard, Every Which Way But Loose) out of the in memoriam segment. It is truly sad because Clint Eastwood, her former partner, effectively really harmed her career (read her Wikipedia page) and then she is snubbed even in death. It is sad that in a year where power dynamics were supposed to be an important part of the Academy Awards that a woman who was effectively blacklisted was erased entirely. Rest in Power, Sondra, you are not forgotten by those of us paying attention.

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