A Chicago-Petoskey connection at Festival on the Bay
By Glen Young 8/10/09
At the beginning of their song Mythology, Fair Herald vocalist Mike Kuntz sings, Ill meet you on the other side if I make it through. The band, made up of five Chicago area friends, is hoping their music continues to make it through to an ever-widening audience.
Fair Herald will reach out to Northern Michigan audiences with shows at Petoskeys Festival on the Bay this Friday, August 14, and City Park Grill August 15.
Featured on the bands 2008 recording Familiar Streets, Mythology, showcases the groups layered, eclectic style, a sound newest member Mark Goldich says is influenced by the Chicago-area group Wilco. Their set of influences matches ours, he says, adding inspiration from The Replacements, Gram Parsons, and even Woody Guthrie.
In addition to Goldich, who plays guitar, Fair Herald features Kuntz on lead vocals, Jimmy Bloniarz on keyboards and percussion, Dave Brankin on drums, and Sean Bacastow on bass. Kuntz is the bands primary lyricist, but the others agree their songs come primarily in collaboration.
The bands members have been friends since their elementary school days in the Chicago area. All five are now college sophomores. Goldich, Kuntz, and Bloniarz are students at the University of Michigan; Bacastow is at Wisconsin, while Brankin attends Knox College in Illinois.
Geography has been a challenge, but the band has managed to thrive while staying busy sorting out academic careers. Goldich, who eventually moved with his family to Petoskey, did not officially join the band until 2008, though he says, Ive been playing with them whenever I could for the last three or four years. He says he, Kuntz and Bloniarz have been friends since first grade. He admits that living in Northern Michigan made it harder to stay connected. But now that were all in college, he says, it made sense for me to officially join the band.
I used to sit down with a copy of the album (Familiar Streets) and play along to it, Goldich says. I would just try to come up with my own parts. He admits that he used to have lead guitarist syndrome, but is now focused on playing a sound that fits the rest of the band.
Kuntz admits the long distances have been tough on the group. Were definitely not playing as much as wed like, but thats why were hitting it hard this summer. Fair Herald spent most of July together in Chicago, playing multiple venues and practicing.
The band can better blend their musical goals and academic expectations because they are all underclassmen, Kuntz says. Were at a point in our lives where we can attend school full time and play in a band full time. Its not ideal but we make it work.
Goldich says the bands songs evolve from a skeleton, typically outlined by Kuntz. We try to make it as much of a collaboration as possible, he says.
The more we throw these ideas out, the more we butt heads, the more we know were pushing the song to its outermost limits, Kuntz believes. The result so far is the eight songs on Familiar Streets, all featuring the full, mature sound found on Mythology or the reflective Coyote Nowhere, where Kuntz explains, Im standing on the edge, but Im under control. Their combination of lyrical accessibility and musical range is equally evident on the defiant Out The Door, where Goldichs guitar runs fill in as Kuntz explains, Ill make it through/ I dont care how/ Im living too fast for worries now. The result is comfortably at home on any playlist next to contemporary acts like Death Cab For Cutie or Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, as well as their influences like Parsons or even Pete Seeger.
Kuntz says the songs are rooted in lyrical poetry. We build it from the ground up, he says of their collective approach. Everybody has a different idea of where the song is going... We end up playing the song many different ways to figure out what sounds best collectively.
As a lyricist and composer, Kuntz subscribes to the idea that less is more when arranging a song, and hopes their compositions, sound like theyre still in a garage or a half-finished state, so as to be constantly evolving.
I think the thing were trying to focus on this summer is really refining our live performance, Goldich says. You really have to impress (new fans) with your live performances Were throwing our chips in this July basket and hoping the work we do will pay off, he adds.
For more info on Fair Herald see http://www.myspace.com/fairherald .