The local music scene can feel dominated by talented, older players who long ago expatriated themselves from big-city scenes in favor of a slower-paced, Southern Oregon version of the rock 'n' roll life.
But 100 Watt Mind is a positive dose of performance-art swagger and a welcome reminder of the essential vitality of a live, rock band.
Who: 100 Watt Mind
When: 10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15
Where: Taroko, 62 E. Main St., Ashland
Forged by young people still busy making the most of their mid-20s, the band appears to be the genuine article.
The band will play at 10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, at Taroko, 62 E. Main St., Ashland. They'll share the bill with Ashland band Jive Coulis. Cover is $5. Call 541-488-7108.
Guitarist Skyler Squglio came to Ashland to play music nearly five years ago, moving from Reedsport on the Oregon coast. Vocalist Brynna Dean, who grew up in Medford, heard about Squglio before the two actually met. He was known as "the guy with the red SG who was looking for a band," Dean says. (SG refers to a classic model of Gibson electric guitar).
Squglio played music with anyone he could find and introduced himself to every musician he encountered. He and Dean eventually met and began their now long-running musical collaboration at nightly jam sessions in a rented house on Normal Street in Ashland — a house whose tenants set the place up as "pretty much a perpetual party," according to Dean.
Squglio regularly attended open-mic nights in Ashland and Medford, trolling for musicians to invite back to the Normal Street jams. His mission appears to have been, at least in part, to facilitate a musical community and a musical lifestyle and — perhaps more essentially — an ongoing experience of musical moments. Ultimately, the Normal Street scene brought Squglio and Dean together in a rock 'n' roll partnership that, four years later, appears to have come into its prime.
Bass player Nathan Hurlocker and drummer Robert Morris joined the band in late 2011 and early 2012, respectively, bringing stability to what had been a piecemeal rhythm section staffed by a revolving cast of temporary players. Hurlocker, who also grew up in Reedsport, learned his first guitar licks from childhood friend Squglio at age 18. Just five years later, and having switched to bass to fill a void left by the departure of the band's previous bass player, Hurlocker plays his instrument like a seasoned veteran.
Morris hails from Philadelphia, where he formally studied violin before deciding to become a self-taught drummer. He played in a successful band back home before heading west four years ago to study at Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls. Two years ago, he transferred to Southern Oregon University, where he encountered members of 100 Watt Mind at a party. The band was, as usual, looking for a drummer (they'd played with 10 different percussionists in the previous two years). Morris turned out to be the perfect fit.
"I feel like the band really started in February 2012, when Robert and Nathan joined," Squglio says. "I hope the lineup will never change."
One year later, the band seems to be firing on all cylinders. They play every gig they can find — at least two a week — driving as far north as Eugene and Bend, south to Arcata, Calif., for shows.
The band will head to San Francisco in March to oversee the mastering of their first studio recording, which they plan to release in April or May. In true rock 'n' roll form, they recorded all of the basic tracks live in two, five-hour sessions last month at a studio in Williams.
With the release of the new recording, 100 Watt Mind plans to make 2013 a year of bigger and better successes. They want to play in bigger cities to bigger crowds — and to install the management and touring infrastructure to make that happen.