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Buzzard Song reconstructed

With Eric von Radics, Allen Crutcher, Joe Diehl and Craig Mesco in its lineup, Buzzard Song's newest incarnation is a classic rock band with an early '70s feel.

"Fans of Tom Petty's 'Wildflowers,' 'Muswell Hillbillies'-era Kinks and 'Exile'-era Rolling Stones will probably like us," says guitarist von Radics.

The band will debut at 10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 27, at Johnny B's, 35 S. Bartlett St., Medford.

Diehl and keyboardist Crutcher are local favorites who've played with AnnieMac, Karen Lovely and other groups in Southern Oregon. Diehl, who plays bass for Buzzard Song, is a guitarist with Mad World, Rogue Rage and a couple of other projects. With Mesco on drums, the four veteran Rogue Valley musicians have teamed up to perform regularly.

The foursome morphed out of von Radics' 2007 recording project, "Buzzard Song Redux," that featured himself, Crutcher and Mesco. "Redux" was a collection of folk, rock and a little soul.

There are plans for a follow-up recording, tentatively titled "Thrift Store Sweater Afternoon," to be released in February.

"So far the tracks have an unforced, organic, deep-in-the-pocket feel," von Radics says. "It's original music with a familiar pastiche, with elements of blues, bluegrass, country, jazz, R&B and British Invasion."

American songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Petty are also part of the mix.

"I like recordings that are not made in a studio," von Radics says. "They have the sound of a specific space.

"Like 'Exile on Main Street,' which was recorded in a basement, and some of Matthew Sweet's recordings that were done in a living room. It's the reverberation, or the lack of, that makes the sound interesting. So, rather than add digital effects to simulate reverb, why not just use the effects of the room you're in?"

A recording famous for not being done in a studio is "When the Levee Breaks," recorded in 1970 by Led Zeppelin at Headley Grange in England, von Radics says.

Headley Grange is a three-story stone structure built in 1795 as a workhouse. Many bands rehearsed and recorded there in the '60s and '70s. "Levee Breaks" was recorded by placing a drumkit at the bottom of a stairwell and setting the microphones at the top.

"It gave that song a rich and complex reverb," von Radics says.

There also are plans to add a full-time horn section to Buzzard Song to bring a British soul element to the band's music.

"Like Van Morrison," von Radics says. "There'll be some juncture between folk and soul."

Sax player Larry Newcomb will appear with Buzzard Song Saturday night at Johnny B's, along with a yet un-named trumpet player.

Punk rocker Silas R. Shand (Virus Nine, Hollowbodys) will open the show with solo acoustic songs.

"He's pretty snarly," von Radics says of Shand. "He's been in some biting rock bands for a long time. His songs are still punk rock, but he's playing them on acoustic guitar so there's a different sound to them."

Von Radics, who's owned Musichead for 17 years, will teach group guitar and songwriting classes during the upcoming winter term at Rogue Community College.

Cover for the show at Johnny B's is to be announced. Call 541-773-1900.

Left to right: Joe Diehl on bass, Craig Mesco on drums, Eric von Radics on guitar and Allen Crutcher on Hammond organ. - Photo by Bob Pennell