Some things just happen. A band that was started kiddingly wound up winning a battle of the bands contest, recording a CD, forming a permanent lineup, and performing around the area. Such is the story so far of Dry Land Fish, a Smiths Grove southern alternative group with a self-released CD Back To The Farm.
Actually, member Darren Doyle describes Dry Land Fish’s music as “y’allternative” - no one pinpointed style but a music with a southern flavor. The band’s music draws from its influences - country, classic rock, heavy rock, blues, and gospel. Doyle particularly brings the latter to the group; he is a former baritone singer for the Crossmen. The current lineup of Dry Land Fish is Doyle (vocals, guitar), Jonathan Hodges (vocals, harmonica), Mark Whitley (vocals, guitar), Kevin Johnson (lead guitar), Josh Hampton (drums), and Joey Webb (bass).
Doyle told the Amplifier that Dry Land Fish started as a joke. Hodges called Doyle last year and said “let’s start a band.” Doyle, Hodges, and Whitley got together and intended to write silly songs. They heard about a battle of the bands at Western Kentucky University set for the fall semester last year and decided to enter. Doyle ran into Hampton, who asked to sit in, and called bassist Frank Lawrence (whose brother Derek is guitarist for Antietam, Jam Central Station, and the River Rats) for the contest. The group started on a whim went on to win that contest.
Doyle, Hodges, and Whitley went into the studio intending to record a demo to pitch the songs they had written to other artists. What they came out with was Dry Land Fish’s first release Back To The Farm, recorded at Paddington Recording Studios in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Seven of the eight tracks are originals, with a cover of Pure Prairie League’s “Amie” included. Back To The Farm was re-mixed by Lawrence and produced by Doyle. The songs feature three-part harmonies and have a fun, familiar feel while being “family friendly” according to Doyle.
Dry Land Fish has been performing around the area. They appeared July 1 at the Green River Catfish Festival in Morgantown and were interviewed that week on the air by WLBQ-AM. This month brings appearances August 11 on the Gator’s Live and Local, August 12 at Edmonson County High School for a fundraiser for the International Club, and in Bowling Green August 13 at Baker Boys. Regular performances are also planned at Happy Inn.
The tenuous nature of Dry Land Fish’s lineup, with a core of three people and others added for performing purposes, has now settled. Doyle is highly complimentary of the contributions of lead guitarist Kevin Johnson. Lawrence held the bass duties through the Catfish Festival show, after which Joey Webb has taken over.
The band is writing more songs and wants to record another album with the current lineup in the next year. But, as Doyle put it, Dry Land Fish is not going to “buy a trailer and hit the road” or “go to Nashville and live in the back of a truck” since everyone has home, family, or school obligations. Doyle says right now the band is “having a ball” with their music.
Back To The Farm is available at Superior Supply in Smiths Grove, New Image Car Care Center in Morgantown, and at Dry Land Fish shows. Contact the group for booking at Dry Land Fish, 2561 Chalybeate Rd., Smiths Grove, KY 42171, by e-mailing drylandfish1hotmail.com, or by phone at 597-3442.
Don Thomason is a writer and musician living in Dunbar. Visit him at www.myspace.com/donthomasonmusic