It’s going to be a hot one this July in Corolla — in more ways than the usual sweltering heat and humidity of mid-summer on the Outer Banks.
The inaugural “Mustang Midsummer Meltdown” — presented by Bearded Face Productions — begins at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 8, and though the sun will be setting over the horizon, the atmosphere will be red hot.
The event features headliners “The Trongone Band,” a four-piece Richmond, Virginia-based combo that features brothers Andrew and Johnny Trongone on guitar and drums, respectively, with keyboardist Ben “Wolfe” White and bassist Todd Herrington rounding out the lineup.
A quick Google of these cats brings up the video of “Anne Marie,” an unplugged, countrified ditty that’s reminiscent the best of the latter-day Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers, or New Riders of the Purple Sage.
Dig a little deeper, and a live cover of Van Morrison’s “Into The Mystic” shows that Andrew Trongone’s vocals and tasty guitar solos are not to be dismissed. This dude can sing and play.
That’s not to say the rest of the band is of lesser quality. They provide a solid foundation, on top of which, any frontman would give his eye teeth to ride upon. It’s my intention to pack up quickly after my own gig at Aqua in Duck on July 8, to catch their set.
Also on the bill are two regionally-based reggae bands, including Buddha Council, which hails from the Virginia Beach-area, has released three albums (the latest, just this spring), and share their vibes with listeners and fans throughout Virginia and as far away as upstate New York.
But opening the festivities is the OBX’s own reggae-style band, Sensi Trails, fronted by Kyle Rising, with Mike Rush on bass and Rach Dickerson on drums.
Rising is making a name for himself in the world of rootsy-reggae, based on his solid musical chops and a knack for writing relatable and accessible jams.
I’ve watched, with interest, the musical and professional growth of Kyle Rising over the last two and a half years. With a firm understanding that it’s not how many notes you play, but getting the most out of those you do play, the songs sound a lot larger and fuller than the trio format usually allows.
The bottom line ends up being good songs, performed well, wrapped up in an attractive package and, potentially, you have a formula for a successful career.
I caught up with Kyle, and posed the following questions:
Q: If you’re not a native, what brought you to the Outer Banks?
A: I came to the Outer Banks in 2015, after being hired as a singer in the famous Scammell’s Corner ice cream shop in Nags Head. This place is very unique in that they require their employees to sing while they scoop ice cream for the customers.
Q: How would you describe your music?
A: Fun and original. Many have tried to categorize the band, but we do not stay true to one genre.
Q: Who is your greatest musical influence?
A: I’ll give a Top 3: Josh Swain, Tim Beavers II, and Scott Avett — and that’s in no particular order.
Q: What is it about music that touches you?
A: Music for me is an escape. It’s something that I can do or listen to, and just forget about whatever else is going on in my life.
Q: Are you self-taught?
A: I took a few lessons when I was first starting around the age of 9 or 10, but once I had access to the Internet, I just started learning from videos.
Q: Besides guitar, what other instruments do you play?
A: I mostly play guitar, but I mess around on banjo, piano, bass, and drums from time to time.
Q: What’s your favorite venue to play on the Outer Banks? To listen?
A: I’d have to say Secret Island, (formerly known as Port O’ Call), is my favorite. From an artist’s perspective, the way the venue’s setup is near perfect. The stage is always clear, and the venue is very hospitable to the artists.
Q: Musicians usually play for those “moments” when everything clicks to the point where you sometimes play above and beyond what your normal capabilities are. Do you have a favorite moment?
A: The time Nathan Feinstein from Iya Terra asked me to come up on stage and freestyle a verse during their set. I remember being backstage trying to come up with something to say, so that I didn’t get up there and completely blow it. Their management, who was also backstage at the time, kept asking me, “You sure you got this?” — which made me feel even more pressured. Nonetheless, I got up there and crushed it. It was such a great feeling, especially being a huge Iya Terra fan.
Q: Was there a person in your life that motivated you to pursue music?
A: No, not really. Most people discouraged me. But, I always just focus on the vision.
Q: If you could perform with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
A: I would like to perform with Don Henley, so that way, he could sing, and I could just sit back and play guitar.
Q: What one song have you heard that you wish you’d written?
A: “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen.
Q: If you could choose a time period in which to perform music, what would it be and why?
A: 1965-1979 because the United States was peaking at this time. We plateaued in the ’80s and ’90s, and now we’re going back down.
Q: Do you listen to new music and if so, what are you listening to?
A: The only new music I listen to is Reggae and Rock. I can’t stand the modern hip hop or “trap rap,” as some call it.
Q: Where were you the first time you performed onstage and how old were you?
A: First time I performed on stage was in a sixth-grade talent show. The band that I was in at the time covered “Come Together” by the Beatles and ended up winning 1st place.
Q: When you write a song, is it positive or negative inspiration that drives you?
A: I pull from both positive and negative inspiration. I write a lot about love and heartbreak, but politics also lights a fire under me.
Q: You’ve been getting a good amount of recognition, of late. Does that add any pressure, and how do you deal with it, if it does?
A: Success is great, and I do feel some pressure, but, ultimately, I’m doing this for me.
Q: If you were me, what question should I be asking you?
A: Why do you drink? Why must you live out the songs that you wrote?
Q: Why do you drink?
Q: Why must you live out the songs that you wrote?
A: I write about those things that have happened, or that I wish to happen.