Cricketbows distilled

Duo Wells & Watson’s psychedelic sounds at CVG’s Listing Loon

Wells and Watson duo, Aarika Watson and Chad Wells, of Cricketbows to play at the Listing Loon in Cincinnati.

By Tim Walker  |  Photos By Michael Morris

According to ancient tradition, shamans are defined as people who are regarded as having access to, and influence in, the spirit world. An astral traveler, a shaman typically uses music and hallucinogens to enter into a trance-like state prior to his or her ritualistic journey, with the goal of that journey being the pursuit of healing and divination. In our modern society, shamans sometimes use guitars, vocals and amplification while onstage to achieve that same end.

“Cricketbows to me,” says Aarika Watson at the beginning of the documentary Where the Ocean Meets the Sky, “is about dueling energies. There’s a light side and a dark side, as well as a feminine side and a male side. And when you experience it, sometimes people say they have religious experiences, and I think it’s because you are not bombarded by one or the other energy too much, but exposed to both in a really awesome way.” 

While perhaps not entirely Yin and Yang, Chad Wells and Aarika Watson are two-fifths of local indie rock band Cricketbows – Chad sings, plays electric and acoustic guitar and banjo, while Aarika sings and plays the flute, tambourine, and mandolin. On Saturday, March 3rd they’ll be performing a stripped-down, distilled version of some Cricketbows music along with other selected songs under the name of ‘Wells & Watson.’ The duo’s performance will be at the Listing Loon, a Northside craft beer and wine bar/bottle shop located at 4124 Hamilton Avenue in Cincinnati, and will begin at 8pm.

“This is actually a makeup date,” says main Cricketbow Chad Wells. “We had a show booked there a month or so back, and it was double-booked, but there was a calendar snafu on their end. So we rescheduled, and this is the makeup date for that.”

Cricketbows released “Communion,” an inspired EP of new material, in November. Produced by Zachary Gabbard of Buffalo Killers, the six-track effort was the band’s first release since their 2015 debut album, Diamonds (produced by Grammy Award recipient Brian Olive). The EP’s release also coincided with the release of a full-length documentary film about the band entitled Where The Ocean Meets The Sky. That film had its debut at the Neon Movies in August 2017, and features behind-the-scenes footage and videos for all of the songs from “Communion.”

When asked if the duo of Wells & Watson sprang fully formed from the forehead of Cricketbows, Wells says, “Aarika and I started doing some duo arrangements, just for the sake of doing, for example, a live radio thing really easily. That way the rest of the guys wouldn’t have to leave work or come with us; she and I could just show up with flute and guitar and play a few songs. And, with everybody’s schedules being what they are, and with touring and things like that being as hard and cost-prohibitive as they are nowadays for bands, we wanted to have an alternate vehicle for these songs. We didn’t want to call it Cricketbows, however, because we didn’t want to give the false impression that that full experience would be happening.”

“Our own latest release just came out a few months back,” continues Wells. “We did a bunch of press for that, and we’re getting ready to take the whole band out on the road a bunch more starting in March. With the duo, we’re doing all our songs with a couple of covers thrown in here and there, just some fun things. It’ll be me playing electric guitar, very stripped-down with no crazy effects, just guitar, flute, and vocals. We’ve done fifteen minute sets in the past, but for this show we’ll be doing two full 45-minute sets. So this will be a very personal, very intimate show. We’re looking forward to it.”

There’s no argument that Chad Wells is a creative and artistic individual. In addition to being a husband and father and a talented writer, videographer, musician and songwriter, Wells is also a well-regarded local tattoo artist. He is the owner and operator of Wells & Co. Custom Tattoo, located on East Third Street in Dayton. And it is quickly obvious during conversation that the former Vandalia Butler student feels a strong connection with the spiritual side of both his art and his life. 

“There’s a whole lot going on in Cricketbows that is more relative to a tribal ritual or a religious service than to a musical performance,” he says. “Mitch Mitchell, former guitarist of Guided By Voices, said that Cricketbows is a religious experience. We’re definitely looking to do more than just play a song. We want to change your vibration and lift you up.”

Whether performing with Wells & Watson or Cricketbows, there’s no doubt that Chad Wells and Aarika Watson will be doing just that – lifting up the audience and changing the vibrations in the room toward a more positive and loving direction.

Cricketbows’ Wells & Watson will appear at The Listing Loon, 4124 Hamilton Ave., Cincinnati, on March 3. Showtime is 8:00 p.m. For more information, visit, or call 513-542-5666.

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Tim Walker is 51 and a writer, DJ, and local musician. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz, and black T-shirts. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at

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