Wino’s Spirit Caravan journeys to Dayton
By Gary Spencer
Photo: Drummer Henry Vasquez of Spirit Caravan
Some things just can’t stay dead and gone, especially great music. Music geeks, in particular, like to dig up treasures of the past, hoping to unlock some amazing sounds from the past and rediscover the magic that was created once upon a time. One such band underground metal fanatics have wanted to bring back from the dead for over a decade is legendary American stoner metal trio Spirit Caravan.
Birthed from the ashes of another legendary underground American metal band, The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan began its journey in the mid-1990s. Headed by doom metal guru and guitarist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, Spirit Caravan was the logical extension of Wino’s past doom metal pedigree, which over the years has also included stints in other long-renowned doom metal masters such as Saint Vitus, Place of Skulls and The Hidden Hand. But Spirit Caravan almost didn’t happen, as after The Obsessed’s demise, Wino was a man down on his luck.
“Upon the folding of The Obsessed, in the spring of ’95, I arrived in Maryland dejected and unsure of my musical future,” Weinrich said in an email interview. “I had no guitar and not much else. I moved back into my parents’ house, which was in the same neighborhood where [drummer] Gary [Isom] and [bassist Dave] Sherman rehearsed. Once they knew I was back, those two were calling a bit wanting to jam. When we did, they knew so much of my stuff the road ahead didn’t seem so long. So, we formed Shine, a name we later changed to Spirit Caravan.”
Spirit Caravan spent its original seven years of existence traversing the familiar slow, hypnotic doomy metal trails that Wino’s other projects are well known for. Spirit Caravan also managed to weave in elements of classic rock, Hawkwind-esque space rock, prog and even a little Southern rock flavor to give Spirit Caravan its own distinct identity across its small, but impressive, catalog of releases. In 2002, the members of the group decided to go their separate ways, leaving Spirit Caravan buried in the past, seemingly to never be heard from again.
In the decade or so since Spirit Caravan halted its musical journey, fans from all over the globe have been clamoring for the trio to come back together and rock the world again – probably thanks in part to Wino’s participation in the high-profile reunions of both Saint Vitus and The Obsessed in the last few years, which made a Spirit Caravan rebirth a distinct possibility.
When Spirit Caravan’s metal anthem “Dove Tongued Aggressor” was included in the soundtrack to Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland video game in 2005, the band’s name got back out in the underground consciousness, while being exposed to a whole new audience that might not have ever caught wind of their musical greatness otherwise. After being invited last year to perform at world-class music and metal festivals all over the world such as South by Southwest, Desertfest in England and Hellfest in France, Wino has put the band back together at least for a little while for an extensive U.S. tour for 2014. Work is also underway for a new Spirit Caravan album. With Dave Sherman back on bass and Saint Vitus drummer Henry Vasquez in tow, Wino has been amped to do this reunion for quite some time and being freshly clean, the time was right to make it happen.
“On my travels around the world, a lot of people asked me about Spirit Caravan – the interest is alive now,” he said. “I am fresh off a seven-year speed bender which was a fucking blast, but I knew what I needed to do to what I want, which is to play guitar and these songs to the absolute best of my ability. Its positive vibe stuff, I am there again now.”
As for Spirit Caravan’s gig Thursday, April 10 at Rockstar Pro Arena in Dayton, Wino said audiences can expect a crowd-pleasing setlist that may include not just choice cuts from Spirit Caravan’s past but possibly a song or two from Saint Vitus and The Obsessed’s back catalog – just for the hell of it. On top of that, Wino also revealed a more personal reason he’s stoked to make the trek to the Ohio region to play here this week.
“My whole family is from Ohio and Kentucky, so I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Ohio,” he explained. “I am looking forward to playing Dayton, I love that area.”
Spirit Caravan will perform Thursday, April 10 at Rockstar Pro Arena, 1106 E. Third St. Pilgrim, Neon Warship and Grand Mammoth are also on the bill. Doors open at 7 p.m. Admission is $10 at the door for all ages. For more information please call 937.938.8852 or visit rockstarprowrestling.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Gary Spencer at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com.