Hazy Shade of Winter

WinterFolk Festival is back at Yellow Cab

By Rusty Pate

Photo: Paige Beller, who plays in multiple Dayton bands, will play the WinterFolk Festival on Jan. 16; photo: Jay Woessner

Acoustic music automatically puts the artist at a bit of a disadvantage. Trading the advancement of technology for centuries-old machines consisting of little more than wood and strings seems a bit counterintuitive. After all, farmers no longer prefer mules over tractors.

Eschewing all the fancy new gadgets and electronic blips allows the artist to strip away all the unnecessary clutter that permeates much of modern music. It puts the focus on the most important aspects of music: honesty and emotional resonance.

The Repeating Arms represent that ethos about as well as any other band in Dayton. Their music sounds familiar yet fresh. Their instrumentation might cause one to believe they are a bluegrass band, but that’s not exactly accurate. While they execute all the tight music changes and rock solid harmonies of that genre, they really don’t allow themselves to be pigeonholed into any one style.

They just focus on crafting the best songs they can.

Guitarist Harold Hensley says The Arms started the WinterFolk Festival three years ago as a fundraiser for the “Old” Yellow Cab building.

“We really like playing there,” he says. “They’ve been really good to us and we wanted to help them out. They were having a little bit of trouble at the beginning trying to update the building and stuff like that. We offered to do this and it’s turned into a yearly party we do in January. We kind of wait until the holidays are over and everybody’s ready to get out of the house a little bit.”

While the event leans heavily on acoustic-driven music, it will not lack diverse sounds.

Buffalo Wabs & the Price Hill Hustle represent the old-timey blues-inspired folk. Honey & Houston blend sweet harmonies with melancholy tones. Sean Whiting sites both Alice in Chains and Hank Williams, Jr. as influences.

Hensley says there was only one common trait for which they were looking.

“I just try to bring the best quality of performer that I can,” Hensley says. “This year, we’ve opened it up a little bit, because a lot of these bands are from outside the Dayton area. Flatland Harmony Experiment and Joshua Powell & the Great Train Robbery are from Indiana. Buffalo Wabs is from Cincinnati. Honey & Houston hail from Northern Kentucky. We wanted to have a hometown feel, but also invite some out-of-towners in.”

Charles Hartman of Old News has been helping with logistics and bringing in new bands. Hensley says there really wasn’t a headliner in the traditional sense. The music will be continuous, with solo sets taking place while full bands are breaking down and setting up.

Hunger Paynes food truck will be on hand, and adult beverages can be had with a photo ID. However, it is an all-ages show and Hensley says they strive for a real family feel.

That sentiment also spills over to the stage, where sit-ins and collaborations often create unique musical moments.

“That’s what’s cool about it, there’s usually some sort of magic that happens,” Hensley says. “We think it’s funny to cover each other’s songs. So, Old News will play some Arms songs and you have to really listen to it to know, ‘Oh yeah, that’s my song.’ They’ll pull us up on stage. It’s kind of a free-for-all. Last year, we had a couple guys playing the fiddle and they would just hop on stage.”

One of those moments will feature Hensley and David Payne of The New Old Fashioned. Their two bands recorded an album together this summer that was released on Don Thrasher and Kyle Melton’s Gas Daddy, Go label. Hensley says it was an idea they had kicked around for a while.

“It was a great experience,” he says. “It was definitely fun and it wasn’t like work until we got in there to record it. I would say the hardest part about this whole project was getting both of our bands together and actually recording the tunes. We had them. We were rehearsed and ready to go, but we’re such good friends we just wanted to get pizza and drink beer.”

Hensley said The Repeating Arms have an exciting 2016 in store, with some festival dates, more out-of-town shows and some studio time.

“We actually have probably about an album-and-a-half of new material written,” Hensley says. “We’re just rearranging stuff and getting in the studio—that will be something we’re trying to pop off really soon in 2016 is a new record. Whether that comes as an EP or full length, we’re just trying to focus on getting something. It’s been about two years since our last full length.”

The 2016 WinterFolk Festival will be held on Saturday, Jan. 16 at the “Old” Yellow Cab Building, 700 E. Fourth St. The cover is $10 and doors open at 7 p.m. It is an all-ages show. Music starts promptly at 8 p.m. For more information, visit The Old Yellow Cab page on Facebook.

Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at RustyPate@DaytonCityPaper.com

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Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at RustyPate@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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