OldNews, new folk

OldNews debuts single at South Park Tavern

By Joey Ferber

Photo: Khrys Blank of OldNews, a regular act at South Park Tavern; photo: Matt Silver

While its existence in the Dayton scene is old news, a musical staple is breaking new ground. The OldNews “collective,” as members refer to it, is translating its spontaneous, live experience in the studio to leave its mark on a faithfully expanding audience.

The group, which can often be heard on Wednesday nights jamming at South Park Tavern, performs folk originals as an ensemble of anywhere from three to 10 instrumentalists. Although recording wasn’t in the original plan, the project is cutting its first record.

The band’s less fluid core consists of its three founding members: Scott Cumpston, Casey Abbott, and Charles Hartman. Cumpston and Hartman contribute as acoustic instrumentalists and primary songwriters, while Abbott’s deft touch and haunting tone on electric guitar colors the OldNews stories with appropriate harmony and texture.

A self-pronounced “sucker for stories,” Hartman—OldNews writer, vocalist, and guitarist—says it all started at South Park Tavern, the location of their upcoming April 22 show, which will debut the first single from their upcoming record.

“We all met at the open mic,” Hartman says. “We all sort of dug each other’s tunes and were like, ‘Why not try this?’ We were open to that exposing nature of fumbling through everybody’s stuff at open mics, and ultimately it built us a really good bond and audience at South Park [Tavern]. Because everyone felt like, ‘Hey we’re a part of it every week,’ with the concept being what you saw last week was old news. You don’t know what song we were going to be playing or who’s going to jump up there.”

But with anywhere from three to 10 members, how does OldNews avoid chaos…or mutiny?

Hartman offers wise tips for any working artist looking to improve their craft.

“We record almost everything,” he says. “And we do it for our own growth because sometimes there are little gems that come out of the ether that lead to very interesting moments we may or may not implement at a later date. Some of the members are in four other projects because they are talented enough to slide in anywhere.”

After garnering respect throughout the region, OldNews members are stepping onto their self-assembled platform as they complete and prepare to release their debut album. The decision to put OldNews to tape developed from the opportunity to record with top-tier producer Patrick Himes.

“People check their egos with what we’re doin’,” he says, “and we weren’t originally going to record…but once we got in the studio…and we recorded the majority of the tracks, some of the recordings are true to what we do because they won’t sound like that again.”

They ended up recording two albums’ worth of material. The tracks they don’t use on this album will be held for a second release. They plan to release their first single this week and another single later this summer on cassette.

As Hartman acknowledged, recording seemed to be the natural next step for everyone, in music and in life.

“Some of us grew up together. Robbie and Scott talked about doing some more tracks to release online, and the conversation came up about wanting to have a piece of art that they could hand their children. Like, this is what I created. This will forever have my name on it; I had a part in it. And it hit me.

“Not having children, I never thought of it like that. I never approached music in that way. And I don’t think that them bringing that up is their desire to leave a legacy to anyone but their children. We don’t have any ridiculous pie-in-the-sky ideas of what will come from the album. If anything, it’s more for us and those people who’ve grown to know what we’re doing.”


OldNews play Saturday, April 22 at South Park Tavern, 1301 Wayne Ave. in Dayton. Show starts at 10 p.m., doors at 9. Drew Joseph is also on the bill. Cover is $5 and includes a copy of the single. Tune in to WYSO’s local music show Kaleidoscope on Wednesday, April 19 to hear the radio premiere of the single. For more information, please visit Facebook.com/OldNewsDayton or call South Park Tavern at 937.813.7491.

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Joey Ferber works out of St. Louis and Dayton as a musician and writer. You can hear him on electric guitar with St. Louis jazz-rap collective LOOPRAT at Looprat.Bandcamp.com and on his original theme song for the Dayton-based podcast series Unwritten at UnwrittenPodcast.com, for which he also contributed to as a scriptwriter. Reach him at JoeyFerber@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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