Shrug it out

Shrug and The Future Laureates to play Canal Public House

By Justin Kreitzer

Photo: The Future Laureates will perform with Shrug at Canal Public House on Nov. 14; photo: Kaitlyn McQuaid

Led by ever-present vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Tod Weidner (also of Motel Beds) and drummer Dan Stahl, along with bassist Bryan Lakatos, keyboardist Ken Hall and guitarist Tim Pritchard, Shrug has been a favorite in the Dayton music scene for over two decades. They recently celebrated their 20th anniversary with a show that proved their brand of dusty folk and gritty rock-laced Americana can stand the test of time. Not one to rest on its laurels, the band is set to play again on Friday, Nov. 14 at Canal Public House, along with Chicago-based, analog-loving folk-poppers The Future Laureates. In anticipation, Dayton City Paper spoke with Weidner about the band’s history and future.

Recently, you celebrated the 20th anniversary of the band. Why has Shrug been able to endure?

We’re a remarkably drama-free band. We’ve always gotten along well, and we’ve never had any particularly volatile, hard-partying types in the group. That helps the longevity right there. I think another reason the band endures is that, ultimately … the music is of utmost importance to us. The audience picks up on our sincerity and pays us back by continuing to come out to our shows after all these years. Our people are very loyal. We owe them a lot. – Tod Weidner

What one Shrug-related memory stands out the most from the last 20 years?

I suppose if I had to pick one, it would be Nov. 30, 2013. Canal Street Tavern was our home, from our very first show back in 1994, and to be the very last band to play CST before the name change was an incredible honor. I still get goosebumps thinking about that night and the weeks leading up to it, with the huge outpouring of love Dayton gave to Mick Montgomery at the end of his ownership of the place. It was an absolutely magical night, and we broke the attendance record for the place. I’m certain it had more to do with the occasion than it did with us, but it was a heartwarming and heartbreaking evening … It was a privilege getting to pay tribute to Mick and thank him for all he’s done for us with that show. I celebrated the event by getting the Canal Street Tavern logo tattooed on my wrist, and I wear it proudly. – TW

Where are you in the process of releasing your long-awaited new album?

We had a couple dozen songs in the can that we recorded a while back with our friend Patrick Himes, who produced Whole Hog for the Macho Jesus. The tracks sounded really good, but things started sounding a little too dense to me. I got a little crazy layering on tracks, I suppose. In addition, the lineup of the band changed, and I wanted to include Tim and Ken on the album. So we started over in our practice space, with our bassist Bryan engineering. The new sessions are much more live-sounding, more in the vein of Whole Hog. We thought we were pretty much ready to mix, and then we decided to add our newest song to the album. We’ll be recording that one very soon, and I promise everyone that the release is getting close. And, for the record, it’s very likely that the “abandoned sessions” will see the light of day eventually. That stuff may not have been what I want people to hear next, but it’s certainly worth putting out … ”

– TW

What does the future hold for Shrug? Can you make it another 20 years?

I don’t see why not. We all like each other and have fun making music together. Shrug’s like an old comfortable pair of shoes. Everyone in the band is involved in at least one other project: I have the Motel Beds; Dan, Bryan, and Ken are in Human Cannonball; and Tim fronts The Boxcar Suite. But Shrug is my songwriting outlet, and these guys are my family. As long as I have songs to write, I imagine Shrug will keep chugging along. – TW

Dayton City Paper also spoke with Danny Surico of The Future Laureates about their connection to Dayton and their new EP.

Please tell us about how and when your band formed.

Our band formed when Matthew, James and I were juniors in college at Loyola University Chicago. There was a contest for bands as part of Loyola [University]’s hunger week to raise awareness and funds for charities aiming to alleviate hunger across the world. We won second place and a $20 gift certificate to a local restaurant. Since that time, the band has become a more polished and focused endeavor, and the three of us are still making music together.

– Danny Surico

You have played in Dayton several times. What is your connection to the Gem City?

James and I grew up in the area. So we have a lot of friends and family in the Miami Valley. James was born and raised in Yellow Springs and graduated from Yellow Springs High School. I grew up in Oakwood and graduated from Oakwood High School. – DS

Your new EP, Here and After, was produced by Chris Grainger who has worked with Wilco. How was that experience?

It was a fantastic experience working with Chris. He is an extremely talented, experienced and humble guy who really pushed us to improve in our songwriting and arrangements and overall performance on the record. [He] emphasized that we needed to simplify the production and just focus on writing great songs that build around the groove and let Matthew’s voice be more of the focus … ” – DS

What can we expect from a The Future Laureates show?

It’s a high-energy show. We really like the audience to be involved, singing and dancing along. Plus, my friend Erin from high school comes and always has super sweet dance moves that get the crowd going. She’s a legendary TFL fan. You’ll probably see her at the show. – DS

Shrug and The Future Laureates will perform at Canal Public House, 308 E. First St. in Dayton on Friday, Nov. 14 at 9 p.m. Admission is $8 for patrons ages 21 and up. For more information, please visit and

Reach DCP freelance writer Justin Kreitzer at

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Reach DCP freelance writer Justin Kreitzer at

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