Underground local

Peach’s Grill presents Subterranean


Subterranean’s (l-r) Chuckie Love, Stephen Buttree, Chris Coalt, and Rob Brockman. Photo by Libby Ballengee

By Tim Smith

Dayton has long been an active market for local bands, and there’s no shortage of talent in every musical genre. There doesn’t appear to be a shortage of listeners and fans, either. In an average week, this publication alone lists a couple of dozen clubs in the Miami Valley that feature live music. One local band that’s been making traction the past few years is Subterranean.

Subterranean (also known as Sub T) is a Dayton-based jam rock quartet with an eclectic sound. The band performs primarily original material, and has appeared in a variety of venues in several states. Their style could best be described as a combination of classic rock and rhythm and blues, with a dash of funk. According to spokesperson Chris Coalt, the four musicians met at a club jam session and decided to keep working together.

“The band was formed when we came together to form a Wednesday night jam at J. Alan’s, a downtown bar that was on Ludlow Street,” he says. “We had immediate chemistry the first night so it was obvious that Subterranean should be a band. We have been together for about seven years and a few of us had played together in some previous projects. All four of us were in bands that had played on the same scene, so we were familiar with each other prior to the jam.”

Subterranean has several albums available, showcasing their live performances. Downloads can be found at their website, subtmusic.com. Their latest album, “Loom,” was the group’s first studio recording.

“Loom, which was released in April, was recorded at Refraze Studios with Gary King in a professional studio,” Coalt says. “In today’s recording landscape, there are many different options but choosing to go with a quality professional studio comes with some financial requirements. It took us a while to get the funds together but in the end, from the cover art to the quality of the recording, we are really happy and satisfied with our choice to do it the way we did. We have enough original material for a few albums so we took a few tracks from each phase of our journey and we all agreed that it had continuity.”

The current line-up features Chris Coalt on guitar, Stephen Buttree on saxophone and keyboards, Chuckie Love on bass, and Rob Brockman on drums. All four members contribute vocals, as well. Being part of a jam band promotes a lot of collaboration and a loose format.

“We always have a set list before the show but songs are performed differently and improvised on the fly each night,” Coalt says. “An occasional audible will happen from time to time as well. We predominantly play original songs, but we also throw in some choice covers. We are a democracy. Everyone has a say and naturally has a role. Our album, ‘Loom,’ has been well received, but we purposely try to avoid becoming one song or being pigeonholed into doing one thing.”

The collaborative spirit and obvious chemistry the group has comes into play with their insistence on performing original material.

“One rule in our band is that we will give any idea a try once, no matter what form or shape it’s in or whose it is,” Coalt says. “Sometimes, a song comes in whole form or sometimes it’s just a small riff that we all spitball and build from. Sometimes we can just simply be talking at rehearsal and ideas form from our conversations. We try to keep rehearsals a warm and welcoming environment that foster and nurture creativity. Since Stephen Buttree just joined the band in October, we are really excited to continue to write and create together, especially with his fresh ideas and input.” 

This desire to keep things innovative maintains the group’s competitiveness with other local bands vying for club dates.

“We have some new life in us and would like to ride this momentum and put out some fresh new music as soon as possible,” Coalt says. “We have played many places regionally including all parts of Ohio. Our music has been heard from Michigan to West Virginia to Kentucky to Indiana to Tennessee. We play a lot of festivals in the summer, but Dayton will always be our home. We play as many gigs as we can. Anywhere between 50-100 a year is currently where we are at, but we are always trying to play as much as possible.”

Coalt and company want to continue building their fan base by giving audiences a memorable experience when they attend one of their shows.

“We want our audience to feel satisfied and feel like they devoted their time and energy to a quality product,” he says. “We want the audience to be able to tell that we practice often and really care about the music we are putting out there. We don’t really have delusions of grandeur, but we ultimately just want to make a living with this art form. We feel like we are playing better now than we ever have and we are still expanding and reaching new heights.”

Subterranean will appear at Peach’s Grill, 104 Xenia Ave., Yellow Springs on January 12. The show begins at 10 p.m. There is no cover charge but customers must be 21 and provide ID. For more information, visit PeachsGrill.com or call 937.767.4850. More information about Subterranean can be found at SubTMusic.com.

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Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Smith at TimSmith@DaytonCityPaper.com

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