Werking through the holidays

The Werks deliver annual tradition for Ohio fans

 By Rusty Pate

 
Photo: The Werks will present their annual Werksgiving event at the Madison Theatre on Nov. 30

Thanksgiving is a time when friends and family come home and put their daily lives on hold to break bread. It is a moment for reflection about what’s most important – being with the people that matter most and sharing time with loved ones.

Werksgiving is similar, but the jams are not food related.

The Thanksgiving Day tradition for the The Werks will see some big changes this year. The band moves the festivities from its long-time home of Canal Street Tavern to the Madison Theater in Covington, Ky. Also, the show moves from Thursday to Saturday.

It represents just how much the band has grown, according to guitarist Chris Houser.

“We’ve kind of outgrown Canal Street Tavern,” Houser said. “We still love it – it’s still where we grew up as a band and we’ve had many, many moments that we could never forget in that room. We just had to make this move for the fans so they wouldn’t be cramped in a tiny little room. Unfortunately, Canal Street is the one that is losing on this one, which we feel really bad for because we’d love nothing more than to support Canal Street Tavern.”

The move represents a sign of the times for the group. They wrap up 2013 after a year of milestones. They played Costa Rica in February and have seen audience numbers swell across America, even in markets they visited for the first time.

They also played a string of high-profile festival dates, including Camp Bisco near Albany, N.Y., All Good in Thornville, Ohio and Bear Creek in Live Oak, Fla. It was their second trip to Camp Bisco, and Houser said the difference in crowd size was evident.

Playing shows such as this presents an obvious opportunity to get the word out to a wider audience, but it also removes a bit of the intimacy of club shows. While the band looks forward to each for different reasons, they have found a way to incorporate elements of both into their annual Werk Out Music and Arts Festival. This year marked the fourth Werk Out and saw the group taking matters into its own hands for the first time.

“We changed things up a little bit this year – we ran it ourselves, which hasn’t been done in the past,” Houser said. “We proved to ourselves that we can do it. We were shown what kind of family we have in Ohio.”

When Houser speaks of family, he doesn’t limit the concept to blood ties. Friends and fans of the group offer a level of support not often seen in the modern music business. The bond seems to go beyond simply artist and audience. He speaks with genuine affection about the people who come to the shows, and specifically the Ohio fans that have been there since the beginning. He said one thing one thing that can always be counted on from music lovers in the Buckeye state is brutal honesty.

“They’ll let you know if they’re not happy with you,” Houser said. “We really care about that. When people decide to speak up and say something that we’ve done that makes them not happy, we listen to it.”

The biggest complaint coming from The Werks family in 2013 has been the lack of shows in Ohio. As the group expands their reach, the opportunities to play closer to home are fewer and farther between. The festival dates aside, local fans haven’t had many chances to see the group on its home turf.

However, the band returns to the Newport Music Hall in Columbus for New Year’s Eve in addition to the Thanksgiving weekend show near Cincinnati. While both holidays hold special places in the band’s heart, Werksgiving remains most dear to the band, according to Houser.

“It’s always been really special,” Houser said. “It’s always been something of a homecoming. It started because we knew our friends and families would be in town – our actual families as well as our show families. It’s always been geared towards giving back to our hometown crowd.”

Looking back on 2013, Houser said the band has had its shares of ups and downs. He said he imagines every band goes through rough patches of self-doubt and The Werks are no exception. However, when asked about the future of the group, he quotes “Drop,” one of their new songs:

“We’ve come too far to stop.”

 

Werksgiving will take place on Saturday, Nov. 30 at Madison Theater in Covington, Ky. at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance and $17 day of. For more information, please visit madisontheateronline.com. or thewerksmusic.com. Members of The Werks will also perform on Thanksgiving night at Jimmie’s Ladder 11 with The Ohio All-Stars.

 

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

 

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