I am sitting in on band practice with the wonderfully weird Another
Roadside Attraction. The bitter cold of January melts as we warm
ourselves to a Papa Bear stove, hot tea and instruments tuning.
There is a knock on the door and Joy Truskowski exclaims, “The
Crystal Man is here!” as though pizza was being delivered. Indeed, an
earthy looking Luke enters fresh from a hike bearing excavated crystals. He
offers each band member and visitor one, and we choose a crystal calling
just to us. Crystal energy goodness in pocket, practice begins with the
spooky original, “Howling Like a Loon”.
This band has a strong sense of identity. Part circus, vaudeville, tent
revival, dust bowl migrant camp: the band has dubbed their sound: Blue
Ridge Cabaret. It has the feel of another era. It is also part freak show: I
feel the eerie excitement of wanting to peer behind the curtain to see what
really lurks therein.
“Hey! Did you know blood bounces on ice?” Jordan’s random comment before unleashing their next number, “Winter’s Dogs”. Jordan Rivers is a visionary and an inventor. He constructed the homemade kit drummer Charlie Gibson uses. He is also responsible for much of the band merchandise: a wacky mix of clothing patches, hand stamped CD covers, and matchbooks. The band also sells homemade mustache wax. Bandmate Richard Harvey says of Jordan, “He's not always grounded in the practical day to day sort of affairs: the heavenly ideas don't always work out in these earthly realms, but he has unstoppable creativity energy and enthusiasm. Jordan loves to make crafts and has about 100 fanciful ideas to every one fanciful idea of the other band members.”
Lucy Coronado is Jordan’s mate, though she goes by Lucy De Los Rios
(translated “Lucy Light of the Rivers”). The beauty of this makes me gasp.
Lucy has studied dance and has a passion for costume making. Much of the
band’s musical material begins as collaboration with the couple. In fact,
they are the band’s inception. Lucy plays a dizzying washboard and also
constructs them for sale.
Charlie Gibson was the next member to join. The self-taught drummer grew up in Callaway, Virginia in a musical family. With no drum kit, he would
beat on anything he could find. He plays the homemade “Clockworks”,
keeping a steady sort of burlesque show beat at times. Other times, it’s the
perfect circus beat to the man on the tightrope. I asked him the weirdest
thing he has encountered in Roadside. He says on a recent tour through the
South, they wheeled the band equipment in on a wheelchair. Then, Charlie
used that as his drum throne for the set.
Joy Truskowski is by far the most traveled member of the group. She was
born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, studied film in Chicago, taught video skills
in Southern Mexico. She came to Roanoke to begin a tour of intentional
communities intending a documentary film. Instead, she fell in love with
Richard Harvey and began to attend Chris Shepard’s Studio One Open Mic.
Here she met The Roadsiders and eventually joined them. With melodica
and flute, she with Richard offer the melody.
Richard Harvey has lived in Roanoke all of his life and is influenced by
every kind of music. He has studied mandolin, violin, and, most recently,
tenor banjo. He kept crossing paths with Jordan at Irish jams and open mics.
“ I liked their joyful energy and thought that it might be fun to try my hand
at providing some melody and improvisation to their songs which they were
chunking out on ukuleles, a guitaron, a resonator guitar and a homemade
drum kit!! So I started playing with them, and Joy, who was tagging along
for fun, began getting drawn in more and more.”
Step this way, Ladies and Gentlemen! See before YOUR VERY EYES a
genuine, melodic symphony of Houdinic proportions!! I leave you with a
Tom Robbins quote from his book that inspired the band.
“Logic only gives man what he needs. Magic gives him what he wants”