3 p.m., Nov. 20
Big with the Drums, Heavy on the Metaphor
But in my imagination this whole thing developed and I started mixing up old folk songs with the Beatles beat and taking them down to Greenwich Village and playing them for the people there. --Roger McGuinn, The Byrds
River City may be the loudest of folk bands. John Kruger says the North Park sextet will be self-releasing their first full-length album Friday at the Soda Bar: "The Flood and the Gavel." He calls the music a follow up to last year's EP.
"The title is about the duality of forces," he says, checking in by phone, "floods being destructive but magnificent at the same time. The gavel," he says, "is about law and order, about the systems we build around ourselves."
He says River City instrumentation is traditional -- guitar, fiddle, mando, pedal steel (that's Aaron Brownwood, on loan from The Western Set,) but that the music is not. "It's full of a lot of energy." River City, in fact, have a name for it. They call their brand sonic folk.
Kruger admits that having stacks of amplifiers helps.
"Old-time folk is nothing like we are. It's loud, there's six of us, and we are drum-based. It's pretty energetic," he says again.
Kruger, 32, is a substitute teacher by day at Hoover high school in City Heights. He is also River City's main songwriter.
"The songs are about things I went through in the last year of my life." I tell him the way he's worded the latter part of that sentence, "in the last year of my life" makes it sound as though he he's dead and gone and I'm interviewing a ghost.
He laughs, and assures me that I am not interviewing a ghost.
"I've written different stories I wanted to tell. They're kind of on the dark side but they're whimsical too." He indicates that he is heavy into the use of metaphor. "I bury meaning under layers of words so that my songs are open to interpretation."
Do listeners sometimes misinterpret? "Yes," he says. "They do, and I like that. They find something else they can pull out to find meaning."
River City: Soda Bar, Friday July 13. Drew Andrews will likewise release a CD on the same date; Jamuel Saxon shares the bill.