For most folks who call the Marco Island area home, “The Wholetones” have become a household name. Their live shows at The Little Bar, Marco Brewery and South Street Grill have turned more than a few heads. This rip-roarin’ “Florida Folk-core” band has also made quite a few heads bob. Many toes have certainly been tapped to the music of this “kinda-still local-but-not-for-long” group. Without a shadow of a doubt, a good amount of dancing has been done to their original blending of old mountain music and modern rock. Upbeat. Fun. Intelligent. Well, yes, the lads are all these things, but I was really referring to their songs. These guys are far ahead of the class when it comes to musicianship. All four members have their own style and when they come together they put out a sound that’s all new. Fresh. Truly different from anything else. If you haven’t heard ‘em, well, you ought’a!
They have been working hard and steady since 2007, and show no plans of slowing. With festival dates around Florida and a lineup of bars, clubs and restaurant gigs, these 20-something “kids” are “doing it.” Pounding the pavement is in their blood, and it shows in the finished product.
Facebook.com/theWholetones explains their musical inspirations to fans, which includes, “Riding in vans, borderlands, intricate and nonsensical band mythologies, The Duhks, The Barons of Tang, Hella, Meshuggah, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, The World The Flesh and the Devil, Hank 3, Modest Mouse, Old Crow Medicine Show, Iron & Wine, The Felice Brothers, J Robert, Rage Against The Machine, the book Ishmael, experiences, relationships, friends, movies, it all gets absorbed and translated somehow. There’s probably some ‘It’s always Sunny In Philadelphia’ and ‘The Office’ in there.”
The band includes Alex Dorris on cello, banjo, guitar and vocals, Taylor Freydberg, on mandolin, guitar and vocals, Mayo Coates on drums and Russ Depa on upright bass. This edition of Music Notes was written in the cards long, long ago. I have known The Wholetones since before they were even “half-tones” (who comes up with this stuff?…) I met Alex though his older brother Scotty, who at the time played upright bass in my band, Gator Nate & The Gladezmen. The first time I heard Alex play guitar was under the Goodland bridge at a Saturday evening “Bridge Troll Jam.” He was no more than 15 years old, and within minutes ofhearing him pick that thing, I knew, as did everybody else there, we were in the presence of something, someone, special. In fact, looking back, I bet Alex was the only one there who didn’t know he’d soon be playing professionally. Since then, I have heard him develop into one of the best and most creative players I’ve heard. As he tells the story…
“There’s a fishing village called Goodland just south of where I live. The population is probably 400 people, lots of fishermen and crusty old timers and such. Under the bridge that leads to it, there’s this bluegrass jam every week, they’re called the bridge troll meetings. I basically learned to play there, and went every week for several years.
“Somehow, Taylor eventually found his way down there, where we met and started playing together. We eventually called on my cousin, Russ, to come play bass, and our old friend, Mayo Coates to do the drumming.” When asked about the bands signature sound, Alex explained. “Folk-core is pretty much folk music, bluegrass and americana, channeled through the intense energy and heaviness of metal. It’s entirely performed on traditional acoustic instruments, such as banjo, cello, upright bass, mandolin, acoustic guitar and so on. If you think about each of those genres, they can be pretty brutal: metal, well, obviously, and all those bluegrass songs about coal mining and murder, the protest of folk music… So we end up with a pretty aggressive, harsh style, but we make it tasteful and dynamic enough that everybody from ‘metal-heads’ to elderly people enjoy it equally. We’ve played at traditional bluegrass festivals, biker bars, heavy metal house shows, and we usually get about the same response.”
So go on and respond! Do your dancin’ shoes a favor and head out to see the Wholetones perform live, in a bar or city near you! Tell ‘em Gator Nate sent ‘cha, and while your there, grab a copy of their new album, “The Alamo.”
Nate Augustus is a native “Florida cracker” and a singer/songwriter from the Marco/Naples area. His band, “Gator Nate & The Gladezmen” and his “One- Man-Band” can be seen at many local venues. He has released multiple albums on his record label “SwampSong”. For more info on Nate and his musical doings, go to www.Gladezmen.com or facebook. com/NateAugustus His latest CD “Gator Nate Augustus-Only Child Family Band” is available on CDBaby and Itunes.