Two area band's, 'The Mongrels'
and 'Hedge Row'
recently had a unique opportunity as the respective opening act's for the national recording and touring band, 'Wayland'
who were promoting its new album 'Rinse and Repeat' along with its new single 'Through the Fire' which has reached into the 20's on Billboard Mainstream Rock.
The Mongrels and Hedge Row opened the show, before Wayland came on to close out the night at the Red Room
inside the Dow Event Center
on Feb. 9, this past Friday night in downtown Saginaw.
Formed in 2010, Wayland got its name from the small town, Wayland, MI
(between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo) which is also the hometown of lead guitarist Phill Vilenski and just a few miles from Middleville, MI, which is the hometown of Wayland's original drummer, Tyler Coburn, who is no longer with the band.
In 2017 Dupree's son, Nigel Dupree replaced Coburn as drummer for the band, which is also made up of Detroit native, Dean Pizzazz on Bass guitar, and Bloomington, IN native Mitch Arnold on lead vocals.
After forming in L.A. and recording their self-titled debut album in Oct. of 2010, the band returned to the Grand Rapids area and started getting significant airplay for its first single 'Welcome to my Head' which experienced high rankings on mainstream and active rock charts.
With the release of 'Get a Little' in 2014, the music video would eventually go viral online, bringing in massive social media and YouTube numbers, causing the song to hit No. 6 on Itunes rock charts.
Heading into 2016 with the hit 'Bloody Sunrise' Wayland could now call itself a legitimate, hard nosed, blue collar, working band, touring non-stop for five straight years, with 250-plus shows per year.
The Mongrels are an established local band with a heavy punk influence, fronted by Tim Avram on lead vocals and guitar; along with Charlie Klein on lead guitar, Joe Balbaugh on Bass, and Shane Swank on drums.
Swank had first met the band Wayland at a festival in Lansing a few years back, while he was also working at the Dow Event Center. One of Swank's former co-workers at the Dow, who now works for a promotion company, contacted him about opening for Wayland.
“C.J. from counter culture used to work here at the Dow, and now, he works for 'Fusion Shows,'
which is a big promoter,” Swank said. He hit us up because we're local. I also met Wayland at the Common Ground Festival a few years ago and they were really cool guys, I think it was one of their first really big shows, but that's how we had the connection.”
Despite cutting their early chops at historic venues such as CBGB in New York city and the Stork Club in Oakland, CA, Swank and the Mongrels' still manage to get a kick out of performing on a big stage on the streets where they were raised.
“Playing in your hometown is always cool,” Swank continued. “Especially when it's a bigger venue and people are there who have never seen you play before, as opposed to our normal venues. It was fun, it was a good time, on a big stage, with a great P.A., and a good sound guy, which is always a lot more fun than playing a little bar that's as big as a hallway.”
The Mongrels have plenty material to record a new album, it's just a matter of finances and deciding where, and who will record it, while they also have plans to follow up their award winning music video for 'Saginaw' after shooting footage for two more possible videos tonight.
“We have a new album coming, we have the songs all ready, Swank noted. “We're just getting the finances together to record. We're not sure where we're going to record it; if we're going to do it ourselves, or go to a studio, we're not sure. We're still talking about that. But, we also shot enough footage to do two videos tonight, from the live stuff, so we're going to do some video's soon.
“We're doing a video for our song 'One Drink' and for our new song 'Tyrant' Swank added. “We had Al Martinez (from Alligator Productions) and his crew come out and shoot some video. They're the same guys who did our video 'Saginaw' that won video of the year at the 2017 Review Music Awards, so hopefully, we can maybe win again.”
After promoting their album 4383 with a west coast tour, which started in Chicago, IL and finished in Seattle, WA, Swank and the Mongrels are looking forward to planning another tour, which will focus on the east side of the country this time around.
“We're talking about an east coast tour, Swank said. “We want to get this album done first, so we can have some merchandise to sell, you know, CD's and stuff. But, we would like to do the east coast, New York all the way down to Florida, and maybe Texas, then back up. We've done the west coast, and it's a long haul and a lot of finances went into our west coast tour, but we know a lot of bands on the east coast, so hopefully it will be zero hotel rooms and a lot of fun.”
Hedge Row is an up and coming local Band with a heavy Blues/Rock sound, which takes you back to 1970's and Classic Rock/Blues band's; such as Cream, Led Zeppelin, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Lead singer Andrew Prime say's the band likes to refer to its music as 'Northern Rock,' with its roots in the blues. The band consists of Prime on lead vocals and guitar, Jaron Jock on lead guitar, Austin Willette on Bass, and Steven Schnettler on Drums. The group is from the Bay City area and play all over the Great Lakes Bay region.
When Wayland booked the show, Prime say's Swank and the Mongrels, as well as the manager of the Dow Event Center had contacted Hedge Row on social media, looking for local band's to open the Friday Feb. 9, show.
“I guess John Block, from the Dow Event Center had heard some of our songs and Shane (Swank, from the Mongrels) hit us up about playing tonight,” Prime said. “The Mongrel's had played with us at different places, like White's Bar before, and they knew we had a sound from a similar genre, so they just hit us up on facebook and here we are.”
With the majority of their gig's at local bars, the 24-year old Prime was very excited to have his first 'rock star' experience.
“It's been amazing,” Prime said of the experience. “We usually play at bar's, club's, and show's which aren't as structured. So, it's been amazing to play at a place that has a real load-in time, a real sound-check, there's a real stage, there's a Green Room; it's just been a real experience for us, it's been very fun.”
“We're used to playing only a couple of times a week at bar's, where it's way different. You know, you just kind of setup, play, then you tear down, it's very different. This is the first, like 'ticket master' type show at the Dow Event Center, you know, it's a real rock star type of experience.”
Hedge Row is in the process of recording and writing more songs, while preparing for a busy summer, where they will be one of the featured act's at a planned festival on Ojibway Island in Old Town Saginaw.
“We just released a little EP, and we're recording more songs, writing more songs,” added Prime. “We're playing more show's this spring, and this summer we're playing at the new Ojibway Rock Fest, which used to be the WKCQ Country Fest.”
The 2017 RMA Music Video of the year winner 'Saginaw' by The Mongrels: