Joel Young Band
“We are a cover band that is just about to write songs,” says Joel Young of the Joel Young Band. While the rest of his band gathered around a small table with my tiny tape recorder, laughed. Those words, and the casual attitude behind them, describe the laid-back attitude of Young and his band.
I got lost a few times trying to find Young’s country home where his band was meeting for practice. His basement, where they were waiting for me, was littered with instruments that appeared to be long forgotten – along with a pool table and a little booth from a restaurant that we all crowded into so I could pry out their history.
The Joel Young Band are a ragtag group of wizened musical philosophers who represent a broad cross-section of local musicians. Gary McMeekin, aka “Meatball,” has been a musician for most of his life and has played with all manner of groups. Now he is happy just to play lead guitar with Young and his gang of “seasoned, countrified rockers,” as their website states. Then there is the young Mitch Dimke on bass, Joe Flores on drums and Fred Feipel on guitar. Young is, of course, frontman and singer for the group; he also plays acoustic guitar.
In their most recent incarnation, the Joel Young Band have existed for a little over a year, but they lived before under the name Amarillo. Before Young joined Amarillo, he played for 14 years in the close-knit group ButtonHead. Young used his knowledge of music theory and extensive experience to write, create and produce two original CDs with the group, but he suggests that band’s familiarity might have been its downfall.
“At one point there were three of us, and we were really good friends. We did all the writing, and I think maybe we just got too close because people started expecting things to be the same all the time, and it’s a business too, and sometimes you have to tick somebody off.” ButtonHead started hemorrhaging members, but the nature of the group didn’t allow for the simple replacement of those lost members with new musicians, and one day it just fell apart.
It was the day after the demise of ButtonHead that Young got the call to action. Literally. The lead singer of Amarillo at the time called to tell Young he was retiring and needed a replacement. Young went out to sing for the group and after a day’s deliberation, the band accepted him as replacement for their lost frontman.
Amarillo played together for six months before parting company to pursue other projects, but six months later they found themselves back at the beginning and wanting to re-form the band. The drummer at the time, Scott Byler, didn’t want to regroup under the same old title though, suggesting instead the name of the Joel Young Band.
But the band I talked to was still not formed yet. Over the next few months members dropped out and were replaced. Three members in three months. The resulting group sat before me that night very much united in their strength of conviction to just play music, drink and write some originals eventually. Probably.
How are those originals going to sound? Either the band can’t agree on one sound, or they all agree on all sounds. Either way, as Young says, “the avenue will be wide.”
McMeekin says, “I think I’d like to do country and make it sound like country, and do some rock and make it sound like rock. I don’t think its going to be one thing or the other.” He makes it sound like writing and practicing might become difficult.
But according to Dimke, it all flows seamlessly. “We went from a bluesy feel the other night, to rock, and then a little bit of country.”
What troubles other bands doesn’t really bother the Joel Young Band. Of the petty squabbling and infighting that often plagues bands, Flores says, “We all have A.D.D.. and we forget about things pretty quickly. So when somebody looks at us the wrong way, we’re mad about it for 30 seconds, then we’re like, ‘What’s going on? Did you guys see that movie?’”
Young adds, jokingly, “As soon as the originals are written, then people are going to start quitting.”
In the meantime, the Joel Young Band will continue to play their crowd-pleasing covers that span the gamut from country rock to contemporary hits. They include artists like Blake Shelton, Queen, Brad Paisley, The Doors, The Violent Femmes, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Plus, what country cover band would be complete without a little Skynyrd? When the subject of “Sweet Home Alabama” came up, though, there was a loud and collective groan. A good song in its own right, these guys seem to have covered it more times than they care to admit or remember. They play what the crowd wants, though, because sometimes that’s what gets you another booking.
It’s not surprising that bad financial times for businesses means bad financial times for bands too. The band has had their its share of slights recently – more personal than financial for some of the guys. “Obviously, it’s not about the money,” says McMeekin.
Flores is quick to counter, “I’ve got a kid on the way. For me it’s about the money.” He laughs while he says it, though.
Hard times or not, these guys are on their way to bigger and better venues if the listening populous enjoys good music at all. I was lucky enough to be serenaded with a sample of their musical styles before I left. The players come together like a symphony of personalities and talents culled from different musical backgrounds – a delight to the ears.
Whenever they get those originals written, if one should be powerful, the guys seem confident they can get it into the right hands. And hey, they just might take off. Until then, they’re happy to play at the bars and the Legion halls and generally wherever they get a crowd and free beer.
by Kathleen Christian
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Click on the headings below for full calendars
Fantasy of Lights — Drive-thru Christmas lighting displays, 6-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, Dec. 7-8; 6-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 9-10; 6-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, Dec. 11-15; 6-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 16-17; 6-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, Dec. 18-22; 6-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 23-24; 6-9 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday, Dec. 25-29; 6-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 30-31,Franke Park, Fort Wayne, $5-$10 per carload, $10-$15 per 15-passenger van, $25-$30 per bus or trolley, 755-1900
Festival of Gingerbread — Gingerbread creations made by preschoolers through professional baking artists on display, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, Dec. 7-8; 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 9-10; 12-5 p.m Sunday, Dec. 11, History Center, Fort Wayne, $4-$6, 426-2882
Drowning Pool w/Gemini Syndrome, Red Tide Rising — at Rusty Spur Saloon, Fort Wayne, 8 p.m., $18-$50, 755-3465
Natalie Grant w/Danny Gokey — Country at Honeywell Center, Wabash, 7:30 p.m., $20-$50, 563-1102
Fort Wayne Comedy Connection — Comedy at Latch String Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., no cover, 483-5526
Open Jam — Hosted by G-Money at Nick's Martini & Wine Bar, Fort Wayne, 7-10 p.m., no cover, (260) 482-6425
Open Mic — Variety at Pedal City, Fort Wayne, 8 p.m., no cover, 415-6167
Open Mic — Hosted by Chilly Addams at Beamer's Sports Grill, Fort Wayne, 8-11 p.m., no cover, 625-1002
Shelly Dixon & Jeff McRae — Variety at Riverview Tavern, Decatur, 7-10 p.m., no cover, 724-3500
American Idol Karaoke w/Brian — Variety at AJ's Bar and Grill, 8 p.m., 434-1980 , no cover
SureShot Karaoke w/David — Variety at Bar 145, 8 p.m.-12 a.m., 209-2117 , no cover
American Idol Karaoke w/TJ — Chevvy's, 9 p.m.,
American Idol Karaoke w/Josh — Karaoke at Columbia Street West, 9:30 p.m., 422-5055 , no cover
Three Rivers Karaoke — Dupont Bar & Grill, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., 483-1311 , no cover
WiseGuy Entertainment w/Josh — Variety at Martin's Tavern, 10 p.m., 357-4290 , no cover
Shooting Star Prod. w/Stu — Variety at Office Tavern, 8 p.m., 478-5827 , no cover
Karaoke — Variety at Wrigley Field Bar & Grill, 10 p.m., 485-1038 , no cover
Great Russian Nutcracker — Holiday performance by Moscow Ballet, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7, Embassy Theatre, Fort Wayne, $32-$178 thru Ticketmaster and Embassy box office, 424-5665
Click header for complete Movie times
Alexandra Hall — Whimsical painting, giclee print and ink drawings, Tuesday-Sunday thru Dec. 31, Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, Fort Wayne, $3-$5 (2 and under, free), 427-6440
Alumni/Faculty Exhibition — Works from alumni and current and retired faculty from the School of Creative Arts, Monday-Friday thru Dec. 18 , Weatherhead Gallery, USF Rolland Art Center, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Art for the Holidays — Handmade ornaments and Nativities from local artists, Monday-Saturday thru Dec. 31, Orchard Gallery of Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 436-0927
Decatur Sculpture Tour — 31 original sculptures and 15 permanent exhibits on display, walking tour maps available, thru April 1, Decatur, free, 724-2605
Festival of Wreaths — Holiday exhibition of Christmas wreathes, daily thru Dec. 30, Creative Arts Council, Bluffton, 824-5222.
Fort Wayne, American Monologue — A new body of Fort Wayne-based works by Oakland, California-based artist Brett Armory, Tuesday-Sunday thru Feb. 26, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467
John Baeder Takes Wing on a Higher Road — Hyper-realist art from one of the 20th century’s most important artists, Tuesday-Sunday thru Jan 22 , Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Master Prints — Diverse collection of prints acquired by the university over the past 15 years, Monday-Friday thru Dec. 22, Lupke Gallery, University of Saint Francis North Campus, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Nature’s Thread — Works by Nancy Fritz and Lizabeth Yager, daily thru Jan. 16, 2017, The Gallery at Pranayoga School, Fort Wayne, 423-9642
Outdoor Sculpture Invitational — Fifteen outdoor sculptures from regional artists, daily thru April 30, School of Creative Arts campus, University of Saint Francis North Campus, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Regional Art Educators’ Exhibition — Works from educators in secondary school art education, daily thru Dec. 8, Visual Arts Gallery, IPFW, Fort Wayne, 481-6977
Robert Kipniss: The Whispering Light — Recent painted and printed works by American artist, Tuesday-Sunday thru Jan. 22, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467
SOCA Student Highlights Exhibition: Animation — Works from students enrolled in USF’s School of Creative Arts’ animation program, Monday-Friday thru 18 , John P. Weatherhead Gallery and Goldfish Gallery, Mimi and Ian Rolland Art and Visual Communication Center, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
SOCA Student Postcard Show — Small works by students enrolled in USF’s School of Creative Arts, Monday-Friday thru Dec. 18 , Spotlight Gallery, Mimi and Ian Rolland Art and Visual Communication Center, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Women in Art: A Celebration — Works by Gwen Gutwein, Barbara Nohinek, Patricia Weiss, Cara Lee Wade, Elizabeth Wamsley, Marcy Neiditz, Suzanne Galazka, Diane Groenert and more, Tuesday-Saturday thru Jan. 15 , Crestwoods Frame Shop & Gallery, Roanoke, 672-2080
Artlink Educational Programs — Art classes offered by Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, dates and times vary, Artlink, Fort Wayne, fees vary, 424-7195
Fort Wayne Dance Collective Workshops — Workshops and classes for movement, dance, yoga and more offered by Fort Wayne Dance Collective, dates and times vary, Fort Wayne Dance Collective, Fort Wayne, fees vary, 424-6574
IPFW Community Arts Academy— Art, dance, music and theater classes for grades pre-K through 12 offered by IPFW College of Visual and Performing Arts, fees vary, 481-6977, www.ipfw.edu/caa
Sweetwater Academy of Music — Private lessons for a variety of instruments available from professional instructors, ongoing weekly lessons, Sweetwater Sound, Fort Wayne, call for pricing, 432-8176, academy.sweetwater.com