Music Notes for Aug. 9, 2012

WTF happened to Villanova?

For Weekly SurgeAugust 8, 2012 

As part of the Oceanfront Merchants Association’s Hot Summer Nights music concert series, Columbia-based Weaving the Fate (formerly Villanova) will again perform along the Grand Strand this weekend. Saturday’s free 8 p.m. concert is slated for the outdoor stage at downtown Myrtle Beach’s Plyler Park. The four-piece act combines a deejay with traditional hard rock ‘n’ roll instrumentation including a drummer’s drummer who regularly thrills crowds with his finesse, skill, and reckless abandon.

Fans of original, regional music will know Weaving the Fate as Villanova, a band that’s played the beach for around six years, with members Brian Conner (lead vocals/guitar), bassist Bobby “Dredd,” DJ Able One, and drummer Jeremy “Finesse” Roberson. The band landed a deal in 2010 with major label Universal Republic, and has been on tour in support of its Universal debut “WTF The EP,” a five-song project with tracks highlighting the band’s diversity. The first full-length project from WTF on Universal will be released this fall.

Fans of Living Color (“Cult of Personality”), Kings X, 3 Doors Down, etc., will appreciate the fat guitars, rich vocal harmonies, syncopated, funky, hard-driving rhythms and all-around well-crafted songs. While the recording, produced by Howard Benson (3 Doors Down, My Chemical Romance, P.O.D., and others) is slick and polished, it’s the raw and gritty live shows that first garnered Villanova, and now WTF, a growing legion of fans throughout the Southeast, though the band lost some hard-earned brand recognition last year.

“Yeah, Villanova University in Pennsylvania pretty much pulled the plug, and we had to change our name,” said Conner in a recent conversation from his Columbia home. “We were always texting each other “WTF” so we figured it would make kind of a fun band name.”

Mostly touring full time, the band’s slower summer will come to an end as it gears up for another major tour sponsored by Jagermeister this fall. With full national distribution of its upcoming release, Saturday’s show may be a chance to see the next South Carolina act to jump from the clubs and small stages to bigger venues and national recognition. “Before we just toured the Southeast,” said Conner, “ but this fall we’re expanding out to the Midwest, the Northeast – kind of all over. We hope radio continues to support us – so far [radio] seems to hear my South Carolina accent when I sing, and they say it’s unique with the style of music behind it. I love the privilege of singing every night.”

With Plyler Park shows scheduled through the end of September, the nearly four-month Hot Summer Nights series showcases a wide variety of local and regional talent (see schedule at Local act Bullfrog performs at 6 tonight.

Jazzed by Travinia

When Travinia Italian Kitchen opened its doors at the then-brand new Market Common which opened for business in 2008 on the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, local jazz players saw the right combination of upscale lounge and open space ideal for live jazz shows. Travinia’s management agreed, and the venue has rarely faltered in its commitment to present weekly, live jazz music.

Coastal Carolina University music department faculty member, saxophonist Dan O’Reilly, has performed at Travinia with his wife, vocalist Lisa O’Reilly, and their five-piece jazz act U-N-I for more than three years, with no end in sight. The act performs 8 – 11 p.m. each Friday, and praises the restaurant/lounge for its long-standing pledge to jazz – one that seems to be paying off for all involved.

“The crowds have been very responsive,” said O’Reilly. “We’re so grateful to Travinia for taking a chance on live jazz. I think it’s been successful for everyone.” Travinia restaurant manager Zac Thomas agrees. “It’s been working great,” said Thomas. “The band is really good and they have a good following – even in the off-season, which fills the bar. They’re interactive with our guests – song requests, birthdays, that kind of thing, and music flows out into the restaurant and our dinner guests at their tables comment on how much they like it, too.”

In addition to the O’Reillys, the band includes drummer Michael Knight, acoustic bassist Denny Hess, and Bill Hamilton and William Gerald sharing keyboard duties. But they’re not the only performers you’re likely to see on a Friday night. “We usually have a few special guests sitting in with the band,” said O’Reilly. “Often around 10 singers, horn players and some of my students will sit in. It’s an opportunity for younger players to sit in with a professional group in a public performance.” This is not an open jam, according to O’Reilly, but he’s pretty open to most anyone who bothers to seek him out, introduce themselves, and request a guest spot.

The band performs a mix of standards, original music, some jazzy blues, torch songs and the type of music that goes particularly well with a specialty martini, or a fine Italian wine.

Travinia Italian Kitchen is at 4011 Deville St., The Market Common in Myrtle Beach.

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