Things fall apart. It is the nature of existing. And this is especially true when it comes to local music. Bands sputter to ignominious ends. Players leave never to return. Ashes and ashes. It all winds down.
I took some time to look over my favorite Norfolk groups of just four years ago. Half of them are gone now. Others are barely hanging on. And this makes you wonder why any of us do these things. If they aren't going to last, is there a point to it?
. . .
Truth be told, I wasn't paying attention to any music made past 1940 during the heyday of Sky's the Limit, so I'm not super familiar with the group. The background info I managed to dig up indicates that their last show was well over fifteen years ago. Dave Elkins, is of course familiar to you from his successive group -- MAE. Drummer, Sam Morrisett and bassist, Dan Zook reportedly haven't really played as anything other than church musicians for years. Exactly what the impetus to dig up this group after so many years away is an unknown to me.
And yet.. This trio drew a crowd that obviously cared deeply about this music. There were connections here, which goes to showcase the power of music whether it's a stadium band playing to hundreds of thousands of fans across all over the world, or three hometown guys playing to fifty folks in a small dive bar. Whether you care about a song is derived as much by who you are when you hear it as by whether the song is an amazing performance. That's not to say that these aren't great songs, in fact -- the music here is impressive.
You can definitely see some of the early stirrings of sharp songwriting chops that would eventually lead Elkins to great success. If at points the band was a little loose, that should be attributed to rust that needs to be shaken through more rehearsal time, but this is a band that with a bit of work could sit atop Norfolk's apex without much effort. It's an impressive feat to pull this off with fifteen, twenty year old music. This catalog, while definitely channeling that early aughts emo vibe, manages to not sound dated at all. I found myself leaving a bit wistful for music I'd never heard before, disappointed that I might never see this band again.
. . .
The opening band, Rookie of the Year has existed in one form or another since a debut record back in 2006. Currently based out of Raleigh, the group has enjoyed decent success including international tour schedules over the years with more than a few line-up changes. From 2012 to 2017, the group was boiled down to frontman, Ryan Dunson, as a solo act, before returning as a full band. The music here is deeply soulful and satisfying on a purely emotional resonance. I enjoyed this set, and want to hear more.
. . .
To skip back to the initial question of whether any of this is worth it? I suppose the trick is to learn to live in the now. To hear music in the moment, and take it for what it is. Tomorrow is no promise. And if something as simple as a collection of sounds matched to words can move you through whatever pain is holding you down? That's gotta be worth something. Hell, it might be worth everything. The past never goes anywhere, and sometimes, like tonight, it comes back.
Enjoy that for what it can be.
-- end transmission --
Sky's the Limit
Rookie of the Year
Raleigh. Indie Pop.