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On track with the Train Wrecks

Jack Bible. How’s that for a cool rock star name?

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Right now, Jack is a happy, chubby five–month–old, babbling contentedly on his father’s lap. Daddy is Jason Bible, of the Train Wrecks, and where one goes, the other is sure to be. During daylight hours, anyway, while Momma’s at work.

Jason (and Jack) and Train Wrecks bassist Eric Dunn are sitting with me at a corner table at the Sentient Bean. Three of the four of us are discussing the Train Wrecks, the band Bible and Dunn put together seven years ago (can it be that long?) and which is still one of the hardest–working bands Savannah bands. If not THE hardest working.

The past year has brought some significant changes to the hardscrabble honky–tonk outfit. Drummer Paxton Willis joined singer/guitarist Bible, bassist Dunn and lead guitarist Stuart Harmening towards the tail end of 2011, and the new lineup’s fiercely fierce electric Americana is frequently augmented onstage with the swinging violin of Ricardo Ochoa.
Sometimes, there’s a pedal steel player. And a keyboard. And an accordion.

The Train Wrecks will be a six–piece at the second annual Hometown Holiday Jam, Friday (Dec. 14) at American Legion Post 135 on Bull Street. The 7:30 p.m. event will also feature the Accomplices, Bottles & Cans and City Hotel.
Tickets are $10 advance at the hall, and at Civvie’s downtown, and they’ll be $15 at the door.

Last year’s event was a whole lot of fun.

The band’s been touring out of town, and out of state, quite a bit lately. “We really only play a couple of places downtown any more,” Dunn says. “That way we can space them out more. And more people will show up.”

Have the Train Wrecks been overexposed in Savannah?

“I think we had to be, initially,” answers Bible. “When we first started playing, it was our full income, so we played five, six nights a week.”

Adds Dunn: “And we never practice, so those were like our practices. Play as many gigs as we could.”

Bible insists that the Train Wrecks’ performances are more high–energy now than they’ve ever been. “It’s more of a show now,” he says. “We’re trying to get the transitions between songs, where I’m not fumbling around with harmonicas for 10 minutes, drink a beer, smoke a cigarette, change harmonicas.”

A lot of new oil in the machine, the musicians agree, comes from drummer Willis.

“He grew up playing punk rock, so he’s more aggressive,” Dunn says. “He’d never played this kind of music before, but he picks it up quick.”

In the beginning, “We actually had to go back to the garage,” offers Bible. “It’s still the same songs, but they’re just a little more ... rock. A little louder. At first, with Paxton, it was definitely like cowpunk.”

Next on the menu is the third Train Wrecks album which, the musicians promise, will not gestate as long as their last, Saddle Up, which took a year to record, mix, master and release.

“We’re gonna get this farmhouse in Effingham, on 30 acres, for a month,” Bible says. “No distractions. It’s gonna be like a Zeppelin farmhouse, man. A friend of ours has a mobile rig, and we’re going to record out there starting the last week of January.”

The record will be cut live, with minimal or no overdubbing.

And then there’s Jack.

“He loves music,” says his proud daddy. “So every day I’ll play guitar for him, ‘Froggy Went a–Courtin’ and stuff like that. Kinda combining story time with music. It’s been great.”

Homegrown Holiday Hoedown is an official Toys for Tots collection event. Please bring a new, un-opened toy for donation.

Sincerely, Todd

A fresh word from Sincerely, Iris (aka Todd Murray, one of our most talented singer/songwriters, who makes his Driftaway Cafe  debut on Dec. 15):  “I have about 12 brand new songs written for the next album,” he tells us. “I’m going back and forth between a totally solo album and a full band endeavor. It almost seems like a waste to not use all of the amazing musicians that I know in Savannah. But I do want to have some songs on there with some acoustic freakouts that are similar to my live shows. Maybe I’ll do two versions of the same album. One that’s acoustic and one with a full band.”

Sincerely, Iris has been crossing borders lately, playing in Florida, Kentucky and far–flung Georgia towns. “Later this month I’ll head up to Ohio for some holiday shows,” Murray says. “I just love trying out my music for different audiences and seeing which songs connect and what people react to. That’s what it’s all about when you play solo.”