On Stage

(PHOTO BY ELLIE BOGUE)

Time on their side

End Times Spasm Band looking forward to a less frantic pace

By Michele DeVinney
For those who may have thought Fort Wayne’s music scene could use a good spasm band, prayers have been answered. Spasm bands, which sprang from the fertile New Orleans music scene at the end of the 19th century, were generally made up of young people who loved the jazz music so prevalent to that area and set about imitating the sound through whatever means necessary. Given the cost of musical instruments, more readily available items were turned into ways to create song — washboards, kettles, cigar boxes and the like. End Times Spasm Band leans toward a more traditional approach, incorporating bass, guitar and drums into their music, though singer Lyndsy Rae Patterson does play a mean washboard.

The band began when Patterson and future bandmates, bassist Zach Wright and guitarist Bart Helms, met at a party where the guys heard Patterson singing along with YouTube videos of Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. When Wright and Helms began jamming along with her, the seed for End Times Spasm Band had been planted. Around this same time Helms, who also works at Chain Smoking Records and serves as a substitute teacher for Fort Wayne Community Schools, was encouraged to start recording.

Eventually joined by drummer Eric Stuckey, the quartet began playing together and booking dates around the Fort Wayne area, gaining notice for their unique sound and stage presence. And they did ultimately record an album, “High Wire Lover,” but the path from recording to releasing proved somewhat circuitous due to Patterson’s decision to study in France for the 2010-11 academic year.

“It was kind of a weird, forced situation, and I ended up spending more time recording than I did packing before I left for France,” said Patterson. “Instead of visiting with family and friends in those last days, I sat in a room with a microphone in front of my face.”

During her absence, her bandmates found other work playing behind some talented players including local favorite Lee Miles, but the group knew that End Times Spasm Band would be their focus upon Patterson’s return.

The album, which this year won a local music award for best non-rock release, has opened doors to opportunities around the country, and Helms recently counted that they’ve now played in 18 states so far. The break provided Helms, the primary songwriter, time to work on new songs, and the band recently returned to the studio to begin recording again. Patterson looks forward to a less frantic recording pace and where they can take the music now that they’re all fully committed.

“I think there’ll be little nuances that were not there on our last album. That process was really forced and tight, and it’s hard to be really present in a song in that situation. But when you sing a song constantly, you can feel sad if the song is sad or feel what the emotion of the song really is. You can hear it if a musician is only half there.”

Posted: Fri, 10/19/2012 - 12:50 pm
Last updated: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 2:08 pm