The New Familiars perform this Friday at The Blue Vine
By Sarah Hall
If you witnessed The New Familiars’ last visit to Salisbury (June 2007 at the now extinct Las Palmas) you haven’t heard the newer New Familiars. They’ve continued to evolve, adding a new drummer and bass player, taking their acoustic Americana-thrash-folk-rock up another notch.
Appalachian-influenced harmonies and story-telling suffuse the original music by the Charlotte-based quintet, which has only one member not a North Carolina native.
The group’s original members are all singers, composers, and multi-instrumentalists: Justin Fedor (vocals, guitar, mandolin, banjo), Eric-Scott Guthrie (vocals, guitar, banjo, harmonica), and Josh Daniel (vocals, guitar,resonator guitar).
Drummer Daniel Flynn has helped propel the band further in the rock direction, and bassist Pat Maholland has filled out their low register with a firm foundation.
Maholland, who has now played with The New Familiars for about a year, is the non-tarheel of the band, hailing from Philadelphia. He met the others through a mutual friend, folk singer Ian Thomas.
The association began as jamming, then to doing a few shows together, to Maholland become a full-fledged Familiar.
It was this 2008 edition of the group that Charlotte’s “Creative Loafing” critics picked as “Best Local Band,” beating out Concord’s favorite sons, the Avett Brothers.
“Yeah, I don’t know what was going on with that,” Maholland says modestly. “I guess they can only win so many years in a row.”
The New Familiars are currently touring, supporting a six-song EP “The Storm” and a new 7″ vinyl release of their original song “Mill’s River” and a unique re-arrangement of the Smokey Robinson song “My Girl.” The two songs on the vinyl release are also on iTunes.
They are in the process of recording a full-length album, not an easy task for a band that played about 150 gigs last year, and may play even more this year. Maholland predicts the new CD will be out late spring or early summer.
He says there are some advantages to stretching out the recording process this way, with “less pressure” to get it finished right away. It also gives the band the opportunity to try out songs on the road for audience reaction before including them on the album.
“Playing for fresh ears gives us a new perspective,” says Maholland.
The New Familiars’ cross-pollination of styles makes them hard to classify, but their fresh sound and lively performances can win over fans of any genre.
They’ll be bringing their rowdy live show to The Blue Vine this Friday night. And with their increased popularity taking them farther and frequently away from their Charlotte homes, they are playing in these parts less and less. So catch them while you can.
You can give them a listen and find out more at www.myspace.com/thenewfamiliars.
The New Familiars will be performing at The Blue Vine, 209 S. Main St., 9 p.m.-midnight Friday. There is a $5 cover charge.
For more information, call 704-797-0093 or visit www.thebluevine.com.