The "Americana Music" tent is a pretty big piece of canvas these days, one that stretches to encompass an assortment of traditional and contemporary performers, songs and styles. Under this big top you'll find Midwest band The 100s, playing its own brand of roots-rock-country-folk music and building a loyal following through its live shows and its two CD releases, "Take the Gravel Home" (2005) and “Echoes (2008).
The band’s founding members, David Pedersen (lead vocals) and Jeff Schmidt (guitar) have been collaborating and playing the Eastern Iowa open-mic circuit for most of the last decade, and in 2003 they switched to high-gear folk-rock mode with Ken Kemper (bass, banjo, vocals) and Tim Looney (drums) joining the lineup. The band's early live shows were performances that mixed countrified ballads with foot-stomping rockers, and featured covers from artists as recognizable as Bob Dylan and as obscure as short-lived '80s "paisley underground" stalwarts Green On Red. Additional band members recruited from 2004 to the present day bolstered the band’s unique amalgam of acoustic folk-based “Rural Route Rock”, leaning heavily in those early days on a multi-stringed arsenal of fiddles, banjos, dobros, acoustic guitars, and multi-vocal harmonies, with the occasional Telecaster-driven rock riff-laden set to give folks a taste of the harder-edged bent to the band. This melding of styles led to the release of “Take The Gravel Home” in 2005, a folk-rock compilation produced by 100s guitarist Pete Raine.
Years and lineup changes later, The 100s are exploring some distinctly different musical territory with the release of “Echoes” in 2008. Fiddle and dobro have been supplanted with a pedal steel guitar sound delivered by newest member Vern McShane, who brought his sizeable chops out of semi-retirement to take a whack at influencing The 100s’ sound. The songs and performances on “Echoes” successfully span the gaps from rock to country to folk to pop. The twelve original cuts reflect a more introspective songwriting style these days, and a tighter band than ever in the studio. A little experimentation with other instruments (piano, Hammond organ, cello) fleshes out this latest release. The band has by now started to find its true voice, but continues to seek out new ways to say its piece.
The 100s enjoy playing the live shows…they’ve had the opportunity to play many notable gigs in their home turf of Eastern Iowa, including opening for Nashville-based recording artists Little Big Town, and notable Iowa roots/blues great Bo Ramsey. The band also has performed live on Iowa Public Radio programs, and both "Echoes" and "Take The Gravel Home" have enjoyed plenty of airplay on the Iowa public radio affiliates.
To sum it up: The 100s sound is music for all folk – young and old, urban and rural, those hip to the current non-mainstream music scene, and those more set in their listening ways. They combine honest storytelling with solid musicianship to create a sonic sense of place that's both unique and well-rooted in tradition. Hopefully, there's always room under the tent for a band like that.
The 100s are:
David Pedersen - Lead Vocal
Jeff Schmidt - Guitar, Harmonica
Ken Kemper - Bass, Banjo, Vocals
Tim Looney - Drums
Pete Raine - Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals
Vern McShane – Pedal Steel Guitar
Contact: straitjacketbowtie records • 1301 Highway 30 SW • Mount Vernon, Iowa 52314 319.270.4169 • firstname.lastname@example.org