BAND MEMBERS: Josh Erwin- Guitar + lead vocals, Troy Harris- Basses, Jenna Mobley- Fiddle + harmony vocals, Matt Pendrick- Guitars + harmony vocals, Ryan Van Fleet- Drums + Cymbals
Picture this: You’re blistering down a desert highway in a bright red, 1971 Cadillac Eldorado convertible, hellbent on making it to Vegas in record time. The wind’s in your face, and the sun’s at your back as you peel across the empty asphalt. You begin to hear a song off in the distance, and as it gets closer, you realize it’s the most beautiful song you’ve ever heard. Pulling off the highway to find the source of the enchanting melody, you stumble across a hole-in-the-wall that’s equal parts repulsive and magnetic.
It’s a place that beckons you to enter against your better intuition. You enter to find a horde of mermaids, wide-eyed, singing their siren song and anticipating your arrival. Nervously, you wonder aloud if this is heaven or hell when a voice from above calls down and says, “Welcome to the Mermaid Motor Lounge. My name’s Fran, can I get you a drink or some Melba Toasts?”
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That may not be the exact image frontman Josh Erwin had in mind when he named his new band Mermaid Motor Lounge, but it’s certainly a name that activates the imagination. Aside from the inventive name, Erwin and his team, consisting of bassist Troy Harris, fiddler Jenna Mobley, drummer Ryan Van Fleet and guitarist Matt Pendrick, have created a mystifying and unique sound that Erwin describes as that of “a rock band that sounds like they’re trying to sound a little like a country band.”
The genesis for Mermaid Motor Lounge came when Packway Handle Band members Josh Erwin and Troy Harris began playing duo shows to showcase Erwin’s newest songs, but before long, they started scooping up musicians like they were the Avengers building their dream team. Although Erwin said he didn’t write Mermaid’s songs to intentionally be an anti-Packway sound, he did admit that the heavy use of sustain, reverb and electric guitar on their debut album Fits and Starts came from “rarely using it while playing all acoustic/string band music.” However, for those of you who hope to hear a hint of the Packway vibe, the vocal arrangments and harmonies will make you feel right at home.
After spending 15 years in the Packway Handle Band, playing shows across the country, you might expect Josh Erwin and fellow Packway member Troy Harris to be a little burnt out, but Erwin compares playing with Mermaid to that “new girlfriend feeling.” Saying further, “The excitement comes from arranging these songs and playing and singing them with these particular instruments and people.”
Erwin specifically harped on songs like “Missing Pieces,” “Seismic Waves” and “The Engineer” as tracks that have been increasingly fun to play as they’ve filled out the band’s roster. Now that the band is in full swing, though, we’re all in for some real fun. When a band like Mermaid Motor Lounge shows up on the scene with as much passion, talent and experience as they do, it’s a surefire recipe for a great time.
In Josh Erwin’s words, Mermaid Motor Lounge’s mission statement is simple: “To connect people to music and golden mermaids through songs they never knew they’d ever hear.” So, if you want to hang out with a mermaid named Fran and connect with the night, come out and see Mermaid Motor Lounge.