Sunday, September 25, 2005

Seven Stories Falling: The Road the CBGB's

by Thomas Dimopoulos

Adam Dragland peeked out the bus window and saw it was snowing.

The bus rumbled on the long the stretch of connecting highways from Saratoga Springs to lower Manhattan. It is a 170-mile journey that has been both a road to riches and the road to ruin for travelers since the days of traders hundreds of years ago.

Inside the bus, a sing-a-long was in full swing.

'My loneliness is killing me, hey now, I must confess I still believe, still be-lieve' they sang on the long journey, miles from home and several layers of crunching guitar noise removed from the sounds that riders were more generally accustomed to.

'We have a song called 'Loaded' that's a fan favorite, so we called the ride the 'Loaded' bus trip,' said Dragland, guitar player of the Saratoga-based band Seven Stories Falling. The band organized the bus trip to Manhattan, accompanied by a number of friends and fans, for a performance at CBGB's Gallery.

Dragland is one of the band's two Adams. He began playing with bass player Adam Finkin during their school days at Saratoga High in the late 1990s.

Drummer Joey Clark joined in 2003 and the band issued its debut CD, 'Man of 1,000 Skies,' a year later. Keyboardist Levi Morgan and singer Mike Carney round out the group's sound.

Saturday's journey was one of the band's most ambitious. They boarded the bus with fans in Wilton at 3:45 in the afternoon and began what would become a 14-hour journey. By 7:15 Saturday night, the bus reached Manhattan, and pulled up on the Bowery, letting everybody off in front of the white umbrella-shaped canopy with the red letters that reads: CBGB.

'We moved our equipment in, the doors opened at 8, and we started playing at 9:30, doing a double set until 11:45,' recounted Finkin.

'The place was packed,' he said. 'We have a pretty dedicated fan base, and this weekend we found out just how strong that support is.'

A spokeswoman for CB's 313 Gallery, the venue adjacent to the legendary Bowery punk club where the band appeared, said there was a full house to hear the band from Saratoga. 'It was a very good night,' she said.

Back home, things are not as easily cut-and-dry for Seven Stories Falling and other rock 'n' roll bands like them.

'For people our age, this town doesn't have too much to offer,' said Dragland, who is 23 years old.

'People like going to clubs and dancing to music from a DJ. There are a few places for punk and hardcore and jam bands, but other than that, the local music scene is weak,' he said.

On their home town turf, the band has appeared at venues like Caffé Lena, King's Tavern and Club Caroline. But whatever 'scene' was developing around places like E. O'Dwyer's seems to be disappearing with the closing of that venue, joining the shut-down list of other scenes for live original music, like Revolution Hall in Troy, and Bogie's and the QE2 in Albany.

Is there hope for a rock 'n' roll band in the 21st century? Dragland said the Internet, with popular sites like CD Baby and My Space, may be the saving grace for independent bands looking to make a name for themselves.

'The marketing potential is there. If you're working hard enough, you can network very successfully,' he said of his band, who wear musical influences of groups like the Smashing Pumpkins, Motley Crue and the Beastie Boys on their sleeves.

In the near future, Seven Stories Falling will be issuing its second album, 'Wake Up and Dream,' then hit the road in the spring for a tour of the South.

Further down the road, Dragland said they may be relocating to the West Coast, where a more vibrant live scene has enticed a number of other bands before them.

For a group of high school buddies from Saratoga who have been working on their sound for the past six years, however, nothing was getting settled late Saturday night.

Success was measured by a performance in a New York City nightclub with a busload of friends singing into the wee hours of the following morning.

'Just give me a si-i-ign,' they sang, 'Hit me baby one more time.'
For one night, it was enough.

published in The Saratogian, Jan. 20, 2006.

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