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The Kid Icarus Project: Taking Flight On A Steady Path To Success

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By Johnny Griffith

There is a story in ancient Greek mythology about a father, Daedelus, and his son, Icarus, imprisoned on the island of Crete. As the story goes, the father built two sets of wings for them to escape but, even after being warned of the dangers of flying too arrogantly or being too lazy, Icarus came crashing down after flying so high the Sun melted his wings. The key to success had been to fly straight, steady, and with patience and when he didn’t, a hard lesson was learned. Flash forward a few thousand years and half a world away, there is an East Texas band that, although they might share a name in common with the ill-fated Greek, are demonstrating they aren’t about to make the same mistakes when it comes to their musical journey to success.

kid-2The Kid Icarus Project (KIP) is a hard-working area band that has been around in its current form since 2013, but has origins as far back as 2006 when founding guitarists, and former members of Tyler area band The Papers, Clint Alford and Ian Chandler, decided to start a band to have fun and play some “silly covers.” After adding percussionist Mike Hill and rounding out the quartet with Klint Killion on the fiddle, The Kid Icarus Project was ready to bring its particular brand of Americana to this area, along the way leaving no doubt that these guys are 100 percent East Texan. Clint, Ian, and Klint are all products of Rusk (the town, I was informed, not the hospital) and still live in that area, while Mike, originally from Kilgore, has lived in Tyler for the past 18 years running a local ad agency and DJ business. According to Hill, the band has embraced this region and their roots in it, focusing on “building momentum into a steady stream of bookings, both with local venues and private gigs” and counts that as one of the band’s biggest accomplishments to date. Much of that momentum has been built playing small towns and even smaller venues in the area, but in no small part due to the reception they receive at those venues. “They are the most receptive. The patrons are regulars. They cheer. They dance. They tip well. They truly appreciate what we do.”

Clint Alford and Ian Chandler are the acoustic wielding front-men for the band, and much of the appeal of their live set is brought out in the dynamic they share with the rest of the members on stage, as well as the audience. The sets can range from playful acoustic covers of everything from Van Morrison, Snoop Dogg, Metallica, and everywhere in between; to soulful, original ballads penned by Alford. Killion’s artful fiddle melodies weave in and out of the guitar rhythms, creating a musical tapestry held together by the raspy bass of Hill’s percussion. They are part Tom Petty, part Dave Mathews Band, part Zac Brown Band, with a dash of Drive-By Truckers, sprinkled with some Counting Crows and served on the rocks.

kid-3A KIP show is a confluence of acoustic talent, skillful vocals, and laid-back attitudes reminiscent of coffee house jam bands of the 90’s. With a lack of over-processed effects, flashy light shows, and amp stacks turned up to eleven, these gentlemen rely on rock-steady talent combined with creative takes on a wide variety of covers and originals to keep the audiences engaged over the course of the show. It’s pretty obvious that when the band takes the stage, they are completely in their element; relaxed, care-free, and surfing the wave of the gig wherever the crowd takes it. Hill states, “We play to the audience. We don’t build a set list and shove it down their throats. We shoot from the hip with no rules and nothing rigid. It makes our shows much more loose and, from what we’re told, that’s part of the draw. We do lots of medleys combining several songs. Those are always a hit and we get lots of requests for them.”

While the shows may purposefully have an unstructured feel to them, it is certainly not an indictment of the band’s approach when it comes to their source material. The Kid Icarus Project has built an extensive catalog of over 300 cover songs and 50 originals which can work their way into the set list as the mood dictates, and they are constantly working to improve the audience’s experience with new surprises. “Not long ago we came up with our own twist on the Phil Collins classic ‘In the Air Tonight.’ The crowd seems to love it and we do, too!” muses Hill. “Clint recently wrote a new track called ‘Rusted Strings.’ It’s a winner. No doubt. I would not be surprised to see it get some radio play.” In addition to the ever-evolving stage show, the band is currently working on a double album in response to longstanding requests from fans. “Folks have been asking for far too long,” Hill states, “and we really have made an effort to get that done. We laid down scratch tracks in the studio a week or two ago, and we are very excited about what’s coming.”

Fans will be happy to know that regardless of what the future holds, The Kid Icarus Project has no intentions of changing the way they approach their craft and will let success come naturally in whatever form it takes. “I think that’s the beauty of it all,” Hill confirms. “For us, making it a mission would be a mistake. It would destroy the looseness and the fun. If it were to develop into more, we would of course be happy, but putting that on paper as a goal just doesn’t fit our personalities.” When asked what they wanted the fans to take from each show, Mike gave a parting thought. “Shows can be fun. Bands can be friendly, and bands can play covers without being labeled as ‘cover bands.’ Music is everything, so let that show through.” One can’t help but notice that it does when these guys take the stage, and perhaps if the Icarus of all those years ago had taken the same approach as his namesake, he’d have ended up on a beach sipping a beer at the end of the day.

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Around East Texas

April 21st: Mouse and the Traps and Bowling for Soup

Upcoming Concerts

April 21st (8pm) – Mouse & The Traps – After more than 50 years together, Mouse & the Traps continue to be one of the best examples of “Texas Rock & Roll.” Formed in Tyler, Texas in 1965, Mouse, Nardo, Dave & Larry continue to give the public just what they want – great rock and roll. Whether you remember “Public Execution,” “Hit the Bricks,” or not, Mouse & The Traps has something for everyone. Tickets are $20-$25.

April 21st – Bowling For Soup at Clicks Live (8pm) – American pop-punk band Bowling For Soup emerged in Wichita Falls, Texas in 1994, but have since relocated to Denton Texas. Tickets are on sale at the door for $19, and may be purchased in advance online for $15 at etix.com.

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Blind Pursuit: Chasing Dreams

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By Johnny Griffith

In science, there is a phenomenon known as the Butterfly Effect which states, that in a complex system, small changes in one place can have a larger effect elsewhere. This is best illustrated in the hypothetical example of a butterfly flapping its wings in Mexico and causing a hurricane in China.

A more practical example of this would be the formation of the band Blind Pursuit, based out of Palestine, Texas. An amalgamation of sound and styles brought to the table by each individual member, Blind Pursuit is the end result of five people from different backgrounds and geographical origins ending up in a small town in East Texas and magic happening.

Hailing from Southeast Louisiana, Maine, Cayuga, and Harmony, the odds of these five people interacting were astronomical, but small changes had large effects and Blind Pursuit has been a staple in the east Texas music scene for three years now. We recently tracked them down to get to know them just a little better.

Johnny: Blind Pursuit has been playing gigs around East Texas since 2015. What was the genesis of the band and what is the current line up?

Blind Pursuit: Our first show was February 28th, 2015 opening for our good friends Blacktop Mojo at Click’s Live in Tyler.

Our current lineup includes Marc Mitchell on drums, Craig Jones on bass guitar, John Reed on lead guitar, Katie Reed with lead vocals, and Michael Jones on lead vocals and acoustic guitar.

Craig and Katie hail from Cayuga, Texas. John was raised right down the road in the Harmony Community just outside of Palestine. Marc migrated from the great state of Maine; and Mike spent most of his time about 45 minutes southwest of New Orleans, Louisiana. He has been in Texas since 1998 and spends his time filling in behind the bar at Pint & Barrel Drafthouse in Palestine, and working construction. He met John and Katie again in 2013. John and Katie own Reed Construction where John builds custom homes and Katie does interior design. Craig owns Oak Floor Supply in Tyler, Texas and Marc is in marketing and communications and sometimes moonlights at the Appleton Coffee House.

Johnny: How about the name – there’s a lot to be said in that name. What does it mean to the band and where did the idea come from?

Blind Pursuit: The name Blind Pursuit stems from the belief that we are all pursuing something, whether it be chasing dreams, running after love, or following your passions; at some point, it takes a blind leap of faith to achieve something truly great. In all actuality, we started with the word ‘Pursuit’ and since we had no idea of how or where we were going or how to get there, ‘Blind’ seemed like the obvious choice.

Johnny: Blind Pursuit has a pretty eclectic mix of sounds in your catalog but how would you describe ‘your’ sound?

Blind Pursuit: Wow! That’s a great question, one that we’ve been asking for quite some time. We play what we love. We are a varied group of musicians with different musical backgrounds and tastes, and we play what we would like to hear if we were sitting in the audience. Our own sound stems from songwriting, which is mainly done by our lead singer Michael, and so it definitely has a soulful, emotional style to it, and has a layered Indie rock feel. You can hear a little bit of our southern influences layered in as well as the obvious differences of having two lead vocalists. So if you wanted to pigeonhole us into a specific genre, I would say we fall into the Indie Rock genre, just because it encompasses such a wide variety of sounds and musical stylings.

Johnny: How much of your show is covers versus originals these days?

Blind Pursuit: After the release of our debut album “Offramp,” we do about ¾ covers and the rest originals. New material is constantly being added and we hope to shift the number of originals to a larger segment of the show.

Johnny: About how many shows does the band try to play a month?

Blind Pursuit: We’re currently averaging five shows a month but we are always looking to add to that.

Johnny: Are most of the gigs in the east Texas area or do you travel out of the area?

Blind Pursuit: The majority of our shows are in East Texas. We do travel to north and central Texas on occasion and we are hoping to broaden our travel radius this year.

Johnny: What are you most proud of as a band?

Blind Pursuit: Our album, without a doubt. We feel like it is such an outpouring of who we are and our evolution over the past couple years. It’s like we have given birth to our own child. So much love, nurturing and hard work has gone into this project. Our resources and time have been singularly focused towards this and we could not be prouder of how it has turned out. We worked with so many great musicians and our Producer, Phillip Moseley was a great asset. They have been invaluable in helping us birth this album.

Johnny: What has been your favorite moment, on stage or off, as a group so far?

Blind Pursuit: I think it has been a thousand small moments of connection with our fans. We’ve heard stories where our songs touched someone going through a divorce, or something we sang really resonated with someone going through a tough time, and you just stop for a second after the mad rush and adrenaline goes away, and you think about how you’re affecting people and the connections you’re making. When we see people singing along with our songs, grabbing their person and dancing, when you see an emotional reaction – that’s the good stuff, the reason we do what we do.

Johnny: What is in the works for the year?

Blind Pursuit: We’ve got another handful of songs and hopefully, that will translate into a new project as well. Whether the next step is an EP or a full-length album is yet to be determined.

Johnny: What’s in the water down in Palestine, between Blind Pursuit, Blacktop Mojo, Kolby Cooper, and others… seems like Palestine has become a serious music town. What’s your take on it?

Blind Pursuit: Every once in awhile, “magic” happens in the most unlikely of places. If you’ve seen the documentary on Muscle Shoals and the music that came out of that small studio in Alabama, then you kind of have insight into the madness behind the magic.

All these acts from Palestine are backed by the most awesome community of people who rally behind us and get the word out, grassroots style. The people here truly love music and they believe in us, or we wouldn’t be able to do what we love. We have a connection, not only through the town we’re from but through our producer and the studio we’ve all recorded at, Audioworx.

Johnny: What experience do you hope first timers will have at a Blind Pursuit show?

Blind Pursuit: Someone recently left a review on our Facebook page that sums it up perfectly: “Bet you will leave their concert feeling like your soul is a little more free than when you walked in.” We hope that everyone will leave feeling a little lighter and a little more connected to their fellow man. In a world where we are bombarded with distractions, we hope people can come and reconnect and feel more human than when they came in. We hope the love and passion that we have for life and music can be felt and translates well to concert goers.

Blind Pursuit can be found at facebook.com/Blindpursuit and blindpursuit.com.

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