By Ashley Lucas
On Saturday night, the Spot on Kirk will host a wonderful local band, Place Called Home, for its debut album release show. If past shows have been an indicator, whether at Martin’s or the Deschutes Street Pub, this will be one for the books.
Place Called Home formed in 2014 when a group of friends gathered around a campfire with guitars and cigars. The product of this bonfire brotherhood is their self-titled album, which is a perfectly eclectic mix of roots rock and folksy pop. Influenced by the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton, The Lumineers, Bob Dylan, Dawes, and Needtobreathe, Place Called Home’s songs are as diverse as their idols. The vocals by lead singer Wes Winebarger are off-the-charts fantastic, and a strong rhythmic backing by actual brothers, Josh and Jeremy Smelser, rounds out Mike Loritsch’s soaring guitar solos that give Place Called Home their distinctive sound.
There are plenty of bands made up of accomplished musicians, but what makes an album worth listening to is the quality of the songwriting. This band has it all; well-written songs, musical talent, and the heart, soul and humbleness that it takes to truly reach an audience. Many of the songs were co-written by Josh Smelser and Winebarger, but it was Loritsch that wrote the band’s favorite: “Appalachia”. Smelser explained, “[Appalachia’s] got that four on the floor driving groove that we all love, and it always seems to get everyone jumping and dancing (ourselves included!). Mike wrote the song about overcoming some of the challenges he’s faced in life, and the music is incredibly energetic, so it’s always a celebration for us when we play it!”
Other standouts from the album include the slower paced “A Place to Call Home”, which is a percussive masterpiece that could be played on any radio station in the country. “Return to Dust” offers a sweet sentimental reprieve from the up-tempo tracks like “We Ride” and “Greatness of Man”. Melodically strong tunes like “Chasing Stars” and “Between the Ocean and Shore” appeal to listeners craving an anthemic pop-rock ear treat. “Better Man” starts out with a White Stripes-esque guitar riff, but interestingly transforms into what is best described as a hard rock ballad.
What all the songs have in common is a sense of purpose and that purpose is to communicate their connection as a band via music. When asked about Place Called Home’s goals, Smelser said, “it’s always been a goal of ours to provide and promote community. It’s so much easier to overcome life’s struggles when you’re surrounded by people who will support you and lift you up. That’s what we strive to be for each other and we do our best to encourage others to show love at all costs and seek out those genuine relationships themselves”.
If you’re into Of Monsters and Men, the Lumineers, and Needtobreathe, you will 100% love this band.