WHEELING - A group of local musicians is boldly going where no band has gone before.
Like a throwback science-fiction series, KR-3 in many ways embodies nostalgia of the past while forging ahead with futuristic ideas. In fact, the band took its name from a 1974 science-fiction novel's reference to psychedelia. The group - described by some as an "indie-rock band that jams" - keeps one foot firmly planted in old-school psychedelic rock 'n' roll and one hand turning knobs on doors that lead to unexplored spaces.
"I would say we're a jam band in the classic sense," Tim Boyd, front man and founder of KR-3, said.
Photo by Eric Ayres
Members of the band KR-3, from left, Steve Fullerton, Tim Boyd and Shane Lundy, of the band KR-3 perform a live silent disco set earlier this month during Springdance, a music festival at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park in Garrettsville, Ohio.
Boyd has performed and recorded music while fronting KR-3 alongside many different area musicians for a number of years. The lineup of Boyd on vocals and guitar; Shane Lundy on guitar; Travis Hoard on sax, keyboards and vocals; Ian Varlas on bass; and Steve Fullerton on drums came together in December 2012. The group is tighter than ever and has recently taken KR-3's journey outside the Ohio Valley, touring clubs in metropolitan cities from Philadelphia to New York City and being invited to anchor special sets at regional music festivals this season.
"It was scary at first - leaving home base, but it's been a lot of fun," Boyd said. "It's been a bit of a culture shock, but we like that. We embrace traveling."
While KR-3 is expanding its horizons beyond the valley, the group is also carrying a torch aimed at reigniting the original rock music scene that once thrived in the Wheeling area.
"I think there's something blocking the river of opportunity for young bands in the Ohio Valley," Boyd said. "There's no question about the huge amount of talent in the Wheeling area, but in order for a scene to exist there has to be a co-op of musicians, promoters and clubs that work together to support original music. We definitely want to help revitalize a scene here - that's one of our big goals."
Boyd and crew are working to put Wheeling back on the map not only by generating a buzz about their band on a regional scale, but also by headlining an all-new Mystic Valley Music Festival next month in Limestone, W.Va., and by helping to bring back regionally respected jam bands like Ohio's ekoostik hookah, which is scheduled to return to Wheeling for the first time in years on Aug. 16 at River City Ale Works with KR-3 performing as well.
This holiday weekend, KR-3 will share the bill with ekoostik hookah, Rusted Root, Col. Bruce Hampton, Glass Harp, Wheeling-based Grateful Dead Tribute band The Get Down and many others at The Ville (formerly Hookahville) at Clay's Park Resort in North Lawrence, Ohio.
At The Ville, KR-3 will be pushing the envelope of technology and venturing into undiscovered territories of live music by performing a marathon silent disco set - a pioneering move for which organizers have contacted the Guinness Book of World Records to establish a new entry.
The silent disco is nothing new to dance parties and music festivals. It's a way to get around noise ordinances and let the party rage on late at night with all the patrons in the crowd wearing headphones with radio transmitters instead of dancing to music being blasted through speakers. While the typical silent disco scenario has disc jockeys spinning the music, KR-3 has recently ventured down the unbeaten path of being a live band that performs both live shows and silent disco sets.
"People like Brian Noel - a longtime friend of the band - have helped in this process," Boyd said, noting that the bugs were worked out (with electronic drum pads and no amplifiers) and success was found at the band's debut silent disco performance earlier this month. "Chris Powers from Powers Productions and Michael 'Crazylegs' Hemann of Crazylegs Productions really helped make it happen."
KR-3 will square off against disc jockeys Saturday night with a goal of performing a five-hour set to establish a world-record silent disco live band performance at The Ville.
The band is touring in support of its new album "Fractures and Sparks," which has received rave reviews from fans both new and old. The band's next Ohio Valley gig will be June 7 at JT's Lounge in New Martinsville.
Additional tour dates and more information about KR-3 can be found on the band's website, www.kr-3.net. "Fractures and Sparks" is available on iTunes, and previous albums can be found on www.bandcamp.com.
For more information about The Ville, visit www.thevillefestival.com.