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The Locals - Loud and Violin
By Ben Ohmart
(more articles from this author)
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"No Doubt meets Dave Matthews. I'd say if you dig gritty, acoustic-rock you'll dig us... if you like high energy, intense rock, with substance in the lyrics - well then check us out and you'll be hooked!"

Anyone who's heard of the Chicago-based band The Locals won't forget that sound. Not just the fact that they're a rock band with a violin as second guitar. But they've got that Yvonne Doll singing her heart out like the babe from The Toxic Avenger Part 3.

Roadtrip: Southgate House, Newport, Kentucky
Windows Media Video

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio singer/guitarist/songwriter Yvonne now leads Ross Rutherford on drums, Dave Goldman on fiddle and Christy Nunes on bass. Together they weave a power hungry rock sound throughout the country. They are... The Locals! They got that name from seeing graffiti on a wall in Cincinnati, Ohio, just at the moment they were trying to come up with a name.

Major airplay in Illinois and Ohio. Showcased at the Chicago New Music Festival, the Midwest Music Summit in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Atlantis Music Conference in Atlanta, George, and enough others to fill a press room. They've worked hard for the success.

And now they've put out their 2nd CD. "Baby Buddahs & Little Einsteins" is a manic collection of 10 tunes and a radio edit of the stand out 'Ballad of 99.' The power of their music lies in Yvonne's voice and that eerie otherworld that a fiddle can cause without resting too much in the Celtic camp.

For sheer power of vocals and el-bow grease around the cat strings, head for 'Tattooed Lady' and hear the folk-rock steam out of the opening

Come crashing down on me
You know just where I'll be
The funny thing about expectations, it's like
Watching fireworks on tv

Streaming MP3: "Dear"

But just who are these Locals? Doll describes "the music as No Doubt meets Dave Matthews. I'd say if you dig gritty, acoustic-rock you'll dig us. If you are looking for ear- piercing electric guitars at decibels so loud your eardrums are bleeding - we're not the band for you. But - if you like high energy, intense rock, with substance in the lyrics - (back when you said 'rock' you meant REM, Elvis Costello, Melissa Etheridge, John Melloncamp) - well then check us out and you'll be hooked!" Ross Rutherford adds to that, "We play mostly driving, mostly acoustic rock that defies definition! I ask other musicians this same question all the time and I never get a straight answer, it always spawns a very lengthy response."

No matter how long it takes to figure out, the music is immediately infectious. Unlike a lot of the modern major label bands, you can become a fan of The Locals with just a single listen to a single track.

Like most bands who live and die by the live show, their set is a mix of self-penned tunes and established hits. "We are an original band," says Yvonne, "but we'll throw in a couple of covers here and there to grab folks that may not have heard us before. We do a pretty wide variety of tunes - 'She's not There' (Zombies), 'Down By The River' (Neil Young), 'Peter Pumpkin Head' (XTC), 'Stepping Stone' (The Monkees), 'Take me To the River' (Al Green, but more like the Talking Heads version)." But they're still pushing to include a hip hop version of the Scooby Doo theme.

Streaming MP3: "Thunder & Lightning"

Influences? Yvonne: "That's a tough one, the 4 of us individually have pretty different tastes and influences - that's what makes the Locals 'concoction' so different."

Christy Nunes responds: "Personally, I love it all. I listen to so many different genres of music and have played in so many different types of bands, it's hard to narrow it down..."

Goldie: "I've always been inspired by rock guitar players more than anything else, people like Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, and Jimi Page. That's where a lot of my solo ideas come from... rather than from traditional violin or fiddle music."

Ross Rutherford: "You can hear our individual influences meshed in ways that are new... to us anyway. I should add that we are heavily influenced by the weather."

Must be all that wind that Yvonne emits. Her bold style is like that of a diva who doesn't need a microphone at a large outside concert. "Singing is the one place I feel completely at home," she admits. "I think that is where the 'boldness' comes from. Over the years I've noticed that the more of myself I put into each song, the more I get out of it, the more I'm able to communicate to the audience what the song is about. I just throw my whole body into it and enjoy the ride. We've gotten so comfortable playing with one another (the band and I) that we all are able to really relax."

Ross Rutherford agrees: "Christy's right, there is a huge perception shift. You can see it on a smaller scale between the time we walk in the door to the club and when we get done with sound check. All of a sudden we're taken more seriously."

It's that comfort and friendship that has to be the key for any band to make it. Hate each other and your music will sound like bad Philip Glass. Yvonne: "We do hang out together actually. We really enjoy each others' company. After long road trips we may take a couple days away from each other, but for the most part, we're a pretty tight knit group. So far as hanging out 'after hours' - we're that band that closes down the bar - most of the time. We have such a good time hanging out with the folks that come to see us play, you'll usually find us kicking back with them and having a beer or two, rather than hanging together. After all, we've usually got a long drive in the van the next day - so we get PLENTY of time together as a band."

Streaming MP3: "Blue"

Christy Nunes: "I think that's what makes it work for us. We all love being around each other, creating music, hanging out and having a beer, etc... If we didn't love being around each other, I don't know how we'd do it. The sick thing is that we'll spend 5 hours in a van together coming back from a show and then it's not uncommon to find us all having dinner and drinking margaritas together that same night."

That communal spirit shows through in every track of their new album, which is racking up significant airplay as we speak. You can check out some sample tracks at their website -

As for songwriting, Yvonne gives the dirt. "I usually have a bunch of tunes milling around in my brain at any given time. I'm usually so busy with the business area of the band, I don't have a lot of time to write in the conventional way. So I've taken to carrying a mini- tape recorder and backpacker guitar around with me. So when I get a spell of inspiration I can put it right down. Then I spend a bunch of time weeding through all the tapes and lyrics (written on napkins, matchbooks, scraps of paper etc)... sort them out and put together the framework for the tunes. After I've got a good grip on a new song, I'll bring it to the band and they add their parts to it. It's pretty cool, 'cause the tune really takes on a 'life' of its own when the band adds their parts. It's great to see what direction they will take it in. It only becomes a 'Locals' song after the whole band has sculpted it into this new 'thing.'"

Christy Nunes: "Yvonne brings in the skeleton and then the band molds the songs into body of what you hear. We all have such different influences, some times we crack each other up with the different things we bring to the musical table, but it always works. It's not a Locals song if it doesn't start out as a rocking foot stomper, then lead into a Latin-samba break and then travel thru a few other music genres before it ends."

Ross Rutherford: "It's always interesting. I've seen the same song approached from a punk angle, then practically slowed to a balled. Then in the next practice we tried a fast shuffle-blues feel just to arrive at something completely different. We just tinker with the basic premise until it feels right."

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