For over two decades, West Virginia songwriter Michael John Iafrate has honed his craft as a songwriter and performer alongside his work as a member of some of West Virginia’s most creative independent music acts such as The Minus Tide, COBRA, and Killed At Camp. More recently, Iafrate has carefully developed his unique voice among regional songwriters, both solo and with a full band as M Iafrate & The Priesthood.
Iafrate’s soft-spoken contemplative song-explorations are often enriched by his training as a theologian—asking more questions than providing answers, commingling the worlds of flesh and spirit, and holding received images and traditions up to the light in respect, playfulness, and negation.
Whether performed solo or fleshed out by kindred musician-spirits, Iafrate’s songs reveal shifting shades of meaning and flexibility and offer the incense of devotion to such influences as Jason Molina, Will Oldham, Neil Young, classic R.E.M., Elliott Smith, Gillian Welch, Townes Van Zandt, and Elephant Micah. He has performed on stage alongside acts like Songs: Ohia, Magnolia Electric Co., Bonnie “Prince” Billy, The Anomoanon, Papa M, Brightblack Morning Light, and Matt Pond PA.
Following M Iafrate & The Priesthood’s acclaimed 2005 full-length O Happy Marriage, Iafrate released the 2011 solo EP No Matter How Deep the Darkness, He Descends Deeper Still and a number of singles and other tracks as he prepares two new albums. M Iafrate & The Priesthood will celebrate Christian Burial as 2016 draws to a wintry end, to be followed soon after by the full-length Nonsubstantiation under Iafrate’s own name.
Each record presents Iafrate’s introspective “theo-folk” through thoughtful and dignified arrangements and will solidify Iafrate’s place, in the words of one of the state’s most seasoned music veterans, as “West Virginia's most esteemed hyper theologian.”
Photos: 1 Andrew Croft 2-4 Erin Yaeger 5 Joceleyn Carlson
Sketch: Bill Hogan
Following the tranquil, yet powerful voice, and steady guitar of Kyle Cunningham, Concrete Teepee is comprised of bassist Eddie Berardi, guitarist Will Wallace and drummer Robbie Kettlewell.
Concrete Teepee was formed in the spring of 2012 and has been playing shows around the Ohio Valley ever since. With a musical blend of folk, blues, psychedelic, and punk rock, the boys offer a unique sound to compliment the OV music scene.
Show-goers have been quoted as saying:
“Concrete Teepee came in tonight with nothing less than feeling and fury. They had the feel of prehistoric dinosaur that grew up listening to folk and then discovered Mardi Gras.”
“My dad saw Concrete Teepee once….he hasn’t mentioned them since.”
Always thriving to make each show an experience, the Wheeling West Virginia based group has made it known:
Behind Ryan Mowery's honest, thoughtful lyrics and plaintive vocal melodies, drummer Kyle Hoops and multi-instrumentalists Mark Mowery, Bruce Mowery, and Steve Myers provide texture for Old Northern's alternative sound.
The Ohio Valley quintet was formed in the winter of 2012 by brothers Ryan, Bruce, Mark Mowery along with their brothers-in-law, Steve Myers and Kyle Hoops. Already good friends, the group's similar tastes in music and shared passion for songwriting made collaboration seem inevitable. The chemistry was apparent after a few informal jam sessions, and the band quickly became a priority to everyone involved.
Old Northern's debut album, A Way to Leave, was released in 2015. Currently, Old Northern is finishing up the writing process, then heading into the studio to knock out their second full-length album.
AFTER 14 YEARS IN NASHVILLE, CUTTING HIS TEETH ON ROCK, POP, COUNTRY, AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN,JOSHUA LEE DECIDED TO HIT RESET IN WEST VIRGINIA.
HE BROUGHT ALONG A LOVE FOR A GOOD HOOK, AND A TASTE FOR AMBIENCE, NOISE, AND FITS OF FURY. JOSHUA'S SONGWRITING FALLS SOMEWHERE BETWEEN THE AMERICAN EXPERIMENTALISM OF BANDS LIKE WILCO, THE NO-NONSENSE SONG-CRAFTING OF RYAN ADAMS, AND A HEALTHY OVERDOSE OF CHILDHOOD RELIGION. NOT QUITE FUTURISTIC, NOT QUITE OF THE PAST, AND NOT QUITE NOW, THESE SONGS ALMOST BELONG IN SOME ALTERNATE PRESENT ON SOME ALTERNATE TIMELINE. JOSHUA LEE IS INDIE FOLK/POP FOR A DIFFERENT NOW.