Michael Rudolph Cummings Announces Fall Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 25th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster


Incidentally, my favorite memory to-date of going to a local show since I moved to the Boston area was when Mike Cummings of Backwoods Payback — who operates these days under the somewhat more formal Michael Rudolph Cummings banner, sometimes with the backing band The Souvenirs — played with Jim Healey at Radio in Somerville (review here). The show itself was really cool, downstairs at the venue which like so many others is defunct at this point, but afterwards a few people stayed and sat around a table and all just kind of chatted and hung out and while that kind of thing is usually terrifying to me, I actually really, really enjoyed it.

While we’re free-associating, I tried very hard to buy Radio when I first moved north from New Jersey. Was back and forth with the woman who owned it and everything. Things were moving forward and next I knew, she sold it out to someone else and skipped town, never to be heard from again. Since then, living here has more or less been a succession of, “Hey this place is for sale” and nothing coming of it. I’ve been dying to get in somewhere but unable to make it happen. Mostly because I don’t have money, I suppose. If I could roll up with a wad of cash, I expect the reception would be different. In the meantime, venues close, those that don’t just suck and put no effort into running shows, and I’ve gotten a job, cut my hair, struggled to find time for things that matter to me, like music, my relationship with my wife, my family, and so on. Normal existence, near as I can tell.

Sorry. I got off track. Cummings, with his band, released the More Barn EP earlier this year and will tour — solo, I believe — in Nov. headed south from his homebase in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Dates, links and the EP stream from Bandcamp follow here:

michael rudolph cummings fall tour

michael Rudolph cummings Fall Tour 2015

hitting the road this fall

traveling with some friends and meeting up with some from across the way…

3 – Kung Fu Necktie, Philadelphia PA wAmigo The Devil, Kermit Lÿman III, Patrick Shannon (hold down the ocean)
4 – The Hook Up, Virginia Beach VA w/Amigo The Devil
5 – A Tasting Room, Wilmington NC w/Amigo The Devil
6 – Bone Lick BBQ, Atlanta GA w/Amigo The Devil
7 – TBA, Nashville TN w/ Rob Snyder
8 – The Cave, Chapel Hill NC w/Brian McGee (Plow United)
27 – Ortliebs, Philadelphia PA w/Thee Nosebleeds



Michael Rudolph Cummings and the Souvenirs, More Barn EP (2015)

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Backwoods Payback Announce Acoustic European Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 24th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster


Fresh off completing the second of consecutive June weekenders heading out from their home base in West Chester, Pennsylvania, grit rock trio Backwoods Payback have announced they’ll make their inaugural incursion to European shores in July. Quite a jump from one to the other, but the band promised a return to activity when those weekenders were first posted, teasing the possibility of a new album to be recorded that would serve as the follow-up to their 2011 Small Stone debut, Momantha (review here), the arrival of their new drummer Pierson Roe and so on, and touring in the UK and Europe certainly counts as a return to activity, so they’re nothing if not keeping their word.

Operating as the trio of guitarist/vocalist Mike Cummings, bassist Jessica Baker and the aforementioned Roe — who, since it’s an acoustic run, I’m not even sure will be making the trip — Backwoods Payback will begin in London on July 9 and work their way from there into Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France, finishing with two nights in Paris. Kind of curious that they’d make their first tour abroad unplugged, but then, I guess that’s less amps to cart around and/or a cheaper backline. Hard not to admire the pick-up-your-guitar-and-go ideal under which they seem to be working, if nothing else.

And if you happen to be in that part of the world and free one of these nights from what I’ve no doubt is a busy schedule, tell them I said hi.

Tour announcement follows:

backwoods payback euro tour

Next month JULY 2015 we hit Europe for the first time ever. Acoustic shows throughout the land. Can’t wait to meet everyone across the pond!!

07/09 London UK Bowler Pub
07/10 Kingston UK Wiloughby Arms
07/12 Berlin DE Schokoladen
07/13 Berlin DE Arconoa
07/14 Amsterdam NL Backstage Hotel
07/15 Amsterdam NL Muzieke Cafe
07/16 Cologne DE Tankstelle
07/17 Liege BE Le Surlet
07/19 Paris FR The Pop In
07/20 Paris FR Le Tennessee


Backwoods Payback, In the Ditch (2014)

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Backwoods Payback Announce Live Shows

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 20th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Making their way back to active status following a stint on the DL, Pennsylvania heavy merchants Backwoods Payback have announced two weekenders set to take place next month that will take them out of their West Chester home and onward to regional outlets in New Jersey, PA, Virginia and Maryland. It’s four shows spread over two weeks, so hardly the heaviest touring they’ve done, but with just periodic appearances under their collective belt since the release of their 2014 EP, In the Ditch (review here), it bodes well for what might lay ahead, and frankly, it’s good to hear anything from them at all.

Backwoods Payback‘s most recent show was May 15, playing the after-party for the Bethlehem, PA, date of the Clutch/Mastodon tour, but prior to that, they also shared the stage with Black CowgirlGeneration of Vipers and U.S. Christmas at The Depot in York at the end of April, so there have been stirrings leading to these weekenders coming up. The addition of new drummer Pierson Roe (Castle Freak) alongside guitarist/vocalist Mike Cummings and bassist Jessica Baker will no doubt make gigging easier in the months upcoming, and in announcing the shows, the band also teases a possibility of a new album, which would be their sophomore outing following 2011’s Small Stone full-length debut, Momantha (review here).

Most likely that’s a ways off — though I guess they could surprise everybody with a new record tomorrow; anything’s possible — but either way, that they’re starting to get out again is a step in the right direction. Their announcement was quick and to the point:

backwoods payback june tour

JUNE DATES! this convoy is heading back out where we belong…on the ROAD!

New shows, new songs, new merch, new drummer, new RECORD???

Backwoods Payback on tour:
06/12 The Meatlocker, Montclair, NJ
06/13 The Funhouse, Bethlehem, PA
06/19 Strange Matter, Richmond, VA
06/20 Guido’s Speakeasy, Frederick, MD


Backwoods Payback, In the Ditch (2014)

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Mike Cummings of Backwoods Payback

Posted in Questionnaire on April 17th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

My understanding is that if you’re in a heavy band and you’ve made your way through West Chester, Pennsylvania, on an East Coast tour, you’ve probably either stayed at Mike Cummings‘ house or played with his band, Backwoods Payback. As the frontman of the underappreciated and hard-driving foursome, Cummings presents an indomitable personality on stage and off, but is given to backing that up with a thoughtful approach in his lyrics as well as in writings apart from the band. A book of poetry, Confessions of a Lackluster Performer, was published in 2009, and aside from the self-deprecating title, it showed Cummings able to work in textures beyond those of his songcraft, though it seems to be that side of his creativity that most exerts itself. Backwoods Payback made their debut on Small Stone with 2011’s Momantha (review here) and subsequently issued a live EP in 2012 and a studio EP, In the Ditch (streamed here), earlier in 2014.

In addition, Cummings embarked on his first solo acoustic tour last fall (review here), and the release of his full-length solo debut, Get Low, is expected April 19.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Michael Rudolph Cummings

How did you come to do what you do?

I’ve always written in some form or another, since as early as I can remember. Music just seemed to be the next extension of that. It just happened.

Describe your first musical memory.

I had a little portable record player in a blue canvas-colored suitcase. I’m sure there was one in most households with a kid my age (or maybe not, the more I think about it). The movie E.T. had just come out and my mom gave me the Neil Diamond “Heartlight” single. I played that for hours at a time, over and over.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

It changes all the time. Whenever I finish a recording or write a new song, that’s the high I’m always chasing. I just finished my first solo record. Listening back to the tape in the room and forgetting how we even made this thing that was being played back to me…that’s my best memory at the moment.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

Every day something I believe in is tested.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

I can’t even begin to try and imagine where it leads. I just follow it wherever it wants to take me.

How do you define success?

Doing the best I can at whatever it is that I am doing and knowing that I gave it all I had.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

Everything I have seen makes me who I am today. Nothing… Some things are just harder to handle than others.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

I have so much to do still, books to write, songs to sing, pictures to draw. It’s such a strange trip when it happens. I can’t sit and force it. It’s like a wave, and I have to ride it out when it comes.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

Waking up tomorrow.

Michael Rudolph Cummings, “Ranch Song” from Get Low (2014)

Mike Cummings on Thee Facebooks

Mike Cummings on Bandcamp

Backwoods Payback on Thee Facebooks

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audiObelisk: Stream Backwoods Payback’s In the Ditch EP in its Entirety

Posted in audiObelisk on February 17th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Pennsylvania heavy rockers Backwoods Payback will release their new EP, In the Ditch, this coming Friday, Feb. 21. Usually when I post something about the band, it’s a list of tour dates. They’ve put in some regular road time before and since the release of their 2011 Small Stone debut, Momantha (review here), and an early-2013 live album (discussed here) kept momentum going around touring on the West Coast, various festival appearances, etc. In the Ditch, though, is the four-piece’s first studio outing since Momantha, and it’s even more of a follow-up than one might initially think. The six-track, 28-minute EP — they’re reportedly pressing a limited number of physical copies for a release show Friday night with Buzzard Wagon and Bob Wayne and the Outlaw Carnies at Shore Road Tavern in Philly — was put to tape in late 2011/early 2012, so while it’s newly mixed and mastered, In the Ditch is about as direct a companion piece timing-wise for Momantha as one could ask.

As its title hints, In the Ditch is a hard-times release, and there’s a core of raw honesty that underscores the songwriting across its tracks, whether it’s “On the Chain” asking “What’s the point of leaving if you didn’t need me to stay?” or the frustrations of closer “Buffalo Nickel.” Guitarist/vocalist Mike Cummings‘ vocals are front and center, presented largely void of effects, and while In the Ditch is short, it efficiently demonstrates a range on the part of Cummings, bassist Jessica Baker, guitarist Rylan Caspar and drummer W.S. Curtiss that finds them no less at home in the sludgy lumber of “Fooled You” than the swaggering grunge of “The Village.” The EP hits its stride with “Always Something,” the third of the six cuts and sort of the emotional summary of where Backwoods Payback are coming from on the release. Over acoustic and electric guitars, Cummings recounts with effectively conveyed resignation the personal loss that seems to be at the heart of In the Ditch. The tone isn’t overly sentimental, but there’s a sense of redemption in the second half of “Always Something” that gives the remainder of the EP a more hopeful context.

The recording itself, engineered by Mike Bardzik at Noisy Little Critter Studio in the band’s native West Chester, PA, is bare-bones but more than clear enough to get a feel for the material, and flourishes like the acoustics in “Always Something” — also a bit of Alice in Chains‘ “I Stay Away” seems to show up around the 2:20 mark — the background shouts in opener “On the Chain” and the harmonies in “The Village” lend sonic depth and variety alike, but again, the crux of In the Ditch is the sincerity with which the tracks are presented, and that comes through superbly no matter how many layers are at work at any given point.

Please find In the Ditch in its entirety on the player below, followed by some commentary from the band, and enjoy:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Backwoods Payback are now taking preorders for In the Ditch at their Bandcamp page, and will release the EP this Friday at Shore Road Tavern in Philadelphia, PA. Here’s what they have to say about it:

(to start at the beginning would take too long. you wouldn’t want to hear about most of it anyway.)

we were having one of those kind of lives.
the kind where you almost run out of gas, but the tank is full enough to get you where you want. and that road gets winding, but every now and again there’s those stretches. those beautiful perfect stretches. and you can’t tell if the sun is coming up or going down, but you know you’re right in the middle of it either way.
it was one of those kind of lives. and then the bottom fell out. and then when you didn’t think the bottom could fall out anymore, it fell out again.

you never really look at the clouds the same after that. they’re not floating anymore. they’re just kind of there.

you’re just kind of there.

Backwoods Payback on Thee Facebooks

In the Ditch release show event page

Backwoods Payback on Bandcamp

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Michael Rudolph Cummings Firms up Tour Dates and Announces Album Title

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 24th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Continuing to shore up the dates for his first solo tour next month, Michael Rudolph Cummings has also announced that his full-length — from which you can hear a rough version of the song “Maybe Time” below — will be titled Get Low. There is a date or two yet to be filled in for the solo run from the Backwoods Payback guitarist/frontman, but already he’s tapped some good company for the shows, including Erik Larson (formerly of Alabama Thunderpussy), Ben Smith from The Brought Low, Jim Healy of Black Thai and Helena Goldberg of Akris. If you’ve got to travel, it’s better to have friends.

Tour dates, the poster and more info on Get Low follow:

Michael Rudolph Cummings is the vocalist/guitarist for the Small Stone Recordings band Backwoods Payback. After years of playing in hardcore bands, Cummings sat down with a four-track and a love of Neil Young, Black Flag, and Black Sabbath to create the outline of Backwoods Payback. Years later, and after relentless touring around the world, Backwoods Payback are at the top of their fuzzed-out, riff worship game. Cummings’s solo material is equally dark but subdued in volume and temperance, recalling the ditch-trilogy era of Neil Young and the slower moments of Townes Van Zandt.

Self releasing a number of solo acoustic EPs throughout the last decade, this tour marks the first time MRC will be journeying outside of the Philadelphia region and supporting a solo record “GET LOW” on his own.

“GET LOW” features contributions from a who’s who of the east coast underground music scene.

Members of Hoots & Hellmouth, Heavy Temple, All Else Failed, Monty Are I, The Boils, and of course Backwoods Payback add individual nuances to a number of the tracks, making for record that recalls the subtleties of classics ranging from “Harvest” to “Pink Moon” all while staying true to MRCs do it yourself roots.

23 – Hanks Saloon – Broooklyn NY w/ Ben (The Brought Low), Keith R. Montgomery
24 – Radio (downstairs) – Somerville MA w/ Jim Healy (Black Thai), Jess & Keith (Mellow Bravo)
25 – Café Nine – New Haven CT (early show 5pm)
27 – Dogpatch Tavern – Frederick MD w/ Helena Goldberg (Akris)
28 – The Blue Nile – Harrisonburg VA w/ Helena Goldberg (Akris)
29 – Longbranch Saloon – Knoxville TN
30 – The Station – Carrboro NC

1 – TBA – Richmond VA w/ Erik Larson (Alabama Thunderpussy)
2 – Rancho Del Rudo – West Chester PA


Michael Rudolph Cummings, “Maybe Time (Rough Mix)” (2013)

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Mike Cummings of Backwoods Payback Releases First Solo Single

Posted in audiObelisk on August 28th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

“Maybe Time” is the debut single from Backwoods Payback guitarist/vocalist Mike Cummings, who with it departs from the heavy and sometimes brash Southern-ish rock of his main outfit in favor of a more subdued, traditional singer-songwriter approach. Leading with an acoustic strum, Cummings gradually incorporates electric guitar, strings and drums, but even so, the feel is a departure from Backwoods. Cummings is hardly the first frontman of a heavy act to explore aesthetics beyond those confines — and he’s shown a range of expression before, as the poetry book Confessions of a Lackluster Performer can attest — but even in its rough mix form, “Maybe Time” bodes well for a breadth of influence to come when Cummings makes his solo debut with the upcoming full-length, Get Low.

When exactly that album will surface has yet to be revealed. Backwoods Payback were last heard from earlier this year with the issue of their Live 2012 EP (info here), which was a digital release following up on their 2011 Small Stone debut, Momantha (review here), and it’s clear the band’s tour-heavy/tour-often approach is carrying over to Cummings‘ solo work, as he reportedly has a stint in the works for the fall. As a first taste of Get Low, however, “Maybe Time” takes Cummings‘ already proven songwriting acumen and adds to it a prevailing focus on arrangement that quickly shows considerable depth. What form “Maybe Time” and the other material might take in a live setting remains to be seen — he’s done solo acoustic shows in the past, but I wouldn’t speculate that that’s what in store without knowing for sure; the song features members of Heavy TempleAll Else Failed and The Boils — but if “Maybe Time” demonstrates anything, it’s that it’s worth finding out.

Cummings, who’s also chosen to go by his full name for the project, has made the rough mix of “Maybe Time” available for streaming via Bandcamp and you can find it on the player below. Please enjoy:

Michael Rudolph Cummings, “Maybe Time” (2013)

Michael Rudolph Cummings on Bandcamp

Backwoods Payback website

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VISUAL EVIDENCE: Backwoods Payback, Supermachine, Lord Fowl and Sun Gods in Exile Tour Booked for April

Posted in Visual Evidence on April 8th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

My only hope is that as Backwoods Payback, Supermachine, Lord Fowl and Sun Gods in Exile head out for these four shows, they bring the poster with them. Seems the Small Stone Records bannerfolk have united under the flag of their label and are hitting the Northeast for a bill they’re dubbing “4 Bands, 4 States, 4 Shows, 1 Label.” Call it a tour by the numbers.

Since Supermachine, Lord Fowl and Sun Gods in Exile all live in New England, so with Backwoods Payback tagged on from Pennsylvania, you can pretty well imagine this one’s going to be a debauched-type good time. A long weekend that no one involved will recall by the time it’s over. Nonetheless, if you’ve gotta have something to remember it by, the following Alexander von Wieding poster is a gorgeous reminder.

Octopus reigns supreme among green-lady headwear:

4 bands. 4 states. 4 shows. 1 label.



04.25.13 – The Dover Brickhouse, Dover NH
04.26.13 – KCs Tap, Pawtucket RI
04.27.13 – The Winchester, Woodbridge CT
04.28.13 – Leftfield NYC, Manhattan NY

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