Lineup Announced for Rev. Jim Forrester Benefit Dec. 29

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

As the details have surfaced over the last 24 hours regarding the tragic death of Rev. Jim Forrester outside the Fells Point, Baltimore, tattoo/piercing shop where he worked, the portrait they’ve drawn has only seemed more senseless. The former bassist for Sixty Watt Shaman, currently of Foghound and Serpents of Secrecy, on the mend from ongoing health issues, finding sobriety, married, getting through, and then shot in the chest outside his place of employment? You’d have a long, long way to go before you ever managed to convince me that makes any fucking sense whatsoever.

One thing Maryland heavy has always done, however, is rally together when the situation calls for it, and yeah, I’d say this situation calls for it. Two stages in Frederick, Maryland, will run benefits next Friday, Dec. 29, with proceeds going to Jim‘s funeral costs and honestly whatever else who the hell cares what they do with the money take all the money just take it please take it and take lasagna too. I’ve heard rumblings about more benefit shows to come and something brewing for Maryland Doom Fest 2018 as well next June, so stay tuned for more and I’ll update as much as I can because Jesus tapdancing Christ, some asshole shot Jim Forrester.

Fucking devastating.

Lineups for the shows at Cafe 611 and Guido’s Speakeasy follow here. If you can’t make it, there’s also a GoFundMe set up linked below that you should donate to. Hell, even if you can go you should donate, because again, just take all the money please take all the money.


rev jim benefit show

Rev Jim Benefit Concert – Dec. 29

Cafe 611 & Guido’s Speakeasy
N Market St, Frederick, Maryland

This event will feature 13 killer bands on 2 separate stages. Both Cafe 611 & Guido’s next door will be hosting this remembrance of Rev Jim’s life and fundraiser. Bands will be revealed soon. All proceeds go to his family. We will celebrate your existence forever Jim.

This wonderful, gental, kind man was tragically taken from us by a senseless act. All proceeds are to help alleviate the financial strain on his family:

Show time is 6pm-12:30 pm Friday Dec 29th.


Cafe 611:
King Giant
The Age of Truth
Thousand Vision Mist
Thonian Horde
Faith in Jane
Dee Calhoun & Louis Strachan

Guido’s Speakeasy:
The Druids
Et Mors
Seasick Gladiator
Thee Iron Hand
Lifetime Shitlist

Foghound, The World Unseen (2016)

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Maryland Doom Fest 2018 Announces Full Lineup with The Obsessed, Windhand, Weedeater, Earthride and Many More

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Invariably there will be some change between now and next June, and there’s the tradition of the pre-show to consider the night before, but right out of the gate, Maryland Doom Fest 2018 impresses with its scope of heavy rock and doom, cross-country reach and loyalty to its core mission. With The Obsessed, Windhand and Weedeater set to headline, the fourth edition of the fest curated by JB Matson and Mark Cruikshank will welcome return appearances from the likes of Castle, Earthride, Thousand Vision Mist and Foghound, while reaching out to bring first-timers from afar like Texas’ Doomstress and Duel and Switchblade Jesus, Kansas rockers The Midnight Ghost Train, Connecticut’s Curse the Son, New York’s Geezer, and — I believe traveling the farthest — Disenchanter, from Portland, Oregon.

It’s a killer assemblage, and I think the three headliners do a lot in summarizing the whole idea behind the fest in the first place: The Obsessed are among the founders of what we think of as “Maryland doom.” Windhand are the forerunners of the modern scene. And Weedeater bring a riotous sludge party like no one else on the planet. What more could you possibly ask of three bands in terms of expressing what Maryland Doom Fest 2018 is all about?

I’ll have updates as I see them, but in the meantime, mark your calendars for June 22, 23, and 24 at Cafe 611 in Frederick, MD, and I’ll do the same, because this looks absolutely awesome.

Dig it:

maryland doom fest 2018 poster

Maryand Doom Fest 2018

A 3 day weekend of Doom in its purest form.

June 22, 23, and 24

Cafe 611 Restaurant
611 North Market Street
Frederick, MD 21701

Full lineup:
The Obsessed, Windhand, Weedeater, Castle, Unorthodox, Duel, The Watchers, Zed, Switchblade Jesus, The Midnight Ghost Train, Lightning Born, Earthride, Geezer, Disenchanter, Bedowyn, Cavern, Doomstress, Caustic Casanova, Hawkeyes, Curse the Son, Las Cruces, Horseburner, Shadow Witch, Foghound, Witchhelm, Book of Wyrms, Thousand Vision Mist, Molasses Barge, Backwoods Payback, Bailjack, Electropathic, Gateway to Hell

The Obsessed, Live at Maryland Doom Fest 2016

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Maryland Doom Fest 2017 Adds Second Venue & Expands Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Exciting news from Frederick as Maryland Doom Fest 2017 announces expansion into a second venue. Guido’s Speakeasy is about half a block down the street from Cafe 611 and a cool, tiny, back-room kind of place that’s a cool spot to catch bands. Last year, Akris and King Buffalo (among others) played while the fest was going on, and this year, MDDF seems just as content to fold the Guido’s doings for the night into its own busy schedule. Makes sense to me. The headliner for the show is an otherwise decent band with a shitty name who have a new record out, and the bottom of the lineup is perfect with Bailjack and Thousand Vision Mist both acts featuring recognizable veterans of the local scene. Good stuff all around. Except for that headliner’s name.

The fest is just a couple weeks away. I regret to inform that I won’t be attending or covering this year, as had been my intent. One’s grandmother only turns 102 once, and frankly, given the shape ol’ girl is in, I don’t dare miss it. Nonetheless I’d like to say out loud what an absolute fucking honor it’s been to be among the presenters for this year’s Maryland Doom Fest and how thrilling it is to see this fest emerge as a major presence in the epicenter of MD doom that is Frederick. It’s actually just what that spot needed in name and execution. Couldn’t be more perfect. I hope it all goes off without a hitch, and a personal thanks to JB Matson, Mark Cruikshank, and all involved for putting my logo on the poster. Again, it’s an honor.

Here’s the lineup and info for that side-show, and one more time, the schedule for the fest proper, just because it’s awesome:


The Maryland Doom Fest and Leftover Pizza Productions Presents

Saturday, June 24
Guido’s Speakeasy
543 N Market St, Frederick, Maryland 21701

[Five White Dudes in a Band Called] Black Pussy: 10:30- 11:30
Black Dominia: 9:30-10:15
Brother Ox: 8:30-9:15
Thousand Vision Mist: 7:45-8:15
Bailjack: 7-7:30


• Valkyrie 1055 – 1155
• Beastmaker 1000 – 1045
• Borracho 915 – 950
• Weed Is Weed 830 – 905
• Sweet Heat 745 – 820
• Spillage 700 -735

• Captain Beyond 1210 – 130
• Lo Pan 1110 – 1200
• Apostle of Solitude 1020 – 1100
• Faith In Jane 930 – 1010
• Beelzefuzz 840 – 920
• Wretch 750 – 830
• Demon Eye 705 –740
• Brimstone Coven 620 – 655
• Black Manta 535 – 610
• Sierra 445 – 525

• The Skull 1215 – 130
• Bang 1110 – 1205
• Wo Fat 1020 – 1100
• Earthride 930 – 1010
• The Watchers 840 – 920
• Hollow Leg 755 – 830
• Serpents of Secrecy 710 – 745
• King Bison 625 – 700
• Heavy Temple 540 – 615
• The Well 455 – 530
• Witches of God 410 – 445
• Black Tar Prophet 325 – 400
• Conclave 235 – 315

• [Headliner] 1140 – 1245
• The Atomic Bitchwax 1045 -1130
• Freedom Hawk 955 – 1035
• Lightning Born 905 – 945
• Lifetime Shitlist 815 – 855
• Akris 730 – 805
• Burn Thee Insects 645 – 720
• Thonian Horde 600 – 635
• Cavern 515 – 550
• Old Blood 430 – 505
• Horehound 345 – 420

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Memorial Benefit Announced for Kenny Staubs of War Injun

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

The shock was immediate when the news came down of the passing of War Injun guitarist Kenny Staubs last week. After all, it had only been a couple weeks since War Injun absolutely leveled Maryland Doom Fest 2016, and it just seemed impossible that someone able to bring such life to the stage as Staubs did would be gone so soon thereafter. I didn’t know the man, we’d never spoken, so I won’t comment on his life, but he was very clearly well loved and no doubt will be dearly missed by family and friends alike.

A GoFundMe page is live now (link here, also below) and a benefit show has been organized in his honor for next Saturday, July 30 at G Boone’s in Boonsboro, Maryland, that features not only War Injun playing to memorialize Staubs‘ contributions to the sphere of MD doom, but a host of other luminaries from the area, including Beelzefuzz, Bailjack, Thonian Horde, Dee Calhoun of Iron Man, Dark Music Theory, Byrgan, and Thousand Vision Mist.

On behalf of the site and myself, condolences to all who knew Kenny Staubs and I hope the benefit show helps to celebrate the life he led and the music he loved.

Info follows:

kenny staubs benefit poster-700


Let’s celebrate the life of Kenny Staubs, our brother, our friend, and War Injun guitarist. All proceeds pay for his trip to Heaven.

On July 15, 2016 the world lost an incredible man. Kenny was a musician, friend, brother and son. He was much to young and full of life. Kenny touched many lives and if you were lucky to know him, you loved him.

Saturday, July 30 at 3 PM
$20 donation

G Boone’s
7704 Old National Pike, Boonsboro, Maryland 21713

War Injun
Thonian Horde
Dark Music Theory
Dee Calhoun
Thousand Vision Mist

War Injun, Live at Maryland Doom Fest 2016

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Front to Back: Vultures of Volume II Day One in Hagerstown, MD, 09.04.15

Posted in Reviews on September 8th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

vultures of volume ii poster

Some farms, empty strip mall storefronts, a Confederate flag here and there, and you’ve pretty much got the story of Hagerstown, Maryland. Close to Frederick, which is where many of the bands featured at Vultures of Volume II either make their home or at least play on the regular, the Delmar Inn was a little bit further out of the way, a little less cops-are-likely-to-come-here, down a long stretch of road running along a hillside. Vibe was right on immediately.

Biker bar, and bigger inside than it looked from the parking lot. Near the front, a big bar with plenty of seating, tvs, and the like, and on the other side of a half-wall, a couple pool tables. Another room to the side had more pool tables and places to sit, and in the back where the show itself was held was the two-tier stage, full P.A., lighting rig and the whole nine. A pro shop. The walls were lined with banners of acts who’d been there before, the drop ceiling low but not ridiculously so, more tables in back for those who’d need a break, which by the end of the two-day/20-band Vultures of Volume II, was definitely me.

It was a long weekend of rock and roll, but I knew it would be going into it. It had been way, way too long since I’d last been able to pay a visit to the Maryland doom scene and its familiar and friendly faces. Used to be every year, year and a half or so, but living in Massachusetts adds another three-plus hours onto that trip — while we’re on the subject of the Bay State, I’ll say that the Delmar had its shit together more than every single venue in Boston of comparable size that I’ve been to — so it’s been a while. Felt good to be back.

Friday night’s lineup featured Bailjack, Faith in Jane, Kelly Carmichael, Pale Divine, King Giant, Solace and Spirit Caravan. Show got started at 7PM, and I was there early because I knew I didn’t want to miss a second of it:


bailjack 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

One thing you can always rely on at a fest like Vultures of Volume is that Maryland’s own particular brand of heavy — and for argument’s sake, I’ll note that Maryland’s heavy runs pretty much anywhere from Virginia to Pennsylvania, depending on what band we’re talking about — will be well represented. Following an intro from Wisconsin’s Mike Smith (he of the Days of the Doomed festival series), who was acting as the weekend’s M.C., dual-guitar four-piece took the stage to lead off the first night in deceptively intricate fashion. With three vocalists between guitarists Jason Barker and Blake Owens and bassist Ron “Fezz” McGinnis (also Pale Divine, Admiral Browning and about as bullshit-free an individual as you could hope to meet), and a distinctive split in style between the two guitars, Bailjack effectively divided their attention between freakout-led psych jamming and more classically progressive impulses, drummer Andy Myers holding the various changes together with Fezz‘s bass, which is about as much a staple of the MD scene at this point as riffs. No small feat to keep everything flowing, but they did it as arrangements tipped one way or another or they took off in this or that direction, only warming up more as they went, but though they ran a little late, Bailjack were a fitting leadoff for the night and a sure sign that we were underway.

Faith in Jane

Faith in Jane (Photo by JJ Koczan)

They came very highly recommended, and weren’t five minutes into their set before it was very apparent why. Faith in Jane tap into that classic heavy rock boogie and pull off fleet rhythmic turns essentially without sounding like they’re breaking a sweat to do it. An edge of blues here, a neo-stoner groove there, it’s easy to imagine them getting another release or two under their belt (they have a slew of digital and CD pressings from the last couple years) and catching the eye of a label like Tee Pee or Riding Easy, and they’re young enough that they still have time to develop the potential they showed. The locals obviously know it. Looking around at all the home-made Faith in Jane shirts, I was reminded of the vigilant manner in which Beelzefuzz was supported during their early days (the two acts have little sound-wise in common, but that also was a recommendation worth taking). Until Spirit Caravan played, Faith in Jane had the biggest and most responsive crowd of the night, and it was well earned in their swinging groove, tight execution of a stay-loose sound and nuances like guitarist/vocalist Dan Mize switching between finger-picking and strumming his guitar or bassist Brendan Winston tossing off a quick fill in classic rock fashion. Rounded out by drummer Alex Llewellyn, the MD natives aren’t without room to grow, but already they were a highlight of the weekend and definitely a band it will be well worth keeping an eye on going forward. Their closer, “Stormbringer,” was a beast.

Kelly Carmichael

Kelly Carmichael (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Only thing missing was a sample of John Cleese saying “And now for something completely different.” Kelly Carmichael is the former guitarist of Internal Void and also did a stint in Pentagram, but as traditional as doom gets, that’s really no match for his solo act, which dips back decades further to ’20s and ’30s-style acoustic roots blues. He covered both Robert Johnson and Leadbelly, doing “Preachin’ Blues (Up Jumped the Devil)” from the former and a prison worksong from the latter. It was a left-turn stylistically after Faith in Jane, but not at all a hard sell to the crowd that doom draws a line backward in time to the blues. People came and went, but Carmichael held a solid audience for the original “Salty Dog” from his 2009 Queen Fareena album, and had toes tapping all the while. An almost academic approach, but clearly driven by heartfelt passion for the style.

Pale Divine

pale divine 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Hard to picture a setting in which Pale Divine could be more in their element than a fest like Vultures of Volume II. The stalwart Pennsylvania trio mark their 20th year in 2015, with original members Greg Diener (guitar/vocals) and Darin McCloskey (drums) joined for the last three by the aforementioned Ron “Fezz” McGinnis, who also adds backing vocals. Their 2013 demo “Curse the Shadows” (streamed here) was aired, as were “Black Coven” from 2012’s Painted Windows Black (review here) and the finale “Cemetery Earth,” from the prior 2007 outing of the same name. They’ve always been a solid band, but haven’t ever really gotten their due outside of the local area and the odd German doom fest, but with Diener‘s steady presence as a frontman and unflappable lead work, McCloskey‘s straightforward style and Fezz‘s rumble, they had nothing to prove to what’s essentially their home crowd, and that suited them. Two decades is a long time to do anything, and one hopes that with their impending fifth album, Pale Divine might be able to reap a bit of reward from the downtrodden, trad-doom they’ve been planting all these years. Fingers crossed for a 2016 release.

King Giant

King Giant (Photo by JJ Koczan)

First two words in my notes on Virginia five-piece King Giant? “So pro.” And they are. King Giant‘s slot at Vultures of Volume II came on the heels of their 2015 third album, Black Ocean Waves (review here), which was accordingly their focus. I’ve never seen them live that they didn’t nail their set, and this time was no exception, though part of me wonders if maybe the flawlessness of their delivery doesn’t in a way undercut what they’re doing. People being more used to Southern metal that’s loose, not necessarily with as much of an atmospheric focus as King Giant have with their prevailing darkness, and between how comfortably they sit right on the border between doom and metal and the clear effort they put into how they present themselves and their songs — “Red Skies” from the new record was a highlight — I think people almost have a hard time believing what they’re seeing is genuine. But it’s not like there’s any money to be in it for, and a band like King Giant wouldn’t exist in the first place if their hearts weren’t into it, because why bother? With vocalist Dave Hammerly out front, guitarists Todd “T.I.” Ingram (also Serpents of Secrecy) and David Kowalski, bassist Floyd Walters III and singly-named drummer Brooks filling up the Delmar stage, King Giant delivered one of the most professional-sounding sets of the weekend until their set either got cut short or cut itself short — I never quite found out which — as the show continued to run late.


Solace (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I was fortunate enough to have been there in Wisconsin in June 2012 when New Jersey heavy rockers Solace played what was then believed to be their last show at Days of the Doomed II. In the intervening three years, bassist Rob Hultz has joined Chicago doom legends Trouble and he and guitarists Tommy Southard and Justin Daniels have welcomed a new vocalist and a new drummer into Solace, with Justin Goins filling the frontman role and Tim Schoenleber behind the kit. I’ll admit that I didn’t know Solace had a (partially) new lineup until a few hours before they loaded in, and I’ll admit further that I had no shortage of sentimental attachment to their prior incarnation — in no small part reinforced by the absolute blowout that was their final set three years ago — but with Southard‘s unhinged guitar at the core, the newcomers Goins and Schoenleber (who’s an ex-bandmate of Southard‘s in Godspeed) more than held their own amidst the chaos surrounding. I went into the set wondering if it could even be done, if it would be Solace, and they proved that yes, it was still Solace, and that if they wanted to move forward — they had new material in tow, so presumably the answer there is also yes — they’ll be able to do that. As they started to wind down the set, Daniels teased they were going to do the last two songs and then take another three years off, which got a laugh, but it seemed pretty clear that’s not what they have in mind looking ahead. Another Solace record? The results were glorious, but it took them nine years to put out 2010’s A.D. (review here), and their bass player lives in Chicago, so I’m not going to hold my breath to have it materialize next month. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it did happen at some point, because only a fool would ever really count them out.

Spirit Caravan

Spirit Caravan (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’d never seen Spirit Caravan. Again. I’d never seen Spirit Caravan. As far as I was concerned, having them atop the bill as headliners was a big part of what made the trip so necessary in the first place. They brought their own crew, with Darren Waters of Weed is Weed and someone who may well have been Chris Kozlowski helping out guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, bassist/backing vocalist Dave Sherman and drummer Ed Gulli — a former bandmate of Wino‘s in The Obsessed stepping into the post-reunion role filled previously by Henry Vasquez, still in Saint Vitus — set up their gear. Wino and Sherman both had new cabinets as a result of what seemed to be a recent endorsement, and there were some technical issues early on, but Sherman finally asked to put a microphone in front of his bass cab and that solved it. They barreled through the speedy new song “Be the Night” first, almost I think before most in attendance could pick up on what they just heard, and dipped into classics like “Courage” and “Melancholy Grey,” also working “Streetside” by The Obsessed into the mix. I know Spirit Caravan is widely considered a “Wino band,” and Wino‘s the frontman, and the dude’s a legend and as the guy who’s about to wrap up a 200-part series of Wino Wednesdays, I’m not going to argue, but if there’s a singular passion driving Spirit Caravan, it’s Sherman‘s all the way. It’s just as much a Sherman band. If Bobby Liebling was the architect, (and yes, I know Pentagram were from D.C., but stay with me), and Wino is its ambassador, then Dave Sherman is the beating heart of Maryland heavy, and after seeing him for years with Earthride, he looked at home and gladdest of all to be on that stage playing Spirit Caravan songs. Already the reunion has had its share of drama after a fallout with former drummer Gary Isom, but between watching Sherman stomp out his parts or watching Wino turn around and smile to Gulli as they made their way through “Lost Sun Dance” en route to a cover of The Animals‘ “Inside Looking Out,” it was apparent just how precious a thing Spirit Caravan is to those who are a part of it. The house lights came up during the latter cover, which though it was late I’ll say flat out was a load. That’s what 30 years of playing doom gets you: the lights turned on in front of what’s basically your hometown crowd while you headline. Rightly, they kept playing, and finished out an otherwise excellent night with a take on The Obsessed‘s “Neatz Brigade” that seemed all the more righteous for the defiant stance it represented.

By the time I actually left the Delmar parking lot, it was 2AM. I drove back to the hotel where I was staying with the gentlemen of Elder, who were looking to go swimming, and while I appreciated the invite, I knew it was time to crash out. Saturday was 13 bands in over 12 hours, so every minute of sleep I could get counted.

That Day Two wrap will be up tomorrow or the next day. Thanks for reading in the meantime.

More pics after the jump.

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