There is no denying the “Flora-Bama” connection around these parts. There seems to especially be a strange, yet very cool, connection between Pensacola and Dothan, Ala. For example, I grew up in Dothan, yet here I am, living in Pensacola. Not convinced? Several of the friends I grew up with in the Circle City also ended up here. I have also noticed that there is a strong support system built between musicians from both cities.
I remember seeing bands like The Metros, which contained a few members of local ska/punk favorites Diversity is an Old Wooden Ship, back when I was a wee lad. TwoThirteen, originally from Dothan, who just opened up for The Misfits last week at Vinyl Music Hall, built a following in Pensacola by playing shows here and setting up our locals with shows over there before relocating to Georgia.
I’m not sure why, but there has always been this sort of “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” type of mentality between the Dothan and Pensacola scenes. With that in mind, I’d like to introduce you all to another pair of bands who are known for supporting the scenes and helping out however they can, and who also happen to have a show together this weekend.
Deep in the woods of east Milton, a beast of unfathomable power lies in wait. A group of good ol’ Florida boys, simply known as Drayton Sawyer, is meticulously preparing to unleash this monster and prove to music fans locally and beyond that there is a reason why they have been a fixture in the local rock scene for over two years.
The monster of which I speak is the new and more-focused-than-ever Drayton Sawyer. This past year was a wild one for Drayton Sawyer. They played some big shows and made a lot of new fans and even more friends.
But almost as suddenly as they got rolling pretty well, the cosmos threw a couple of wrenches in their spokes. Cancelled tours, crowd-less shows and broken-down vans left the band stuck within the confines of the local scene for a little longer than expected (not that that’s necessarily a bad thing). On top of it all, with mutual respect for each other’s differences, the band parted ways with long-time vocalist John Schreiber.
Having regrouped, refocused and rededicated themselves to their craft, Drayton Sawyer has returned with a new singer/screamer, and a whole new outlook on what this band is all about.
“We really want to show people that Drayton Sawyer is a serious band,” says drummer Nick Cote. “Don’t get me wrong, music is all about having fun, and we like to have a good time when we play, but we want to be looked at as professional musicians rather than just a bunch of dudes playing metal.
“That’s why the title of our upcoming EP is called ‘5,000 lbs. of Respect,’ because we have been playing around the scene and perfecting our craft. You might not like us, but after you see us live, you will respect us.”
The upcoming EP that Cote mentioned is due out soon and was produced by the band themselves and Joseph McQueen (As I Lay Dying, This Day Will Tell). The addition of new vocalist Shane Mapoles has brought a whole new dynamic to Drayton Sawyer’s sound.
“We were going in a different direction from what John was into, so we asked Shane to join. He is a good friend of ours and he knew the music and the band, so it was a pretty smooth transition. He’s got a unique voice and it complements our music perfectly,” Cote says.
It has also made them more driven and open-minded about how they would approach getting back out and doing shows. “We’re so ready to get out there and play shows. We don’t really care who we play with,” adds Mapoles. “We’ve been going out and supporting the local bands, making friends and setting up shows with all kinds of different acts.”
Cote backs that up. “We’ve got the show with Charred Melon Cherries coming up, then we get to play with our good friends Scream Out Loud, Forevers Calling and The Offer on Dec. 10. We’re really glad to be playing with The Offer. They have always showed us a lot of love when we went up to play in Dothan, so we’re glad to have them down to play in our town, at our bar.”
Between the EP, new shows, new merchandise and a whole new meaning of the words “Live Show,” things are looking good for Drayton Sawyer.
Dothan’s The Offer isn’t your typical band. Most groups are composed of musicians with similar tastes and styles who have a pretty general idea as to what direction they want their music to take.
The Offer, however, is composed of five completely different guys, but with one united mindset: to make music that they want to play without compromise.
“The Offer got started about two and a half years ago,” says guitarist Michael Jordan (yep, that’s his name). “Our other guitarist Thomas and I started writing some stuff together on guitar and recording it after our old band, Blackhawk Alliance, broke up.
“We were writing some more melodic stuff and wanted to find a singer with their own style and voice. Luckily, we found Chris Eubanks, who is from right here in Dothan. He can scream and sing, which is cool because we don’t always have to write super heavy songs. The rest of the pieces fell into place and The Offer came to be. We didn’t really want to fit into any certain boxes, so we just started playing whatever felt right.”
The Offer has been kicking around the burgeoning Dothan scene for a while, and has made numerous appearances at Hot Topic stores around the north Florida region and Alabama. Having played numerous shows in Pensacola in other bands, Jordan is excited to bring The Offer down to Pensacola and meet back up with their old friends in Drayton Sawyer.
“We’ve known those guys for a while,” explains Jordan. “Thomas and I have played shows with them before in other bands, and we’ve even traveled down to Pensacola to see them play a couple of times. We also made sure to check them out and help spread the word when they came to Dothan. We’re excited to be able to play with them again, and make some new fans in Pensacola.”
The Offer, who’s self-funded, recorded, produced and distributed EP “The Science of Attraction” is enticing new listeners with every spin, is definitely a band to watch out for in the coming months, as they are sure to make it to the next level with the type of hard work and dedication that they put into their music.
The connection between the Alabama and Florida music scenes is an amazing and organic institution. Bands from both states, especially these two cities of Pensacola and Dothan, will continue to support each other and help one another better themselves. They share stages. They share fans. They share a border. Most of all, they share a love of music, and that is something that I think we can all come together on.
Drayton Sawyer, The Offer, Forevers Calling, and Scream Out Loud
WHERE: The Big Easy Tavern, 710 N. Palafox St.
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10
COST: Free for 21 and up, $5 for under 21
DETAILS: myspace.com/draytonsawyermusic, and myspace.com/theofferband