Bands to Watch 2009

The Main Street Gospel

  • Will Shilling photo
From the The Main Street Gospel edition

If this isn't the year for The Main Street Gospel, their year is never coming.

In November, they were an unsigned rock band with some routine Columbus gigs and a basement full of demos collecting dust. They got a Christmas card from their manager but hadn't talked to him in months. They could barely tow their gear, struggling car-less to compile enough cash to put a trailer hitch on a girlfriend's SUV.

Two months can make a world of difference.

"Things are happening, and we have some really good people in our corner," said guitarist and lead singer Barry Dean, a tall drink of water who once played tambourine with the Brian Jonestown Massacre. "If I don't totally work and put everything I have into it, I don't deserve any of this. You're not blessed with all the time in the world."

But Dean, bassist Tito and drummer Adam Scoppa have been blessed with industry connections that are now paying off.

First came a debut seven-inch recorded with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys and released by an Akron friend's label with national distribution. Both tracks capture the band's love of '60s psychedelic rock, Chicago blues and Bakersfield country.

"When I was younger, there were pretty much three records that I listened to a lot: CSNY's Deja Vu, Hank Williams' Greatest Hits and Bob Dylan's Times They Are A- Changin'," Tito said. "Me and my dad - those were the only records we could agree on."

The retro-tinged vinyl release has turned a lot of heads, but the best for the band is yet to come.

A recent gig in New York City, with gear successfully trailered to the Lower East Side, has led to a deal with Tee Pee Records - home to Brian Jonestown, Witch and Columbus metal stalwarts Teeth of the Hydra. The contract awaits only a look-see by the band's attorney, Dean said.

"We're at least putting one record out on Tee Pee," he said. "It's pretty sweet. It's weird, because I've listened to so many bands on Tee Pee."