I’ve been a fan of Jefferson Colby for as long as I’ve been aware of there being a Jefferson Colby. It’s a solid band with solid musicianship and songwriting you might not expect in a regional act. So when Jefferson Colby’s bassist, Anthony Sosa, told me his other band – a prog rock outfit called The Raven Charter – was headlining a show at Trees in Deep Ellum, I had to check it out. I like Sosa’s bass work, I love prog rock and I always wished we had something like Trees in Funkytown.
Trees is that kind of venue that would have a hard time existing on this side of the Metroplex. It’s one of those high-ceilinged old industrial buildings that Fort Worth tends to knock down as soon as it can. The main room is about three stories tall, with tree trunks supporting the roof (complete with bark). There’s a real stage that gets the band up above the crowd, and balconies around the edges so you can watch the show from up high. The lighting is phenomenal, the sound is great, and the place was starting to fill up about the time I got there.
The Raven Charter consists of Garrett Bond (lead vocals), Brandon Bond (guitar, vocals), Daniel Baskind (guitar, vocals), Erik Stolpe (keyboard, acoustic guitar, vocals), Anthony Sosa (bass, vocals) and Brian Christie (drums). The band was originally based out of Denton, but now calls Dallas home.
Describing any good progressive band is hard. To be good in that genre, you need your own sound and The Raven Charter has many. Yeah, I can hear an influence here or there – the lead vocals have a touch of Rob Thomas in them, but there’s a certain detachment from any particular style. They have an eclectic list of influences on their Facebook page, but that won’t really give you a sense of what you are going to hear.
That said, the instrumentals are tight, there is a tasteful amount of synth work, and the vocals are emotive. This is a progressive band that still knows what a groove is, and that can move from dirty and alternative to polished and harmonious without you ever noticing the gear change.
Having seen a more than a few local prog acts (and having played in a couple), I know that most of them suffer from a lack of stage presence. Musicians of this ilk tend to be a tad introspective in the first place, and if the band is good enough, that will carry the weight. Raven Charter is not one of those bands. These guys have the stage show down, they have the rock-star stance, and Sosa’s hair seems to defy gravity (is hair-prog a genre?). They are as much fun to watch as to listen to.
For a good feel of who these guys are about, check out the band on its YouTube page. The video for No Direction is a nicely shot performance vid with good audio. And be sure to check them live when you get a chance.