On February 4th, a variety of local talent got together and played some amazing music for their friend in need, cancer survivor, Nick Hogan. Fashogan Fest was a daylong celebration that aimed to raise money for the enormous medical expenses incurred from the nearly 30 radiation treatments required to get him back to good health. Now that he is cancer free he lives a health focused lifestyle and hopes others can be inspired by his journey, “I want to be an example to anyone who is struggling with mental or physical illness in the world to never give up on their dreams of becoming healthy again.” His love and appreciation for everyone who supported Fashogan Fest was clearly tangible as he thanked the crowd numerous times throughout the evening.
From the beginning of the event supportive music fans were piling in to 2720 Cherokee and prepping for a day of great music with an afternoon buzz. Starting out the day was three-piece Alternative Rock/Country band, Circle the Wagons. Chris Graham (Vocals/Guitar), Ryan Walsh (Percussion), and Matt Hochwalt (Bass) set the bar early for the day’s musical standard.
Next up was Mexico, Missouri’s own The Best Cat Memes. Their beachy-rock sound almost had a country style Blink-182 vibe. The group consisted of frontman, Alex Martin Baisch (Lead vocals/Guitar), Dan Clark (Bass), and Stephen Doerhoff (Drums). The band played songs from their upcoming album Hot Hot Mess and Baisch even treated the crowd to a solo song near the end of their set.
Jack Grelle followed with a Honky Tonk country duo set featuring Matt Hughes on the pedal steel guitar. The unique instrument provided a beautiful backing of traditional country twang that often made you feel like you were in the middle of a spaghetti western. Grelle carried the set throughout with his smooth and rambling vocals.
The radiant and talented Hillary Fitz took the stage with her full band which shared members from the other acts of the day; Drew Lance (percussion), Gerard Erker (mandolin), and Chris Turnbaugh (upright bass). Fitz plays a fusion of indie-folk and bluegrass, with touches of blues influences. Her impressive song writing skills, picking style, and relaxed vocals came together in a captivating performance—the electric instruments added a special element that differs from her lovely EP titled She. She has a truly unique and soulful singing voice that touts a wide range of styles. Her voice carries a classic old-world vibe, it’s hard not to fall in love with her at the first note. Her own female vocal inspirations include artists such as Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, and Sarah Vaughn. It’s clear she has a deep genuine passion for her musical expression.
Following was The Scandaleros who filled the stage with high energy and a fusion of Blues, Funk, and good old Rock and Roll. They call the medley of genres Greasy Bayou Funk. The core band is Josip Capan (Bass and Vocals), Bill Walters (Drums), Tony LaMacchia (Drums), Carson Mann (Guitar and Vocals), David Rothschild (Percussion), and Nathan Hershey (Keyboard). They also welcomed Hillary Fitz and Madison Thorn who took the already lively band to the next level with their vocal accompaniment.
Grass Fed Mule, comprised of Drew Jameson (guitar, harmonica, and vocals), Gerard Erker (mandolin, guitar, banjo, vocals), Matt Flory (upright bass), and Drew Lance (cajon, washboard, and vocals), took to the stage with their high energy, fast paced, blue grass jam band performance. Their sound is hard to pin-point exactly, they have a spectacular range of styles that they incorporate— ranging from indie-folk, to bluegrass, blues, and jazz—if one thing is certain, they can jam! They had the crowd stomping their feet and square dancing to their tunes. Erker stunned the crowd with his picking skills, as always— it’s seems impossible for someone to move their fingers as quickly as he does. At one point, he quite literally knocked his glass off while jamming in a particularly intense solo moment. A unique feature of their compositions is Drew Lance on the cajone, which is a boxed shape percussion instrument that’s played by hitting the front of the box with hands, fingers, or mallets. Their classic folk harmonies, paired with their dizzying instrumentals, is nothing short of inspiring—and of course, their performance wasn’t complete without a little bit of kazoo playing. This feel-good band thoroughly electrified the crowd.
The Mighty Pines are officially SoSTL’s first repeat act, having previously reviewed their Winter Residency show at Venice Café last month. The band features Neil Salisch (guitar and vocals), John Hussing (bass and vocals), Gerard Erker (mandolin, banjo, and vocals), and Mike Murano (percussion). Our first time experiencing the band was unique because their set was fully acoustic, sans a drummer, and they had a guest fiddle player. This time they had their full band in place and played all electric instruments. We must say, the experience was quite different, but we were just as blown away as we were the first time. While the first time around had the soulful voice of a fiddle throughout, their sound had much more of a base in Rock N Roll with their full band there to play. The drums by Murano added a deep rock vibe that pairs so well with Salisch’s soulful voice. The crowd continued their swing-dancing as The Mighty Pines kept delivering a high-energy performance. To wrap up their set they treated the crowd to two covers; What’s Going on by Marvin Gaye and What Would You Say by Dave Matthews Band. Their full production is just as worthy of praise as their stripped-down version and they certainly left a lasting impression.
Oak, Steel & Lightning were the second to last act to take the stage with their self-proclaimed “Outlaw Country Jam” music. Compared to some of the more folk based performance OS&L had a grittiness that made them their own. If this band were a drink they’d be a smooth shot of Kentucky bourbon whiskey. Oak, Steel & Lightning is Ryan Kemp (Bass/Vocals), Wayne Imboden (Guitar/Vocals), Andy Grossi (Guitar), and Jason King (Drums). Despite being at a venue deep in the city, you could still close your eyes and picture that country road whizzing on by. Their aesthetic is truly displayed in their recent video for Lonesome WhippoorWill which was based around an open air performance that only feels right. While mostly a Country-Rock band, their performance still included hints of their Blues and Jazz influences, melding together as a perfect display of the culture their music was formed within. Baseball caps were the expected attire for most members besides Ryan who wore a stylin’ top-hat to add a little drama and swagger to the performance. While there is no question this group has musical talent, the best part of watching them perform is the constant smiles on their faces. These boys are in it for the good time. It’s definitely possible to see how OS&L is inspired by groups like The Allman Brothers when you see their charisma and group dynamic on stage. If you get the chance to see them live just know you will be dancing by the end of their set.
Wrapping up the night was Funk/Electro band Break Night whose high energy was a perfect contrast to the array of music already heard that day. The two masters of soul that make up the duo are Nick Queensen (Percussion) and Andrew Allen (Guitar), both artists handle production.
Overall, Fashogan Fest was a great display of the immense talent this region produces. Each band had its own unique sound giving attendees a fully enriching musical experience. The event raised over four thousand dollars for Hogan, including ticket sales and silent auction items donated by a variety of local St. Louis establishments. Gerard Ekert, who appeared in a number of the day’s performances, used this famous quote to describe what the event was all about: “We get by with a little help from our friends.”
Check out more photos from the event: