One of this year's most promising new bands is The Cardinal Sims. The group follows up a successful July show with its second appearance at the Bullfrog Brewery, 229 W. Fourth St., at 10 p.m. Friday night. The band formed about six months ago when local musicians Simeon Myers and John Shively decided to expand the sound of their acoustic duo with full band accompaniment.
It's important to have a vision and a plan when forming a band. Myers had some specifics in mind. He felt the sound of a stand-up bass would fit well with the songs, so Oliver approached his friend, Matt Radspinner.
"I went to school with him (Radspinner), so I knew he's a great musician," Myers said. "Matt said he'd be interested if he liked the music, so we sent him some of our songs. A day or so later I get a call from Matt and he's like, 'Absolutely, I'm in.' " In search of a drummer, they targeted one of the best and well-known drummers in the area, Shaun Gilmour.
The Cardinal Sims will perform at 10 p.m. Friday at the Bullfrog Brewery, 229 W. Fourth St.
"Thrilled to have him be a part as well," Myers said. "We do a wide range of sounds and genres so having someone who can play these different styles and grooves was important. Shaun can funk it up, jazz it up - he can play anything. I'd say that about all the artists in my band. It's a very versatile group."
It's hard to peg the group's style, they don't fit easily into the pocket of one genre. Instead, they mix up various styles to come up with the distinctive Cardinal-Sims sound. Myers writes songs with alternative guitar-driven rock edginess but underpins them with Americana traditionalism and instrumentation. It's not unusual for the classically trained Oliver to go from Strat to Stradivarius if the song calls for it, or maybe Gilmour will switch sticks for brushes on a number or two.
The eclectic nature of the band's material comes across during a The Cardinal Sims live show and so does the passion for music and performing.
"Whether it's a lullaby or a rock tune, I'm definitely putting my heart into my music," Myers said. "We try to make things different and keep people captivated. I think that's one of the nice things about our shows. You don't hear the same thing twice. You're going to hear something that's very pop or anthemic-sounding and then the next song will be very scaled down with ukulele, acoustic guitar, stand up bass and brushes on the drums and people are like , 'Wow I didn't expect that.' "
The U.S.-born Myers emigrated to Israel at age 16 and remained there for several years. During this time, he forged a trail of bringing Americana and American folk music to the Israeli music fans. He found success overseas and developed a following of fans.
"That's where I did a lot of my music before," Myers said. "Israel has really good music and the scene encompasses a wide range of sounds. Most of what I've done in my adult years musically have been in Israel, so definitely I've been all over the country there and primarily sang in English. The folk-Americana sound I did there had a novelty aspect to it. I was giving them something different and it was well received."
Last year, Myers returned to Israel and with Shively in tow, the duo barnstormed across the country playing gigs. It was special experience for both musicians. It gave Myers an opportunity to visit family and friends, while Shively was able to experience a different culture and its music.
"Playing Israel was unbelievable, a great experience," Shively said. "It was not like any gig I've ever played before, I can tell you that. Really cool, I'd love to go back. They were very receptive to our music, liked it quite a bit. It would be fun to take The Cardinal Sims over there - we've talked about it."
In addition to possible shows in Israel, the band has plans to establish themselves here and then branch out to do shows in the metropolitan areas of the Northeast. The group feels it's a good time for the local music scene and that there is great potential for growth.
"This is my only group," Myers said. "But Shaun plays with the Dirty Nickels, is the irrepressible Mel Mounds and John has the JOD, as well as playing with Mal Scoppa. They tell me about seeing a lot of new faces at their respective shows. I know that things like Facebook and the new community radio station, WXPI, has really helped our (and other) band's exposure. I'm looking forward to our Bullfrog show Friday and the one I'm playing with John at the Pig's Ear in Loyalsock the following night." The Cardinal Sims play at 10 p.m. Friday at the Bullfrog Brewery, 229 W. Fourth St. Simeon Myers and John Shively will play as a duo at 10 p.m. Oct. 1 at the Pig's Ear Pub.