Roadside Glorious back in town for May 20 gig at Big Beach
By Fran Thompson
Although they are based in New Orleans, the rock band Roadside Glorious, which will rock Big Beach Brewing Co. in Gulf Shores on Saturday, May 20 from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m., has deep Pleasure Island roots.
The band’s guitarist/songwriter Basch Jernigan and drummer Aydan Closson are childhood friends who graduated in 2012 from Gulf Shores High School.
While in school, they played together in Katawompus, a band Basch started while a freshman at GSHS. Aydan joined the band when both were juniors and provided the backbeat until Basch left for New Orleans to matriculate at Tulane. Their high school gigs included a well received set at the 2011 Hangout Fest.
At Tulane, Basch concentrated on academics and a relationship during his first three years, and then – unexpectedly unattached with graduation looming – he made a decision to get back into music.
“Things change and you kinda’ go back to what you love doing,’’ he said.
Basch played in a band with fellow Tulane students during his senior year in college. And after graduation, he decided he wanted to try to play music full-time rather than accept a job more suited to his college major, environmental studies.
It was a decision that his parents encouraged, which is fitting, since they, along with his brother, are responsible for his passion for music and songwriting.
Basch’s mom, Dale, runs the Health Science Academy at Gulf Shores High and his dad, Leo, is a local dentist. Dale plays piano and loves classical music, and Leo is a rocker who dabbles on the drums.
“My brother and I were surrounded by musical parents growing up, although they were very different when it comes to taste,’’ Basch said.
“My mom plays piano and has an ear for classical music. My dad never played anything other than drums. But you could always tell he was feeling the music deep down in his bones.
“He would put the Jackson 5 and Al Green on the turntable and sing along, and he loved to dance,’’ Basch added. “I got my love of music from both, but I got my soul and my passion for it from my dad.’’
Basch’s first gigs were playing electric at his brother Kemp’s gigs. A 2008 Gulf Shores grad, Kemp went to The Hart School of Music in CT., and then earned a masters in music from Yale. Kemp now plays oboe professionally in New York City.
“He would let me sit in with him at places like LuLu’s and play lead guitar,’’ Basch said. “He was a big influence.’’
Always a solid student, Basch said he has received nothing but support from home as he follows his muse while living three hours to the east.
“Most parents would have questions for a child doing what I’m doing, especially after getting a college degree in something other than music,’’ he said. “But my parents have been so loving and so supportive and very enthusiastic about me doing what I love. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.’’
In addition to Basch and Aydan, Roadside Glorious includes Evan Hall on lead guitar, Tyler Self on bass and Bear Hutchinson on keyboards.
The band came together when Basch and Evan started talking during a music industry course at Loyola University last spring. After jamming, they realizing they shared the same musical interests and a desire to create their own vision, that is, play their own music.
Although a lead guitarist, Evan played bass for a number of well-known and highly respected New Orleans bands, including FlowTribe, Big Chief Alfred Doucette, and Denton Hatcher. He said he knew a great bass player – his childhood friend Tyler, who was also his classmate at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. Tyler also played in multiple bands both before and while attending Loyola University.
Basch knew exactly who he wanted to play drums.
“I knew I wanted Ayden and I was talking to him about moving over there from the get-go,’’ he said. “He is without a doubt the best drummer I ever played with before or since we were in Katawompus. He’s such a great and solid drummer and such a good guy.’’
Aydan is also responsible for the band’s name. During a conversation with his grandmother about a month before she passed away, Aydan took it to heart when his grandmother told him that no matter what happens, make sure he goes “where the roadside’s glorious.’’
Just like that, the Alabama/Louisiana contingency had a calling card.
The band released their debut single, “Chasing Hope,” last October. The accompanying music video was filmed entirely in Gulf Shores. The band has also released two other songs/videos recorded and filmed at Word of Mouth Recording Studio in New Orleans.
Its no surprise that the group booked time specifically at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals to record their debut album this fall. “I grew up idolizing artists who graced Muscle Shoals with their presence,’’ Basch said. “I know every Duane Allman lick on Live at the Fillmore East album by heart.’’
A lack of material will not be an issue when the band shows up at FAME.
Basch, the band’s primary songwriter, said creating music has always come naturally to him. Even in high school, he wrote original music for Katawompus to play.
“Writing music has always come naturally to me,’’ he said. “I’m an avid songwriter, and it’s not like I even put my mind to it. It just happens.’’
Once he has lyrics, arrangements and melody in place, Basch looks to his high school friend to hammer out the structure and his bandmates to fill in the chord changes.
The result is a fusion of gritty soul, rock, and blues. “Gritty and soulful – two words I’ve always wanted to be associated with musically,’’ said Basch.
Surprisingly, even though they are based in The Big Easy, Roadside Glorious plays way more often in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida, although they do play May 24 at The Howlin’ Wolf.
“A lot of our funk and soul are influenced by us living in New Orleans,’’ Basch said. “You can’t be in New Orleans and not pick up on funk and soul. But all of us grew up on Southern rock – Lynard Skinard, Allman Brothers.’’
Basch said Roadside Glorious is united in its plan to continue touring heavily across the southeast and getting in the studio this fall.
“I’m having a blast,’’ he said. “It’s been everything I wanted it to be. Paying the rent and keeping the power on is more of a challenge. But at the end of the day, I’d rather have less money and do what I love rather than make more money and do something I don’t.
“Everybody else in the band feels the same,’’ he added. “So I’d say we are all happy guys.’’
Spoken like a passionate young artist looking at a horizon unhindered by fear of what is beyond it. And what could you possibly add to that Basch?
“The only thing I can think of is just to say how much we love and appreciate everybody in Gulf Shores for the support they’ve given us. I want everybody to know how much that means to us.’’