The darlings of the backwoods of Appalachian Ohio tell us how their families are living with social distance.
Music Curation: Cutler Station (@cutlerstation / @middle.american)
Words & Images: Cutler Station & Paul Costianes
Editor’s Note: Last month, I wrote about the origins of the “Listen” series and expanding its reach to become a platform for introducing our readers to the musical tastes and backstories of the many characters that we encounter at 55 Cities. Cutler Station is a band of these types of characters, and a fantastic case study in what it takes to chase down a dream while taking on the responsibilities that inevitably find us in life. I first met Kirby Evans, a founding member of the band, 5 years ago through work, and have listened to the band develop their sound across two full-length releases and an ever-expanding touring schedule. After wrapping up a string of live shows in the first two months of 2020 and with a new album coming soon, it was clear that now was the time to share this band’s story. We planned to meet at Cutler Station, a tiny convenience store in Cutler, Ohio that was the inspiration for the band’s name, for a photoshoot and interview.
What a difference a month makes. A few weeks before our meeting, COVID-19 spread across the globe and ushered in a new era of medical emergency, social distancing, self-quarantine, and mandatory isolation periods. After some discussion, we decided to use this as an opportunity to share the band’s personal experiences with family, creativity, and the uncertainty inherent to these times. We hope that their stories inspire you and that the playlist and Cutler Station songs can keep you company.
Help us turn this post into a time capsule by answering the questions that we asked the band in the comments below. This is history in the making, so add your voice to the mix, and we’ll credit you in a future post. Remember to stay strong, and stay home!
Who IS Cutler Station? The Official Bio.
Cutler Station is an indie rock band that has grown out of the title of “local band” into that of “regional band.” Named aptly after the closest thing to a convenience store that one would find near the band’s hometown of Vincent, OH, the rock ‘n’ roll four-piece simmers with a controlled nervous energy that transforms into music that explores the specifically Appalachian human experience with humor and sorrow in equal doses. Made up of Steve Lipscomb, Jason Swiger, and the Brothers Evans (John and Kirby), the band has known each other for decades and formed their current lineup in 2011. The group has brought to life two proper full-lengths, “Happy Campers” (2017) and “Cutler Station” (2019), demonstrating increasing musicality and greater sonic vision on each. [written by Emily Votaw]
A Social Distancing Questionnaire
We asked the guys from Cutler Station four questions to get a glimpse into how they’re dealing with day-to-day life during this time of social distancing. Their answers give us a snapshot of four lives that are not unlike our own during these extraordinary circumstances. Hopefully, by sharing their stories of learning to balance family, work and band responsibilities, we can open a dialogue to better inform each other on how to thrive during these times. We can also get a little insight into why turd-burgling, bathroom FaceTime sessions, and B.F. Skinner are so important right now.
What’s a day-in-the-life look like for you in this era of social distancing?
John: Not much has changed for me in my work life. I work from home and so it’s business as usual on that front. However, I have four kids who are now home every hour and my wife, who is a stay at home mom, bears the brunt of this new routine. There’s a never-ending argument about piano lessons, school work and what is provided for lunch. Before and after work, my life is filled with walks with the kids(9,7,4, and 2) and the dog, basement jamming on old used instruments, board games and puzzles, NERF battles, and even some time for writing. To be honest, it’s been really nice not having to run around constantly. I am probably in the camp of “I was already practicing social distancing”.
Jason: Total change for me, I work in a M-F 9-5 type office setting. Luckily, we have been proactive in our mobile tech well ahead of this so the critical persons are able to function remotely. However, I am now also trying to keep 3 kids ages 4,5 & 7 busy while running an insurance agency remotely from Cutler, OH on blazing-fast 1 MB internet. Who would have thought in 2020 a landline & fax machine would be my lifeline? My wife, an elementary teacher, is still being required to report to school so yeah it’s kinda chaos in our house. Living on 88 acres in rural Ohio def has its benefits in this weird time. My wife, kids and I have always enjoyed hikes in the woods, specifically during this time of the year, so we will still get to hunt morels and antler sheds as we would normally.
Steve: My workday hasn’t changed a ton. I build houses and log homes with my dad. What’s changed the most is the evenings. I have 2 kids and am usually coaching my oldest in whatever sport he is in. We’re supposed to be in Spring baseball, but the country being shut down put it on indefinite hold. So my evenings are filled with a mix of inside baseball training for my son and trying to find ways to entertain my kids and wife. We’ve watched a lot of movies, listened to a bunch of records, and thrown some darts.
Kirby: This past Friday my family and I ventured out for supplies and decided to pick up a pizza while we were out. This would be our weekly night out on the town trying to run our errands as quickly as possible so that we could return to the confines of our safe little home. My wife who is 9 months pregnant and has asthma needed replenishment of her over-the-counter inhaler. During our venture out I found myself carrying around a Clorox wipe like a southern dandy would carry around his handkerchief. Wiping down gas pumps, door handles, my wallet and credit cards, and even the Papa Johns pizza box.
How are you staying connected to those who are important to you?
John: Lot’s of FaceTime and phone calls. I have been trying to use social media less and just communicate with people directly. Steve and I still have our standing 3:30 PM call about the band where we discuss anything and everything band related, plus a little political chatter. It’s hard to keep track of the different doomsday scenarios Kirby and I’s parents have been coming up with, so I make sure they text those to me so I can catalog them appropriately. I also set up an email account that my kids can access after they have turned a certain age. I have been journaling about current events and keeping track of everything we do during these times. Should be fun reading in the dystopian future.
Jason: Band text thread keeps me up to date. I am a sucker for watching the people freak out on social media. It’s been my entertainment.
Steve: The most important people, outside of my family, are the dudes in the band. We text each other throughout the day, and I usually call John at 3:30 pm when I get off work.
Kirby: Lots of FaceTime. I took a FaceTime while I was on the toilet with Steve the other night. Not sure if he noticed or not.
What’s your favorite time of day right now and why?
John: Easily the mornings. I get to take a quiet shower and maybe even poop without someone turd burgling me. I also love to cook breakfast, so getting to cook some good food for myself and the family is always enjoyable. Also, I love that first cup of coffee in the morning. It really wakes me up and reminds me that this could go on for 18 months.
Jason: Although it’s all chaos right now, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying all this time during the day with my kiddos. They drive me nuts but it’s been awesome just hanging with them between phone calls.
Steve: My favorite part of the day is the early evenings when I’m hanging with my kids. I’ve just eaten supper so I’m fat and full, and me and the kids are watching Star Wars or swinging bats.
Kirby: I’m a morning guy. I like getting up before everybody else in our house and having that 30-45 minutes to myself.
If you could have one mythical figure (includes famous people), alive or dead, spend this time with you, who would it be and why?
John: The Great Gazoo would be fun to have around in these times.
- He’s hilarious. Never-ending hijinks and pranks
- Time Travel
- Materialize and Dematerialize objects
- I would like to hear him tell me, from his very own mouth, that he is actually a descendant of an ancient alien species that jump-started homo sapiens, just to enslave them to mine gold and precious metals from the earth that they needed for their spaceships.
Or Cheech and Chong.
Jason: Oh man hardest question for sure, I would either want to chat with someone super cerebral, like B.F. Skinner, who would be interesting to get his opinion on society today with social media and how we are handling this pandemic. OR someone super funny like Richard Pryor. But it would also be awesome to have a badass like Predator around in case things got crazy.
Steve: Mythical figure, hmmmmm, my kids would probably like to hang out with Chewbacca.
Kirby: Les Stroud from Survivorman for obvious reasons. I chose Les over Bear because I don’t want to have to learn to drink my own urine and eat slugs. I feel like Les could teach me the ropes to surviving off the land in a more practical fashion.
Listen: 03.27.2020: A Playlist by Cutler Station
About the Playlist
“Subconsciously I think some of these songs sit in that space between loving, and at the same time hating, where you’re from. The other aspect is music that we strive to be like in a way. We started off with the intention of having a mentality of Monsters of Folk or the Traveling Wilburys, where everyone has input in writing the songs and trades on and off with lead vocals and that sort of thing.
I’d say the other portion of songs reflects what the band now looks at as inspiration, like Sturgill Simpson. We’re not necessarily trying to emulate his sound, but just latching onto the notion that you don’t have to fit into one genre or way of doing things. If it feels good, do it.”— from Kirby Evans of Cutler Station
- Devil n Me – Taylor Hollingsworth
- Goin’ out West – Rod Melancon
- Nobody Makes It Out – Traveller
- Terre, 9999 – Skyway Man
- My Sweet Midwest – Fruit Bats
- In the Kingdom of Dreams – Ian Felice
- Meth Head – Ian Noe
- If That’s the Way It’s Gotta Be – The Country Side of Harmonica Sam
- Steak Night at the Prairie Rose – Mike and the Moonpies
- Gentleman – Black Lips
- Meant to Be – Diamond Rugs
- Every Little Thing – Jeff Lynne
- Mercury In Retrograde – Sturgill Simpson
- Magic Marker – Monsters of Folk
- End of the Line – Traveling Wilburys
- When I Learned Your Name – Daniel Romano
- Television – You Won’t
- Vampire – Teddy and the Rough Riders
- Young Assumption – T. Hardy Morris
- Fifteen Passenger Van – Jonny Fritz
- Judy – The dB’s
- Mom and Dad – Middle Brother
- Aliens, Magic Sofa Reprise – Skyway Man, Teddy and the Rough Riders
- Circuits in the Sand – King Tuff
For More Cutler Station
Follow Cutler Station on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube for updates, and listen on Spotify or Apple Music.
Follow Middle American on Instagram for upcoming events and to check out other great bands on the roster.
©2020 55 Cities
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