Local band Farmington Hill has picked up one of Durango’s more tenured rhythm sections.
The country, punk, rock ’n’ roll band that has placed a solid stamp on the town’s music scene since forming in 2006 has, like many bands of all genres, had members come and go. That’s part of the game. It’s rare to find a band that continues to have all original band members intact, as arrests or overdoses, internal squabbling or conflict about artistic direction can always put a strain on the band dynamic.
However, Farmington Hill’s lineup changes throughout its 14-year existence aren’t quite so dramatic. Fortunate for the fan and not so for the poison tabloid of social media, there’s been no mysterious seedy-hotel deaths, no on-stage blowups, no recording studio fisticuffs – changes have come from the simple action of past band members picking up and moving on.
Band change has resulted in the addition of bass player Jim Belcher and drummer David Sachs, who join founding band members Erik Nordstrom (lead guitar and vocals), Paul “Bubba” Iudice (rhythm guitar and vocals) and Kelly Rogers (lap steel).
Farmington Hill will play Saturday night at The Garage. Also on the bill will be local band The Crags, whose latest release, “Desert Haze,” is a dreamy dose of psychedelic, surf and garage rock.
Farmington Hill continues to fit right into that world where bands like Hüsker Dü rub elbows with George Jones, where subtle country melodies find themselves sandwiched between a rockabilly shuffle and a handful of power chords. There’s a perfect amount of tongue-in-cheek, crying-in-your-beer tenderness, matched with a perfect amount of roots-punk aggression. It’s music that fits right into that Midwest, cowpunk neighborhood where Uncle Tupelo is the mayor, that also yearns to be neighbors with The Long Ryders and other inhabitants of Southern California’s Paisley Underground.
It’s a band ripe and ready for musicians like Sachs and Belcher; both have held down bass and drumming duties in a handful of local bands for decades. Independently, Sachs plays with gypsy outfit Carute Roma and has played with multiple bands, including Sand Sheff and The Chills. Belcher has played bass with numerous bands, including Sky Pilot, The Chills and many more. Their own musical partnership goes back decades, having played together back in the 1990s in local jam-band Earthtone, and more currently backing guitar player Ben Gibson in The Ben Gibson Band.
Joining Farmington Hill was a no-brainer for both, as the two are more than willing to diversify their own musical resumés while also being part of an established, local rock band.
“I had seen Farmington Hill several times in the past and was always a fan,” Belcher said. “Both Erik and Bubba have a gift for writing clever and concise songs, while Kelly provides crucial high harmonies and that magic lap-steel. I feel like my role in this band is to stay in the engine room and provide a solid, driving foundation.”
“Jim and I have been playing together in various bands since the Earthtone days over 20 years ago,” Sachs said. “Of all the rock bands I’ve ever played with, Farmington Hill has probably the tightest and crisp, concise songs, and right now, as a musician and as a listener, that excites me the most. It’s a neat challenge to signal the emotional movement within a song. The previous drummers really have set the bar high. The drumming on the two Farmington Hill records is great, and Erik, Bubba and Kelly have honed their own parts to a pretty fine edge over the years. So, I’m trying to do the same with mine as I gain familiarity with the songs.”
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at email@example.com.