At the intersection of rock and roll, bluegrass, alt/old-time country and post-punk stands the Cleveland band, WOODSHED MERCY. Consisting of multi-talented musician/singer songwriters, Woodshed Mercy collaborates to bring together a unique collection of American music.
Woodshed Mercy was born from the reunited core of Tumbleweed Jo. Warmly received at the 1998 Undercurrents Showcase, Tumbleweed Jo inspired a positive review in the 5/21/98 issue of Scene Magazine.
Guitarist DREW CLAIR is the band's spark plug, with songs bursting with cow-punk energy. Violinist JENNIFER O'NEAL not only adds her introspective rock n'roll balladry to the set, but her sweet Indiana vocals provide a welcome contrast to Clair's aggressive growl. Her violin adds both countrified giddy-up and haunting psychedelic touches to many of their songs, providing color and imagery. Meanwhile, the solid rhythm section of bassist DAVE KASL and drummer MATT KASL keeps the toes tapping and takes hold of the wheel, driving home the heartland oratories with a collaboration that runs blood-deep and lifetime long. With their diverse synthesis of musical tastes and influences, Woodshed Mercy's sound is a curious and catchy brew best described as Eclectic Americana.
Seasoned veterans of the local music scene, Woodshed Mercy have performed at the Beachland Ballroom & Tavern, the Barking Spider Tavern, the Grog Shop, Berea's National Rib Cook-Off, Around the Corner Cafe, Rock the Vote Shows, Hiram College's SpringFest and private parties. They're also occasional participants in the Sunday Night Musicians Jam at the Town Fryer, hosted by Hayshaker Jones.
Woodshed Mercy released their first full-length, self-titled CD in August 2005.
"We've said it before: ever since the demise of Uncle Tupelo, we've seen the release of twice as many remarkable albums. The end of last year saw the release of Woodshed Mercy's self titled CD. At first the album sounds more cheerful than the local Tumbleweed Jo project from which Woodshed Mercy evolved (four of the five band members remain), but those who listen closely discover that Drew Clair still has enough demons chasing after him. The infectious opener, 'Lena's Love Letters,' immediately sets the tone for the rest of the album: electric American/roots rock of the highest caliber. As Springsteen's spirit drifts through 'Persuade' soon after, the disconsolate and quietly rocking 'Nobottom Blues' brings us to a new high point. An electric guitar, a lost harmonica, a deformed guitar and almost psychedelic effects, held together by an equally simple and effective violin line, make this song in my opinion an early contender for song of the year. But then, immediately afterwards, comes 'July in Jacksonville' which can compete with the best that any other band has to offer. Then follows 'Appalachian Backdoor Mating Call,' in which Woodshed Mercy again manage to bring their psychedelic effects to this cowpunk-ish song. And finally the CD closes with three more gems! You get my point: Woodshed Mercy is more than just ten American-music songs! This band from Cleveland present their mix of rock & roll, bluegrass, alt/old-time country and post-punk like no-one else, and that's why this CD will not be leaving my CD player anytime soon." - Freddy Celis, Rootstime.be, CD Reviews April 2006 (English translation from review below, courtesy of Rudy Konczol...thank you!)
"We hebben het al vaker uitgeroepen: sinds Uncle Tupelo niet meer is, krijgen we tweemaal zo vaak prachtige platen. Eind vorig jaar zag het titelloze album van Woodshed Mercy het licht. Op het eerste gehoor klinkt de plaat vrolijker dan het lokale Tumbleweed Jo project dat hier aan vooraf ging. Gebleven zijn vier van de vijf huidige muzikanten, maar wie goed luistert, ontdekt dat Drew Clair nog altijd genoeg demonen achter zich aan heeft. De aanstekelijke opener 'Lena's Love Letters' zet meteen de toon voor de rest van dit album: elektrische Americana/roots rock van de bovenste plank. Zo dwaalt in 'Persuade' de geest van Springsteen door, waarna al snel het desolate stil rockende 'Nobottom Blues' een nieuw hoogtepunt vormt. Een elektrische gitaar, een verdwaald harmonica, een vervormde gitaar en bijna psychedelische effecten, bijeengehouden door een even simpele als doeltreffende vioollijn maken dit nummer voor mij nu al een van de grote kanshebbers voor de titel song van het jaar. Hoewel, meteen volgt "July in Jacksonville", dat zich kan meten met het beste van eh. tja, van wie niet eigenlijk? En dan volgt 'Appalachian Backdoor Mating Call', een nummer waar Woodshed Mercy weer die psychedelische effecten weet toe te voegen aan deze cowpunk-achtige song. En dan volgen nog drie afsluitende prijsnummers! U begrijpt het, Woodshed Mercy is een meer dan tien American music-songs! Deze band uit Cleveland brengen hun mix van rock & roll, bluegrass, alt/old-time country en post-punk als niemand anders, en daarom is deze plaat voorlopig niet meer uit mijn cd-speler weg te krijgen." (www.rootstime.be, CD Reviews-April 2006)
"Woodshed Mercy bills itself as 'eclectic Americana,' but it doesn't show the dourness that afflicts some such bands. There's certainly a country flavor in its ten-song debut, but the driving intensity of the quintet's electric arrangements pretty much subsumes any bluegrass/old-timey influences and transforms them into something unmistakably contemporary. The band projects the sense that it's having a grand old time on tunes like the easy-rockin' "Nobottom Blues," at once affectionate and tongue-in-cheek, or tracks such as "Appalachian Backdoor Mating Call" that verge on frenetic cowpunk/psychobilly. Singer-guitarist Drew Clair's punky sneer on "Lena's Love Letters" owes a debt to Lou Reed, and "Persuade" has a Springsteen vibe, with Jennifer O'Neal's prickly violin adding drama. O'Neal's own vivid vocals on more serious tracks like "Neverland" and "Dona Nobis Pacem" complement Clair's and make this a well-balanced disc." - Anastasia Pantsios, Cleveland Free Times (August 24-30, 2005 issue)
"Initially, the name Woodshed Mercy might conjure up visions of a B-reel horror film, starring a recklessly annoying hotel heiress who gets whacked about halfway through the flick. But once you get a load of the locally-focused "Nobottom Blues," a track halfway through this band's self-titled release, you already understand what that mercy really is all about.
Born from the reunited core (four of the five current members) of one-time local act Tumbleweed Jo, Woodshed Mercy takes on rock n' roll, bluegrass, alt-country with a pinch of post-punk ethos. They distill it into the best batch of aural moonshine you've ever had; the results are what Wilco's Jay Bennett might have thought of when he dubbed the phrase "rural contemporary." With five unique singer-songwriter approaches to the craft, Woodshed Mercy create a melange of Americana music that ages well, but never grows old.
The disc starts with a different spin on "Dear John" letters called "Lena's Love Letters," showcasing mountain/Applachian sounds spun into post-punk gold. The vocals of Drew Clair and Jennifer O'Neal make an intriguing pairing throughout, adding poignancy to the sharp witticisms in the lyrics and fantastic instrumental interplay shared here. "The Ballad of Henry Lee" and "Telemundo Novella" help pull those elements together, as does "It's All Over But the Crying," a perfect song for another pro sports team loss.
Fans of the Jack Fords, Whiskey Daredevils and Hayshaker Jones might already be familiar with the group's bluesy, rootsy take on alt-country and well-crafted balladry. Like the Daredevils, who were reviewed here a few weeks ago, Woodshed Mercy is good party and beer-drinkin' music with ethos... cajones, even. And they write from the heart, too.
Blissfully, Woodshed Mercy has more to do with Paris, Texas than it does Hilton. In other words, No Depression necessary.
Woodshed Mercy joins The Jack Fords, Hayshaker Jones, Robert Cornelius and Pale Blue Sky for an "unsigned" Americana music showcase Thursday, December 15th at the Beachland Ballroom. The first 50 showgoers also get a FREE Independent Northeast Ohio Roots Compilation featuring the evening’s artists along with other regional acts. Check it out!" - Peter Chakerian, CoolCleveland.com (Dec. 7-14, 2005 issue)