Have you heard The High Fidelics yet? This “retro fresh” all instrumental band has started the chattering-class chattering and the toe-tappers' toes tapping. When you’re at a High Fidelics show, you’ll feel like you’re basking on a California beach, hanging out in a no-wave NYC club, and eating grits at a Memphis soul club -- all at the same time. Based in Birmingham, Alabama, this group of men-of-a-certain-age burst into the public eye in October 2010 and has not slowed down yet. They released their first album -- a self-engineered, self-produced eponymous blockbuster -- online in 2012; the physical CD is slated for release later in 2013, and they have started tracking their second album (expected to come out in mid/late 2013).
The High Fidelics, like many other inspiring things these days, came about as a result of an advertisement posted on craigslist. Jeff Waites, erstwhile bassist and rabble-rouser, wanted to start a surf band as a side project to his then-active punk rock band. Luckily for Jeff, guitarist Edwin Cleverdon answered the ad. It would be hard to find two more different people. Jeff, a Birmingham native, is a self-taught musician, jack-of-all-trades by day, pub-crawler by night, whereas Edwin, from Mobile, Alabama, is a classically trained musician, tax lawyer by day, and mild-mannered father of three. However, this odd couple found common ground in their love of high-energy melodic instrumental music, and they quickly began laying the groundwork for a new, all instrumental rock band.
To fill out the band, Edwin called in long-time friends Ken Adams and Robert “Rowbear” Huffman, former bandmates in The Club Wig, a seminal group from the early punk/new wave scene in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Ken, a computer systems analyst originally from Chicago, has drummed in countless bands over the years (including the University of Alabama‘s Million Dollar Band), and can't be beat when it comes to laying down an infectious groove. Ken’s musical prowess is not limited to smacking the skins -- he is also a first-rate guitarist and keyboardist. Rowbear, a USDA inspector originally from Roanoke, Virginia, is the only member who came to the band with a “surf” pedigree, having tickled the ivories with the legendary Penetrators under the nom-de-plume “Bobby Corvair.” Not only is he a peerless organ-izer, Rowbear also serves as the band’s emcee, announcing song titles and other relevant information via his trusty megaphone. In addition to his High Fidelic duties, he can often be found around Birmingham and environs performing “The Great American Songbook,” accompanying himself on acoustic guitar and harmonica. For a short period, before their public debut, the band included sax-man Lars Espensen (formerly of The A-Bones), who is currently working with Jeff in the Tuscaloosa-based garage/surf band The Original Shake Charmers.
Although all four members are accomplished vocalists (each of them having served as lead singer with previous bands), The High Fidelics are strictly an instrumental ensemble. In this way, the performances highlight the interaction of each instrument in its purest form.
The bulk of their material is comprised of numbers written by Jeff and by Edwin, but with a heaping helping from Ken and from Rowbear. They also cover a few familiar (and some not-so-familiar) songs FTW. The High Fidelics have released their first album, look for it wherever fine music is sold! HF