Building a Band 

Meanflower takes its time on the road to success.

Like the warehouse, Meanflower is a work in progress that holds much promise. Organized rather loosely by Dave and his brother Tom McCormack around a demo tape of Dave's well-crafted tunes, the band has managed to raise its fair share of sand during the past couple of years. The acoustic-based demo garnered the interest of an independent Virginia label, and the resulting excellent recording, "…a distant episode," caught the ears of listeners across the country. Without big-dollar promotion, the record slotted high on "roots" music lists and with the Miles of Music sales machine. And despite the fact that the group does not now play Richmond or anywhere consistently, word about the surprisingly successful CD spreads, and enough club owners show interest to keep McCormack and his band-mates, Tom, Kieran Wagner and Lewis Harris, hopeful for the future.

"It's refreshing not to have pressure," McCormack says over lunch at the Dixie Diner after the warehouse tour. "All of a sudden, we're charting on the 'Americana' chart … weird stuff like that that I never expected to happen. When you see Steve Earle on that list it starts to mean something. We get gigs because of that kind of thing."

He's a veteran of previous bands and a writer who contributes to Style Weekly and other Richmond magazines, and McCormack's tunes of travel and love on "episode" seem to speak to the heart of a matter familiar to many. Powerful little songs full of quiet, repeated imagery, these musings on regret and desire possess a magic that works because McCormack keeps it simple. And it is just this simplicity and unforced grace that is key to any current or future success for the band. Now on a Western swing to Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas for the South By Southwest music networking event, Meanflower is a serious yet relaxed endeavor.

"Everybody is really psyched about it," McCormack concludes. "I don't mean to say we don't give a crap 'cause we do, but not having to put undue pressure on ourselves … it makes it a lot more fulfilling when this comes together."

With solid tunes and dedicated players, the band has the talent and support structure. But whether pushing a band project or renovating a warehouse, you need luck to rise above the fray, and Meanflower seems to have cornered some of those positive intangibles. No one says breaking into the business comes easily, but things are smoother this time around for these longtime musicians. McCormack appears pleasantly surprised by events and he'll take it.

"Just the fact that there's potential to have a … life doing this, it's really encouraging." S


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