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Northern Virginia-based eddie from ohio takes the road less traveled to success. 

Far From the Old Mainstream

Michael Clem, the bass, guitar and harp behind Northern Virginia's folk-rock up-and-comers eddie from ohio, has an easygoing attitude toward success. When you ask him about it he gives the impression that it's no big deal. You kind of get the feeling he sees himself and his band as lounging in the comfy lobby of the music industry, casually waiting for the elevator to open up and take them to the top.

The casual attitude shouldn't surprise anyone. Clem and band mates Eddie Hartness, Robbie Schaefer and Julie Murphy Wells own their record label. That fact gives eddie from ohio the one thing anyone needs for success — freedom.

Without contract stipulations, record sale quotas and all the other pressures that can come from a big label, the members of eddie from ohio have room to make music they like, with plenty of time left over to sell records and gain fans.

"We tend to work in a vacuum," says Clem, who met Schaefer and Hartness at James Madison University. These three put eddie from ohio together in 1991 with lead vocalist Wells, a Virginia Tech alumnae. Since then, writing songs in a vacuum has given eddie from ohio a wide and strong base of fans — fans who are addicted to their catchy, upbeat blend of acoustic folk and rock. Richmond "Edheads," as the fans are known, will be pleased to know that eddie from ohio returns to Richmond Nov. 24 at Alley Katz.

Eddie from ohio isn't the most unique band you've ever heard. And no one would accuse them of being on the cutting edge of the industry, either. They're more in middle. Some would even label them as corny to the extreme.

That's fine with Clem, who says being light-years from the mainstream is exactly where eddie from ohio wants to be. "Sometimes [fans] reach to you for an escape from the mainstream," he says.

Eddie from ohio's fans range from high-schoolers to people in their 50s and 60s, people looking for music they can dance to and sing along with — music that encourages them to bring their friends and family.

Maybe the fans like the band's bent for humor. It's immediately recognizable in the first chorus line of the first song on their latest CD, "Looking out the Fishbowl." "Here I am, Stupid American," it reads, and the unsettling part is, you're not sure who they're calling stupid.

Maybe the fans like the all-acoustic sincerity that flows from the fingers and voices of these practiced musicians. It's refreshing to see someone besides Frank Sinatra doing it their way, and this band definitely thinks their own road is the right one for success. "Life is good," says
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