Mountain Wave – the men, the music and the mojo
Long before the ‘60s and a little music festival called Woodstock, the Catskill’s attracted artists, writers, musicians and fans to our neck of the woods, where some came to visit, and others to stay. To this day, the stunning vistas, fresh air and convivial atmosphere of the Upper Delaware River region continue to invite artistic individuals, many of whom claim to be creatively inspired by the bucolic countryside and welcoming response they encounter in the mountains. I recently had the opportunity to chat with three like-minded individuals: guitarist Timothy E. Gannon, bassist Chip Forelli and drummer Marc J. Switko, who have combined forces to form a band known as “Mountain Wave.”
A couple of years ago, I noticed the name popping up on social media—a lot. As if the group had quite suddenly materialized out of thin air, Mountain Wave seemed to be everywhere, frequently performing in any number of local venues and garnering rave reviews in the best way possible: word of mouth. More than a year ago, I decided see for myself what all the fuss was about and popped over to the Dancing Cat Saloon in Bethel, NY, a locale where musicians swear that they can still “feel the vibe” from Woodstock.
I have to say, I “dug the groove” I heard that night, along with a packed house of aficionados who were clearly feelin’ it, too. On the heels of their first album now being released, I took the opportunity to sit down with all three men and talk about the record, titled “Somewhere in Liberty,” and learn more about how Mountain Wave came to be.
Marc: “Chip and I had been playing together for a while [with Doug Rogers and the Backseat Drivers] and had both been invited to a party, where other musicians would likely be jamming, so we went, instruments in hand.”
Chip: “That’s right, and even though I hadn’t met Tim, who was also there that night, he and Marc had previously worked together, in a completely different way [at the Center for Discovery].”
Tim: “Correct. Looking back, it was kind of like ‘discovering’ each other, in a completely different way. Wait. Didn’t Chip just say that?”
As often happens at parties with musicians, the guys began to jam and the evening began to swing.
Chip: “I think we all felt it immediately. Even that very first time, we seemed to synch up effortlessly."
Marc: “There was no discussion, really. We just played, improvising as we went along, instantly recognizing that we were kindred souls. Looking back, we all knew something special was happening.”
With a few years under their collective belt, Forelli, Gannon and Switko are more in synch than ever, and their “instant” popularity continues to draw new fans, including myself, but I found it difficult to explain their sound in just one word, so I took a look at their Facebook page, which employs words like “experimental,” “indie-folk,” “country rock” and “neo-psychedelia” to describe the genres they favor.
Marc: “I don’t think that one could, or should, put a label on our sound; we’re still growing and evolving as a band.”
Tim: “We haven’t even hit our stride musically. And it’s definitely a collaborative effort. Individually, we have a lot of experience, but as a group? It’s a whole new ball game.”
Chip: “So true. All three of us bring a lot to the table. Our individual traits elevate us, and the ‘chemistry’ unites us.”
Marc: “Yes! And best of all, we’re having the greatest time doing it. We’re having fun, and our fans seem to like us too. We all feel as if it was kismet that brought us together.”
And that’s where the elusive “mojo” comes into play. The dictionary definition includes words like “magic charm,” “mystical powers” and “wizardry,” suggesting the idea that those with mojo are able to cast a spell over others. And judging by the audience response at one of several shows that I have attended, Mountain Wave is doing just that.
Tim: “I really trust these guys. All ideas are explored, none are discarded out of hand, and we support each other artistically in a way I’ve never had with other musicians.”
Marc: “Trust is so important. It allows us to stretch, experiment and throw things out there with no fear of judgment. What we have really is special. And it shows.”
Chip: “Mountain Wave has given me the opportunity to express myself musically, in a supportive environment, that’s fundamentally unique. And we’ve only just begun.”
“Somewhere in Liberty” was recorded live at the Downtown Barn. Engineered by Greg Castro, the recording stood out to the guys as capturing “that vibe” and in unison, they decided that it should be their first full-length release. With legions of fans growing exponentially, there are plenty of gigs on their calendar, because these guys are truly ridin’ the wave.
To find out when and where or book the band for a special event, follow them on Facebook and listen to them online at www.mountainwave.bandcamp.com where downloads are available for sampling, purchase and adding the whole cool show to your personal playlist.