Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Tin Can Fish Band Interview

Tin Can Fish Band started as the duo TinFish in 2006, with Steve and long time friend, Colonial Williamsburg tavern musician and all around stringed instrument maestro, Doug Austin. While primarily performing original songs, TCFB draws from a wide variety of material and songwriters ranging from public domain and Bluegrass to classic pop, Americana and World music. 

Doug and Steve have performed for several years throughout the southeast and collaborated on several studio projects including "Broken Land Parkway" and "Nothing But Hope". Doug is a much sought after string player in central Virginia and also plays in the Runaway String Band and Blue Line Highway. 

Drummer and Hand percussion player Jack Taggart  (ILLbillys and  The Lost Souls) and Circuit Rider/ Single Bullet Theory bassist and long time musical cohort Keith MacPhee combined with TinFish to form TIN CAN FISH BAND in 2012. Veteran Richmond guitar favorite John Leedes joined TCFB in November 2013  followed by Joe Conner on Accordion and keys in 2014. Together they  filled out the bands sound with soaring electric leads and intricate layering interwoven with Doug's mando and fiddle giving Tin Can Fish Band its unique acoustic and electric blend.  

Doug Austin (mandolin, fiddle,and vocals) is a native Virginian.  Raised in Williamsburg, VA, he spent part of his early years singing in the boys choir at Bruton Parish Church, which exposed him to lots of Bach, Handel, and early baroque music. Playing guitar throughout his teens, and listening to classic rock, he discovered live Bluegrass music in the parking lot of a mall.  This changed everything. Soon after, following a diving accident resulting in three cervical fractures, Doug picked up the mandolin which became his constant companion during his long recovery. A couple of years later, he took his mandolin chops into the Richmond based bluegrass band Virginia Rail. 

Playing informally for many years, while supporting himself with various day jobs, he took the plunge in 1999, becoming a contract performer  for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. To this day  he plays 18th century music in the various taverns and for special events throughout the museum.  One of his more unusual gigs involved providing  music for a tea hosted by Queen Elizabeth II.  Secret Service snipers in the surrounding trees and buildings made this a memorable, if slightly unnerving performance.

Doug has performed and recorded with various singer/song writers including Steve Fisher and Karen Trump.  
He is a founding member of SOY HERO ,  the Williamsburg based  RUNAWAY STRING BAND, and the Richmond celtic/americana band, TINKERS DAM. He is an active member of the  RVA group BLUE LINE HIGHWAY.

Doug has lived for the last 23 years in an old house on rolling farmland in King and Queen County, raising crops, a family, and enjoying the countryside when not on the road for a gig. An early musical mentor once told him "whenever possible, play with musicians who are better than you".  He took these words to heart, and has had the good fortune to play with many fine musicians like his fellow band mates in TIN CAN FISH BAND. 

Steve Fisher ( lead vocals and acoustic guitar) has been talking back to the television since he was a kid sitting on the floor of his grandmother's house in Tuskeegee, Alabama. While still a youngun', Steve and his brother were shuttled around the South between parents living in small towns, hotels and boarding houses. He picked up the guitar as a teenager in Richmond, Virginia and began writing songs soon thereafter. 

Steve's acoustic folk rock manifests a touch of irony and sarcasm while championing the underdog. His poetic style expresses his keen interest in southern americana and he enjoys finding humor in the absurd and struggle of everyday life. He has been writing and performing his songs both solo and in bands since his days at the University of Virginia. Steve has toured the East Coast and Europe playing his songs and has been in groups based in New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Grayton Beach Florida and currently calls Richmond, Virginia home. He has opened for a wide variety of bands including Natalie Merchant and Ten Thousand Maniacs, Modern English, The Dickies, The Slickie Boys, REO Speed Wagon, and Fog Hat.  Steve was cofounder of the band Ten Ten/ Chrysalis UK and more recently The Circuit Riders/Planetary Records with TCFB bassist Keith Macphee.

Steve was presented the Virginia Organization of Composers and Lyricists (V.O.C.A.L.) Lyricist of the Year Award and the Recording Artist of the Year Award for his original songs featured on the CD, Richmond Local 641. Several of his songs were featured on the first two Floating Folk Festival CDs released by Planetary Records. He also spearheaded the release of two CDs, Deed of Trust and Sun Moon Mule with his band The Circuit Riders. Steve released his first solo album in 2006, Broken Land Parkway, recorded live in studio with Doug Austin and chosen as pick of the month by the Chicago based site BuzzFlash.com in July, 2006. Several of Steve's songs have received extensive airplay in the U.S. and Europe.

After 2 years of work in studios in Virginia and Northwest Florida, Steve's most recent project, Nothing But Hope, was released on Playground Records located in Valparaiso, Florida. Combining various acoustic and electric elements from genres as diverse as bluegrass, folk rock, and zydeco, Tin Can Fish Band can now be heard playing these songs as well
as many others from the band's shared catalogue. Steve 's song catalogue and publishing is with BMI/TinFish.  

Jack Taggart  (drums and percussion) was born in Richmond and spent time in Orlando and Dallas before coming full circle back to Richmond. Jack first crafted his musical expression by way of guitar and singing as a usual suspect at local open mic nights during his college years in Southwest Virginia. In 2002 Jack found himself sitting behind a scaled down drum kit keeping beats in Richmond for what became known as the cover band “The Illbillys” where he occupied the drums for just over 13 years .  While writing and recording some solo efforts known as “Neon Strobe Union”, Jack also became part of  “The Lost Souls” in 2009 and they put out an EP called “Bar Flies” before the project dis-banded. Jack also played gigs with “Luz Del Sol”, formed from a singer songwriter husband & wife team affiliated with Richmond’s own Alt-Country Dirt Rock band the Atkinson’s. 

It was through a mutual friend known as “Yoga Girl” that Jack was introduced to Steve Fisher several years ago.  
Steve approached Jack and asked him to sit in for an acoustic gig on congas that eventually graduated to full drums and sarcastic asides as he became part of the yet un-named “Tin Can Fish Band”. He’s now been with the band since its inception. He  considers himself a late comer in the Richmond music scene but thrives behind the drums and as part of the booking process for the band. Jack got to know many of Richmond’s finest musicians while booking for a local music venue and feels it was part of a growing process to better understand bands, musicians and the music community. He draws influence from all genres of music but feels the foundation of rock-n-roll, twangy country and timeless rock-a-billy are his driving force.  His  kits are from Gretsch , Pacific Drums and Percussion & Ludwig. His guitars of choice are Gretsch, Danelectro, Fender & Gibson. 

Keith Macphee (bass and vocals) was born in Oceanside, New York  and grew up in New Jersey  and upstate New York. He moved to Richmond in the late 70's and fell in with Single Bullet Theory and toured the east coast until 1981. Keith joined the Bow Ties in the early 80's and gigged around Richmond for several years. Other popular bands included Joe America 1991-94 and Grumbledog 1996-98. Big hearted Keith cofounded the Circuit Riders with Steve Fisher in 1998, lending them his soulful stage presence while recording and engineering two CD projects (Deed of Trust and Sun Moon Mule) for Planetary Records. 

Keith has been a true stalwart in the Richmond music scene for many years and continues to entertain audiences far and wide.  He and Steve have co-written several songs and have collaborated together as bandmates in the Circuit Riders and in the recording studio since 1998. Keith teamed up with Doug and Steve in the fall of 2012 for some acoustic gigs, and the full fledged Tin Can Fish Band was born in 2013 with the addition of Jack Taggart on drums and John Leedes on lead guitar. 

John Leedes (electric and acoustic guitars) moved to Richmond from Philly in 1973, just in time for first grade, and has played in many local bands since then. His first band was in middle school and played covers of The Who, The Beatles, and Kiss and also John’s first original song, “Live A Little.” The band was called Chaos but renamed The Illusion when it was learned that another band in town already had that moniker. In high school John played in a band with Dave Schools of Widespread Panic fame. That ensemble’s name is a little too vulgar to be printed here, and John still maintains he did not know the meaning of the name at the tender age of 15. 

After high school, John played everything from long spacey jams to edgy pop.  Bands included The Flipside, Swahili River Brothers, Left Exit, Ray Band and the Shades, Mr. Soul, Thelma Shook, Whistler's Mother, The Reaction, Harrison Deane Band, King Solomon’s Marbles, Squalor Hollow Boyz, Sister Sweet, Gary Gerloff, Blue Line Highway and the Bart Chucker Band. He has also has added his guitar prowess to the mix of Richmond favorites Amy Henderson, Dave Pollard, Wendy Pace, and The Trongone band. Over the years, John has been fortunate enough to share the bill with Matt Guitar Murphy, Little Feat, Rick Derringer, NRBQ, J. Geils, Melvin Seals, Donna Godchaux MacKay, and the David Nelson Band. John joined Tin Can Fish Band in November 2013.

Joe Conner (accordion and assorted keyboards)  has been playing around Richmond for many years in such noteworthy bands as King Solomon's Marbles, Blues Cats and Blue Line Highway. Man of few words - Joe is a great example of "still waters run deep" and his humble, positive vibe is much appreciated by his band mates and fans!
Joe joined TIN CAN FISH BAND in December, 2014 (just in time for the first CD project in spring of 2015). His distinctive accordion style is an important recognizable element of the TCFB sound and gives the band some funky gulf coast spice! Joe also contributed some great piano tracks to the CD and will be doing even more in the future. Thanks Joe!

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