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A Voice of Your Own: James Crabtree’s project evolves into full band

After several albums recorded as A Voice of Your Own, James Crabtree transformed the solo project into a fully functioning band in 2017. The group, which features Crabtree (vocals, guitar), Rick Shutte (guitar), Levi Short (guitar, vocals), Johnny McConnell (bass) and Matt Mihalus (drums), celebrates the release of its new album, “Vines on the Lines,” at Blind Bob’s on Saturday, Feb. 10.

Crabtree recently discussed the evolution of A Voice of Your Own.

From solo to band: “Some of my friends and family had given me inspiration and shown their support in the AVOYO material and through that I began to consider the possibilities of forming a live band. My good friend Johnny McConnell, who now plays bass in the band, helped me start to rehearse and pick some songs to work on. We also wrote and recorded a few new demos that became a majority of our new album.”

Readymade catalog: “The transition was kind of easy because we didn’t have to spend a year coming up with material for a set. The songs were already there for everyone to rehearse. We picked a few we could agree on and started working on the parts. We played our first show within three months of actually getting together for the first time as a full band.”

Going live: “Our CD release show is February 10 at Blind Bob’s. Ironically, our first full band performance was at Blind Bob’s exactly one year ago that night. We were all a little apprehensive coming from such different musical backgrounds and we were unsure how the music would be received being as this was the first time some of us had performed in a band that wasn’t a heavy band. Ultimately, the show was great for us. The experience was exciting for us to see new faces and to figure out where we’d fit into a new diverse local scene.”

Audience response: “The thing that’s surprised me most is how well people are responding to some of the songs and to the live show. As a solo artist, when I was mainly just recording songs for myself and friends to hear, I was always unsure how well the songs would come across in a live atmosphere, especially with having a straightforward ’90s indie feel. This isn’t music people have to overthink, we really just want everyone to have a blast at our shows and enjoy the live experience for what it is. It’s a real rock show with no gimmicks.”

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