Battle of the Band winners The Katawicks to celebrate new EP at Yellow Cab tonight

After winning the first Battle of the Bands at the Brightside in February, the Katawicks were prepared to ride that momentum into a big spring and summer. There were live shows, including an April 24 performance at the announcement ceremony for Levitt’s Pavilion Free Summer Concert Series, and a recording session at Reel Love Recording Company. Those plans were altered when the coronavirus shutdowns began in March.

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After months of quarantine, Allison Justice (leader, singer, guitar, ukulele), Matt Washburn (lead guitar) and Tony Powers (bass) entered Reel Love in early July with audio engineer Patrick Himes and session drummer Brian Hoeflich to record the material for a new three-song EP.

“In the Pocket” gets its official release with an outdoor, socially distant show at Yellow Cab Tavern in Dayton on Friday, Aug. 28.

Kyleen Downes will open the show with a solo set. Washburn and Justice both got on the phone recently to discuss their acoustic rock band and making music in the age of COVID-19. He was at home in Nashville, while she was at a Walmart in Dayton shopping for school supplies for her daughter’s first year in kindergarten.

Have you two been working during the pandemic?

Washburn: “No, I haven’t been working since the beginning of it. I was up in Ohio for a while. My parents are selling their old house so I’ve been helping with that a lot. I’m just trying to work on some music and keep my sanity. I went to Florida for a week and did a little solo writing retreat. I’m back in Nashville now. It’s just weird because it feels like time has flown by but it’s also kind of dragged along.”

Justice: “My job didn’t stop. I was working at a factory up in Vandalia and they didn’t shut down for nothing. I was living in Trotwood but I have since moved out of the area and moved back to Beavercreek. I basically got two new jobs so I’m doubling up. I’m back in waitressing in Yellow Springs and I work at a dog groomer in Dayton. I’m also going to school and my daughter is five so I’m really busy. I just finished up the semester in July and I’m going to take a break from school so we can start busting out some shows.”

The pandemic shutdowns hit just weeks after you won the Battle of the Bands. What did that mean for the Katawicks?

Justice: “It was, boom, stop, ‘Hold up, we’re not doing anything.’ It was crazy.”

Washburn: “Everything we planned for got erased. We had a decent amount of shows. There were some we were excited for but Allison did some really cool virtual stuff with Levitt Pavilion. We got some content opportunities so that was nice.”

Justice: “Yeah, that was fun. I got to go down to Toxic Brew and do a thing and then Levitt had me come in and do a last-minute set. We still had some action during all of this but it wasn’t full band.”

Was the recording at Reel Love part of the prize package from winning Battle of the Bands?

Justice: “Yes and we had a blast. This was our first time working with Patrick but it was a super comfortable setting. Me and Patrick know a lot of the same people from the Dayton music scene and have a lot of the same friends in common. It’s right up the road from my job and I just felt really comfortable there. It was a really good time getting all that work done and we’re glad we could do it there because Patrick is a busy guy. He’s still getting a lot done even through the pandemic.”

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How much rehearsing did you do before recording?

Washburn: “We didn’t rehearse.”

Justice: “This EP is called ‘In the Pocket’ because I’ve had these songs in my pocket for so long. They’re like 10 or 11 years old and we haven’t done anything with them. We know these songs so it was easier to be like, ‘We’re just going to go into Patrick’s and play it and we’ll go from there.’ We didn’t need to rehearse for the recording. It just sounded so smooth so quickly but we did practice for a thing we did at COhatch in Springfield on Aug. 1. COhatch is a really cool space that opened up five or six months ago.”

Washburn: “Even though we’ve played those songs a million times before and we wrote a lot of the songs, COhatch was rough.”

Justice: “We hadn’t played live in five months but it was cool. It was a small crowd. It was pretty wild but it was still a good show. We needed that. We needed to get back live in front of people and remember what it feels like to play live again. We had a lot of our family and friends come out so it was cool. People are dying to get back out there. They’re missing live music too.”

Washburn: “We’re looking forward to playing at Yellow Cab and then we have COhatch in Springfield again the night after that.”

What’s up for the Katawicks after those shows?

Justice: “We’re going to move on to the next recording. We’re trying to go back in with Patrick in September to track our album. We’re trying to keep it on a roll.”

Washburn: “We’re excited to do our album at Reel Love. Patrick has been great. We were looking to work with someone different but we knew when we won the Battle of the Bands that we’d be working with him. We thought we’d see how it goes and when we worked with Patrick, it was very natural. It was great so I feel like he’s the guy we need to work with.”

Artist info:


What: The Katawicks record release “In the Pocket”

When: Friday, Aug. 28, from 7-10:30 p.m.

Where: Yellow Cab Tavern, 700 E. Fourth St., Dayton

Admission: $7 cover

More info: Facebook

Contact contributing arts and music writer Don Thrasher at

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