Saturday, May 15, 2010

Old School Abbey: Protect You

While typically I feature an album on Saturdays, I am going to deviate from this practice today to feature a song by local band that I recently discovered via a number of sources. Part of this deviation is based upon today being the 76th commencement for my current employer Mountain State University (nee – Beckley College 1933-1991 and The College of West Virginia 1991-2001). Yesterday during graduation practice, I was reminded of the group Old School Abbey and their song “Protect You” when I saw the video that will be used in today’s ceremony. The video is structured around the lyrics to this song.

I first heard this cut several months ago when my youngest daughter, who controls the radio in my car, were coming home from somewhere and heard this tune on WCIR-FM, a former employer of mine from 1981-1983. Not knowing it was local band at the time, both my daughter and I were impressed with this song – the instrumental and vocal performance, its lyrical content, and production. Several days later, one the jocks back sold the song and provided the information that they were from Beckley, WV – my residence for almost thirty years. Having been out of the local music scene for almost two decades, I was unaware of this band and how good they are.

Old School Abbey

A few days later, I called a friend of mine John Sellards – and told him I had seen something in the local paper about one of his relatives and John thought I was referring to Nick Durm – a cousin of his in Old School Abbey – I was not, but John told me about his connection to Nick and how their band was doing quite well with their new CD release. It was during this conversation that I realized that the band of which he spoke and the one I had heard on the radio were one in the same. I agreed that there was something about this song that had hit potential written all over it.

Prior to MSU’s graduate hooding ceremony yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet Nick Durm – the man behind the song and the vocals of “Protect You.” I was really impressed with this man’s talent. John, who introduced us, made the comment that no one could write a song hook like Nick. From what I have heard from their album “Only a Dream” and being that I respect John's opinions on music (as he has one of the best ears of anyone I know), I wholeheartedly concur.

Nick Durm of Old School Abbey

We had a brief chat about song writing and the music industry from which I learned that John had been bragging on my own career and specifically how I received a platinum album for the first Men At Work LP and a platinum single for Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” We discussed the anomaly of this song and how it became a hit and broke out of West Virginia – with three stations in the country playing this single first – WKEE in Huntington, WCIR in Beckley, and WVSR in Charleston.

I spoke about going to the Bobby Poe Radio and Records Convention in Atlanta telling other programmers to just put this song on the radio one time to see the response. We did at the suggestion of my friend Gary “Music” Miller at KEE in Huntington and the phones went crazy. I also admitted, while I was not terribly fond of this song or its writer/producer Jim Steinman, it was a definite hit. Not many singles are certified platinum – so that should say something.

Meanwhile back to Nick and Old School Abbey, “Only a Dream” is their second LP and was recorded at Mission Bells in San Francisco with David Simon-Baker as the album’s producer. Simon-Baker’s talent is evident on these recordings as mix is one of the cleanest I’ve heard in a long time. When you listen to “Protect You,” you can hear everything in the context of the song. My favorite instrument in the whole song is the organ – it is tastefully done; however, it is Nick’s vocals that make this tune.

According to the group’s bio, “Their sound is described as ‘the way rock should-unpolished and bustling with energy...’ Tinges of Ben Harper, Dave Matthews, Keller Williams, Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, John Mayer, and a whole host of acoustic solo rockers drip all over the music of OSA, with a delightful electric twist that adds a new get-up-and-go!” I couldn’t agree more. It is only a matter of time until Old School Abbey breaks into the big time – let’s hope that is sooner than later.

MSU Graduation Video - Make Your Move

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