If there was an Indianapolis band that seemed to have the right ingredients for a bit of Americana success, it was Chevy Downs. Made of guys who had spent time in a couple of the state's most interesting rock bands, this was the one that ended up splintering too soon.
It has been more than 15 years since the Wilco-esque band first got together, and we’ll never know if they would have been bigger if they had hung together longer. Alas, the boys are back to rock for at least one night, with a holiday party at Birdy’s on December 23 that allows us to revisit the greatness that burned not long enough.
A pair of singer/songwriters David Moore (Chamberlain) and Tim Jones (Old Pike, now with Truth & Salvage Co.) were at the core of the band. The group also included Jason Brammer (Old Pike) on bass, Seth Greathouse (Chamberlain) on mandolin and banjo, John Byrne (Mere Mortals) on pedal steel, dobro and guitar and Andrew Snyder on drums.
I found Byrne, and got the scoop on how the gang of “pretend brothers” (they each adopted a name and persona — ala the Traveling Wilbury’s to become the Downs Brothers) decided to reunite.
NUVO: OK, tell the story.
John Byrne: My understanding is that our banjo/mandolin player, Seth, got together with our longtime friend Ryan Hughey and his Bearded Flower Productions, and put out emails to each of us late in November about playing during the holidays.
NUVO: And everyone was willing?
JB: Within a day or two everyone but Tim Jones had confirmed, and that was only because he was making his way home to Los Angeles from the completion of the 2011 Truth & Salvage Company tour somewhere on the east coast.
NUVO: So, after, the band said yes?
JB: Ryan and Seth found a venue, got a date, and commenced to put Bearded Flower's promotional machine to work, replete with a handful of merchandise for our audience to make up for their holiday shopping deficiencies.
NUVO: You think people need some merchandise bribe to get them out their door to come see one of the greatest country-rock bands to ever hail from Indy?
JB: I mean, seriously - what family member wouldn't cherish the opportunity to tear open a package on Christmas morning to find a gleaming Chevy Downs commemorative flask shining back at them?
"I'm Not Putting You On (When I Tell You to Take Off)" - Chevy Downs