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Jammed Out 

The True Spokes used to be called Flowmotion, but they’ve left that sound and that name behind.

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They had a solid Northwest fan base, including a loyal crew here in Spokane. They had a half dozen albums to their credit. They even had their own music festival ­— Summer Meltdown — which had been steadily growing over the years. But then the men of Flowmotion stopped and started over. They ditched the name and the hippie jam style that came with it. Now, they are the True Spokes and they’d like to introduce themselves.

“Over the last two years, we started to figure that our name doesn’t really suit us. We can’t do anything about that, we thought, but then we started creating this album,” says drummer and backup vocalist Scott Goodwin, who, like more than half of the band, grew up and began playing music in the Spokane area.

“It would be suitable to change your name because of how you sound,” he says.

In February, the True Spokes released their self-titled album (produced by the Mother Hips’ Tim Bluhm), a collection of tracks only vaguely reminiscent of Flowmotion’s noodly, world-music-peppered jams. Where Flowmotion — especially live — would drag songs out past (sometimes far, far past) the six-minute mark, the True Spokes deliver more concise, more carefully constructed Americana-laced rock songs led by the meaty vocals of frontman Josh Clauson.

Goodwin says the band appreciated their jam fans, but in recent years, as the jam scene became a sliver of what it once was, he says the band wanted to go in a new direction.

“There was something about it that was becoming stagnant. People expected us to do long dance jams. We wanted to shed some of that skin,” says Goodwin.

While the band is largely forging new ground, their appearance at Spokane Falls Community College this week brings them across some familiar territory. While Flowmotion, and now the True Spokes, have always been a Seattle band, Goodwin, as well as Bob Rees and guitarist R.L. Heyer, grew up in the Spokane area and still have family here. At the SFCC show, Goodwin’s brother, Don, a music instructor and marching band director at Eastern Washington University, is set to join the band, adding horn arrangements to five or so True Spokes cuts.

And while they’ve all but put Flowmotion to bed, there is one facet of that band’s legacy that will live on when the 12th edition of the annual Summer Meltdown takes place this August. While the first 11 festivals saw Flowmotion as a co-headliner with their name in the festival title, the True Spokes have decided to take a step back, still playing a set but not at the top of the bill.

“Meltdown has evolved from the Flowmotion Meltdown because it became bigger than the band,” says Goodwin.

The festival, however, boasts its strongest lineup to date, with appearances by Blitzen Trapper, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Pickwick and almost 20 other acts.

For Goodwin and the rest of the quintet, the festival’s evolution is just another step in the band’s metamorphosis, and they’re taking it all in stride.

“After all these years and all these changes, this is what we’ve become,” says Goodwin.

The True Spokes • Fri, May 18, at 7:30 pm • SFCC Music Building Auditorium (Building 15) • 3410 W. Fort George Wright Dr. • $5 • All-ages

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