Pin It
Favorite

Bands to Watch 2016: RAGTAG ROMANTICS 

Youth and talent combine to create a ska/soul band nearly devoid of limitations

click to enlarge FROM LEFT: Kevin Cashion, Chase Howard, Oblie (mascot), Beck Shepherd, Nathan Roe, Landon Myers, Zachary Croft and Tonya Ballman. - KRISTEN BLACK
  • Kristen Black
  • FROM LEFT: Kevin Cashion, Chase Howard, Oblie (mascot), Beck Shepherd, Nathan Roe, Landon Myers, Zachary Croft and Tonya Ballman.

S ince March, five of the seven members of Ragtag Romantics have lived on the upper South Hill in a five-bedroom home they call the Ragtag Romansion. The band's drummer finally moves in next month, but guitarist Zachary Croft studies physics at Washington State University, and subsequently misses out on a lot. Today, the Ragtag Romantics (minus Croft) lounge in their backyard, surrounded by a green lawn and a patio covered in chalk art — some drawings and words more appropriate than others.

This is a ska/soul band ranging in ages from 20 to 22, who are in no way controversial. They don't party excessively. Here, the rent is cheap and no one judges the amount of cheese being consumed.

"Most of what we do is play video games," says Tonya Ballman, the group's singer/keyboardist. "It's so nice to come home here. I've never had roommates that I feel so comfortable with."

In actuality, they needed a practice space that wasn't all the way out in Deer Park, where most of them are originally from. In their new basement they can practice their energetic and jazzy tunes until 10 pm (when city noise ordinances kick in), and they rehearse about three times a week. They say it's too bad they can't play longer into the night, as they once did. That's when the writing flow comes.

On brass, there's sax player Nathan Roe, trombonist Kevin Cashion and trumpeter/vocalist Beck Shepherd. Landon Myers kills it on electric bass while drumming falls to Chase Howard, who joined the band last year. The vocalists take care of the lyrics (often exploring the ways that adult freedom changes things), but the music is written collectively. That works with a group so well acquainted with one another.

"I got into this to get a girlfriend," Shepherd admits, as the group laughs around him. "But it hasn't happened yet. I should probably quit right now."

Ragtag Romantics originally came out of high school jazz band, when the two Deer Park-area high school programs came together to jam.

They were called the Bonus Tracks at one point, but when most of them went off to Eastern Washington University, the band idea stalled. Two years ago, after watching The Blues Brothers on repeat, they formed Ragtag Romantics.

The band's mascot even looks a little like Dan Aykroyd. Not only is Oblie — a creepy woodcarving found in Roe's dad's garage, which now sports sunglasses and a suit — on the cover of their 2015 EP From the Very Start, but he's at every show. One time, they even forgot him before a show, and had to turn around.

"It's not the same without him," Roe says.

In the past few months, there's been a shift. It's more than just Oblie and their parents coming out and dancing at shows. Now promoters and venues are contacting them for gigs, and they're starting to get recognized in the local music scene. They won EWU's Battle of the Bands earlier this year and they keep furiously writing new material. That they were named an Inlander Band to Watch this year is the cherry on top. "It's something you'd call your parents about," says Howard.

They're planning a tour this fall and intend to record a full-length album. They say the goal is to play music full-time. For now, they want to take their shows to another level. Even from the recent live EP recording, it's apparent how much this group has improved. Brass lines are tighter, the vocals are more surefooted and the music is an absolute riot.

"People deal with a lot of stress in their lives," Ballman says. "I want people to get into the moment with our band and forget about the other things for a while." ♦

Ragtag Romantics play Volume Fri, June 3, at 6:45 pm at nYne • 232 W. Sprague • 21+

  • Pin It

Speaking of 2016 Band To Watch, volume

Latest in Music

  • Shooting Stars
  • Shooting Stars

    Bing Crosby wasn't the only musician to come from this town; here are others you may not know about
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • Into the Sunset
  • Into the Sunset

    Night Moves closes out their tour with their first Spokane show this weekend
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • Classic Gass
  • Classic Gass

    Armed with a new album, the Kyle Gass Band brings its blend of rock and humor to Spokane
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu
Son of Brad, Twist, Sonny and Slim

Son of Brad, Twist, Sonny and Slim @ The Big Dipper

Sat., Dec. 10, 7:30 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Laura Johnson

Most Commented On

  • Wanna Rock?

    A slew of '80s glam favorites come to Wreck The Halls of Spokane Arena
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • Big Themes

    Disney's Moana is the empowering and fascinating tale we need right now
    • Nov 23, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
Music & Film

Film


Review


Readers also liked…

  • Signal Transformation
  • Signal Transformation

    Local rapper Cary Hays is about to perform for the first time in two years, and he wants you to know how much he's changed
    • Mar 10, 2016
  • No Peaceful Easy Feeling
  • No Peaceful Easy Feeling

    Why, according to this critic, millions of Eagles fans can be wrong
    • May 27, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation