But one thing was for sure â they had a place to sleep, a meal to eat and a stage to play in Western North Carolina, at least until the other âwhat ifsâ of their current tour found an ideal solution.
âIf it wasnât for Mary, I donât know what weâd do,â said Gene Senn, lead singer/guitarist for Rumble Seat Riot. âWe were stuck in Greenville, with nowhere to go, and a friend of ours who plays in another band said to get hold of Mary, and her hospitality has been truly amazing.â
Mary, as in Mary Harper â No Name bar manager, music booker, den mother to the melodic road warriors of the night. A selfless, loving woman who radiates music from every ounce of her being, Harper has become a sort of legend within the national touring circuits.
âMusic fuels my soul, it makes me happy, helps me cope,â she said. âIâve been blessed with an opportunity to share that goodness with all the people who I cross paths with.â
With No Name giving Harper free reign to book any and all music acts, she has created an atmosphere as unique as it is popular and frenzied. Bands from all over the United States, from Colorado to Florida, New York to Texas, all find their way to Sylva, a music-loving town where new sounds and styles are supported â where if you play a great show in front of 30 people one random night, the next time you swing through 60 will hit the dance floor.
âSeeing my friends, customers, co-workers, and even strangers, get excited about a band coming to town means that Iâve given something back, something they want and appreciate,â Harper said. âMusic makes then sing and dance â it doesnât get much better than that.â
And for Rumble Seat Riot, stranded in Southern Appalachia, it means a two-night run of shows at No Name, and a safe harbor in the rough sea that is the music industry. Alongside Senn, Larry Kaster (standup bass) and Butchie Spektor (drums, former percussionist for Slipknot) barrel into the crowd, wave after wave of rock, punk and psychobilly rolling out of the speakers. The sound is as loud and commanding as it is catchy and captivating â you simply canât turn away.
Smoky Mountain News: What keeps the band going, why do you do this?
Gene Senn: Weâve always loved traveling. This tour has been especially rough and you start thinking âWhy am I doing this?â but itâs about seeing new sights and people, new areas weâve never seen before. Every year you tend to get a little better, every year is your year, you know? It may not go as quickly as youâd like, but every year gets better, and hopefully you come across that one year where everything explodes.
SMN: What goes through your head when youâre onstage, firing on all cylinders?
Larry Kaster: Iâm thinking at this point we need to drive it home even farther, that the show doesnât ever plateau, that it gets bigger and bigger, louder and louder. This is the biggest high that you can ever have, being right here, traveling right around the country, meeting new people everyday, playing shows in front of brand new people, watching people get down and have fun.
SMN: What has a life playing music taught you about being a human?
Butchie Spektor: Overall, itâs the fact of having that understanding that youâre blessed with the ability to play music, that you consciously made a choice to not follow the basic 9 to 5 job, get to do something that others may just think about doing and they never act on doing it. Good times or bad times, poor times or financially beneficial times, itâs all about that experience of being able to do this â appreciate the fact youâre doing something you love.
1: Bluegrass/gospel group Balsam Range will perform at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 6, at the Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center in Robbinsville.
2: The Dillsboro Celebration Train will depart at 1 p.m. Sept. 6 from the Bryson City Train Depot.
3: Blues-rockers The Hooten Hallers will perform at 9 p.m. Sept. 7-8 at No Name Sports Pub in Sylva.
4: Art After Dark will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 5 in Waynesville.
5: The Cherokee BBQ & Bluegrass Throwdown will be from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 5-6 at the Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds.