‘Word of mouth’ brings Flagler students to Kulture

By Emily Hoover | ehoover@flagler.edu
Photo by Emily Hoover

For Waiting on Brian, a five-piece band of Flagler freshmen multi-instrumentalists, the Internet is a savior. Word of mouth, paired with social networking websites Myspace and Facebook, resulted in a full house at Kulture Hookah Lounge Nov. 5.

Waiting on Brian’s members, who describe their music as “acoustic surfer folk,” met this semester. They’ve been playing together for a month. The show was the band’s first official concert.

Kulture now houses a weekly open mike night with next to no promotion. Flagler student Ryan Camuto is leading the charge.

“We have no money for flyers, so we rely on E-mail, texting [sic] and Facebook,” Camuto, an English education major and musician, said. “[In terms of organization,] I just ran into people, people playing guitar. I asked if they were interested.”

As some bands struggle for months to play out, Waiting on Brian’s members, who play diverse instruments such as harmonica, violin and ukulele to create their mellow sound, already had the drive and experience. They just needed to collaborate.

Lead guitarist Kirk Denning, percussionist Brian McEacheron and singer/guitarist Dakota Lawrence, all from Florida, started organizing jam sessions in the student center to form the early foundations of the band. They enlisted the talents of violinist Jean Paul Robitailli, who was supposed to be Denning’s roommate, and lead vocalist Megan Kovak, after a trip to the Conch House’s Reggae Sunday. They generated their name due to McEacheron’s tardiness to the first three practices, saying “it just stuck.”

With influences such as Sublime, 311 and Jack Johnson, the band members pride themselves on their ability to thrive in an artistic town.

McEacheron describes the local music scene as “epic,” and Denning said that St. Augustine and its beaches inspire him as a musician. “There is so much live music in this town, it’s incredible,” Denning said. “Between the bars and the homeless [street musicians], it’s everywhere.”

However, like other local bands that are old enough to drink, the freshmen also stress the importance of an 18 and up venue, like Kulture, because it will increase participation from Flagler students. “There is a real need for it,” Denning said. “We’re not even trying to drink; we’re just trying to play.”

Kovak, a Pennsylvania native who draws from “strong emotions” for her lyrics, heard about Kulture through a friend in the dining hall and hopes to book gigs at the lounge on a regular basis.

Waiting on Brian plans to play a show on Dec. 11 and is looking into playing a few folk benefits. As the band is recording now on an eight track, its goal is to hit the studio later this year or early 2010.

Eventually signing to a label is a possibility “down the road,” they said. For now, they do not look far into the future, for they enjoy making a side income and pledge to spread a positive message around campus and in the community.

“We have big plans for the future. I always say, ‘when we play at the amphitheatre,'” Kovak joked. “Or, ‘when we have action figures.'”

Camuto used to organize open mic nights in his hometown of Fort Lauderdale with his brother and band mate Daniel — they play in a two-piece band called Thieves are Watching. He wanted to create a similar scene in St. Augustine, particularly for students.

He established a correspondence with Kulture owners Ray Adieh and Amir Amireh through Craigslist, for they sought out weeknight performers. Despite some slow nights with few acts, Camuto was impressed with the crowd, a large percentage comprised of Flagler students.

“Tonight is an example of a good night,” he said. “It’s because of Waiting on Brian and the whole word of mouth thing. This is a good scene for them, because there is a very relaxed atmosphere here at Kulture.”

For Camuto, who played solo on Thursday night and considers charging a small cover at Kulture in the future, insists that passion keeps music alive.

“Open mic allows everyone to play,” he said. “This is about promotion and it’s about fun with friends.”

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