Posted | November 02 2013

Yankee Bravo, Good Stories Told Well

The summer sun is beginning to wane.  Fall winds have swept in, and along with them come rainy, gray days; warning us of the impending winter.  Ohio is known for its meandering climates, but I think it’s these chilly, fall evenings that best encapsulate a land that refuses to give up, despite the imminent cold of winter, or of hard times.  That’s Ohio.  It’s the American dream, life and death, despair and hope, all rising from the epicenter like corn along its aging byways.


We live in a complex and beautiful place, and Canton’s Yankee Bravo seems to embrace every ounce of it with tongue-in-cheek humor and earnest gravity.  Benjamin Payne, one of the founders and principle songwriters of the group, calls their sound “a folk style”, spelling out the familiar themes that seem to reoccur in their repertoire…“love, loss, life questions, reminiscing of days gone by and spirituality”…things we can all relate to. 

Folk music has traditionally been the music of the people; a revolt against oppression and upper class ideals.  Folk singers tell our stories for us.  They articulate the plight of the commoner, or at least sing songs to build them up.  Woody Guthrie wrote about the disenfranchised of the Oklahoma Dust Bowl.  Springsteen gave a voice to the working class of Jersey.  Yankee Bravo, with its roots-enthused aesthetic, emphasizes the dreams, both alive and lost, of everyday folks.  They don’t mention Ohio by name.  But its spirit and its voice bleeds through all the same.  The characters that populate YB’s songs are eyeing that open road, waiting for resurrection, ready to outrun time and “…live each day anew”, as Payne so eloquently puts it in his song, “Move On”.   

The band, or it’s early configuration, began in 2010, when Payne and Paul Seymour, both co-writing songs in the contemporary worship genre, started experimenting with Americana themes in their free time.   Seymour has since moved to Iowa with his family; but the band has continued on, adopting new members and integrating more styles along the way.  Robert Austin and his unusual mandolin approach hopped on board early on.  And Rick Sills on electric guitar, Allison Miller on vocals, and Brandon Covey on upright bass, have slowly integrated their own sensibilities over the years.     

In that 3-year span, the group has been splitting its time between various day jobs and nights playing around Canton.  They put out both a DVD (Meet Yankee Bravo) and an EP (Tucker’s Moon), each containing original songs that permeate with that Midwestern spirit.  And for the better part of this year, they have been writing and rewriting, hoping to release their next EP in the near future. 

Payne says, “People are really drawn into a good story if it’s told well”.   Sometimes those stories are grandiose and universal; sometimes they are as small as the everyday…the little things we battle in the midst of those cold, Ohio winters, as we dream of the open road and wait for some kind of resurrection.

—Written by Josh Compton


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