I first heard of the band Slim Pickinz through Appalachian Jamwich.  Their bassist, Cliff Tyler, wrote an article about their time spent at Delfest, and after reading it, I wanted to know more about the band.  Cliff’s article was amazing and great to feature in our first edition; but after reading it, I wanted to know more about the band and their music.  Not long after I began my research, I quickly found out that they lived in the same city that I did!  This may not seem so exciting to some, but where I’m from good local music is hard to find; the bars have either DJ’s or post/alternative rock bands.  There have been a few good bands that have either started in Harford County, Maryland, or that have passed through, but they are few and far between.  With that in mind, you can surely understand my excitement when I found out a band we featured in Jamwich was from Harford County!  I quickly got in touch with Cliff and right from the start you could tell he was a great guy.  He was just as excited as I was, and we quickly got to talking.  He told me about a show that was coming up at a local bar named Se

Slim Pickinz Band

an Bolan’s.  The whole week I couldn’t wait for Friday.  Normally I can’t wait for the weekend, but this time was different.  This time I was meeting the band and hearing their music, which I had quickly become so interested in.

Slim Pickinz is not only a band with talent, they are also a great group of guys!  All of them are so easy to talk to and very welcoming.  Combine that with incredible picking, and you’ll be sure to get up and boogie down.  Combining different musical backgrounds, Slim’s sound is diverse:  “a progressive mix of original music, traditional bluegrass, distinctive classic rock and classic country covers.”  The band consists of Johnny Smooches on rhythm guitar and lead vocals, David Bell on banjo and vocals, Jason Blevins on lead guitar and vocals, and Cliff Tyler on bass and vocals and the occasional percussion.  Unfortunately Cliff had double booked himself and had another bassist fill in for him for this show, who coincidentally was an old friend of mine from high school, Drew Bradley. Also on guitar that night was Shane Grimm, an extremely talented guitarist from Andrew Luttrell Band and the Luttrell-Grimm Acoustic Duo.   Slim’s music comes from the heart and is very inviting.  They believe in “fervent audience engagement,” which takes the audience and turns them into a part of the band.  The boys offer the chance to bring an instrument and sit in with them.  .  A gentleman with a harmonica came up for a few songs, and the washboard and spoons were open for everyone.  I even picked up the washboard for a song or two.  Not ever having met or heard Slim Pickinz I didn’t know what I was going to experience.  I knew they would be good, but I had no idea what I was in for.  After a number of great tunes and even more good conversation, I was left waiting for my next Pickinz!

My whole experience with Slim was full of synchronicities.  Meeting new friends and seeing old ones was the trend of the night.  An old buddy, George Janouris, showed up and sat in on the spoons and washboards for a good number of songs.  George has a band of his own, and the next Friday was their turn to spark the Bolan’s.  George is also Harford County born and bred, and the band plays a mix of poppy, folk, jam, rock.  George plays lead acoustic guitar and vocals, Chris Johann on the bass, Kevin Zeichner on the keys, Scott Decker on the harmonica, and Eric Wisler on the drums.  They also had a first set sit in that night, and low and behold, it was Dave Bell from Slim Pickinz.  Two weekends, two great bands, and a member from each band sitting in with the other!  I was in shock already, but this blew my mind.  The raw talent of these musicians allows them to pick up and play spot on with anyone.  The night was packed with original numbers, with a few covers thrown in on the mix.  The twang of the banjo was right at home with GJB and Scott’s harmonica.  I’ve known George since he started playing music, and every time I see him play he is outdoing the previous time.  George’s constant progression and ability to jam with anyone has led him to play with diverse musicians, and he plans to play a lot this summer.

Seeing great music always sooths my soul, but seeing great music played by amazing individuals is the icing on the cake.  I’ve come to realize why I’m not big into sports anymore, and it’s because of the serration and division that comes with competition.  Choosing sides and rooting for “your” team causes people to separate, where music brings us all together.  When you go to a show everyone there is there for the same purpose, and when in the venue each viewer becomes a connected participant.  We all have the same home team, and everyone leaves a winner.  Experiences like the ones I’ve had with Slim Pickinz and George Janouris Band just reassures me of this notion.  Meeting new friends, connecting with old, and leaving utterly satisfied is what keeps me coming back, starving for more.  Be sure to check out http://slimpickinz.webs.com/ and http://www.gjbmusic.com/ for free music and upcoming shows.  I guarantee they’re bands you won’t want to miss!

written by Sean Heeter

George Janouris Band