It seems like a lifetime ago since we had the luxury of going to see live music pretty much whenever we wanted to. There was never any reason to think that would change. Until it did. And now, with no real way to determine when we’ll be able to get back out there, we’re a bunch of fans lamenting the times we took live shows for granted.
As much of the conversation is about missing attending shows, the other side of it is the bands missing playing the shows. The thing is, most of the bands we’re talking about missing are bands that have been doing this for a long time. These are bands that have already made it and can be pretty comfortable knowing that when the quarantine is over their fans will show up in droves and tickets will sell faster than they can be printed.
But what about the bands that haven’t been together all that long? What about bands that were poised to hit the road this year and start making a name for themselves? Not to be too specific, but what if your band had played its first show on New Year’s Eve and three months later all the venues closed down?
That is exactly what happened to Tim Beavers and his new band The Mighty Good Times. They played their first show on New Year’s Eve in Richmond, Virginia and then Covid-19 put all of their plans on hold. Tim and I spoke over FaceTime for a little under an hour and discussed everything from the formation of the band to lighting guitars on fire to vibing on being still pretty new to the dad scene.
Without further ado, here are some excerpts from our conversation. I HIGHLY recommend that you get yourselves acquainted with The Mighty Good Times (and I’ll be providing places to do just that at the end of the article) because once we can all get together again, this a band that is going to go places in a hurry.
Kyle DiRaddo: The band is The Mighty Good Times. Can you tell me a little bit about where you guys got your start? A little bit of history of the band and how this all came together?
Tim Beavers: Yeah, so I’ve been into music for a while now. When I was 15 my dad got a guitar for the family for Christmas and I’m left-handed, but he got a right-handed guitar because most people are right-handed. I picked it up and learned to play with the right-handed style which I liked. I liked having my dominant hand on the fret board. I was playing acoustic and learning guitar and writing some songs and then I started in high school that, you know, didn’t last very long. I kept writing songs and when I moved to Richmond, I started a band, well, I was 15-20 minutes out of the city, I started going to VCU in Richmond for college and started a band called People’s Blues of Richmond that went on for like, 10 years. We went all over the country and did a bunch of cool stuff…we played LOCK’N and Electric Forrest and Red Rocks with Greg Allman and ZZ Top.
That band started falling apart last year. Ten years is a long time to be in a band with people. I got my fiancé pregnant, but I’m never going to stop playing music, so I immediately started thinking about the next thing. I wrote a song called “Richmond City Hangover Blues” and it’s got a line that’s like “Good time suicide written on the gun I’m gonna use”. The whole verse is “I’ve got these left-handed, colorblind, dishwashing, deep-fried good time suicide written on the gun I’m gonna use. The Richmond city hangover blues”. I liked that line and we named one of the albums “Good Time Suicide” and so then I was thinking of a name for the new band project…I liked the word “mighty” for some reason. I wanted that there.
KD: It’s powerful. Of course.
TB: Yeah…then Mighty Good Times came through my head and I liked that and my buddy Carter who is kind of like our creative director and good friend in my old band we had stopped working with him a while back, but those were some of my favorite times. He was like, welding stuff onto our van and he has this school bus that he has a stage made of just recycled pipe and welded onto the side of it that he can unpack and pack back up. I saw him and he had just named the bus “Good Times” and I was like, “Oh my God! It’s all so perfect,” so we stuck with Mighty Good Times as the name and I still didn’t have a band, but I had music and I have journals full of music that I didn’t use for PBR (People’s Blues of Richmond) and just new stuff I was writing.
I talked to Taco (Olmstead) and he had worked with PBR years and years ago and he was one of my favorite people that we worked with that I always wanted to get back with. I started with the first two people that I loved from back in the PBR days that we had stopped working with for reasons that I’ll never understand. I was thinking that our friend’s band always plays New Year’s Eve at The Camel in Richmond…it’s one of my favorite venues…it’s a great venue right in the heart of the city and I was like, if I can get that opening gig with my new band that’ll be sweet. And then I got the gig and I didn’t have a band yet. I had been talking to a couple of people and then I made a post on Facebook because I needed something concrete quick and my friend Jake Lawrence hit me up and I got him on as the bass player and Johnny Powell who had played in this band called The Folly that PBR used to play with. That band had just broken up so he came over to play guitar. The fiddle player from that band, Tara Dillard, I got because their band had broken up and she was a sweet violin player I’ve jammed with a lot over the years I had just never had a band with her. We had a drummer lined up to come to the practice and he didn’t show up and I was like, “Does anyone else know a drummer who might be able to show up and play with us and practice at least for today?” Jake was like “I play in a band with this guy Ryan” and so we called up Ryan Bowman and he came over and he lives in Chester which is like 35 minutes away and he was there in an hour at band practice.
KD: Oh, wow.
TB: Yeah, so that was the initial five-piece. My fiancé, Brittany, Potter right now, but soon to be Beavers (laughs), she plays keyboards and sings and plays some guitar so I put her on the keyboards and spins fire for us and plays keys on some tunes and sings on some tunes.
So, that was the band we landed on and we got it all together in about a month with enough material to play the gig on New Year’s Eve and…yeah. That was the birth of The Mighty Good Times.
KD: That is so cool to me that you’re able to be like “Hey…need a band” on Facebook and people are just like, “Oh yeah, dude! Let’s go!”
TB: And not only that but the lineup stuck. I love the lineup.
KD: I’ve listened to the New Year’s show multiple times; Elise (Olmstead) was nice enough to send that over to me. And I really enjoyed that it’s really raw. It’s very…it’s genuine. Where is the inspiration coming from in terms of the sound?
TB: When I first started playing music I was really into Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin. They’re awesome bands in way different ways. Dylan is a great singer/songwriter and…lyricist really is what I was most stuck on. And I liked the sound of his voice too. Something about that made me feel like even though I wasn’t a great singer it was still OK. It was a decent perspective and I’m going to stick with it long enough that I can at least hit the notes now.
There’s a band called Against Me and they had this acoustic EP that I heard when I was a teenager and it’s just this guy singing his fucking heart out. Singing so loud and the lyrics…I don’t know. He just really fucking means it. You can tell he cares about what he is singing about. It’s not always pretty, but it’s always fucking moving. I spend half my time playing loud blues rock, riff rock shit and the other half just open chords and singing along to that kind of stuff.
KD: Well, as somebody who plays guitar exclusively with open chords…I can respect that.
TB: (laughs) Right.
KD: Everything I found out about you guys online all comes back to Americana. Americana is thrown around a lot in the description of your band. I’m wondering what that means to you because to me, you know, you hit Dylan and that’s Americana. You hit The Dead and that’s Americana. You hit hip-hop and that can be Americana. What does that mean to you and home do you implicate that into your sound?
TB: Initially I thought “Americana” was a tip off word for “This is new folk and I’m not going to like it.” I was way more apt to just put folk/rock and roll. I was talking to Taco, I think, and he was calling what we were doing Americana. So, I looked up the definition and it was…it reminded me of Mark Twain. It was anything that had American cultural history to it or something like that. I thought, “Oh…that’s cool!”. I like to wear this raggedy-ass American flag (bandana) around my neck that’s, I don’t know, my weird, raggedy-ass, anti-authority self is part of America too. I think there’s a lot of cool American history buried underneath of what we learn in our textbooks. Being a musician is like being part this awesome oral tradition or other history that you can just step into. You don’t have to be part of a bloodline. You literally just have to have a passion for a style of music and by playing it every day you insert yourself into the lineage of it. You can be a part of the musical history and the tradition. There used to be songs that were passed down and everybody would add their own lyrics and changes and they would play it their way and pass it along. I want to be a part of that. I love that my ancestors are Muddy Waters, you know? I couldn’t say that if it weren’t for music. In that context I think Americana is kind of a cool word.
KD: New Year’s was your first show. That seems like a very audacious, big time thing to do. What was the thought process behind that? Was it a perfect storm of things that happened or was that something that was done consciously?
TB: It just happened to work out like that where my other band, at some point I was just like, “Hey, I’m done. I’ll finish out the gigs we have to this point, but that’s it. Don’t book anymore.” The second to last gig was December 22nd or 23rd in Richmond and that was the big goodbye banger. We had one more gig in Roanoke on the 27th of December so that band was ending then and I didn’t want to skip a beat because in this business if you go away for a second you lose a lot of ground.
It was a perfect opportunity. There was no opener yet for the New Year’s show. I knew it was going to be a sold-out show and that would be a great way to say to Richmond “Goodbye but also hello. I’m not going anywhere.” We were super fortunate to have an opportunity like that to play a sold-out Camel for our first gig. I don’t know…pressure makes diamonds. It was cool to have six band practices in a month and get the band to a point where we were confident and comfortable enough with ten songs to do it. I think we did one cover and it was pretty much an all original set, so that definitely set a high bar but I think we accomplished it. I didn’t want our first gig to be like, 12 people and feel like I’m starting all over.
KD: You could feel it. I think that’s awesome thing to do. If you’re able to go big why not go big? Might as well get in there.
TB: (laughs) Yeah…even before we had a band.
KD: (laughs) That’s right. So…obviously quarantine and Covid has thrown a wrench in everyone’s plans.
TB: I haven’t been home this long in ten years. It’s crazy.
KD: Are you going stir crazy? Are you enjoying your time?
TB: I was getting a little stir crazy. We were in a small apartment with a newborn baby and a dog and a dwarf hamster…not that the hamster takes up that much room…but, it was close quarters there for a minute. Now we’re in this nice house where we have all this room.
KD: With the quarantine and everything, obviously the band had only been together for a couple of months when this all happened. Are you guys keeping in touch musically? How are you dealing with that as a new band not being able to do what new bands do?
TB: It’s really tough. The way that my last band got good and popular and out there was that we grinded, man. We’d drive 14 hours to Vermont to play a basement party for 30 people and then turn around and drive home and not make any money and then do the same thing down in New Orleans. We’d do anything for a gig. We’d tour the south and play for three people at a time; just accumulate fans two or three at a time sometimes. It was brutal.
With this new band I was looking forward to that because that’s how you get tight and that’s how you get the word out. You’ve got a good band and it won’t be such a start over because I know all these people in all these cities now. I worked so hard on all this booking and filled up our schedule for the next six months and every gig is cancelled. Now there’s no money, no gigs, no…I mean, we practice, but there’s no practice like a gig. Your songs that don’t have intros and outros, they develop them and shit comes together at gigs because it has to. There’s something about a gig that tightens a band up more than a practice does. Practicing being together on stage and being more comfortable, so it’s kind of weird without that. It sucks, man; not getting to travel and bond and play music to people. That’s what it’s all about.
KD: What are the plans for releasing music? Is there studio stuff in the works? Are you going to continue to release live stuff once the live stuff gets going or what’s the plan that way?
TB: We were kind of looking at the situation when Covid-19 hit and people were quick to make moves. There’s all these streaming fests…for example, this awesome venue in Richmond and my friend runs it and they jumped right out and did a thing where the bands would be in their practice space playing for 30 minutes and they’re streaming it to Zoom and the venue is streaming it from Zoom to their Facebook live stream. The quality is taking three hits along the way and the sound gets warbled and the video quality gets not good. I wanted to avoid that since we’re a new band I didn’t want people’s first impressions of us to be warbled and low quality and have them just think that we suck the first time they hear us. We kind of made a more…longer process planned out thing. Let’s find a really cool spot and somebody recommended a rooftop that their friend has in Jackson Ward; it’s a neighborhood in downtown Richmond. The people agreed to let us use their rooftop spot and our friend Julian, who shoots commercials…and has amazing equipment and a genius eye for film and cinematography. He was like, “I’m down. I’ll bring out a friend, Tom Mayer, to come and shoot with me.” And then we got our friend Brian who is a sound engineer at Camel…to come out and record the audio.
A couple of days before they were like “Oh, our roof is leaking and we have to get it fixed and we don’t think it’s going to be fixed in time.” And we were like, “Shit.” The day before we were supposed to do the gig they were like, “OK, we got it fixed, but now the whole rooftop deck isn’t set up at all and there’s all this stonework and shit hat has to be laid down.” I said, “We’ll show up five hours early and help this dude out and lay all this stone for you so we can set up and keep playing.” We showed up and did manual labor for a few hours and set up their deck and set up our equipment on it and played the set and we got this super high-quality video and edited and mixed audio. We just got it done in time to release it on Loose Leaf. Our agency did a thing with Jamwich and Jamcast, so we premiered it there last night.
KD: So, you basically had your Beatles, Apple Music moment.
TB: Yeah! We got a cool time-lapse of us setting up the deck and moving all these stones that we played during the credits of the video. We have been trying to do studio stuff and our drummer, Ryan, has a studio and they just had to move the location when we were 9/10 of the way done recording the single.
I lost my friend, Jared Murphy, who has been my best friend for 25 years. He passed away a year and a half ago. There is this video of us getting drunk and slapping each other and laughing ourselves to tears, so we edited the audio of that into the beginning of the song. The song is called “Belly Laughs and Broken Bones” it’s kind of about…it was a weird year where I lost one of the most important people in the world to me and I fell in love with one of the most important people in the world to me now. I lost somebody really important and gained somebody really important and it was a weird time to be so happy and so sad at the same time.
We had just finished getting that all recorded and then four police officers murdered George Floyd, so we kind of had a little change in course there. We’ve got this song called “Rage” and I don’t think it was written by the time the New Year’s Eve set came out. I had been watching and listening to a bunch of stuff about the (Donald) Trump impeachment. The lyrics go: “The ties that bind are bipartisan lines. Just alibis for misdemeanors and high crimes. Get your hands dirty. Keep your mind clean. Sic semper tyrannis against this machine.” Sic semper tyrannis is written on our Virginia seal and means “thus always to tyrants”.
KD: That’s John Wilkes Booth.
TB: Yeah…who murdered Lincoln. We’re going to make that the single and “Belly Laughs and Broken Bones” is going to be the B-side and we’re going to shoot a video of us set up playing the song somewhere in Richmond and pepper in a bunch of videos from friends and people (at) the protests and we’re going to take all the proceeds from streams, downloads, et cetera and donate it to Black Lives Matter or the NAACP or Richmond Bail Out…something like that.
KD: That’s awesome. That’s super poignant, you know what I mean? To be able to have something like that in the cannister and then have something like this happen and be able to reinterpret it in a way; to throw that out there as a show of support.
TB: Yeah…it’s weird that the song was written before the cause that it’s going to help with. We want to make sure that we don’t…the last thing you want to do is use something like this to try and get fame or fortune, you know? It’s a national tragedy and so we’re trying to take the right steps to make sure this isn’t any sort of egotistical thing and that we’re helping the cause that matters and that we care about.
You can keep up with The Mighty Good Times by following them on Facebook and Instagram(@themightygoodtimes) which is where they update everyone on shows and releases. You can hear the New Year’s Eve set along with their first two demos and two older demos at themightygoodtimes.bandcamp.com. Their first official releases (coming soon) will be available wherever you get your music from so I would highly recommend keeping an eye out for them. And you can check out the rooftop set we discussed by searching The Mighty Good Times on YouTube.
A HUGE thank you to Tim Beavers for taking the time to chat with me. He’s a good dude with some good tunes. Cheers!