One band plays reggae fusion with blaring guitars and loud vocals. These are the guys you’d find playing around a bonfire at a beach party, keeping everyone happy while they drink and dance.
The other one plays soft folk music, with room for violins, mandolins and harmonicas. These are the guys next door; the ones in a room on the second floor at a party in a mansion, playing romantic songs for girls while everyone else gets drunk downstairs.
But even though they have different genres and performance styles, the Fireside Prophets and the Stonecutters came together for a night of free live music on Jan. 20 from 8-11 p.m. at Coyote Jack’s on the Boca campus’ Student Union. Both bands are signed to FAU’s record label, Hoot/Wisdom Recordings, and this was their first time playing together on campus. The concert was a way for the rising bands to play for fellow students, most of whom enjoyed the show so much that they stuck around until the end.
In spite of all their differences, the guys in the bands are really just like any other college kids –- at least in the sense that they, too, have to work hard to make a dime.
Two of the members of The Stonecutters –- harmonica player Barron van Deusen and bass player Jean Haley –– were missing because they couldn’t take the night off from their jobs.
“You know, the easiest way to put this is: we would have a full band if these guys didn’t have to work as hard as they did,” Myles Corvalan said.
The Fireside Prophets’ drummer Travis Schmeider, a former FAU student, had a similar situation. He had to work in Jupiter, and currently doesn’t have a license. Lead singer and guitarist Justin D’Alfonso, a senior interdisciplinary arts and humanities major, had to go pick him up when he got off work. They made it to the show at 10:20, 40 minutes before the show was set to end.
But as Corvalan put it, “that’s life, man” –– and the show went on.
The Stonecutters, who played first, are an alternative folk band that got their start in August of last year. They try to distinguish themselves from other South Florida bands by doing multiple-part harmonies, and using a harmonica. Although they played as a trio, they tried to make up for it by bringing in new elements and changing the style of some of their songs.
Oren Gross, the bassist, keyboard player, and backup vocalist of the Fireside Prophets, played violin onstage with the Stonecutters. He joined them in their covers of “Little Lion Man” by Mumford and Sons and “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show, two contemporary folk bands.
“I think it’s awesome that Myles and the guys let me play with them,” Gross said. “I haven’t even played violin since the ninth grade.”
Aside from bringing in a violin, The Stonecutters wanted to add something different to their usual cover of “Wagon Wheel.” Drummer Jason Hester started playing an electric mandolin, and lead guitarist David Pitruzzello kept playing his passionate solos.
“We’ve never had me play mandolin on it,” Hester said. “But I don’t want to go back to drums on that song. It just felt right.”
The Fireside Prophets, who started four years ago, are a reggae/rock fusion band whose influences are Sublime and Bob Marley, according to their Facebook fan page. Although they’re just three guys, the volume of the instruments gave them a full sound that made them sound like there were more. They played mostly originals, but also covered songs by reggae band Slightly Stoopid, whose style is similar to theirs.
Corvalan and D’Alfonso go back to when they were suite mates their freshman year. Corvalan joined them onstage to play the first song he and D’Alfonso wrote together four years ago, called “Under the Sunshine,” when Corvalan was a solo artist.
The lyrics to the chorus that the then-18-year olds came up with are: “Girl, you’re so fine. I want to make love to you under the sunshine.”
“That started the way that most songs start with college students –- we were just dickin’ around in our dorm,” Corvalan said. “We weren’t very sophisticated then. It was pretty much about meeting hot babes on the beach.”
About 30 fans, who had waited until the end of the night to watch the Prophets play, danced and yelled out the lyrics to their songs.
“It felt amazing,” D’Alfonso said. “This is our homeland, and that’s what we love about it. It’s where we found each other.”
Catch the Stonecutters in concert on Jan. 25 at Satchmo Blues Bar in Fort Lauderdale, and the Fireside Prophets at Speakeasy Lounge in Lake Worth on Jan. 27.