The Titos

You think you've heard them before, but you haven't. Dubbing their sound “suburban soul,” the Titos positively crackle. They blend the musical traditions of the south — blues, gospel, a little country — with hip-hop cadences and rock-and-roll attitude. Alternatively plaintive and swaggering, their lyrics wrestle with hollowness and heartbreak, violence and unexpected joy. Guitarist and Atlanta native Alex Lotito writes and sings the songs. His vocals are as warm and prickly as bottom-shelf whiskey — and they’ll draw you in just the same.

Lotito returned to Atlanta after two years working in St. Louis and a year in Sicily. Growing up in Atlanta, he played many of Atlanta and Athens’ finest venues before graduating High School: The Variety Playhouse, The 40 Watt, The Five Spot (now Aisle 5), Smith’s, and more. While living away, he spent time crafting songs that he hoped to fit to a band upon return. In late summer of 2017, Lotito linked up with former band mates Zachary Falls (drums) and Ian Mastrogiacomo (bass). Before 2014, the three played together in The Space Time Travelers. Falls, like Lotito, has played Atlanta’s music scene since a young age growing up in the blues circuit backing Chicago Joe Jones. Mastrogiacomo, similarly, has crafted his own sound playing in Atlanta with such acts as Beauregard, the Threadbare Skivvies, and The Space Time Travelers. The band is rounded out with Keyboardist Daniel Kirslis. Daniel also plays in his brother David’s group Cicada Rhythm. The band is also joined by Athens guitarist Austin Green (The Space Time Travelers).

The Titos released their debut self-titled EP in early 2018 and have since played to an expanding crowd around Atlanta, Ga. They have played to packed rooms at venues such as 529, The Earl, Smith’s Olde Bar, and more. They have also gone on several regional tours with stops in cities such as Athens, Savannah, Tybee Island, Columbia, Raleigh, Myrtle Beach, Wilmington, and more. The Titos are preparing to begin releasing their debut LP in summer 2019.

Mermaid Motor Lounge

Picture this: You’re blistering down a desert highway in a bright red, 1971 Cadillac Eldorado convertible, hellbent on making it to Vegas in record time. The wind’s in your face, and the sun’s at your back as you peel across the empty asphalt. You begin to hear a song off in the distance, and as it gets closer, you realize it’s the most beautiful song you’ve ever heard. Pulling off the highway to find the source of the enchanting melody, you stumble across a hole-in-the-wall that’s equal parts repulsive and magnetic.

It’s a place that beckons you to enter against your better intuition. You enter to find a horde of mermaids, wide-eyed, singing their siren song and anticipating your arrival. Nervously, you wonder aloud if this is heaven or hell when a voice from above calls down and says, “Welcome to the Mermaid Motor Lounge. My name’s Fran, can I get you a drink or some Melba Toasts?”

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That may not be the exact image frontman Josh Erwin had in mind when he named his new band Mermaid Motor Lounge, but it’s certainly a name that activates the imagination. Aside from the inventive name, Erwin and his team, consisting of bassist Troy Harris, fiddler Jenna Mobley, drummer Ryan Van Fleet and guitarist Matt Pendrick, have created a mystifying and unique sound that Erwin describes as that of “a rock band that sounds like they’re trying to sound a little like a country band.”

The genesis for Mermaid Motor Lounge came when Packway Handle Band members Josh Erwin and Troy Harris began playing duo shows to showcase Erwin’s newest songs, but before long, they started scooping up musicians like they were the Avengers building their dream team. Although Erwin said he didn’t write Mermaid’s songs to intentionally be an anti-Packway sound, he did admit that the heavy use of sustain, reverb and electric guitar on their debut album Fits and Starts came from “rarely using it while playing all acoustic/string band music.” However, for those of you who hope to hear a hint of the Packway vibe, the vocal arrangments and harmonies will make you feel right at home.

After spending 15 years in the Packway Handle Band, playing shows across the country, you might expect Josh Erwin and fellow Packway member Troy Harris to be a little burnt out, but Erwin compares playing with Mermaid to that “new girlfriend feeling.” Saying further, “The excitement comes from arranging these songs and playing and singing them with these particular instruments and people.”

Erwin specifically harped on songs like “Missing Pieces,” “Seismic Waves” and “The Engineer” as tracks that have been increasingly fun to play as they’ve filled out the band’s roster. Now that the band is in full swing, though, we’re all in for some real fun. When a band like Mermaid Motor Lounge shows up on the scene with as much passion, talent and experience as they do, it’s a surefire recipe for a great time.

In Josh Erwin’s words, Mermaid Motor Lounge’s mission statement is simple: “To connect people to music and golden mermaids through songs they never knew they’d ever hear.” So, if you want to hang out with a mermaid named Fran and connect with the night, come out and see Mermaid Motor Lounge.

$12.00 - $15.00

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