MEET THE BAND: Kenny Roby (vocals, guitar), Rob Keller (bass), Luis Rodriguez (guitars), Dan Davis (drums)
A CLEVELAND CONNECTION: Singer-guitarist Kenny Roby's parents grew up in Cleveland and many of his relatives consider it to be their "homebase." He grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina, and started several "short-term" iterations of the band before a more stable version launched in 1993. He transitioned from playing punk rock to alt-country, something he says wasn't so unusual at the time. "Back then, a lot of people [made that transition]," he says. "It was an easy transition. We'd play songs like Buck Owens' 'I've Got a Tiger by the Tail' and give it a punk twist, but we really like all types of music."
DO CALL IT A COMEBACK: Roby says he and Rob Keller have been "friends forever," but when they moved to different cities in 1998, the band took a bit of a break. It would reconvene in 2013 to issue Roots Rock 'n' Roll and followed it up earlier this year with Top of the World. Jason Merritt (Tift Merritt, Chatham County Line) produced both albums, and the band recorded primarily at Fidelitorium Studios in Kernersville, North Carolina.
WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: Top of the World is a keeper. With its nasally vocals and literary lyrics, a song like "Be Like You" recalls King of America-era Elvis Costello. The band throws horns into the mix on "Jennifer Wren & the Crow I Know" and adopts a rockabilly sound for album closer "Robert & Lucy." "The songs on the album were originally half-baked ideas," says Roby. "I would get together with the band and then arrange them, and they became what they are. Because they were only half-written, it allowed this band to add its personality to them." Roby, who says he plans to embark on a solo tour after the current run with 6 String Drag, admits "success" has taken on a new meaning in a world in which it's hard to make a living by selling albums. "These days, success is just survival," he says. "If you hang in there and plug away at it, you're succeeding."
WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: 6stringdrag.com
WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: 6 String Drag performs with the Smug Saints at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 19, at Iggy's in Lakewood.