With such diverse musical interests as traditional country-western, southern rock, Americana and folk, it is understandable that it took The Washers more than a year to compose and decide on which of their original songs would appear on their first CD.
For their fans, the wait is over with the band celebrating the release of its first CD, “Devil’s Name” with a performance at Muldoon’s Saloon in El Campo on Saturday night. The band will start their show at 9 p.m. with the first 15 people purchasing a copy of their CD receiving an autographed washer from the band.
“We’re named for the game, not for doing laundry,” Justin Wade Wilcox said. “All the members of the band are from this area and the idea of spending a summer afternoon in the backyard drinking beer and playing washers is something the people around here can relate to.
Three of the band members are residents of East Bernard, including Wilcox, who plays rhythm guitar, banjo, harmonica and sings vocals. Other East Bernard residents include drummer Mike Faltysek and bassist and vocalist Matt Kopicynski. Wharton’s Todd Janik play acoustic guitar and does vocals while the fifth member of the band, Rio Tripiano, is from Richmond and plays lead guitar, piano, harmonica and adds a fourth vocalist.
“We’ve all been in different bands over the years and eventually over the years we found each other and meshed,” Wilcox said. He said the band in its current form stated playing together in January 2009. “The East Bernard guys all went to school together and played some of the local clubs. Matt played in a band with Rio and I played Babe Ruth baseball for several years with Todd. So we were all aware of each other before we became a band.”
Since forming, the band has been playing the U.S. 59 corridor from Wharton to Houston but finds their most avid fans being those around their home towns.
“When you go to a Washers’ show, you’re going to see a lot of people from East Bernard and Wharton,” Wilcox said. “We’ve got a lot of people around here who really believe in us. And we’ve attracted quite a following from Needville as well.”
Because they are mostly a bar band at this point in their career, the band members said they enjoy playing their originals but have a large catalogue of cover material they draw on for their shows. But those covers come with a twist.
“We can play them like the original artists, but what we really like to do is throw some of our own style into them,” Janik said. “We might throw in a little harmonica or something else giving it our own twist.”
Janik said he grew up around music with a mother who was a good musician with a great voice. But he said he disappointed her early when he opted for heavy metal as his music of preference.
“Then I got to Texas A&M and heard Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ and realized there was a lot more to music than I’d been pursuing and that opened me up to folk and Americana.”
Wilcox said he started playing music in his early teens “because their isn’t much else to do around here a lot of the time.” He was looking to purchase his first guitar when he was in a music shop and saw another teen pick up a banjo and became hooked on that particular instrument, leading him down the path to country-western.
Tripiano was another teen who had his musical preferences changes by a particular piece of music.
“I was really into country when I was young but stopped liking it when Garth Brooks stopped recording,” he said. “It was Lynard Skinner’s ‘Freebird’ that eventually got me. I guess I heard it the first time when I was about 15.”
While they listen to contemporary artists, most of the band member are also interested in older music.
“You don’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been,” Wilcox said. “So we listen to a lot of different music.”
The CD release party while special will be typical of the band’s current performances. The band members said they are “keeping their day jobs,” for now until they see where the music takes them. And their day jobs are about as diverse as the band members themselves with Janik a teacher at Wharton Elementary School and an assistant Wharton High Tennis Coach. Wilcox is a sales representative for a chemical company while Tripiano stays busy playing with two other bands and working in a sandwich shop.
“Right now we play a lot of Friday and Saturday shows with a few on weekdays,” Wilcox said. “It gets hard getting up in the morning if you’ve been out playing all night. But we’ve got some shows scheduled in Corpus Christi coming up and with the CD out we’re also looking at doing more work in San Antonio, Dallas and Houston.”
Since their CD is self produced, the band is distributing it through a number of Web sites like cdbaby, I-tunes, http://Lonestarmusic.com">Lonestarmusic.com and http://ourtracks.com">ourtracks.com. The band also has a site on http://MySpace.com/thewashers">MySpace.com/thewashers music featuring four songs off the CD as well as being found on Facebook’s fan pages, search the washers.