Tidings Café: Sideways Reign

At the dawn of Sideways Reign's tour across the United States, the acoustic rock band is already brimming with excitement over new experiences. In its first week on tour, Sideways Reign has already toured its first TV studio while performing for KATU's A.M. Northwest, and taken in a newsroom for the first time while performing its song "Oxygen" for the Tidings Café.

These are only the beginning of many experiences in a rock 'n roll roadtrip over the next five weeks that began in the group's hometown of Union, Wash. One of those shows was in Ashland at the Caldera Tap House Wednesday night with Ashland psychadelic funk group Karrgo Bossajova. The band will head south to Los Angeles, then to the East Coast, north and westward back to Washington.

"It ends up being on the map a giant circle," Sideways Reign vocalist and guitarist Justin Stang said. "We're really excited to be out on the road and playing shows in as many new and exciting environments as possible."

The band will play some 25 shows in support of their latest CD, "A Stand for All Seasons." The disc blends influences of blues, folk, rock and reggae into a well-crafted collection of songs with lyrics written to connect with the listener with relatable themes of love, heartache and fighting the system.

The group's Tidings Café performance of "Oxygen" is a pared-down representation of that same sound. Lead singer Justin Stang and lead guitarist Casey Dehe strum nearly identical Taylor guitars in a warm, bright, synchronized fashion while Stang sang with a thunderous raspy voice that shook flimsier items in the room and instantly demanded attention. Stang and Dehe said they don't play Taylor guitars because they're the same; they play them because they're the best.

"It's just the superior guitar," Dehe said. "I remember thinking, 'Hey, if we're going to do this and we're going to be professional, we've got to act professional and have professional gear.'"

Currently, the band is putting everything they have into becoming professional musicians. What started as jam sessions between close cousins Dehe and Stang almost a decade ago has evolved into a full band with Cody Goodwin on bass guitar and Mike Dennis on drums, and now the band is pooling its resources to evolve beyond a do-it-yourself group.

"We saved money, and we're starting to try to find people in the various sections of advertising, marketing, press, public relations, Web site design that can really help develop our marketing so that we can continue to focus on creativity and music," Stang said. "If we were spending all our time making T-shirts in the garage to sell at shows, we wouldn't have a lot of time to rehearse or play live gigs."

After months of planning and saving for the tour, the band is just excited to see the product of their work.

"You know, the five weeks and 10,000-plus miles of driving and five weeks of sleeping on couches and floors and playing music every night, that's the easy part, that's what we're looking forward to," Goodwin said. "It's the three months of trying to figure out logistics and dates and money and time off work and everything like that, that's the hard part."

For those who missed Sideway's Reign's Ashland performance, their album is available from their Web site www.sidewaysreign.com, CDBaby or iTunes Store.

Check out Sideways Reign's special acoustic performance of "Oxygen" at www.dailytidings.com or check out the Tidings Café group on ConnectAshland.com at www.connectashland.com/group/tidingscafe.

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