Wine Without Reason

When Scott Calamar was visited by two of his former college bandmates in 2010, the thrill of playing music in a group after a 30-year hiatus inspired him to start performing again.

"Two of them came out in the summer of 2010 and we needed a bass player, so Joe (Diehl) played bass with my friends," says Calamar. "That morphed into a (Lithia) Artisans Market gig, and I just enjoyed that so much, I wanted to put a band together."

Calamar, who plays guitar, keyboard and sings, was soon joined by brothers Kevin McKern and Bruce McKern, and the trio Wine Without Reason was formed. Now, after about 18 months of playing together, the members are releasing their debut album, "First Vintage."

Kevin plays drums for Wine Without Reason when he's not performing with his group Mad World, and his brother plays bass in the band when he's not performing for an Oregon Shakespeare show.

"I'll play wherever," Bruce says. "Currently I play two shows at OSF, but I'll do whatever gigs come up. I like all kinds of music that is fun to play."

Wine Without Reason's sound could be categorized as rock/pop, or as Calamar calls it, "adult alternative." Calamar says he draws inspiration from The Beatles, Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen and David Byrne.

Calamar has been a fan of the McKern brothers since they performed in the band Horsefeathers.

"I was very, very pleased that we could get Bruce, because I thought he might be too busy, so this is great," says Calamar, "I still call them 'the boys,' because that's what their mom calls them."

Wine Without Reason started recording about nine months ago, starting with an original song called "Put Your Fangs Away" that Calamar composed for the television series "True Blood."

"It's a total vampire song that I wrote with hopes of getting on 'True Blood' because I have some connections there," says Calamar, who wasn't successful in his quest. "So we recorded that one first, that one is on the CD. Karen Lovely also sang it, so there is a version of her doing it out there, but people will have to ask nicely to hear it."

The band began recording all of its songs for the new album. For the first seven tracks, which were recorded in Kevin's Medford studio, guitarist Joe Diehl plays with the trio.

Kevin and Dirk Price of the Rogue Suspects also play guitar on some of the songs. "I believe it's nicely produced," says Calamar. "We recorded the basic tracks at Kevin's studio and then came over here (Calamar's home in Ashland), and I put on my vocals and we had some people come over here, and it was great."

Some of the original compositions on the new album date back to 1976, when Calamar first started writing.

"I've been writing songs since I was 13," says Calamar. "They sound different than they used to because of everyone's contribution. They don't sound far different, they are better with these guys playing."

"If I had a choice I'd play originals all day long," says Kevin. "He writes really well-put-together songs. It sounds right."

"Because they are original songs, I wanted to get them out there and I want people to be familiar with them at gigs," says Calamar. "Also before I played in a band, I recorded everything I wrote. I'm a recording person, I'm not a performer."

Some might disagree. A writer and webmaster by day, Calamar transforms into an emotive and authentic entertainer when he's on stage.

For the Tidings Café, Wine Without Reason performed an original tune, "Never Nothing," in Calamar's home in Ashland. With goals of performing at least once a month, the group will be playing several local gigs to celebrate the release of the new CD, starting with a winery.

"This CD is all wine-themed, but next time it will be different," Calamar says. "I have a short attention span, I get tired of things."

Wine Without Reason's CD release party and performance will take place at 5 p.m. Sunday, June 24, at Paschal Winery, 1122 Suncrest Road. Talent. Cover is $5, and for those in attendance the new album will be available for a discounted price of $5.

"This year it's more difficult to get booked. There are a lot of bands that want to play the wineries so we kind of rotate in," says Calamar. "We're really lucky to play Paschal. I like that winery — it's real pretty and that is a nice space."

The group has other upcoming performances at the Wild Goose in Ashland, The Fire and Ice Lounge in Medford's Ramada Inn and the Jackson County Fair.

"I'm calling this our CD release tour because we're going all the way from Ashland to Medford," says Calamar, laughing.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mandy Valencia at

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