Station to station
Six Mile Station
The Reno Americana band Six Mile Station played 80 shows in 2014, a number of concerts that the band members hope to surpass this year. They already have five 10-day tours planned for this year, along with a few other shows, including one that they’ve been working toward for a few years: the record release show for their first full-length album, Audiobiography.
“It’s a picture of our music at this point in time,” said John Underwood, the band’s banjo, trumpet and trombone player. The record, which is released on CD and vinyl, features on the cover realistic charcoal portraits of the band members done by artist Cindie Tamietti, the mother of bassist Tyson Schroeder.
In addition to Underwood and Schroeder, the portraits include drummer Jeffrey Knight and fiddle, mandolin and accordion player Nathan Carter, who was a member of the group when the album was recorded, and although he’s no longer a full-time member, he’ll be joining the band for some songs at the record release show. Front and center on the album cover is Spike McGuire, the group’s guitar player, lead vocalist and primary songwriter. He’s an affable guy with a charismatic stage presence and a big, booming baritone. Six Mile Station’s music is mostly upbeat folk rock, but occasionally dips into the darkness one might associate with Nick Cave or Tom Waits.
“A couple of years ago, we were just starting out on our path and figuring out who we were,” said McGuire. “I guess we’re still doing that, we’ve just become darker people.”
Audiobiography was funded largely through crowd sourced donations raised by the band through the website Kickstarter, It was recorded in the band’s practice space at Underwood’s home, but it certainly doesn’t sound like a home recording. It was edited and mixed by local legend recording engineer Tom Gordon, and then mastered by Emily Lazar, who has mastered albums by big names like the Foo Fighters and Vampire Weekend.
In addition to performances by the band members, there are guest spots by Rachael McElhiney and Brendon Lund of the band Buster Blue, lap steel player Eric “Rico” Peterson, and singing saw player Daniel Lyons.
For the album release party, the band will be joined on stage by the cello player Billy Mickelson, who will also perform his solo music project, Third Seven. The San Francisco rock band The Phenomenauts are co-headling the show, and locals Sil Shoda will perform an acoustic set. The show is a fundraiser benefiting a Sierra Arts Foundation initiative that supports local schools’ music programs.
“Everybody was so great to us with our Kickstarter that we wanted to find a way to give back with our release,” said McGuire. “And we figured that Reno has such an awesome scene now, and if we can get some instruments into the hands of local kids, we can keep that scene going strong.”
Six Mile Station’s songs are diverse—there are stark Western stories, syncopated Eastern European dance numbers, and bluegrass rippers. The band members say that “Americana” is a good catchall description for their eclectic sound.
McGuire is also the host of the monthly Loud as Folk events formerly held at the now shuttered The Alley in Sparks, but now held at Pignic Pub & Patio, 235 Flint St., 376-1948. The event is held the first Thursday of every month from 8 to 11 p.m.
“I’ve tried to listen to feedback I’ve gotten from the audience, fans of Loud as Folk over the years,” said McGuire. “It starts promptly at 8 o’clock. It’s in a nonsmoking venue and right between midtown and downtown Reno, so it’s super easy to get to for everyone.”
McGuire and his band mates are excited to get back on the road.
“The first tours, we were earning fans literally one at a time,” said McGuire. “Now we go back to places and people are there to see us, which is kind of crazy because we don’t even have an album out yet. So, once we get the album out, we’ll really be cooking with gasoline.