For anyone looking outside of the standard singer-songwriter fare offered in Wallowa County, there’s no need to look further than Sorry, Neighbors for a tasty dose of blues and rock music. Band members Casey Kiser and Patrick Powers deliver their brand of blues/rock with enough of a proto-punk flavor to keep it interesting and a bit different.
Amazingly, Kiser, the guitarist, and Powers, the bass player, both 16, are only sophomores at Enterprise High School yet manage to deliver the blues with an authenticity beyond their years. The band’s name has to do with a teacher neither of them liked.
Kiser started learning guitar in fifth grade from EHS music teacher Randy Morgan before taking some private lessons but teaching himself the blues. Powers started with the piano before moving to cello and then bass, which he learned mainly from YouTube videos.
The band originally started in more of the punk rock mode but changed gears after attending a Bronze Blues and Brews festival that featured Samantha Fish, Albert Castiglia and others. “When I heard them play, I thought ‘That’s what I want to do.’ Something just struck me about the blues,” Kiser said.
Powers said he listens to a lot of extreme metal as well as some rockabilly and blues. “I think our music is a place where his (Kiser’s) blues and whatever you want to call what I do, meet, and somehow it works,” Powers said.
The two started their band in junior high. “We started the band in its first form the summer after our seventh grade year,” Powers said. “Since we don’t have lives, this is what we do,” Kiser added.
The interview took place in Kiser’s room where the band practices. Posters of various guitar gods adorn the wall, including Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley and Stevie Ray Vaughan, among others.
Kiser said he tries to practice around eight hours per day. “He plays more than I do,” Powers said with a laugh. Both musicians try to play with other bands with different music genres to broaden their own horizons. Kiser and Powers usually play as a duo but occasionally play with other musicians as well.
Kiser plays a Fender Telecaster Custom made in Mexico through a 1950s, completely stock, Epiphone Pathfinder single-speaker amp of about 25 watts with a vintage Jensen speaker. Powers plays a sticker-covered Peavey Foundation bass along with a Peavey two-speaker cabinet with a tiny 300-watt Gallien-Krueger head that Powers calls a miracle of science.
Many of the band’s songs start around a riff that Kiser comes up with that in turn inspires Powers to write lyrics, although Kiser recently started contributing to lyrics hear and there. The band now has enough material to start working on their own CD. “We really want to record, but we really want to make it right. We want to do something for real,” Powers said. The band is also looking for a drummer.
Sorry, Neighbors played a number songs at the April 3 Terminal Gravity open mic, debuting one original, “Down by the Water.” Powers said he wrote the song while reading Greek mythology. “It’s like the boat that crosses the river Styx and takes you to your destiny,” Powers said. Originally planning to play only four songs, the audience demanded several encores. The band closed the show with a stirring rendition of ZZ Top’s “La Grange,” that featured a stunning bass solo by Powers.
Besides Terminal Gravity, Sorry, Neighbors has played at the Lostine Tavern and other music venues, including the 2014 Juniper Jam and a few other festivals. Surprisingly, they haven’t played the Bronze Blues and Brews festival. We haven’t been asked,” Kiser said. “We’d like to,” Powers added.
Go to www.facebook.com/sorryneighbors to check out the band’s Facebook page.