Messy break-up inspired moniker of bluegrass quintet with a rocky edge
It's a great name for a band. And riotous folk-bluegrass outfit Rose's Pawn Shop got its moniker from an explosive bust-up that frontman Paul Givant had with a girlfriend. As a fellow performer, she just happened to have the keys to their rehearsal space.
"Not dating anyone you are in a band with is an unspoken rule, but these things happen," says the musician from California.
"She was a little bit of a loose cannon, we had a disagreement and her response was to go into our rehearsal space, take everything out and take it down to the pawn shop." Paul did get his stuff back, eventually, "after she'd cooled down a bit", although, needless to say, the two of them parted ways after this, both romantically and musically. But the name stuck.
"We'd had a string of horrible band names up to that point, and it finally gave us a decent name," says Paul.
Paul grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles, California, which, he says, is "not really known" for bluegrass.
"I grew up on rock and pop, then I started listening to more folk-influenced, American roots-type music, and my tastes started to change," he says.
"I was originally a drummer, and I played in a lot of rock bands, but then I started to pick up a guitar and write songs, and really got into bluegrass and roots, so I decided to start a band, and went looking for like-minded musicians.
"There's a thing called Craig's List, an online messaging board, where you can post to find musicians. So that's where I went."
He found musical soulmates in Sebastian St John, Derek O'Brien, Bill Clark, Derek Swenson and John Kraus, who were the original line-up of Rose's Pawn Shop. Together, they pump rock-like energy into the nostalgic back-porch sounds of bluegrass and Americana, electric guitar intermingling with banjo and acoustic guitar.
It is a sound they've honed since their first album, The Arsonist, in 2006, and they've excelled themselves with new release, Dancing on the Gallows, in which they fearlessly confront traditional country music themes of loss, lamentation and redemption, with some drinking songs thrown in for good measure.
Worth picking out is title song, Dancing on the Gallows, a jaunty, anarchic, full-on song for hard times. The band's current line up is Paul (lead vocals, acoustic guitar, banjo), John Kraus (banjo, electric guitar, vocals), Tim Weed (fiddle, mandolin, vocals), Stephen Andrews (upright bass) and Christian Hogan (drums).
"Everyone has their main thing that they play, but we all do a lot of switching," says Paul.
"John, our banjo player, also plays accordion, and our drummer, Christian, also plays mandolin. Acoustic guitar is my main instrument, and I'm the main songwriter in the group. I'll bring in a song I've written for the guitar and everyone will chip in to make it better! It is a real collaboration."
All the band live in and around the city of Los Angeles, but Paul is the only native – drummer Christian Hogan is from Nova Scotia in Canada, while the others hail from other parts of the States.
Paul describes their music as "folk-rock". "Rock is at the core of what we do – with the electric guitar and drums, we have a lot of rock energy, but instrumentally there's a lot of bluegrass and country, so I see it as a blend of different styles."
And there's a chance to hear them live as the band cross the pond for their first-ever UK tour. "We've done a lot of touring in the States, but this is the first time we've headed to Britain, so we are excited," says Paul.
Rose's Pawn Shop play the Melting Pot Cafe in Redruth on Saturday, March 16 at 8.30pm (www.themeltingpotcafe.co.uk).