Watching a young band grow up on stage with loads of potential to do bigger things, continually amazing you with every set while getting to know the band along the way, it’s interesting to see the dynamics of actually being in a band from an outsider’s perspective. In today’s world, it’s not as easy as being a good songwriter, vocalist, or musician. Add in a second, third, fourth… member of a band, and that just adds another layer of complexity to making it work. It takes a lot of hard work. And for DIY musicians it’s an even bigger struggle. Not only are they tasked with managing themselves, booking their own shows, putting out their music, social media, and more, there is no one in place to guide them along the way in making the right decisions besides friends and mentors. There is no one who’s job is to ensure the band’s success, besides the band itself. That means they have to heavily rely on each other.
Involved in a band’s dynamics are varying personalities, goals, drive, financials, ability to handle the pressures and struggles, and so much more. All of these things have to mesh or at least co-habitate and all be heading in the same direction for it to work.
Atlanta’s City Mouse is a band I’ve seen a number of times over the last few years. The three-piece folk band has been warming their way into the hearts of listeners wherever they’ve played from Eddie’s Attic, to Terminal West, The EARL and more. Led by primary songwriters Brian Revels (guitar, banjo, vocals) and Michael Hudgins (guitar, vocals), along with Jenna Mobley on violin, bass, & vocals, City Mouse plays effortlessly together on stage. A band of friends that love what they do.
But for a band that is still growing, sometimes along the way you find out that maybe all the goals don’t or no longer align. And that’s okay. For any 20-something, a year’s time could bring major life style changes, maybe touring is no longer an option, long hours in the studio, whatever it may be.
A few months ago, Brian called me to tell me about the special show City Mouse is putting on tonight at Eddie’s Attic, The Sanguine Sessions in which the band will release two new singles – “Bloodshot Eyes” by Michael Hudgins and “Blood Red Youth” by Brian Revels – to be released exclusively via digital download card to attendees of the show. Brian offered to let me hear the not yet finished new tracks (which I can vouch for these new songs that really capture the essence of what we’ve heard live from City Mouse). He also told me the bad news, Michael had decided to leave the band. After four years, one EP and a handful of national and regional tours, one of the founding members and one of two main songwriters is leaving amicably.
So naturally I ran to meet up with the band, hear more about the split, discuss the future, in addition to a sneak peek of the new tracks, and listen to Brian burp on camera, which was before we did a celebratory shotgunning of cheap beer (we shall save that footage for a future VH1 Behind the Music). What we captured on film was an hour long talk between the band of sadness, joy, laughter, and memories. There is no ill will, these are three friends that want the best for each other, and no matter what the future holds, there will always be a bond over their time in City Mouse. It was a compelling look into the real life struggles of being a musician today and how to try to make it work. I was glad to have been able to share this experience with City Mouse as they reflected on the last 4 years.
From our chat, the band put together a 6 minute promo announcing The Sanguine Sessions and Michael’s departure from the band. Don’t miss City Mouse with Frankie Boots and the Darnell Boys tonight at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur at 7:30. Purchase tickets here but hurry, there is only a handful left, and you don’t want to miss this special evening. I’m sure Brian, Michael and Jenna will be sharing plenty of stories from along the way. This is not a somber occasion but a celebration. What happens with City Mouse from here? We will be keeping up whatever they do. Watch the interview below: