An Evening in the Summit Sky
Aimee Phillips, 12-02-2019

Summit Sky (from left to right: Jamie Still, Don Kaser, James Domingo, Alex Hall, Chris Matyus) performs at Ohio Brewing Company.
Aimee Phillips
You never quite know what you’re going to get when you step into the basement of a bar. On this early winter night of November 23, the sleet was gearing up outside, but there was a rowdy pool-playing crowd hanging out along with arcade games. As the band set up in their miniscule corner of the room at Ohio Brewing Company, the house music above was so loud I wondered if I would even be able to hear the band. Self-described on their Facebook page as a “folksy string band,” I imagined they may be drowned out. Good local bands are prepared for these tight environments though, and as Summit Sky began to play everything edged their way.

Together for two years now, Alex Hall, guitarist and vocalist, says his four Ohio bandmates are seasoned and educated musicians who have experience in multiple genres ranging from classical guitar to heavy metal. Rounding out the ensemble are James Domingo on mandolin and vocals, Chris Matyus on banjo, Jamie Still on guitar and vocals, and Don Kaser on big bass. Playing a mix of original songs and covers, their vibe is a little bit country, and a little bit rock-and-roll to steal a cliché. It is, says Hall, a sound that most of them didn’t originally envision but it works well.

The covers are unexpected yet attention-getting. From Nirvana to Prince, the Ramones to The Band, Summit Sky hopes the diversity shows audiences how a well-known song can be rearranged into something new. The guitar runs in “When Doves Cry” and the banjo tweak in “Heart-Shaped Box” keep you from placing Summit Sky into a stereotypical box. With an album forthcoming, the band’s original work is also tight. Tracks like “Coyotero” and “Valley Jack” show off their vocal harmonies and soulful string arrangements. The banjo, mandolin, and bass layer around the guitars to produce a full-body country-bluegrass sound that harkens back to a deep-roots American journey. It carries nostalgia and the promise of the open road with the windows rolled down. As their song “Fool” suggests, “The memories will bring you home again.”

Look for Summit Sky primarily in local bars and venues in and around Cuyahoga Falls for a fine evening of true musicianship and fresh surprises.

To follow Summit Sky and keep up to date on future performances, visit: https://www.facebook.com/SummitSkyOhio.

Disclaimer: a subject of this article is also a member of the Falls Free Press staff.


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