The Kalob Griffin Band is based in Philadelphia, for now, but the group's old-time, good-time Americana sound has its roots in Pennsylvania places like Williamsport, which sit above the coastal plain.
"I'm not a big-city guy," guitarist-vocalist Kalob Griffin said. "I've always felt more comfortable near the water or more near the woods."
The outfit will traverse some hills and valleys to play its free debut in Williamsport at 10 p.m. Saturday at the Bullfrog Brewery, 229 W. Fourth St.
The Kalob Griffin Band will perform at 10 p.m. Saturday at the Bullfrog Brewery, 229 W. Fourth St.
"We're excited to test the waters up there," Griffin said. "We hear there's lots of good people who like good music around there."
The preference for simple Pennsylvania living comes out in Griffin's lyrics: "We played a show in New York City/ and all I did was spend money I didn't have."
That's a line from "IPA," a cut from the Kalob Griffin Band's first full-length album, "June Found A Gun," released on June 1.
Griffin, a Clarion native, heads a five-piece formed three years ago at Penn State. The current lineup has been together a full year now, and also consists of Eric Lawry (drums-vocals), Rob Dwyer (guitar-mandolin-banjo), John Hildenbrand (keyboards-vocals), and Nick Salcido (electric-upright bass).
The group recently played a two-hour set on "World Cafe Live," a syndicated National Public Radio program produced by Philadelphia's WXPN-FM, in a tribute show for Levon Helm, drummer for The Band, who passed away April 19.
"That show turned out really, really well," Griffin said. "That's the biggest venue we've tried to play by ourselves; the energy was so tangible and everyone was really in the moment."
Their album is named after Griffin's late great- Aunt June. A picture of his grandmother and all of her sisters is on the record's back cover.
"My grandma and one of her sisters drove in from Pittsburgh to see the (World Cafe) show," Griffin said. "They got up and danced towards the end of the show; people were rushing the stage; it was great, with everyone dancing around."
"June Found A Gun" was recorded in two weeks late last year at Milk Boy Studios in Ardmore. The space has since closed.
"Ours was one of the last full albums to be recorded (at Milk Boy)," Griffin said. "It's cool to think we were the one of the last bands to record in that space."
Recording a full-length album with something of a budget was a far different experience for the group than cutting their self-titled six-song EP, released in 2010.
"Recording the EP was a whole different scenario: we did it with $500, and we just wanted something that would play in a CD player," Griffin said. "A lot of calls came out of that investment."
Griffin and his bandmates spent just more than $10,000 on the new album, a process that took seven months in total.
"The songs were mostly stage-tested when we hit the studio," Griffin said. "I think we had all except four all together, but most of them were written within three months of recording."
After experiencing the studio once, there's plenty the band would do differently again, Griffin said.
"We'd work out a lot more in preproduction. You learn that when you start messing with stuff too much you mess it up: You don't want to ruin moments, and it's a dynamic process from tracking to mastering, but sometimes you find out that something you did just when getting the drum and bass tracked that was the best."
The Kalob Griffin Band still has a long way to go before they hit an ego-fueled Yoko stage.
"Chemistry is a big part of this band," Griffin said. "How we interact is very important - we're good friends, we all get along and we all live in the same house (in Manyunk). I think that powerful community feeling comes out on stage."
For more information about the band and to download "June Found A Gun" for free, visit kalob griffinband.com.