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Looting and pillaging with The Dread Crew of Oddwood

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The pirate-themed Dread Crew of Oddwood comes to The Empty Glass on Tuesday. According to its website, the band "blends heavy metal, Celtic folk and progressive rock with a unique acoustic instrumentation" into what it calls "heavy mahogany."
WANT TO GO?The Dread Crew of Oddwood, with The RenfieldsWHERE: The Empty Glass, 410 Elizabeth St.WHEN: 10 p.m. TuesdayCOST: $6INFO: 304-345-3914 or _____CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Getting a straight answer out of Renaissance Fair act-turned-bar band, The Dread Crew of Oddwood, isn't always easy.With the eight of them crammed into a '98 Ford Club Wagon, the group is liable to spontaneously decide everyone should take a shot of whiskey or begin a MadLib in the middle of a phone interview."We need a noun," said mandolin player Ruba Jouba. "And don't say car, or we'll hang up. Everybody always says car." It's hard to imagine what a show with a pirate-themed band that "blends heavy metal, Celtic folk and progressive rock with a unique acoustic instrumentation" in something it calls "heavy mahogany" might be like, but West Virginia finds out Tuesday night when the California-based crew comes to The Empty Glass.To hear the band members (all of who go by pseudonyms) tell it, there is no particular reason for The Dread Crew of Oddwood to exist.Vocalist and Irish Bouzouki player Stark Cordwain said, "No one had this idea. It just happened for no good reason."The timing, however, was right. Most of the band played at different renaissance fairs in southern California. They met, made connections and decided to take some of the silliness of playing pirate and apply it to a band that plays bars."We already had the costumes," Jouba said. "It was very convenient."
The band's music is like something inspired by a Captain Morgan's rum commercial or pirated from an indie version of a Hobbit movie. The crew frequently sings about zombies, sea monsters, revenge and piracy, among other things. The Dread Crew is loud, spectacularly weird and doesn't take itself seriously -- at all.
"Anything can happen at a show," Cordwain said. "We can do anything from backflipping off the stage to loincloth shows to lighting the drums on fire and smashing instruments.""It depends on what the venue allows," Jouba said. "Whatever the most thing they allow, we try do something more extreme."Audience participation is welcome, though entirely optional."A lot of people show up in full pirate garb," Cordwain said. "We've had crowd surfing and moshing and audience members on stage performing songs with us."The Dread Crew doesn't get to the East Coast much."It's hard to get over there," Cordwain said. "We have to make a lot of money for it to be worth the plane tickets."
The Dread Crew is playing east of the Mississippi over the next week because of some convenient scheduling. The band is booked to play the Bristol Renaissance Faire in Kenosha, Wis., this weekend and Labor Day weekend."So, we have this week in between where we're just sitting around," Cordwain said.It made sense to try to pick up a few shows in the neighborhood, which apparently includes Chicago, Charleston and Silver Springs, Md.After that fair, the band will make its way back to California where it will play some of its usual clubs and festivals."We stay pretty busy," Cordwain said. "We're playing the Vista Viking Festival next month.""And competing in the archery and ax-throwing competitions," Jouba added. Reach Bill Lynch at or 304-348-5195. 
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