Summer weather in West Virginia is, at best, unreliable. Forecasts for sunny, pleasant days ahead can quickly turn to warnings for downpours, which may or may not show up.
Promoters of outdoor concerts and festivals around the state always have to keep an eye on the sky and hope for the best.
“Rain is nice as far as the flowers go,” said Heidi Newfield, half of the country music duo Trick Pony. “It keeps everything nice and green, but when it gets down to summertime, you want the sunshine.”
Trick Pony, she said, is hoping for clear skies and a little sunshine when the band comes to Charleston Saturday night for the Capitol City Biker Bash, but Newfield said they will be ready for just about anything.
“We’ve been known to pull a bunch of tricks out of our hats when it comes to acclimate weather,” she said. “We’ve gathered on the front of the stage and just done an acoustic thing for the people who have their umbrellas out or who are wearing garbage bags to keep the rain off them.”
They’ll fight the rain as long as they can.
“But electricity, as you well know, doesn’t mix so well with H2O,” Newfield said. “All of us have been shocked by microphones and other things when it’s pouring down rain, but we will hang tight as long as we possibly can.”
So far, the forecast for the weekend looks favorable.
Trick Pony has been around since the mid-1990s, but is best known for a string of hits in the early 2000s, including “It’s a Heartache,” “On A Night Like This” and “Pour Me.”
In 2006, Newfield left the band to pursue a solo career and the band continued with a new a singer for about a year before going on hiatus.
The original lineup, including guitarist Keith Burns and bassist Ira Dean, returned in 2014. Dean eventually left while Newfield and Burns stayed on.
Things have changed a lot for Trick Pony in the past dozen years. Like a lot of country artists who were hitmakers 10 or 20 years ago, their music isn’t played a lot on country radio.
“You’d be surprised at how many artists are still out there, still making records, still touring and you can still go see them play live,” Newfield said.
It’s a common complaint in all pop music genres and has been for decades. Top 40 radio doesn’t have much interest in the music of older bands, but tend to focus on just who’s new.
“So many artists that had so much promise, maybe had two or three singles, maybe even a big single, they kind of become, ‘where are they now?’” Newfield said.
Trick Pony is trying to avoid becoming one of those bands. They released an EP last year and a single. They’re still writing songs, recording and performing live.
“We still pretty much look the same,” Newfield said. “We still sound the same and have the same kind of energy.”
Newfield said that she and her musical partner, Keith Burns, love to bring their show out on the road and feel grateful to still be out there.
“There are so many artists out there who’d love to be out on the road, but just don’t have that opportunity,” she said.
Seventeen years after their first hit and three years since Newfield rejoined the band, things are very different for Trick Pony.
The band currently doesn’t have a record label. Once upon a time, that might have meant their days as a group making new music was over. But Newfield said they are not sure if a band like theirs needs the backing of a record company to get music out to their fans.
Big box retailers don’t carry as many CDs as they did 15 or 20 years ago. Most people are getting their music online, which Newfield regrets.
“I like CDs,” she said. “I liked having the physical product in hand, looking at the artwork and seeing who played on the album.”
Still, the upside to digital downloads is that sites like Amazon and iTunes will let the music fan listen to snippets of a song before they buy it.
“In 30 seconds, you can probably get an idea of whether you dig something or not,” she said.
Newfield said that for a band like Trick Pony, the main thing is getting the word out. Without radio play or the backing of record company marketing, fans might not even know the band is playing live.
“That’s where the fans kind of need to step out a little bit,” she said. “They should get on their phones and check out their favorite artists.”
A lot more of them are touring and still putting on great shows.
Newfield thinks Saturday’s show will be a good one. The band loves playing outdoors and playing for biker festivals.
“Bikers are salt-of-the-earth people,” she said. “They’re the first people to pull over if you have trouble on the road — and we just have a lot of fun at those shows.”
Reach Bill Lynch at email@example.com, 304-348-5195 or follow @LostHwys on Twitter. Follow Bill’s One Month At A Time progress on his blog at blogs.wvgazettemail.com/onemonth/. He’s also on Instagram at instagram.com/billiscap.