In 1936 American bluegrass singer Doc Watson released a song called “The Intoxicated Rat.” The lyrics recount the firsthand experience of an alcoholic rodent as he gutter-scurries with “a little old bottle o’booze.”
“Doggone, my red-eyed soul, I’m a-gonna get drunk once more,” Watson sang. “I gonna get drunk once more, I’m a-gonna get drunk once more. Doggone, my red-eyed soul, I’m a-gonna get drunk once more.”
Nearly 80 years later that particular lyric stuck out to Argenta’s Nick Fuss, who chose it as the name of his four-piece Argenta party band, which currently consists of Fuss, Sean Rodman, Lee Campese and Jakob Simek. It just captured their vibe.
“Well, then Sean got pink eye, so we called ourselves Pink Eyed Soul for a bit,” joked Campese.
Assembled about four years ago, the quartet has gone through a few member changes, but is now picking up momentum after performing at the Kaslo Jazz Etc. Festival last summer. Now they’re coming to Spiritbar on Feb. 20.
“We’ve got about three albums’ worth of material, we just haven’t recorded any of it yet,” said Rodman, who also performs as one half of musical duo Moontricks. He splits writing duties with Fuss, though they’re attracted to the same topics.
“It’s all pretty Kootenay-based,” said Rodman. “We sing about the mountains, country living in Argenta. Most of us have been living up the lake so a lot of it has to do with that area.”
He has one song called “Fortune and Fame.”
“In a small-town you end up being a bit of a celebrity because everyone knows who you are, so it’s about this guy going out looking for fortune and fame, but then he realizes all the riches are back at home.”
Put another way: “Red Eyed Soul is huge in Argenta.”
“Basically how this band started was kitchen parties at Sean’s house. We were congregating on the counters, playing John Prine or whatever, and it would be late night, 3 or 4 in the morning, and all the home brew’s been drunk, and then at that point it was like ‘we should start playing together,’” said Fuss.
Their first venue was Argenta Hall.
The band members are all well-seasoned musicians, and all members of multiple projects.
For instance, Campese is the drummer for funk band Alpine Conspiracy, and will perform in the upcoming production of Rock of Ages. Both he and Simek were members of Sofiella Watt and the Huckleberry Bandits.
“I’ve spent thousands of hours in front of my fireplace,” said Fuss, who along with Rodman has solo singer ambitions.
Simek was a fan before he joined a year ago.
“From my perspective this was always the party band, out there playing four-hour sets. They’d be the ones wearing the audience out or pushing the clock basically. It was just really fun for parties.”
“We’re known for our endurance,” quipped Fuss.
The band has been playing routinely in Kaslo, and is now taking their show down Kootenay Lake. Their concert at Spiritbar will be their first performance, and they’ll be opening for Elliot Brood — who they also opened for at the Kaslo Jazz Etc. Festival.
“We played just before them last summer while the sun was setting and it was wicked. They got everyone jumping, there were two ukuleles and they brought that signature Elliot Brood style,” said Rodman. “It’s just good high-energy music.”