39 to 40: Getting the Band Back Together
For an indication of an early midlife crisis one needs to look no further than the band reunion.
In 1997, 9 out of every 10 people you met on the street played in a Ska band. Threefold Cord were 9 of those people. Having all met while attending North Park University in Chicago, we quickly set out to break the record for the number of band members you can fit in a Nissan Sentra (7, don’t tell the cops).
Recording an EP and two albums in six years, our mission was simple: to share the love of God and make as many uncoordinated people as possible dance throughout the U.S. and Canadian side of Niagara Falls.
Often spelled horribly wrong on show flyers, the name Threefold Cord comes from the verse Ecclesiastes 4:12:
Although one may be overpowered, two can withstand one; a cord of three strands is not quickly broken
Professional definers define Ska as:
Ska (/ˈskɑː/, Jamaican [skjæ]) is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s and was the precursor to rocksteady and reggae. Ska combined elements of Caribbean mento and calypso with American jazz and rhythm and blues. It is characterized by a walking bass line accented with rhythms on the offbeat.
I would have just said it goes chucka-chucka-chucka real fast with horns.
Now let’s be clear, we were neither Jamaican, Caribbean, Calypso or had much in the way of rhythm or blues. When you picture any of these genres, you see cool people with beautiful dark skin playing music in colorful shirts on a beach or cruise ship. We were a bunch of pasty white guys practicing in a frigid multi-purpose room on a northside Chicago campus.
Imagine a long game of telephone where the message becomes distorted and much different than the original. We were the distortion. We began as third wave ska and evolved into what one friend and wanna-be music critic called “post-ska.” Whatever dude.
Threefold Cord had a full horn section with trumpet, tenor sax, and trombone; a rhythm section with bass, guitar, and drums; and two random dancers. Yes, two guys not physically graceful by any means whose sole job was to dance. And dance they did. Inspired by the Mighty Mighty Bosstone’s dancer and backup vocalist Ben Carr, we wanted to up the ante with Lead Dancer and Rhythm Movement.
We played a lot of gigs in a lot of church basements, clubs, coffee shops, and lawns over our six-year existence. We wrote several songs (some of which you can download by clicking here), played at CHIC (Not to be confused with a baby bird convention or a gathering of Chick-Fillet enthusiasts, CHIC is the triennial youth conference for the Evangelical Covenant Church), and somehow convinced North Park to sponsor a nationwide summer tour for the first and last time.
We played 35 shows across the country in two months ensuring we’d have tinnitus for the rest of our natural lives.
About every few years after our final show we’d start a conversation that ended with “Hey, we should get back together and stuff and write some stuff someday.” But something happens when you approach 40 that makes you realize your somedays and stuff are limited.
We’re Getting the Band Back Together!
In early 2016 we started talking again about a band reunion and this time it actually happened. Spearheaded by random dancer turned lead guitar player-songwriter-sound engineer-pastor, Matt King, we exchanged several text messages, and if you can believe it, a few phone calls. We started dusting off our songs, and before we knew it, we had two shows lined up. It helps when two of the band members become pastors and can book you at their church. We descended upon western Iowa from all corners of the states, and after an obligatory chest bump or two, we got right to work. The shows were fun and full of the same uncoordinated arm flail dance moves we were accustomed to seeing in the past.
We played two shows and even got invited to play a short set at a neighborhood BBQ with a few other local bands.
One of the best parts about the reunion was for the fathers in the band to have the opportunity to share this important part of their lives with their kids. With nine guys now all married, there are a lot of mini band member lookalikes running around. After the shows, a few of them even started talking about starting a band of their own. We’ve officially passed the madness down to the next generation. (Sorry next generation.)
Despite living in five different states, we continue to write and record music together long distance. The reunion inspired us to keep the creativity we love flowing. Here’s one of our new songs called Potato Gun, a song that has a story of its own….but we’ll save that for another time.
See you in the next conga line,