When I met with Lee Bains III outside of the Great Scott before his show last night in Allston, I thought he’d be a bit out of his element. What with an Alabama-boy on the street corner during a windy, 20 degree night. Again, when the lively, southern-punk-rock band took the stage in front of a sparse, northern crowd on a Monday night, I thought Lee would be forced to change the tune of his fiddle, so to say. Needless to say, I was wrong, and Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires looked right at home, be they on the stage or playing guitar on each other’s shoulders. Far from his hometown in Alabama, Lee assured me that his act would not be affected at all, having played in front of old crowds, young crowds, punk rock crowds, folk crowds, big crowds, small crowds; all crowds really.

While Lee claims there’s nothing mystical about the way he writes his music, the way certain songs make you double-take the band for CCR is an effect worthy of some smoke and mirrors. His folk-infused punk rock is a strong example of the recent growth in regional music styles. All around the country bands are playing the local, “folk” styles, rather than a nationalized phenomenon. With bands playing music with roots to in their locale, people aren’t playing the sweeping genres of alt rock or grunge rock; they’re playing surfer grunge or southern-roots punk. Continuing the debate over categories, I asked Lee if the music he plays should be considered Folk music. After hesitating a few seconds, he replied, “At first I’d say no, because of the connotation of folk music with the folk revival of the 1960s with Peter, Paul & Mary, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, etc. But I definitely like to think that we keep some traditional themes in our music that give it a sense of place.”

Richmond-based punk rock band, Strike Anywhere

Richmond-based punk rock band, Strike Anywhere

The question reminded Lee of an interview with Strike Anywhere frontman, Thomas Barnett, who was posed with a similar inquiry. For those unfamiliar, Strike Anywhere is a Richmond-based punk rock band. Coming up in Richmond during the late nineties, the punk scene was unique in that there was ample innovation and a true sense of place that went with a surging punk movement. Lee continued to explain that Barnett felt that he did play folk music. Reasoning that folk music is music for and by the people, just like the punk music they played was. The accessibility played a role as well in his argument, saying that anyone could get a guitar and drums and essentially play punk rock. Now, do yourself a favor and listen to a few songs by Strike Anywhere and see if you consider their music, “folk” music. As a fan of more traditional folk, and not at all a big fan of punk rock, this argument still haunts my thoughts.

All debates aside, when Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires took the stage it was moot to debate whether they play southern rock, roots, punk, blues, country, or folk. The band was as excited to be there as the crowd was to see them play, and the happy-to-be-there energy exuded from the band right from the start. Aside from some acrobatics by Lee and his guitarist, the main spectacle was the overall chemistry of the band, through each and every song. At times however, Lee would unleash his dynamite vocals and grab the attention of the small crowd huddled around the bar. Promising a little something for everyone, and and sincere, high energy performance to all, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires deserve as much time out of your schedule as their former tourmates Alabama Shakes. Check out their performance of “Opelika” below (I apologize for the sound quality in advance). If you feel so inclined, do yourself the favor of listening to Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires’ latest album There is a Bomb in Gilead, or catch them live.

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