Fair City Fire's Song "Strong" and How It's Being Used to Help Houston

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Fair City Fire's Song "Strong" and How It's Being Used to Help Houston

Written By: Brian Wolff

I wanted to take a brief moment to talk about the history of “Strong” and what it means to me.  This is something I’ve kept close to my chest for a long time because it always felt so deeply personal.  I’ve had so many people tell me how much this song means to them at this point going through whatever they have had going on… I don’t feel a need to keep this side to me private anymore.    

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I was in the process of writing this song in the early summer of 2011.  It was meant to be a reflection on what it took to get through what still remains to be the worst moment of my life.  September 15, 2006 was the day insurmountable health issues took my brother, Michael Anthony Wolff from this world.  He had a really long, very brave fight with something called ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome), but at the end of the day… he just couldn’t beat it.  My heart is forever broken.  They say everyone copes with the hardships of life and tragedy in their own way.  My way is and has been to write songs.  I’m just thankful I have such a wonderful platform like Fair City Fire nowadays to share my version of self-therapy to the world.

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In July 2011… floods hit my hometown of Binghamton, NY.   Much like what we’re seeing today in Houston… floods destroyed homes and businesses of some of my friends, family and neighbors in the community that I loved and still love with all my heart.  So right then it hit me like a ton of bricks, I knew what I had to do… the only thing I could do.  Finish this song, “Strong”, and release it as a single to try to raise money to help relief efforts.  

I contacted my favorite producer in Binghamton, Steve Kocich, and told him what I was trying to do.  He was on board without hesitation to help the cause.  He didn’t have a studio space at the time so we had to get creative.  I called up WHRW 90.5 FM in Binghamton because I had heard they just installed a recording studio within their space on campus at my alma mater, Binghamton University.  When I told them about my mission, they were immediately super accommodating.  I rounded up the band, Dan Martin and Roy Clark, and we headed into the studio to get this song out.  Everybody was working hard and working for free.  It was amazing that everybody around this shared the vision I had.  

A little side story.  The chorus at the end.. I knew it had to be big.  So I started walking the halls of the union building searching for people that would be willing to sing on this track.  I asked a few strangers who were really shy.. Then I heard the elite men’s acapella group, The Binghamton Crosby’s practicing down the hall.  What the hell.. I had to go ask.  They jumped at the opportunity to help out.  They learned their parts fast and got it done in one take.  True professionals.  The song was done… we got it out and raised a good amount of money for the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.

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Well that brings us to today.  In case you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know… Hurricane Harvey has flooded and devastated so much of Houston.  It’s bad.. It’s really, really bad.  As soon as I started seeing footage of the destruction… of course it reminded me of the floods in Binghamton and it hit me again.  We could use the newer, 2016 Fair City Fire version of the song we had included as the last track on our debut LP, The Simple Truth to do the same damn thing.  We’ve set up “Strong” as a single on Bandcamp and are selling it to raise money for The Red Cross Disaster Relief efforts.  100% of the profits are going straight to them. CLICK HERE TO DONATE>>>> Go here to contribute.  While the song is sad in that it came from a sad time of my life.  I’ve been told it’s also uplifting and moving.  I hope the message helps.  Houstonians, you are strong and you will get through this.

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The Too Damn Hot Affair 2017 (2 Damn 2 Hot Affair?? ehh??)

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The Too Damn Hot Affair 2017 (2 Damn 2 Hot Affair?? ehh??)

I thought I’d take a moment to explain what all of this is about in sexy blog form.  Last summer, we had a thought.. Hey instead of doing a bunch of little shows around Austin during the summer… let’s do one big show with some of our favorite bands at one of our favorite venues.  So.. we got Finite Fidelity, That Girl Dre and The Canvas People to join us and we booked August 20, 2016 at the world famous Stubbs!   

We sat around and thought… how can we make this more than just another show… how can we make this an event.  We definitely needed a name.  Well.. it was way too damn hot out as it always is here in Texas in the summer.  So the name seemed super appropriate and everybody was on board.  How can we take it further?  Well let’s get our good friend and biggest support who happens to be a stand up comedian, Matt Jones, to host the whole thing to give the night an even better flow.   

Sim's Foundation

Sim's Foundation

Okay.. what else?  Let’s make it a community event by raising some money for a local non-profit we believe in.  The Sims Foundation was an obvious choice for us upon finding out what they are about.  Sims is a place where Austin music professionals and their families can go to obtain a wide range of mental health services.  We believe that often mental health issues are often terribly overlooked and are especially present with our musical brothers and sisters.  We all realized it’s an issue that we wanted to do what we could to help alleviate.  Check out http://simsfoundation.org for more information on Sims.  They are amazing.  We ended up making a mural that, for a donation, any members of the audience could contribute a little drawing to.  Also, Sarah White was taking polaroids for people for a donation too.  Of course, anybody could donate at the merch tables as well if they wanted to.  We ended up raising a fair amount of money for Sims and we had ourselves the best turnout for a ticketed Fair City Fire event yet!

This year's Too Damn Hot Affair!

This year's Too Damn Hot Affair!

That brings us to today.  Well today is exactly 16 days away (who’s counting?) from the 2nd installment of The Too Damn Hot Affair.  There will be some similarities and some changes.  One major difference is… THIS IS GOING TO BE AT THE LEGENDARY ANTONE’S!  The original Antone’s opened its doors in 1975 and despite multiple location changes, it has maintained its legendary status as a haven for Austin Blues Music for all of this time.  In fact, fairly recently, I got to witness Eric Tessmer release his latest EP to a sold out Antone’s crowd.  This is a venue that needs to be seen and appreciated… especially if you haven’t been there.  This is your time to fix that catastrophic situation.

A look at a small piece of the history of Antones

A look at a small piece of the history of Antones

It will go down August 18th this year.  We will have Finite Fidelity, That Girl Dre and this time… Dr Joe will close out the show.  I could go on and on about why I love each of those local, incredibly talented acts.  I’ll be brief.  

Finite Fidelity

Finite Fidelity

Finite Fidelity plays the kind of rock and roll that makes me want to break things in the best of ways.  We’ve established a very good relationship with those guys throughout the past couple years playing shows at Stubbs, 4th Tap and Rattle Inn.  We had to keep a good thing going and not to mention they freaking killed it last year.   

That Girl Dre

That Girl Dre

That Girl Dre, well they are a must.  Dre’s dynamic and all-powerful vocals lead the way coupled with her phenomenal chops on the keys.  I’m not just saying that because she’s one of my best friends in Austin.  I was a huge fan first!!   Their tight rhythm section brings out this very rock and roll vibe… between Tracy pounding out rhythm’s like a beast and Jet’s bass wizardry.   We’re also all excited to see and hear what her new guitar player brings to the team.  

Rockin some front row hooligans!

Rockin some front row hooligans!

Fair City Fire.. oh man… oh wait… that’s us… next!  

Dr Joe

Dr Joe

Dr Joe we came across through an awesome video he put out during SXSW 2017 from a showcase at Google Fiber downtown.  His energy and incredible passion for his music were infectious from the first time we saw him.  Then, we got him on board for a charity event we did at 4th Tap a few months back.  What a cool guy.  I’m not as familiar with his band as I’d like to be, but I can definitely say with confidence that they are immensely talented.  We had the chance to get know Joe and bass player, Pat, on our “Say It Loud” Podcast.  I also went to go see Dr Joe at Cheer Up Charlies.  All I have to say is watch out if he comes out into the crowd with a keytar and gives you crazy eyes.  That’s a story for another time.

The point is… we all care so much about this event and we want you to as well.  There’s a great cause benefitting from your support, great music all night and a chance to hang out at one of the most legendary venues in Texas.  The Too Damn Hot Affair 2017 is going to be something special.  Go... to… there...

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The Radio Attack Tour #10: Austin, Texas

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The Radio Attack Tour #10: Austin, Texas

Its damn good to be home!  We had all afternoon to recover a bit from driving through the night, which was a beautiful thing.  We were all ready to go by showtime.  It was great to reconnect with everybody all in one place.  I’m not sure how bands can just up and tour for months at a time.  We were only gone for our usual 2 weeks and it was hard not to miss the comfort and familiarity of home.  I must say, though, touring is starting to feel easier and a bit more normal. 

Taking it to the streets!

Taking it to the streets!

The first band of the night, Jam Therapy, absolutely tore it up.  It was good to hear that Austin rock and roll again.  Especially at a great Austin venue such as Mohawk.  The last time we played with them was at Spiderhouse a little over a year before that night.. I swear they have only gotten better, as impressive as they were even back then.  It was our turn next.  The room started to fill up and the energy was starting to build by the time Jam Therapy ended their set.  We played our tour standard 40 minute set, but this time with Clint Manning filling out the sound with a 2nd guitar.  While Brett, Joe and myself had been performing these songs every night for the past two weeks.. Clint hadn’t played with us for all that time.  He did great picking right back up on everything.  It was only our 2nd show with him, but I was already starting to get more comfortable with him on stage.  The future looks bright for FCF with Clint on board.  We will be getting him on the podcast very soon so be on the lookout!  

Jam Therapy

Jam Therapy

We finished our set and Nomad City took the stage.  If you haven’t seen this band yet… change your ways.  At the forefront Britny’s insane rock and roll vocal range and stage presence is undeniably good.  Then you’ve got Ray making that guitar his bitch.  Some of the tones he gets are good enough to stop me in my tracks.  Their rhythm section featured Russell on bass and Alec on drums.  Really tight and really danceable rhythms despite the hard rock vibes Ray was laying down.  What I’m trying to say is… Nomad City is a great band and you should see them.  We hung out there for Black Heart Saints set and enjoyed them as well.  They were a great energetic way to end off the night.   

Nomad City

Nomad City

Austin, we’re back and we’re ready to get to work writing and making sure we all have a great summer of shows and good times!   Be on the lookout on all our social media pages for updates on shows and recording plans and such.  

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The Radio Attack Tour #9: Indianapolis, Indiana

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The Radio Attack Tour #9: Indianapolis, Indiana

We got to Brett’s brother Erik’s place in Greenwood, IN an hour or so before we needed to head out for our gig that night at Melody Inn.  We brought in our suitcases and stuff and said our hellos.  Then, we drove out to the gig.  The Melody Inn is this super old divey place that we could tell had a TON of history.  We came to find out it was and is pretty much a must-stop for punk bands from around the country.  Being there, you can definitely see why.  It’s old, dirty atmosphere was part of what gave it its charm.   We were happy to be there for sure.  A band Brett grew up rocking to, The Hardees, opened the show and killed it.  There were some really cool elements of hip hop, blues and funk in their music.  The kind of music you couldn’t help but move to.  The moment I had with RJ in Buffalo was similar to Brett’s moment getting to perform on the same bill as this band.   Then, it was our turn.  We rocked our usual set and it was a blast.  We had a warm and receptive audience.  I can remember feeling the weight of being on the road for the first time at that show. My body was starting to feel run down and my fingers and voice were sore.  It’s all part of the game being on the road for any amount of time.  Gotta fight through it and put on the best show you can no matter what.. So I did.  We wrapped up and then Holly and the Mad Wails finished the night with a cool sound.  It was like folky with hints of rock and roll and a quirky attitude.  I was into it for sure.   

The Hardees at Melody Inn

The Hardees at Melody Inn

The next morning was beautiful because we didn’t have to drive ANYWHERE!  We got to just hang out around Indy all day until our show at Slippery Noodle.  We got our traditional meal at Roscoe’s Tacos with Brett’s family.  Brett’s mom flew to Indy to be there and to hang out with her family for the week!  It was great to see her there and to have a couple meals with her and the rest of Brett’s Indy family.  It’s amazing how normal being on the road like this was starting to feel.  Everybody has been so welcoming everywhere we’ve gone!  We went back to Erik’s lovely home and watched some TV while Brett mowed the lawn!  He did a damn fine job, I must say.  After getting to relax for a while, it was time to head to the show.  Slippery Noodle is the oldest bar in Indiana.  A truly historic place.  It was an absolute honor to come back.  There is only one real drawback to playing there.. It’s a long, long set… especially for a band that focuses on really high energy original music.  It was three full hour sets with a few breaks between.  That’s just the way that place has always operated and what the patrons expect and we were happy to fulfill that once again.   We also wanted to go pretty blues-heavy with our cover choices because of the blues vibes of that place.  

The Slippery Noodle

The Slippery Noodle

The place was completely packed.  Brett’s old friends and family came out in droves for this one.  Of course, Slippery Noodle, has a pretty cool natural draw of blues fans anyways too.  We found out very shortly there was a whole table of people that were in town from Austin for a conference of some sort.  That was cool to meet some people from our city and get to show them what we do at a legendary venue all the way across the country!  In the middle of one of my marathon guitar solos, a guy handed me his beer bottle and said “SLIDE!”.  So, I kind of only sort of knew what to do with that, but I sort of figured it out as I went.  By the end of my slide session… I was just simply making loud and rowdy noises by sliding it way above the fretboard.  It ended up being a pretty cool moment.  You just never know what’s going to happen at these shows.  This was a beaut.  It was safe to say, we had made some new fans and the familiar faces seemed happy with the set.  Erik has made a tradition of having ridiculously strong rum and cokes ready for us upon our arrival at his house after our shows in Indy.  We were all in the mood to celebrate.  It was perfect.  This had been another successful tour and we were headed home the next day.  Once we got the troops rallied the next morning we met Brett’s family one more time for lunch at Chic Fil A.  We then hit the road.  We had a 18 hour drive ahead of us.  Why did we drive 18 hours you ask?  The easiest way to explain it is.. Joe could have a career as a truck driver.  The dude was a machine.  He took the first shift which ended up being like 11 hours.  We kept asking him..

“Hey dude you wanna switch out?”

“No.. I’m a goddamn machine of a man.”  (okay maybe I'm paraphrasing a bit)

“Ok cool”

Brett and I split the last bit of the drive and we pulled up to my place in north Austin at around 7am.  The traveling part of the tour was over.  Just one more task at hand.. Rock the ever-loving shit out of Mohawk for our return home show.  More on that later.

FCF and some family and an awesome sweat mark on my shirt

FCF and some family and an awesome sweat mark on my shirt

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The Radio Attack Tour #8: Cleveland, Ohio

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The Radio Attack Tour #8: Cleveland, Ohio

We got to the venue a couple hours before our set and man.. Tremont was a really cool part of town.  It was clearly the hip place to hang out.  Definitely exciting to see that side of this awesome city and to be a part of its allure for a night.  Coda was a cool little spot.  It was a venue located in the basement of a huge, really nice restaurant.  We walked down that flight of stairs having no idea what to expect.  When we opened the doors we were most pleasantly surprised.  The venue had a lot of character and was the perfect size for a band like ours who doesn’t really have a huge following in Cleveland.  We were able to bring out a few people though mostly thanks to Derik and Jess (yes that Derik!) and my old pal Benny (go Eskies!) who all brought out some friends.  Some we had met and some new faces.  It was really good to see everybody again.  

Hey its us!  Live at Coda

Hey its us!  Live at Coda

Surrounding Cities opened the night and they were great, even though they were apparently missing a couple members for this set.  Their set featured some pretty prominent vocals and really catchy hooks.  Then M Moody took the stage as a solo acoustic act.  He had a cool rasp to his voice that made him a very unique and cool listen.  We enjoyed both acts and then it was our time.  We played our 40 minutes and we were definitely at that point that playing these songs was like clockwork.  We were now on our 10th show of the tour, so it was just all clicking in the best way at this point.  “Hold Onto You” seemed to get the best reception it ever has.  It’s the most new song we’ve been playing regularly… I think it’s one of those things where we finally figured out how to really play and deliver that song.  It’s a little off the beaten path for us so it took some adjusting and it’s starting to really become one of the songs we all look forward to playing the most.  

Cleveland is real purdy at night

Cleveland is real purdy at night

We finished up our set and got to hang out with some of the staff at Coda and our friends.  It was a great night already, little did we know Benny and his super sweet girlfriend Kelle had cooked up some chili dogs back at Benny’s house in Akron and got a bunch of beer.  It ended up being a really late and really fun night.  Eventually, we crashed and the next morning it was time to head to Indy!  HOOSIER COUNTRY!

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