Mark Fredson, the band's shaggy haired front man, is six-foot-seven, 20 years old and wears vintage jeans and cowboy boots. He sports a voice that's as dynamic as Chris Robinson and as sassy as the Hold Steady's Craig Finn - and those are just the contemporary comparisons. There are probably plenty of other singers from the annals of classic rock radio one could throw up against Fredson, but we won't do that here.
That's because The Lonely H is not a classic rock band. And that's a statement Fredson can get onboard with.
"It is confusing because classic rock, by definition, is old. It's from the '70s or '60s. We're not a throwback band and we're not imitating those bands," says Fredson, who later admits in the interview that he's a big Eagles fan, something he becomes defensive about without any prodding.
Whether "classic" or not, The Lonely H got a serious nod from the classic rock community when the band was booked to play a second-stage gig at Saturday's nostalgia fest at the Gorge Amphitheater featuring The Dead, as well as both Allman and Doobie brothers. Fredson and company are honored to be at the show, which is just a day after their performance here at Players, even if they are playing a side stage to attract early arrivers to the beer garden.
This show is proof that concert promoters (in this case, live music behemoth Live Nation) believe that classic rock fans will fall in love with these youngsters. And from what Fredson has to say, these promoters might be on to something.
"A lot of people seem to really embrace it, and maybe that's because a lot of the people we play to on tour are alcoholics in bars and they're all for it because it reminds them of simpler times," says Fredson.
He says this without a hint of sarcasm. The band is aware of its appeal to old-time rockers, even if they aren't necessarily trying. On the band's new record, Concrete Class (due out June 9) the hard-touring Lonely H lays out a meaty serving of rock and roll that although flavored with a few southern rock cuts, is pretty damn modern. It was recorded - like all the band's records - on analog tape without the aid of a single computer and has a vinyl tinge, yet really doesn't pass as a cardboard emulation of the past, but rather the sort of sound you might hear from Wilco or Blitzen Trapper.
Songs like "Phoenix" and "Strike a Chord" showcase not only Fredson's vocal and piano abilities, but also the band's softer and folksier side, but this track is immediately followed by "Other Side of the Water" a bar band romp that, again, brings to mind the Hold Steady.
The Lonely H belong to the exclusive fraternity of bands that survive past their eighth grade Battle of the Bands. Back then, Fredson and band, which now includes brothers Eric and Johnny Whitman on guitar and bass, respectively and Ben Eyestone on drums, was covering Nirvana, but once they hit high school, they were introduced to Led Zeppelin, among other bands, as well as vinyl collections. It didn't take long for the denim and thrift-store-find outfits to follow - something that Fredson insists isn't a calculated effort to "look the part."
"I got pretty much one pair of jeans that I wear and we all like our leather and our denim and we pretty much stick to that," says Fredson. "It goes with the image, but that's not really the incentive to do it. But hey, I'm not arguing with the fact that it looks badass."
The Lonely H
9pm Friday, May 15. Players Bar and Grill. 25 SW Century Dr. $2.