Taylor Dupuis moved from Michigan to Nashville in search of her dream in music. From Florida traveled Joey Beesley, in a quest for a similar outcome.
They met. Formed a band. Now they seek their own happily-ever-after outcome as leaders of the band Roanoke.
Turn back the clock and move forward with Roanoke on Saturday, Oct. 12, at the Down Home in Johnson City. From a foundation of folk music, the five-person Nashville-based band recently morphed into a legion of rockers.
“We started out as a rootsy folk band,” said Dupuis, by phone from New York City. “Now we’re folk-rock. Our new stuff is definitely leaning rock. People describe our shows as similar to Fleetwood Mac, Jefferson Airplane.”
Throwbacks charging forth into the future, Roanoke borrow from the late 1960s and ’70s. Their look, feel and, most importantly, their sound come drenched from eras past.
“Branding is huge,” Dupuis said. “It’s definitely something we lean into, and it is something we’re genuinely into.”
Translated, Roanoke do not bear either a contrived style or look.
“That’s where we draw a lot of our inspiration,” she said. “We try to create a cohesive thing. It comes from the songs. From the songs come the arrangements and from the arrangements comes the look and from the look comes the style. We love, love the music. It’s so raw.”
Roanoke formed in the early-to-mid 2010s. No plans of grandeur, at least initially.
“Joey and I started writing together,” Dupuis said. “We moved to Nashville to be solo artists. We’re both so happy to be making music. We sing and have this something there when we hear our voices together. It was pretty magical. Now we have a three-part harmony that’s become a huge part of our sound.”
A self-titled album resulted in 2016. Loaded with lyrics tinted on the darker side of life and sweetened by vocals equal parts melodious and infectious, the album finds Roanoke meandering from folk to light country.
“It’s so special to me, our first album,” Dupuis said. “We had so many songs. It’s interesting, looking at that album now and where we are now.”
An EP, “Where I Roam,” followed in 2018. Though but five songs deep, The EP marks Roanoke’s sonic shift and takes significant strides into who they now stand as a band. Melodies, crisp. Hooks, solid. Lyrics, unavoidably memorable.
Now dawns a batch of new songs, each of which swing heavily in the band’s new direction.
“Definitely,” Dupuis said. “Pretty much our live show is all new material. We just released a new single, ‘Where the Heart Runs,’ which is a sign of our new sound.”
Had Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac gone Nashville and immersed themselves into the mid-south, they may well have sounded like Roanoke — particularly on the hooks-heavy “Where the Heart Runs.” It’s breezy with substance.
“New songs, we may do eight to 10 in Johnson City,” Dupuis said. “We have one called ‘Meet Me in the Mountain.’ It sounds like Fleetwood Mac’s later stuff. We have another called ‘Dancing in the Night,’ which has a ‘70s vibe, a Tom Petty vibe with a surf guitar sound.”
Meantime, Roanoke experience the torments and triumphs of a developing band. Ups and downs, highs and lows felt intimately, each crops up within a gauntlet well traveled by generations prior.
“It’s so easy to feel discouraged,” Dupuis said.
Indeed, there’s a price to pay if you want to rock 'n’ roll.
“What the hell else am I going to do in this world?” Dupuis said. “I’m traveling. I’m making music. It’s the passion, the drive, the love, that keeps you going.”