“Passion, pain and promise, from a whisper to a scream. Music filled with emotion and authenticity.”
21st Century Alt-Rock
(and a little Folk)
Passion, Pain and Promise… From a Whisper to a Scream… Tobe Fare holds nothing back and has been lauded for its emotion and authenticity.
Originally a spinoff of Alt-Western Pioneers: Ice House Road, Tobe Fare features the guitar mayhem and broken vocals of Charlottesville music veteran Gary Hawthorne; “Mr. Positive” JR Stoffel on drums, Cajon, percussion and background vocals; and retired Vogue Model Bryan McKenzie on bass.
Tobe Fare began when IHR went on sabbatical, as the acoustic duo BiG! Totally unrehearsed, with in-the-moment arrangements, JR and Gary sonically complemented each other, and at times caused audiences to wonder where the other musicians were…
However, they longed to “plug back in” and really get big and brought in longtime friend Bryan McKenzie to jump start the new Electric 21st Century Alt-Rock machine.
In August 2019, Tobe Fare (as BiG!) released small on Ranch Hand Records: A collection of songs about the whirlwinds of life, love and time -- to rave reviews. In March of 2021, they released their first video single, People – recorded during the pandemic under strict pandemic guidelines, shooting the entire video with only the three members on set. The ultimate in DIY.
After much thought, pondering and trying to explain why no one could find BiG! on line, the trio changed the name to thebandbig, then realizing how lame that was, went BACK through the pondering and serious thought to finally settle on Tobe Fare, based on a bit in the Canadian TV show LetterKenny.
They also decided to take a slight turn away from the Blues and more toward a more progressive Alt-Rock Sound hinted at on small.
Tobe Fare went back in the studio in the Spring of 2022 to record 2Songs: (Transparent and Love Will Find a Way) and played a few shows between JR’s Musical Theater schedule and Mac’s Travels. 2023 was a good year to prepare for 2024, with more musicals for JR and several awesome shows around Central Virginia. (Fireworks at Shenandoah Crossing was EPIC)
With some newly healed vocals, new songs and a positive push to the future, ToBe Fare Is ready to hit the studio with award winning producer Kevin McNoldy (Seven Mary Three, Robin and Linda Williams) for a new full-length album and entertain as many live audiences as possible on a Summer/Fall tour.
We Made the Cover!
ToBe Fare and Julian Evans to perform at Carysbrook
BY PAGE H. GIFFORD -- CORRESPONDENT
The trio ToBe Fare and Julian Evans will perform at Carysbrook Performing Arts Center on Jan. 20 at 7 p.m. Every January, the Fluvanna County Arts Council makes a habit of showcasing local talent with its Making it Local theme. Sometimes, making it local might include performers from neighboring counties, and ToBe Fare and Julian Evans come from Charlottesville.
Gary Hawthorne of ToBe Fare has a colorful way of describing his early interest and introduction to music at two years of age playing a plastic Roy Rogers guitar.
“Then The Beatles hit, and I was taken in by this new sound. I couldn't get enough. By the time The Monkees landed, I was all in. I wanted to be Mike Nesmith.” He was six then and said he badgered his parents for almost two years to get him a real guitar. “The guitar became a reality with a super Jumbo Concert Kay which was bigger than I was. But I persevered. I can't remember a time that I wasn't interested in playing music,” said Hawthorne. A child's dedication and passion at an early age often is a key to their continued interest into adulthood.
At first, he was on his own, being self-taught, playing mostly folk, singing and writing songs. In high school, he studied improvisation and jazz theory in the hope of playing in the high school jazz band, but that didn't work out. In college he took music theory, which helped with his songwriting skills and technique.
It was local guitarist Carl DeTroia who all but dragged Hawthorne out of his house to begin playing solo again.
“That is inspiration,” he said. Other friends and local musicians, including Bryan Demory of the band Bremen are among those who have inspired him. It is unexpected that he bypasses well known artists for those lesser known but sees his fellow musicians with an insight and admiration they are not even aware of.
“Oliver Anthony is just a guy singing some songs to his hound dogs and became the viral sensation of 2023. Katrina Starfish a multi-instrumentalist from Lexington, takes her sometimes upside-down life, and translates it into some crazy cool art-rock-jazz-reggae; wherein nothing and everything makes sense simultaneously.”
As for Hawthorne's music he describes it by the band's tag-line, which they feel describes their music: Passion, Pain and Promise, from a Whisper to a Scream.
“Basically, at its core, it is rock music. Whether it is me solo, with just an acoustic guitar or two, all the way up to the fully amplified band, it is intense yet soulful, shocking, yet comforting. Compelling, emotional, and atypically positive and inspiring,” Hawthorne said. ToBe Fare has an eclectic unique style reminiscent of David Bowie and definitely rock with a sprinkling of jazz.
“I am sure that there is a specific genre tag for the ages, I just don't know what it is. We call it alt-rock or alternative rock because it is a bit less blues based than how we started out. Every song actually starts out somewhat folksy and gets hardened as the process moves forward. I actually perform some old folk songs in my set that have been hardened over time."
"ToBe Fare started as an acoustic blues duo, and have just recently been described as hard rock, so there has been quite an evolution here.”
Tobe Fare Music
Live at Fall Alt-Fest
Petra's review of the band BIG - the titled CD SMALL.
Thank you, Gary Hawthorne, for allowing me the honor of reviewing your CD titled SMALL.
To explain the sound of this band to someone that has yet to hear them.... take Jeff Healy band add a touch of Ray Charles and there you have it.
The music on this cd is a smooth production of what you expect to hear in the most badass roadhouse bar or a Clint Eastwood type film.
The blues are so deep it borderlines funk. I had this on today and it probably replayed 5 times in a row before I thought .... I promised to get this review out tonight. That speaks volumes because my attention span to the same artist is perhaps 45 minutes max. So, congratulations on that one guys
Three words can sum up what the band BIG songs are stories of LOVE, LIFE and PEOPLE. The writing is so intensely creative that you can visualize each story. I feel as if I lived each moment with the vocalist.
I love the fact the cd matches the case; it makes easy to match up for those like me that do not put the cd back after the play. I personally thank you for that. The art work is beautifully done and ties in the band's name and cd title quite nicely.
Very well done overall. I will play on future ROCK DRIVEN RADIO shows.
My favorite tracks are:
This is music I recommend be added to any collection of music- it can fit into several genres.
Be sure to order your copy today!
Petra Leak -- Rock Driven Radio www.rockkast.com
small by BiG - Stephen Hamilton, host of Fresh Roots New Blues on 91.9 WNRN
Just had a chance to sit down and listen to the whole new release by Charlottesville VA area band “BiG” and it was a great experience. Saw them downtown at the Southern Café & Music hall for their CD release party and they were impressive. Given the great recording quality and clarity of the CD, I actually enjoyed this a bit more, not because their performance was lacking but mainly because I could hear lead singer and guitarist Gary Hawthorne’s interesting vocals better, as you always can with a recording.
The rest of the band consists of Adam “JR” Stoffel on drums, contributing a strong, solid foundation along with Bryan McKenzie’s standout bass playing and they really rock the joint on their debut CD “small”. It’s a combo of older and newer tunes, some from Gary’s former band Modern Logic but with a raw edge. Gary and JR are also in an outlaw country band, Ice House Road, but this is more of a blues/rock outing.
“Are There Saints In Hell” grabs you from the start with that intriguing prospect and the thoughtful lyrics carry over to the next tune “Fall” a love song with a twist that encompasses need and desperation as well, to this listener. “Later Today” is a boisterous blues flavored tune and “Libertad” reminds the listener of the value of freedom today, without being overly preachy. The social anthem “People” is a standout track concerning the hate-filled rally we know only too well here in Charlottesville but it is nonetheless a message of hope and love in spite of the destructive nature of pure hatred. Well done, guys! “Picture This” features a great groove with introspective lyrics from Mr. Hawthorne and “Rain Dance” comes across as a cleansing celebration with a nice bass solo from Bryan. “Time And Again” is a more traditional sounding blues tune, but still a bit of a departure from the norm, and that distinction works well for the song in an interesting, unique way.
All in all, BiG has great potential and I see this CD as the spark, the core, the kernel of something even greater (or BiGger) to come. It is certainly a rock record but the overall band sound is something beyond that simple description and that is fine.