The Shams focus their energy on live shows

When I first heard that The Shams played '60s Rock & Roll, I thought, "How '60s can four very young (early 20s and younger) local musicians really be?" I was surprised to say the least. "It

The Shams

When I first heard that The Shams played '60s Rock & Roll, I thought, "How '60s can four very young (early 20s and younger) local musicians really be?"

I was surprised to say the least.

"It's generation gap-filling music," according to Zach Gabbard, lead singer and guitarist for The Shams. "It's something that we could go play at a small club for a bunch of kids, or we could go play it for older people and they would all like it."

"What we're doing is kind of a big thing right now," says Gabbard, "It's heartfelt, loud Rock & Roll."

Keith Fox, The Shams' drummer, defines their musical style as "Psychedelic Rock." But Gabbard is quick to fill in, "but we also play Blues and regular Garage Rock."

"It's different from everyone else's music," says Fox, "It's something you couldn't hear on the radio."

Around town, the band has played at venues like Southgate House and Top Cat's. They play out of town, too, trying to branch out to cities including Detroit, Athens, Cleveland and Columbus.

Gabbard, Fox and the other half of The Shams (bassist Chad Hardwick and guitarist Adam Wesley) have been together for a year-and-a-half. They practice regularly in Fox's barn in Indiana. (I was curious about the acoustics in a barn, but they assure me that the openness of it works.)

Gabbard, Fox, and Wesley agree that their music is their focus, and despite those annoying day jobs, they say they are musicians primarily. The Shams' songs usually stem from lyrics and music dreamed up by Gabbard. He brings ideas for songs to practice and then everyone helps in arrangement. For some of their songs, they even write in a middle section that can be changed from show to show, depending on the crowd.

"The best part is when we play live, because it doesn't matter how many times you've played that song or if you're sick of it, if there's people dancing and they're having fun, it's kind of like you're playing it for the first time," said Gabbard.

The Shams try to focus their energy on their live shows. That is what Gabbard says makes them different.

"We're different from everyone else in Cincinnati," says Gabbard. "We don't slack on our live show at all. We put all our energy into it."

"We never ever play the same show twice," Gabbard said. "We may play the same songs, but they're not going to be the same as they were before."

For one thing, Fox says, they never use a set list at a show. According to Fox, the band will try to "feel the crowd" and play accordingly.

"It's different every time," Fox says. "It depends on what mood I'm in." Gabbard adds that sometimes the band members will argue back and forth about which songs to play until someone just starts playing one.

The Shams will be playing on Tuesday at Top Cat's with the North Mississippi Allstars.

If you miss that show, The Shams plan a short Halloween tour that will conclude Halloween night somewhere back in Cincinnati for a special show. They are collecting and working on Halloween songs for that night (and costumes, too).

Shortly after that, The Shams plan a CD release party and a small tour in November or December when their first CD, currently untitled, comes out. According to Wesley, the CD is "basically just a reflection of what we play live, but it will be a lot more tight because we play loose live. We hardly ever make a set list, and we play what we feel comfortable with." ©

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