October 11, 2006

Miles to Dayton: A Family Affair

By Carey London

The ensemble sound of Miles to Dayton is unique in more ways than one.

To start, it consists of two sets of siblings. Add the interchange between and blending of at least seven instruments and M2D becomes a band whose sound is at once familiar and rare.

Featuring five talented musicians, Miles to Dayton offers up pure acoustic rock, but not without an occasional surprise, which keeps the mood relaxed but the ears perked. Listeners are immersed in the fusion of the guitar, cello, horn, banjo, mandolin, violin, bass, drums and, of course, a range of vocals.

In the band's debut album A Long Way Back, track one, "Hero For Another Day," begins with the gentle strumming of a guitar, which is soon accompanied by a banjo and violin, offering a taste of bluegrass, all the while bolstered by lead singer Krista March's strong, feminine vocals.

March's voice has become a sort of muse for Jon Preddice, who plays the cello, guitar and horn.

"Krista March has a warm commanding vocal presence and honesty in her voice that is hard to ignore . . . I love writing songs for her to sing. It gives me great joy to hear her belt them out," he said. Preddice, along with Krista's brother, Dave March (on the bass and guitar), also provides vocals on some of the tracks. The rich three part harmonies add more layers to the music.

The Long Island band, hailing from Centereach and Lake Ronkonkoma, will be performing at The Stephen Talkhouse on Saturday, at 8 p.m.

Dave and Krista March had kicked off their musical careers as members of folk rock group Sleeping Genius. When that project came to an end several years later, they continued on as a duo act, performing acoustic renditions of their songs at open mic nights throughout Suffolk County. When Preddice returned from music school in Miami and time spent traveling in Chicago, he met up with the Marches on one open mic night in Bohemia in September 2003.

"I knew them from high school, but never became close until we discovered a common bond in the love of music, especially in the acoustic intimate songwriter format," said Preddice, who spoke for the group. "Personally, we were all fresh off a broken relationship, so we had plenty of material to begin our new project."

Drummer Rob Caniglia joined the band full time in 2004 after a few fill-in gigs. He's also pursuing his bachelor's degree in Studio and Jazz Performance at Five Towns College.

And while she's absent from A Long Way Back, newest member Leanne Preddice (sister of Jon) provides her own twist to the music with an acoustic/electric violin.

Marrying the musical styles of each band member was more effortless than would be expected. The "connection," said Preddice, "happened pretty quickly while singing every week together."

The familial tie within the band is strong, and even extends to its name, Miles to Dayton.

"Dayton Preddice was my grandfather, a man that I was very proud to know and love," said Preddice, who wrote a tribute song called "Dayton" after his grandfather died from cancer. The March siblings loved the song when they saw him perform it. "We adopted the name Miles to Dayton to represent the miles that you travel to see someone you have looked up to, a hope that someone is watching over you, or basically the journey of life."

More than national acts, music teachers, family members, friends and local musicians have helped inspire M2D's sound, including the soft, melancholy melodies of Damien Rice and the jazz-infused, bluesy sounds of Martin Sexton, who returns to the East End time and again to a loyal following.

Still, Preddice concedes that if he were to choose some celebrated musicians he could play with, the cellist in him would revel the opportunity to join forces with Yo-Yo Ma. Miles Davis and Paul Simon are also in the running.

Anticipating performances up and down the East Coast, as their fan base grows, Miles to Dayton is also working on a new disc that will likely be released early next year. "Most of all, we want to continue to enjoy the process of making music together and have some fun along the way," said Preddice. "But we would be up for going on a world tour too!"

Miles to Dayton will take the stage at The Stephen Talkhouse on Saturday at 8 p.m. Admission is $10. They also frequently perform at Eastenders Coffee House in Riverhead. Visit their website at milestodayton.net.

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