Acoustic vibe: Mike Droho and The Compass Rose
Andrew Killgallon, Arts & Cultures Editor
February 23, 2011
Filed under Arts & Culture
Mike Droho and The Compass Rose have been consistently touring, bringing their unique sound to college campuses around the U.S. With a classically trained violin, acoustic guitar, and a beat boxer, their very unique sound will resonate, making you crave more.
“I’d take it to be fresh, something new. We’re definitely a hybrid band. There’s not really any other bands around that are like us,” Droho said. “I think that gives us some validity, especially because we’re a pop band for the most part too. So instrumentation really validates the music in a genre where people can put you in a corner in pop music. It gives it this edge this kind of distinction that sets us apart.”
This edge Droho speaks of is brought by Anthony Lamarr’s beat boxing and Julia McConahay’s violin mixed with his own guitar and masterful vocals, which is akin to Jason Mraz with a much wider range. The mix of these three Madison musicians has been selling out shows and gaining a following that is sure to lead them to stardom and they have a plan to make that happen.
“Record labels aren’t really developing people these days. They’re not putting money into that. They want to see a band established that has management, that has booking, that has a grassroots following and that’s a sure thing,” Droho said. “So that’s what we’re doing. We’re doing those things to ensure we have a living and to give us a chance of possibly working with a label sometime down the line or playing for a bigger audience.”
With 150-200 shows annually, a hectic touring schedule only starts to describe how most of the year is spent by the band. When they are on the road together, playing every night and sometimes twice a night is nothing out of the ordinary.
On this particular night, Droho performed a solo show at the High Noon Saloon. Being able to play a gig alone can be positive exposure for the band. While Mike Droho and The Compass Rose are regular headliners, Droho with his acoustic guitar is able to open a venue for a national band and attract new listeners to his full-time act on a regular basis.
One of their many catchy original tracks which displays their extraordinary talent is “Equilibrium”. The song starts off with Droho layering four different loops with his acoustic guitar. The build-up then includes McConahay’s low and ominous drag mixed with Lamarr’s beats and explodes into an orchestrated, upbeat blend with fast, almost rapping lyrics that forces you to sing along. In many performances, “Equilibrium” is immediately followed by “Portland” which is a much slower love song.
Every year the band gets a taste of mega stardom at the University of Dayton where they headline at a large festival each summer.
“You know you can reach a connection with an audience be it two people or a thousand I feel like,” Droho said. “There’s something palpable about playing in front of a large audience that is there to see you play.”
The Festival, Dayton 2 Daytona, attracts several thousand college students each year. Playing for the crowd is a dream come true for Droho and his band.
“There’s nothing more gratifying for an entertainer than to have that type of audience that just wants to be entertained,” Droho concluded. “So those shows are magical to me. Big shows are so much fun.”