Band hosts singles release party Oct. 9 at Rialto Theater
— Time Cat, fronted by guitarist and lead singer Jeri Sapronetti, is a self-described “adventure rock trio,” and listening to Sapronetti’s sonic and bluesy handiwork is nothing short of an adventure. Sapronetti, along with band mates Sam Caler on drums and Colten Huffman on bass, will celebrate the release of their latest singles, “Boozled” and “Victory.” Oct. 9, at the Rialto Theater, 1000 Kenmore Blvd. in Akron.
Those of us fortunate enough to get out and enjoy Akron’s growing music scene has likely heard of Time Cat, which formed as a duo in 2011. Original members Caler and Sapronetti have released two albums to date, “Your City” and “Space and Time Cat.”
After adding bass player Huffman this year, the band rerecorded crowd favorites “Boozled” and “Victory.”
Listening to the original recordings side by side with the soon-to-be-released tracks, I came to a couple of conclusions: 1) bringing Huffman to the Time Cat scratching post was a really good decision; and, 2) Sapronetti and Caler, both strong musicians to begin with, have grown exponentially as artists.
Time Cat’s live shows are wildly popular, consistently drawing crowds at community events and filling local music venues with audiences ranging from die-hard, know-all-the-words-to-every-song fans to first-timers who are quickly won over by the band’s unique sound. It is difficult to talk to people about a musician and to describe a band’s style, without making comparisons, but I think comparisons often sell artists short and imply that what they are doing – at least in part — has already been done.
That said, what sets Time Cat’s music apart is its ability to be informed by and to join with a number of influences to create something truly original. Blues, rockabilly and trippy rock and roll are all part of the Time Cat sound. Their music also has a vibe that is undeniably Akron, which often draws comparisons to THAT superstar Akron band, The Black Keys.
I recently sat down with the band at Sapronetti’s home to talk about their music and themselves, and how each of those two informs the other.
I asked her to share her feelings about making music and about where she wants that to take her, and her response was refreshingly and unapologetically honest.
“I feel really lucky because I know exactly what I want to do and I’m doing it. I want to go straight to the top,” Sapronetti said.
I asked her what that looked like and she replied, “Well, my dad said, ‘You have to make them care,’ and that’s true. You play a sweet show and you want people to cheer for you. Making it is just a side effect of being that band that does that. We’ve talked about it as a band and we agree. We’re all in.”
I asked her about what inspires her to write about the things she does and Sapronetti thought a moment before answering, “I always felt like I was from another time. Real rock-n-roll is for the people, the anti-establishment. I want to sing about the government and about spiritual things. Music is inherently spiritual. Music is the vehicle of a message and that gets lost today.
“’Four Corners’ is partly about spirituality,” she added, and then recited couple of lines of the song from their first album: “All you see is not all that there is, so you should take your time…”.
At this point in the conversation, her band mates joined Sapronetti.
I turned to Caler and Huffman and asked if they ever felt overshadowed by the charismatic Sapronetti or by the attention her natural “rock star persona” receives.
Caler responded first by saying, “No, it doesn’t bother me. I never feel like that. It may not be directed at me but it makes me better.”
Huffman added, “She rocks harder than most dudes I know,” drawing attention to a subject I had not addressed previously: Sapronetti’s gender. I asked her about being a woman lead singer/lead guitar player in a field that is predominantly male.
Sapronetti commented, “Sometimes people see our show and ask, ‘Wow, how can a girl play like that?’ Whatever,” she shrugged, rolling her eyes.
We moved on, and I asked Huffman if he was having fun playing in Time Cat. “Oh, yeah,” he replied. “It’s what I really want to do.”
Sapronetti added, “He was a fan first so he knew all our songs, knew every chord to every song. He fit right in.”
We’d been talking for a while when Sapronetti looked at me and asked, “Do you want to come down to the basement where we rehearse and we can play a little for you?”
I tried to play it cool, but I’m fairly certain the ridiculous ear-to-ear grin on my face gave me away as we made our way down to the basement with a couple of their friends who had gathered for a private concert. I still can’t pull off playing it cool about that – I’m grinning as I write this.
Entering the basement was like walking into a classic Akron music venue. There were old sofas and floor lamps, a platform stage, and trippy colored lights swirling from the ceiling. As they started to play (a FULL SET!!), I managed to stay in the moment, and what a moment it was. When the band finished playing, I was exhausted from the energy expended in the room, but the three musicians of Time Cat looked like they could play all night.
As Sapronetti walked me to me car, she stopped me and pointed to the house across the street from hers. She said, “Do you see that house? The Black Keys used to live there. They recorded their first album there.”
I responded, “I wonder what young band will be pointing at your house someday and saying that?”
She looked at me with a confident grin and said, “I wonder…”
For more information about Time Cat’s music and shows, go to https://www.facebook.com/TimeCatMusic?fref=nf.
For information about the “Boozled” release party at the Rialto Theater, go to https://www.facebook.com/events/1486058201689065/.