By Kristal Kuykendall
"All Killer, No Filler": That's the mantra of Starroy, a Southern rock/jam-rock band that doesn't mess around when it comes to pumping out solid rock and roll. The Jonesboro-based group is headlining a special two-night performance at Squid and Whale Pub in Eureka Springs this weekend before departing for a monthlong tour across Europe.
Touring Europe has been a long-held dream that the band almost had to give up on when, early last year, Starroy's drummer nearly lost his life in a devastating car accident. Heath Finch and his wife, Dominique, escaped with their lives and have both since recovered, but only after many months of treatment and multiple medical procedures.
The near-fatal accident has put things in perspective for Starroy's members, says lead guitarist Barry Fowler, and it has given them a new "kick," you might say -- a new drive for their music and their dreams.
Starroy's music has a little bit of jam and a lot of forward motion. It's a little bit Southern and a lot just good ol' rock and roll. It's a little bit psychedelic, a little bit funky, and a whole lot of fun.
Fans who see Starroy perform live find they cannot sit still, and Starroy's catchy melodies and memorable lyrics usually inspire folks to sing along while they're shaking a tailfeather.
Starroy is a band cut from the sounds of the South -- fashioned only a stone's throw away from Memphis, the home of the blues, and a quick nap from the land of country; deeply rooted in the mud of the soulful Delta and fixed by the funk and groove of the Big Easy. Some would say you're a product of your environment. With that in mind, Starroy doesn't fall too far from the tree.
This well-traveled four-piece delivers its own powerful mixture of country-fried, psychedelic jam-rock and roll regularly, pleasing fans from all walks of life, no matter the musical tastes.
Starroy has worked hard since mid-2011 to rebuild as it replaced founding member (bassist) Justin Henry and after it narrowly escaped losing Finch.
The one-two punch of Finch's challenging recovery and the difficulties of finding just the right fit in a new bassist have renewed the band's passion for their "All Killer, No Filler" style of rock and roll, the members all agree.
Finch has now fully recovered, and the band's new lineup -- with the addition of lively bassist Justin Boswell -- is primed and beginning to explode, particularly since Starroy has recently been picked up by European management company Teenage Head Music. The agency promptly booked the group for a monthlong tour across Spain, Belgium, Holland and Germany beginning Nov. 30.
Boswell has brought in new influences and ideas to further refine Starroy's sound and helped the band rebuild and restructure its set, creating what the group calls a return to its own rock and roll roots.
Rejuvenated and armed with amply powerful new material, Starroy is not merely looking for a comeback; its members have bigger dreams than the measured level of success the band had achieved before the departure of its former bassist and prior to Finch's car wreck.
A renewed love for creating music, a new level of respect and appreciation for one another, and a sense of drive to keep alive a band that has seen hardship and trials -- all things that can't be measured in dollars and cents, or even described fully with words, as the band's bio notes; "This is Starroy: a band of rock and roll brothers."
A regular performer at major Little Rock venues such as Revolution Music Room and Stickyz Rock 'N' Roll Chicken Shack, Starroy also has performed on the big stages at Riverfest and has shared the stage with such groups as Blind Melon, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jonathan Tyler & Northern Lights, North Mississippi Allstars, Ian Moore, Our Lady Peace, Jimbo Mathus, Hill Country Revue, Rick Springfield and even Night Ranger.
Critics have long loved Starroy. Lately, the European press has been heaping a ton of praise on the band's album, "Ocho For Willow," in advance of the group's appearances there next month.
Stateside, Starroy is also no stranger to rave reviews, though. Dave Terpeny of Kynd Music Magazine writes: "... the quartet delivers a stunning combination of blistering blues-rock assaults, intimate 'gathered around the fire' acoustic jams and smoky progressive rock instrumentals."
"Hailing from the unlikely berg of Jonesboro, Ark., comes groovy college funk-pop four-piece Starroy, who may fit into the jamband world, but sound much more like a reincarnated Blind Melon than anything Phish-y," writes the Nashville Rage's music critic.
"How these guys managed to stay independent and not get swept off their feet by rushing hordes of major record labels is beyond (me)... Whatever roads Adam, Barry, Justin, and Heath have traveled in order to arrive at this point -- and at this album -- is a journey well worth all their effort," writes Michael Jones of Blog Critics Magazine.
And Jim Harris of Arkansas Times writes: "Absolutely the most stage-ready rock-jam group I've seen in a long time..."
Starroy's shows at Squid and Whale begin around 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. There is no charge for admission. Squid and Whale has two entrances, at 10 Center St. and 37 Spring St.; 479-253-7147.