A short while ago, our PR manager presented me with who would bask in the Sacred Spotlight for the month of May and had no doubt of what local band it would be. “Dropin Pickup,” he told me with absolute conviction, much to my intrigue, for I had not heard this name before. If the message wasn’t sent over text, I think James might have about shouted loudly and/or smacked me for my ignorance. Floored by the fact that I had no knowledge of Dropin Pickup, he demanded that I listen and investigate further. I’m incredibly glad I did, for I would have about smacked myself now too. I know now what I was in the dark in before: Dropin Pickup is easily one of the best musical groups I’ve listened to in quite some time.
The local music scene was truly blessed the day, more or less a year ago, that this band fused together from a handful of very talented artists. Incidentally, that day is close to the history of Sacred Grounds Coffee House because that is indeed where Dropin Pickup, erm, picked up its rise to popularity. Although the band’s first big “break” was their victory at the Ultimate Band Series at the RITZ in Ybor City, the founding members played numerous times at our Open Mics and even were the featured act a handful of times. In speaking with the band, they quickly grew fond of the owner, employees, and atmosphere because “there is no real headliner as everyone’s art is valued equally there.” In the early days of the band, they even used Sacred Grounds as “a base of operations” of sorts to practice and grow as a team. If you want to get into the history a little more, Sacred Grounds was actually the second venue they played for an audience at ever (first being an open mic at PLAY Ybor in, well, Ybor). I think it’s pretty neat they hit the stage running so strongly, so early, and that Sacred Grounds is such a part of the band’s development.
We are proud to have such talent adoring our history, and our walls, and have the opportunity to have given opportunity to this and other local groups their much deserved start. No, really, their portrait is hanging just above the fish tank near the entrance (I should have realized their greatness then)!
I could talk all day in the vague terms of greatness and glory, but what is it about this band that makes them stand out among so many other talented teams of musicians? Could it be the melodic blend of rock and folk with symphonic elements? Could it be the masterful range of the lead vocalist? Could it be the well-written lyrics that are vivid and real to many lives? I tend to think it’s a combination of all of those things and something more that I can’t seem to define. That last bit I would call the “soul” of the music, something you can’t quantify but something that speaks to your own soul. I get that feeling from songs like “Atlantis” that sent a chill across my skin. That’s not something that happens very often, mind you.
Dropin Pickup has a single album out at this time of writing and it is titled “A Settling of Sorts.” I would say that listening to this album is not settling for anything less than amazing however. Each of the ten tracks on it offer a peek into the unique style of this band that, when combined together, paint a audio picture of who they are as artists. The expert technique of standard guitars and drums is enhanced further with a healthy amount of violin, fiddle, and trumpet that compliment the style very well.
I also found the lyrics to be very well-written, rather poetic in both composition and execution (and I like to think I know a thing or three about poetry). Thematically, I could tell there is a certain level of pain beneath the loneliness of “Heart of Steal” and the frustration of “Crutch,” but there is more than meets the eye, erm, ear. I caught an overarching sense that breaking out, breaking free, and living life to it’s fullest potential is the main message behind “A Settling of Sorts,” a reminder to all listeners to in fact not settle in any sort, but to craft your life as beautifully as the album is itself. I would agree with the sentiment to let go of all that drags you down. Who knows, it might just leave you “Speechless.”
I can tell you that the members of Dropin Pickup are a unique bunch that each contribute to the whole in a way that makes each great in his own way. On multiple accounts, I’ve heard great things about their compassionate natures and desire to serve the community and the world. Their individual histories each bring a little something to the table as well.
Mike Farrell, though born in Chicago, “identifies as a citizen of the world.” I would say that his incredible range on vocals also make him, or perhaps should make him, renowned around the world. Thankfully, what happens in Vegas (okay, just somewhere in Nevada) doesn’t stay there because the band would not be same without Denny Umphrey’s masterful writing, managing, and work on the drums. Chase Wilder Collins has the strength of an army on the bass. No, really, he served time in the military, which I would also like to thank him for. Santino Rumore is a true Tampa-born (Tampian? Tampite?) through and through and, in addition to absolutely shredding on guitar and blasting on the saxophone, runs a local music store in the Bay called Paragon Music. Jevon Falcon, besides having an awesome name, adds an awesome mix of trumpets that really accentuate certain songs. And Nick Ewing? Well, not only does he infuse the sound of the band with the unique contribution of the fiddle and viola, rumor has it that he’s a killer chef. Bring all five of these guys together, and you’ve got the extraordinary Dropin Pickup!
I also had the honor of meeting with Mike, the mastermind behind the band and founding member, at Sacred Grounds just this past week. I have to say, the vibe I received from him was one of a kind and inspiring individual. He not only so genuine, but witty and fun as well. I should have guessed it, of course, given the passion that seeps from every verse in his songs. If not as an artist, then most definitely as an individual, this man’s bright soul and personality are obvious to, I have little doubt, all of if not all the people he meets. Yeah, I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a fanboy now. But it’s for good reason!
As I’ve mentioned before, their first album, “A Settling of Sorts,” is sensational and they are currently working on a second album that I have no doubt will be just as incredible. Upon starting to listen, I was told they were an “orgasm to your ears,” and I’ve gotta say, I completely agree. And if you don’t agree, well, I suppose they have pills for that these days.
Beyond their debut album, Dropin Pickup has recently released the first single off of their completed EP, “Bearings Lost.” The song is called “Compunction” and it is definitely what you’d want in a highlighted single: powerful, deep, and masterfully made. Give it a listen in the video here. As Chase On Bass put it, “The themes revealed in the song point to the destructive nature/habits we, as humans, sometimes adopt and the consequences thereof. While the main concept is a dark one, the thought of redemption becomes apparent when reading through the lines.”
If you want to drop mediocrity and pick up an amazing experience (see what I did there?), go ahead and check out their website for upcoming show times, “A Settling of Sorts,” and merchandise. I also thought it was very neat that they included a lyrics page on their website so that you can fully enjoy the poetry of it and follow along, which is something I love to do, especially on a first listen. You can listen to the band and follow them on Spotify, if you’re into that sort of thing. There will be a release party for the new EP coming up very soon, but the details are still being ironed out on it, so stay tuned for that!
And don’t forget to find and follow Dropin Pickup on all kinds of social media outlets, including Facebook and Instagram for all of the latest news and endeavours from this tremendous and friendly band. They always look forward to sharing their music, stories, and love with all that will listen!
As a final word, I would like to thank Dropin Pickup for making Sacred Grounds proud. It’s always amazing to see personal friends grow and take flight from our humble stage to the stage of the world. And we hope to see many more faces, meet new friends, and grow together as a community and as a bunch of artists and beautiful humans trying to make it in this crazy world. Unlike next time, you all keep on keeping on and make this world a more wonderful place, as I know the Dropin Pickups do, doing whatever it is that brings joy to your lives and those around you!