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News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

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Prevailing Wind: Band finds engaging blend

There is nothing odd about a 23-year-old from Carlsbad finding comfort in Hank Williams before a walk by the beach.

That’s especially so if the aforementioned Williams listener – talkin’ Senior now, not Junior – belongs to Trouble in the Wind, a quartet whose saloon-ready mix blends rock with assorted flavors of Americana.

“I don’t believe we gravitate to the folk-rock sound or set out for a certain type of playing from the beginning. There is a certain home base for most of our songs, which is acoustic-based and meant to be simple at heart,” multi-instrumentalist Kyle Merritt said. “Everyone in the band listens to a vast array of different styles of music, so we are always trying to incorporate something different to the songs.”

Consider singer-songwriter Robby Gira. Maybe the dude can’t help it much – it’s his voice, after all – but Gira’s vocals recall a certain Talking Head. (No, not a cable TV yapper.)

“We have gotten a lot of comparisons of Robby to David Byrne, which is really funny because I don’t know if Robby has ever owned a Talking Heads album, but everyone else in the band loves them and the David Byrne solo stuff,” Merritt said.

Trouble in the Wind has been going at it for three years, building on the foundation laid by precursor group Cactus Bob, formerly an E Street Cafe fixture. Merritt wanted in but had to wait for an opening. Once short a lead guitarist, Gira and Co. “wised up” and extended an invitation.

“I lied and said I played a lot more instruments than I actually did,” Merritt said.

He seems to be atoning for that, um, exaggeration. Merritt contributes on guitar, banjo and accordion. Next up: pedal steel guitar. He and Gira, who also handles acoustic rhythm guitar, are joined by Trevor Mulvey on bass (acoustic and electric) and Larry Doran on drums.

Trouble in the Wind is Robby Gira, left, Larry Doran, Trevor  Mulvey and Kyle Merritt. (Courtesy Photo)
Trouble in the Wind is Robby Gira, left, Larry Doran, Trevor Mulvey and Kyle Merritt. (Courtesy Photo)

In June, Trouble in the Wind prevailed in the 2012 Musicpalooza contest at the San Diego County Fair. Prize: $5,000 and a Taylor SolidBody electric guitar. In September, the band played three sets at the Carlsbad Music Festival’s Village Music Walk.

“The festival organizer had seen us play a few times at other outdoor events for Encinitas and asked us to play,” Merritt said. “Luckily, our band is capable and flexible enough to be able to busk acoustically and play loud electrically with the same energy.”

To sample that enthusiasm, mosey over to Trouble in Wind’s Bandcamp page and download the group’s 2011 effort, “No Work Dancing.” For nothing. Feel free to pay $7 for higher-resolution digital files. Or add $2 to receive a shiny disc from CD Baby.

Merritt said the MP3 giveaway made sense for a young band fixing to grow its following. The next chance to be won over is Dec. 21, when Trouble in the Wind blows into the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach with Dead Feather Moon and The Heavy Guilt.

Might the success of banjo- and mandolin-wielding bands such as recent Grammy nominees Mumford & Sons and the Lumineers trickle down to Trouble in the Wind?

“I don’t believe we get any help from the popularity of those bands,” Merritt said. However, he added, “It’s good that banjos and acoustic basses are being more accepted into mainstream music like it once was in the good ol’ days.”

Concert details
Dead Feather Moon, with The Heavy Guilt and Trouble in the Wind
9 p.m. Dec. 21
Belly Up Tavern, 143 S. Cedros Ave., Solana Beach
$12 (adv.) $14 (day of)

Stephen Rubin is a North County arts and entertainment writer

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Prevailing Wind: Band finds engaging blend