On this page you will find information about "The Dissidents" - the brainchild of Thomas Kercheval. I found out about them through the Big Country Mailing List (Big Country are one of his influences) and Thomas was kind enough to send me a copy of his CD. The experience moved me to create this page for Thomas (with his input) so that more people might be introduced to his wonderful music.
If a dissident is "one who disagrees," what do The Dissidents, a guitar-driven band from Baltimore, disagree with? Singer/guitarist Thomas Kercheval explains. "I think too much music today focuses on pain and depression without offering listeners a measure of hope or inspiration that might encourage them to overcome their problems instead of wallowing in them. I always wanted to be in a band that would lift people's spirits, both musically and lyrically, and I wanted a name that would suggest something different, something special. 'The Dissidents' seemed very apt."
The name is also quite apt when considering the band's sound; a unique blend of folkish elements (mandolin, harmonica, acoustic guitars) with the more familiar colors of the hard rock palette (big drums, distortion, feedback). The result is a rousing, anthemic, and truly distinctive sound, the perfect compliment to Kercheval's passionate lyricism. "This is very much American-roots music," Kercheval states, "which I think is really noteworthy. The sounds, the lyrics, they're all genuine products of Americana, of a past and present culture that's seldomly addressed in recent popular music. We call it electri-folk, folk music for the next century."
Kercheval founded the band in 1990, with the intention of showcasing his original songs through the help of like-minded musicians. The lineup has changed a bit over the years, but not the results. Since the band's inception, The Dissidents have consistently stockpiled the accolades of their fans and peers, scoring numerous Battle of the Bands victories, being named one of the top twenty up-and-coming bands of the Mid-Atlantic region, and securing top honors in a national songwriting contest sponsored by TAXI, an independent A&R firm based in Los Angeles. Most recently, however, three of Kercheval's songs were granted honorable mention awards, each in three different musical categories, from the prestigious Billboard National Songwriting Contest. The winning songs placed in the top twelve percent of the thousands of entries received, entries judged by a wide variety of music industry professionals. "The songs have always been first priority," Kercheval admits. "I've always understood that quality songwriting yields fierce fan loyalty and band longevity, and we hope to be around for a long time."
With those thoughts of longevity in mind, The Dissidents have recently released their first full-length CD, Valiant, a collection of 12 hook-laden songs that attests to the ideals and ambitions which continue to fuel this band. Along with Kercheval on guitars and vocals, the current lineup also boasts Ray Biba on drums and Rob Shaw on bass, both highly regarded and experienced players in their own rights.
As The Dissidents prepare to support the latest release, Kercheval sums up his goals in a manner which most reflects the dissident nature of this special band. "All I've ever wanted to do is to write songs that would do for others what the songs of so many artists have done for me; inspired me during moments of pain and fear, offered light in times of darkness, strength in weakness, made happy times even happier. To be able to do that for others is success to me. We've already experienced it on a smaller scale. Now it's time to expand."
(The following are excerpts from a variety of articles, as well as quotes from individual sources, all of which are fully documented. Additional source information is available.)
Cat. No. TLM51089
All songs written, arranged and produced by Thomas Kercheval.
Engineered by Jason Love at Roar Productions, Columbia, MD, Aug-Oct, 1994.