Sound of Lexington

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SORRY ATARI at Shamrock Bar & Grille, December 28, 2019
From left to right; Jay Ritchie on bass, Jonathan White guitar and vocals, Quinn Blandford drums and Trent Nickens guitar and vocals.

December 28, 2019

It’s a Saturday night and I’m winding down from a whirlwind of the past 14 days, the past 7 of which have been like keeping all the plates spinning. Sometimes a *girl’s gotta get away from the responsibilities for a few and go and listen to live music to slow things down a bit. There’s nothin’ like going to a live show and enjoy being amazed by the abilities of every individual playing with their hearts pouring through their craft. It makes it even better when the music is so great that you really do forget for awhile about everything else. Wow it is when you go, “do I know that song?” “what is that song… it’s on the tip of my tongue but oh, so different….?” Not only were these songs different, they were really great! So great that Shamrock should put up, yeah put up! a stage for these guys with big black and dark purple velvet curtains and spotlights for them to play! These guys really deserve that! What a great combination of talent in this band called Sorry Atari… but I’m getting ahead of myself… let me start from the beginning and tell you my story.

Tis a slightly cool but comfortable day for the winter, the evening skies are cloudy and grey, but the night still feels fine.

I’d finally gotten some sleep and then a late start on the day, (for real) but having accomplished somewhat (hardly anything) it just felt like an evening right to see who was playing in town. Pleased was me when I read Sorry Atari was playing not too far from me at Shamrocks on Patchen. So, I drove over the see if I could park where I wanted, if not then it was a sure sign to just go home. lol

Pretty much found my usual parking spot, a great sign I’d made the right choice for tonight :D. Found an empty booth directly in front where the band was setting up and about ready to play. I’m writing this as I’m sitting here. It’s a great temperature in Lexington tonight. This place has pretty good food and beer, and I’m looking at a menu.

It’s the last show of 2019 at Shamrocks, and am really glad to catch Sorry Atari playing tonight. Word is they do some really great covers and I’m right in front to listen. All of these guys have played in other bands and have been playing in our area here for years, and this is the first time I’m here to see them. Ya’all have to understand that not all old married women go around listening to live bands, and I’ve only been out and about town off an on the past few years, so ya gotta give a gal a break! I’m gonna see if I can get the numbers right… or at least kinda close.

The place was busy enough, and I was pretty pleased with my spot, so after I ordered a local beer from the tap (Cougar Bait) (Hey, I can’t help what they name it, and it has nothin’ to do with it. It’s just a really good beer!) and tossed my jacket on the seat, popped up and introduced myself to Jonathan White, who seemed to be the spokes person for the band, though everyone was friendly.

We exchanged cards, I took a few pics, then sat down to enjoy the show. It was not long before they started and I was really happy with the sound of the band from the opening song.

My attention was diverted some to the menu. (wow… that music is awesome…What is that song?) Menu again…. Shamrocks is really well-known for their waffle fries, and really the first place I ever heard of or ate waffle fries, so that tells you how long they’ve been doing this. (dang… I know, I know that song… what the heck is it…?) The menu…yeah… Kevin, my server here with my beer. Yeah, I need a couple more minutes ๐Ÿ™‚ burgers, I really want a burger… oh! Reuben sandwich… I always get that when I see it on the menu..oh! pastrami! (Oh wow! that songs over now… dang… I’ll never figure out what it was now…! dang…) Oh look! I forgot about appetizers…. Oh, yeah! It’s my FAVORITE Song!!! I’ve NEVER heard a band play it! Wooo! Hoooo! Dang… that’s so interesting… its not exactly like it….. it’s not exactly an exact-sounding cover… oh, that’s cool… yeah.. I like it…) Yeah Kevin, I’m inspired now, I think I’ll be daring too. Let’s go for that burger with blue cheese crumbles, bacon, some kind of thin jelly on the bun and whatever those 4 other ingredients were on it. It was pretty good actually…. and the music made it all the more more better! ๐Ÿ™‚

Jonathan White Sorry ATARI

Jonathan White on guitar and vocals is from Frankfort, KY and grew up playing drums. He actually played drums in high school with Quinn Blandford, the band’s drummer. Jonathan played drums for years in the Central KY area with several bands, the last one before this was Solidago. The next time he’d run into Quinn, Johnathan had been playing guitar for sometime. The two of them decided to start a band, and Quinn’s brother, Nick Blandford, joined them on bass. After a few sessions they added Trent on guitar and vocals. This was their original lineup. Within a couple weeks they were playing gigs all over Central Kentucky. About a year later, Nick had to leave the band and Johnathan invited Jay Ritchie, bassist from Solidago to join, and he’s been with them for the last 3 years.


Artwork by Kale Nickens and Trent Nickens. Based on photos taken by James Scogin.

Sorry ATARI cranked out one great song after the next, and early on, a favorite of mine by the Talking Heads, “And She Was.” Not only was it an interesting rendition with the sound of their particular instruments and the way they played them, but the performance of each person was right on it and together. Johnathan and Trent singing harmonies in most of the songs at times seemed to play back and forth with their voices in interesting ways. They’ve for sure been singing together for some time. Some vocal changes to the songs were well thought out and nice to hear. It’s like freshness on the best-picked songs. The original songs are awesome and remain awesome, but now there’s this new way and it’s also awesome… the Sorry Atari way I guess! Actually some of the songs I’m not sure if I’d ever heard before, but I want to say that I think I have….! Hahahaha! Really enjoyed all of everything I heard!

Trent Nickens Sorry ATARI

Trent Nickens is a really great singer. They did the song Valerie and that was just one of many songs I heard where his voice really excelled. He’s quite comfortable on the guitar but his vocals are very passionate and his voice to my ears would fall into range with some very great singers. Yeah, I could try to compare him and give you names, but then we’d just start an argument, you saying he sounds like Shawn Mendes and me sayin’, “No Way! He sounds more like Justin Timberlake!” Or the other way around, or something like that. Or we could say he sounds like Sam Hunt or …. Oh, the Dude is singing a Cindi Lauper song! Waaaa….! Cool…..!

Trent, who is from Toccoa, GA, grew up in Louisiana and now living here, had played with Quinn and Nick in an original band called Triceratops Jackson before joining the current group. Jonathan says he’s a great addition and has helped him grow as a guitarist and vocalist.

Quinn Blandford Sorry ATARI

From rock to pop to reggae, Quinn Blandford had no problem flowing with every song I heard on their set. Great drummers don’t need a huge setup for you to see their greatness. A great drummer can sound great on even a table top. And that’s pretty dang great! I appreciated not only Quinn’s timing, but also the clarity of his notes and the tone of his kit. I was totally convinced this guy is a pro who is comfortable in his craft. Come to find out, after drums in high school with Johnathan, Quinn went on to study music at the University of Louisville and received his Masters degree in Jazz Performance at the William Patterson School of Music in New Jersey! Way to go Quinn! And way to go me! I was right on the money! Don’t ya love it when you’re right! ๐Ÿ˜€ (now if I could only find a way to make some money fo dat…!)

Jay Ritchie Sorry ATARI

Bass player Jay Ritchie in his own little world under that hat was rolling right along on every song with no hesitation. Like the others, he was totally at comfort in his zone and made me believe that this playing out is good therapy for them all and that they really enjoy what they are doing. These guys look and sound like they’ve played enough to all be very comfortable no matter what song they decide to do.

The band was full of a surprising assortment of songs, and that’s only what I heard from their first set! Ahh… in my younger years I’d have stayed to the finish, but I only stayed until just after 9pm when they took their first break. What I did hear was some Grateful Dead as well Trent singing that Cyndi Lauper song, “Time After Time!”

As a band that plays primarily covers, they are pretty damn good and I would recommend them without hesitation for private parties as well as venues. I don’t know how many songs they have up their sleeves, but I’m guessing it’s probably a lot. I’d definitely be glad to catch them again when given the opportunity.

Johnathan told me, ” We pride ourselves on playing a wide variety of styles and putting our own spin on the eclectic covers that we choose. We intentionally avoid many of the songs that we know many people want to hear. You wonโ€™t hear Wagon Wheel, Brown Eyed Girl or Sweet Home Alabama at a Sorry Atari show. But you might hear a reggae version of a Taylor Swift tune. We only play songs that we all like and some of those songs are not well known. My favorite compliment that we frequently get is, โ€œI didnโ€™t know half of what you played, but I loved all of it!โ€

That’s exactly what I’m friggin’ talkin’ about! excellently said, Jonathan!

I did get to talk with them briefly before leaving and found out they do have some original material but have not recorded anything in awhile to represent who they are today. As you know, I’m all about getting more original content for my Barefoot KY Radio show that’s mainly dedicated to indie original music. If they decide to record any or even play some live at a taping of the radio show, then they have an open invite! They can for real take pride in their craft with the cover songs. Hey, everyone loves to play cover songs, even people who write and sing originals love to do covers. Here is a band that can definitely make do a fantastic and interesting job of playing them!

It was a nice evening and great to meet these talented musicians and friendly people. You can find Sorry ATARI on FaceBook and probably more places on social media.

Shamrocks Bar & Grille is located at 154 Patchen Dr., Lexington, KY and they do have some pretty good food there from appetizers to burgers to dinners and Reuben sandwiches. Can hardly beat a nice plate of food and a beer while listening to a good band! Thanks everyone for a nice evening!

*a girl’s never too old to be called a girl!


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