On Friday, the New Town Drunks celebrate the release of their debut EP, ...Trust Us With Your Car, with a roving bar crawl starting in Carrboro at the Orange County Social Club and making its way into Chapel Hill, up Franklin, and culminating on stage at The Cave. How many bands invite you to drink with them before the show? Or better, what kind of bands?
Drunks, of course!
The Drunks' ambling rootsy sound owes a big debt to Roberto Cofresi's Puerto Rican childhood (" was only one radio station and it played everything from Latin music to The Ramones to Led Zeppelin") as well as the Texas country-folk of he and wife/singer Diane Koistinen's one-time Austin home. Both played in bands around Austin, but it wasn't until after they'd met (at a pub called Epstien's Bar, get it?) and been married for nine years that they began playing together.
After moving from New York to Chapel Hill, they added the woozy rhythmic sway of bassist/bartender Michelle Ceremuga and nutty drummer Nathan Logan to Cofresi's guitar playing and Koistinen's powerful, sultry vocals, forming the New Town Drunks. The name came courtesy of Jack Whitebread, local cult figure and bandleader of the Neil Diamond All Stars.
"When we first moved here we didn't know anyone in town, and the Orange County Social Club was where we'd go. We'd see Jack there, and one time he goes, 'Here they are, the new town drunks.' The rest is history," laughs Cofresi.
The bar crawl is just the latest in a string of name-related promotional gimmicks, highlighted by their own beer brand, New Town Drunks Drunk Beer. In an ad filmed by Mr. Mouse of The Cave and to be aired soon on cable access TV, we discover the beer--which has been emptied and re-capped by the band--is a public service of the Drunks for fellow alcoholics so that they might avoid future embarrassment or criminal charges. Sort of "We get drunk so you don't have to."
It was in this same spirit that I joined Cofresi and Koistinen at the OCSC for a preliminary run of the bar crawl. The tape of the proceedings is no help. What I've got sounds like Alvin & The Chipmunks rogering Jessica Rabbit in a crowded bar.
I suspect it's part of the aura that drapes the New Town Drunks like the Bermuda Triangle, enveloping your time spent with them in a hazy, increasingly indistinct smear of fun, followed by a period of "missing time" and finally, waking up clad in someone else's clothing and/or embarrassing tattoos. The smell of napalm in the morning....