Blackfall was always an acoustic project emanating from the creative mind of In This Moment’s, Randy Weitzel. The first incarnation was when he first arrived in California from Pennsylvania many years ago. However, the present day incarnation of Blackfall, while it may have the same name, is far beyond what Weitzel envisioned.
For those that aren’t familiar with Randy, the man is an artist that never stops churning out creativity. A brilliant guitar player that first gained some notoriety with Flatline and then moving on to his own projects 3/13 and American Massacre and then ITM, he is also a graphic artist that does album artwork and creates these magnificent drum heads done completely with Sharpies, that even caught the eye of Judas Priest frontman, Rob Halford. He and his 3/13 bandmate, guitarist Steve Marshall wanted to do some acoustic music. Naturally, Weitzel already had a bunch of songs written, with music and lyrics, and told Steve, “Ok let’s start with this.” The low end of the project was a no-brainer with including their 3/13 bassist, Elaina Bangma in the project. Then social media happenstance occurred that gave the project a voice.
Alexis Dunlap and Randy followed each other on Instagram. He was impressed with her talent and voice, but had no idea where she was located or really had any inclination that they would eventually work together, rather he was simply a fan of her talents. That is until he came across a video on IG of her performing with Tommy Vext (Westfield Massacre/Snot/Devine Heresy). Coincidentally, a few years back, Weitzel and Vext were neighbors, which isn’t really relevant to Blackfall, but can you imagine the brutality that was brought to that Brentwood neighborhood? What is relevant to Blackfall and Alexis performing with Vext is that it meant she was in L.A. Weitzel contacted her about the Blackfall project and it was now coming to life. Having only worked solo with no experience of being in a band, Dunlap walked in to a band with not only undeniably and superbly talented musicians in Marshall, Weitzel and Bangma, but also some of the most laid back, warm friendly people as bandmates. There was still one missing piece…a drummer.
Weitzel put a brief ad for a percussionist on Instagram. Most percussionists for acoustical projects play the bongos and congas, but enter Kent Dimmel who responded to Randy, had a complete acoustic drum kit and the way he plays really brought it all together. Although the songs had already been written, all collaborated on the arrangements, Alexis gave her input on the melodies and the songs took on a new life; fuller, more dynamic…better. They had all the right pieces, but c’mon, an acoustical project? That is more like something you do in your garage right? Wrong! Blackfall released an EP on iTunes and a following ensued.
This side project had become something of substance. They played a show at the famous Rainbow Bar & Grill on Sunset and then very recently a show at the home of the Dunlap’s in Studio City before a select group of friends and family. I was lucky enough to be included. Prior to Blackfall, the crowd was soothed by the angelic voice of Soren Bryce and then the supremely talented Dylan Dunlap, Alexis’ brother. Blackfall’s performance was phenomenal. The talent of each of the members is remarkable and the way that it all comes together is mind blowing. Weitzel and Marshall both skillfully playing 12 string guitars and then joined at times by Alexis playing yet another 12 string and emphasized by her beautiful voice and what I would call a “Stevie Nicks” vibe about her. It truly was a memorable night at “An Evening with Blackfall” filled with great people and vibrant atmosphere.
Randy Weitzel never ceases to amaze me with constant outpouring of creativity across many mediums. Blackfall is no exception and the assembly of the unique individual talents of this band are what makes this project majestic. While it may be difficult for many readers to ever catch them live, I highly recommend that you get their EP BLACKFALL: VOL. I and sit back with some friends and a bottle of wine and soak in the vibe and energy. (Written by: Scott Schoenkopf. Band Photo Credit: Tom Hane)
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Vol. 1 is available on iTunes! Please go to https://itun.es/us/HS5Tbb