In a world of over-autotuned, synthetic music, folk is a genre often overlooked by the average listener. Washington DC started group, Vandaveer is in an active battle to defy this problem in the music industry. Though they were founded in 2006, the band is recently on the rise with folksy songs such as “Pretty Polly”, and “Dig Down Deep.” They have not released an album since 2013, but Vandaveer recently returned to their hometown to perform at the Landmark Music Festival on September 26. Not long ago, they relocated back to Kentucky, where they have a greater opportunity to immerse themselves in the folk genre. Quoting Vandaveer’s website, Mark himself was “Born in cloudy Ohio, raised in Kentucky, and currently camped out in the nation’s capital, Vandaveer offers up melodic Americana that is both haunting and easy, forlorn and welcoming, with stories as universal as the songs they inhabit”. I recently had the opportunity to correspond over email with Mark Charles Heidinger, founder and lead singer of Vandaveer, about the band and its aspirations for the future.
Halftime: What are the origins of Vandaveer?
Mark: [They are] Murky at best. In essence, thoroughly haphazard and rickety to the core.
Halftime: How would you describe your sound?
Mark: Awkwardly. Also, not unlike bands you might refer to as folk rock.
Halftime: What is your favorite part about performing live? Which song is your favorite to perform?
Mark: In short, the volume. Our favorite songs to perform are generally ones written by someone else.
Halftime: One of your songs, “Pretty Polly” is a cover of an old murder ballad. What compelled you to record this?
Mark: We are an American band and we make American music. There is a lot of American music out there. Some of that music is downright spooky. Like murder ballads. Spooky can be fun in the right context.
Halftime: What was it like performing back in Washington DC at Landmark?
Mark: In a few words, lovely. Expansive. Picturesque. And a little surreal having just moved away. (It was) odd to be back in the city as a visitor; an outsider after 11 years as a local.
Halftime: Are you currently working on another album? What can we expect from you now?
Mark: Already in the can. [The new album] will be ushered into our great big world in early 2016. I’ve come to expect nothing in life, but I’m beyond thrilled to be releasing another record at this point in my life. Every moment making music is a moment to be cherished.
Vandaveer is a great folk-rock band with gritty vocals and a story to match. They blew the crowd away at Landmark, and we will see more of the great local band in the coming months. Vandaveer is truly passionate about making music, and their emotion shows in their work. Through their own written songs and their covers, they have developed a unique spirit that will interest even the least folky fans.