At the right time of day, if you walk down Ocean Breeze from Lake Avenue, Lake Worth's main drag, you can hear the devil's music streaming down the road, pouring out from an otherwise nondescript shotgun shack and washing over the stone church nearby. Instruments that don't normally see amplification — banjo, mandolin, upright bass — have been cranked full volume, played over a galloping 3/4 time drumbeat. Then, the fiddle kicks in, the cymbals crash down and a gruff, gravelly voice begins to howl.
This is Everymen, one of the key acts in Lake Worth's burgeoning folk-punk scene, which began in late 2008, when the weird, soundtrack-to-a-Rob-Zombie-horror-movie that is Viva Le Vox moved to the city and bearded banjoist Cecil Lunsford formed Black Weather Shaman. Former members of Viva Le Vox formed Everymen and the Loxahatchee Sinners Union. At the same time, Black Weather Shaman's former guitarist, Adam Sheetz, started the Darling Sweets with vocalist Lindsey Sayre. Seemingly overnight, there were more than half a dozen folk-punk acts operating in and around Lake Worth, and the city has sprouted a bona fide scene dedicated to an unusual, entirely Lake Worthian music, a soundtrack for tattoo parlors and art galleries, funky bars and fair-trade coffee.
"It was an interesting time," Lunsford recalls of the scene's beginning. "Black Weather Shaman started on Christmas Eve in 2008. We'd been playing small gigs here and there, and everyone kept saying you need to check out Viva Le Vox. And once we saw them, we realized we weren't doing the same thing, but we were using similar influences."
Lunsford went on to purchase the Lake Worth club Propaganda in 2010. And even though he sold it less than a year later, the place became a nexus for bands trafficking in the city's brand of folk-punk.
"The people who were making music weren't trying to sound like anybody else," Lunsford says. "In 2010, all the bands were trying to sound like their own style. It was a special time — probably one of the greatest times of my life."
Many of those bands have come and gone now, but those that remain have grown not only as musicians but as promoters of what has become the Lake Worth sound, Everymen among them. These efforts have resulted in an interest that stretches far beyond the city's borders, with the scene's biggest record label, Wayward Parade, signing acts from other states.
PARTING THE CLOUDS
The shotgun shack where Everymen practices is distinctly a band house. Instruments lie strewn about the place, crazy art looms on any available wall surface. The five members of Everymen are crammed into a small bedroom amid amps, mikes, instruments and yards of cable. While Jordan Moskoviz pounds the drums and Jesse Baumann plays electric guitar, the other members of the band play traditionally folk instruments, with Reid Worroll on mandolin, Timmy Budz on upright bass and lead singer Sergio Witis on banjo, shrugging and shuffling in place in a hunched-over dance move that he frequently adopts onstage.
Between songs, they mostly complain. "That sucked," Witis growls. "Yeah, we were off," Baumann agrees. It's a level of professionalism — perfectionism, even — that may seem surprising to people familiar only with the band's carnival-sideshow live act, which features occasional fire-breathing, the stapling of band members' flesh, and an American-Gypsy-punk form of music that sounds like a session thrown together at a tattoo parlor/biker bar owned and operated by Satan.
All the members of the band are shirtless and sweaty, and each torso is a masterpiece of the tattooist's art. Witis' dedication to the band extends to his skin, with a massive chest tattoo that includes the phrase "Don't Rain on My Parade," a song from the band's first album, 2011's "When Water's Thicker Than Blood." On his side is a tattoo featuring the band's name, done by a woman named Chelsea Linnabary, for whom the band will play a benefit show Friday night at Propaganda.
Last summer, at about the same time Everymen left South Florida to go on tour, Linnabary's husband, Marine Corps Cpl. Dan Linnabary, went to war. "He was a tanker, so I assumed he would be completely safe," Chelsea Linnabary says from her home in North Carolina, where she moved in August 2010 to be with Dan after meeting him a few months earlier at Fort Lauderdale's Fleet Week. "He's in the most-powerful equipment they have over there. Nothing horrible can happen, and besides, it's coming down to the end of the war."
He had been in Afghanistan barely a month when, just for a moment, he left the safety of his 70-ton machine, and a mortar shell ended his life. He left behind not just Chelsea, but also their then-3-month-old daughter, Rosalie. "He would've reenlisted in May," Linnabary says. "He wanted to be a lifer. If it were up to him, I think he would've spent 30 years on a tank."
While Chelsea has a relationship with the band through her work as a tattoo artist, the members of Everymen are close to her entire family. Chelsea's mother, Debbie Kronick, was a longtime local promoter who booked Everymen's first show.
Since that show a few years ago, the band has played out constantly, even busking in the streets when no gig presents itself. And last year, Witis formed Wayward Parade, a record label, promotions company and booking agency for bands that travel in a similar musical vein. His partner in the business is John Wylie, who previously founded Eulogy Recordings, which issued early releases from New Found Gloryand many other emo and hardcore groups.
"Our plan is to be more of a co-op than a top-down record label," Wylie says. "We've signed bands in other parts of the country, like Rickett Pass out of Michigan, and then all of our acts cross-promote. When they come down here, they've got other acts on the bill and they've got good clubs to play in. And when we go up there, it's the same. All of the bands help each other out, and we all do better. … That's the plan."
CLOSE TO HOME
Back at Witis' home, the band wraps up after a rollicking rendition of "Waking Up Hurts," a song off its most recent album, last year's "Beautiful Curse," that was also the subject of the group's first video. They pick up coffee and a quick bite to eat at the Mother Earth Cafe while talking about Wayward Parade and the band's future. But the conversation inevitably leads back to Chelsea and Debbie.
"They're the sort of family you wish you had," Witis says as he walks home. "There's just so much love there. And for that to happen to them of all people … "
He trails off at the corner of Lake Avenue, looking down Ocean Breeze. The city is quiet, and night has fallen. "I don't write about politics, or national events. I just don't feel I know enough about it. I can only write about my struggles — our struggles," he adds with a gesture toward the bandmates walking up behind him. "And then, I have to hope that's enough."
A benefit for Chelsea and Rosalie Linnabary with Everymen, Sweet Chariots, the Darling Sweets, the Goddamn Hustle and Mylo Ranger
When: 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11
Where: Propaganda, 6 S. J St., Lake Worth
Contact: 561-547-7273 or Propagandalw.comCopyright © 2015, South Florida