Max Redding & The Dogwood Gospel is a hard driving energetic blend of Americana, alt-country, and hard rock hailing from Loudoun County, Virginia’s Furnace Mountain.
In August of 2017, Kyle Jackson (Crooked Crow) was restless and looking for a project. The Leesburg, Virginia based drummer had been looking for something to get in to for some time and had turned to the musician forums on Facebook in hopes of finding some like-minded players to meet up with. Around this time guitarist/singer/songwriter Max Redding (Croatoan) was living in Falls Church, Virginia and was working on a new sound, or rather a sound that was new to him. For the majority of the previous decade, he had been playing lead guitar in local bands in the greater Washington D.C. heavy music scene and had abandoned his aspirations in metal music to pursue something different. Redding drafted a post in an online forum seeking out a drummer with common musical interests - citing his biggest influences in the punk rock, hard rock, alt-country, and Americana arenas - hoping to catch the eye of anyone who may be interested in the same bands, and Jackson answered the call. The two spent the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 working on a mix of covers and originals as Redding was still finding his voice, rehearsing when and wherever they had the opportunity. The early days were spent feeling each other’s playing style out while doggedly searching for a bass player to fill out their sound.
By late February 2018, Jackson had gained confidence in the new project he had found himself involved in, and had a recommendation for Redding about who their new addition could be. Jackson decided to reach out to Victor Alvarenga (The Black Shade) with an open invite to a band practice. The two had grown up in Loudoun County together and had spent time in the same circles as teenagers, playing in punk rock bands at house parties and wherever else they could find gigs. Alvarenga accepted the invite, and after a few “try outs” and a few solid rehearsals were under the trio’s belt, it became apparent that they had found their guy. Though by his own admission, Victor was reluctant to sign on. “I remember it was like my second or third meet up with these guys.” Alvarenga muses. “I didn’t know the songs at all and we sounded awful, and they were heading out to an open mic after rehearsal to perform. They asked if I wanted to come play, I was like ‘I don’t know if I’m gonna come back next week, these guys are nuts!’”
Despite the initial trepidation on Victor’s part, the trio stuck it out and set to work on building a live set worthy of playing in front of an audience. As the group continued to rehearse, naming the band proved more and more difficult. After some deep thought, the name “The Dogwood Gospel” was coined as an homage to the home state of all 3 of the band’s members, Virginia. The name was agreed upon by all, and Alvarenga and Jackson both recommended that Redding should take top billing in the project’s official name. In another twist during the band’s fledgling days, Redding relocated from Falls Church to Lucketts, Virginia to be closer to the group. This gave them an unofficial base of operations up in the Catoctin Mountains which would play a major role in the development of the band through the following months. In doing this, the band was given a regular place to play – an old, rustic, refurbished 1820’s frontier cabin up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge – and above all else, an inspiring place to work. With a regular spot to write and rehearse in a remote location very close to the homes of the other members, the trio felt that real, undivided attention could finally be given to their project. By late 2018, they had shored up their chops and self-recorded the “Cassina Demos” in the living room of the cabin, making the E.P.’s tracks available on their Bandcamp website. Gigging became easier as they became more noticeable and reliable across Northern Virginia and D.C., and Redding began to find his singing voice as the rhythm section locked it in more and more with each passing live performance.
By mid-2019 they found themselves fielding a few different offers to record as they had made an impression on a handful of local sound engineers that had caught the band’s live show. Electing to record with Redding’s friend and frequent collaborative partner Blaine Misner, the trio began work on their full length debut record, splitting time between Cue Studios in Falls Church and the cabin itself. As it has done with all artists, the COVID-19 outbreak has disrupted The Dogwood Gospel’s momentum and delayed the production of the record which is now set to be released in early autumn 2020. As the world may hopefully come back to some semblance of normal, the band is eager to unleash its new record on everyone willing to listen and hopes to gig in support of it as much as the pandemic will allow.