By SCOTT SHELTERS
Special to the OBSERVER
CONWAY, Ark. - Nationally known performers travel across the nation to perform on a regular basis. Typically, local musicians travel throughout Western New York and into Pennsylvania, but not much farther.
Days of Old claimed multiple awards at The Alchemy Songwriting Competition recently. From left, drummer Alex Dibble, “American Idol” winner Kris Allen, vocalist Joel Dibble, award-winning producer David Hodges, bassist Justin Van Sickle, Andy Davis of the Music Empowers Foundation and guest musician Adam McKillip gather around the awards.
That's not the case for the locally raised musicians in alternative rock band Days of Old. The band embarked on a 15-hour trip across the nation to compete in a songrwiting competition recently. The journey paid off.
Days of Old claimed runner-up honors at The Alchemy Songwriting Competition at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark. The band won the Best Alternative Rock Song award for "Alive" and received top honors in the adult division. The contest's judges included "American Idol" winner Kris Allen, Grammy Award-winning producer and former Evanescence musician David Hodges, and Andy Davis, founder of the Music Empowers Foundation.
Days of Old, formed in early 2010, consists of Cassadaga natives Joel and Alex Dibble, Jamestown's Jon Osterdahl and Justin Van Sickle, from Busti.
"We're an alternative band with a little bit of a pop/rock twist in there," said lead vocalist and guitarist Joel Dibble, who has played music with his brother, Alex, for about 15 years. "It's not pop; it's not heavy rock. It's right there in the middle."
Dibble said the band drew influence from the Goo Goo Dolls and Switchfoot for the songs on its CD, "Fall Crawl Stand," which features "Alive" as the first track.
"I call our music Christian-inspired music. A lot of lyrics that I write come from my faith and the everyday situations that people go through," Dibble said. "I try to write music that everyone can enjoy and not just one demographic."
The band's wide-ranging appeal led to their performance at Kindom Bound 2010 and to The Alchemy Songwriting Competition. Judges received more than 300 song entries, but only 10 bands made it to Arkansas.
Unfortunately, Osterdahl, the band's lead guitarist, could not make the trip due to a scheduling conflict. Days of Old had to enlist the help of another local musician, Adam McKillip.
"At the drop of the hat, he said, 'Yeah. I'll do it for you guys.' He jumped in the car with us and rode 15 hours to help us out and play with us," Dibble said. "We really appreciate him for that. He's a really talented guy."
With McKillip, Days of Old received positive feedback from the contests' judges and attendees. Now the band, which practices weekly in the Dibbles' parents' Cassadaga basement, will take a short break from performing. In the meantime, Dibble and the others will promote their CD.
"We're riding on that one at the moment. That's what we use to get our music out there," he said. "Being in a band, you're always writing and having new ideas. You always want to put out that next CD. We want to put out something new, but I think the CD we have out now can still do more. There are still some people who haven't heard it."
The band plans to resume shows in March or April and is open to venue or booking suggestions. In his time away from performing during the holiday season, Dibble will continue to reflect on how far the band has come.
"It has definitely been really cool to have some of the experiences that we have had, getting to meet some really cool people and playing some cool shows," he said. "We're kind of just enjoying the ride for the moment."