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Stranger Neighbor

Stranger Neighbor

Stranger Neighbor is a textbook example of the DIY ethos that is becoming more and more common in today’s music industry. From their humble beginnings as a cover band in a small Idaho college town, three years of non-stop touring, four self-released CDs, and a line-up change, they show no signs of letting up. With the release of their new CD “Everything That Matters,” Stranger Neighbor is pushing closer to the major break-through they deserve. Compelling melodies and intricate harmonies are evidence of their ever-expanding song craft. Committed to elevating their music to levels only reached by performing live night after night, they have proved that hard work and dedication does pay off.

Today, Stranger Neighbor consists of Doug Cameron (guitar, vocals), and John Fricke (trumpet, guitar, vocals). Doug and John started Stranger Neighbor in 1996 with fellow University of Idaho students Ryan Gibler (bass), and Casey Miller (drums). They quickly became the U of I’s favorite weekend house band, continually packing Moscow, Idaho’s infamous hovel, The Capricorn. Stranger Neighbor built up a loyal following of fans that were surprisingly eager to soak up the sounds of their infectious groove-driven songs. Standing above the malaise of cover hits they obediently served up week after week, these originals quickly drove their way into the subconscious of the Capricorn regulars. On the eve of their relocation to Boulder, Colorado in May, 1998, Stranger Neighbor released their debut CD “Memories of This”.

At the heart of their live rig since the early days in ’96 has been a Mackie CR1604VLZ. This mixer’s pristine sound reproduction, ultimate flexibility, and durability is just a few of the reasons the CR1604VLZ hasn’t left Stranger Neighbor’s rack for over five years. They use it as their main FOH mixer at every club that doesn’t have a house system. “We still use it for over 70 percent of our live shows,” says Cameron. “It’s been a real workhorse for us.” Considering Stranger Neighbor has averaged over 200 shows a year for the last five years, their little 1604VLZ has put in a lot of miles. “We know regardless of the kind of room we’re playing, the 1604VLZ gives us confidence that we’ll always get a great sound.”

Listening to Stranger Neighbor for the first time, it may be easy to quickly lump them in with all the other “jam bands” littering the tour circuits of America. But closer examination reveals a commitment to song craft often lacking from many of today’s Phish/Greatful Dead acolytes. Superb musicianship is served up with copious amounts of creativity and striking individual style; this band is a must listen for fans of music that extends beyond the usual pop fodder. Graceful two-part harmonies floating atop stabbing slabs of syncopated rhythmic interplay have become Stranger Neighbor’s modus operandi.

After the recent departures of Miller, and Gibler, Doug and John are keeping Stranger Neighbor strictly a duo for now. Cameron seems undaunted by the change and welcomes the challenge of maintaining the same energy as a duo. Cameron adds, “Once the band fell apart, it felt like I had a huge weight lifted from my shoulders. It’s gotten much better since then.”

The future looks promising for this Colorado based band. Talks have begun with an independent label in Chicago about inclusion in a compilation CD that in the past included bands like Matchbox 20, Guster, and Vertical Horizon. Their songs are currently being shopped for possible television and movie spots. Given the tumultuous nature of this business, Stranger Neighbor seems to have their feet firmly planted in the ground as they focus on whatever challenges lie ahead. “We’re more into making a living at it than looking for the big time at this point,” says Cameron. “If it happens, that’s great. If not, it’s all good.”


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