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The Silver Dollars take the long, dusty trail back to the Sound

Tacoma Soil

The Silver Dollars: Colin Scott Reynolds, Pete Sustarsic, Max Balton and Dylan Treleven. Photo credit: Andrew Smith

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The past few years have been exciting ones for certain graduates of the Tacoma School of the Arts: members of a SOTA music collective called Dear Records. Alumni of Dear Records include Brad Oberhofer (of Oberhofer, you know?), Molly Hamilton (of Pitchfork-approved Widowspeak), Colin Scott Reynolds (I Low, Watermelon Sugar, general busking) and Dylan Treleven (collaborator with all aforementioned, touring member of Oberhofer and Widowspeak). This handful of art students made the move to New York, and have been keeping the same urgent pace they set for themselves as indie rock upstarts in Tacoma.

Friday sees the return of two of our Tacoma sons. Treleven and Reynolds are touring with their new project, The Silver Dollars. Born out of Treleven's desire to write his own material while out on lengthy tours in other bands, The Silver Dollars feels like a natural extension of what began back at SOTA.

"I had been writing my own stuff while I was out on the road with those other bands," says Treleven. "When I got back to New York this past year, back for the summer, I started trying to put them together with my buddy Pete (Sustarsic, of Oberhofer). He and I played in another band and worked well as a rhythm section - I was playing bass, he was playing drums, and I liked his style. ... After we brought Max Balton onboard, we practiced for a couple months. I'm not a great vocalist, but it was just nice to do my own stuff. Then, Colin Reynolds moved back to New York, and I had always been a fan of his various projects. I was a big fan of his voice, and I realized that his style of singing was how I had envisioned these songs that I had written."

The rest is history, with The Silver Dollars securing a legit Brooklyn rehearsal space and eventually recording their five-song debut, Lucky Silver. While all of the members of the band have eclectic experiences in playing music - old Dear Records compilations reveal Treleven and Reynolds dabbling in electronica, folk, and indie rock, not to mention Reynolds' hard rock turn in Watermelon Sugar and Treleven's shoegaze-y time in Widowspeak - The Silver Dollars fall firmly in the Americana camp.

Classic elements like dashes of the Allman Brothers Band and America drift through, with rich harmonies enveloping Reynolds solid lead vocals. Unlike other alt-country acts, The Silver Dollars really lean into roots music, not shying away from the boozed-up slide guitars and saloon shuffles of their forebears. More Dear Records alums appear on the record in the form of Jay Clancy (Makeup Monsters) on drums and Brandon Hughes (Freeze and Fur Coat) aiding in engineering the album.

"Yeah, it's kind of weird that everyone's moved out to New York," says Treleven. "It's been eight or nine years since we were all last in school together. Dear Records hit its stride in about 2008, back when folks were still living in Washington and had some time and summers to put stuff together. That mentality of working together like crazy and doing a lot of stuff on no budget - we try to implement some of that out here, but it's a of harder to do in New York because nobody has any free time. Everyone's working their asses off just to pay their rent and survive. But the work ethic we developed back when we were doing Dear Records, we can still apply that, and we have been. It's been nice to work on some more mature projects with these guys."

Friday finds Treleven and company back on Tacoma soil, albeit in a new form. After watching these talented guys grow from across the country, it'll be interested to see what they've become, live and in person.

THE SILVER DOLLARS, w/ Carletta Sue Kay, Kye Alfred Hillig, 7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 7, B Sharp Coffee House, 706 Opera Alley, Tacoma, $5, 253.292.9969

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