May 14, 2016

Wobbly Toms - Playing St. Augustine for Over a Decade

As one of the longest running musical outfits in St. Augustine, The Wobbly Toms formed back in 2003 and have been gigging ever since.

Comprised of Tony Kistka (drums), Travis Hembree (accordion, washboard), Andrew Calvert (upright bass, vocals), Richard Steinmeyer (banjo, vocals) and Zachary Lively (acoustic guitar, harmonica, vocals), this Irish folk-rock band has opened for national touring acts like Langhorne Slim and The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band. They’ve also put out a couple of albums including the full-length, “Everybody Happy,” in 2011 and EP, “Panic In The Old Town Tonight,” in 2012.

With a pretty sporadic performance schedule, there’s no telling when you’ll see this band onstage. After all, the guys are busy with families and day jobs (two librarians and a stay-at-home dad included).

Compass caught up with Lively, one of The Wobbly Toms’ original members, to find out a bit more about the band’s progression, line-up changes and what the future holds. Here’s part of that conversation.

Compass: The band’s been around for more than a decade. Did you think it would last this long?

Zachary Lively: After the first gig, I don’t think we were certain that there’d even be a second. However, Andrew, Richard and I have been close friends for over 25 years and we knew that we’d always play music. We can’t not play music. It’s part of our soul. It is indeed surreal to imagine that, 13 years on, we’d still be going strong. But every band member relies on the other band members and we are so very, very lucky and blessed to have a devoted, fantastic, and now international, fan base — the extended Wobbly family. We absolutely could not continue to play how we do without the people that come out to see us live and via the web. The world has some excellent music-loving folks in it, and we’re really happy that many of them are our friends.

Compass: You’ve had line-up changes over the years. Tell me a bit about that and what it’s like getting so many players together.

Z.L.: Every band evolves and changes before finding “their” sound. We’ve been fortunate enough to have had a few different variations on ours. Practice and gigs can be hard to organize. It’s just as difficult with five as it was with 10. Of course, there have been many life changes like marriage, divorce, kids, careers and moves over the years that have made things sketchy and uneven at times, but we roll with the punches life throws at us and do as much as we can whenever we can. You might have the opportunity to see us four or five times over the course of two months, and then we might not have a gig for two months. Our performing existence is circumstantial, but we talk and/or see each other as often as we can. And we’re always slow-brewing something.

Compass: Any new music on the horizon?

Z.L.: We are consistently trying to expand our palette musically and are always working on new songs. Right now, we have about enough original material to cobble together another full-length. Coordination, finalization and scheduling are our major foes at this point in time. We’d also like the current version of the band to revisit some of our earlier material for a new recording, and our hope is to also put together a “live” album featuring tracks that we’ve captured in various places over the past couple years.

Compass: What would you like the future to hold for The Wobbly Toms?

Z.L.: If everyone on the planet gave us a dollar, I think we’d be set to do all that we want. The most important thing is to keep playing, keep exploring our sound, keep creating and keep building on the friendships that have gotten us to where we are. We’d love to go on tour and hit up some of the states and towns that we have fans in outside of North Florida. I think one day we will.

For more information about The Wobbly Toms and to keep track of their touring schedule, go to thewobblytoms.com.

Written by Kara Pound of the St. Augustine Record's Compass 


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