By Tim McCoy
Duo, Lucy de los Rios and Lucky Buttons, make up Another Roadside Attraction, a band whose sound flows like an eclectic carnival. To get that unique melody, the duet play a wide range of instruments, including ukuleles, resonator guitar, melodica (I didn’t even now what that was), musical saw, harmonica, kazoo, and the under-appreciated guitarron, as well as a variety of DIY washboard and percussion rigs, to craft original music that is a constantly evolving blend of Americana, Acoustic, and what they have dubbed “Blue Ridge Cabaret.”
A couple on and off the stage, de los Rios and Buttons have enjoyed making music together for the past seven years and have shared that joy with audiences all over our region. Buttons got his start playing in a dive bar in Durham, NC, where there were house instruments available, and the patrons were invited to regularly jam together. The bartender kept strings on the instruments, and rocked out periodically. “Once I learned what it was all about, I went there every time I could. That place really lit my fuse.”
His partner, de los Rios came from a musical family, and started writing original tunes in 2008, when she fell in love with that unique little instrument, the ukulele. Once she connected with Buttons in 2009, they took on the challenge of opening for other local bands and playing with other musicians.
Over the years, their ranks have grown to a trio, a quintet, and briefly a six-piece, but now the two ply their trade around our region in a wide variety of venues, from busking on sidewalks, to libraries, listening rooms, bars, breweries, wineries, weddings and private parties, festivals, retirement homes, and others. Throughout, they have always appreciated the DIY aspect of the band: screen-printing their own shirts, designing and printing their CD covers and posters, as well as building some of their own instruments. Intensely independent, they are motivated by the fact that they are working for themselves and not for a company or somebody else.
“Our music and art allows us to travel and see new places, and explore different avenues and sounds,” Buttons shared in a recent interview. “There is an endless variety and combination of sounds to examine, and gives voice and expression to our inner worlds.”
All that performing doesn’t come without its share of nervousness for de los Rios, who share that she still gets stage fright even after 7+ years of performing.
“Once I’m on stage, the nerves wear off and I just do what I do. Some shows I’m more in the zone and in the moment and able to connect with the crowd. Those are the best! Other shows I struggle with a feeling of disconnect and just feel more introverted. I have never been one to force or fake anything so I have made peace with the different experiences I have. But even on the not so great experiences, there’s usually something that is redeeming and helps me to feel that joy and connection.”
The duo are currently collaborating with local hip hop artist, Harvest Blaque, and look forward to working with other local musicians on music and video projects. And with musical tastes that run the gamut from MC Yogi, Buena Vista Social Club, and Gogol Bordello, to the music of Bollywood, and Incan Inkari music, those collaborations should be far more than just “Another Roadside Attraction”.
Check them out for yourself this Saturday at the Roanoke City Main library from 1 – 2:30.