BRIDGEPORT — There’s really nothing like an established band returning to play a show in the city where they cut their teeth. It’s a feeling of sentimental nostalgia and momentous triumph with folks gathering in a venue as a sort of homecoming that can’t be replicated. This often involves long-time fans and friends catching up and a very positive vibe.
Bridgeport folk-rock act The Alternate Routes are going to be encountering this when they return home to perform at Park City Music Hall on May 17. Columbus, Ohio indie rock act Red Wanting Blue will be opening up the show at 8 p.m.
I talked with guitarist, backing vocalist and co-founder Eric Donnelly ahead of the gig about how the band started out, having a collaborative vibe while performing live, thoughts about coming back to Bridgeport and the band’s plans for the near future.
RD: The Alternate Routes started back in 2002 with you and lead vocalist & guitarist Tim Warren collaborating while the both of you were studying at Fairfield University. Were the both of you music majors there? What were the both of you studying at the time?
ED: I was a music major, but Tim was not. I was a few years ahead of him, so it was during the end of senior year that Tim and I met up. He needed a guitarist for a performance he was doing and that was the first time we met. We kind of stayed in touch and gradually over the course of the next year or two, we started playing together more and more and we ended up starting the band not too long after that.
RD: How would you describe the evolution of the musical partnership you have with Tim from that time to now?
ED: That’s a great question. It’s funny because that was a long time ago and life was so different then, especially when you think about what life is like now versus what it was like back then. I think there are so many different elements to how we work together and how we function as a band when it comes to the creative process. It’s something that we’re constantly working on that’s also constantly changing and evolving and as life sort of changes, everything changes with it. I’d say what we’re focused on right now is obviously very different from what we were doing back during the mid 2000s when we started the band, but it’s all great.
With some time, some experience and some age, I’d like to think that you get better at certain things. Hopefully we’re at a good spot as far as our creative partnership goes.
RD: It’s been mentioned on The Alternate Routes’ social media outlets that there will be a few collaborations between both you guys and Red Wanting Blue at the upcoming show, so will this be relatively spontaneous or will it be more structured and planned out?
ED: We actually had a rehearsal the other night along with a bunch of phone calls over the past couple of days between the bands while trying to sort it all out. We’re still sort of in the planning phases and Red Wanting Blue are good friends of ours, we’ve known each other for many years, we’ve toured together and we’ve managed to stay friends over the years. We’ve played together a lot and we have somewhat of a collective history together with songs and arrangements that we’ve played together, but we’re also trying to do new things. We got new material, so it’s a combination of us both going through our collective catalog and picking out certain things.
There’s also the logistical side with who is going to play what and which instruments we’re going to have on stage. There’s a lot of figuring things out, but I always think there’s always going to be that element of being in the moment and playing the best we can. Everybody tries to be prepared to a certain degree, but what I think makes it fun is ultimately things coming up on the day of the show. Things that happen in the moment which everybody kind of reacts to, so we just play the best that we can while coming up with a strategy.
RD: That’s a good preparation to have. With this show at Park City Music Hall taking place in the city where The Alternate Routes started, what are your thoughts on coming back to Bridgeport to play a show?
ED: I’m excited. It’s my first time playing at Park City Music Hall in its current form and I’ve been wanting to play there. I’ve gone to a few shows at the venue and I love what they’ve done with the place. Ever since the venue reopened a year or two ago they’ve done a fantastic job and I’m just excited to be playing there. I really wanted to play that room as part of this particular run of shows we’re on and I’m really looking forward to it.
It’s a great place to see a show and I still live in the area so it’s a place that I’ve gone to a fair amount. Just the excitement I feel that the venue has created is really exciting and we’re looking forward to showing up and playing there, so it should be good.
RD: I’ve heard nothing but great things about the place. After the show, what are The Alternate Routes’ plans going forward? Can we expect a new record of some sort in the future?
ED: We are definitely working on new music and we’ve been working on new music for the past year or so with writing and pre-production. For the last two months, we’ve been recording in the studio and putting our heads down with the goal being to have a new record out at some point this year. That is the goal and that is the hope and we’re looking to road test some of the material during these shows that we have coming up. When you’re writing, you make demos and you kind of play through stuff, but nothing beats going into a room and testing it out in front of an audience, I think you learn a lot about songs that way. The plan is to get back into the studio after these shows and work on getting a new record out in 2023.
The Alternate Routes
with Red Wanting Blue
May 17 @ Park City Music Hall
2926 Fairfield Ave, Bridgeport