The Mighty High & Dry takes it where it can get it 

click to enlarge The Mighty High & Dry. - PROVIDED PHOTO.
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  • The Mighty High & Dry.
The new album by Rochester-based band The Mighty High & Dry has arrived, about three years later than planned.

“You know what happened in 2020,” said the band’s main songwriter, Alan Murphy.

Yeah, we heard. And in 2021. And 2022. And 2023…

The Mighty High & Dry has been at work for about a decade. As is the case with so many bands, its history is not one uninterrupted joy ride. This is the band’s third album, and musicians have come and gone, with the new ones always “defining a newer sound for the group,” as Murphy said. So, lineup changes, and then there’s life-altering illness.

The new album is “Live. Wild. Love.” Live, because its foundation was recorded live in 2019 during shows at Three Heads Brewing and Iron Smoke Whiskey. And live, because that’s what the best humans do: Live. Live wildly. Live with love.

The album release show is Wednesday, May 31 at Record Archive.

As with all bands, The Mighty High & Dry had to find a way to live through the pandemic. It chose the same route that many musicians did. By quietly writing songs, even as the venues where those songs would be heard quietly went silent, or even closed for good.

“Live. Wild. Love.” is what Murphy referred to as “sort of the second half of our band.”

“Some of these tunes we started working in 2016, after the band had reformed,” he said.

Reformed, evolved. So often, bands are elastic things. On “Live. Wild, Love.,” the core is Murphy on guitars, keyboards and vocals. Alex Coté on drums sometimes, other times guitar, or harmonica. Eric Katerle on lead guitar. Kyle Vock on bass. They all sing. In what Murphy refers to as ‘The Mighty High & Dry Assembly,’ various tracks feature female vocals and horns aplenty.

If that feels like the kind of full-throttle rock you’d hear from Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, or even The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, yes, it is that. Yet, The Mighty High & Dry doesn’t sound like it’s copying. It’s not coming from Asbury Park, but the Genesee shore. Although, “There’s some cross-pollination there,” Murphy admitted.

How could there not be? We’re all paying attention, aren’t we?
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Murphy calls “Live. Wild. Love.” a party album. It opens with a very convincing “Ugh” from Murphy, and only gets better from there. From one track to the next, each sounds like different songs from different mothers. “Every tune does have its own story to it, and has its own trajectory,” Murphy said. Songs living “in a few different continuums.”

Like most bands, except the ones that won’t admit it, The Mighty High & Dry has influences. “There’s a lot that’s changed,” Murphy said of the last half-century of rock, “but there’s a lot that hasn’t changed. You know, tube amplifiers. A song with a Telecaster sounds like it did in 1970.”

The songs are on CD, of course, but the glory is in the double vinyl with the gatefold that opens to photos of the band playing live. Just like they used to make ’em in the ’70s. Or maybe a listen to the country-rock lament of “I Want to See Your Face Again,” feels like Blackberry Smoke, a fairly new rock band, but plays old.

So “new” is relative.

Rock bands have always done love songs, and songs where relationships have fallen apart. The Mighty High & Dry splits the difference. In “Living Alone,” Murphy said, “That’s me sort of knowing about a friend’s situation, about being left behind by his wife, and me sort of taking the voice of what I would want to see him do, which is basically say…”

Move on?


But songs, even the ones based on something real, are often accidents. Murphy said Vock “mumbled the melody” for one.

“Oh, I think he just said, ‘living alone.’”

And a song is born.

The Mighty High & Dry is all over the sonic map. “Misused/Mistreated” is a bluesy, Howlin’ Wolf animal, where leaving means “just grabbing my shoes and walking out the door.” On “Down By the Wayside,” Murphy laments “people not making the most of their time.” And “I Hear My Heart” is that old tale of “star-crossed lovers.”

So from the opening influences of these songs, it’s just a matter of “fill-in-the-blanks.”

Fill-in-the-blanks when it comes to band members as well. Katerle recently retired from the band after he was diagnosed with the neurological condition Huntington’s Disease. “He did not want to continue playing with the sort of uncertainties of what that would look like,” Murphy said. “He just had too much respect for the music, and the musicians and the audience to get in a position where his body might not cooperate with him. That was a very difficult thing for him, of course. It was a heart-wrenching decision for him to stop playing. For the band, it was horrible.”

Yet Katerle’s not completely out of the scene. He still comes to the shows, “we’ve done a little writing since then,” Murphy said.

That’s rock bands, there’s always another voice, a new direction. A Van Morrison influence creeps into “Wild Love.” The horns are a part of that as well. And there’s the exuberance of “Little Red Dress,” on which Rochester soul singer Zahyia Rolle shared the load of the writing and vocals with Murphy.

“That song pretty much came out of her mouth verbatim,” Murphy said. And comes off like a Mick Jagger and Tina Turner duet. Turner, who died last week, left us something, and left something for The Mighty High & Dry as well. Kinda sexy.


“I’ll take it,” Murphy said, “where I can get it.”

Jeff Spevak is a Senior Arts Writer for WXXI and CITY Magazine. He can be reached at [email protected].
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