Mize and the Drive
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Mize and the Drive

Murfreesboro, Tennessee, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | SELF

Murfreesboro, Tennessee, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2009
Band Rock Soul




"The Boro Still Standing after Recent Borostock 2011"

Between that, though, Scale Model, who played a few songs sounding like the Cranberries, were followed by Murfreesboro’s new local feel-good band, Mize and the Drive (featured in last month’s issue) who, between then and now, have obviously been practicing. They’re becoming a wall of sound and it sounds amazing in the Boro. - Murfreesboro Pulse, Bryce Harmon

"Mize and The Drive Rocks All Wednesday Night Long and Then Some More on the Weekend"

It’s a night you’re strolling down one of Murfreesboro’s fair streets, eventually hearing live music from a house party that’s welcoming and funky enough to pull you and your friends in from the warmth of a summer night. You wander inside the house you’re in front of only to find a band on stage proudly smiling ear to ear while swaying in synch and playing a soulful, feel-good oldie from the ’90s before sharing one of their originals that flows in the same vein as the well-known, crowd-pleasing covers. By the second or third song in the set, you find yourself walking towards the dance floor with your buddies and a few other wanderers too. The sound is party pitch-perfect and a new Murfreesboro band embracing it, Mize and the Drive, gave you exactly that July 13 at the Bluesboro, as people wandered in from the Square to enjoy a hot Wednesday night.

Lead by front man Lee Ramsey, Mize and the Drive started playing in Murfreesboro a little over a year ago. But on this particular night at Bluesboro, they stand on stage in a line of six: two acoustic guitars, two electric (one bass and the other guitar), as well as drums and a tenor saxophone off to stage right. All of them are excited about putting on a great show right before they head into the studio to record their first full-length album. Also, they answered some questions when they got a break.

How did Murfreesboro play its role in the formation of Mize and the Drive?
“Murfreesboro brought us together as friends. Individually, we had all been performing music in different projects throughout Tennessee [but] during a break of these projects, we […] started jamming on song ideas of Lee’s and developing the music. Over the past year, Les [Greer, bass] and Alex [Stevenson, sax] have joined the band and solidified the sound we have been going after,” says the band.

Back at Bluesboro on show night, Mize started powerfully with an original, “Drive Me Home”, establishing their funk overtones that stick with them the rest of the night. The set continues through two more originals, “Strangers” and “Paranoid”. The latter captures the full band on cruise control during the refrain, giving tenor saxophonist Alex Stevenson his first chance for a solo while Ramsey croons back and forth into the microphone chanting the song’s title for a few measures until rising seamlessly into the chorus of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall”. Harmony backup erupts from anyone onstage holding a stringed instrument. Unfortunately, the saxophone took the brunt of the limelight on this one due to his inaudible notes drowned out by all the amps around him on stage.

How far do you want to go with the horns? Are you comfortable with the tenor? Just the tenor?
“Since we’ve started the band, we’ve all been hearing horns on these tracks, but it took almost a year for us to finally have them. Alex was able to join the band this past Spring, and he’s filled that void in the music. The sound really came together with what he has contributed. Alex is comfortable with any sax he can get his hands on, but his parts are usually [just] tenor with the occasional alto.”

Another original, “Rain,” followed the Floyd cover at Bluesboro that evening and ended with Lee Ramsey’s invite to someone from the crowd to join them on stage. Will Mann, another local musician catching the show, took heed of the finger pointed directly at him and obliged the invite. Within a minute, Ice Cube’s “Today was a Good Day”, was attacked by all seven of them with Mann on the verses and backup vocals from everyone else, eventually taking it through to the next song, “Long Way Down”, which is a slow march of a song reminiscent of The Doors’ “People are Strange”. Drummer Dan Jarnagin’s low, pounding mallets and the remaining Drive supply a mournful five-part harmony during the song’s chorus. “Long Way Down” can be heard on the band’s Facebook page.

After Will Mann’s applauded sit-in, Mize gathered themselves for another crowd-tickler, Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” followed by Talking Heads’ “Burning Down the House”, but not without sneaking an original, “Dazed”, in between. No one really noticed and that’s the best part of live Mize and the Drive: they transition between songs without missing a beat or a note in the scale leading them to the root of the next. They seem trained in transitions and showmanship. People dancing never have a reason to stop.

Pulling through “Burning Down the House”, Mize and the Drive reset for two more originals—“We the People”, that can be found on their Reverb Nation page, and “Volcano”. “Volcano” holds another sax solo from Stevenson and lead guitarist Cody Malak that carries the whole band into The Dave Matthews Band’s version of “All Along the Watchtower” while singer Ramsey nods in approval to his bandmates.

These guys can get from one song to another, but another seamless transition doesn’t occur until they get back into another Dave Matthews song, “Too Much”, so the guys could breath a little bit but the floor in front of the stage remained crowded, nonetheless, when all of a sudden Ben Wensil on acoustic rhythm, drops his strings for sticks and turns around to help Jarnagin beat a trio of Roto toms for Phil Collin’s “I Can’t Dance”. This is the last present to the dance floor before finishing up with an encore of drum-driven original jam, “Soul Shot”, sending the crowd home three hours after starting a well-received evening out on the town.

Afterwards, it felt like another Dave Matthews song wouldn’t be heard for miles the rest of the night but Mize and the Drive went into Dirty Cabin Records the following weekend to start work on their yet-to-be-titled album of about 10 originals with the expected release date as soon as possible. With full concentration on the album for the time being, the band hasn’t posted any new show dates, but keep your eyes and ears on their Facebook page for any new summer plans. - Murfreesboro Pulse, Bryce Harmon

"Mize and the Drive, Irene"

Officially, Mize and the Drive formed in late 2009. Unofficially, they’ve been forming for the past decade as the members became veteran musicians separately, through other projects.

A little over two years as a band has seen debut full-length, Irene (Dirty Cabin Records), to fruition. And whether the instrumentation incorporates heavy guitars and jazz influence or keeps with a bare folk style with acoustic guitar, Irene doesn’t really have any filler tracks to speak of. The influences are obvious, but the 10 tracks are all decisive and combine parts of folk, jazz, soul with the South—mainly in Lee Ramsey’s vocals and the twang-rock resonance of Cody Malak’s lead guitar.

As seasoned musicians, Mize and the Drive can clearly write about universal tribulations without youthful, desperate angst, which is a plus in the sense that Irene has plenty laid-back, Grateful Dead-esque good vibes and messages.

The record radiates with very classic rock (“Antietam Road”), lush Southern roots (“Soul Shot”) and artful, pretty strumming (“Strangers”). Les Greer’s bass and Ben Wencil’s rhythm guitar tap out “Dazed,” a rock-and-reeds jaunt that emulates Dave Matthews Band’s hippie jazz style.

Two of the best tracks are entirely different; there’s “Rain,” a melancholy waltz with Alex Stevenson’s gorgeous saxophone smeared into the middle of the record, whose melody is vaguely reminiscent of Counting Crows’ slower, sweeter stuff. Then there’s “Long Way Down,” a morbid haunt with pensive bass and the opening lines: “The rope is frayed/but I’m holding on/to my end, anyway/hanging from the cliff/my nails dug in/and my fingers burned/hanging from the cliff/waiting for you to pull me up.”

Such is the diversity of Mize and the Drive’s influences.
- Murfreesboro Pulse, Jessica Pace

"Interview with Mize and the Drive - MusicTree Festival 2013"

Let everyone know who you are, where you are from and what style of music you play.

Mize and the Drive from Murfreesboro, TN – a 6 piece rock ensemble with saxophone, influenced by several genres: folk, jazz, soul, funk, and anything with a groove. Our official site is at www.mizeandthedrive.com or like us on Facebook at facebook.com/mizeandthedrive
What do you do for fun? You know…besides music?

Lee: Collect autographs from various Star Wars actors
Ben: Play with the dogs
Cody: Create internet meme’s
Nate: Camping when I get breaks from school
Dan: Hot tub parties that include poppin’ bottles
Alex: Building things with my bare hands

What was the last song you listened to?

Lee: Elbow – An Audience With the Pope
Ben: Cyndi Lauper – Time After Time
Cody: Milo Greene – What’s the Matter
Nate: Chris Potter – Migrations
Dan: CHVRCHES – Recover
Alex: A Perfect Circle – Gravity

What did you listen to when you were younger? What do you listen to now? Have your tastes changed?

We all definitely listened to a lot of different music growing up. Lee was into Otis Redding, Prince, and Pink Floyd, Cody grew up on the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and all the 60’s & 70’s usual suspects, Ben got into the Smashing Pumpkins, Dan listened to Tool and a Perfect Circle, Nate dug the punk/ska scene, classic rock, and jazz, and Alex liked Alice in Chains, Porcupine Tree, and jazz. The band currently listens to a huge span of music and picks up influence wherever possible – Bands such as Wilco, My Morning Jacket, Elbow, Phoenix, Ray LaMontagne, Muse, Umphrey’s McGee and genres ranging from jazz-fusion, funk, neo-soul, & all spans of rock. Dan says, “No matter the genre, I want to be able to lock and load behind the drum-kit.” None of our tastes have changed dramatically from when we were younger, but we all like to think that we’ve broadened our tastes. Lee says that his focus and attention have changed more than anything.. especially with noticing “production choices and subtle additions.” He is constantly wondering what it must feel like when those small musical choices come together in a big way.

Read more at http://www.midtnmusic.com/interview-with-mize-and-the-drive-musictree-festival-2013/#w0gzgBfbvZtpx9lS.99 - Middle Tennessee Music



Mize and the Drive is a seven piece rock ensemble with saxophone from Murfreesboro, TN. In the Fall of 2009, lead vocalist Lee Ramsey began sharing his songwriting and lyrical abilities with longtime friends Ben Wencil (rhythm guitar), Cody Malak (lead guitar), and Dan Jarnagin (drums) in hopes of exploring his music further and creating a BIG sound. Further development of the songs and with the additions of Alex Stevenson (saxophone) and Les Greer (bass 2011-2012), the band was able to release their debut album "Irene" during the onset of 2012. Changes have been seen in the band's lineup over the years - most notably in 2013, with the departure of Les, the addition of Nathan Deese on bass, and the return of Tom Seymour (founding bass player) on keys. Drawing on a wide range of influences, including soul, folk, jazz, funk, and roots rock, Mize's songwriting has been described as "universal tribulations without youthful, desperate angst -Murfreesboro Pulse," and the sound "refreshingly unique -Middle Tennessee Music." With an extreme focus on performance, the band comes to life in the live environment. Mize approaches a live set as one giant composition and aims to segue, transition, and improvise through their original catalog while still working in clever covers and new arrangements. Mize and the Drive is currently booking shows throughout the Middle Tennessee area with their sights on expanding further in the Southeastern US.

Band Members