There’s been little rock ’n’ roll downtime for Chris Haas and Chris Rapp. The Pagosa Springs musicians – Haas a vocalist and Rapp a guitar player – have a musical partnership that dates back 20 years and through a handful of bands. There was Dixie Wrecked, Knucka and Ebeniezer and the Crooked Hookers, and likely some smaller, nameless projects that never left the woodshed. The most current band for Haas and Rapp is Ragwater, a band that continues the Chris-squared mission of kicking out plugged in, rock-heavy roots music.
Ragwater will perform Saturday at the Animas City Theatre. Opening the show will be local punk band The Batteries.
For Haas and Rapp, it’s all about musical motion; when one band calls it quits, they’re quick to make something new.
“Every time a band dissolves, Haas and I just kept moving forward with a new band. So, when Ebeniezer died out, we just kept playing music, and turned it into Ragwater,” Rapp said. “Which is based on the name and idea of mopping up the mess of everything and wringing it out with something new, and that’s what Ragwater is for us.”
In addition to Haas and Rapp, Ragwater is Glen Goss on guitar, Rick Riojas on bass, Jason Dockter on drums and Dione Novae on vocals.
The band is putting the wraps on their sophomore effort, titled “Ragwater II.” Recorded at Scooter’s Place in Durango with engineer Scott Smith (the man the band jokingly refers to as “the fifth Beatle” because he’d actually be the seventh member), it’s a cross-county effort. The band records rough tracks in Durango, then those tracks are emailed back to Rapp in Pagosa Springs. Then they’ll record other parts in Archuleta County, as well as do further editing. The product then will come back to La Plata County where further, finishing touches happen. You’ll then have a record, with this latest, forthcoming release ready for public consumption later this year.
“It’s back and forth,” Rapp said. “It’s a really cool partnership, and it works well.”
The whole thing is a family affair; everybody works together, everybody has a part, and in the end all members make the music happen.
“One key thing we do for Ragwater, we ‘Ragwater-ize’ the song, which includes Glen, Rick and Jason. We jam on the songs with the whole band, and then work it out. Everybody puts input into it as well. Glen as the second guitarist in the band, he’s good at forming an offset guitar sound from mine, which gives these songs a real cool sound as well. The other backup vocals, Glen and Rick are the backup team. Jason kills it on the drums and puts in some really interesting grooves and original tracks to the stuff,” Rapp said. “By the time we finish a song and record something, the whole band has input, and it makes the specific sound of Ragwater.”
That specific sound comes off as dirty blues metal of early Black Sabbath and punky blues of Jon Spencer or The Immortal Lee County Killers. It’s also a lot of Dixie Wrecked and Knucka, as the partnership of Haas and Rapp has yielded a definite sound. There’s Haas’ croon, Rapp’s deep blues riffs, and then a solid rock package pushed out by the rest of a band not afraid of a little volume. Newest member Novae adds a layer of vocals behind Haas; it’s heavy roots rock, with an emphasis on the rock.
“‘Down-home’ is one of the terms I like to use. It’s blues. We started out in our earlier bands as punk-country, hard rock, and now it’s definitely still a heavy, hard rocking sound, and rock ’n’ roll, but I feel like it’s got a real heavy blues and down-home honesty to it,” Haas said.
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.