In the way |

In the way

Wren Wertin
Special to the DailyOrdinary Way plays Half Moon Saloon tonight at 10.

The Ordinary Way takes their name from a street sign found in the woods. Guitarist and vocalist Gordon Sterling thought it would be a grand name for a band, and the ball started rolling. He and his fellow musicians have spent the past three years seriously pursuing “getting the word out.” What does that mean?

“Meaning opening people up to a different side of themselves,” said Sterling. “Something they might not pay attention to normally. It’s not in a preachy way, but trying to let people know there’s more to life than an everyday routine. It’s hard to condense the message into a sentence. For us it’s more a vibe.”

However lofty the words, the music speaks for itself. With forays into Latin sounds, bluesy rock, electronic circus glee, rasta funk, rhythmic soul and more, the musicians don’t lock themselves into any one style.

“We just kind of mix everything together,” said Austin Mendenhall (guitar, mandolin). “We create a sound more than a style.”

Their last release, “Death and Taxes,” is a fun spin through their musical worlds. From Sterling’s and Mendenhall’s intricate guitar work to Jesse Hooper’s insistent keys, The Ordinary Way is tight. Other members include Fabienne Gustave (vocals), Chris Stringfellow (bass guitar) Ryan Leonardo (congas, djembe, tablas, udu, steel drum) and Robin Boldt (drums).

“Death and Taxes” is all original songs, almost exclusively written by Sterling. Later this spring, the group releases “Dojo,” which ended up being more of a collaboration for the group.

“Dojo means the place of the way, the place where you find yourself,” explained Sterling. “It seemed a good name, since we’re Ordinary Way.”

By both Sterling’s and Mendenhall’s accounts, they have found themselves in the album.

“In a lot of the songs, we’re going into new ground,” said Sterling. “I know it sounds cheesy, but I think it’s getting down to where we are, it’s our first time to really do it, be it. We didn’t try to play it to any one group of people. We just made what we wanted to make.”

“We really push the envelope,” said Mendenhall. “We’re creating some music that’s not really been tried out before, some fresh bold music.”

Though the musicians are all in Virginia now, they come from around the world. Jamaica, Haiti, and the Midwest gave birth to this group.

“It boils down to wanting to connect with people,” said Sterling. “I’ve always connected more with people through music than otherwise.”

“And for me, it’s like a universal language,” added Mendenhall. “The most important language. I’m trying to be fluent in this language. You have to build up your vocabulary, and learn how to speak.”

And you can’t be ordinary.

Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at or phone at 949-0555, ext. 618.

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