The Outcrops are one of New Jersey’s busiest rock bands; pretty much every weekend, they’re playing somewhere in the state, or beyond. And over the past few months, on many Thursday nights, singer-guitarist Cassidy Rain has been playing in the back room of Muckraker Beermaker in Franklin (Sussex County), solo or as a duo with the band’s guitarist (and her fiancé), Bryan Schroeder.
The duo show is a great way to showcase Rain’s earthy, powerful vocals and Schroeder’s fluid, lyrical lead guitar playing. A recent low-key but often mesmerizing show featured original songs as well as a far-ranging group of covers that included Bob Dylan’s “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go,” Van Morrison’s “Tupelo Honey,” Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason,” Ray Charles’ “Hallelujah I Love Her So,” the blues standards “Key to the Highway” and “Rock Me Baby” and others.
Schroeder says Muckraker owner Tom Troncone “is really trying to make it a listening room so, for us, it’s nice, acoustically.”
“It’s a great listening room,” says Rain, adding that it’s a place to get new material “out to a little bit of a crowd and see how it goes.”
The Outcrops released a live EP late last year, “so we’re not really working on a record right now, but we’re working on new tunes,” says Rain.
“We’ve been writing a bunch, so we’re trying to get all these new songs into our repertoire right now,” says Schroeder. “You might see a single or two within the next few months, or something like that. We might try to get into a studio and record a song or two.”
Rain and Schroeder, who currently live together in Milford, Pa., are the group’s songwriters. “We have lots of arrangement suggestions from our bass player and drummer, Jason (Casanovas) and Max (Adler), but they haven’t brought a full song to the table yet,” Rain says. “But we encourage them to.”
Schroeder and Rain’s musical influences “are a little bit different but they cross paths enough: Both of our influences are pretty related to one another,” Schroeder says. “Cassidy’s definitely more folk but also comes from a rock background. The same with me: My father introduced me to a lot of rock ‘n’ roll music and then that extends to the blues as well. I grew up listening to Buddy Guy and B.B. King, along with Eric Clapton, just to name a few artists. And then you start diving into that music a little deeper and then you find a whole wealth of insane talent from 50, 60 years ago.”
Some jazz influence can be heard in Schroeder’s playing as well.
“I didn’t really grow up listening to that kind of stuff,” he says. “But once you start diving into the rock musicians’ world, you realize where a lot of these guys were taking stuff from, and a lot of improvisational music stems from Miles Davis and Coltrane and all those guys. So you start listening to those records and something clicks, where you’re like, ‘It’s relatable to rock music.’ ”
The Outcrops first came together in 2016, playing, originally, “on a more relaxed basis,” says Rain. Over the last four or five years, they’ve become more serious about the band, and have concentrated on original material.
She explains the band’s name this way: “In geology, it’s like an outstanding rock formation: a piece of rock that sticks out above other things. We thought it was a good play on words, since we played rock ‘n’ roll music.”
“It’s kind of unique, in a way,” adds Schoeder, “where people will ask us, ‘Oh, what does that mean?’ It has people guessing and just kind of intrigued by the term itself.”
Rain and Schroeder will play as a duo at Muckraker Beermaker in Franklin on March 24.
The Outcrops’ upcoming New Jersey shows include Sheridan’s Lodge in Newton, March 25; Muckraker Beermaker in Franklin, April 1; 22 West Tap & Grill in Bound Brook, April 22; the Manville Food Truck Festival, April 23; and Finnegan’s in Hoboken, April 30. Future Muckraker Beermaker shows are scheduled for May 27, July 15 and Aug. 19.
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