Ohio Civil Power Brings Its Brand of Outlaw Americana to Mahall’s Wednesday

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click to enlarge Ohio Civil Power - Photo by Brian Cade
Photo by Brian Cade
Ohio Civil Power

Ohio Civil Power saddles up at the Locker Room at Mahall's Wednesday night along with Nashville-based singer-songwriter Zack Joseph and local artist Austin Adams for a show filled with Americana and outlaw country music.

The creative voice behind OCP is Chris Sikon. Originally from Concord, Sikon has for years been dishing out tunes ranging from rough and rowdy protest songs like “I Dreamed America was On Fire” to the tender, hand-holding ballad “Can’t Help But Loving You.” The band's first self-titled album was released in 2020, followed by Murder! in 2021, and have a third album already in the works.

“I’m trying to do a new thing in my own way, all these influences: rock and roll, country western and hip hop, classical music and combine it into a new thing, where it’s coming through a new mind,” says Sikon. “If you can put all those influences through a new mind, something new is gonna’ come out."

Sikon had a band called, simply, Me several years ago before scampering off to live in Texas for a spell. When he returned to Cleveland one Christmas, he was pleasantly surprised when he stumbled upon a Honky-Tonk Night at The Winchester in Lakewood and saw there were some like-minded musicians on the pulse drawing from similar influences and playing some complementary music to what he was working towards.

With acts like Corey Grinder, Joe Wunderle, Austin Stambaugh, Mike Uva, Merry Go Ronders and Joseph Allen Beltram coming out of the Rust Belt, there clearly has been growing reclamation of the Country Western/Americana genres in Cleveland.

“I think we have something really special going on here in Cleveland that’s really just starting to develop,” says Sikon.

Ohio Civil Power is Sikon and ‘the boys,’ as he refers to them, which includes his Brother Matthew Sikon on keys and guitar, Steve Kessler on drums, Nick Yanosko on bass, and the Tebbs Karney on pedal steel. Corey Grinder, whose band The Playboy Scouts was recently featured on NPR, will occasionally join them on fiddle. The Sikons are a musical family: Sikon’s sister, Jess Sikon, fronts the dreamy Cleveland band, John’s Little Sister.

Their father and uncles are musicians, and on road trips growing up they were exposed to the likes of Willie Nelson, The Eagles, BB King, Hank Williams and Eric Clapton.

“There were always instruments around when I was growing up and once we got old enough to actually hold them and play them, he showed me some stuff and then we all picked it up,” says Sikon.

OCP, it's worth noting, do a heart-wrenching cover of Willie Nelson’s “Laws of Nature” on their latest album.

“You’d probably consider us like Outlaw Americana,” says Sikon. "It’s basically just a musical militia with guitars and shit instead of rifles.”
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