By DELLA HETHCOX
What happens when musicians take a break from the exhausting tour life? They start another band. Or at least, that is what happened to Rob Bullington, the founding member of the Richmond band, Flight of Salt.
It was 2012 and Bullington was on a quest to find like-minded musicians who wanted to rock with him. He found three others: guitarist Ben Pruett, bassist Mike Clark and Brian Ahnmark, a multi-instrumentalist. Three of the members are Virginia natives, the sole exception being Ahnmark who hails from Ohio. Interestingly, Clark previously fronted the Fredericksburg band, Good Ol’ Fashioned Rodeo, before moving south to Richmond.
Previously, Bullington was a member of the Hackensaw Boys, a central Virginia band, for more than a decade. Each member of Flight of Salt, however, brings a unique musical history to their latest musical venture, creating an Americana sound that echoes their Richmond identity.
Bullington’s experiences with the Hackensaw Boys gave the band their name due to a tale with a very rock ‘n’ roll nature. After a show the hungry and tired newly founded band members headed to their hotel restaurant, only to find out that it was more than they could afford. “We couldn’t afford anything on the menu except a $25 item called ‘Flight of Salt,’” Bullington said.
As it turned out, it was really just five different varieties of exotic salt. But the waiter took pity on them and supplied the hungry musicians with bread.
“It struck me as really funny that we had just played a big show and were staying at a really nice hotel, but the only thing we could afford to buy was salt. It that’s not rock n’ roll, I don’t know what is,” Bullington explained.
According to their active Facebook page, they are just “four guys with simple names playing rock music on two guitars, a bass and some drums.” Although that sounds simple, their songs are anything but that.
Their musical tastes are “all over the map, we tend to evoke the sound of artists like Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and Neil Young with healthy doses of groups like The Clash and Nirvana to keep it real,” Bullington said. For, Flight of Salt attunes to original songs infused with the layered sounds of American alt-country and classic rock ‘n’ roll.
In addition to vocals and playing the guitar, Bullington serves as the band’s main songwriter. Out of the eight songs on their 2014 EP, “Starter,” Bullington wrote six.
Clark and Ahnmark are also experienced songwriters, Clark wrote “Hollywood” on their latest EP.
To round out their setlist, the band also covers classics during their performances in the Virginia area.
Between their studio space and the brewery, the members are able to practice at all hours of the day, unlike at their former space. It is only fitting that the band practices in a former warehouse along the James River, aptly situated across the street from a popular Richmond brewery.
“At our old practice shed the cops came a couple times. They were very nice but made it clear that we needed to turn down or find new digs. So, we found new digs,” Bullington said.
Although Richmond is known for its food, it is no surprise that these men prefer cheeseburgers. “[They] are the most rock ‘n’ roll snack there is. Except maybe fried chicken,” as Burlington accounts for.
Flight of Salt has toured throughout the Virginia area, as well as Washington D.C., playing events like the annual RVA Hogtober Fest in Church Hill and smaller venues such as The Camel in Richmond. As for the band’s favorite location to play a show?
Gypsy Sally’s in D.C. A venue that has all the details necessary for a good show for both the audience and the artists, Bullington said, which is a rare combination.
After the release of their EP, “Starter,” in 2014, the band quickly got to work on their next album.
“Starter” was recorded at the Minimum Wage Studio in Richmond’s Oregon Hill neighborhood by Lance Koehler over seven months. Their next album is in the works, as long as time and money allows. For Flight of Salt is working again with Minimum Wage Studio to produce another inspired album.
For the members of Flight of Salt, Minimum Wage Studio provides inspiration because it is located between the Hollywood Cemetery and a convenience store stocked with microbrews.
“The album is inspired by mortality and good beer,” Bullington joked On Nov. 14, along with fellow Richmond band Cagey Watt, Flight of Salt will play a small show at Colonial Tavern, which hosts live bands each weekend and remains a favorite spot for local music lovers in the Fredericksburg area.
The show starts at 9 p.m., and tickets cost $5. Do not forget to bring money for food, rumor has it that the Tavern’s food is fantastic, just not included in the $5 cover charge. Clark, the bassist, studied at the University of Mary Washington, so he knows the area well.
“Clark remembers a DeLoreon that was always parked on Washington Avenue. With all the recent hubbub over ‘Back to the Future,’ we’re going to check and see if it’s still there, or if it’s ‘disappeared,’” Bullington said.
Before their show, you might just catch the band taking a stroll down historic Washington Avenue, and if not, be sure to catch their show at the Tavern. Stay updated with their activities through their Facebook page, Flight of Salt, or their website.