Arts & Entertainment

45th Parallel working hard to gain fans

With more than 50 shows under their belt, members of the Richland rock trio 45th Parallel are into setting ambitious goals.

"That's our new minimum for 2009," said lead singer and guitarist Mike Rhodes. "At least 50 shows in one year."

The band is negotiating shows as far out as October, with several shows already scheduled for each month. They're also continuing to push their LP take 2, and are hard at work on their second album, due out at the end of this year.

"(The 45th Parallel) is the section of the globe that we are going to dominate first," Rhodes said with a seriousness that would make anyone almost believe him as he explained the group's name.

These guys seem focused and driven. They are willing to put in hard work and to reap the rewards. Nearly six years after their first show, Mike and his younger brother and drummer Rob Rhodes say they're confident in their music and in their newest member, bassist Jason Wright.

Mike said Wright "stepped in" about a year ago after Mike Cook left. "We did a couple shows in Spokane that were acoustic. The next week we had three shows with Jason and he definitely jumped into the fire."

Now, after a six-month trial period, Wright's smoke jumping has paid off, landing him a permanent position with the band. And with a lineup now set, the guys say they're working on getting exposure, not just for themselves but for the Tri-Cities in general.

"We're trying to focus on how we can help rebuild the local music scene," Mike said. "Try and breathe some life back into it."

Knocking on the doors of radio stations has gained them airplay on KTCV 88.1, KXRX 97.1 and KEOL 91.7. The band also is enjoying endorsements from Coffin Case and RotoSound Music Strings.

Their next goal is to perform at Bumbershoot: Seattle's Music & Arts Festival in September. In the meantime, band members are making sure their music is heard. They've distributed more than 600 copies of take 2, and Mike admits some of the CDs were given away for free at shows to people who couldn't afford to buy it.

"Music is not supposed to be competitive," he said. "It's for fun, an expression of yourself. First and most important is to get the music out."

Though they may not be making a giant profit off their album sales, their willingness to travel has paid off. The group is quickly building a following in Seattle, where fans are eager to buy their merchandise.

Last month, Mike said, he "sold the beanie off of my own head. If it got to the point where we could replace work with music, I would be perfectly happy with that."

While group members aren't looking to quit their day jobs just yet, they know they have a great support system for when they do. "When (my kids are) in the car, they want to hear Daddy's music," Mike said with a smile.

45th Parallel's next show is at 9 p.m., Jan. 20 at the Parkade in Kennewick.

Their album is available for $10 through iTunes, CD Baby, Napster, Hastings and Digstation. For more information, go to