Folk music and punk rock don't seem to go hand in hand. One is slow; the other is fast. One conjures images of flowing dresses and acoustic guitars; the other makes you think of ripped jeans and safety-pin piercings. But because both genres stem from protest, they often find a way to meet.
This Thursday, a slew of folk punks will make their way to Churchill's for the Land Show: Salty Dog Cruise Pre-Party. Ten bands, including Chicago's Flatfoot 56 and Boston's Mickey Rickshaw, will merge the quiet and the loud before setting sail on the three-day folk-punk Salty Dog cruise.
Unity Rise will represent Miami at the preparty. The quartet started in 2005 when upright bassist Missy Mortis and the band's one-named drummer, Dent, met at Pompano Indoor Skatepark. The two played together for years in the band Social Punks. When that project imploded, they started Unity Rise, a group that would have a more political agenda based on what Mortis called "radical revolutionary ideology."
With the addition of the banjo-playing Gio Garcia and a guitarist who goes by Vlad, Unity Rise became a unit inspired and influenced by the same music and ideas, including "revolutionary politics, '80s hardcore, [and] music from the labor and civil rights eras — mainly the Almanac Singers in terms of musical influence, especially Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Lead Belly," Mortis says. "The Almanac Singers really have inspired us a lot with what we try to do musically. Mixing that with the punk music that all of us grew up on brings you the sound of Unity Rise that we have today."
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Though they've lived all around South Florida, Mortis says only three things about Miami shaped them musically: "Gentrification. Cop abuse. Bourgeoisie excess." But living in Miami was still exciting, especially for the ability to play at Churchill's, alongside bands they admire. "There is, after all, no place like home," he says.
Though Unity Rise just last year contributed four songs to Flies on Shit, a collaborative album with Dirty Harry, the band in 2017 plans to release even more music and play many more shows, including some out-of-state dates. The most important goal for the band to accomplish this year, Mortis says, is to "just continue fueling the fire of revolution burning in the streets."