The Desert Pulse artist spotlight on Bila Gaana
Name: Bila Gaana
Genre: Acoustic Rock/Blues fusion
Hometown: Cedar City, UT
Band Members: Craig Newville–Vocals/Rhythm Guitar, Dave Guy–Lead Guitar, Earl Grimshaw–Bass, Dennis Green–Drums
Influences: Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, Frank Sinatra, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Black Sabbath, Hank Jr., Stevie Ray Vaughn, Black Crows, Dio, Eagles….and a never ending list…
Being a group performing original music, Bila Gaana (pronounced: Bill-a-Gone-a) like many bands, today–it is hard to stamp them with a specific genre.
Bila Gaana fans have compared their sound to Collective Soul meets Black Crows, or Days of the New meets the Allman Brothers Band. While the band’s founder, Craig Newville, compares their sound as “heck” meets “yeah.” Many of the songs invite you to get up and dance; others, take you away to your favorite spot at the beach, lake or river. But, all of their music has a positive message boosting the energy and mood of the listener. With a few cover songs thrown into the mix of originals, to offer something familiar to connect to, the audience and the band are taken to a blissful musical experience.
Anchored in Iron County, Bila Gaana formed in Cedar City, Utah in 1999 when singer/songwriter/guitarist Craig Newville sought to form a project to showcase original work as an alternative to the rock/metal cover bands he enjoyed playing with throughout the 90’s. He used the group’s love for the southwest desert and the adventures the local provides as an inspiration to bring a positive contrast to the more somber grunge metal music he loved performing. Newville decided he would continue this project, creating music with an uplifting message for as long as he was inspired to do so. Eighteen years and three albums later, Bila Gaana remains a strong and vibrant project in the southern Utah live music scene. He continues to perform rock cover tunes with local band Zion Curtain as well as other projects in the works to include and maintain balance of all his musical interests.
Newville’s music and lyrics are then complemented and completed by the lead guitar stylings of accomplished six string vet, Dave Guy. Performing across southern Utah since the 80’s, Guy has shared his masterful guitar talents with the southern Utah live music scene as a member of multiple acts. Most recently, as the axe man for local favorite Sucker Punch. Though his background partially includes metal–boxing him into this single style would be missing the majority of his capabilities as a guitarist. Based in St. George, Guy has held the respect of musicians throughout the region for decades. Joining the group in 2004, Guy brings a heavier edge that gives Bila Gaana’s acoustic sound some exploding fireworks without overpowering the listener. His ability to effortlessly cross back and forth between heated leads and clean channel chills makes watching him perform a delicious treat.
Bringing the low end to Bila Gaana on bass is Earl Grimshaw. Performing with the rock cover band TG (Talmage Gordon) in the mid-80’s is where Grimshaw debuted his musical career. He joined Bila Gaana in 2003, ending his nearly twenty-year break from music. Grimshaw was also a recent member of local cover band Ledloy Hex. When he is not building mountain bike trails “he slappa da bass.”
The most recent addition to the pack is Dennis Green on drums. Green has played with bands from Texas to L.A. and provides a solid base for the rhythm section. As a member of former acts such as Bottled Monkey, Starbird, and Sons of Mothers (to name a few) many will recognize his skills banging it out on the skins. Green has been a welcomed and valued member to the group since his first performance with Bila Gaana on the mainstage at Groovefest 2013.
Southern Utah is where the band members live and perform. You will find them playing a limited and selected number of shows per year as they are all “working stiffs.” From performances at FireHouse to Jazzy’s in St. George to Mike’s Tavern and Toadz in Cedar City coupled with numerous festival appearances (Groovefest Main Stage, Summer Jam Music Festival, Brian Head Brewfest/Festival of Flavours, Mudfest Music Festival) and several music benefit shows–it is a good chance you have seen them play. If not, it is time to see them. And, once you do, you will want to see them again and again. Bila Gaana plays a clean show with a positive, non-offensive message providing a little bit of something for everyone–Bila Gaana is great music!