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A Local Option for Your World Music Needs

By Staff | May 20, 2008

Lori McKinney is a vocalist and percussionist with Option 22, a very different world music band based out of Princeton. The band plays a mix of jamband, funk, folk, world music, newgrass, “trance,” reggae and rock. The Option 22 trio comes from a creative background of theater, healing arts and visual arts. For more info, check out www.option22.net.

Graffiti: What are your latest projects?

McKinney: We are working on a new studio release entitled, “On the Road to Somewhere,” and we are always focused on our home venue and performance space, The Room Upstairs in The RiffRaff Arts Collective in downtown Princeton, W.Va.

Graffiti: Who are your musical influences?

McKinney: We are influenced by everything we have ever heard, in particular world sounds by groups like Toubab Krewe, Raquy and the Cavemen and Telesma, the futuristic sounds of groups like Sound Tribe Sector 9 and the Captain Lazerblast Band and the heartfelt, revolutionary music of figures like John Lennon and our personal favorite, Michael Franti and Spearhead.


Graffiti: You have an eclectic mix of musical styles … how’d that come about?

McKinney: Our group has come together with a global consciousness and a vision for a better world. We keep our finger on the pulse of the revolutionary movement of sounds echoing all across the Earth and basically take in everything we hear. Our sound is fresh in the moment; most of our songs were written from improvisational sessions, where the music is just flowing from our souls like water.


Graffiti: Have you traveled to lots of different places to get your “world” sound?

McKinney: Modern communication is a miracle. We have been able to travel some. I gained a huge part of my inspiration from a semester abroad in London and globe trotting to Italy and Greece, but the rest of it is virtual travel, via the beloved Internet. Also, world music festivals like Floydfest and Bonnaroo are responsible for a big part of our exposure to these sounds.

Graffiti: What non-musical things inspire you?

McKinney: All three of us are multi-faceted artists. Robert is a photographer, painter, potter amongst other mediums, Albert is a healing arts professional and I am a dancer. All three are inspired by the opportunity to heal and improve the community through art and music, which is what we are doing at The RiffRaff Arts Collective in our hometown of Princeton (www.theriffraff.net ).  

Graffiti: What instruments do you play?

McKinney: I sing, play the djembe and dumbek drums, and do spoken word.

Graffiti: How old were you when you started playing?

McKinney: I started singing in choirs around 10.

Graffiti: Do you come from a musical family?

McKinney: I grew up with my grandpa playing mountain music on the guitar and harmonica and my older sister is an amazing singer.

Graffiti: What venues do you play in West Virginia?

McKinney: The Purple Fiddle (Thomas), Carnegie Hall (Lewisburg), The Room Upstairs (Princeton), Culturefest (Pipestem), Fire Creek Tavern (Fayeteville), the Wild Bean (Lewisburg), the Empty Glass (Charleston) and we’ll be playing FestivALL in Charleston this summer.

Graffiti: What music are you listening to these days?

McKinney: Radiohead (“In Rainbows”), Micheal Franti & Spearhead, the Weepies, Option 22, Kathleen Coffee, Briddy Morris, Matt Tote, Ron Perrone, The Weathered Road, the Clementines … a lot of independent music we bring through our venue, The Room Upstairs.

Graffiti: What are some of the biggest gigs you’ve played?

McKinney: Culturefest, Ridgestock, Earth Day festivals, Carnegie Hall and the Room Upstairs.

Contact Tamar at tfleishman@graffitiwv.com