Music community to pay tribute to drummer

By Josette Keelor

Winchester’s music community will gather Saturday at Blue Fox Billiards Bar and Grill to remember Stephens City’s Brian Bayliss, drummer and founding member of the band Monolith. Bayliss died June 10 at the age of 35, leaving behind two young sons and thousands of friends and fans.

He also played drums for the Stephens City band Chad See & The Timber Ridge Band.

Conrad Coffman, owner of Blue Fox Billiards, has known Bayliss for years.

“Brian was a fantastic friend,” Coffman said. “He was a great father and was an incredible asset to the music community.”

Jay Powell, of the band Bar Code, started a memorial page for Bayliss on Facebook.

“Within a few days, it’s gotten over 1,000 likes on it,” he said, “if that can give you any indication how much Brian was liked.”

Powell said he’s known Bayliss “since probably the beginnings of Monolith.

“I was in another band. I was in a band called Wicked Jack. I remember us doing a CD release party at Wayside Theater,” he said, laughing, “and his mother was up there slapping up Monolith fliers.”

Bayliss and his brother Eric began Monolith in 1994 when they were teenagers, and their current guitarist, Tim Artz of Strasburg, joined shortly after, in 1996.

I think it was sort of Brian’s idea,” Artz said. He remembered Eric was 15 or 16 when they picked up Artz. They were having artistic differences with their other two band mates. The brothers wanted to start performing original songs, but the others didn’t.

“[The brothers] wanted to focus on being an original band,” Artz said. And that’s what they did. Brian and Eric Bayliss moved forward with Artz, soon signing on a fourth member, Reece Scruggs, and they’ve been going strong ever since.

“The only thing that’s really changed is Reece moved to Denver, and we got another guitar player,” Artz said. “Nothing else really changed. We kind of found our niche.”

That niche is thrash music, he said. “It officially became our sound.”

The band members had been friends with new guitarist Kyle Luttrell for years, Artz said. “We kind of had our eyes on him anyway.”

“He has another band, Animas,” said Artz, who also plays guitar for Bar Code.

And Bayliss, he said, loved music in general, performing thrash with Monolith and a variety of classic rock and top 40 country with Chad See and The Timber Ridge Band.

Since Monolith was supposed to have headlined Saturday night’s musical lineup at Blue Fox, the evening has turned into a tribute to Bayliss. The band Defending Cain volunteered to take Monolith’s slot as headliner, with Animas and Unto Thee performing earlier.

Coffman said 100 percent of the proceeds from that evening, as well as any donations and money from a silent auction, will go to a college fund for Bayliss’ sons, London James, 6, and Collin Daniel, 8.

Most silent auction items were donated by other area bands, Coffman said.

A set of cymbals Bayliss had sold, but which the buyer never used, will be up for auction, Coffman said — “An actual set of Brian Bayliss’ old cymbals.”

The band Trouble Maker also donated an acoustic guitar for the auction.

Before the performances, at 6 p.m., will be an acoustic eulogy that Powell organized with Jeremy Dove of Defending Cain.

“If anyone wants to do an acoustic song, that’s fine,” Powell said. Guests are also welcome to speak about Bayliss or his family.

Powell said Bayliss’ death hit him hard when he learned about it from his sister, who found out on Facebook. She thought he already knew when she phoned him.

Artz said he doesn’t know what caused Bayliss’ death, but suspected residual injuries from a car accident on Nov. 10, 2010 contributed. Since then, Artz said, Bayliss had been on medication and had been prone to seizures.

In the accident, both of his legs were broken and his left ankle shattered. “I think his ribs were broken,” Artz said. “His body was just basically crushed.”

But the injuries didn’t keep his friend down for long, and Bayliss returned to Monolith about six months later.

“He was playing drums before he could even walk again,” Artz said.

“Ever since then he’s just been in a constant struggle, a lot of pain, but he just forced himself to do what he loved to do,” Artz said.

Powell said area bands are interconnected. — “We’re a pretty tight scene, actually.”

Bayliss gave guitar lessons and ran Red Velvet Recording in Winchester, Coffman said.

“And then for a while Brian ran sound up here at Blue Fox.”

He said it was fitting to hold the memorial event at Blue Fox, where Bayliss spent so much of his time.

“Brian had touched a lot of people in this town, had a lot of friends,” he said.

Monolith also has had a large impact on the community.

“They supported the local music scene in every way that they possibly could,” Coffman said.

Artz said he and Eric Bayliss will have to decide later whether or not to keep Monolith going. It won’t be the same without Brian Bayliss.

“I’m just kind of taking it as it comes,” Artz said. “He’s just a good friend and good musician.”

Blue Fox Billiards Bar and Grill is at 1160 Millwood Pike in Winchester. Saturday’s acoustic eulogy for Brian Bayliss will be from 6 to 8:30 p.m., with Unto Thee, Animas and Defending Cain performing afterward, beginning at 9 p.m. A $5 cover charge and all other donations will go to the Bayliss family. For more information, call 540-662-0011 or visit www.bluefoxbilliards.com.

Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com