PICK: Model Citizen at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Sunday, Aug. 20


Model Citizen will bring its Alabama-born, live-wire garage rock to Hardywood Park Craft Brewery for a free show on Sunday, Aug. 20.

The group is fronted by Matt Patton, the versatile singer, guitarist and songwriter who thousands of Richmonders saw perform in April on Brown’s Island in his role as bassist for the Drive-By Truckers. Patton is also known for his work with rock band the Dexateens, and for his label and studio, which both go by the name Dial Back Sound.

Model Citizen’s beginnings reach back to the mid-1990s, during the summer after Patton graduated high school in Jasper, Alabama, which is northwest of Birmingham. While the earliest versions of the group adopted an early punk sound, it was garage rock in another sense. “We would play anywhere,” Patton remembers. “We would play on the loading dock down at the music store in town, or my neighbor’s garage, or somebody’s yard. Wherever they would let us set up.”

The band’s lineup and name shifted over the course of the handful of years that followed, but Model Citizen’s current form and sound firmed up in 2000, around the time Patton moved to Birmingham and began playing with the group’s current drummer, Mike Gault. “Having Mike in the band really let me stretch out and write more anthemic things that I like to write,” Patton says. “We went from sounding like early Clash to early 1970s Who.”

Bassist Craig Gates was also part of that early 2000s run, when Model Citizen started making strides playing clubs around the South. The band revisited some of the material they played around that time via a live album recorded at Dial Back Sound and released in March. “When we had some downtime over the lockdown,” Patton says, “we decided to get together and do live studio versions of our reliable set material from back in the day with the keyboards added.”

Those keyboards come courtesy of a more recent addition: Patton’s multi-instrumental Drive-By Truckers bandmate, Jay Gonzalez. The organ sounds that Gonzalez brings to “Live at Dial Back Sound” immediately transport the listener to a golden age of fiery, freewheeling rock. “He really gets it,” Patton says of Gonzalez. “We share a common interest in garage rock from late 1960s and early 1970s, power pop [and] punk rock, so he understood the assignment very well.”

The lineup is steeped in history in more ways than one, as Patton revels in the group’s ability to incorporate the numerous and varied experiences band members have had as individuals since initially playing together two decades ago. “We’re older, we’re wiser, we know how to do things that we didn’t understand back then,” Patton says. “We have more discipline, we know more people, so we’re just trying to make sure that with the limited time we do have to go out that we do everything right.”

Patton has his sights set on recording new Model Citizen material later in 2023. For now, their current run of East Coast shows offers a fresh opportunity to promote “Live at Dial Back Sound” and bring a unique, throwback energy to fans of wide-open, heart–pounding rock.

“I had a producer in Detroit that I really respect, that I think a lot of, come to see the band,” Patton says, “and he said that Model Citizen was for people who liked Question Mark and the Mysterians but also liked Deep Purple.”

Well worth dialing up on a summer Sunday afternoon.

Model Citizen will perform at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery on Ownby Lane on Sunday, Aug. 20. Woody Woodworth & The Piners will also perform. The event starts at 2 p.m. and ends at 6 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit hardywood.com.