Birds Cage band
Birds Cage plays at Mansfield Music Fest in August, 2023. They will headline Friday night at Newsroom After Hours.

MANSFIELD — Richland Source’s Newsroom After Hours concert series will make a return Sept. 15 featuring artists both new and pioneering to Mansfield’s spirited music scene.

The free show, hosted at Richland Source’s newsroom in Mansfield and powered by local sponsors Potent Studios, Doc’s Deli and The Phoenix Brewing Co., opens its doors at 6:30 p.m. with the first act starting around 7 p.m. at Idea Works, 40 West Fourth St.

Friday night’s lineup:
1. Chico’s Brother & The Foster Kidz (7 p.m.)
2. G.D.M. (7:30 p.m.)
3. The Gerds (8:00 p.m.)
4. Mike Dasher (8:30 p.m.)
5. Birds Cage (9:00 p.m.)

Friday’s show will be the third such concert of the 2023 season. The sonic talent has ranged from hip-hop to punk to alt-rock to whatever the heck The Touch is. 

The wacky amalgamation of music to be heard during an After Hours concert series is exactly the point, said organizer Zac Hiser. 

“(After Hours) exists to spotlight original, independent music in Mansfield and the surrounding areas. And then to connect people in Mansfield to those bands,” Hiser said. 

Friday’s show will showcase collaboration in Chico’s Brother and the Foster Kidz, a newcomer in G.D.M., interchangeable regulars in The Gerds and Birds Cage, and a D.C. resident returning to his home turf. 

It’s a perfect coming-together of live, original music that Hiser said beautifully captures the essence of the Mansfield music scene: camaraderie and community.

‘There’s an energy here’

But don’t take Hiser’s word for it. 

Mike Dasher, the fourth act of Friday’s five-band lineup, graduated from Mansfield Senior High School in 1995 — before most of the musicians performing Friday night were born. 

He’s lived in Washington, D.C. for the last 12 years, but he visits Mansfield often to visit family. When he does, he makes it a point to catch a show. 

“When I grew up here, there was no music scene. I would have loved to have that. It’s refreshing to see how all the creative, younger people are supporting each other, joining each other’s bands, being a community,” he said. 

Dasher remembered the first show he caught on one of those visits back to Mansfeld. Aurelio Diaz invited him to one of his La Luna shows.

“I thought, ‘wow, there’s an energy here.’ And now I’m just hooked on it,” he said. 

Chico’s Brother and the Foster Kidz

Speaking of Diaz, the man behind one of Mansfield’s longest-living solo acts Chico’s Brother, is returning to the After Hours stage after first appearing in 2016. Chico’s Brother and the Foster Kidz will serve as Friday’s opening act.

“A lot has changed since then,” he said. Always a supporter and promoter of local music and artists, Diaz hosted shows out of his flat on South Park Street, then out of his apartment along Walnut Street. Then, he became a Mansfield city councilman. 

One thing that has stayed constant, however, is his drive to make music and share it locally.

“I write more now than ever,” Diaz said.

He’s also one of the brains behind 419 Renditions, a project that randomly pairs local bands together to cover each other’s songs. The project inspired The Foster Kidz, a duo hailing from Mansfield and Columbus, to cover several Chico’s Brother songs.

The Foster Kidz covers of Diaz’s tunes sort of led them to an eventual collaboration, said Henrietta Paisley, the drummer for The Foster Kidz. 

The pairing happened serendipitously: Diaz wanted more “upbeat” sounds in his music and Paisley and frontman, Thomas Barrett III, wanted an outlet for sharing their music. 

“It’s been a fun collaboration,” Paisley said. “(Diaz) was really open minded and encouraged us about trying different things.” 

That open mindedness is just one of the characteristics of Mansfield’s multi-faceted music scene being led by a younger generation of musicians.

And some of them will take the stage Friday.

Introducing G.D.M.

Gabe Diemer, frontman of G.D.M., said he’s always wanted to perform at After Hours. 

“It’s been one of my favorite shows to go see. I’ve always wanted to do it,” he said. The Mansfield native, who now lives in Canton, will be joined by three other musicians to perform songs he describes as “alt pop rock.”

“There are some psychedelic mixtures in there at times. And there are down times when I have a sad song or ballad or whatever. For the most part, I try to keep it upbeat. And I keep the sound everywhere,” he said. 

Hiser said he listened to G.D.M. and enjoyed the sound, which combines influences from The Cranberries, Pink Floyd, Nirvana and Diemer’s favorite Mansfield band, Birds Cage — Friday’s headliner. 

In fact, one of Diemer’s songs on the 2021 album release “In Chaos” features a cover of a Birds Cage song: Spot for Me.

Listen to G.D.M. on Spotify.

The Gerds

The Gerds is a product of the pandemic, and yes, the moniker is a nod to the medical reflux condition. 

Chase Beaire, the frontman, said things started as simple jam sessions with Nick Ulery, frontman from Mansfield band The Magnavox’s. At the time, Ulery suffered from an annoying case of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

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Beaire said they categorized their music as “virus rock” in the early days, with influences from The Cure and Gang of Four. As more musicians joined, The Gerds sound morphed into something that more resembles “nothing in particular.” 

“It’s a fun project. We’re just going with it,” Beaire said, who added his music endeavors have always been about pursuing the love of music with friends.

Listen to The Gerds on Spotify.

Mike Dasher

Friday will be Dasher’s debut at After Hours. 

But it’s also the first time he’s performed in Mansfield and the first time performing as a solo act — though he’ll still have a Mansfield native join him on stage to perform his signature post-punk, ambient sound.

“I’m excited to perform with all these bands,” he said. “Just honored to be playing alongside them … being in the scene and feeling the energy.”

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He said he wishes the music scene in the nation’s capital more resembled Mansfield’s, “where you have the same bass or drum player also in another band.”

“They support each other. They know each other. There’s more experimentation like that in Mansfield than in D.C.,” Dasher said. 

Listen to Mike Dasher on Spotify.

Birds Cage

Friday’s headliner, Birds Cage, has been a fixture to Mansfield’s music scene for nearly a decade, which makes sense. Frontman Braden “Bird” Wachtel said his main goal with the band is longevity. 

“My main goal with Birds Cage is not to make it onto any certain stage, not to make dollars — no profit. I think it’s just longevity. If I’m 60 years-old and we’re still known as Birds Cage, and our music is accessible. That’s it,” he said. 

But it’s also about paying tribute to his love for music. He got into trouble back in high school, which led to a lot of alone time. 

“That’s probably the biggest reason I fell in love with music. My parents were getting divorced and I turned to bad friends at school. We were partying, and then I got kicked out (of school),” Wachtel said. 

The time removed from school turned him to playing music with his guitar. 

“That’s when I got down to business,” he remembers. 

Business is good. 

“We’re making memories and there’s camaraderie. It’s been a big boost to my sense of self worth,” he said. 

Listen to Birds Cage on Spotify.

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