November 25, 2020

VIDEO: Josh Cassell’s The Black Review: a small band with big plans

It starts with a countdown, one, two, three, four, before Josh Cassell and Scott Knipshild channel their feelings into another acoustic tune. These two men have formed a band together using only their guitars and Cassell’s voice.

Video by Kristen Schubert

The Black Review

Cassell and Knipshild formed the band The Black Review shortly after they met at Webster.

The duo decided to play their guitars at Music Folk, an acoustic and folk instrument shop in Webster Groves. Cassell said he knew he wanted to play with Knipshild because they just, “clicked.”

“I had never played with somebody where it just felt that fluid and natural to play with them,” Cassell explained. “It’s definitely the best musical experience that I’ve had in my life.”

The Black Review isn’t Cassell’s first experience in a band. He’s played guitar in a metal group, and sang and screamed in another. None of them lasted long, but Cassell said The Black Review’s music is a different direction from the sounds he’s produced in the past.

The Black Review

The Black Review has an acoustic sound with a mix of 90s, folk and progressive music. Some of their influences include jazz and classical guitar.

The idea for the name “The Black Review” refers to the moment near death when life flashes before your eyes.

“I like the idea of thinking about, you know, that moment before death and everyday treating (life) as if you don’t want to have regrets,” Cassell said. “When it comes time to look back on everything, you want to live your life the way that you would truly have liked to have lived it.”

And that’s exactly what Cassell is doing through his band.

Big Plans

Cassell is a media communications major. He’ll graduate this spring and plans to continue to work towards his master’s degree. But, Cassell wants to put his education on hold and focus on The Black Review.

The Black Review

The two-man band has travel plans once the semester is over. They’ve decided to stay in St. Louis for a while to write a full album and play with other artists. Cassell and Knipshild hope to tour the West Coast within six months after graduation. Points on their map include places like Montana, Washington, LA, Albuquerque and Colorado.

Cassell wants to take the time in between to take voice classes and teach guitar lessons. He’s played the guitar since he was 12, but Cassell believes he still has more to learn. He says that teaching guitar will enable him to develop a new perspective on his own work.

Cassell’s working with one student right now, but he hopes to teach more during the summer. As for his band, Cassell has one goal in mind.
“My current dream, that’s a realistic dream, is to play a show and see somebody in the audience that I’ve never met before singing the lyrics along with me.”

Cassell said he won’t have any regrets if The Black Review falls through. He will return to his college plans and continue to play the guitar.

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