Band: The Royal Court of China.
Personnel: Joe Blanton, vocals, guitar; Oscar Rice, guitar; Robert Logue, bass, mandolin; Chris Mekow, drums.
History: Logue and Rice became best friends while high school students in the Nashville area, sharing diverse musical tastes that range from Tibetan ritual music to English and American folk to such new rock as the Gun Club. In 1985 the two began playing with Wisconsin native Mekow, who soon brought them together with Blanton, then a fine-arts major at the University of Tennessee. Taking a name that would separate it from Nashville's country image, the quartet soon became a regular in the city's active but often overlooked rock scene. Within two months after forming, the band recorded an EP, "Off the Beat'n Path." The record gained some alternative radio play around the U.S. and drew the attention of A&M executive David Anderle, who signed the Royal Court after seeing a performance in Nashville last December. The band recently released its debut album, "The Royal Court of China," and is currently making its first tour as one of the acts on the free "Four Play Tour," which also includes three other worthy new groups: Hurrah!, Will & the Kill and the Northern Pikes.