After more than five years, 100 Acre Wood to change name

By Kevin Gibson

Louisville-area music fans might call it the end of an era; one could also argue that it was merely an inevitable change.

Whatever the case, with the release of its new album sometime in January, the band long known as 100 Acre Wood will change its name to a simpler, more obscure one-word moniker: Digby.

While the band has long known that the name 100 Acre Wood could be problematic because of The Mouse (Disney owns the rights to Winnie the Pooh and all the characters and places within that realm), it also found out in recent years about another, California-based band with the name 100 Acre Wood.

Ironically, both bands are, in a sense, native to the Louisville area. The California version of 100 Acre Wood includes two Southern Indiana members, brothers Kevin and Mark Harrod, formerly of Clarksville, Ind. All the members of the local 100 Acre Wood also are Southern Indiana natives.

Mark Book, the drummer for Louisville's 100 Acre Wood, said he met the drummer from the Sacramento version, Mark Harrod, once when Harrod was playing with another local band, the Marlins.

"And Kevin came to one of our shows and got a CD," Book recalled, though he couldn't recall how long ago it was when that meeting took place. "They had the name even then. He thought they were really clever when they thought of the name, but there are really like 10 other bands that have it."

"There's at leat two or three I know of in California" using the name 100 Acre Wood, according to Mark Harrod, who said he came up with the name because he happened to be reading a Winnie the Pooh book at the time. "At the time, I liked the rhythm of the three words. It was something everyone could recognize."

Asked if he feared dealing with Disney, Harrod said his feelings were quite the contrary. "I'm hoping to get big enough where it could be a big deal. It would be cool to have that kind of attention."

Don't discount that possibility. Harrod's 100 Acre Wood released a CD last year that won a best of Sacramento award. The band recently got a distribution deal with Cargo Records, so the album should be showing up in stores nationwide soon.

The local incarnation of 100 Acre Wood came about the name somewhat by accident, according to bassist Ben Schneider.

"True story: It was pulled out of a hat," Schneider said. As Schneider tells the tale, about five years before the current 100 Acre Wood ever formed, lead vocalist Paul Moeller and former member Nate Thumas were trying to form a singing group. They couldn't decide on a name, so at a party one night they wrote down several possible names on slips of paper, put them into a hat, and had Schneider draw out a winner.

"So I put in my hand and pulled out 100 Acre Wood," Schneider said. The singing group never materialized, but "years later when Paul and Nate and I started playing together, I remembered that party where I pulled out 100 Acre Wood, so that's what we chose."

Not long ago, however, Book was searching and did a search on 100 Acre Wood, looking for one of his band's songs. "Five of their songs popped up," Book said.

That, along with the departure of founding member Thumas, brought about the decision to change. When the search for a new name got under way, the band found it more difficult than they'd expected.

"For months we've been trying to find a brand new name," Schneider said. "We've compiled lists, we've solicited people. One night we got drunk and tried to think up a good name. Everything we came up with was illegal, immoral or just stupid."

One of the early favorites was Leghorn, Schneider said, "for about two days." Then guitarist Rich Oeffinger suggested Mitochondria, because it is "the powerhouse of the cell." Other failed ideas followed.

"Paul and I really liked Mach Genius," Schneider said. "Mark wanted to call us the Benjamins. I didn't like it because my name is Benjamin. We all had names we liked but nothing everybody liked.

"One day we were driving down to Bowling Green to play a gig. Rich and John (Shiner, the band's violinist) were in a car together and they passed a truck that had letters really big on the side that said 'Digby.' They turned to each other, lightning struck and everything, and they said that was it."

The band looked the word up on the Internet and found Digby Trucking Co., which recently was bought out by another trucking company.

"I didn't get excited until we found a town called Digby in Nova Scotia," Schneider said. "Apparently, it was named after this great Admiral Digby who killed a lot of people or something. I started liking it because it had that Sgt. Pepper's appeal."

"I love it because it has no significance whatsoever," said Moeller. "For another, we've been 100 Acre Wood for so long (more than five years). It felt right. It felt like a necessary change. I think we've changed, not only in the lineup but as individuals."

It won't alter the musical approach, Moeller said, but "we've never really had a specific musical approach to begin with. It's always just been us saying 'What can we do that we've never done?' I don't think you can run out of those ideas, because everything has already been done anyway."

On the business side, there is also The Mouse to think about. The band's manager, Bob Rutherford, put it thusly: "If they get signed, the record company is just going to make them change it anyway."

Officially, the name change will begin with the band's album release party for "Laughing at the Trees," sometime in mid- to late January. The only unanswered question is: How long will the band's new name appear with the phrase "formerly 100 Acre Wood" under it in parentheses?

"I hadn't actually thought of that," Moeller said, pausing to consider the ramifications of such a thing. His conclusion: "I don't care. I'm not worried." -30-