2018-06-28 / Music Scene

SPOTLIGHT on Music

Friends Reign, in ‘Love Handle’
By Mark Gorman


Front: TJ Donovan, Elias Wheeler; Back: Dillion Stankowitz, Nick Krol, and Johnny Sage. Front: TJ Donovan, Elias Wheeler; Back: Dillion Stankowitz, Nick Krol, and Johnny Sage. Sometimes, there’s nothing better than a group of friends who form a band for the sheer joy of playing their own music. That’s the case with the local group, Love Handle.

The band is comprised of Johnny Sage on lead guitar, Dillion Stankowitz on acoustic guitar, Nick Krol on pedal steel, Elias Wheeler on bass, Ross Wheeler on saxophone and piano, Teddy Nabozny on lap steel and TJ Donovan on drums.

Newport This Week caught up with a couple of band members to ask why they love playing in Love Handle. Stankowitz, the band’s primary songwriter, didn’t hesitate. “I love playing… music with my friends. I pretty much only go out when I’m playing,” he said.

Donovan echoed those thoughts. “It’s all about friendship,” he said.


Mark Gorman is a retired high school guidance counselor and guitarist-vocalist who performs locally each week. Mark Gorman is a retired high school guidance counselor and guitarist-vocalist who performs locally each week. Donovan, who is relatively new to drumming, credits his bandmates with giving him the push to pursue the instrument. “Dillion and I were at a Fourth of July cookout and he told me to get a drum set. We went to look at some the next day and I bought one. He’s been stuck with me ever since,” he said.

The band, which plays folk and alternative country, writes all its own material. Stankowitz does most of the heavy lifting writing wise and it’s always a treat to hear him in Newport performing acoustic versions of his poignant tunes at the various open mics around town.

“A lot of his songs come from heartbreak,” Donovan said. “We all help, but Johnny Sage is a great arranger and we usually structure the songs together at rehearsal.”

This unpretentious collection of talented friends has developed a following and they’re catching on at local venues. Upcoming gigs include stops at The Parlor, Diego’s Barrio Cantina and a set at the second annual Live Local Festival on July 21.

“We can’t say enough good things about Live Local. This festival helps keep local art and music alive in the small city of Newport, something it really needs,” Donovan said.

For more information, follow @lov3handl3 on Instagram.

To Go

WHEN: Friday July 6, 9 p.m. -1 a.m.

WHERE: The Parlor, 200 Broadway

ADMISSION: $10

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