NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Since the first gig in the College Avenue Student Center in 2013, Cold Weather Company's music has always come straight from the heart.
So it seems appropriate that these Rutgers-students-turned-indie-music-darlings would celebrate the sixth anniversary of their first show by doing something to make their community - and the world - a little better.
The Cold Weather Cleanup, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 16, is not only an invitation for fans and friends from New Brunswick and the surrounding communities to join the band as they collect litter. It's also a way for fans of the independent alternative folk band far and wide - they have about 10,000 followers on Instagram and 8,000 followers on Facebook - to connect with the band.
Steve Shimchick, who is one-third of Cold Weather Company with Brian Curry and Jeff Petescia, had recently started cleaning trash here and there as he walked into New Brunswick from his home in Highland Park. On one walk about a month ago, he had an ah-ha moment.
"What if instead of having an anniversary show, which is typically what we've done, what if we tried to bring together our listeners worldwide and do a community thing," Shimchick said. "And as I was picking up trash, I thought, 'You know, Cold Weather Cleanup has a nice ring to it, a nice impact and no matter where our listeners are, it's an issue that impacts everybody.'"
The details of Cold Weather Cleanup are still being worked out by the band, but the band members will make announcements on their Instagram account, but fans are making plans to take part no matter where they are.
To thank those who celebrate Cold Weather Cleanup whether they are in New Orleans or Newfoundland or elsewhere, Shimchick said that the band will send a specially designed sticker and a thank you note to anyone who posts photos of them taking part.
Several fans, including some in New Zealand, are also coordinating their efforts for The Cleanup through the band's Discord chat channels. Those channels have also become a place for the band to interact with their fans and for their fans to interact with each other.
"We have channels inside Discord, like cooking, where you can post recipes, or comedy, where people can post memes," Shimchick said. "But we have one called Cold Weather Comfort and it was prompted when someone recently came into a chat and said, 'Hey, I really need someone to talk to and I don't' have anywhere else to go.'"
Since their days at Rutgers, when they recorded parts of their first two albums in Shimchick's dorm room on Busch campus, their music has always been a melodic refuge for its fans. This wasn't some edgy garage band. These guys wore their hearts on their denim jacket sleeves and that's never changed.
For example, Shimchick said some of the songs on their most recent album, "Find Light," were inspired by Curry's struggles with depression and anxiety.
The album, released in January, also represents a musical quantum leap. The lean guitars and keyboard sound that was the signature sound in the first two albums, 2015's "Somewhere New" and 2016's "A Folded Letter," has been expanded in the third album by the addition of percussion, bass, brass instruments and string arrangements.
The band is as busy as ever. They're playing tonight at Barca City Cafe and Bar at 47 Easton Ave. in New Brunswick. Earlier this week, Cold Weather Company released a recording of The Penguins' 1954 doo-wop hit "Earth Angel."
Shimchick said they've been writing new material and hope to put out a new album next year.
"The past couple of months have probably been the most organized, most focused for us," he said. "We've always been grinding and trying as best as we can, but I think next year is going to be supercritical. We're hoping to set up a more extensive tour and have more releases and all that."