Flanfire (Duggan Flanakin) is bringing LIFE to Austin music -- and telling the world how sweet it is!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Tambaleo was the scene, and the Melody Mann CD release party was the occasion. Folks, this is a nice club for music (though it is more likely to have a DJ than a live band) - sizable, with a low but large enough stage, and lots of comfortable couches and chairs and a superbabe bartender and a new (smoking) patio. PLUS a parking lot - just north of the railroad tracks at 302 Bowie.

The Manns had laid out quite a spread for their honored guests (and there were many dozens of them on hand, including members of Free Brass Cartel, keyboardist Thomas Mann's jazz group that is playing again next Friday at The Bugle Boy in LaGrange) - and we all pigged out! Kudos to those who remembered this was a 7 pm show!

The new disc is "Hard Road," and features clothes horse Kelly Williams-Mann in her trademark threads (good photos) giving anyone with an eye and an ear the info needed to comprehend that this woman actually sings a Janis Joplin tune (and she DID, with Thomas alone on the keyboard to back her vocal). The band - which has had a constant lineup for quite a while - includes Bill Crock on guitars, Scott Beardsley on bass (got to meet his daughter Alison, a budding musician and hurdler at Westlake High who wants to get her friends' bands on the Internet); Jeff Jeffries on bass; David Gilden on trumpet; and Kevin Gibbs on sax. Other contributors to the tunes were Kyle Clayton on bass (3 songs), Marcus Caldwell on sax, and Alexis Ebbets on violin. The CD was recorded at Ben Blank's studio .

The band opened up with a cut from the new CD - "Dirty Little Secrets" - and the smoke just seemed to appear in the balllroom. Kelly is almost too nice to be nasty - but she is most definitely funky. She wrote or co-wrote with hubby Thomas all of the songs on the CD, which starts off with a story about the dearly departed "Inza's Lonesome Coyote Saloon," a longtime watering hole in Corpus Christi where Stevie Ray and other Texas legends used to play and folks used to gather for many good times. My favorite on the CD, "My Way Home," features the band's horn section (as do many other songs), while

"Higher State of Unconsciousness" is all about what to do (or not) when you get bad news at home, on the job, and in life in general. "Grab Yourself (Some Happiness)" (which featues Clayton and Ebbets) ... well, whaddya think it's about? "Omnipresent Mama" is Williams-Mann's paean to the memory (and ongoing presence in her heart) of her mother, while "Some Time To Get Together" and "Another Day" are songs of good ideas about how to live life. "Dirty Little Secrets" reminds us that Corpus is really Peyton Place ... and on and on.

Melody Mann's players have high levels of competence, and they are comfortable to watch whether in a cozy lounge or in a much larger venue -- you can listen to this record at home wearing your comfy clothes and old soft shoes, sipping your favorite libation and watching (as Shelley King would say) the sun go down.

One note of significance -- Thomas' jazz band - Free Brass Cartel - has its second gig at The Bugle Boy in LaGrange this Friday (March 3) -- lovers of real instrumental jazz will really enjoy the music the guys put forth and especially Thomas Mann's own originals.

BTW - I also caught up with the Manns at Waterloo Ice House on Sixth and Lamar on Friday night (they had a later gig, and I wanted my CD copies early). Stuck around a while to catch part of the set from Catch A Dream, a band featuring Doug Marsh on guitar and vocals and Richard Parke on guitar, fiddle, and flute -- plus their significant others. A very listenable sound these guys put forth -- I will have to catch a full set as soon as possible.

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