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

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Zee and Lee(ann) -- Gypzee Soul!
The Queen of the Barn Dance, Leeann Atherton, is about to go on a lengthy tour. No big surprise, you say -- after all, she just released two brand-spanking-new CD's, "Mama's House" and "Everyday Dream." But, NO! The tour, which begins at the Hop Bottom Festival in Pennsylvania and stretches to California and Oregon this summer, will continue (with some interruptions) through until November's WonderJam in Amsterdam (and who knows where beyond there!), will feature Leeann and new partner Zhenya Rock (Flying Balalaika Brothers, Red Elvises, Zeegrass) in their new duo act, Gypzee Soul.
The band made its debut at the July 1st Barn Dance in Leeann's own back yard -- seven rousing songs, all written by Zhenya with Leeann helping on lyrics -- with Leeann on vocals, shakers, and harmonica and Zhenya playing balalaika, banjo, guitar, and bass balalaika (with his loops working here and there as well). The most amazing thing here is that Leeann is no longer the savvy soul and blues singer from her longtime Friday night gigs at Maria's Taco's -- she is a young chanteuse full of life energy that belies the fact that she has two sons of considerable size and increasing age and has labored as a teacher and done other jobs for many years.
Must be the water (er, the rain that amazingly refused to fall during the barn dance -- heck, the SUN made an appearance during the Gypzee Soul set!). But what songs -- and what joy this happy pair brought to their friends and extended family. "Show Me In," "Time" (which you can check out at the gypzee soul myspace page), "Lazy Sunday" (well, it surely was! but what was that lyric about slow down, here comes the rain -- that DID NOT HAPPEN!), "Thank You" (nuff said), "Singing from the Heart" (which is clearly what they were doing), "Musical Capital of the World" (a tribute to Austin), and the traditional gypsy song "Bedamonge Romale" with extra lyrics supplied by our young lovers. "Time" in particular reminds me very much of It's A Beautiful Day and songs like "White Bird," with lyrics that included "time is a friend of mine, I live it day by day".
It was Leeann's mom's birthday, and she was supposed to be making her first barn dance, but bad weather in Dallas meant a cancelled flight -- so we had to eat the cake (prepared by a real French chef) without her. Hopefully, she was able to catch the show on the live video feed. Also performing at the barn dance were Kim Deschamps and his band, the Shelley King Band, Django Porter in a band soon to be known as The Spell (which includes Sick on violin, Pickles and David Moss, and the Meeks brothers and more and which will be playing at the Hole in the Wall next week), and John Hogan and the Southside Stompers (featuring Washboard Judy on, well, washboard, Bulldog Lowery on giutar, Danny on snare, and Mary Jo on fiddle).
Earlier in the week, we were at Ego's (which is increasingly getting back to those old smokey days that sometimes makes breathing a real experience!) to hear Jane Bond and Chad Tracy, Slowtrain, and the very quirky Hope Irish (whose drummer, Seth Gibbs, opened for her with a solo set of songs he sometimes does with their other band, The Brother Machine).
Smoke-free Ben the Ego's doorman with the lovely songwriter Rachel Lynn -- ah, the perks DO offset the smoke inhalation!
It was quite a night, as Slowtrain's Adoniram Lipton and Brett Staggs joined up with Jane and Chad and stellar bassist Brian Vose to play one hot set (and then another at the end of the evening!). Notable covers included "Sea of Heartbreak" and "I Could Have Walked Around the World," along with a smoking version a Mark Ambrose song. The crowd was blown away, though, by the duo's brand-new "She Was a Dancer (but she wasn't dancing alone)" and an amazing impromptu version of St. Moritz," which goes from rhumba to shuffle and back and then ends in a rock avalanche of sound.
Slowtrain then put on quite a show, with help from special guest Kullen Fuchs (just off tours with Ian Moore and Future Clouds and Radar) on accordian and trumpet -- and Bryce Clifford too. We keep hearing about a CD release sometime in September or so. Later, the boys got back on stage with Chad and Jane for a very fun jam that lasted until closing.
In the meantime, though, the boisterous crowd was treated to a solo set from the very blond Seth Gibbs (with Hope herself lending harmonies) that led into the Hope Irish set -- punkrock, country, and even a little folk and rock and roll -- and a lot of long-legged blonde Hope in her bustier and high heels bouncing all over the stage like a roller girl minus her skates. The band included Seth on drums along with fellow Brother Machinists Joey Thompson on guitar and Peter Stafford on bass and Echoset's Beth Puorro also on guitar. This is pure entertainment and a great show -- songs were mostly from Hope's new CD, "The Best of the Least."
Hope, BTW, hails from Salado, but took time off from her advanced education to spend a year or so in London ostensibly doing art school but more realistically absorbing the culture. Hope is -- well, an original -- who else would put out a CD with herself on the cover wearing a dress (?) made out of cockroaches (real or not, they're nasty!).

Folks -- we love all this rain, but our outdoor venues are suffering -- do drop in even for a quick one indoors to cheer them up and help them get through until they can have live music outdoors again. Otherwise, they just might not be there for you later on when it's high and dry.

Flanfire -- Bringing LIFE to Austin music.

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