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

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Saturday at the Hole; Tuesday at the Scoot!

Matt Mollica with Slowtrain; Ricky Stein with Philip Morris; Brett Staggs sings solo.

You just have to live here to get it -- every night in Austin can be a night of GREAT MUSIC and great camaraderie. Take last Saturday at the Hole in the Wall -- a club that came back from the dead a couple of years ago. Local singer-songwriter and sometime bandleader Ricky Stein assembled a sizable collection of friends to make it a nice night for New Yorkers Aaron Berg and Rosy Nolan [natives of South Carolina and California, of course!], whose solo sets demonstrated why they are able to travel around the USA for months at a time living off their tips and bar tab shares. [Aaron writes and even sings a lot like Leonard Cohen; Rosy reminded me of what Kasey Chambers would be like if she had been raised here instead of in the Aussie Outback. Both have their own full bands Back East -- and both are recommended by flanfire -- but this article is about Austin music, and so we continue.]

Brett Staggs (who doubles as Slowtrain's drummer) opened the evening with a rare solo set of his own excellent songs -- these "Arms of Love" are missing you; the wonderful "Electric Heart"; "Kentucky Tap Water" (er, whiskey); "There's Always Drugs," but not really; "You've Got It!"; and "Hangover Blues" -- many of which Brett promises will be on a forthcoming CD collection. After Aaron and Rosy had finished charming the growing crowd, Brett got back on stage with Slowtrain (Adoniram Lipton's songs and piano, Matt Roth on bass, and Andy Keating on lead guitar) and special guest Matt Mollica (one of my favorite Red Sox fans) on Hammond B-3. The band played many of the songs from their own forthcoming CD -- including a couple of songs new to the audience. NOTE -- SLOWTRAIN OPENS ON NOVEMBER 16TH FOR FUTURE CLOUDS AND RADAR AT THE SCOOT INN -- 8 PM!!!!!

It had been a long time since I had seen Ricky Stein with a full band -- this night it was longtime collaborator Philip Morris on bass plus Adoniram and Brett from Slowtrain -- and it only took one song to remember just how much fun this guy is as a bandleader playing rock 'n' roll. Come to think of it, Ricky also had a lead player -- but I was focused elsewhere and forgot who he was. Lots of activity always out on the Hole's back patio -- met up with Nathan Singleton (whose Sideshow Tragedy I really have to get out to see) and lots of other folks as well. Also got a brief report from Daren Appelt on the amazing Lonesome Heroes show at Longhorn Caverns (which he has recorded for posterity and maybe a live Heroes release someday). Dustin Welch and his band closed out the evening -- but I was dead tired and went home.

INTERMISSION --- Sunday evening my lovely wife encouraged me to get on down to Jovita's to catch yet another show from my beloved Sasha and Blues Mafia -- and I am so glad I did. First off, I met up with Kai Roach's brother Phil, who is playing on Friday with my pals Melody Mann out at the Nutty Brown. Second, local guitarist Austin Roach (no kin to Kai and Phil) got up on stage to showcase his fingerspeed on Red House -- he is BTW the lead guitarist for Mesamora (all members are Anderson High grads), which plays alternative reggae rock. I am told that Austin, another Rock Camp USA alumnus, has a rather sizable set of pedals, but on this occasion he was playing Max Frost's guitar, and Max uses only one (brand-new) pedal.

Sasha Ortiz and Chris Copeland of Blues Mafia.

The best reason for showing up, though, was that Blues Mafia unveiled a bunch of new songs -- including Led Zeppelin's "Achilles Last Stand," the Beatles' "Why Don't We Do It in the Road," Hudson Mueller's song written for Sasha -- "Some Girls" is part of the title and it is about our girl who just loves to rock and roll, and yet another Blues Mafia original, "No One Else." The band opens on November 24th at Jovita's for the South Austin Jug Band -- and I might also mention that Joker (which features the Blues Mafia rhythm section and guitarist J. W. Wright) opens for Zydeco kings Li'l Brian and the Travelers at Jovita's on November 23rd -- what a fine Thanksgiving weekend for one of Austin's finest family friendly music venues.

Now on to Tuesday! Last Wednesday at the Hole I had run into Darwin Smith and Aimee Bobruk, both of whom urged me to get down to the Scoot Inn for the songwriter showcase that Aimee co-hosts with that tall blonde contralto dynamo Hilary York. And why not? Not only could I get to see the co-hosts, but Darin Murphy and his Future Clouds and Radar bandmate Robert Harrison -- I did miss Danny Malone, who will be back next week along with Darwin Smith and his full band (but Aimee will be MIA next Tuesday).

I could write a book about Aimee Bobruk, who has grown so much as an artist and songwriter since I first saw her years ago. I only got to hear two of Hilary's songs but will definitely be back for more -- my immediate thought on hearing her sultry voice was, Marianne Faithful (after her voice dropped the octave and more). One of the highlights of Aimee's set was when her fabulous sister Erin joined her on stage for the anthemic (and Narnia-istic) "For the Lost Airwaves" (from her very soon to be released "The Safety Match Journal"). Darwin Smith accompanied on guitar and backing vocals on all songs except the closer, "So Human," which once again showcases why this absolute soprano is such a heart-warmer on and off the stage.

But I have to write about Darin Murphy the whistler (well, so is Aimee) -- and longtime partner with sis Trish from their early days in Houston. Darin has the soul of the Beatles (and indeed he is a virtual Beatles historian) but the voice of a Beach Boy -- built for harmony and lots of high up woo woos. Which is to say he has a great pop voice -- but his songs are complex stories with lots of words and ideas. "Boneyard" tells of the now-defunct Astroworld, and then there's "Gina Gardenia," "Boxing Day" and so many more. Indeed he and Trish and their great band "Skyrocket" (formerly KTEL Hit Machine) will be back at Cedar Street this Sunday -- but more to the point, he and Robert (no kin to George) Harrison and FUTURE CLOUDS AND RADAR will be at the Scoot itself on November 15th.

Which brings us to Robert Harrison -- longtime co-leader of Cotton Mather and genius behind Future Clouds and Radar, which early this year released a debut self-titled double CD that upon playing takes the listener right back to the days of Sixties euphoria. Though he did join Robert to sing harmonies on several songs, Darin confirmed that this 15-song set marked the first time he had ever seen Harrison perform all by himself on stage -- and what a debut it was.

Robert swung back and forth between the new songs he is showcasing with Future Clouds and Radar and older songs from the Cotton Mather days -- and on occasion, he also showed off some special effects on guitar that brought big smiles to the sizable audience. The set list included --"Drugstore Bust," "Palm Sunday," "40-Watt Solution," "Last of the Mohicans," "Girl, You Spin My Wheels," "Altitude," "and "Green Mountain Clover" -- well, I may have some song titles wrong, but RH fans will know they missed a magnificent experience BUT can have great hopes of getting another chance very very soon. Just let him (and Aimee and Hilary) know. The Thursday show will be sans Kullen Fuchs, who is playing with Ian Moore that night -- but Robert and Darin promise a great show.

One final note -- Erin Bobruk will reprise her recent Central Market show with MUNDI at St. Michaels Episcopal Church on FM 360 on top of the hill at 3 pm on Sunday -- tickets are $10, I am told.

Flanfire -- Bringing LIFE to Austin music.

Friday, November 09, 2007

MOMS, Heroes, and the Mc's!
Erin Ivey at Flipnotics Triangle. AT THE HOLE: Sarah Stollak, Landry MCMEANS, and Rich Russell of Lonesome Heroes; the MCMERCY Family Band;

Darwin Smith with Aimee Bobruk and Michael Rubin; sisters Kristen and Lindsey Verrill (McMercy); Brennen Leigh with Silas Lowe and Justin Kolb.

Erin Ivey was excited to be playing a show at Flipnotics Triangle partly because her mom was in town. The rest of us in the audience were just glad to hear her sing -- and, yes, even in FRENCH! Erin and a couple other folks from Austin are working on a super secret project that they may announce to the world in the not too distant future -- from what I hear, it could be the precursor of many good things for the Austin music community. MEANWHILE, Erin's jazz duo, Grand Hotel, is playing at the French Legation Museum TONIGHT!
After a little other running around, I headed to the Hole in the Wall for the Lonesome Heroes Alt-Country Showcase (a Wednesday regular) -- and soon ran into MOM NO> 2 for the evening -- Rich Russell's college professor mom, down with 25 students from Hunter College and lots of other faculty types for a BIG EVENT IN TOWN. Now Rich's folks are big-time music supporters whom I hear have actually put up starving Austin artists in their NYC area house on more than one occasion.
But -- the night was really about the music. Opening act -- Brennen Leigh with Silas Lowe and bassist Justin Kolb. Rumor is this trio sometimes (with Matt Downing) plays as The Fundamentalists -- and indeed they did a Fundy tune during their set. Brennen's voice has never been better, and her guitar picking has advanced so that her brother Seth can keep chasing airplanes (though it is good to see him around now and then). My faves were the very old "Burlington Northern Line" and "Famous for Being a Fool," a co-write with Sunny Sweeney.
Both Brennen and the McMercy Family Band did their own unique versions of "Ain't No Grave (Gonna Hold My Body Down)," which Silas calls Zombie Gospel. The BAND -- sisters Kristen and Lindsey Verrill on vocals (Lindsey on bass, too), brothers Dan Grissom on banjo and guitar, Ryan Conlin on mandolin and guitar, and Adam Rader (who was AWOL, I think), the Reverend Ted Hadji on snare and water bottle with popcorn in it (no washboard or tambourine this night), and cousin Michael Rubin on harmonica -- and everybody sings! Gospel tunes done their own innocent but irreverent way -- the band even says their music is like "A good old fashioned tent revival except without the conversion at the end." But why not? The fact is that this group - which plays every Sunday morning at Maria's Taco X-Press - is NOT a bunch of rank amateur hicks (despite their outward appearance) -- their numbers are carefully scripted and arranged, and their show is very professional [OOPS -- I may have told a secret!]
Darwin's too-short set was a major highlight -- not just of the evening, either. Last I had heard him was at Aimee's Scoot Tuesday a while back, but that was solo -- this was with Kim Deschamps on pedal steel, Kevin Fox on bass, and Josh Freniere (sp??) on drums -- and on most of the songs, Aimee (who is just too beautiful for words on stage) sat in on vocal harmonies. And, yes, Darwin coaxed Michael Rubin to join the band for a few of the songs. Now one of Darwin's early influences was Townes Van Zandt, and the band did a soulful cover of "Two Girls" (with Rubin) -- and a Neil Young cover. But Darwin's OWN songs were the highlight -- including "Blue Hollow Tune," written about 15 years ago, and "Calling on the Way." Darwin, BTW, also produced Aimee's forthcoming (It's IN THE MAIL!) CD, "The Safety Match Journal," which from early outtakes promises to be one of the best debut CD's ever in Austin. Darwin also produced Craig Marshall's last CD (Craig has a new one out soon, too!) -- and, fittingly, Craig was in the house for this wonderful show (as was Chris Brecht -- see below).
Rounding out the evening were The Lonesome Heroes themselves -- with Landry sporting a "super rad" new jacket she still had to finish sewing for a class project due early the next day and the whole band up in the clouds over their SATURDAY (folks - this is a special event!) BIG SHOW at Longhorn Caverns State Park with Sarah Stollak on violin and Jim DeGregorio and Doodle Cox of American Graveyard on banjo and upright bass -- and a cast of (well, who knows unless you crawl down into the ground to find out). Tickets are just $15 -- but $25 gets you dinner as well, and the whole gang will be camping at Inks Lake after the show. Early birds can pay another 12 bucks and get a full tour of the cave. Dinner check-in is before 5 pm and the show startes promptly at 6:15 pm. Last I heard there were still a few tickets left.
Well, THAT was WEDNESDAY! Now on to Thursday -- another whirlwind that started with the Free Radical Social Hour at Club 115. The very earthy Stefanie Fix (sans Ms. Synodinos) had as her special guest the aforesaid Craig Marshall (who played some fine lead lines for her in addition to blowing everybody away with his great pop tunes) and new regular Brad Houser on bass (sorry, guys, no baritone sax or bass clarinet tonight). I missed half the show (traffic and chores) but still got to hear TWO very new Stefanie songs plus the great "No Reason Now" and three from Craig, including "Stop and Go" and "Vegas."
Then it was on to Flipnotics (the real one) to hear Jenny Reynolds (with my favorite left-handed guitarist, Andrew Nafziger). Jenny, too, has a new CD in the hopper, but the short-term BIG NEWS is her Sunday night (8 pm) MOMO's full band show with special guest Warren Hood. Jenny's finger picking is just wonderful, and her singing seems to have reached a new level. Lots of great songs -- "Ain't No Reason Not to Love Me," "I Forget Myself," "Exhale," and the title track from the work in progress -- "(Not the) Marryin' Kind." Jenny also did a Scrappy Jud cover tune and Duke Ellington's "Gee, Baby," plus yet another new song, "One Red Light Town," a true New Hampshire story.
Didn't have to leave the chair (though I did -- but that's a long story!) to catch even MORE great music at Flip's -- and to learn that Chris Masterson and the lovely Eleanor Whitmore will soon be embarking on a new adventure in Noo Yawk City (leaving Austin in the Texas dust). The lovebirds along with neighbor Chris Brecht sang sans microphone to the burgeoning (and very enthusiastic) crowd -- quite a feat for Masterson, who says he first met Johnny Winter at the age of 8 and early on turned onto bands like Bubble Puppy and the 13th Floor Elevators.
This story is all about Eleanor playing her daddy's Martin guitar through the whole set and singing "Shaken from the Rain," "I Am Strong (because you made me so)" and others (well, I had to leave and only caught three each) that are just so honest and raw and captivating. Okay -- the boys are good songwriters, too -- and I have chronicled their talents elsewhen -- but Chris admits he put Chris Brecht in between them so he would not be tempted to sing harmonies or play lead lines and instead just let the audience her Eleanor as she is -- the way he sees her -- and the way he is TRYING to record her debut CD (out early next year, I think).
Now about the FINAL stop for the evening. I was sad that I had promised to go to Antone's for the 9 pm Adam McInnis show (only because CC&E were on at that very same time), but went there anyway ONLY TO LEARN that Adam had been pushed back to 10 pm because the fates had moved Ruthie Foster and Taj Mahal to Antone's from the Glenn at the Backyard. So I raced back to Flip's for what you just read about, then back to Antone's to catch MOST of Adam's BIG SHEW! Recognize that Ruthie and Taj had totally sold out the venue, and most of the crowd stuck around to hear Adam -- which meant some of his OWN fans had to wait a bit to get into the building. Not me -- by being late I could walk right in. But the crowd for this relatively unknown former film student and "The One" contestant (well, all two weeks of that failed ABC show) was MASSIVE -- and so was the show the band put on.
Adam is a pretty fair city singer, but he is wise enough to bring to the stage two women with POWEFUL voices -- Julie Foster and Candy Sanders. Guitarist Jason Miller also sings -- other band members include Michael Blake (from The Illustrated Band) on keyboards, Darwin Keys on drums, Cole Hanson on lead guitar (really nice licks, too), and Steve Bernal on bass. I have reviewed Adam's songs before -- but just note that he ended the set with his testimony song (quiet and soulful) and the song currently playing on my homepage -- "Not Alone." Of course, Adam hardly had time to revel in the glory of the evening - he was off to a two-day event in Ohio early today. But he will be back soon! And, oh, yeah -- props to Monique and Melanie! May they get great parts once the writers' strike is finally over!
Flanfire -- Bringing LIFE to Austin music.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Faultline's Just Fine (For Now!)
Once upon a time there was a band called Faultline -- but then the boys learned that somebody else had been using that name, so they sought out a new band name. Liking none of them, they just decided to continue as Faultline -- For Now! In the meantime, what had begun as largely a venue for B Sterling Archer's songs has become a full-band collaboration with lead guitarist (and mandolin player) Micah Miller (who divides his time between music and law school) and brothers Ricardo (drums) and Michael (bass) Torres.

B Sterling Archer and Micah Miller at Club 115!
The boys are working on a brand-new CD, but last week their show at Club 115 was perhaps the best I have seen to date. Archer, a long, tall drink of water, plays guitar and trumpet and does most of the singing. He and Miller are native El Pasoans, while the Torres brothers hail from Lubbock -- and such a combination makes for intricate rhythms and a jazzy rock sound. This is adult music that sometimes has a message (Strike a Nerve) and at other times is just playful (Sweet Mama Booze, for example). Out of Reach is a gentle ballad, while Nothing New rocks out -- and there is a lot in between, including lyrics in Spanish. The band saved the best (and newest) for last -- When the Dust Settles marks a major turning point in the story of this band and its development from a leader and side men toward that all for one and one for all spirit that is the mark of any truly great BAND (as opposed to a front man and side men combo).
My pal Natalie Zoe is pumped about her new project, Candiland, which features Candice Sanders (Alpha Rev, Adam McInnis) on vocals and keyboards. At Guero's on Saturday, the duo were accompanied by Sarah (from Tbird and the Breaks) on saxophone and John Skozcen on percussion -- and Sasha Ortiz jumped up on stage for a couple of numbers.
One can never get too much SAX. SO, on Sunday, I took some out of town friends to Central Market to catch a couple of sets from Kaz Kazanoff and his new group DANK -- Derek O'Brien on guitar, Art Kidd on drums, Nick Connolly on keyboards, and Kaz on sax. What a treat!
Then on Monday, I caught a set from my dear pal Rachel Lynn at Flipnotics. I can hardly wait for some of Rachel's friends to join her on stage and help her provide a fuller background for her wonderful songs. The time has now come for an upgrade, as she has polished her songwriting and vocal skills -- c'mon, guys.
I then stuck around for Jenifer Jackson and her combo -- Billy Doughty on percussion, Tom Vincent on upright bass, and Gary Newcomb on pedal steel and Telecaster. Gary's own trio will be at the Hole in the Wall on November 11th, BTW. I had been hearing fabulous things about this New York City import (who has been in and out of A-town numerous times before) -- but hearing her live was a breathtaking experience. What a beautiful voice -- and music that would fit very well on a bill with Suzanna Choffel (that is, intricate and exploratory).
Jenifer, I am told, is also a painter (artist type) -- but she may be saving her best artwork for the lyrics in her songs. Her own bio compares her to Sandy Denny, but younger folks (who never heard the great Fairport Convention singer) might liken her to Norah Jones -- and yet Jenifer reminds ME of one night many years ago in Washington, DC's, Montrose Park where dozens of us were having a good time until someone said, Quiet -- listen to this woman playing the flute -- and we all quieted ourselves and bathed deeply in the ethereal notes coming from that beautiful soul.
One final note -- I was over at the Ham Jam (if you don't know, just ask!) and my pal Daren introduced me to a young native Texan (and Native American) who just moved to Austin from Los Angeles -- Josh Halverson is a singer-songwriter and piano player with an infectious smile and some very good songs. I am listening to his debut CD, and Josh says he is already working on a new one to be recorded here in town after he learns a few things here. I also picked up the brand-new hot off the press country CD from Brent Allen (produced by Stephen Doster). More on both of these very soon. And lots more to report in days to come.
Flanfire -- Bringing LIFE to Austin music.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Gina's Bread Is Rising!

The first time I saw Gina Chavez was back in April, when she talked Momo's into giving her Suzanna Choffel's slot on a night when Suzanna was playing at Antone's. She brought 75 of her closest friends to the venue -- but it was her big, beautiful voice and her on-stage camaderie (that transcended beyond just those who knew her) that ensured that Gina would soon become a regular at the club with my favorite rooftop patio.

Gina's CD "Hanging Spoons" was actually released at the end of the last school year, but I was wrapped up in a college graduation (YEA! Melody!!!!) and relocating my lovely mother Eluida to Austin (it took ALL summer!!!!) and only got around to listening to Gina's music after running into her at Momo's (where else?) a couple of weeks ago.

Gina, for the record, has come a long way on stage from even her debut at Momo's -- she was recently a finalist in a major competition held at Emo's (see her myspace for details), but mainly her co-conspirators onstage have begun to realize they are part of something that, like yeasted bread, is rising. Rael Martinez used to just bring his mandolin and play a little -- now he brings a fuller arsenal that includes electric guitar; Gina also has a cajon player to keep the rhythm going, especially when the songs have a Latin flavor. Guys sitting way out on the Momo's patio the other night were waaay tuned in to Gina's voice and on-stage manner that is fast fast winning fans in Austin.

Let me just say right up front that "Hanging Spoons" (a Chavez family tradition, we are told) is by far the most POWERFUL song collection I have heard this year and last year too -- and this woman is just learning how to write songs, so you know she is getting "extra" help that sometimes comes to those who "have their radio on." I must add that Gina also provides the harmony vocals that often seem like an angel choir floating the listener up to heaven on a cloud or two. The lyrics range from the personal to the divine ..... [Onstage, by the way, Gina breaks into Broadway from time to time (reminding me a LOT of the newlywed Jamie Blythe who is way out West these days.]

"You Might Say," the opening cut, is indeed about a very human love -- tested by time and distance -- in which "in the woods between the worlds is where we stand wanting so much to take hold of one another's hand." "Brother Sun, Sister Moon" builds on that theme but with a turn toward a higher love. "Hagios" (which means holiness, sort of, in Greek) notes that "ten thousand wells dot a wasted land where go thirsting souls cupping empty hands" and speaks of "restless wanderers [who] refuse your peace." What is, asks Gina, the path to a pure heart?

"Beautiful Feet" is one of those songs you never forget after hearing it -- and singing it through several times. I am reminded of Susan Gibson's "My Best Feature," or of any of a number of Terri Hendrix songs -- but Gina takes these concepts two steps further, moving from "how beautiful are the feet of those who carry news of good things" to admitting that she once kept "a little black book" in her mind that recorded other people's faults but today finds that just bringing good news to everyone while judging no one works much better -- and urges others to follow suit. "Embrujo" (sung in Spanish) is a memoir of sorts of Gina's year in Argentina.

"Bless the Night (the blanket song)" is yet another revelation of imperfection -- "I'm a living contradiction, a tainted sanctuary, so tell me how can I see your beauty through these tears of gray" -- but this song is all about being careful not to stumble during the nighttime hours. "Disarray" also addresses that contradiction between our hearts and our own deeds -- and the recognition that we cannot rely on our own goodness. "St. Anthony" expresses the heart of the homeless and downtrodden who is seeking affirmation: "don't you see me?"

But the record only gets better from here -- "Seeking Poetry" shows Gina's frustration at trying to write songs that matter when we are clumsy with words -- and yet she can write, "It's in the creation the imagination lifting mind and eye to light, glorious formation of an aspiration molded so others can take flight." Now that, my friends IS "poetry in motion" that moves us on.

"Exaggerate" moves back to the human sphere -- and to a time of rude awakening -- "how can it be that I be gone for less than half a year with you on my mind the entire time when for me you have no tears"? The only recourse -- "stay you far from this soul of mine lest my tears not evaporate." "Mean As Blue," on the other hand, speaks of "a boy who lived in a haze stuck in a shoe-gazing trance" who "couldn't lift his mouth from a frown, couldn't stop his chin from falling down ...." Here the songwriter encourages herself, noting that, "Don't cry those blue tears of pain for that stupid boy again...." and that "there's a greater love than the one that failed you and his chariot's coming soon." Here again, we learn that the great beauty which is this recording is available to us only after the artist has endured great pain.

Somehow, Gina has indeed saved the very best for last (not counting the hidden track for insiders only). "Matter" is perhaps one of the strongest songs of faith I have ever heard -- and trust me, I have heard a boatload (make that an ARK-load). In sweating out the blood used to scribble down these lyrics, the writer recognizes that neither the long sob story of heartache and pain nor the saving grace that rescued her in her darkest hours matters a whit -- "mere words won't matter." Instead, it is that emptying out of the self-seeking soul that enables us to hear the deepest truth -- that "without brokenness nothing matters."

The first half of this song is the lead-in to the prayer that closes out this true confession from a soul who knows she does not have it all together -- and she makes it universal: "Fear not to cry my friends fear not to die just a little, fear not to love my friends, fear not to lose just a little, and be not afraid of the things you've done .. no, loving ain't loving if if lingers on the past too long .. what you done don't matter ... I love you no matter what you've done my child, what you've done don't matter ... I love you no matter....."

Flanfire -- Bringing LIFE to Austin music.
Honor Farm at the Scoot Inn?
NO!! At the Mohawk#&*$%%!&
Lacey Pipkin and Jay (Boo) Tonne of Honor Farm; Adoniram Lipton of Slowtrain.
The ladies of Silver Pines.

Ever have a CD release party, get it written up in The Onion, and then have it moved less than 24 hours before the show? That's what happened to Honor Farm over Halloween weekend -- they got bumped from the Scoot Inn (for a strobe light dance party) and moved (along with Slowtrain and Silver Pines) to the Mohawk, which already had a couple of bands scheduled. And then, with help from Dwayne the sound man, you put on maybe the best show ever (despite having to cut your superexcellent cover of Prince's "I could never take the place of your man," which you thankfully got a release to include on your new CD, "Wait and See."
We have previously reported that this music is just what the doctor ordered -- with elements of the Byrds, Gram Parsons, the Jayhawks, and other classic alt-country (which of course includes the Stones!) and Tonne's lyrics. My favorite, BTW, is "100 years too late," which touches close to home for me -- "it might be true I ain't no cowboy, but oh how my heart aches for open plains." Vocalist and keyboardist Lacey Pipkin flew in from Mexico City (where she is working for several months at an international film festival) just for the gig -- and looked and sang better than ever! Drummer Yamal Said had to get the gig in before leaving on tour with The Black; the rest of the band is bassist Zachary Firnhaber and guitarist Doug Walseth, whose other band, Crawling with Kings, is on sabbatical for an indefinite period.
Now this was my first time at the Mohawk since The Bachelor and his Brothers had refurbished the building as the Velvet Spade. The chaos that was one band taking more time to set up than to actually play their set (well, they would have played longer had they loaded in more quickly) soon gave way to an orderly evening, as Slowtrain followed Honor Farm using the same setup and then Silver Pines set up on the side (old) stage during Slowtrain's set. MORE PLAUDITS to Dwayne and his "crew." What a way to salvage a disaster. Slowtrain is introducing a few new songs as they are also wrapping up work on their long-awaited debut CD. Silver Pines is getting rave reviews all over Austin (pretty good for a San Marcos band!), thanks in large part to an eclectic sound and power packed vocals. More on this band another day.
The music just kept on coming, though. On Monday, I slipped out to the Parlor on North Loop to hear Infinite Partials, with Grant Hudson, Chris Sebastian on percussion, and the Andrews (Strietelmeier on violin, Noble on viola and mandolin, and normally Davis on cello but not this evening) -- plus when she can, Amy Downing (Grant's better half) on vocals as well. These lads, too, are working on a new CD -- and one track is already up on their myspace. I also ran into Sean McCarrey, who just moved up to Austin from his hometown of San Antonio, and he slipped me his own new CD, Death Folk Architecture -- review forthcoming (Mikey likes it!).
Tuesday found me plotting a return to the Parlor to catch at least some of the set from Loy Bones with special guest Silas Lowe. Well, I caught one and a half songs -- but had a blast visiting and learning that two-thirds of the other guys in the band are Silas' dad (Roy Michaels) and his brother -- AND that Jenny Parrott of Shotgun Party has said that Loy Bones is the CUTEST band in all of Austin (even cuter than The Shake 'em Ups!). These guys play every Saturday at noon at Gene's New Orleans Po Boys, so you can eat well and groove. Meanwhile, Silas allowed as how he and Brennen Leigh and Matt Rowe are working on a new trio project (details to follow) ... that sounds like a LOT of fun!
My Tuesday journey, however, had begun at Momo's where I just had to catch another set from the awe-inspiring Gina Chavez (whose voice is catching the ears of lots of Austin players) -- and then ducked out before Suzanna Choffel and company enchanted me completely so that I could get over to Jovita's to catch up with old pal Jim Stringer and his AM Band and their special guest -- 12-year-old fiddler, singer and guitarist Ruby Jane - who with her mom Jobelle are new Austinites, having just moved here from Columbus, Mississippi.
Ruby Jane has been on the circuit since she was eight years old; thanks to home schooling, she gets around to play all over the country at little venues like the Grand Old Opry and various festivals. She has performed with Big and Rich and oh by the way is the 2007 recipient of the Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin (made by Mainiac Jonathan Cooper, this violin passes from one young musician to another each year in honor of Pearl, who was as much a musician as a journalist). This journalists thinks the Smiths have made a wise decision -- because Austin is a town chock full of teenagers who are also very talented players on big stages here and around and a town where musicians actually encourage one another (even if they are a little jealous of each other's successes).
Just a few more words -- and young players could learn a LOT from Stringer, who has toured the world and played with legends over his nearly 50 years in the music business. Jim had been hosting an open mike of sorts at the soon to be demolished Brentwood Tavern on Burnet Road and a few weeks ago Ruby Jane asked if SHE could come up and play -- Jim, not knowing that this was an Opry veteran, was literally BLOWN AWAY and wondered why he had not asked her to play the rest of the evening. THUS a gig set is born -- and Jim got Ruby Jane to wander through Jovita's with him as he played "The Wanderer" (well, DUH!) -- and then, because it is the season, he dusted off the CLASSIC (yes, this was Top 40 radio back in the day when there were no separate rock/country/R&B/etc. stations) "Haunted House" (written by Jumping Gene Simmons of the Bill Black Combo).
Flanfire -- Bringing LIFE to Austin music.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?