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

Monday, October 20, 2008

Majoring in Paul Minor!
Paul Minor has had a long, interesting career in the Austin music business -- all the way back to his high school daze. He also has a Master's degree in conflict resolution -- practical stuff for a bandleader.

For nearly a decade he hosted the Rock and Roll Free for All at the Hole in the Wall, giving space for such bands as Spoon, Fastball, Rilo Kiley, the Scabs and You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead (and countless others). I personally know little of this history -- and only very recently have I focused in on the man some have dubbed the "urban cowboy." I DO remember the buzz over the release of Paul's earlier solo CD, but never actually listened to the songs or even caught a live show. So I come to his new CD, "The Marfa Project," as a newcomer to Minor Productions -- except that my pal Bryce Clifford highly recommends his new roommate and his music.

The other night at the Hole in the Wall began with a hot set from Sheboygan -- which I totally missed in order to hang out with my friend Esther as her brother Josh's band The Afters played at Momo's Club. I HATE to miss Sheboygan sets! But Rusty and Cory hung out all evening, and Cory even got up and sang with Paul and the band -- Jeff Johnston on bass, Gary Newcomb on pedal steel, Austin Jenkins on guitar, and Steve McCarthy on drums. [Mind you, David Beebe (also bongos and harp) and Wayne Duncan split the drumming on the CD, which also featured Adam Bork on keys, Michael Crow on Moog, chimes and trumpet, Chip Dolan on piano, organ and accordian, Matt Hubbard on piano and organ, Mario Matteoli (also at the show) on guitar and mandolin, and Gergory Smelley on bass (along with JJ, who also played saw and chimes).]

I gotta say that my early favorite here is "Windmills," a real folk song about hanging out in the Texas Hill Country ... sampling the grapes at the Luckenbach vineyard, stopping beside an old windmill and took a few pictures ... but this song is really about the joy of togetherness now lost. "Here I Am" sings of a two-lane road that opens up my mind and lightens up my load. Love the keyboards on this one. "Lord Help Me" also reaches back into the depths of the author's soul -- it is an all out moan that comes from Minor's childhood days in inner city Houston. I would love to hear Ben Harper get hold of this one -- with the Blind Boys of Alabama (for example).

The CD opens with "Devil May Care," a song that Fastball ought to record! It could be their biggest hit since "The Way." The bridge is especially memorable -- "I'm just another disappointed soul without a clue." Another favorite is "Afterthought," which opens with that anthemic strum and then the haunting harmonica ... that makes you beg for the lyrics to begin. And so we get, "I lost my mind with my heart's assistance," and "I put you before me as an afterthought." I hear this song live with a big organ solo and maybe even a falsetto vocal -- this is another ditty just waiting to be covered by a major artist. Minor makes it wistful ... but you really want to have this lyric and the melodies burn deep into your DNA.

"Slow Burn" is maybe the most Dwight Yoakum song here, a real honky tonker. And, yes, Bandstanders, you can dance to it. But then, "Lettin Off Steam" is more George Strait -- the boys in the band just lettin' off steam. "Out of My System," cowritten with Matteoli, is the bounciest tune on the record. "Lucy" shows yet another vocal style, closer to Jimmy Buffett (with bongos yet). The final cut, "Live and Breathe," is another traditional ballad, and the more I listen the more I like Minor doing this type of music (kinda like McGuinn with the Byrds singing Dylan). And, as noted, his songwriting provides great opportunities for some of his pals.

The third band on the Friday night bill was the Brothers Lazaroff, which still hails from St. Louis even though Brother David has lived in Austin for a number of years. Brother Jeff (the one with the beard THIS week!) brought down Grover Stewart (drums), Teddy Brookins (bass), and Scott Bryan (guitar) to join Austin's Lindsay Greene (keyboards this time) and Gary Newcomb (pedal steel) -- with Elizabeth McQueen joining in on vocals at their Jo's Sinners Brunch show on Sunday. I LOVE THIS BAND -- and they have just about finished their second CD ... which they will likely debut on their next trip to A-town!

Left - Josh Havens of The Afters; right - Juan Gutierrez of The Century at the Hole in the Wall.

Earlier at the Hole I caught up with Juan Gutierrez, who played an acoustic set with guitarist David Jimenez (who also sang an amazing version of "Satisfied Mind") and bassist Dan White. Juan handed out a demo with eight songs, including new versions of "Gold Mine" and "Fools Gold." Nice stuff!

On Wednesday I got over to the new Mesa Ranch for Happy Hour with Jodi Adair (CD release October 25th at the Amsterdam -- see below -- featuring Carolyn Wonderland on guitar and Kris Brown on bass!) and stuck around for a wonderful set from Jon Emery and Karen Mal (with the amazing Steve Carter sitting in for three songs). I like this venue -- comfortable environs and tasty morsels -- and I was thrilled to see the new, funkier Karen, one of Austin's most beautiful people inside and out.

Kim Deschamps is playing Tuesdays at the Amsterdam (8th and Colorado) -- the food is good, the beer is cold (though I had a bottle of wine that evening), and the ambience is Austin! Yup - that's Leeann Atherton blowing the harpoon with Tony Velasco on bass and the very handsome Perry Drake on drums.

Finally, kudos again go out to Sideshow Rob Cooperman (the guy needing new jeans) and Monte Peck from Shut Up and Sing -- who ply their trade every Sunday evening at The Dirty Dog and again on Thursdays at Waterloo Ice House at South Park Meadows. These guys are keeping alive that great tradition of song sharing out in public -- and providing really talented people opportunities to make new friends here in Austin. And Oh, Yeah, I ran into Izzy Cox on Sunday at Jo's -- she has another new collection of murder ballads and more about ready for the world -- just got back from another tour and ready to sing her guts out for the folks here in town.

Flanfire -- Bringing LIFE to Austin music.

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