It was a bit of a somber night here in Denton at Dan’s Silverleaf this night.
The reason was because the Denton based Spooky Folk, who have made a name for themselves not just in the college town, but the whole North Texas music scene, was calling it quits. At least temporarily. The bands singer and rhythm guitarist Kaleo Kaualoku was getting ready to move to Denver with his fiancé, meaning it’d be basically impossible for the band to play regularly anymore, and this was a sendoff show for him, and even the band in a way.
Only one band was opening this show, and that privilege went to Tony Ferraro and the Satans of Soft Rock, who kicked off their set a little after nine.
Lead guitarist Ryan Thomas Becker jumped into the air, strumming his guitar as he did so, and as soon as he landed drummer Justin Collins and the rest of the band started “King Run-a-Thon”. It was an electric opener and seemed even more vibrant than the recorded version, or at the very least Tony Ferraros’ voice grabbed your attention more here in the live setting.
Their set had an excellent flow to it, as they smoothly transitioned from one song to the next, and as soon as they finished that first song Ryan proceeded to play some different notes, leading them into “Satanic Verses”. Out of all their material, it arguable has the best music bed, being very catchy with the bass lines that David Howard plays, the piano notes provided by Chris Gomez, as well as the guitars and drums intertwining incredibly well with one another. They work in some nice points of crescendo, too. As soon as they finished it, they whipped right into “Children In Fur Coats”, where Tonys’ distinctive voice shined as he sang the chorus, “You will always have a home here…”
They did two more songs afterwards, doing both in rapid succession, and finally they took an actually break where Tony again thanked everyone for coming out for this special night. “…Let’s do Children In Fur Coats.” He said, before his band mates pointed out to him they had already done it, causing Tony to laugh at himself. I guess that just goes to show how truly excited he was about this gig. Instead, they did the last remaining track from the “Friend of Man and Beast Alike” EP, “I Am The Engine”, which was a true highlight of their set.
They were really on a roll now, and didn’t let up as they cranked out “Assemble The Bitch Wolves”, which may be a slower song, but it’s still loaded with rock, and both Tony and Ryan skillfully plucked the strings of their axes, proving themselves to be masters of the craft, or at the very least experts. They stepped things back up with the rip-roaring “Diaspora”, then did one more non-album track before showing off a couple of surprises.
Tony invited Kaleo and Petra Kelly of Spooky Folk on stage with them, saying they could use their help singing along. He then extended the offer to the other three members of the group, which Jesse Perry took them up on, and Tony apologized, saying they were just “afterthoughts”. “That’s terrible, who would say something like that?!” Ryan said to him, just giving him a hard time. The song was “No, We Can’t Be Friends”, which was a true sing along, with many of the fans joining in with the collection of musicians on stage, all belting out the chorus, “No, we can’t be friends, we can’t be friends…” It made for an awesome moment, and typically, I believe that’s how they end their shows, but this was a special night after all, and they had one last trick up their sleeve. They covered a song by one of music’s greatest icons, John Lennon, putting a more rock spin on “Instant Karma”, with Tony, Ryan, Jesse, Petra and Kaleo all singing on the chorus.
It was an amazing rendition they did, and given the circumstances of this night, it was a perfect way to conclude their 45-minute long set.
This was only the second time I had seen Tony Ferraro and his Satans of Soft Rock, and I thought they were even better this time around. Everything was very on point and they were all in perfect synch with one another, being one collective unit that dominated.
Unfortunately, this was a bit of a sad night for these guys too, because David Howard is also moving to Denver, making this his final show with the band. Each band is different in how they handle a band member leaving, but I hope his departure doesn’t result in a big change in the bands dynamic, because they have something great going on.
You can download all of their music for FREE by going to their BANDCAMP PAGE, so do check that out, and to keep up-to-date with the future of the band and what shows they might have coming up, go give their FACEBOOK PAGE a like.
As it approached time for Spooky Folk to start, the intimate venue began to fill up quickly. It may have been a Monday night, but that hadn’t stopped their fans from all over the area coming out in droves to experience the last Spooky Folk show for some time.
They had promised a lengthy show for this night, saying they were even going to do some songs they hadn’t done in quite awhile, however, as they got going, their focus was on their newer material from their forthcoming album, segueing their first two songs into one another and doing one more after that. At this point singer and rhythm guitarist Kaleo Kaualoku took a moment to inform everyone that over at their merch table they could pre-order a copy of the new record, which would in turn help them pay for it. Violinist and backing singer Petra Kelly then chimed in with her own commentary by saying that everyone should “cry tears of sadness” over Kaleo moving and leaving them there. I think she was trying to make light of the situation, despite the fact that she looked like she could burst into tears at any moment.
The barrage of new stuff continued with another song, before they slowed things down, doing a short track from their debut album, “Diddle”. Live the song was overwhelmingly beautiful, especially the final lines as Kaleo and Petra harmonized, crooning, “Looking for love in all the wrong places seems to be common these days.” Their voices mixed magnificently, and that song was almost more of a prelude in a way, because shortly after they finished they started in on another newer one, “Kicking and Screaming”, which was greeted warmly by the crowd. It’s the band at their best with a constant ebb and flow, and Kaleo is constantly changing up his voice to match Chris Brown’s drumming, going from almost a whisper to full on shouting and then back down again all in mere seconds.
They finally touched some stuff from their self-titled debut record (or at least full songs from it) by doing the mostly serene “Modern World”, then picked things back up with a fan favorite, “Polaroid”. The crowd and the band livened up on that one, especially in the speedy final minutes of the song, which saw Jesse really start to throw down and race about the stage, while Scarlett Wright got a little faster in playing the bass in order to keep up with the beat, but still maintained that traditional calm swagger bassists have.
Upon finishing it the band asked everyone to raise a glass to Grady Don Sandlin, because the well known area musician who also produced and recorded Spooky Folk’s first record couldn’t be here this night because he was on his honeymoon. “…He’s busy having sex…” Jesse added, a blunt comment that got a laugh from just about everybody. Things then turned back to their music, and while Jesse was taking over on Scarletts’ bass, and she in turn was readying her melodica, Petra played a petty solo on her violin, which set them up for “Resurrect!”. It was one of the few songs that had nearly everybody singing along, shouting the chorus right back to the band, “…Everything is wrong when you know that’s right, reach down, deep down somewhere inside, let me know that one day everything is gonna be just fine.” Since first hearing that’s always been a favorite Spooky Folk of mine, and I’d even say it’s one of the most interesting songs in general, due largely to the unique sound the melodica gives it.
They unloaded one more new song on their fans, before doing a golden oldie that, as Petra said, they hadn’t “played in years”. It was one of the longest songs from their album, “Stars”. “Now it’s time for us to rest our heads, watch the stars go up and go to bed…” crooned Kaleo when the song hit its lull, and at that part Jesse mimicked the words, as he placed his hands together to make a pillow and rested his head on them, pretending to sleep. As serious as they are about putting on a good show, they’re also all about having a good time, and that proved it.
Thus ended their 48-minute long set, or at least the first one, as they told everyone they were going to take a little break and then get back up there to rock some more.
Sure enough, a little over an hour after they started their first set, Petra and Kaleo again took the stage, performing a song as a duo, and I believe that song was “Darkest Shade Of Gray”. Chris, Scarlett and Jesse then returned to do the song that used to begin their shows, “My Niagara Heart”.
The pulse-pounding track made it obvious they had saved most of the best for last, even if it was followed by the rarely played gem “I Am A Ghost”, which may be slow and rather gloomy for most of it, but it has some very poignant lyrics. They followed it with “This Sleep”, which worked well and bridged from them back into a full blown rock mode.
Once they finished it, someone bought some shots for them and they were handed out to the band. “…Scarlett is a heavy drinker and you should all pray for her…” Said Jesse, right after Scarlett had said that she doesn’t drink.
At this point in the show, Kaleo had broken a string on his guitar, and he had to borrow one from one of the earlier musicians, namely Ryan Becker. Once he said something about it Petra noted how appropriate that was. See, it was appropriate because they next covered an RTB2 song, specifically “Bottle The Bees”. They put an interesting twist on it, part of which was probably due to them having three more instruments than RTB2 does, but it was a killer cover all the same. They kept things going with what I believe was another newer track of theirs, following it with another tune from their first record, “Rare Bird”, which I’m pretty certain was the song that before starting Petra told everyone it was okay if they cried during it. I don’t think anyone did, but if they had than this song about love and loss would have been the perfect song to shed a few tears to.
As the show began to wind down, Kaleo again informed everyone that this was not a goodbye or a final farewell, saying that once the record was done he would come back to Denton in order to do a CD release show, making it sound like it would be much like this night with multiple sets involved. He also made sure to let the fans know that the new record was nearing completion and is going to be released one of these days. With that they ripped into yet another new song, before doing their final three tracks.
The crowd was elated to hear “Disheveled”, which, in its relatively short existence has already become a hit, and rightfully so, because it’s just a step above their other stuff, being catchy and aggressive, and also features some wicked guitar notes from both Jesse and Kaleo.
All night, on stage right there had been a pedal steel guitar, which I wondered when they were going to put to use, and now Burton Lee, who is best known for playing the pedal steel in the Texas Outlaw Country group Eleven Hundred Springs, joined them on stage and took his seat behind the instrument. The first song he helped them with was a bit of a shock, as they covered Garth Brooks classic, “Friends in Low Places”. Mind you, their rendition wasn’t nearly as country as the original, in fact it was quite electrifying and they did a delightful version of it, with most of the band singing on each chorus.
Then it was time for their final song, which Burton stuck around for. Kaleo knew everyone here knew their final song, and he requested that all the fans join in, saying if they didn’t they’d break up right here and now, noting it wouldn’t be a pretty break up, either. Everyone gladly obliged, though I think they would have sung along to “Bible Belt” even it hadn’t been made into a requirement. “I was born on the bible belt, give me something sharp so I can kill myself, because I can’t go on living this way…” the crowd roared each time on the chorus. The five core members were obviously having the time of their lives performing that song, with Petra happily shaking the tambourine she had swapped out with her violin. In all this second set lasted 57-minutes, and those 57-minutes seemed to pass by too quickly.
The band didn’t just exit the stage, instead they all surrounded Kaleo, hugging him and surely telling him what a fun ride it has been. They then showed their appreciation to everyone by taking a bow and then posing for some group shots, and once they were done Petra quickly left the stage, noticeably wiping away a few tears that she had been holding back all night.
Even if the other members didn’t show it so easily, I imagine they felt the same, and you really can’t blame them, because after all this is the end of a near in a sense. No, they aren’t breaking up and yes, they will do more shows, but they’ll never again (or at least not for a long time) be playing multiple shows a month around the Denton/Dallas/Fort Worth area. Sadly, things will probably never be the same, for them or their fans.
Personally, I can’t say I’m too torn up about it, because as much as I love Spooky Folk, I never saw them on a very regular basis. Still, it was nice knowing I had the option to go see them.
As far as this show goes, it was the eighth time I had seen the band, and hands down it was the best. You could tell they put a lot of work into it with rehearsals and such to make sure it was as big a spectacle as possible. Not only that, but they poured their souls into it, even more so then usual, and left it all on the stage.
They might still be a band, but nonetheless, North Texas lost one of its best, most original, unique and even somewhat quirky bands this night.
According to the talk this night, they are hoping to release their new album sometime this summer, so maybe a few months down the road they’ll be back for another party to mark the release of it. In the meantime, you can listen to/buy their first record on their BANDCAMP PAGE.
What a night and what a show this was. I’m glad I was able to bear witness to it and the drive to Denton was more than worth it.
NOTE: All photos are courtesy of Geoffrey Ussery and all rights belong exclusively to him. Visit his BLOG to see all the great pictures he takes of the various bands he sees. For the full photo set of Tony Ferraro & the Satans of Soft Rock go HERE. For the full photo set of Spooky Folk go HERE.