Gorilla Productions had put together an epic lineup of bands at the Curtain Club. I mean, a ten band bill does count as epic, right?
The main attraction however was The Bedlam Brothers, who were celebrating the release of their first record, “Saddle Up”.
The doors opened at six this night (early by any standards), but I didn’t arrive until about seven, which meant I missed The Neckties.
I’ve been a fan of the band for about a year now, but have yet to see a show, and I guess it just wasn’t in the cards this night. Check ‘em out, though. They have an album, “Chop and Change”, available, and it’s pretty good.
So, when I did get there a guy named Ty Dillon and his band were playing.
As I walked in the country sound caught me a little off guard, since I’m so used to seeing rock shows here. After one of his songs, Ty acknowledged this and joked about it. “…This looks like the venue that would have a pit, so I’m just gonna say it. “OPEN UP THE PIT!” he screamed, which was quite funny, since he was wearing a cowboy hat and he and his band appeared pretty straight laced.
What I saw of their set was a mix of covers (which I didn’t know) and a few originals, including one titled, “The Hat Song”. He mentioned it came from a very personal experience, when a girl he had been dating quickly got in a relationship with one of his good friends. So, and this is the abridged version, he said happened to be at another friends house where the first mentioned friend had left his hat. So Ty asked whose it was, and upon finding out who it belonged to, took it.
His original stuff was great, and really well rounded for a younger musician, and like I said, I didn’t know the covers, but they still did very good renditions of them. There were just a few times he tried to hit some higher notes and had trouble pulling it off, but that was the only issue I heard, and nothing that can’t be fixed in time. That aside, he’s a promising musician that should have a good future ahead of him.
He mentioned that his debut record would be dropping in a few weeks, so check out iTunes for that. He also has the single, “If You Only Knew” for sale there, too.
Next up was a band by the name Uneasy Pilgrim.
They didn’t start out well in my opinion, and the guy who sang their first couple of songs and the final one didn’t have much of a voice on him. Things improved slightly when, I believe it was their drummer, took over lead vocal and rhythm guitar duties, forcing the other guy back on the guys, while the keyboard player moved over to the drums. Yeah, it was an odd change, but it worked. They cranked out two more in this format, and this guys voice was much more enjoyable, and even the music sounded a bit better, but it still didn’t draw me in, and my attention waned when they reverted to the other lineup for their fifth and final song.
They weren’t truly bad (believe me, I’ve seen truly bad), but in the end, they were easily forgettable.
Luckily, that prove to be the only rough patch of the show, and Kirk Baxley and his backing band, the Old No. 7’s, got things back on track.
It had been far too long since I last saw Mr. Baxley. In fact, I don’t even recall when I last saw one of his shows, and I was excited to see, or rather hear, what he had been up to.
They kicked off their 21-minute long set with a song from Kirk’s newest EP, and that song was “Drive”. It was a pretty catchy tune, and while lyrically it had a country vibe to it, “…Pretty girl by my side, she’s just along for the ride. It’s just another Friday night with nothing to do but drive…”, the music had a little rock flare to it. It was great combination, and made for an excellent song. They went right into song, which was more of a love tune, and afterwards, Kirk formally introduced his band. “…Can I get seven hand claps for the Old Number Seven’s!?” he asked the crowd. No one seemed to enthusiastic about it at first, but he quickly motivated people to get into it, saying something like, “Come on, Dallas! We didn’t come all this way for that!” Its instances like that where you see his personality from his rock band days come through, which is a major help in getting the crowd engaged. They were able to squeeze the ballad, “Constantly”, into this short set, and then did performed the title track of Kirk’s newest EP, “Cold as a Stone”. They really brought things down with those two songs, but they were about to make up for it with the final song they had time to play. I had almost completely forgotten about “Rock ‘n’ Roll In My Veins”, but it just took a few seconds of the song for me to recall it. Most of their music may be considered alt-country, but not that song. It’s a rock tune through and through, and in Kirk expresses his love for both genres. “…I got rock ‘n’ roll in my veins, but I love Waylon Jennings just the same…” he belts out at one part, with a fierceness to his voice. During a little instrument break, where his lead guitarist, bassist and drummer cut loose, Kirk picked up a tambourine and played it for a few moments, before suddenly tossing it to an unsuspecting audience member. “Here you go!” he said, as he went back to his guitar, while the tambourine crashed to the floor, since the person hadn’t been expecting it.
That was it, and it had just really started getting good, too.
I guess since I haven’t seen him as a country musician much, I still find it a little weird. I guess I’m just so used to him running around the stage, interacting with the fans and being a charismatic frontman. Well, he’s still pretty charismatic now, just in a slightly different way.
He’s still one of the best singer’s around, though, and regardless of what genre he’s doing, he still sounds fantastic. And I do like the more country stuff. In fact, he seemed more at home performing it now then whenever I last saw him.
Just check out his “Cold as a Stone” EP and find out for yourself. And if you like it, go catch a show. He’s got a few coming up, beginning with March 23rd at Zapatos in College Station. On the 29th they’ll be down at All Bottoms Up in Harker Heights. April 6th will find them back in Dallas, performing at the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, which takes place on Main Street in Dallas. They’ll also be in Kennedale at Red’s Roadhouse on April 12th.
The onslaught of country music continued with the next band, but in a very different way from any of the bands before, and even the ones that would follow.
With their first song The Calamity Janes showed everyone just what they were in for, with the impressive harmonies of the three Texas sisters, Courtney Childs-Mock, Arwyn Benson and Alyssa Yancey. Each of them had amazing voices, and mixed together, especially on their up tempo opening number, it was impossible not to get reeled in. A lot of what they did during their 25-minute set was covers, such as their next tune. “…We stole this song, and we sing the shit out of it…” one of them said, before starting a cover of The Pistol Annies, “Hell On Heels”. They did indeed “sing the hell out of it”, and I liked that it showcased each of their individual voices, yet also included more of the harmonies, which was certainly their specialty. After that song, they mentioned that they hailed from Waxahachie. “…There used to be a lot of barns there. Now there’s a lot of people.” Said one of them, adding, “We don’t like it.” I think their next song was called “Life’s Wildcards”, and they followed it with a couple other songs. They were sounding pretty good, but so was their backing band, which was comprised of Doug Pitt on the pedal steel guitar, Tanner Laine on guitar, James Kinard on bass, and drummer, Donald Wall. They then did yet another cover, and it was one of the Dixie Chicks songs, “Long Time Gone”, which was a highlight of their set. They had time for one more after that, and closed with an original, which, as they put it, was about their “crazy middle sister”. “I represent that statement!” Alyssa proudly said. With her red hair and prominently displayed tattoos, she did stand out more from the other two, and that was more or less what the song was about, that she was living life the way she wanted to and having fun.
Sound wise, they didn’t even remotely fit with any of the other bands on the bill, but that didn’t keep them from putting on one of the best performances of the night.
Their incredibly tight harmonies are gripping, and is definitely the backbone of their music. They’ve also written some really catchy stuff, and even the covers they put their own twist on.
I guess the point is, this is a band you need to see, and regardless of what your thoughts on country music are, I feel certain that anyone who listens to The Calamity Janes will become a fan.
So, head over to their REVERBNATION PAGE and check out some of their stuff. Also, they have a gig on April 13th in Rowlett at the Dickey’s BBQ Car Show. They’ll also be playing the Texas Tea Music Festival in Denton on May 24th.
Loyal Sally was the next band up, and I was looking forward to finally seeing them live.
They’ve played the Curtain many times before, and in fact have a plaque on their “Wall of Fame”, but I never seemed to be able to make it to one of their shows before, be it here or another venue.
As the curtain opened on them, Michael Morgan began their first song, playing a catchy series of chords on his acoustic guitar. “So, this song starts with Michael playing this crazy music for a minute.” Said singer and electric guitarist, Michael Lindblom. “Then the lyrics start right when I start singing…” he added. It was pretty hard not to laugh at that. The song proved to be every bit as good as the intro had been. “…Let’s get familiar…” Michael M. told the audience when they finished that song, urging them all to move closer. He continued, “…Michael’s going to stage dive after this song.” Michael L. went with the bit for a second, but then quickly dismissed the notion. Probably for the best, too, ‘cause the crowd was pretty sparse up front. They may have two EP’s in their discography, but they did another song that isn’t on either, but as phenomenal as it was, hopefully it’ll make the cut on their next record. They followed it with a song from their first release of 2012, “Things From Thoughts”, and it was my personal favorite of theirs, “Stereo”. It was another that started with some sweet acoustic sounds, but was kicked up a notch when drummer, Stacy Blankenship, and their bassist added some rhythm to it. “I’ll never make it if I hear what they say. I’ll know I’m wrong if I do it the right way…” sang Michael L. on the second verse, which is just one instance of great lyrics that populate their songs. Afterwards, they asked the audience the one question I’m sure every band asks, “How many of y’all are drinking tonight?” Several people cheered or raised their hand, but then Michael M. asked a question I hadn’t heard posed before. “How many of y’all have condoms?” The crowd was relatively silent about that one. Michael’s response was something like, “We have more beers than condoms. I like the direction this is headed, America.” Yeah, they definitely have a sense of humor about them, and it comes out well on stage, but they didn’t let that sidetrack them from the music, and another pretty captivating tune, “The Movies”. They busted out a new song after it, before closing their 25-minute long set with the final track from the “Pleased to Meet You!” EP, “Bye Bye”. Michael L. even ditched his guitar on that one, and the free reign it gave him transformed him into quite the frontman. That also served as a fitting song to end with, and really gave a sense of finality to the show, while also leaving you wanting more.
One thing I learned from the bands show; I need to start frequenting more Loyal Sally gigs. Like I said, I’d heard of them before, and even had gotten each EP, but I didn’t anticipate them being as fantastic live as what they were. Really, these guys are a force to be reckoned with. I now see why they recently won a semi-final round of the Hard Rock Rising competition, and I’m sure they were more than deserving of it.
The acoustic guitar gives their music a bit of a folk sound, but often it packed in just as much rock as the electric instruments did, while all of those of course added the rock style to it. All that makes for an interesting, more unusual blend of music, which you really need to hear.
Both of their records can be purchased in ITUNES, and catch them at the second annual Big Folkin’ Festival on March 30th at The Door. Also check them out on April 11th at the Hard Rock Cafe in Dallas, for the final round of the Hard Rock Rising competition.
Things got more into the rock swing with the next act, which was The Unlikely Candidates.
Just about two months before, I saw them for the first time right here, and was eager to see them again.
The five-piece pop/rock outfit got off to a great start with their first song, and like the band before them, they have an acoustic guitarist, Cole, which a bit of a different vibe to this radio friendly music. They barreled through their 25-minute set with a couple more songs, before vocalist, Kyle, asked if there were any fans of The Strokes in attendance. The band’s sound is similar to that of The Strokes, making them a good band to cover and they did a spot on job of “Someday”. In fact, and I think I said this last time too, but I think it was even a hair better than The Strokes original. There was only time enough for two more songs at this point, but they had saved two of their catchiest for last. By that, I mean The Unlikely Candidates are no strangers to the “hook”, which is something these final two definitely had. They wrapped things up with their current single, which is “Follow My Feet”. “There’s a fork in the road in front of me, at the crossroads of identity. The devil is standing to the left, he says, “Either way they both lead to death”…” Kyle sang, before drummer, Kevin, lead guitarist, Josiah, and bassist, Brenton, tore into the song. Even if you don’t know it, it’ll still have you singing along, even if it’s just on the simple line form the chorus, “…Yeah, so follow, follow, follow my feet…”.
Their set, albeit short, was a standout of the night. Kyle’s voice is incredible, while their music is very easy to get into, and is not only something you could easily sing along to, but also something you might find yourself dancing to. And the acoustic guitar adds an excellent layer to their pop/rock sound. Definitely a band you need to experience if you haven’t already, and after one show, they’ll likely have you coming back for more.
You can find their single, “Follow My Feet”, in iTunes, and hopefully more singles, or even an EP or LP, will follow soon enough. And be sure to check out their FACEBOOK PAGE to be kept in the loop of future shows.
Next up was the main event of the night, and while not the headliner, this show was all about The Bedlam Brothers and the release of their latest EP.
Their 44-minute long set began with some intro music playing, before their new drummer, Juan, stepped on stage and got behind his drum kit, which was set up sideways. It looked a little weird, but I like that, because it makes it easier to see what the drummer at work. He proceeded to lay down some beats, before Craig McLaughlin walked on stage and completed the rhythm section when he added some bass into the mix. After a moment, vocalist and guitarist, Nick Santa Maria, got on stage, completing the trio, and then they were off. They tore through their opening number, which at the end they whipped into the lead track from their “Saddle Up” EP, “Run Run Run”. It’s even more intense live than it comes across on the CD, seeming a little faster paced, while the sweat guitar solo and riffs sound their best in the live environment. Plus you got that catchy little chorus, “Run, run, run as fast as you can. Gotta leave this town, I’m a wanted man…”. Once they finished it, Nick thanked everyone for coming out to the show. “…We may be from Austin now, but Dallas is home…” he said. After all, both he and Craig are from the area, which makes it all the more impressive that later in the show, Nick said this was both the most fun show he had played in Dallas, and also the best crowd. The thing about that was you could tell he was being sincere, and not just saying it to make the audience feel important. They next busted out “Not Enough”, an older song of Nick’s, which is really at its best with the southern rock grit that The Bedlam Brothers give it. “I’m gonna need your help on this next song…” said Nick when they finished. He coached the crowd through their part a few times, as he belted out, “Maaaaarrry Roooose!” a few times a cappella, getting the fans to then shout out, “Mary was a tortured soul!” With a quick beat, Juan then started them on the first single from their album, “Mary Rose”, which is by far one of the strongest songs in their in their catalog. They brought things down just a little “240 Miles”, and afterwards took a brief break as Craig introduced the band. “Back here beating off like no one’s business is John, or Juan. He goes by both.” He said, formally introducing the new drummer to everyone. After saying something about Nick, Nick then introduced him. “Over here we’ve got the master basser…” he said, keeping with the dirty little innuendos. With that out of the way they kicked things back into high gear with “First Time”, which gave the crowd a dose of heavy southern rock, and was something you could really bang your head to. I think it was after that song that Nick thanked everyone for coming out, mentioning that is was the best Dallas crowd he had ever played to, and also pointed out an interesting tidbit of information. “…I looked at our Reverbnation and Facebook pages and it was this time one year ago when we signed up on them…” he said, making this the bands one year anniversary show. That’s a hell of a way to celebrate it to, doing a CD release show in your true hometown. They kept things going with another single, “We Ride Tonight”, and then the song that follows it on the record, “Save Me”. That strong finish served to start winding down their set, but they had enough time for one more song, and it was their routine closer. Craig, who before one song had said it was one of the first he and Nick started playing when they in the early stages of The Bedlam Brothers, stated that this next one really was their first song they started jamming with. He went on to say it was about living their dream of just making music, and that maybe one day they could do that full-time. Nick chimed in, “It’d probably be nine PM to five AM, though…”, which, in that line of work, is more than accurate. They then ripped into “My 9 to 5”, which is a rock song through and through, and will forever be an excellent way to conclude a performance.
These guys continue to get better with every show, and this was definitely their best Dallas show to date. The larger than normal crowd could probably be part of the reason the show was so great, since every band feeds of a crowds energy, and top that with the excitement of a CD release show, which are always some of the best of a bands career, and you got a very memorable show.
Their new drummer, who had only been with the band for a few weeks, looked like he had been with them for years and fit with them perfectly. Craig’s a really good bassist, and makes use of the large stage, moving all around, while Nick slays on the guitar when that’s his only focus and he’s taking a break from singing.
Fantastic band, and their CD is a great reflection of what they are like. So, why not go see a show and pick up a copy of it, either on ITUNES or at a live show. They have gigs coming up on March 30th at The Door in Dallas as part of the second annual Big Folkin’ Festival, and on April 14th they’ll be at The Dogwood in Austin.
After a show like that, anyone would be hard pressed to rival or top it, but if any band could, We The Ghost was one that stood a chance at it.
For this show, they had five out of their seven members in tow, which in the end, resulted in what was probably one of their most solid Dallas shows.
The Tulsa based band began their set with a song from their “My Mixtape Summer” EP, “Your Remedy”. They have several fantastic songs, but that one is of their best (or at least a personal favorite of mine), with the catchy chorus that singer and acoustic guitarist, Beau Tyler, spits out in more of a reggae style, “I can be your cure, it’s the only that I, I ever know for sure. If you will only trust in me, then I can be the medicine you need. Oh, baby, I, I can be your cure…” That’s actually what makes so many of their songs so unique, that they do have a certain reggae flair to them, and stand apart from anything else currently out there. They followed it with another song from their first EP, one of the singles, “She’s Gonna Fly Again”. Towards the end of it, Beau pointed out that since Paco [Estrada] was a no show, they were going to do something else instead. “…I’m going to show you what an amazing guitarist he is…” Beau said, pointing at bassist, Ben Mosier, who is probably best known as the guitarist of the long defunct Denton band, Upside. Ben and guitarist, Matt McHan, then switched spots (and instruments), for a little something special. While short, it was phenomenal, as Ben shredded on the guitar. It’s been so long since I last saw him play the guitar, I forgot the crazy amount of talent he possessed. He’s one of those players that makes it look completely effortless, without being over the top, and as good as he is on the bass, there’s no question where his talent truly lies. That didn’t last too long before they returned to their original instruments and wrapped up the song, before revealing they had something else special in store for the next one. “Does anybody remember a band called Utica?” Beau asked the crowd. It was one of his older projects, which included Stan Roden on vocal duties, and Beau now invited on stage. “…This is one of Stan’s favorite songs of ours…” he added, as Stan proceeded to sing the first few lines of “Wash These Sins Away”, which was the chorus. He handled that part throughout the tune, while Beau sang the verses. I never saw Utica, but I had listened to their stuff. Stan had a killer voice from what I heard, and it sounded every bit as good now hearing it live. The two voices mingled well together as they ceded control back and forth to one another, and made the song sound its absolute best. They brought the level down a little with “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”, before pulling out a rather unexpected cover. “This isn’t new, but it’s new for us.” Said Beau, repeating it afterwards, trying to get a better reaction out of the crowd. Paula Abdul isn’t an artist you’d expect these guys to cover, yet here they were, doing a more rock rendition of her song “Straight Up”. The keys, which were manned by Kris Stone, had been prevalent throughout the night, but they really brought this song to life, while lyrically, Beau transformed it to almost more of a rap. It was really an interesting take on the song, and I liked it. After a newer song, Beau shouted out The Bedlam Brothers and asked everyone to go pick up their new CD. “…I think many of you realize what it takes to make a record.” He said, noting that a lot of work goes into getting music “…on that stuff that makes it play…” He said something along those lines at least, before they soon started their current single off the “White Noise” EP, “Let Me Know”. They weren’t done yet, though, and they finished their 39-minute set with a song Beau wrote during the days of his last band. “…This is called Right Where You Want.” He announced, as they ended with a real rock number. Drummer, Jimmy Adams, had been great all night but it with that song where he really got to cut loose and go all out, giving a dynamic end to a extraordinary set.
Out of the small handful of We the Ghost shows I’ve seen, this was certainly the best. I don’t believe they’ve ever had this many members at a Dallas gig before (at least not the few I’ve caught), and the full drum kit and keys made all the difference in rounding out their sound. And about their sound, like I touched on earlier, it’s something that’s entirely their own. I’ve never heard any music like this before, and in a world where everyone says everything in music has been done and that sound wise it’s impossible to do something original now, We The Ghost is proof that’s not entirely true.
They’re creative and original, yet many of their songs also have that radio quality to them. Check it out for yourself, you can find both of their EP’s in ITUNES. So give ‘em a listen, and buy it if you dig it.
They also have quite a few shows lined up over the next several months, with one being on April 5th at Guthrie Green in Tulsa, OK. The night after they’ll be at Rooster’s in Fort Smith, Arkansas. They’re calendar has a few dates going all the way through September right now, so check out their REVERBNATION PAGE for a list of all of them.
There was one band left this night, but after being out for so long, I was beat. Plus, I had more than gotten my dose of music for the night.
On one hand, a bill with this many acts can be nice, because you do get to see a vast array of talent. But on the other hand, the sets are so short that you just really start getting into the music when they the act has to wrap it up. At least that was true for most of the bands early on in the night.
Still, kudos go out to everyone who had a hand in putting this together, because the majority of the bands were incredible, and it made for a killer night of music.