Friday, November 22nd, 2013 – The Dirty River Boys

The Granada Theater was hosting a nice selection of local(ish) country talent on this cold, wet night, just one day after the venue celebrated its 9th birthday. Evidence of the party was still visible, with a “9” shaped balloon hanging on either side of the stage, and by night’s end, I don’t know if the venue could have asked for a better lineup of bands to kickoff the journey to the 10 year mark.

The Matt the Cat Trio was the first band up, and was already into their set a little bit by the time I arrived. The band is comprised of 3/5ths of local favorites Eleven Hundred Springs, and evidently the almost constant touring schedule that band keeps still left too much downtime for singer and guitarist Matt Hillyer, bassist Steve Berg and drummer Arjuna Contreras, seeing as they started this as a side-project.

For the most part, they are a cover band at the moment, putting their spin on several older classics in the 40-minutes that I saw, like Jimmy Lloyds’ “I Got a Rocket in My Pocket”. They made sure it retained that classic 50’s sound, though they did charge it up a bit, and Matts’ voice was pretty well suited for it, hitting the higher notes with ease. “…This a song by Ronnie Dawson.” Matt informed the crowd as they started into “Congratulations to Me”, soon following it with “Thirteen Women (and Only One Man in Town)” by Bill Haley. Again, the faster drum beats Arjuna was knocking out helped bring a little modern taste to the song, while Steve kept pace with him, quickly plucking and slapping his upright bass.

“Let’s keep it swinging!” exclaimed Matt as they went right into an instrumental piece. It was a classic, one I recognized (and I’m sure everyone else would, too), though its title escapes me at the moment. It went almost unnoticed at first that Arjuna’s drumming grew louder, and then all of a sudden all eyes were on him, as he did one of his epic drum solos, proving you don’t need to have a massive drum kit to create a massive sound and get people’s attention.

Once they finished, Matt again addressed the audience, stating they didn’t have much original material written for this band yet. “…We’re just having fun, and we hope you are, too.” he told the little over thirty people who had made it out this early. He didn’t say they had no original music to play, though, and now did a song from a 7’’ record they put out, with the track being titled “When I Try to Be Cool”. If you’ve listened to their main band, than that song is pretty much what you’ve come to expect from Matt as a writer, though the sound was more reminiscent of 50’s to 60’s era music, while he sang the more humorous song about trying to act cool to impress the ladies. “…’Cause I always end up looking a fool when I try to be cool.” he sang before the second verse, with the rest of the track being filled with equally as great lines.

They performed a couple more covers, one of which was James Browns’ “I’ll Go Crazy”, which Matt noted was their first time doing it live, before doing another original, “It’s Gonna Take Some Time”. As it ended, they kept things going with some feedback, Matt bending down by his amp and holding his guitar to it, winding them into their next and final song, another take on a well known instrumental song, which proved a good way to end the show.

The three bring the same level of musicianship and quality as they display in Eleven Hundred Springs, but the Matt the Cat Trio is far from being just a scaled down version of the band. Their style does differ greatly, and doesn’t have quite as much of a country/rock infused sound. Part of that may well be the fact that they did so many covers, but all the same, while there are still some country twangs to the songs, they’re closer to being like a rock band in the very early days of the genre.

Well worth checking out, and I’m curious to see (and hear) what lies ahead for them, as they start to write and work in more original music to their set.

You can purchase their two singles in iTUNES, and while they are done doing shows for this year, they’ll be starting off strong in 2014, with a bunch of dates already booked for January which can be found HERE.

Following them was one band I had not seen in some time. In fact, it had been long enough that the Whiskey Folk Ramblers had dropped the “Ramblers” from their name, now going by Whiskey Folk.

They had also released their newest record since the last time I saw them, “The Lonesome Underground”, though their show this night represented all three of the records they’ve released, and very nicely at that, as they opened with one of the newer ones, “Cross City Trade”. As soon as the screen that covers the stage began to retract, their drummer launched them into the quick, catchy song that gained the attention of much of the ever growing crowd.

“…We came here to make you dance…” singer and acoustic guitarist Tyler Rougeux told the audience, while they had already started in on the next song, which saw Cory Graves putting his trumpet down as he put his keyboard to use for the next few songs, which came from the bands 2008 debut record, “Midnight Drifter”. One of those was the short and sweet, “Goin’ Where I Don’t Know”, which could easily provoke some dancing from the listener, and they bled it seamlessly into “River Song”. “Sold my soul to the river one day, I went down there to pray…” Tyler sang at the start of the tune, which still manages to sound just as good as it always has, even without the banjo player, who departed some time back, and seemed to have an even stronger rhythm section. “This is a song about gun slinging.” Tyler said as they did “Graveyard Line”, during which bassist Jack Russell continued plucking the strings of his bass in a pretty fast manner, giving the song a nice backbone.

As Tyler put it, they had one more “dancing song coming right up”, and he added that it was one they wrote “way back in the day” and it was based on a cartoon. The song he was setting up was “Moanin’ Rag”. The little story telling continued as they did another new song, which Tyler said was about “catching rides home with strangers”, bringing them to the slightly dark sounding, “Mad Man’s Eyes”. That darker mood was kept up with “Into That Slide”, one of the many songs that falls into what has been described as being a sort of gypsy/horror rock sound, before Tyler rolled them into the next number, strumming his acoustic, before electric guitarist Mark Moncrieff and the rest of the band joined in on “Leavin’ Here”.

I must confess, I haven’t listened to their new record too much, and I failed to identify the next song the band did (as well as a few others this night), but after it came a fan favorite. “…It’s about an old woman who makes pies and gets colds… And had no PTO…” Tyler joked before starting the ever entertaining, “Pies of Old Kylene”. The focus of songs then shifted to “bad relationships”, which is the subject of “Drink the Bottle Dry”, and again had Cory using his keyboard.

I don’t know how much of a true storyteller aspect this show had, but all the same, I was thoroughly enjoying all the comments before most of the songs, and for their next one Tyler told everyone it was about the circus coming to town and “…making a homeless guy sing…” That led them to the lead track from “The Lonesome Underground”, “Oh, St. Jude”, and was quickly followed by a couple more songs presumably from the album.

Another instant classic that was featured on 2010’s “And There Are Devils…” came next, with the tale of the “Gambling Preacher and His Daughter”, before doing another track about “gun slinging”, Cory adding a little extra percussion to it by shaking a tambourine. After another song, they got ready to end their 59-minute long show with “Sweet Waters”, which in the past has served as the closer, before wrapping it all up with “Lights On the Highway”.

Perhaps the best thing about Whiskey Folk is how they keep managing to reinvent themselves to some extent, changing their style around just enough from album to album to be different from one another, while still retaining their core sound. With the array of songs they did this night, that was made clear, and while they didn’t all sound similar to one another, they managed to all mesh and work with one another, allowing you to hear their evolutionary process.

Aside from that, they are a very unique band, having crafted a sound unlike any other band, which isn’t too easy to do these days, and they put on an entertaining show to boot.

They have one last show lined up for the year, and it’ll be on December 31st at Club Dada in Dallas, and be sure to check out their music in iTUNES.

Headlining the venue this night was The Dirty River Boys, who were doing one last little run of shows for the year, sandwiching this Dallas show between gigs in El Paso and Austin, their hometown and the city where they now reside, respectively.

They hit the stage right at their scheduled start time of 10:20, having a brief intro track play before the screen was raised and the four guys made their way on stage.

“How you doing, Dallas?” asked Marco Gutierrez, one of the bands singers and acoustic guitarists, once he got in front of his mic on stage left. They promptly started what wound up being nothing short of an epic performance. It was Marco who handled the singing on their first song, “Train Station”, though fellow singer and acoustic guitarist Nino Cooper added some light background vocals at various points during the song. It gave it a beautiful underlying texture, and after that title track of one of their EP’s, Nino took the reins, as he and some his band mates harmonized for the first line of “My Son”, “I don’t know where  you’re going my son, taught you to walk but you learned how to run…”.

That song has an extra to kick to it live from what you hear on the record, and the way they segued seamlessly from their first song to it helped give their show even more of a punch. They weren’t about ready to let up, either, going right into their next song, but first, drummer Travis Stearns (who plays a cajon he sits on and has a more minimal drum kit setup) spoke to the crowd, which no numbered a few hundred people, welcoming them to the show and (successfully) trying to get them excited. Marco then went back to singing as they did “Carnival Lights”, the lead track from their first EP. That gorgeously sad song is filled with great lines, like, “I saw her on a Sunday, I never saw her again, they say she’s fading away…”, and as it neared the end, it turned into a sing along, with those who knew it crooning along with Marco at the end, “These old carnival lights won’t let her eyes sleep tonight…”.

Travis bridged them right into their next number, where bassist Colton James got his first chance of the night to show off his full vocal chops, singing one of their new tunes, almost snarling on part of the chorus, “…Let me taste the blood.” It was more intense than some of their stuff, and Travis matched that by rocking out on his kit, forcefully striking his snare drum, performance wise showing up even the heaviest of metal drummers (not just on that song, but for much of the night).

They carried on with “Dried Up”, the first of several songs that drew from the “Science of Flight” record, and upon finishing it, Marco announced it was time for a “Chinese fire drill”. Nino was the only one who stayed in the same position, while Travis grabbed a mandolin and Colton a banjo, leaving Marco to play the upright bass. “
Lookin’ for the Heart” was the song they did in that format, which has more of a bluegrass sound than most of their other songs, and upon finishing it, while the band returned to their original instruments, Nino moved them onto the next track, another new one, as he gently plucked the strings on his guitar. “…If you’ve heard us on the radio recently, this was probably the song you heard…” Marco told everyone once he got back in front of his microphone and began playing the same chords as Nino. “Desert Wind” was one song Colton used a typical electric bass on, and that amazing new single brought with a certain aura. An aura very few songs have, but one that in listening to it you know you’re hearing something special, and it boasts a great music bed, and some wonderful lyrics that do indeed tell a story.

They kept the new songs coming with another one, Nino switching out to an electric guitar for it, before swapping out to the mandolin for, as Marco put it, “…A country song about punk rock…” Travis again stood up from his kit, excitedly chatting with the audience for a minute to pump them up, before asking for some more help in singing it, with “it” being “Boomtown”, and it got quite a few people excited, with some of the fans at the front of the stage jumping around while singing along to every word.

They may have been in Dallas, but their hometown of El Paso got a shout (or two) this night, with Marco noting how proud they were to be from the city, asking if anyone had heard of another band from there, The Lusitania, which led them to trying their hand at one of that bands tracks. Nino was back on his acoustic now, and they did an excellent cover of “’Til My Heart Gives Out (Mountain Song)”, which was definitely a country song, especially since part of the chorus was,  “…How long ‘til my heart gives out and the drinks kick in?”.

“Are we having fun yet?!” Marco asked everyone, adding that they were going to be trying out some new stuff this night, but that wasn’t a lead in to another new track. Instead they did another from their LP, “Youngblood Blues”. That somewhat joyous song was followed with another new one, which required Colton to bring his electric bass back out, while he again sang lead on the song, though they all harmonized on part of the chorus, “…Now God knows that no one should be alone…” There was a certain degree of somberness to the song, balanced out with unrivaled beauty in the four-part harmonies that ensued at different times.

They slowed things down with the pretty, “Riverbed Wildflowers”, before offering another glimpse at what their new album will sound like. “Things are gonna get real weird…” Marco plainly stated before one song, which did sound like more of a departure from their previous stuff, but in the best possible way, simply because it did seem to be out of their comfort zone so to speak. Nino kept things going by setting up their next tune, another one that forced them to do some things different, and they again did their “Chinese fire drill”, knocking out another new number.

“Union Painter” was another song of theirs that told a legitimate story, and afterwards, while Nino thought they were going to take a break, his band mates surprised them by rolling things along. “I guess we’re gonna play some rock ‘n’ roll.” he remarked, joining them on Ryan Adams’ “Shakedown on 9th Street”, which they did a great rendition of, putting their own little mark on it. At one point during it, Travis took one of his drum sticks and hurled it high into the air, though he failed to catch it as it fell a little behind him, narrowly escaping his grasp. He didn’t seem to give it much thought, though, quickly grabbing another stick.

“Draw” got a very impressive intro, with the band getting progressively faster on their respective instruments, leading to Travis standing up from his cajon and he again tosses a stick into the air, catching it this time around, before they wound the instrumental segment into the actual song. They also added an extra touch to the end, Marco extending the final line as he held each word for a few seconds.

They were over an hour into things by now, and I was surprised they were still going, though at this point Colton and Travis left the stage, while Marco hid in the wings of stage left, leaving Nino to perform most of “So Long Elanie” solo. Marco did join in eventually, though, adding not only his guitar to the mix, but also some soft vocals. Once the full band was back on stage, they did one last new song for the night, and it was a special one. Not only did they write it with Ray Wylie Hubbard, it was also about their hometown, and Nino asked if anyone in the crowd was from El Paso. He reminisced about how at one time, you could travel into Mexico with no worries, saying as a teen he and countless others would walk across the bridge, get some beers, and come back before night. That’s something that can’t be done now with all the violence in the border towns, which was precisely what this track was about, and as it concluded, Travis again threw a stick up in the air, and yes, he caught it.

They still had some left to give, doing “Six Riders”, before all four of them wound up at the front of the stage, taking some shots that had been bought for them and bowing, thanking everyone for coming out. Travis noted that they had done one thousand plus shows in their four-year existence, and would be coming back strong in 2014 with their new record and a new sound. By that time, Nino had again armed himself with the mandolin, capping off their show with “Raise Some Hell”, which has a very authentic Irish sound to it, and (fittingly so) is a very rowdy number.

98-minutes. That’s how long they had been on stage, which is much longer than even some of the most well known bands play. It was nothing short of phenomenal, and I was amazed at how quickly the time had passed, ‘cause it really seemed like they had only just begun by the time it all ended.

An encore seemed improbable to me, after such a meaty show during which they had played just about everything they possible could have, but some of their fans weren’t ready for it to end, shouting for more.

At most they had been gone from the stage for a minute when Marco returned, getting his moment to do a song solo.

Their 14-minute long encore portion was kicked off with “Another Night”, and a little ways into it Nino returned to the stage, being followed by Colton and Travis shortly after as the song picked up steam. Once he had played his final notes, Nino went and swapped his acoustic guitar out for an electric, rocking out some sweet licks that had the fans cheering him as they bridged the tail end of that track into “She”. They tacked on something special to that already brilliant original song, though, and at one point, Nino took over on lead vocals, belting out part of the chorus of Jim Hendrixs’ “Voodoo Child”.

This wound up being quite the night, far surpassing the expectations I had, had for it. Really, what bands play for almost two hours? Especially ones that are still on more of the local to mid-level circuit of the game. That’s just about unheard of, and it was a nice surprise to be treated to a true, honest to god performance.

They commanded the audience’s attention with ease all throughout the night, the fun the four of them were clearly having on stage playing their music making it all the easier for the crowd to get into it all and have a good time. That helped contribute (hell, it practically made) the fun atmosphere for the night, which in my opinion, is one of the most important aspects a concert should have.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt either that all four of them are very capable singers with excellent voices, and skilled musicians.

They may be through doing shows for the year, but luckily there’s not much left of this year, so their 2014 resurgence isn’t that far off. But until then, you can of course find their music in iTUNES. Two EP’s, a full-length, and not too long ago “Desert Wind” became available as a single (seriously, you HAVE to listen to that one). Check ‘em out, buy their music, and get ready for their new record.

I’m not the biggest country music fan in general, but if you’re like me, then you just might think that the “mainstream country” music has devolved to the point it’s essentially glorified pop music that masquerades as so called country by talking about “pickup trucks” or other stereotypical things. It’s so much more than that, though, and all three of the bands on the bill this night know that. Sure, each one of them offered a different variation of the genre, but they’re still more country than what you’re likely to find on the radio.

Thursday, January 24th, 2013 – Kentucky Knife Fight

Deep Ellum may be pretty lively on the weekends, but unfortunately, it’s never a real hotspot on the weekdays. Like, this Thursday night for instance, because there’s rarely something major going on.

But this night, the Dallas/Fort Worth area favorites, Whiskey Folk Ramblers, were performing at The Doublewide, and playing with them was their buddies from St. Louis, Kentucky Knife Fight. No, it wasn’t a “major” show or anything, but it was one that was well worth going to.

Making it even better was the fact that Madison King and her band were opening the show. I caught her quite a few times back in 2011, but it seemed like her show schedule tapered off in 2012, and when she did perform, there was usually some other show I wanted to see more. So, needless to say, I was looking forward to finally seeing her again.

They were a trio this night, with Ms. King on the acoustic guitar, while the rhythm section was occupied by Jeff Dyer on bass and drummer, John Solis . They opened their 32-minute long set with what is quite possible the best song in their repertoire, “Here In Arms”, which just so happens to be a cover from a Dallas band with that same name. It was easily the best song of their set, despite Madison forgetting a line in it, which I think happened right after the line, “…If I’m the queen of dreams and runaways, you’re the king of patience, my love…” It didn’t seem to faze her much, though. Rather, she just pulled back from the mic on the small part she forgot, laughing, before getting back to it. They slowed things down a little with “Feel The Same”, before doing one of three new songs. It was incredible catchy, in terms of the music bed, and all around a fantastic tune. Pretty much the same can also be said of their next one, another new track called “The Mistake”, where the guitar, bass and drums intertwined with each other perfectly, allowing each to be the more dominant instrument at various points throughout it. “…This next song is one of the first I ever wrote…” Madison said, announcing it was another gem, “Tough As Nails”. After one more new song, Madison began plucking the strings of her guitar, progressively getting faster, starting the fast paced title track from her record, “Darlin, Here’s To You”. Their set had seemed to pass by too quickly, and they were already at the end, but they at least went out with a bang. “…This song is called Whiskey In The Morning” Madison told the meager crowd. It may be one of the shortest songs she has, but it’s also one of the most entertaining. For example, take the line, “…When I’m singing with the choir they say, “Girl you’re such a liar. I saw you last night drinking with my friends.” And I may have been there, too, but I’m still better than you because I don’t smell like whiskey in the morning…”

It was a good one to close with, and it ended what was a fantastic set. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I hadn’t seen her in so long, but she sounded impeccable this night. Her voice was gorgeous, and there were more than a few songs where it was nothing short of breathtaking.

To me, this show served to re-solidify the fact that Madison King is one of the most talented singer/songwriters in the area, judging from the new music they did, her next record should be just as remarkable as her first.

No telling when that will be, though. So, for now, be sure to check out “Darlin, Here’s to You” and keep an eye on her FACEBOOK PAGE for an future show updates.
They cleared off the stage in no time, and then Kentucky Knife Fight proceeded to set up.

It’s been right at two years since I first heard of the group, when they played this very venue for their first every show in Dallas. I caught them again in the summer of 2011 when they returned, but had missed all their other return trips since. I wasn’t going to miss this one, though…

The band is very close to releasing a new album, so it only made sense that their set this night would feature some of that new material. In fact, half of their set ended up being stuff that they have yet to release…

Like their first song, which was every bit as explosive as dynamite. It was a more intense, fiery song, and it found guitarist, Curt Brewer, often adding some backing vocals on the choruses, which really helped make the song pop. It may have been a knockout tune, but I was hoping they’d be some of my favorites of theirs, but especially one in particular. And wouldn’t you know it, they did that one next. “She looks bereft in her Sunday dress. Ruby red with the lips to match…” crooned vocalist, Jason Holler, which is the first few lines of “Always A Bribe, Never A Bride”. Most of his band mates joined him on the second chorus, as he, Curt, rhythm guitarist, Nate Jones, and bassist, Jason Koenig, harmonized to an extent, belting out, “She can tell I’m an only child. She knows why I can’t sleep at night. Has her fingers wrapped around the necks of every man, every woman, every breath…”. Then, as came to a close, Jason added some particularly long breaks in-between the final lines. “Every man…” he sang, before stopping and casually glancing around. By the second pause, the crowd started laughing, and it was indeed a bit humorous. After several seconds he put his face back in front of the mic and softly sang, “…Eve-ry breath.” Next up were a couple more new tracks of theirs, though these had at least been released as singles earlier last year. Easily the best of those songs is “Misshappen Love”, which was also arguable their best song of the night. Beginning with some sweet licks on the bass, it soon exploded into what was the loudest and most raw song of the set, and more than a few people were rocking out to it. The neatest part of it came near the end, when Jason H. picked up another microphone of his, which gave his voice a more gravelly sound, while he sang the chorus, “Why ya wanna to go and wreck my life? Why ya wanna go and bleed me dry?…”. “This next song is called Love the Lonely. It’s about loving the lonely.” Jason H. said, as they started into the slightly slower song. It still builds up to quite an aggressive tune, though, and several people were banging their heads along to the drumbeats, which were courtesy of James Baker. When it was over, Jason H. started chatting with the audience, then mentioned something about this was their “Birthday Tour 2013”, which made the rest of the guys laugh. “…It’s mathematically impossible, but today is every single one of our birthdays…” He said, then threw their merch guy into the mix, saying he was also celebrating another year of life this day. What made it so hysterical, though, was the fact that he seemed dead serious about it. They returned to the music after that, and I believe it was Nate who began picking at his guitar, starting “Herschel Walker”, which was the only song they did from the “The Wolf Crept, The Children Slept” album. It was still every bit as catchy as I remembered. They followed it up with three more new tracks, the first of which I really enjoyed. The second of those was pretty good, too, but the third was by far the best in my opinion, due mainly to this line from the chorus, “…The mistakes of the past are the ones that last…” At this point, they announced they had a couple of songs left, while Curt switched out his guitar for a banjo. Their Dallas fans seemed ecstatic upon realizing he was leading them into “Dream So Sweet”, which also featured Jason playing a little harmonica. They brought their 46-minute long set to a close with one last new song, which had an intro of sorts, that was pretty soft and consisted of only Nate lightly strumming his guitar, while Jason H. sang rather quietly. I didn’t think they’d close with something so slow, but it went on long enough, I began to doubt it ever would escalate into something more… Then it did. The rest of the guys finally added their talents to it, making it that much better, and a solid way to end the show.

There’s no denying that they were the most electric band of the night. They were all very lively and definitely commanded the crowd. Speaking of which, they had more eyes watching them then any of the other acts this night. In some ways, that’s sad, because this was an excellent bill, but in others it’s a testimony to how extraordinary Kentucky Knife Fight really is. ‘Cause to be a touring band, who, until two years ago had never even played Dallas, they now have a pretty good little fan base here.

The band has a couple show scheduled in the state of Illinois during mid-February, so visit their OFFICIAL WEBSITE for where, when and other such details. However, their big show will be a hometown gig in St. Louis at Off Broadway. They’ll be celebrating the release of their brand new record, and I imagine that will be a show not to miss out on. And before that new record hits digital retailers, check out their older stuff (and a couple new songs) on iTunes.

Finally, you had the Whiskey Folk Ramblers, who didn’t quite have the crowd they deserved. Don’t get me wrong, there was still a decent amount of people out for a Thursday night, but not as many as the band before them had.

They, too, have been hard at work on new material, and began their 55-minute long set with one of those new tunes. That wasn’t the only “new” thing about them, though, at least not for me. They were down a member from the last time I had seen them (which in all fairness, has been awhile), leaving them without a banjo player/multi-instrumentalist, and I was instantly curious as to how they would sound with its absence. Next, their drummer opened up their classic/fan favorite, “Gambling Preacher and His Daughter”. If there were any differences, they were subtle enough that I didn’t take notice of them, or perhaps the distinctive, twangy voice of singer and acoustic guitarist, Tyler Rougeux, was enough to cover it up. Whatever way you slice it, though, it was every bit as good as it always has been. Afterwards, they launched into a barrage of tunes, one of which, “Into That Slide”, came from their current release, “And There Are Devils…”. The next two were from their debut, “Midnight Drifter”, and included the catchy, “Moanin’ Rag”, before their drummer wound them right into “Goin’ Where I Don’t Know”, both of which are pretty short and very fast paced, making them fly by. To add some balance to it all, they then did a series of new tunes, one of which I recognized from the past few times I’ve seen them, and is a bit haunting as Tyler sings, “…I’ll follow you down…” A couple of songs later and they did one titled, “Drank the Bottle Dry”, before returning to some older stuff with “Curtains”. The music bed for that latter one is superb, with the acoustic and electric guitar, played by Mark Moncrieff, mixing quite well and they intertwine perfectly with the low end beats JackDaw Russell cranks out on his upright bass, though it is the Cory Graves’s and his trumpet that really makes the song pop. Tyler gave a simple explanation of what their next song was about, simply saying, “…It’s about sex…” Their next song got a nice lead in, too, when Tyler told everyone it was about an guy named “…Buster Brown…”. That made me assume it was another new one, but no. Instead, it was what is possible their most popular song to date, “Pies of Old Kylene”. They followed it with one final new song for the night, then slowed things down a little with “Sweet Waters”, which brought them to their final song. Now, a song or two before, Cory had lit up a cigarette, and could be seen periodically taking a drag off it. At this point, Tyler noticed it. “Well, look at that. Cory learned how to smoke a electronic cigarette…” he said. “At least I hope it’s an electronic one…” By that time it had been thrown to the ground and put out. They then began their final tune for the night, the lengthy, “Midnight Drifter”, which tells a story exactly like what the title suggests. “…So I took her out, stabbed her with my knife…” Tyler sings at one point, in a rather manically voice. As it neared the end, Cory walked to the front of the stage, looking like he could jump into the crowd at any moment. Sure enough, he did. Jason K. of Kentucky Knife Fight caught him, as Cory slid down the guys back, still shaking the tambourine he had exchanged his trumpet for.

This was as strong a show as I’ve seen the Whiskey Folk Ramblers do, and I have to say, I’m enjoying the new stuff. The bands first two records differ greatly in sound, and it would appear their upcoming third record will be different from those two. In a good way, though. It doesn’t come across as a complete overhaul of their sound, but rather a natural progression of it, simply evolving into the next phase. It still maintains what has been called a “spaghetti western” sound, though, and I find it interesting that a lot of the songs sound similar enough that they fit together almost seamlessly, but still maintain their own individuality.

So if you haven’t already, go check ‘em out, because I promise you haven’t heard anything like this before.

They don’t have anything on the books at the moment, but keep an eye on their FACEBOOK PAGE, as they no doubt will get something soon. Also, check out their two records in iTunes.

This was really an exceptional night, and turned out to be even better than I thought it would, which is saying a lot. And if you weren’t here, then you truly did miss out.

Thursday, February 16, 2012 – Triple Play

Tonight marked the second concert of the monthly Triple Play Music Series, which is presented by KXT 91.7 and the Dallas Observer, and so far has taking place only at the historic Dallas venue, the Kessler Theater.

The lineup for this show was excellent, and I was looking forward to going, as was my mom, who is a fan of The Whiskey Folk Ramblers.

Then, in the late afternoon, things only got better, when the opening act, Jessie Frye, made a post that there were three tickets available for free, and I managed to get lucky enough to get them, so, many thanks to Steve Pickett for the tickets. I didn’t find out the story that he had some friends bail out at the last minute however until I was talking to Jessie after the show, so, Steve, if you’re reading this, I think I owe you a beer or two if we ever cross paths again, sir.

Anyways, getting to the show…

The first act up was Jessie Frye, who was representing Denton for this show bill. I first heard of her about a year and a half ago, when the Observer Music Awards were taking place, and she was one of several artists who had music featured on a sampler that the Observer gave away. I quickly became a fan after hearing the song of hers, bought her old EP and then the new one, once it was released, but had never been able to make it to a show… At least not until this one came about.

At 7:57 the lights dimmed as her band, comprised of guitarist, Michael Garcia, Matt Olmstead on drums, and bassist, Paulo Castillo, strode on stage, and Jessie Frye soon followed. Michael began their 40 minute set with a few notes before Matt crashed down on his drums as they started “Fortune Teller”. Once they had finished it, Jessie took a seat behind the keyboard that sat on stage as they slowed things down a little and she started the beautiful piano intro for “Red Angel, White Devil”. “We’re going to slow things down a little.” she said to everyone when the song was through. Then clarified, “More than it already is.” The stage lights mainly illuminated Jessie for “Sleeping Tornadoes”, as the song was predominantly performed as a solo, and her band mates took a backseat during it. Out of the five songs from her “Fireworks Child” EP, that one would be my favorite, and as amazing as the recording sounds, it was near breathtaking live, and I didn’t see how any other song they would do could top it. She left the piano afterwards, and set up their next song. “…It’s not on any record, so that makes it special.” she said, speaking of the song which I believe she said was called “Suit Yourself”. The song was a complete departure from the past two, and was more along the lines of their other material, with it being more a mix of rock and pop, and I soon found myself thinking this one may possible be their best song of the show. Honestly, I still can’t decide, and think it may be a tossup between it and the previous one. It was hard to tell when it ended though, as it sounded more like they were taking a brief pause before they would tear back into it, but everyone soon realized it was done and started applauding. “No one ever knows when that song is done…” Jessie remarked, then asked Matt what that was called. “A half cadence.” he replied. “A half cadence, I should know that.” Jessie said, almost more to herself. They kept the fun vibe going with “Like a Light”, as Jessie first mentioned the music video they had recently done for the song, encouraging anyone who hadn’t seen it to go watch it (you can find it HERE). Then, she returned to the keys for a couple more songs, saying that the first of which she had debated on if they would do it or not. “…It’s a brand new song, like, only about a week old.” she stated. “…I told the guys I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it or not, and they were like, “Bitch, we’re doing it!” Paulo chimed in at that moment, and while I couldn’t hear him too well, it sounded like he reiterated the, “Bitch, we’re doing it!”. “See, this is the kind of shit I have to put up with.” Jessie said, as she went on to say that since this was the first time it had ever been played live, they might screw it up. “…But we’ll be fucking it up for you. It’s not like we’ve never fucked anything else up on stage before.” she finished as they began the song. I really enjoyed it and the next one, both of which seemed to spotlight Michael’s guitar skills, as he had the occasional solo, and just shredded when he had the chance. They had time for one more song, and only one song had yet to be played from “Fireworks Child”, so “Prepared” brought things to a close.

I was totally blown away, and I think it’s safe to say Jessie Frye and her band were the best act for this edition of Triple Play. Her voice is phenomenal, and I found both the control she has of her voice and her vocal range to be utterly amazing. It’s just one of those voices that, no matter what, cannot be captured in a studio and can only be fully appreciated live when it’s in its rawest form. She also has an undeniable stage presence, that is also a little on the sultry side. She’s just an astounding musician, and I’m kicking myself now for not seeing a show sooner.

Speaking of shows, you can see them do a hometown show in Denton on March 9th as part of the 35 Denton Music Festival (venue TBA). They will be down in Austin for SXSW, performing at Ten Oak on March 17th. Towards the end of March Jessie will embark on a short solo tour, beginning on March 29th at Take Five in Kansas City, Kansas. On March 30th and 31st  she has shows in Chicago, Illinois, the one on the 30th will be at Café Ballou, while the other will take place at Nothing Less Café. Then in April they will have a couple shows back in Dallas. The first will on the 7th as part of the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, and on the 26th you can see them at Good Records.

Also, be sure to head over to her Bandcamp page where you can purchase 2008’s “The Delve” and last years, “Fireworks Child”.

Second up, and representing Dallas, was Salim Nourallah. I’ve heard a lot about him over the past few years, in both his producing career as well as ability as a musician, but even with all the praise I’ve heard, I’ve never taken time to listen to his music. I didn’t know what to expect either, if it would just be him solo, or perhaps if he had a band… It turned out to be the latter, as Emsy Robinson (who I got to know for his couple year stint with Paco Estrada & One Love) played bass, while Paul Slavens played keys, and another musician rounded out the group as the lead guitarist. The one thing about hearing so much praise over a band however, is that you can create incredibly high expectations of what they will sounds like, and they don’t always live up to that. Their music wasn’t what I had in mind, as it sounded reminiscent of older rock, say from the 50’s or 60’s, while the keys added a nice element to it all. Even one of the mics that Salim used distorted his voice a bit, giving it somewhat of a grainy sound, almost like you were listening to it on an old turntable. But I digress, the main thing that under whelmed me was Salim’s voice. It was good, and use the word “good” loosely in this instance, but I was expecting to be blown away by it. That’s not to say it was bad, as I did enjoy it, but it lacked that sensational quality that other vocalists have. Their opening song didn’t do much for me, and for the next one Salim apparently rearranged the set list. “Are you changing the set list on us?” Paul asked him, as Salim announced the next song was “Western Hills”. I still wasn’t all that into the music, but as they progressed I did get more into it, and  really became a fan of the sound they have crafted together. The final song of their set was “The World is Full of People Who Want to Hurt You”, which Salim said he was really paranoid about mean people, and tried to stay away from them before they began the song. Then, once it was finished, they brought the show to an abrupt end.

As I said, they were alright, and if they happen to be on another show bill with a band I like, I’ll definitely watch them, but I don’t see myself becoming a true fan of Mr. Nourallah. However, he does a several CDs available, all of which can be purchased on iTunes and he also said that he hoped to record an album sometime this year with this full band. Also, if you would like to see him live, he has quite a few shows coming up. On March 17th he will be at the Bryan Street Tavern in Dallas, and the next Saturday, March 24th, will find him at the Granada Theater in Dallas. Then on March 31st he will be in Fort Worth at Lola’s, and if you want to see a free show, he will be performing at Good Records in Dallas on April 22nd.

The eclectic Fort Worth group, the Whiskey Folk Ramblers, headlined the show and kicked their set off at 9:53 with the opening track from their “And There are Devils…” record, “The Penitent”. They wound it straight into the next song, one of their newer ones I believe, as Richard Davenport traded his accordion in for his banjo, before switching right back to the accordion for the following song, “Horrors in the Kitchen”. They then did a little selection of songs from the “Midnight Drifter” album, as drummer, Trey Ownby led them into “Goin’ Where I Don’t Know”. For most of their 49 minute set they raced from one song to the next, but even more so at this point since these few songs are all two minutes or less in length, as they next did the undeniably catchy, “River Song”, and as the band finished up the song, Richard put on some finger picks. “This one is a sing along.” said lead singer and acoustic guitarist, Tyler Rougeux, as Richard started the banjo intro to “Moanin’ Rag”. “Into That Slide” came next in the set list, followed by one of the bands staples, “Pies of Old Kylene”. As wonderful as the song is, I still find its outro to be one of the best things about it, as they first do about twenty seconds of music that features more of the rhythm section as Trey adds some great beats, while Jack Russell slaps the strings of his stand up bass. Then it completely switches gears as the trumpet playing of Cory Graves is the most prominent instrument, as they play out a piece that sounds like it belonged in a silent film from sometime in the early 1900’s. I assume the next song was another newer tune, as Richard went back to the accordion for it and a few others. Afterwards, Tyler began to sing “Easy Climb”, and then they told the epic tale of “Gambling Preacher and His Daughter” (watch the music video for the song HERE). They did a couple more new songs, the first of which Tyler said was “unreleased at the moment”, but mentioned they had recently recorded it with Salim Nourallah, so I expect it won’t be unreleased for too much longer. “Does anyone here like The Zombies?” Tyler asked, before saying the next song was cover of a song by said band. They next did “Graveyard Line”, as Cory shook a tambourine for the song, while Richard added a harmonica into the mix. If memory serves me right, it was also during that one that lead guitarist, Mark Moncrieff, tore off on a sweet solo in the middle of the tune. Tyler announced they had just a couple songs left, as they first did the slower, “Sweet Waters”, and then ended their 49 minute set with a faster paced one, “Curtains”, both of which Richard used the accordion on.

It was great, and they were a wonderful way to end the show. I do think it would have been nice if they had gotten a little more time, but it was still very enjoyable, and I liked that the set was different from the one they used last month when I saw them, as it gave it a fresh feeling to me. I swear, I become more of a fan each time I see them, and if you’re going to be in or around Fort Worth on April 13th, then you should check them out at the West Berry Block Party Music and Arts Festival. Also, if you don’t already have their “And There are Devils…” record, you can get it for FREE on, and also look up “Midnight Drifter” in iTunes.

As for the Triple Play Music series, I like what the Observer and KXT are doing, and they have gotten some great bands lined up on it. Tonight’s show was definitely memorable, and I would have loved to have been at the one last month, but it had the misfortune of taking place the same night as The FEDS reunion show. As for next month, they have People On Vacation set to headline, while Little Black Dress and Andrew Tinker open. So, mark your calendars for March 22nd, and buy you tickets HERE.


NOTE: If any bands want me to A.) write a review of their album or B.) wish me to play their music on my podcast, than email me. Also, I have partnered with Sawed Off Productions & WhiskeyBoy Radio, both of whom will help me present The Music Enthusiast showcases.If your band would be interested in performing at a future showcase, email me for consideration: TheRealMusicEnthusiast@GMAIL.COM


A note to whom it may interest: I’m wanting to get advertisers on my blog. If you are a band, music venue, or have any type of product or business whatsoever you want to promote, e-mail me at: for full info. I will tell you now though, I get good traffic on my site and my prices will be VERY, VERY affordable to even the most broke bands/people. So please, allow me to help promote YOUR product constantly, and not just when I do a show review. Venues, I can list all your upcoming shows as I do for the Granada Theater. Bands, I can put up an image of your album cover and link that to iTunes, etc. Let me know if you would be interested in getting in on this exciting opportunity!

Saturday, January 14, 2012 – Brenna Manzare & the Proper Husbands

I was still on a high from the show the night before and almost thought about not even going out this night, not just because I was a bit worn out, but also because nothing could top what I had witnessed nearly twenty-four hours before. Still, Overtone Booking had assembled a great line-up of bands at the wonderful, Club Dada, and I considered the show a can’t miss.

Opening the show was Brenna Manzare and the Proper Husbands, whom I had seen here a little over a month ago and was awestruck by. The trio, comprised of Brenna on guitar, Adrian Hulet on drums and backing vocals, and bassist, Jed Barnett, took the stage shortly after nine and got their first song going. Their music seemed even more laid-back than what I remembered, but at the same time, that’s really what creates the ambiance of the songs, which treads along the lines of folk with a certain whimsical essence to them. The next song was titled “The Owl Song”, which Brenna said she had written a long time ago and was about a friend who liked to decorate their house with the creature. Another original followed, “San Francisco”, before she announced she was going to do a few songs solo, while the guys relaxed and took a backseat to it all. “I didn’t write this next song, but I like doing it…” she informed everyone as she proceeded to do a cover of Tom Waits’, “Green Grass”. This was the one I found to be my favorite at the last show, though had no idea it was a cover, and after listening to the original, I prefer Brenna’s rendition. For the next song, she switched over to he keys, acknowledging she wasn’t the best at it and hoped it went over well, which it did. Jed and Adrian got back in to show mode after that, as Brenna said they had a new song that they had been working on, as she stayed at the keys for it. This stood out as another favorite of mine from their set, and if they continue to write material like this, it’ll be even more of a reason to keep a watchful eye on the group. When it was done, she laughed about not telling her band mates if they would for sure be playing the song this show or not, but still made them carry the keyboard down some stairs just in case they did. “…But I carried it in here…”, she said referring to Dada, “…Which I thought was pretty good! Besides I’m dressed like a ballerina, so I shouldn’t have to carry anything.” She was too, dressed in something that resembled a leotard. They continued with another song, and then Brenna swapped out her acoustic guitar for an electric, as things took a sudden change of pace. Adrian seemed really at home on this one, where he was actually able to beat on his drum kit instead of lightly tapping to keep a beat. I do love and appreciate the singer/songwriter genre of music, but this song was more along the lines of what I truly prefer. When it was done, Brenna stated that, that was the first time she had ever played an electric guitar on stage, as she went into a brief, slightly awkward, speech about how she was able to let out her inner rock star, but was also nervous about doing it. That is the one thing about the conversations she has with the audience, they seem a bit awkward, but not in an off putting way, instead making it more humorous. Perhaps it’s just something you have to see in person to fully understand what I mean, and after that they did one final song to close out their 40 minute set.

This is usually the part where I further speak my mind of the band, but I think I got everything out above. I’ll say again, this a very talented group, and if you would wish to see them then mark your calendars for Thursday, January 26th and Friday, February 17th. Both of those gigs will be at Lola’s in Fort Worth.

Second up were J. Charles and the Train Robbers. I’d heard many good things about them from a friend which was what prompted me to check them out. What I heard I really liked, but hearing it live would be far more amazing. Singer and guitarist, J. Charles Saenz, introduced the group before saying that the entire show was for “…The two people who made me…”, who were in town and in attendance for the show. They then kicked off their 38 minute set with a killer song that, while country at its roots, had a real rock feel as well giving it a good amount of intensity. It was the perfect song to start with and within no more than a minute I was both captivated and a fan. That would be the hardest hitting song of the night however as they took to the pace of a more traditional country band with the song, “Letter to a Thief”. Allow me to rephrase that, they are a Texas country band, and are nothing like what mainstream country is, all for the better. When that one was done, they welcomed the final member of the band on stage, vocalist, Taylor Rea. I’m only familiar with her from the couple Ishi shows I saw when she was a part of the group as well as her forthcoming project, Zhora, both of which are electronic bands, so seeing her with a country outfit struck me as odd. “Mercy Killing” came next, during which she added some backing vocals to the tune, though it only got better with the next song. Drummer, Steve Visneau, began the song, and while I don’t typically think of a drummer in a country band as being someone to watch, this guy is sensational. It was rip roaring, though brief, drum solo that he did here to kick off what I found to be the best song of their set. If you’re going to be a legit country band, I think you must have two things; one is a pedal steel guitarist, which was what Danny Crelin played, while the other is at least one song that is a duet. Well, that was what came next. Taylor really has a gorgeous voice, and the way it mixed with J. Charles’s as one sang a few lines before the other took over was astounding. They ran through a few more songs, once of which was “Acid Tone”, and I believe Taylor left after that one. The quintet, which also consists of bassist, Justin Young, who puts on a great performance by himself, and lead guitarist, Jeremy Brown, who has more of a laid back but confident rock star swagger, then finished out their set with “My Year” and “Tennessee Roads”.

These guys are fantastic, and  not only won me over as a fan but also proved to be the best band of the night, in my opinion. If you would like to see them you can find them on February 10th at the Granada Theater with Brandon Rhyder. March 2nd will find them back at Club Dada and for anyone in Oklahoma City you can see them at the Belle Isle Brewery on March 3rd. They also have a record due out sometime this year, and I am now looking very forward to that.

The three-piece, Bravo, Max!, was next up. If I remember correctly, the Dallas Observer deserves credit for turning me on to these guys after reading a review of the groups album, “Dog’s Light”. I’d wanted to see them since then, but it had never worked out where I could make a show, and after all the positive press they’ve received, I was excited about this. Things got off to a slower start as lead singer and guitarist, Johnny Beauford, used an acoustic guitar for their first song, “All Your Grace”. Things picked up though with their next song, as he switched to an electric. Bassist, Ben Gastright, threw his two cents in before the next song. “This song is about making love at an amusement park.” He joked, though in a serious manner, as Johnny began “Kiss”. The infectiously poppy tune, “Hey Jane”, followed, which Johnny kidded was about a girl named Jane whom he yelled at. They took things back down a bit as drummer, Jonathan Jackson, started them into “Take Your Fill”, and then did a cover song by a band who they said were an inspiration to them in music, Delta Spirit. As I’ve said many times, I stick mainly to the independent artists, so I’m not familiar with Delta Spirit, but hearing them do this cover prompted me to give them a listen, and subsequently become a fan. Really, they just knocked that song out of the park. They did another song, before having a brief band meeting to get on the same page for the next song. They settled on my personal favorite, “German Chocolate Cake”. The song just has the perfect ebb and flow to it and meets my definition of being a masterpiece. However, their next song, “Hotel Denalian”, is quite epic as well. “Hailey” came next, while they finished their 41 minute set with a song I believe they said was called, “Sleepy Siren”.

You often hear a lot of hype about a group, but upon seeing them they fall very short of it all. In fact, I’ve experienced that many times, but not with Bravo, Max!. Their music is nothing short of being amazing, and the backing vocals that Jonathan did on some of the songs added a nice depth to them as he sang along with Johnny. Check out their album on iTunes, and if possible, you’ll want to see one of these upcoming shows: February 2nd at the Common Table in Dallas. February 9th at The Deli in Norman, Oklahoma. February 10th at The Free Man in Dallas. And February 24th at Bryan Street Tavern in Dallas.

Rounding out the night was the Whiskey Folk Ramblers. They got all their gear set up pretty quick, though the sound check took a little longer, so singer and acoustic guitarist, Tyler Rougeux, killed some time by thanking all the bands who had played before them. It seemed almost planned out that way, because right after thanking Bravo, Max!, everyone was ready to go. Since I became a fan, which was a little over a year and a half ago, they’ve stuck to basically the same set list. It wasn’t a bad one by any means, but after seeing several shows it had started to get repetitive for me, which is why it was very refreshing to me when drummer, Trey Ownby, started them into “Gambling Preacher and His Daughter”, with the rest of the band soon joining in. It was a very nice way to get things going, and while this will be contradictory of the statement I just made, I did miss not hearing “Ramblin’ Man” kick the show off. Afterwards they dug back to their first album and pulled out some fast paced country songs with “Goin’ Where I Don’t Know”, “River Song”, and “Graveyard Line”, all of which prominently display the banjo skills of Richard Davenport. “Pies of Old Kylene” came next, as Cory Graves began his catchy trumpet part of the song, and afterwards was followed with “Moanin’ Rag”. They filled the next portion of the set with some of their newer material, six songs to be exact. It was also after one of those songs that Tyler introduced the “newest member” to the band. Since they had been on stage a guy sit on one of the amps back by the drums, barely even moving. “…He doesn’t do much, just sits there…” Tyler said, “…And he doesn’t even show up for practice…”. I think he should get a break on that though, ‘cause he seems to have sitting down to a t. As for the new songs, I’m liking them more each time I hear them. It’s still the same Whiskey Folk Ramblers you love, though there’s an ever so slight change in the sound that shows some growth by the band. They played “Easy Climb” next, and then another song, with the ending of it being wound into, “Into That Slide”. They followed it up with the next song on the “And There are Devils…” record, “Horrors in the Kitchen”, and then what has served as the show closer the past few times I had seen them, “Curtains”. Luckily they didn’t get their set cut short at this show, and ran through “Sweet Waters” and finally “Midnight Drifter” to end their 58 minute set. During the final minutes of the song, Cory, who had traded his trumpet for a tambourine, jumped off the stage and joined the crowd, who had been dancing since the start of their show. He made his way into the crowd and was caught up in a mosh pit of sorts, though you could still hear him playing the tambourine right up until the end of the song.

It was a wonderful show they delivered; sadly, I don’t feel I did it any justice with this. (It seemed to take forever before I had a chance to get around to writing this, therefore my memory of the show is not as sharp and spot on as I like to keep my standards.) Still, this now goes down as the best WFR show I’ve seen to date.

They’ve got several more shows coming up soon, beginning with February 4th at the Where House in Fort Worth where they will play with Kentucky Knife Fight and Sealion. February 11th will see them at J & J’s Pizza in Denton, while on February 16th you can see them at the Kessler Theater in Dallas. They also have a couple road dates beginning on February 24th at the Belle Isle Brewery in Oklahoma City and the next night they will be at Stickyz Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicken Shack in Little Rock, Arkansas.


NOTE: To hear music from these and many other independent artists from Texas, the U.S., and even the world, listen to me weekly “The Music Enthusiast Podcast”, which is part of the WhiskeyBoy Radio Network. If you are in a band and would like me to play your music on the show (assuming I don’t already have it), or perhaps you want an outlet to debut new material, email me at: TheRealMusicEnthusiast@GMAIL.COM


A note to whom it may interest: I’m wanting to get advertisers on my blog. If you are a band, music venue, or have any type of product or business whatsoever you want to promote, e-mail me at: for full info. I will tell you now though, I get good traffic on my site and my prices will be VERY, VERY affordable to even the most broke bands/people. So please, allow me to help promote YOUR product constantly, and not just when I do a show review. Venues, I can list all your upcoming shows as I do for the Granada Theater. Bands, I can put up an image of your album cover and link that to iTunes, etc. Let me know if you would be interested in getting in on this exciting opportunity!

August 27, 2011 - Dia De Los Toadies (2011)

When the first Dia de los Toadies went down in 2008, I barely even know who the hell the band was. I’d only just gotten the recently released album, “No Deliverance”, as well as the iconic, “Rubberneck”, and became somewhat of a fan. The second and third annual DDLT struck me as being fun to go to, but distance was always a major factor. Plus I had at least seen them a few times when they played Dallas. Well, for this years festival they did several contests, one of which was a twitter based competition. The rules were simple, hashtag DiaDeLosToadies4 in a tweet and they would randomly pick a winner. I almost didn’t enter, then decided, “Why the hell not?!” Needless to say, I was shocked when I received a message that I had won, scoring two tickets to the day long event on Saturday. Not bad at all for just one simple tweet. Actually, the hard part was having to wait a month and a half for this thing to get here.

Finally, the day was here, and the Whitewater Amphitheater in New Braunfels was the place to be. It was (literally) a cooler venue than I thought it would be. The second stage was totally shaded by several trees, while the main stage provided a bit of shade in front of it early on in the day, and progressively grew. And of course the venue was all fenced in, but the Guadeloupe River was just down the embankment behind the main stage. It just had an awesome feel to it all, especially for an all day festival like this. And I can see why the Toadies brought their festival back here for a second straight year.

Things started running behind from the start. When we got there, the gates weren’t even open yet. They were supposed to open at two, and it was already about twenty after. The reason, sound check ran long. At least that was what one of the staff members said. They finally opened the gate up at two-thirty, which was when the first band was original set to start, and twenty minutes later the first band got going.

Kicking off the festival on the Biergarten stage was the Austin based, Boy + Kite. They opened their set with “Neighbors”, the opening track on their recently released “Go Fly” album. They rolled the end of it into the next song, “Deciphering Static”, and drummer, Chris Mietus, counted them into the next tune, “Skipping Backwards”. They take a different approach to the singing, with main vocalist and guitarist, Beth Puorro, singing lead on the first one, while she and guitarist, Darvin Jones, sang “…Static” together, in perfect sync. Even on another song, I believe it was their next one, “Think in Stereo”, Beth sang a line or two, aided by bassist, Giuseppe Ponti, before Darvin sang the next couple of lines. Somewhat of an unorthodox way to go about singing songs, but the way their voices both meshed and intertwined with each other sounded amazing. Next they did “Ohio”, before finishing their 29 minute set with “Satellite”. Out of all the bands that played this thing, they might be the most promising. They’ve got a great, unique, sound going for them. They’re a fairly new band, and they have a debut full-length record to push. That said, hopefully (for my sake) they’ll make it up to the Dallas area in the not so distant future. But all you Austin area folks, be sure to see them at The Poodle Dog Lounge on Friday, October 7th.

We made the little hike over to the main stage, where the MC of the event was promoting the next group. The Fort Worth group, Whiskey Folk Ramblers. And one thing he said in introducing them was they would have a new CD coming out at the beginning of the next year. So, get excited about that. Trey Ownby began the bands intro song with some beats on his drum kit, before the rest of the band started joining him. And as it came to an end, singer and acoustic guitarist, Tyler Rougeux, started picking away at his guitars strings, starting ”Ramblin’ Man”. I almost think their next song was one of their newer ones, before they continued with songs from their first album. Before one, Tyler mentioned the river being directly behind them. “… I actually wrote this one a little while back after being down at the river…” he said. “It’s called River Song.” Richard Davenport had switched out from his accordion to the banjo for that song, and he continued using it for the next few songs, including “Moanin’ Rag”. “We wrote this next song about an old lady and her pies.” Tyler quickly said when the song was over. “It’s called the Pies of Old Kylene.” From this point on, they made the most of their 35 minute set time. Occasionally they took pause to say how glad they were to be here and thank the Toadies, but for the most part they went from one song to the next. Which was ”Easy Climb”, “Gambling Preacher and His Daughter”, ”Into That Slide”, “Sweet Waters”, and lastly, “Curtains”. This was at least the second best show I’ve seen WFR do. It was really spectacular, and everyone who was there seemed to really like it. Unfortunately not many people were there, though. Too bad, as it was their loss. These guys will be headlining the Kessler Theater in Dallas (Oak Cliff) on September 2nd. Or you can catch them in their hometown of Fort Worth at the Wild Rooster Bar on September 8th. They’ll also be opening for Ishi at Tree’s on Friday, September 23rd. And that one will be a definite can’t miss.

Back on the second stage was Trashy Charmer. I watched maybe a minute of their set, then decided I wouldn’t be missing anything if I made a trip to the bathroom. And as I was walking that direction, I heard the singer and guitarist of this three-piece band, Austin Kalman, say, “So, there used to be a band called Lions…” as he told how they toured with the Toadies a lot. That explained it. Why they sucked that is. Lions wasn’t all that good, and overrated if you ask me. Take into account Austin was just a guitarist in that band, and that answered why he couldn’t even sing a single note with Trashy Charmer. My dad and I ended up finding a place at one of the picnic tables, and I pretty much zoned out for these guys set. The only song that was somewhat bearable was their next to last one. Truly a terrible band, which just proved, if you have the right connections, you can be hooked up with anything.

Quiet Company, from Austin, was next on the main stage. My first thought when seeing them on stage was, “Why do these guys have suits on?” It made more a good look, but not when it’s around one hundred degrees out. Singer/guitarist/pianist, Taylor Muse, addressed this a couple songs in. “…Remember when we had that great idea to wear suits for the show? What the fuck where we thinking?” I think they did seven to eight songs in their 39 minutes on stage, and most where from their upcoming record. Before another song, Taylor sit down at his piano, “Before we go on, do y’all have any questions?” he asked the crowd. One guys shouted, “Where do babies come from?” “Well, son…” he replied, in a stereotypical fatherly tone. “Under Obamacare, they’ll come from government funded facilities.” This led to a lengthy bit of him saying things like, he really likes to complain. “…I’ll just vote Libertarian. That way I can say I voted and complain about whatever’s going on. I don’t care if the country goes to shit. I just want to be able to complain.” That was all said jokingly, or at least halfway so. For their third to last song, they did a song from their “Songs for Staying In” EP, “How Do You Do it”, followed by the single from their upcoming release, “You, Me, and the Boatman”. I loved these guys music, which featured some more unique instruments. Cody Ackors played a trombone for all the show, except a minute or so on the closing number, where he played a xylophone. And while Thomas Blank mainly played a guitar, he also dabbled with the keys. Even on their first song he pulled a melodica out and used it briefly. I’d say they were one of the strongest bands on the bill, and made me more of a fan then I was just from buying their stuff before this show. Catch them in a few weeks at Lola’s in Fort Worth, where they’ll be joined by a fellow Dia band. And while I don’t remember the exact details they said, nor can I find them, they will be releasing their new CD at the end of September or first part of October in Austin. And just from what songs they played from it here, it should be their best record yet.

Tornahdo was next up at the Biergarten stage, and these four guys were an all instrumental band. Musically, it was pretty good, but no all instrumental band will ever be able to hold my attention. So, sadly these guys didn’t even have a chance at making an impression on me. But if you do like that kind of music, definitely check them out.

The three-piece rock outfit, Ume, took the main stage next. Front women and guitarist, Lauren Larson, introduced the band to the ever growing crowd, in her soft and delicate voice. “Hey, we’re Ume.” They then took off, and aside from brief stops just to say thanks, they were relentless in delivering the rock. Overall, they owned their 37 minutes on stage, with the only drawback being the vocals weren’t turned up loud enough. You couldn’t understand most of what Lauren sang, but fortunately, that’s not all she’s good at. See, she doesn’t just play her guitar, she shreds at it, and could put a lot guitarists to shame. When their set concluded, the chants immediately started for more. Soon, bassist, Eric Larson, ran back on stage and pulled a string off his guitar, which he gave to someone at the front of the stage. Still, the cries of one more continued, before they came back out to get their gear. We can’t.” Lauren said, answering the crowd. “He broke a bass string.” People seemed a bit disappointed at this, but hey, they still killed it. The MC made mention that they’ll have a new album, “Phantoms’, out on August 30th. And while he said it was at their merch table, I was unable to locate their merch table. But definitely go give that thing a listen on iTunes. The band will be on tour throughout September with Middle Class Rut, playing all about the country, so check out their Facebook for dates. And I’m looking forward to their Dallas show at Trees on September 29th, if for no other reason than to get their “Phantoms” record.

By the time we made it back to the other stage, the Faceless Werewolves, from Austin, had already begun. They’re quite a unique three-piece band, as Baldomero Valdez and Kelsey Wickliffe, both of whom play guitar, as well as drummer, Erica Barton, sing. Sometimes, all three do at different points in a song. Plus there’s no bass player, not that they really need one. After their opening song, they played “Life is Strange”, before Baldomero sang the first few lines of “Abracadabra”. Another song followed, then “Big City Sound”, and a few others. Before one of those songs, Erica spoke to one of their fans they knew was there. “…This is for you.” she said, “But only, like, the first five seconds.” And with that, Baldomero rocked out that classic Heart song, “Barracuda”. But just the intro, and only about five to eight seconds of it. At this point they were running short on time, so after quickly discussing which song to cut, they wrapped their show with “Write it Down Before You Speak”. I briefly talked with a person during the Toadies set who said of the Faceless Werewolves, and I quote. “It was like a really bad night out at a Dallas karaoke bar.” But I didn’t feel that way (and lord knows I put my honest thoughts in these blogs). Sure, neither Kelsey, Erica, or Baldomero will win a best vocalist of the year award, nor should they. But their singing wasn’t that bad either. In fact I quite liked it. I mean, I wouldn’t bought their “Pardon Me, Are Those Your Claws On My Back?” record on iTunes if I hadn’t. I could see how they would be more of an acquired taste though.

The Black Angels were rocking the main stage next. A lot of people seemed to love this band, based both on what I heard people saying afterwards and tweets I saw from the Dallas Observer. Truth is, vocalist, Alex Maas’s voice is distorted to the point there is nothing remotely natural sounding to it. Dare I say, he sounds like total shit. I tried hard to get into it, but just couldn’t. Now, just in the aspect of the music, I loved it. They’ve got some very innovative stuff going on, and it sounds great. They just need to do something about those vocals. Doubt that’ll happen though, as they said this was the bands send-off show, before they go tour Europe for three weeks. Really? I swear, I’ll never understand how the music industry is so fucked up that the truly talented musicians somehow never manage to go anywhere in their careers.

Of course it was no surprise to me that the North Texas region, specifically Fort Worth, would bring some of the best talent, such as the next act, The Orbans. I’ve heard the name for quite awhile now (like, years), but only listened to and bought their stuff after winning the tickets to this show. Right off the bat singer and guitarist, Peter Black, stated the bands’ name, adding “… And we’re going to play some songs for you.” As they went into the first tune of their all too short 29 minute set. Before the next song, he said most of what they were going to play was from their “When We Were Wild” LP, as they went into “Don’t Lose Yourself”, then “Songs We Sang” and “Like a Liar”. And it was during that last song, they suddenly broke into an all too familiar music bed. Familiar to Toadies fans at least. It was the bridge of “Tyler”, and Peter even sang a bit of the song. “…I stumble in the hallway, outside her bedroom door…” and so on, which fit very well into their songs lyrics. In the few listens I’ve given their songs, “New Dress” has become my favorite, which they played next, and thought it may be their last. “Can we do one more? Do we have time?” asked Peter when it was finished. The sound guy never weighed in on this, so they used the perfect response. “Well, no one said no.” then said their final song was called “Alibi”. This was another highlight of the show for me. These guys sound fantastic, and that was without their keyboard player, who was absent from this show. And I can’t believe it took me a trip to New Braunfels to discover that, instead of happening across a set at some Dallas area venue. And if you read my little blurb about Quiet Company, you know I made mention they would be playing at Lola’s in Fort Worth with another Dia band. Well, The Orbans are that band and that date again is Saturday, September 10th. So, if you need something to do, go ahead and mark that on your calendar.

As I’ve touched on a few times throughout this, I listened to every band playing this festival. But there was one band I was looking forward to seeing more then almost any other, and almost as much as the Toadies. They hail from Austin, and they call themselves The Sword. And it was finally time for them to unleash their rock. The MC introduced them and they walked out on stage, picked up (or took a seat behind) their instruments, and tore right into their first song. They stopped just long enough for everyone to know it was over and applaud before going into “Barael’s Blade”, and repeating the process before “How Heavy This Axe”. “Tres Brujas”, from their fairly recently released “Warp Riders” album, came next, as well as a few other songs. They had started pausing a bit more, taking time to thank the Toadies for having them as well as everyone for watching them. And at one point singer and guitarist, John Cronise, made an odd remark. He was talking about the river being right behind them, “…You don’t want to wear your good eyewear to the river. Cause you might lose it, right?” Well, that was a segue into a cover of the ZZ Top song, ”Cheap Sunglasses”. I haven’t heard ZZ’s version, but I’d say the definitely did a great cover of it, and even managed to brand it with their own signature sound. “This next song is called Night City.” John said of the next song. They did one more, and at the end John asked everyone to give it up for their drummer, before saying they had arrived at their final song, “Winters Wolves”. And at that, drummer, Santiago Vela, led them into that last song of their stellar 46 minute set. Musically, this was pretty much I’d hoped for and then some. Lead guitarist, Kyle Shutt, and bassist, Bryan Richie, as well as John, lay down such intricate riffs. Hell, not just riffs, they’ll rock out lengthy instrumental portions on some songs, and even totally instrumental songs, which I usually don’t have the patience for, but they make it so mesmerizing. And the lyrics for their songs have such a mystical and mythological sound to them. Probably not the best example for it, but take for instance the second verse of “Tres Brujas”. “…Three witches you shall meet, upon the path to your fate. The first will love you, the second will deceive you, and the third will show you the way…” Now performance wise, I wasn’t too impressed, probably cause I only caught a few, short, glimpses of the guys periodically throughout their show. Damn people who  kept moving around, dancing to the music, which obstructed my view. The band will soon embark on a tour with Kyuss Lives! And MonstrO, which will take them in to Canada and across the US, including a stop at South Side Music Hall in Dallas. I may have to go to that. It’s a bit pricey from what I usually pay, but these guys alone are well worth it.

The Couch was the final band before the festivals namesake. You wouldn’t (or at least I didn’t) expect much from a band with such a simple and even slightly stupid name. But a name doesn’t always mean anything, and certainly doesn’t define a band. This three-piece came out swinging and didn’t let up until they were finished with their set. They have three short EPs on their bandcamp page, all of which are (or can be) free. So go download it, as you have nothing to lose. Then go check out there show at the Texas Music Theater in San Marcos on September 10th.

It was back over to the main stage, and this was the first time since the festival started that bands weren’t going on one after another. Finally, the MC of the show walked on stage. He first asked everyone to give it up for the people behind the scenes who make this thing happen, year after year. “Did y’all get through the heat okay?” he asked the massive crowd, most of whom had only gotten there no earlier then five o’clock. “…Going through these hot summers are what earns you the right to call yourself a Texan.” he continued. “So, when someone says something about it being so hot here, tell them they need to thank Texas Jesus for making our Texas women so hot it’s worth the heat!” (Amen to that.) He dragged on, but not much longer before introducing what could quite easily be Texas’s band, The Toadies.

Guitarist, Clark Vogeler, drummer, Mark Reznicek, singer and guitarist, Todd Lewis, and bassist, Doni Blair, walked out on stage. “We havin’ fun yet?” Todd asked the crowd, who, if they hadn’t so far, then they definitely were about to. Mark started in with some beats on his kit. Todd, Clark, and Doni soon joined him on their instruments, and they just played some notes, before actually giving the song shape. It turned out to be the only Toadies song I really don’t like, “Velvet”. Though it wasn’t a bad way to get their set underway. As with The Sword, I could only see glimpses of the Toadies, but even as far back as I was you could feel their presence. And what I did see (when I could see) you could tell the band wasn’t trying to find their groove for the night, as musicians often do. They had walked out on stage with it, perhaps due to the shows they’d done the previous three nights. The confidence continued right into “Heel”, during which Todd raises his arm towards the sky and makes a little motion with his hand each time he sings the songs’ chorus, which is simply the title. Afterwards, they still didn’t show signs of stopping, as Mark started tapping on some of his cymbals, beginning the song “Waterfall”, from last year’s “Feeler” record. “Four years. Fourth year we’ve done this.” Todd hastily spoke when the song was finished. “And we don’t plan on stopping yet.” I want to say it was at this moment Clark played a note of what he seemingly passed off as the next song. It sounded like it was going to be “Sweetness”. Doni and Todd shot him a funny look, as he just smiled back at them. Then, they all started that other little song of theirs with water in the title, “I Come from the Water”. And, as is the standard, Todd backed away from the mic as they approached the first chorus, but only after shouting out “SING IT!” to the people. And they of course did. It’s really something else to be at one of their shows and seeing almost everyone singing along to just about every song. Especially one like this, where they actually let the fans sing the choruses on their own. But tonight, standing outside in this sprawling, scenic, landscape, surrounded by I don’t even know how many people, it felt a bit magical. They kept chugging along with “Little Sin”, during which a guy behind me said he wished they wouldn’t do this new shit cause “…No one wants to hear it.” That’s not true, at least not in my case (plus that song was released ten years ago, so how new is it?) but said guy did seen to be appeased when they broke into “Happy Face” next. Next they did “Hell In High Water”, and while this is my favorite song off their “No Deliverance”, I really didn’t like it a whole lot tonight. As many singers do, Todd changed the vocal styling’s of the song just a hair. In the few times I’ve seen them, I’ve heard it performed the way it appears on the album, as well as slightly different way, but tonight I felt it just ruined the song. And it really destroyed the great flow the lyrics have. They seemingly finished the song, before going back into the final instrumental part, which they rolled perfectly into “Mister Love”. They then took things down a few notches with “Song I Hate”, and afterward Todd quickly broke into the next song. “I guess I left myself wide open. I guess I earned the weight…” to begin “Push the Hand”. The Toadies are of course known for some instrumental songs as well, which they showcased next with “ATF Theme”. Todd didn’t shout out “ATF.” At either point in the song, but he didn’t need to, as the fans had in more then taken care of. Another oldie came next, and one that has been absent the past two times I’ve seen them (Denton in late ’10 and St. Patrick’s Day ’11.) which appalled me at both, as how can they not play “I Burn”? They slowly built up the song, beginning just with Todd, and soon Mark, before Doni and Clark eventually came in. And the audience didn’t need to be told to sing the line “…We got stupid…” when Todd briefly stopped singing, then came right back in, “And now we must repent…”. A couple more newer tunes followed, “No Deliverance” and “Pink”, before they launched into the song that got them mainstream recognition so many years ago, “Possum Kingdom”. I think it was this song that Todd, of all things, flubbed the lyrics. And only about a minute and a half into it they trailed off, before quitting all together, as Todd walked over to stage right. He shared some words with a guy and came back, apologizing for what happened. His inner-ear monitor received the blame, as the show was being recorded and something fouled up with that piece of equipment. So, how  do you, or can you even, recover from a botched attempt at your greatest song ever? The answer, sort of. Their aura was a bit different from here on, but they did recover quite nicely with “Backslider” and moved right along with “I Am a Man of Stone”. “This next one’s a pretty one. Do y’all like the pretty ones?” Todd asked the crowd, as they rocked out “Mine”. Then, it was time to redeem themselves. “You might have heard this one earlier.” Todd said. “We’ll see if we can get through it without anything going wrong this time.” As they started “Possum Kingdom” for a second time, this way getting all the way through it. “Doll Skin” came next, and they wrapped their 83 minute set with “Away”. But it was clear an encore was coming…

The chanting started and played out over a few minutes before the Toadies returned to the stage, first rocking out the opening song from “Rubberneck”, the instrumental, “Mexican Hairless”. They powered through “Quitter” and put an end to this little 12 minute portion with what else, but “Tyler”. As they left the stage they thanked everyone profusely for coming to their festival, and left with this, “Same time, maybe same place, next year?”

This was an incredible day, and it didn’t seem like nine hours. I guess since the bands were constantly going, and there was no wait for set changes. And I’ll say this, I would most definitely like to make this a tradition from here on out. Next year’s a long ways away, so I won’t say I will go for sure, but where ever it’s held, I’ll certainly try.

July 15, 2011 - “…She Can Make a Man Feel Seven Heavens Tall. She Can Make a Man Feel Seven Pennies Small…”

Every now and then two bands meet and forge a special bond and relationship with each other. Two examples that come to my mind are, The FEDS & Upside, as well as The FEDS & The Underwater. Well, six months ago another bond like that was made, between Fort Worth’s, Whiskey Folk Ramblers, and St. Louis based, Kentucky Knife Fight. And, after six months of waiting for KKF to return to The Lone Star State, specifically Dallas, they did. LaGrange was the venue hosting this night of music. And what a night it was.

It didn’t start out too well, though. Sealions, were the first act, and they failed to do anything for me. I mispoke, their music was pretty good, it was their singer. He didn’t have the slightest inkling of a voice. It sounded terrible, and I successfully tuned it out. Oh, and they covered a Beatles song. As their singer/guitarist tuned his guitar before that song, their lead guitarist remarked. “I think John Lennon knew how to tune a guitar.” “Yeah…” their singer replied, “But that was about all he knew how to do. He didn’t know how to stay alive.” Personally, I found that funny and did laugh, however, their cover of whatever song this was, was laughable. I’m not much of a Beatles fan myself, but they don’t deserve to have their music completely butchered like this. It was sad, and I was glad when they finally wrapped up their set. (Note: They had jumped on this show bill last minute, after These Mad Dogs of Glory had to cancel.)

Up next, Kentucky Knife Fight. I more or less rediscovered this band when listening to their music, prepping for this show. I’m bad about that, listening to a CD a few times, then totally forgetting about it. Such was the case with these guys. And in listening to the CDs, there were several songs I was hoping to hear, and they opened with one of them. It’s titled, “Always a Bribe, Never a Bride”. They strayed a bit from the album version, but it was for the best. When they got to the second chorus, the music pretty much dropped out. All except for James Baker, who kept a steady beat by hitting his drum sticks on the edge of one of the drums. Then, vocalist, Jason Holler, guitarist, Curt Brewer, and bassist, Jason Koenig, all harmonized, and sang out, “…She can tell I’m an only child. She knows why I can’t sleep at night. Has her fingers wrapped around the necks of every man, every woman, every breath…” Wow! I was kinda blown away by this, and, dare I say, it sounded quite beautiful. And the drew out the final chorus of it, “…Every man.” Jason sang out, before taking a long pause. (It was really probably 6 to 10 seconds.) “Every woman.”, he continued, before finishing, “Ev-ery breath.” Jason quickly stated who they were, as they began “Herschel Walker”, then took more time after the song was over. Announcing who they were, where they hailed from, and saying, “…It’s good to be back in Texas.” And I think Texas was glad to have them back in it. (Innuendo intended.) Or at least I was glad they were back. Next in the set list was “I Can’t Stand This”, and Jason took time to explain its meaning afterwards. “It’s a song about not being able to stand things.” he said, before apologizing. “I’m sorry, Dallas. I won’t to that again.” A bit corny? Perhaps. But it still made me laugh. They did a couple more tunes, one being “Wild Irish Rose”, then Jason walked off the stage. Leaving Curt, stage left guitarist, Nate Jones, Jason K., and James to do an instrumental song. And an awesome one at that, that really showed off their skills. I’m speculating that it was “South Roxanna Wiggle”, from their “The Wolf Crept…" album, but don’t hold me to that. When it was done, and Jason had returned, they rocked out "Same Streets, Same Clothes" and then did "Sex Crimes", before doing their last two songs of the night. Which capped off their 43 minute set. They kinda amazed me, and I love what they have going. Their music is… Well, I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s quite unique. And Jason has one of the most distinctive voices that I’ve heard a singer have. And in the live setting, they deliver a show. I said this the last time I saw them, and I still find it true (though they disagreed with me). They out performed WFR. That’s not an easy thing to do, and just about every WFR show I’ve seen, they are the most impressive act on the bill. But KKF can manage to steal their thunder. Get their albums on iTunes, become a fan, and next time they get to Texas, GO SEE THEM!

The Whiskey Folk Ramblers were next, but only after what seemed like a grueling sound check. Singer/acoustic guitarist, Tyler Rougeux, even joked about it later in the set. He ran through a list, and I can’t remember all of it, but he said something like they were the deafest and hardest band in D-FW to sound check for. But around 12:30 they were all set, and began with their intro, which bleeds perfectly into the next song, “Ramblin’ Man”. I’m pretty sure multi-instrumentalist, Richard Davenport, was playing his accordion for those first two songs, but he changed out to his banjo for the next several. Which included some more older songs, “Graveyard Line” “Moanin’ Rag” and “River Song”, as well as a couple others. “This next song is about bad dreams.” Tyler said, of the following song, called “Bad Dreams”. I’m really starting to like those older tunes more and more, but I still don’t think that their set fully comes to life until they begin their material from “…And There Are Devils.” And that was what happened next, as they started “Gambling Preacher and His Daughter”, followed by “Easy Climb”, “Into That Slide”, and what I still find to be their best song, “Pies of Old Kylene”. Tyler even remarked after that last one, saying, I believe, that it was the sloppiest version they’d done of that song. “But that’s okay, Kylene was a pretty sloppy pie maker.” he said. Then he said the band was currently in the studio, “…Slowly recording some new songs.” and said the singer of the first band, Sealions, decided to intern for the producer who they’re having do this next album. “So this guy’s been in the studio with us every day, and he always requests this song.” as he dedicated the next tune to Sealions. Three more songs followed, before they go their set cut short, and had to end their 57 minute set with “Curtains”.

Despite some of the sound issues they had towards the beginning, and getting their show cut short, I’d still say this was the best WFR show I’ve seen yet. Tyler’s voice seemed clearer than the other clubs I’ve seen them at in the past, and they all, or at least those I could see, did a great job. Jack Russell was tucked in the back stage left corner, playing his upright bass. And their newest addition, trumpet/tambourine player, Cory Graves, was noticeable more comfortable with the band. Unlike when I saw them at Rubber Gloves in April, and not only did he need note cards to know what notes to play, he just didn’t seem comfortable on stage yet. Great show, by one of the area’s top talents. They’ll be playing the 4th Annual Dia De Los Toadies (The Toadies annual music festival) on August 27th, at the White Water Amphitheater in New Braunfels. And lucky for me, I’ve won a couple tickets to that event. (I may have one up for grabs. Anyone interested in it let me know.) So, if I don’t see them before, I’ll see them then.

(Random note: I just want to give kudos to Kentucky Knife Fight. They somehow stumbled across my blog after their show in January and posted a link to it. I don’t think I even talked to them or anything at that show. But tonight, when WFR was getting ready to play, Jason H. came up to me, said he was hoping he’d see me out tonight, and we chatted for a bit. Then, as I was leaving I saw Curt, and before I had a chance to just tell him what a great show they did, he recognized me, and said he had right when they started their set. I just think that’s cool that some dudes from St. Lois, who’ve only played Dallas twice now, know who I am, as if I’m actually somebody. You dudes ROCK!!!)

(If you’ve spent your time reading this, please take a few more seconds & go “Like” the fan page I’ve made on Facebook, by clicking HERE. I’m wanting to get an idea as to how many readers I actually have. Thanks!)

April 1, 2011 - Bad Blood

Made a trip up to Denton this night for the first time in what seemed like quite awhile. If a month and a half can be considered awhile. Rubber Gloves had put together an astounding line-up of bands, a couple of whom I’ve seen a few times before and the other two I’d heard good things about, but had never actually seen them. And it ended up being quite an epic night.

I got there while Spooky Folk was sound checking, just minutes before they began. Talk about cutting it close. They opened with the usual, “My Niagara Heart”, which is still one of their best songs. The last time I saw them, at the Doublewide in Dallas, guitarist, Jesse Perry, and bassist, Scarlett Wright, spent the show seated for whatever reason, and the show suffered because of it. But tonight they were back in full form, and Jesse was getting down rocking out on his guitar, and practically sliding to the stage right mic just in time to sing the backing vocals. They were only one song in, and already I felt this would be the best Spooky Folk show I’d seen. They followed that with “This Sleep”, and afterwards vocalist/guitarist, Kaleo Kaualoku, started strumming away at his axe, beginning the hit, “Bible Belt”. They seemed somewhat unprepared for it, cause while Kaleo started singing, drummer, Chris Brown, looked for and finally found the tambourine, then got up from his kit and handed it to violinist, Petra Kelly, to play for the song. And when they’d finished their hit song, Scarlett handed her bass to Jesse to play, as she picked grabbed the melodica for another fan favorite tune. “Resurrect!”. When it was done, Kaleo asked the sound guy how much time they had left, and was told 10 to 15 minutes. “Perfect.” he replied. And then a fan was heard shouting, “Not nearly enough!” But it was enough time to play one of their brand new songs, “Polaroid”, and then one final number. I said at the beginning I thought this might be the best show I’ve seen these guys and girls do, and it was! They were spot on tonight and somehow managed to make me even more of a fan than what I already was. Check ‘em out this coming Thursday, April 7, at Dan’s Silverleaf in Denton.

The Virgin Wolves were second up, celebrating the release of their new EP, “Bad Blood”. I heard of this five-piece act sometime last year, but never cared for their music. I listened to them on several different occasions and tried to like their stuff, but just never could. They did however strike me as a band that would put on a great live show, and I was a bit eager to see if I was right or not. And the show they proceeded to put on was intense and chalked full of raw energy. They started off a bit shaky, mainly because it was hard to hear the voice of singer, Jaime. But about half-way through their first song the sound guy made some adjustments and fixed the issue. They covered a quite a few songs from (I’m guessing) both their EPs, including “Bad” and “Crawl” from the new record. Most of the songs Jamie sang the lead, but they switched it up on a couple of the tunes as guitarist, Chase, sang lead. Or at least more co-sang with Jamie. And like most of the professional bands do, they saved their best, or at least most hard hitting, song for last. The entire thing was quite the spectacle, and their stage presence (and energy) just poured off of all of them, drummer, Steve, guitarist, Carson, and bassist, Kristin. The one fault I found in their show, that I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention, was in the latter part of their set Carson got to rocking a bit too hard I guess, and lost his balance, falling towards the wall and taking his mic stand with him. He recovered pretty quickly though, and made it no more than a small hiccup in the set. I did end up (reluctantly) buying their new EP, and while I wasn’t very impressed with it on the first listen, it has grown on me more and more during each subsequent go-around. And it’s well worth buying, be it the physical copy at shows, or the MP3s from their online store. But it still fails to even begin to capture what you get at a live show. Check ‘em out this Thursday, April 7th, when they do a hometown CD release show at Lochrann’s in Frisco. Or Friday night (April 8th) at the Curtain Club in Dallas.

The Demigs were next, who were also celebrating the release of their new CD. On a more normal night I would’ve thought these guys were really good. Sure, they did seem to be lacking in stage presence and chemistry with each other, but their music was pretty good. But after seeing what The Virgin Wolves had just done, The Demigs just seemed bland. It was nothing they did wrong, they just had to try to follow an act that most bands would have trouble following. I planned on picking up their new CD, as well as their old one, but they never had anyone working their merch table. They will be playing in Dallas soon, April 15, at Club Dada, and hopefully they won’t make the mistake of having their merch booth unattended then.

Closing the night, was the Whiskey Folk Ramblers. I immediately noticed they looked different when they got on stage. First off they were lacking their lead guitarist, who they later said was pretty sick at the moment and unable to play. Secondly, their trumpet player looked a little different. I first assumed it was because he didn’t have the big beard he usually sports. But just a few songs in they announced his name and said it was only his second show with them. That explained why he looked different. They opened the show with an instrumental piece for starters, before it led into “Ramblin’ Man”. As much as I try to include song titles in these blogs, this is one band that I’m still not the best at remembering the names of their songs. I of course recognized them all, and their first several songs all came from their debut record, “Midnight Drifter”. But I can’t tell you which ones they were. A few songs in vocalist, Tyler Rougeux, pulled out a harmonica. “It’s time I give this new, ten dollar harmonica a try.” he said. Their banjo/accordion player, Richard Davenport, said something that was inaudible. “I’m sorry.” Tyler apologized, “Eleven dollar harmonica.” Like I said, they played quite a bit of their old material, before breaking into the newer stuff with “Pies of Old Kylene”. They churned out some more songs from their “…And Their Are Devils” record, such as “Gambling Preacher and His Daughter” and “The Penitent” and “Sweet Waters”, plus a few others I can’t remember, mainly ‘cause I’m writing this so many days after the show. And the threw some more older material in between some of the songs, before ending things with “Curtains”. It was a great performance they did, though it did seem slightly rocky, which I attribute to the new trumpet player. He had the music attached to his trumpet so he knew what to play, and it sounded just as it should. But you could tell he still felt uneasy about it all. Hey, who could blame him since this was only his second show with these guys. But it did ever so slightly affect the bands overall performance. But the only way to overcome that is for him to get more shows under his belt with WFR. And what better way to do that then with a hometown gig on April 15 at Lola’s in Fort Worth. And then a little run through Illinois in May. (Check out their site for full details).

January 28, 2011 - “…I was born on the bible belt. Give me something sharp so I can kill myself…”

Spooky Folk had the opening slot tonight here at the Doublewide, and kicked off their 30 minute set at 10:15. They got their set going with “My Niagara Heart” and followed it with what I thought, and later learned was, a new song. It was a pretty short song and only lasted a couple of minutes. It was okay, but I’ve heard them do much better. This was the first time I’ve seen these guys since buying their CD, so it was nice to actually know the songs they did, which is why I was a bit surprised when frontman and guitarist, Kaleo, started lightly picking at his guitar, beginning “This Sleep”. I really the song, but it’s slower pace gave me the impression that it was one of those to take up space on a record, but not necessarily make the cut for live shows. Thus far their show had been good, but I just wasn’t feeling it like I have the past two times I’d seen them. And they were the band I was most looking forward to seeing tonight, but there had just seemed to be a lack in something. All that changed though when they started “Polaroid”. With that they seemed to really hit their stride and for their final songs they just better and better. “So we played a new song earlier.” Kaleo said, “And we’re going to do it again.” Violinist and backing vocalist, Petra Kelly, chimed in, “Yes, the exact same song.” Kaleo kind of laughed, “Yeah, so hope y’all liked it.” Now this song was pretty good, much better than the one from earlier. They next churned out the song that helped really put them on the map in the music scene, and was even named the second best song by a local band for 2010 by the Dallas Observer. That’s right, “Bible Belt”. It was pretty nice to hear this one, since it’d been left out when I saw them back in November, and it’s quite possible their best song. They had one last song to give for the night and then they were done. I think part of what may have diminished at the beginning was that bassist, Scarlett Wright, was sitting down for the entire show. And just a few minutes into their first song guitarist, Jesse Perry, took a seat on his amp, where he stayed for the rest of the show. It really probably didn’t make a huge difference since there wasn’t much room for them to move around on stage anyway but still… They’ll be playing in Denton in a few weeks, February 19, at Hailey’s. Doubt I’ll make the show, but do go check ‘em out.

All the way from St. Louis, Kentucky Knife Fight, took the stage next for their Dallas debut. They opened with a song, “Dream So Sweet”, from their newest album, and it became readily apparent what they were doing, though unintentionally. They were stealing the show. The instrumental beginning of the song went on and on, and I wondered when they’d start singing. But with their singer playing a harmonica, and one of their guitarists rocking out on a banjo, it made it sound pretty awesome. That was the only song they did that had more of a Country sound to it, with the rest being a mix of Blues and Rock, that sounded incredible. And everybody else seemed to think so as well, cause the Doublewide was pretty much packed during their set. They only got to play around 35 minutes, but their set seemed longer than that, in a good way. Both of the other acts are some of most acclaimed DFW bands at the moment and hard to beat, but like I said KKF managed to too. Their performance was very polished and executed flawlessly, easily upstaging SF and WFR. And with the fan base they made from this show, I hope it gets them back to the DFW area sooner rather than later.

Last up for the night was the Whiskey Folk Ramblers. They put on a great show, as they always do, but I just didn’t feel “it” during this show like I have the past ones. I think most of it may have to do with them following pretty much the same set for each performance. Sure, other bands do it too, Descender for instance, I could see them every week, doing the exact same set, and not be tired of it. But, WFR, after seeing them just a couple weeks before, and knowing what to expect, this show seemed a little stale. Only in the aspect that I knew what was coming though. The overall performance always impresses though. They started with the instrumental piece that eventually leads into “Ramblin’ Man”. And the next three to four songs were reserved for their older material. Then went into their new stuff, with “Pies of Old Kylene”. As well as several others, like “Gambling Preacher and His Daughter” “Horrors in the Kitchen” “Into That Slide” “Easy Climb”, and a few more. Before their set was eventually cut short, and they ended it with “Curtains”. I don’t mean any disrespect to the band or any of the members by what I said at the beginning of this. They are incredible talented and have created their own unique brand of music. But I think they may be one of those bands I see every month or two, instead of every possible chance I get. Oh, and since I’ve started trying to end these by promoting the bands next gig, they’ll be playing on Friday 2/11 at Sons of Hermann Hall in Dallas. Check it out!

January 12, 2011 - The Whiskey Folk Ramblers

It’d been awhile since I’d seen one of the weekly Wednesday night shows at the bar, Renfield’s Corner, in Uptown Dallas. But this Wednesday boasted one of Dallas’s top tier local bands, The Whiskey Folk Ramblers.

They took the stage a few minutes after 9, to begin their 66 minute long set. I at first thought they were doing a sound check, as their drummer seemed to be playing his kit like he was testing it too see how it sounded. But then their singer started playing his acoustic guitar and the other instruments slowly joined in. They played a lengthy little instrumental piece to open the show. It probably lasted four to five minutes and kind of served as a intro to their first song, “Ramblin’ Man”. Their first album, which features that song, seems to have more of a Country sound to it then their newer stuff, and honestly I don’t much care for their first album myself. But live the songs sound completely different, and much better. And that was the case not just for “Ramblin’ Man”, but the other three to four older songs they played afterwards. Then they got into some stuff from 2010’s “…And There Are Devils”, with “Pies of Old Kylene”. “So this next song is about an old lady who makes pies.” Their singer said to introduce the song. “But she gets sick a lot, and well… You’re about to hear the song so just listen and you’ll understand.” As interesting as the song itself is the ending. Anyone who hadn’t heard the song before would’ve thought it was over, as their singer counted, “Two, three, four.” And they launched into the next riff of the song, which is pretty heavy on the rhythm section. And after those 30 to 45 seconds or so, you’d think the song is now over. Which is when they go into the final part, which sounds like it belongs in a silent movie from the early 1900’s. They continued their set with several other songs from their latest release, including “The Penitent”, “Gambling Preacher and His Daughter”, “Easy Climb”, “Into That Slide”, “Curtains”, “Horrors In the Kitchen”, and “Concrete Bed”. There were also a few other songs peppered in between those previously mentioned, some of which I don’t believe are from their first album, so I can only assume they are possible new songs or cover tunes. Either way they all sounded incredible. And then as their set drew to a close, they played “Sweet Waters”, before wrapping it up with the title track from their first release, “Midnight Drifter”.

These guys definitely one of the most unusual sounding bands I’ve ever heard, with the use of an accordion, banjo, and harmonica as well as a trumpet. But I mean that as a good thing, as they’ve created their own personal niche, not just in the local music scene, but the music industry as a whole. Their next Dallas date is at the Doublewide on 1/28, so go check ‘em out.

October 29, 2010 - The Whiskey Folk Ramblers

 Okay, there’s nothing strange about going up to Lochrann’s Irish Pub in Frisco on a Thursday night. Because, well, the majority of the time there’s not much going down on Thursday nights, so what better way to spend it then catching a few bands for free. But, on a Friday night, when the best show in town isn’t in Dallas, Denton, nor even Fort Worth, but Frisco, you have to think “Wow. Wellhouse Co. and Lochrann’s are really on to something here.” And that’s what I found myself thinking after ending up in Downtown Frisco for the second night in a row.

The acts were a little more country geared this night, and the first one, The O’s, were a little ways into their set when I arrived. After seeing their short performance on Sunday I was just a bit disappointed, cause I just didn’t feel it like the past times I’ve happened across this band, but tonight they were on the top of their game. Their style of music may not be my favorite, but this duo does the Americana/Country sound quite well, and for all but a couple of songs I really enjoyed it. And I really like their song about Kentucky Whiskey (no clue what the actual name of the song is), which I guess is kinda funny since I don’t even drink.

The Whiskey Folk Ramblers took the stage next, but only after fixing the first, of  a couple different, technical difficulties. All it ended up being was a dead battery in lead singer/acoustic guitarist, Tyler Rougeux, guitar, but fortunately he was able to use the guitar of one of the O’s members, making it a pretty easy fix. They played a great 75 minute set, which allowed them quite a bit of material, most of the songs being their more unique style, such as “Gambling Preacher & His Daughter” and “Pies of Old Kylene”. But a few times during the show Tyler would ask the impressive crowd, “Y’all want to hear a country song?”, which lead to some of the album songs that do sound more like country music. Kinda sorta, but still not really. Even at one point near the end of the show they said something about doing a cover song (I can’t recall by who), but their accordion/banjo player said, “No, we don’t know any (insert name of whomever artist it was) songs.” To which a few people responded, “Yes you do!”. It was definitely the best show I’ve seen them do, due totally to the lengthy set they got to play, and afterwards they finally had some albums with them to sell. And after buying it, and listening to it a few times, it in no way does this band justice. It sounds good, but it doesn’t capture their sound anything like what you get from a live experience, and Tyler’s voice sounds far better live than in the recordings. So basically, this is a band that you just have to see live!

October 24, 2010: The Doublewides 7th Anniversary Party

Dallas’s most redneck venue, the Doublewide, was celebrating seven years of business. And, quite appropriately, Dallas County was under a tornado watch for the evening. Sure the actually tornados were a ways away, in East Texas, but still, it was very fitting.

The night was chalked full of rock, boasting a total of seven bands. (I guess one for each year they’ve been around?). And kicking it off on a little stage they’d set up on the outside patio was the duo, Legsweeper. I can’t really say a whole lot of any of the bands that played out here, cause due to the crowd it was hard to see. Plus I was talking with the drummer for Descender, Duncan, during these guys set. They’re pretty good though, based on the other time I saw them. They do look pretty nerdy and don’t fit the typical idea of a musician and their music isn’t anything to write home about, but it is good.

RTB2 was next to rock the patio. Like I said, it was near impossible to see, and I really hated that for their set, since they (or specifically Ryan Becker) puts forth so much energy. They did several songs I’m sorta familiar with, plus some that I assume are new since the last time I’d seen them, cause I didn’t remember ever hearing them. Oh, and they didn’t disappoint on the energy either. During one of their tunes where Ryan usually runs back and forth across the stage, he instead ran out into the audience slinging his guitar around, which caused people in the immediate area to have to move for him. It was a great little set, just wish I’d had a better view.

The Country duo, The O’s, closed out the bands on the patio. And it was also at this time I figured out all the 2-piece bands were playing out here. (Guess I’m slow to catch on. Ha ha.) While their stuff isn’t to my personal liking of music, I really enjoyed them at the Homegrown Fest earlier in the year. However, I wasn’t as impressed tonight & I don’t know why. I’m looking forward to seeing them again at the end of this coming week though, & hopefully redeem this performance a bit.

No sooner had they finished up out there, it was time for the music to move indoors to the usual music venue. The Whiskey Folk Ramblers had started, thankfully just opening with an instrumental piece, which was a good way to hook any potential listeners who’d never heard of them before. I however had, and in their three song set during the Dallas Observer’s Music Awards they had amazed me. And I was glad to finally have a chance to see them again, as well as eager to see what a longer set from them was like. And well, it was nothing short of spectacular. I really have no idea how to classify this bands sound. In short it could be Americana/Country, but it’s a much bigger blend of genres than that. Due mainly to the large (and even odd) assortment of instruments. While their singer plays an acoustic guitar, they also have an electric guitar, another member who plays an upright bass, a trumpet player, of course a drummer, and the other member switches between an accordion, harmonica, and banjo. And all of that makes for a obviously unique and surprisingly great sound. It’s no wonder why they’ve won awards for “Best New Band” from the Observer as well as best alternative country act. I’m super psyched to see them again at the end of the week, and hopefully pick up their CD!

Finally, it was time for the best of the seven acts to perform, Descender. After an incredibly quick set change (it only took at most 15 minutes from the time the WFR finished before Descender was ready to go), they opened with “Gunpowder Drums”. I was a bit bummed about the short sets for all the acts, but mostly this one, seeing as they have so many great songs, but they had put together an excellent mix of current and new material. They whisked through the rest of the set, consisting of “What Was Missing”, a newer one they’ve been playing for most of the year (“Dark Water” I’m fairly certain is it’s name.) and then their newest song that was debuted a couple of weeks ago. The latter of those sounded much better than at their show at the Kessler. It had more of a polished sound, and I think it will now join several others as being one of my favorite Descender songs. They did take a short pause, while Casey dedicated their final song to the Doublewide. “…It was here when there was a scene. It was here when there wasn’t a scene. And now there’s a scene again.” He stated, before adding another reason he loves the Doublewide. “They’ve always been consistent of two things. Strong drinks. And great live music. So here’s to the Doublewide.” he said. And before they continued with their last number, Casey went back to the scene, first calling it a community, before saying, “Or a big block party.” Yeah, I agree with the block party one. I was a little puzzled as to what they’d end the show with, cause they obviously didn’t have time for “Little Power” and I was leaning more towards “Armor” to round out the set. Then they began “Army of Elephants”, which I somehow hadn’t even noticed was absent from the set thus far. It made for a really great closer, and making the song even better was the revamped riffs that I think Casey (or perhaps Jeff) added to the beginning of the song, before the lyrics start. It sounded like it was still basically the same riff, just changed up a little and it made the song sound even better. Oh, and here’s some further proof of how awesome Descender is, as both Clark Vogeler and Doni Blair could be seen in attendance at this show. The same Clark Vogeler and Doni Blair who play guitar and bass, respectively, for the legendary Toadies. Now come on, those guys wouldn’t come out to see just any old band.

There were still a couple acts after Descender, Sir Silky and finally an Elvis impersonator, but I didn’t stay for them. From what I listened to on the Internet Sir Silky wasn’t all that good, and the Elvis impersonator, well I don’t even care for Elvis’s music, so I didn’t really care to see a copy cat doing the songs.

July 20, 2010 - DOMA’s: And The Awards Go To…

Like I said this was the first year I could attend anything having to do with DOMA’s, so why not make a thing out of all of it. And since the awards show tonight was free, it made it hard to pass up. Making it even harder was the killer talent playing. Some even doing live mash-ups. I won’t cover who won what awards in this, mainly cause I don’t remember & I don’t want to look them up, but also because I was disappointed in most of the winners. Hell, I was disappointed with most of the nominees too. So here we go.

At the back of the Granada Theatre, in the semi-circular partition, they had a “stage” set up called “The Pit”. The first band of the night played here and it was Leg Sweeper. I’d seen them back in February and they were not good at all, but in five months they’ve improved. Still not the best, neither their guitarist/singer or drummer/singer have the best voices, but they’re alright. And I did get pretty into the music as it was catchy. After they finished the attention was turned towards the main stage to a smaller stage set-up in front of it, as some awards were handed out. Then came the first live mash-up.

It was some country music, brought by Somebody’s Darling and The O’s. Somebody’s Darling got things started doing one of their songs and upon finishing The O’s took over, treating the crowd to one of their originals. “We’re gonna play some songs together now, arn’t we?” Somebody’s Darling’s singer asked as one of the members of the O’s replied “Yeah, I think we are.” They performed two more songs, one by each of them, but they collaborated on them, which made them pretty interesting. I’d seen both of them at the Homegrown Fest a few months ago, but I liked them even more this time. It was a great way to really get the night going.

As they finished everyone did a 180 so they were facing “The Pit”, and the next band playing there, Spooky Folk. Unfortunately they had some serious technical issues during their set and the vocals were totally inaudible. It sucked since I was really looking forward to their little set, which was only three short songs, and they finished it with “Bible Belt”. I can say though I legitimately like their music too, since that was the only thing you could hear. It was enjoyable, especially the violin.

The next mash-up was Dust Congress and Shiny Around the Edges. They were HORRIBLE! I’ve heard some decent praise about both of these Denton bands, but after seeing this I’m at a loss as to why anyone would or could say anything positive about them. None of the music seemed to go together and it was more like each member was doing their own thing. On one of the screens to the side of the stage they had a live Twitter feed of people who tagged the Observer in their post, and both of these bands got bashed on it during their time on stage. My personal favorite, “This band isn’t even worth the price of admission.” Pretty bad since this was free to attend. It seemed to drag on for an eternity (or two) until they finally ended.

Back in “The Pit” Descender was ready to roll. Sadly, the same technical issues befell them as the band before. You couldn’t hear a lick of what Casey was singing, which is pretty bad since I know all these songs and was still thinking “What is he saying?”. Making it even worse was they only got to do two songs, quite sad since they were one of the most talented bands to play this stage. Hell, they were one of the most talented bands in the building. They opened with “What Was Missing” and closed with their album’s title track, “Army of Elephants”. With the exception of the vocals (or the lack of them) it was a pretty good Descender show, at least the glimpses I caught when the people in front of me would move somewhat out of the way. During the instrumental breakdown of “AofE” Casey did an impressive little backbend. Something I’ve never seen him attempt at past shows, but it was pretty cool.

Next on the main stage RTB2 played one of their songs. And when they finished The BAcksliders took over. I’d never heard of them, but they sounded good. Their frontwomen had Joan Jett-esqe voice which went well with their semi 80’s sounding rock. After that they combined their talents to become, as the people posting on Twitter dubbed them, The RTBAcksliders. As they played one more song by each of them. It surprised me on the RTB2 tune that the bass and extra guitar didn’t really add anything to it. Sure, the extra instruments were noticeable, but it wasn’t any better than when they perform it as their normal two-piece. And that’s meant as a huge compliment. Their set was fantastic, maybe the best mash-up of the night.

The punk outfit, Bad Sports, rocked “The Pit” next. Punk music is a hit and miss genre for me. Some, like Spector 45 (who won the award for best punk band) I really like, but these guys, I just didn’t really feel it. Their music seemed a little fast paced, but other than that they weren’t that bad to listen too.

Next next mash-up was by Smile Smile and Air Review. This was what I’d been waiting all night to see, them being two of my fave acts, plus the idea of the mainly acoustic act, Smile Smile, coupled with the rock band, Air Review, intrigued me. Smile Smile started it with “Truth On Tape”, while the guys of Air Review stood at the ready. No sooner had they finished Air Review really livened things up with “Chasing Corporate”, which seemed to get everyone in the Granada really going. They went on with another one of their songs, the seldom heard “Can’t See the Sun”. It started out like a normal Air Review performance, but at the second verse Smile Smile’s, Jencey, took over as the lead vocalist. And after that they co-sang the rest. It was a great, special, performance of beautiful song. They finished with Smile Smile’s “Tempo Bledso”, in which everyone but the drummer took part in singing the chorus, “…Woo hoo hoo…”, in which they all harmonized and it sounded incredible!

The final act in “The Pit” was The Whiskey Folk Ramblers. I’d heard their name before, and based on that they sounded like they were a country band. But that wasn’t the case… at least not entirely. They were a little country, a little rock, and a bit experimental. I really liked the use of the accordion, which I typically only think of that being used in polka music, and actually they had a bit of that going on too. It was just an incredible interesting and neat sound, and there singer’s voice was awesome. The only thing that disappointed me was they had no merch for sale, cause I’d love to get their albums.

The final act(s) were Mount Righteous and some hip-hop act. I knew this would be interesting, but the curtain opened to the rappers doing their thing and each member of Mount Righteous playing their instruments, it was just way too much going on, so I left.

Going to the DOMA’s was an all great and fun experience, and as supportive as I am of the local scene, attending these events made me feel like I’m more of a part of it. The showcase by helping Deep Ellum in its revitalization. And the awards ceremony in actually seeing these bands (regardless if I like them or not) get something to recognize the fruits of their labor over the past year. I’m already looking forward to the 23rd Annual Dallas Observer Music Awards.