Shows You Know You Wanna See: April 22 - 27

Tuesday, April 22nd
-Dallas (Deep Ellum)

ALL AGES
Doors @ 8 / Music @ 9
$8

AGES 17+
Doors @ 8
21+ $10 / 21- $15
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Wednesday, April 23rd
-Dallas

FREE

  • The Gas Monkey Bar & Grill will host the final round of the Road to Edgefest battle of the bands. This night will see Birds of Night (who won the first round) and Jessie Frye (who took the second) playing the venue (and against one another). Fan votes determine the winner, who will open Edgefest the following Saturday with Beck and many others.

Doors @ 7
FREE
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Thursday, April 24th
-Dallas


-Dallas (Deep Ellum)

AGES 18+
Doors @ 7 / Music @ 8
SOLD-OUT

-Dallas (Downtown)

ALL AGES
Music @ 5:30
FREE

-Dallas (Oak Cliff)

ALL AGES
Doors @ 6 / Music @ 7
$20+

-Fort Worth

Doors @ 7 / Music @ 8
$15

Doors @ 8
$6
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Friday, April 25th
-Arlington

AGES 21+
Doors @ 9
$8

-Dallas

Music @ 9
FREE

  • The Wine Therapist will host a slew of Dallas Divas. It’s a benefit show to raise money for Women Called Moses to help women in Dallas’ southern sector suffering from domestic violence. Jennifer Martin, Andrea Wallace, Robin Hackett, Amy Zinger, Hillary Little and a plethora of other female singers will perform.

Music from 7-11
Free, though donations are encouraged.


-Dallas (Deep Ellum)

AGES 18+
Doors @ 9 / Music @ 10
$8+

AGES 21+
Doors @ 10
$7

ALL AGES
Doors @ 7

-Dallas (Lower Greenville Avenue)

ALL AGES
Doors @ 7
$19

AGES 21+

-Fort Worth

Doors @ 8 / Music @ 9
$12

Doors @ 8
$7
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Saturday, April 26th
-Dallas (Deep Ellum)

ALL AGES
Doors @ 8
$12

AGES 21+
Doors @ 10
$5

ALL AGES
Doors @ 7
$16+

ALL AGES
Doors @ 7:30
21+ $10 / 21- $12

Music @ 11
FREE

AGES 18+
Doors @ 8 / Music @ 8:30
$8

-Fort Worth

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Sunday, April 27th
-Dallas (Deep Ellum)

AGES 21+
Doors @ 10
$5

-Dallas (Fair Park)

ALL AGES
Polyphonic Spree @ 6:30
FREE

-Dallas (Lower Greenville Avenue)

Music @ 11
FREE
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Friday, February 21st, 2014 – The Dirty River Boys Do Billy Bob’s Texas

Lately, if I have made the trip across the D/FW metroplex to Fort Worth, the destination has been Billy Bob’s Texas.

It was more of the same this night, when the venue that is known for being the “world’s largest honky-tonk” was hosting one of the best bands in the state, The Dirty River Boys.

There was an opening band this night, and that was Crooks from Austin.

Admittedly, I didn’t keep up with their set as far as what songs they did, but I’ll hit the highlights of what I do remember.

They were playing the smaller Honky-tonk stage, and had already started by the time I got there.

They finished the song they were doing, at which point singer and acoustic guitarist Josh Mazour regaled the audience with a story about how it’s not a good idea to decide to pick up a stray cat and pet it. Evidently, that was something he had tried recently and learned the hard way why it’s not wise.

They had a truly authentic country sound, from the twang in his voice, to the upright bass Joey McGill played, and even had an accordion and trumpet thrown into the mix, which were played by Anthony Ortiz Jr. and Doug Day, respectively.

They did at least one cover during their time on stage (I don’t recall what famous country singer they covered, since country music is not my forte), but it was good. Their original stuff was even better, and you could tell the audience was liking by all the people that swarmed the dance floor and danced with their special someone’s.

Even the slower “Pull Up Your Boots” got some movement going, while a song that stood out to me was “My First Gun”. Granted, that was probably because of the story that accompanied it, which was Josh informing everyone that he wrote it about five years or so ago, when he was dreaming about killing his boss at the time. “…I never did anything to him or his woman, but I thought about it… A lot.” he said before they started the track.

Some of their final songs where just the core group of Josh, Joey, lead guitarist Ryan Goebel and drummer Rob Bacak, before Anthony and Doug rejoined them for their final few songs.

They were quite good. I can’t say I liked them to the point that I’d feel like I have to see them the next time they come through the North Texas area, though I am contemplating buying their record. So yeah, overall, I did enjoy Crooks.

They have plenty of shows coming up across Texas, including a return trip to Billy Bob’s on May 8th, plus a gig at Hat Tricks in Lewisville on March 28th. For their full tour schedule, go HERE. Also, you can find their LP on either iTUNES or BANDCAMP.

They were a good little warm-up act, but the real show was going to come when The Dirty River Boys took the main stage.

There was a thirty-minute break in between bands, which gave most of the people plenty of time to be shown to their seats at the sea of tables that cover the floor in front of the main stage.


By the time 10:30 rolled around and one of the staff members at Billy Bob’s came out to introduce the band, there were a surprising amount of people there. I saw surprising given the fact that The Dirty River Boys are still by all accounts a local band. They may do shows all over the country, but they’re widely known yet. However, the healthy fan base they do have is also a dedicated one, which was proved this night.

At 10:32 bassist Colton James, drummer Travis Stearns and the two singers and acoustic guitarists Marco Gutierrez and Nino Cooper stepped on stage.

“How we doing Billy Bob’s Texas?!” Marco asked, while Travis went ahead and gave the crowd some percussion by slapping his hands against the cajon he sat on.

Having seen them just barely a month before; I was expecting the same setlist, since most bands don’t switch things up that often. Then again, The Dirty River Boys aren’t most bands, and when Nino grabbed the mandolin, it became obvious that this wouldn’t be the exact same show I had seen last month, and that had me excited.

They wound up starting with “Boomtown”, and Nino jumped about at the start while he strummed the mandolin. The fans responded well to it, and it was an excellent opener, not only being one of their tracks that really gets people pumped up, but also one that shows how much talent resides in this band, as they handled some of the words in rounds, with Marco and Colton singing and harmonizing along with Nino. There was even a cool moment after the second chorus where Colton spun his upright bass around, while the feathers and raccoon pelt that hang from it twirled right along with it.

Once it was done, Marco led them right into the title track from their second EP, “Train Station”, which is another song with breathtaking harmonies. “…I fear I’m losing her again. My head’s on the horizon, my heart’s wherever the hell she sleeps!” Marco belted as the track sprang to life. It’s a song that blend beauty and heartache with some Rock ‘n’ Roll moments, and there was even a part where Colton played his bass with a bow, similar to how a violinist does.

Those were two of the older songs they did this night, and while more would come, their primary focus was on the material from their forthcoming album. They had worked in a few more new tracks than they were doing the last time I saw them, and Travis counted them in on the first new one of the night, which was sung by Colton.

“Billy Bob’s, what’s going on?!” Marco asked, seeming gleeful to even be there. The fans did their part at making some noise, while he went on to say they’d be playing a lot of new songs this night. “…This one’s an old one.” he finished, as they tackled the lead track from “Science of Flight”, “Dried Up”. Apart from doing lead vocals, Marco also played the harmonica when it was called for, but that wasn’t the only add-on this song got.

They’ve been known to throw in portions of cover songs into their music, and while I’ve heard them do one of Bob Dylan’s songs before, it hasn’t been on this specific song before. “…Everybody knows that baby’s got new clothes…” he sang during the lull that came before the final chorus, then moved along to the chorus of that Dylan hit “Just Like a Woman”. “She takes just like a woman. She makes love just like a woman. And she aches just like a woman.” Marco crooned, softening his voice as each sentence ended, before getting louder when he sang, “But she breaks just like a little girl.” The crowd was roaring at that point, as they got back to their original and finished it up, before moving directly into their next number.

“This song’s about a union painter that Nino met several years ago.” Marco informed everyone, while Travis played some soft, though sad notes on his harmonica. “…I’m surrounded by others, but I’m always alone. When the paint and time comes, I jump back on the train. Spend all my green dollars just to poison my veins…” Nino sang rather somberly on “Union Painter”, which sounded like it was even a little more low-key than the album version. That’s to say it just sounded like it was more acoustic. Nino also made a little change to one of the lines, catering to where they were this night as he sang, “…I’m still searching for freedom beneath Fort Worth skies…”

Afterwards, it was time for them to bust out another new one. They might be an Americana band, with dashes of country, but above all, The Dirty River Boys are a rock band. This song was a fine example of that, and it packed a punch; while also being one of the songs that Colton used an electric bass on. Speaking of that, his playing on it was pretty slick, particularly on the chorus, as he quickly moved his hand up and down the fretboard.

“…This is what we call a Chinese fire drill.” Marco stated before leaving his post and sitting on the cajon. Travis took up the mandolin, while Colton grabbed a banjo, as Nino began to play some soaring notes. “…The louder you get, the crazier this bad boy gets!” shouted Travis as they had some fun before their next song. Marco just added a bit of drums to the start, before taking over on the upright bass for the short sing-along that is “Lookin’ for the Heart”. “But I’m just growing old with a whole deep in my soul. Won’t you give me back that heart you took from me?” sang Nino on the track that is far more upbeat than you would guess just based on the subject matter.

They reverted to their normal positions when it was done; and Marco started setting up their next song, saying on their last album they had covered a Townes Van Zandt song. “…We don’t do it too much these days…” he said, noting they had decided to this night, though. The song they covered is “Lungs”, and it’s a favorite of mine from “The Science of Flight”. They give it a real dark, ominous quality, which in turn puts a good spin on it; and while they might not play it much anymore, I’m glad they did this night.

Another new one was due now; but first Marco mentioned how lucky they were to come across Colton James and add that fine talent to the band. He [Colton] again assumed the role of lead vocalist on this one (which was one I don’t think I had heard before), though it sounded pretty good. “Take it away, Nino!” he said at one point later on in the track, as Nino ripped into a guitar solo. I have to say, acoustic guitars were not meant to sound like that. At least I’ve never heard another band make them sound the way Nino and Marco do. The guitar solo he did was amazing, and it was more electric sounding than most electric guitars are.

The audience went to clap, but had no time to, because as the final notes rang out, Nino started singing “My Son”. “I don’t know where you’re going my son. Taught you to walk, but you learned how to run.” he sang before all of his band mates joined in, again forming some incredible harmonies. “How you gonna find your way back home? The roads you knew they’re paved and gone.” Sang Nino on the first chorus, changing it slightly before sticking with the chorus from the album version the second time around, “How you gonna find your way back home? The maps you drew they’re burned and gone.”

“…The only way that you can be found is through your footsteps in the cold, dead ground.” the four guys sang, before Nino went into another brief guitar solo, which only made the song even better.

They gave a quick shout-out to their friends in Crooks for getting the party started, before firing up an instrumental piece. It was soulful and bluesy sounding, and I highly enjoyed it. I assumed it was the intro for another one of their new tracks; and they amped it up, sounding like they were about to break into whatever it was, before pulling back on it. Then the chords for “Draw” came into being; and since that was a song that was absent from their last show I caught, I was ecstatic.


It was a bit of an alternate version, and was more toned down than what their fans have to come to know from the album. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t still a great song, though. “If you’re alive, make some noise!” roared Travis during one of the breaks, as he made sure everyone was still feeling very much a part of the show/experience.

They were still far from being done, and while Colton again swapped over to his electric bass, Nino mentioned that the next song they would be doing was one that The Ranch (95.9FM) in Fort Worth had been playing, and thanked them for it.

There’s a reason why “Desert Wind” is their newest single, and one they’ve already released for public consumption (i.e. on iTUNES), and it’s made known every time they play it. “Lately, I’ve been thinking, and I just can’t seem to get you off my mind… Lovely lady, where you are. I hear your voice and I feel your scars…” he sang on the sweet and powerful track. The drumbeats are mixed in perfectly, giving the song as much kick as possible; and he got so into his drumming on this one that – for the second time this night – he knocked his hat off.

“If you know it, sing it.” Marco told the fans as he moved things right along to their next number.

“Carnival Lights” got one of loudest reactions from the fans, as well it should. It was another song they put an alternate spin on, doing a slow version of it. Actually it was pretty much just Marco until after the first chorus. “…With her poison inside medicine bottle, filled with nothing but her own shortcomings. She leans her head back; she puts ‘em down and they taste alright…” he softly sang, before Travis interrupted the pause. “Y’all still with us?!” he asked. Of course, everyone was. Marco then continued, “Please, just try to stay conscious tonight.”

Now the full band came in, just in time for the even more emotional second verse of this spectacular tune. “Billy Bob’s, this is your time to shine.” Marco told everyone before the final chorus, making the song into a genuine sing-along. It was cool moment to say the least, but they weren’t done yet.

That Dylan cover has been tacked onto this song in the past, but with it having already been done, I was wondering what, if anything, they might add to “Carnival Lights”. They did have something planned, and Colton took his cowboy hat off and hung it on the scroll of his bass for it.

“…Now I’m so happy, no sorrow in sight. Praise the Lord, I saw the light.” Marco added, which was just one of several lines they did from Han Williams’ “I Saw the Light”.

They went right into another new song; again one that was sung by Colton, before Marco took over on the next one. In between those, they chatted with their fans, though.

“Are y’all having a good time so far?” Marco asked, before saying he couldn’t stress enough what an “honor” it was to be on this stage (this was their first ever headlining show at Billy Bob’s). Then, upon finishing that song he did, he shifted the focus to their new album, which they recorded during this past December and January. “…We can’t wait to get this new music out to you all…” he said.

They only had a couple of old songs left this night, and rather surprisingly, the balled-esque “Riverbed Wildflowers” got one of the loudest reactions from fans. I mean, it should because it’s a fantastic song, even if it deals with the heartache of having feelings for someone who doesn’t feel the same. “…Well, these riverbed wildflowers are dying now; and I’m through waiting around on you…” Nino sang towards the end, before they added a little extra something to the song, repeating part of the chorus an extra time or two at the end, adding some truly lovely harmonies to it.

“This song’s about life on the road.” Marco stated, after he had again thanked everyone for making it out to the show, during which time Colton switched back to his electric bass. This song is easily the best one from their new batch of music, and even just in general. It does depict the life of touring musicians (“…Well, we work all night just to drive all day…”) and it’s more rock sounding than most of the true rock music that you hear.

They made something special with that song, and the same can be said about their next one, which Nino dedicated to the man they co-wrote it with, Ray Wylie Hubbard. “…It’s about the violence south of border.” he said, as they began to sing about how their hometown of El Paso, as well as those towns over in Mexico, have changed.

“You cross that dirty river and you never come back.” Marco sang at the end, then Colton and finally Travis, before Nino took back the reins. His band mates harmonized with him on the last line, “If you cross that dirty river then you’ll never come back.”

After one of their earlier songs (“Draw”), Marco mentioned it was just one of a few songs they had about whiskey. Well, now they got to another, which was yet another new track. “…There’s nothing like a whiskey drunk on a Friday…” he sang on the cheery tune, which will surely become a sing-along once they get their new album released.

The end was in sight now, and while Nino went over to stage left and grabbed the mandolin, Travis spoke to the crowd.

“After four and a half to five years of being a band, our van finally hit two hundred and fifty-thousand miles!” he exclaimed (a moment that was documented with the footage being posted on the bands Facebook page).

He then asked how many people had seen them before. Most everyone in attendance had, though there were still plenty of first timers. “Y’all know how we like to do it!” yelled Travis, speaking to those who were familiar with them. “…So, are y’all ready to raise some hell?!” he bellowed.

Moments after that, he got everyone to stand up. I have to say, the seats were detrimental to the energy out in the crowd. Not that everyone wasn’t enjoying the show, but you just can’t really get into the music (or at least I can’t) when you’re sitting.

With that said: once everyone rose out of their seats and began clapping, singing and stomping their feet along to “Raise Some Hell”, the mood changed immensely. In that moment every fan was one, as they were completely immersed in the song and were having the time of their lives.

That was how their 88-minute long set ended, but the celebration wasn’t done yet.

They never left the stage. Instead, Travis mentioned that they’ll celebrate fans birthdays every time they can, but there are only, at most, four chances a year that they can do shows and celebrate the birthday of one of their own. Tonight was one of those nights.

Nino Cooper was genuinely surprised when a birthday cake was brought out and handed to him, and everyone in Billy Bob’s helped in singing “Happy Birthday” to him.

“Are y’all ready to rock out another one or what?!” Travis asked after a few minutes went by.

“Crooks, we need ya.” Marco said, calling on their friends, who soon joined them on stage. Then Nino appeared, having traded his cake in for an electric guitar.

It was very appropriate for their final song, which was a cover of The Rolling Stones “Honky Tonk Woman”. I stand by what I said about their rendition of the song the last time I saw them; they do it better than The Stones; at least in comparison to the recorded version.


Think what you will of that statement, but it’s the truth, and once the song came to an end, Travis stood up from the cajon, tossed one of his drumsticks in the air, caught it and then struck right through the skin of one of his drums. Because if you’re going to end a show, you might as well end it in style, right?

This may have been their first ever headlining show at Billy Bob’s, but I don’t think it will be their last.

Okay, the place wasn’t sold out like some of the other acts that come through are capable of doing; but there were a lot of people out, and they were loving every second of the show.

Then again, how could you not? There are so many layers to The Dirty River Boys, from the harmonies, to the emotion-filled lyrics, to the awesome rock numbers, of which there are plenty.

I absolutely love this band. I may be a new fan, but they won me over from the start, and each time I see one of their shows (this was the fourth one I’ve caught), that love I feel grows.

They are, without question, one of the best bands that resides in Texas, and it’s not going to be long before the world takes notice.

They have plenty of tour dates scheduled up through July, and they can all be found HERE. That includes show in Texas, Oklahoma and even Louisiana. As far as North Texas shows go, they’ll be up in Denton on March 27th at Dan’s Silver Leaf.  They’ll be at the Iron Horse Pub in Wichita Falls on March 29th, and then April 25th will find them at the Granada Theater in Dallas. They’ll also be back in Fort Worth on July 24th.

Go see ‘em if you can, and if you can’t, check out their music in iTUNES.

It was a great night of music here in Fort Worth; and while the drive there and back were both long, The Dirty River Boys were more than worth it.

Album Review: “Sidetracked - A Soundtrack For An Imaginary Motion Picture” by Darrin Kobetich

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Darrin Kobetich has been active in the music scene for awhile; a few decades to be exact.

While he’s always been a solo instrumentalist; much of his time in real bands was spent playing hard rock and thrash metal music.

However, in more recent years his focus has shifted back to his solo material; and he’s gotten truly creative with it.

His most recent album is “Sidetracked - A Soundtrack For An Imaginary Motion Picture”, which plays out exactly like the title suggests; as if it’s an accompanying soundtrack for a film. A film that doesn’t even exist.

The nearly eight and a half minute long track “The Order Within Chaos” starts you on this journey. It’s a semi-ambient sounding track; gradually intensifying the deeper you get into it, though there’s a certain level of serenity maintained throughout it. Some subtle yet thunderous percussion can also be heard in the latter half of the track; reminiscent of war drums from far off in the distance, before they die completely as the song recedes into “When the Rain Finally Came”.

A full-blown feeling of calmness washes over you while listening to the song, which is complete with the soothing sounds of raindrops mixed in, in the background. The tranquil guitar chords only accentuate the mood the song sets. It gets traded in for a banjo on the short “Banjer in the Bayou”. And while you would think that track would sound completely out of place given the previous songs; it doesn’t. In fact they go together quite well, and the transition into it is rather fluid.

The vast array of sounds continues with the low-key “Creeper”. It’s another song that’s worthy of the title it was given; and while it’s far from being ominous, it does just creep along, winding itself to an interesting end; an end that features good use of a theremin, which gives it a cool sci-fi like vibe.

Those first few songs manage to work together in ways you wouldn’t think possible until you actually hear it for yourself. However, they are but the calm before the storm.

With the acoustic intro, you might be thinking that “Giant Behemoth” isn’t going to live up to its name. Then you hear the shrill feedback, and Darrin brings forth the thrash metal sound of his earlier bands.  It’s as heavy as the album gets, with some mighty drumbeats joining the roaring and intense guitar lines. Then, it suddenly dies out: the song ending about as calmly as it began.

“Winging It” brings things into a more rock pace, still using the drums from the previous song. Gradually though, those are pulled back; setting the album up for a completely different sound.

“Counter Cultural Tribal Dance Theme” and “Percussion Concussion” go together perfectly. The former incorporates a nice use of some type of woodwind instrument at various moments, and it executes the tribal sound excellently. In fact, there’s some Indian flare to it; and while I’ve never watched a Bollywood film, it sounds like something that would fit in one of those style movies.

The latter of the two is more toned down, yet still aggressive and possess a certain hypnotic quality to it. That’s actually appropriate, seeing as “A Trance Harp Beach Party” is utterly mesmerizing. It may be somewhat simplistic in some regards, but it’s great.

The remaining five tracks on the album all play out as another segment of the story; a story that has reached the climax at this point and is now headed for the resolve.

“The Gift That Came Here” starts the still lengthy journey to the records close; and as uplifting as it is, you can’t help but feel good and know that the most tumultuous times (“The Giant Behemoth”) are far behind.

“An Air of Pall” takes that mellow mood to new heights, while “The August Moon” continues it; at least until a sharp rise pierces the tranquility. It’s by no means on the scale of previous songs and instead serves to show that there’s still some surprises to come on this album.

“In the Misty Forest On the Edge of Time” is more of an interlude than anything, and the 48-second track gives way to “The Man Who Came From Wales”, which is the ideal last song for this record. It oozes joy, creating one of those picture perfect endings in your head before the credits proceed to scroll by.

For those who frequent my blog at all, then you probably know I often mention that I’m not a fan of instrumental music. Yet that’s all “Sidetracked…” is.

I liked it the first listen through, and I must confess; subsequent listens made me downright love it.

This isn’t just instrumental music, though. It’s more like a composition and it plays out in an epic fashion.

It’s even more remarkable that just one person was able to put all this together, doing all the instruments – and of course, everything else - entirely on his own.

It was a big undertaking, no doubt; but in the end, it all came together perfectly. You can tell Darrin has a lot of natural talent as a musician, and that talent seeps out of the speakers, clearly noticeable.

In the end, “Sidetracked…” is an impressive piece of work, and even without any lyrics whatsoever, it still manages to make more of a connection with the listener than a lot of records these days do.

Purchase the album on:
iTUNES / Bandcamp / CDBaby

Visit Darrin Kobetichs’ websites: Official Website / Facebook / Reverbnation

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(Photo credit: Scott Carson Ausburn)


Monday, December 30th, 2013 – The Toadies Close Out 2013 Right

A little over a year prior to this, the Toadies graced the stage of a venue you wouldn’t expect them to; Billy Bob’s Texas.

Billy Bob’s is one of those venues that’s known all over, primarily because they hold the title of the “world’s largest honky tonk”. Of course that means country bands are the main acts that play there, but the Toadies brought out the people in October of 2012, so much so that Billy Bob’s decided to have them back.

And with 2013 coming to a close, there could be no better final concert to see for the year than this iconic Fort Worth group, as they ended their sixth year together since the band’s resurrection.

Eleven Hundred Springs was opening up the show for them, which was a bit of an odd mix, given that they are a Texas Country band. The people who were there early enough to catch them though, seemed pretty receptive to their music, which does have some tinges of rock thrown in.

And for those wondering how EHS got put on as the opener, some of the band members from them and the Toadies go back a few decades. Also, they were the band Mark Reznicek started drumming for after the Toadies broke up in 2001.

I didn’t get there until a little later, missing the first half or so of Eleven Hundred Springs set, walking in right as they were doing a favorite of mine, “Great American Trainwreck”. “I’m just another boxcar in the great American trainwreck. You can’t take your eyes off of the way I crash and burn…” singer and guitarist Matt Hillyer sang on the chorus of that short, but strong song, which everyone seemed to enjoy.

They kept things rolling with another tune, probably one of the many covers they throw into the mix, before doing a classic from the “Bandwagon” album, “Why You Been Gone So Long?”. You could tell the difference from the usual EHS show where their fans are out in full-force, since they typically get a sing-along going on the chorus, “…Wolf’s are scratching at my door, don’t you hear that lonesome wind blow? Tell me baby, why you been gone so long?” That didn’t happen this night, but it didn’t make the song any less great, either.

They busted out another cover afterwards, this one being the classic, “T for Texas”, which had an electrifying fiddle solo thanks to Jordan Hendrix, who can really rock out on that instrument when he wants to, and that wouldn’t be the only moment he got to shine this night. Another original came next, with the fun, “Seven Days”, before doing a partial cover of The Allmen Brothers’ “Midnight Rider”. Bassist Steve Berg, drummer Arjuna Contreras, Jordan and pedal steel guitarist Joe Butcher kept the music going while Matt addressed the audience.

“We’re really glad to be here tonight. Actually, we’re really glad to be anywhere these days. Every day’s a blessing, and don’t you ever forget it…” he said, speaking at lightning pace, rivaling an auctioneer. He went on, noting that this next song went out to “the freaks”, listing some of the different kinds, like the weekend warriors, saying something along the lines of how they go out and party for almost two days straight, but still manage to function. The core message was that really, everyone’s a freak in some way. “…It don’t matter if you’re man or woman, black or white, it don’t make no difference. We’re all the same…” Matt added. That’s the usual lead in for what may well be the most popular song they’ve written, “Long Haired, Tattooed, Hippie Freaks”, which reinforces the idea that you should never judge a book by its cover.

It had barely come to an end when Arjuna hastily beat on one of the cymbals, counting them in to what was a true fiddle solo, with the rest of the band adding some background music while Jordan worked his magic. That lasted a good couple of minutes, after which Matt pointed out they had only a couple songs left before getting out of the way for the Toadies.

The last couple of times I’ve seen them (earlier this year and the summer of 2012), they hadn’t played my favorite song of theirs. I’m not really complaining about that, because with all the material they have, that’s what allows them to keep their shows fresh, switching things up. But considering they typically play an hour and a half or so, and this show being considerably shorter, I sure wasn’t expecting “See You in The Next Life”. And then Matt started crooning the song. “You asked me if I wanted my jacket back, you know, it looks better on you. I said, ‘What about your favorite shirt?’, you said I could keep that, too. I said I’ll see you next time, but baby I don’t know when. I can’t help but feel like crying. It’ll never be the same again…”

Lyrically speaking, it’s an absolutely gorgeous song about a love that just didn’t work out, despite wanting it to. “…I could tear all of my hair out, trying to think of things to say. When all I really want to know is how the hell it’d end up this way?” Matt continued, shouting out that final mentioned line as they hit the chorus strong, amping it up from how it is on the recording.

I have to say, it was great hearing that one, and after taking that more serious turn, it was time for them to end on a lighter and fun note. “This song’s called Raise Hell, Drink Beer.” Matt informed everyone, saying he figured some of that would be going on later once the Toadies took the stage.

As it usually is, it was a fun one to end with, and even though I only got a portion of this already abbreviated set, they put on one helluva show.

They’ve been together long enough they mastered the live show, and know how to entertain the people watching them, whether you’re a real fan of their music or not.

They have songs that can make you laugh, they have songs that may make you cry, and they have some that can make you think. All of that makes it easy to see why they are one of the best original country bands in Texas, and they do tour all over the state, often at that.

The next shows they have lined up are for February at the Golden Light in Amarillo, the 8th at Bash Rip Rocks in Lubbock and the 21st at the Broken Spoke in Austin. March will see them playing at Love and War in Texas in Plano on the 2nd, then back to the Broken Spoke in Austin on the 21st. March 22nd will find them at Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, before they play the Grapevine location of Love and War on the 28th.They already have shows booked through next July, and will no doubt be adding more that in the coming months, and for their full schedule go HERE. You can also check out their vast collection of record in iTUNES, and “Bandwagon”, which is arguably their best record, is only $5.99. That’s a steal.

I thought the turnout may be light this night, considering it was a Monday, and also assuming that some people may be out of town. None of those were major factors, though, as droves of fans packed in tightly next to one another, and everyone was so excited even the roadies sound checking the instruments and placing the setlists on stage was applauded.

It paled in comparison to the deafening roar the fans let out once Vaden Todd Lewis, Doni Blair, Mark Reznicek and Clark Vogeler made their way on stage, though.

“How we feeling tonight?” Vaden asked the audience, while he and the rest of the band got situated. There was then an awkward silence as they readied their first song. As it turned out, the spirit of change from this year’s Dia de los Toadies festival was still in the air. Not quite to the extent that it had been back in September, but there were still some surprises and deeper cuts.

“I guess I left myself wide open. I guess I earned that weight…” Vaden suddenly started singing while strumming his guitar in short bursts, getting “Push the Hand” underway. It was an unexpected start to their 73-minute long set, but seeing as it’s usually the second song they do in their shows, it still seemed right at home here at the start. It was also a slightly rough start, though, with Vaden flubbing the second verse, starting it with the second half, “It’s been a long time, a long time coming back…” He rode it out, then repeated the lines at the correct time, though you could tell there was a bit of self-loathing for messing that up.

That wasn’t given much after thought, and if anyone in the audience was upset about it, Clark’s seamless transition into “Happy Face” more than made up for it. After all these years, it’s still those songs from “Rubberneck” that really get the crowd going, and in usual fashion the band played almost everything from their major label debut, including following it up with one of the biggest fan favorites.

They really employed use of the segue this night, a quality I quite liked, instantly launching into “I Come from the Water”, which prompted dozens of fans to start jumping about with glee. “Sing it!” Vaden said to everyone as they hit the chorus, stepping back from the microphone, while the audience proceeded to shout the words at the top of their lungs. During the second verse Vaden raised his left fist in the air while singing, making a few different gestures and movements with his hand, something he had done during the previous song and occasionally did throughout the night, and while subtle, it added some nice elements to the show.

They weren’t about to let up yet, and Vaden and Clark got some noisy feedback going, before Clark laid into his whammy bar. Eventually Mark, who, even for him, was in rare form this night, started viciously pounding away on his kit, as they went old school with a song off the “Pleather” EP; “Got a Heart”. It may be relatively rare to hear it live, but man, that song is the Toadies in their purest form, and this night was unquestionably one of the best songs they did. They weren’t ready to break just yet, though, and Mark quickly set up the thunderous beat that is the backbone of “Hell In High Water”. Clark knocked out his little guitar solos during the instrumental break near the end, doing a couple of strong notes, before Vaden held up one finger, signaling for one more, which was the loudest of the three.

It was already clear this was going to be a great show, but hearing that one so early on cinched it, and I, for one, was excited to see how the rest of the show was going to play out.

“Are we having fun yet?” Vaden asked their adoring fans, bantering with them a bit before they started “Animals”, the first of a handful of songs from last year’s “Play.Rock.Music.” album. “Tomorrow the sun will rise and I’ll see it with sober eyes. But all I really want tonight is you…” goes the first line of the song, whose music bed is accurately reflective of the raw, primal lyrics, which even has a slight degree of sophistication to it (that’s to say it’s a little different than your average songs about sex). The quartet bled the final notes from that tune into their next one, “Mister Love”, which got nearly everyone all riled up again. Vaden held his guitar straight in the air, still playing as he sang into the bullet mic, “…Love, love, love…” before laughing that callous laugh that makes the song.

The crowd clapped and clapped for them, and once it died down enough they moved on to the next track, which came as a pleasant surprise to me. “Little Sin” has been noticeably absent from the two Toadies show I saw earlier in the year. In fact, the last time I probably heard them do it was on this very stage in October of 2012, and now here they were, dusting it off. The live environment is where that song is at its best, with the little tweaks they add to it. Like the longer pauses Vaden takes on each chorus, letting silence fall before singing, “Little sin.”, as well as the “false” ending they give it, stopping, making it seem like they’re cutting it short, before breaking back into it and jamming the outro.


The bullet microphone got put to use again on “No Deliverance”, giving the song the eerie quality it has, and after that Vaden spoke to the fans, setting up their next song. “The Toadies don’t do a lot of love songs…” he stated, adding something about murder, which caused everyone’s mind to be on the same page, thinking they were going to play their biggest single. Instead, they had something different in mind. “…You know, if you want to cut them up in little pieces and keep them around your apartment.” Vaden finished, leaving fans scratching their heads as to what it might be. It wound up being a deep cut from “Hell Below / Stars Above”, “Jigsaw Girl”, and a large amount of people seemed glad to hear it. The only other possible mistake I caught this night came at the bridge of that song. “Laid on my bed, your beautifulness.” Vaden crooned, following it with “Jigsaw girl, my whole world.” It was that latter part he switched around, but it was impossible to tell if it was because he got ahead of himself, or if maybe it was intentional. Either way, it worked.

Having been awhile since the last “Rubberneck” song had been played, they rocked out “Backslider”, and afterwards had one final true surprise for everyone. Excluding their acoustic-ish show at 2012’s Dia de los Toadies, it had been a while since I had heard the lovely “Doll Skin”, which is just the right mix of prettiness and rock.

Once it ended, they chatted some more with the fans, as Vaden asked everyone if they had, had a good holiday. “…Or still having a good holiday.” he corrected himself. He soon announced the name of the next song they would be doing, “Summer of the Strange”. Doni laid down his sweet, dominating bass lines that kick off the song, then swapped to another bass once the song was finished. While that was going on, Vaden took a swig of his beer before starting one of the few other sexually charged songs they have, “Sweetness”. “Cut right down to the soul, to the center of you. I found me a home for the sinner in me…” is one of the many great lines that intoxicating song has to offer, and as it ended, Mark downright killed it on the drums.

“How many first timers do we have?” Vaden asked the throng of fans, causing a surprising amount of hands to go into the air and roars of, “Yeah!”, to be shouted, as people made it known this was their first live Toadies experience. “How many repeat offenders?” Vaden then asked, which of course the majority of the people were. “I like that ratio…” he remarked, before they broke into the song that put them on the map, “Possum Kingdom”. Personally, I think it’s funny in some ways that, that’s still the song everyone clamors for, given that some of their fan base were only a few years old, or had even barely been born when that song hit it big on the radio airwaves. On the other hand, it shows the true power a song can have, and how music really does transcend the generations.

Mark rolled them right into another song off their newest release, the lusty, dark and rhythm heavy “Sunshine”. The crowd was then put in another state of euphoria upon hearing the first notes of “Quitter”, which concluded the main portion of the show.

Demands for an encore started immediately, though the four musicians took their time in returning to the stage, no doubt taking a short breather before the final 19-minutes of their set. “…This one’s a bit of an ass shaker…” Vaden informed the crowd before they struck with “Rattler’s Revival”.

The remainder of the encore was all about “Rubberneck”, and for the first time ever, I heard “Away” done as an encore. I have to say, as much as I like it thrown somewhere into the main set, it worked quite well here, and the fans seemed even more excited about hearing it than usually. “Can you believe next year will be the twentieth anniversary of Rubberneck?” Vaden reflected when the song was over. He also let some interesting news slip; that they will be re-releasing the album, completely remixed and re-mastered. And it was that tidbit of info that caused every Toadies fan to salivate a bit.

The next song featured Arjuna Contreras of Eleven Hundred Springs helping them out with some additional percussion, and as the snare and floor tom were being brought on stage, Doni, Clark, Mark and Vaden had some fun, playing a few seconds of different cover songs, including “Crazy Train”. They made it seem like they might actually play one, and when it didn’t happen they actually got booed, something they all laughed at. No one could actually stay mad at them, though, and that all evaporated as they started “I Burn”. “This song’s about marijuana. Trust me… No, it really isn’t.” said Vaden before the song. It featured some more crowd participation, as the fans were charged with shouting, “We got stupid!”, at which point Arjuna had made his way on stage, and, acting like he had done it dozens of times, violently beat on his partial kit, in synch with Mark.


“We’re gonna leave y’all with this one.” Vaden told the fans, the job of ending the night falling, as it typically does, to “Tyler”, which leaves everyone with a sort of high.

I feel like I’ve said this a lot the last few times I’ve seen the Toadies, but out of the little over a dozen shows of theirs I’ve seen, this was one of the best ones.

Even having not done a show in a few months they were still in excellent show shape, with the kind of chemistry you can only have after spending years together and touring extensively.

It was fitting that they end the year in their hometown, something Clark brought up at one point during the night, when he noted how good it was to not only be in Fort Worth, but also at Billy Bob’s.

And for me personally, I really couldn’t have thought of a better final concert to see for the year.

They’ve already announced a ton of tour dates, beginning on March 19th, for their tour in support of the re-release of “Rubberneck”, and they promising to play the entire album at these shows. Their full schedule can be seen HERE, and more dates will be added in the coming weeks.

“Rubberneck” will officially be re-released on April 1st, and will include some bonus songs not found on the original version. And until then, if for some reason you don’t have any Toadies music, find it in iTUNES.

Saturday, September 14th, 2013 – Dia De Los Toadies Seis

It took six years, but the Toadies finally brought their roving music festival known as Dia de los Toadies to their hometown of Fort Worth.

Actually, with the festival having been stationed in New Braunfels for the last three consecutive years, it was easy to forget the festival was meant to roam about the Lone Star State in the first place.

I must admit, it felt a little strange to me, though, being only the third time I attended the festival it was also the first time I (or rather my dad and I) didn’t have to trek south to Central Texas for the event. Instead, it was just a short(er) little jaunt over to Fort Worth and the Panther Island Pavilion, which was the spot for this year’s event.

It wasn’t a little slice of heaven like the setting of the past few years, but it was a nice space. Still, it could benefit from some shade trees, and while it was fairly removed from Downtown, leaving the attendees unable to see or hear any traffic or anything, the buildings of downtown Fort Worth still served as a reminder that you were in the city.

Being in North Texas this year, the lineup drew almost exclusively from the areas talent, and getting the day long festival going was some students at the School of Rock, but not just any students, they were students from the dean’s list.

Their nearly 30-minute long set consisted entirely of covers, including some Fleetwood Mac and Janis Joplin, among others.

The group consisted of a large collection of musicians, who often played musical chairs, with five of them beginning with an instrumental piece, before a girl who looked like she was perhaps ten joined them on stage for their first song with lyrics, and surprised me by having a more powerful voice then I was expecting.

It was a good glimpse of what could perhaps be a future crop of local area musicians, and while all of them were already good at their craft, there were two that really got my eye. One was the first bass player who was on stage with them, and played most of the set. He killed it, having an awesome style of playing while slapping the bass. The other was one of the other vocalists, and before their final song, an instructor or someone with the School of Rock walked up to the mic, informing everyone that Zoe (the singer) would soon be graduating from the school after something like four years, and this would be her last time performing as a student.

She had a wicked voice, often conjuring more of a sharp growl, and as a front women had a great presence, getting into the music and moving accordingly to it, and just had an aura about her that ensured they had your undivided attention.

Kudos to the School of Rock for doing what they do, and to all the kids for putting complete dedication into their set and best of luck to them as they continue to improve.

Over on the smaller stage, the Play.Rock.Music. stage (of course named after the Toadies most recent release) was the Fort Worth based, The Cush.

Their 28-minute long set featured a hefty bit of new material from the album they are currently working on, and I believe their opening song was one from it. They did throw some more rock stuff into their performance to better fit with all the other acts, however this song was a little softer, and featured some truly gorgeous harmonies and textures from the husband and wife duo of Burette and Gabrielle Douglas, the former playing a guitar, while she rocked the bass.

She did most of the singing on it, and afterwards they did another new one, which if I heard correctly was titled “Orange Like Water”. Afterwards, drummer Todd Harwell led them into a song from 2010’s “Between the Leaves” with a mighty drum roll, launching them into the explosive “I Shout Love at the Heart of the Atom”. They might be more of a low-key outfit that does more indie like songs, but that doesn’t mean they can’t throw down when they need to, and that song served as a prime example of that, and really allowed guitarist Josh Daugherty to cut loose.

“This song’s called The Drone.” Burette said to the small crowd of onlookers, before they did the more soupy, dreamy sounding song which was drenched with some sounds courtesy of a synthesizer. They were almost done, now, doing two more newer ones, and “Cover Your Eyes” kicked things back up into high gear. It was easily the most intense thing they played this afternoon, and Todd knocked out some strong beats on the song’s outro, which all but belonged to him, before they did their closing track.

In fairness, I haven’t see The Cush much, with this being only the third time I’d caught them, but they grow on me each time around.

In fact, Gabrielles’ voice sounded better than I’ve ever heard before, being absolutely beautiful. Part of may have also had to do with the new songs, which I found to be some of their best stuff to date, particularly the more rock oriented songs. They pull of both styles exceedingly well, though, and the duel vocalists adds an interesting component to their whole dynamic.

Check out their records in iTUNES, and stay tuned to their FACEBOOK PAGE for future show updates and news about their forthcoming record.

Back over on the main stage (which was the Panther Island Pavilion stage I should add) a newer Dallas group was getting ready to perform, and that was These Machines are Winning.

The band has earned praise since their debut, and especially after releasing their first record earlier in the year, but I had yet to see them, and in fact, had never even listened to their music, so I was clueless on what to expect.

However, I did not expect to see three guys (they did not have a drummer by the way) dressed in solid black, which included hoodies, and yes, they did have the hood drawn over their heads. Probably one of the crazier things I’ve seen a band do in in heat that was pushing 100 degrees, but that also earns them some serious props for sticking with their signature look regardless of how hot it was.

“It’s Been So Long” kicked off their set, and I was a bit surprised to find out how electronic based their music was, with the percussion also being thrown in on the sample tracks. I don’t mean that as a bad things in any way, it just wasn’t quite what I was expecting. It was a striking sound right from the start, and I mean that about just the tracks themselves, let alone with the slick guitar parts that lead guitarist Dave Christensen and singer and guitarist Dylan Silvers, were adding on, as well as the rhythmic bass lines Hightower was cranking out. It completely enveloped me, and they had me mesmerized throughout the duration of their 26-minute set.

With a little bit of feedback they brought it right into the following song from “Defender 1”, “Get a Little Closer”, which was eventually bridged into “Brains Inside Our Head”. Dylan ditched his guitar for “Just One More (Monolith)”, taking up more of a front man role and proving he was just as comfortable on stage without a guitar as he was playing it, walking around a bit while delivering the lyrics. “This song’s called Beat S.” he announced after placing his guitar back around him. “…You’ve been looking at me like I was somebody else. You’ve been looking at me like I could fix this whole god damn mess…” he sang on the second verse of the song which somewhat breaks the mold of traditional songwriting by lacking a true chorus, something it really doesn’t need.

Upon finishing it, Dylan then named their next song, “Fornication”, which I thought was probably their most rocking number, even though it still had a real electronic element to it. It eventually gave way to “You Have Been Talking to a Ghost”, as they continued to power through their set as quick as they could to fit everything in, and once it was done they took a pause. Dylan spoke more to the ever growing crowd, rather than thank the people for coming out and the Toadies for having as he had done at other points in their set. “It’s fucking hot. It’s gonna cool down. It’s gonna rain.” he said.

The first part of that was very true, but sadly the other two sentences never did happen this day. With that said, the trio tackled their final song of the day, “If This City Won’t Sleep”, capping things off nicely.

Sometimes, when it comes to electronic samplings, I think they can sound fairly cold and sterile, but that was far from the case with These Machines are Winning. It was very vibrant, and while I’d hesitate to say they are breaking new ground, their music is highly original and very different from most of the stuff currently out there.

It is very creative music, and the synth sounds work in perfect combination with the rock flare Dylan, Dave and Hightower bring with their live instruments.

Since seeing them, I’ve listened to “Defender 1” a few times, and the songs do translate well on the record, and they do pull them off live exactly how you hear them, though it is the live show where things are really at for them. They put on a pretty energetic show, as well as a fun one, and one I hope to see again soon.

To keep up to date on their shows, just stay tuned to their FACEBOOK PAGE, and do be sure to preview and even buy “Defender 1” in iTUNES.

Over on the other stage, an old iconic Denton band was about to be doing one of their occasional reunion shows.

That band was Baboon, who was part of the “Fraternity of Noise” (a title that was collectively given to three bands back in the early 90’s), and while that may have been well before my time, I was still somewhat familiar with Baboon, and have been for a little while now. (side note: this was the second year that Dia de los Toadies has featured one of the bands from the “Fraternity of Noise”.)

Baboon has been in business for over two decades now, and semi-retired would probably be the best word to use for them. They’ve never actually hung it up and called it quits, though their reunion shows are few and far between, and because of that they had quite the audience.

They traversed much of their lengthy career, at least as much as they could, the fiery “Rise” was how they began things. It definitely piqued my interest as they jumped into action, and each member of this quintet was pretty spry, and certainly didn’t let their age show on them.

“Lush Life” wasn’t quite as aggressive as that first track, but still packed a good punch, and they quickly followed it with “Breaking Glass”, which I thought had some sweet guitar lines, which in turn made it a catchy little tune. Before the next song, vocalist Andrew Huffstetler noted they were doing it because it was a request, pointing out that is something they don’t always take. They named the evidently longtime fans, who I assume were in a relationship of some type, since they said the guy had requested it for the lady, and fittingly so, because “Nation of Twos” was somewhat of a tender love song.

The mood changed when they fired up “I’m Okay if You’re Okay”, which I found to be the most interesting song of their set. There was an eerie atmosphere to it at times, with some haunting riffs from guitarists Mike Rudnicki and James Henderson, while Andrew forced his voice into a falsetto tone, letting loose a violent scream shortly after, while the rhythm section of drummer Steven Barnett and bassist Bart Rogers was off the wall. At times, parts of the song seemed so opposite one another it was almost contradictory, yet it worked.

With some beats on his kit, Steven wound them into “Dracula Eyes”, which wound up being one of my favorite songs they did. It may not have been an all-out onslaught of rock like some of their other material, but it was an all around brilliant song. They continued busting out the classics with “Closer”, then eased into “California Dreaming” with some light guitar chords, at least until the song took off. By the time it was done, they only had one song left, and it was “Evil”.

It was a great 32-minute set in my opinion, but for the longtime fans, it evidently was not long enough, with the chants for an encore starting no sooner had the final notes been played, making them the only band (aside from the Toadies) to get demands for an encore. It was a request Baboon really seemed to want to grant, but with the time constraints of the festival, they were unable to do so.

Obviously, I can’t attest to what a Baboon show was like back in the day, but from the looks of it this afternoon, I’m going to guess that they haven’t lost much of their edge.

In terms of a high-strung, energetic show, Baboon was the best there was on the festival, constantly moving about, and in Andrew’s case even jumping, proving they could run circles around the fresher bands they were sharing the stages with.

There were times when Andrews’ voice would crack a little, but that was only on some of the high notes he hit, and that’s the only compliant I can make about their show.

In regards to their music, I think it has withstood the tests of time, still sounding creative and fresh compared to any rock you’d hear now days, probably because they just don’t make rock bands like Baboon anymore (at least not in mainstream rock).

Who knows when these guys will be pulling out the drums, guitars, bass and microphone again, but whenever they do, I’ll definitely try to be there to witness another show.

Back over on the main stage, another trio was ready to go, and the rock continued with Oil Boom.

The band is readying a brand new record, and they squeezed in several songs from it, but also threw in some current and older stuff, like “45 Revolutions Per Minute”, a smart, fun little tune that was completely consuming. Dugan Connors kept the drum beats going, bringing them into one of those songs from their upcoming record, and it was followed by another.

Once it was done, bassist Steve Steward made a reference about how big the stage was, and it wasn’t your typical reference. “Remember that part in the Batman movie, where Batman, or Bruce Wayne and Vicki Vale are in the dining hall on opposite sides…” he said, speaking of the 1989 Batman film. “That’s what I feel like…” he said, then added, “Ryan’s Vicki Vale, obviously.” talking about his band mate, singer and guitarist Ryan Taylor.

That made for a great laugh, and served to only make them more entertaining than they already were, before they continued on with two more songs, tied together nicely with a little bit of guitar feedback. “…Here’s one you all will know, maybe.” Ryan said to the crowd. It was one from last year’s “Gold Yeller” EP, and though I didn’t know it, I quickly became a fan of “The Great American Shakedown”. “Shaking down, shaking down, shaking down, you know I’m all shook down…” Ryan sang on the chorus, the unique tone his voice has making the song all the more irresistible.

The next song they did featured a stellar guitar solo from Ryan, and while it was the most prominent instrument at the time, Steven and Dugan held it up with a tight rhythm section, then after one more new song, they reached the final song of their 37-minute long set. It was one off their first record, and even though “Bite Your Tongue” was older and had been written with the bands original singer, it still came across as a staple of their set, and was one of the highlights.

Having heard of Oil Boom for a few years prior to this, it was good to finally see them live. In fact, I had listened to their music a few years back (around the time of their first album, so circa 2011), and wasn’t really drawn in by their music, but damn, their stuff this day sure got me hook, line and sinker.

A lot of that has to do with Ryan, who, just in comparing their two EP’s, is a much better singer, in my opinion, giving their sound a whole a new style. And speaking of their sound, it is rock first and foremost, but there’s some underlying blues and soul qualities to it, some of their songs even having a revamped 50’s to 60’s era sound to it.

Now that I have seen Oil Boom, I’m wondering why it took me so long to do so, and I’ll have to make it a point to see them a little more often when I can.

They’re keeping busy, with a show in Austin on September 28th as part of the Pecan Festival. On October 4th they’ll be in Houston at the Continental Club, then Sundown at Granada in Dallas on the 5th. The 12th will see them in Fort Worth at the Flying Saucer for Beerfest, and the following weekend they’ll be back in Cow Town for Lolaspalooza at Lola’s Saloon on the 19th. On the 25th they’ll be at the Blue Note in Oklahoma City, with a Tulsa gig on the 26th at the Mercury Lounge. Lastly, on November 9th they’ll be back in Dallas at the Granada Theater, opening for Johnny Marr of The Smiths. As for their music, you can of course pick up their EP’s and some singles in iTUNES.

The pace of the day was about to take a drastic change over on the Play.Rock.Music stage, though not everyone (myself included) knew just what they were about to experience.

This San Antonio based quartet known as Piñata Protest was on their way out to California to start a tour with Guttermouth, but they were stopping here first to give the Dia attendees a taste of their self-described (according to their Facebook page) “Mojado punk” brand of music.

I was expecting the punk part, though, especially not after seeing singer Alvaro Del Norte wielding an accordion. Not the most punk rock sounding instrument, at least you wouldn’t think it would be.

The outfit recently released their new record, “El Valiente”, and they opened with the first full song on it, “Vato Perron”. It quickly became apparent they’ve carved out their own little niche for themselves, the accordion adding a real Mexican flare to their music. Actually, all of the instruments did, from the notes Matt Cazares played on his guitar, to the rapid fire beats drummer JJ Martinez was cranking out, working in perfect tune with Marcus Cazazres’s bass lines.

It was all fast paced like punk music, is though, and they lowed through their 34-minute long set, going almost straight into another number. That new album of theirs wasn’t the only source of music for them, and actually, they seemed to draw equally from it and their first release, “Plethora”, running through the short “Jackeee”, before doing the title track of album two, “El Valiente”.

They were both throwing down and making for a very fun live show, but it was about to get a little more hardcore. Alvaro took off the accordion he was using. “Are there any punk rockers out here?!” he asked, saying he meant real, true punk rock fans, not pretenders. Some of the onlookers roared back at him to signify there were. “…Prove it.” he said, “Start a fucking circle pit…” he commanded. As for the song, I don’t know exactly what it was, but I’m leaning towards “Que Pedo”. Regardless, once they tore into it, a mosh pit erupted, lasting the whole not even complete minute the song did. Actually, some of the people looked confused, surprised the song was already over, but hey, that’s a true punk rock song right there. Short, intense and to the point.

After another tune, they did an Irish song for everybody. At least that’s what Alvaro told the spectators. “…This is an Irish drinking song for all you Irish motherfuckers.” he laughed. I believe it was “Life on the Border”, and upon finishing it, they geared up for their next song by getting the audience to clap along. Alvaro asked for everyone to get their arms higher in the air, making a wisecrack once they were fully stretched upwards. “Oh, I can smell your armpits from here.” He said, waving his hand about as if he were trying to waft the smell away.

That song was “Guadalupe”, which was relatively tame by the standard Piñata Protest had so quickly set, before rolling it into “Suckcess”, kicking things back up. The full-blown punk rock side they are capable off showed itself again with their next song, another pit forming, as a handful of people slammed against one another for the duration of another song that was unknown to me.

By now it seemed like their time should be running out, but with very few songs that are even three minutes long, they kept powering on with “Volver, Volver”, which JJ wound into “Rocket”, Marcus banging his head about to the drum beats of that partially instrumental song.

A very catchy song was “Tomorrow, Today”, and once they finished it, it was time to put their spin on a couple of traditional songs. “…This song’s about a little cockroach, who likes to smoke weed…” Alvaro said to the crowd, who both laughed and cheered at that, before he went on to dedicate it to all the “officers in uniform” for keeping everyone safe this day. I promise you, you have never heard “La Cucaracha” sound like the way these guys did it, putting a very punk twist on it, even complete with a trumpet. They then wrapped up their set with Alvaro said was another traditional song, “Cantina”, another one they no doubt made much more punk sounding than it originally is.

Piñata Protest was easily the most original sounding band of the festival (and that could actually be extended to most original band I’ve ever heard in general), and they also stuck out as being one of the highlight acts of the day.

Fun and aggressive is an interesting mix, especially in the way they mixed it, but that was made them so enjoyable. It was something fun that you could cut loose and have a good time listening to, though also doubled as a fierce and tight rock show.

These guys pull off their unique style incredibly well, and their live show is one to behold, because they won’t disappoint. There’s also a good chance they might be near you on this tour they are a part of. For all their dates, click HERE, and they will be on the road through mid-October. Also, do your ears a favor and give them a taste of something different by checking out their records in iTUNES.

Back on the main stage, it was time for another drastic shift in music (compared to the band that had just finished), and everyone was about to get countrified by the duo, The O’s.

“Thunderdog”, the band’s latest LP, was the main source of their music this day, but they also drew from “Between the Two” a little bit, like with their opener, “We’ll Go Walkin’”. “Every morning, when we wake up, I brew up some lovin’ and pour you a cup…” sang John Pedigo at the second verse of that sweet love song. That overwhelmingly happy song transfers its emotions well onto the listeners, making it impossible to be in a bad mood.

“…This song’s called Dallas.” said acoustic guitars and other vocalist Taylor Young, who also adds the percussion by stomping on a pedal to hit the bass drum that sat at his feet. That tune was the only bumpy part of their set, as I had trouble hearing Taylors’ voice, and even John’s as he harmonized with him. Whatever the issue was, it resolved near the end of it, which was just in time for them to do the lead track from “Thunderdog”, “Outlaw”. It’s perfect proof that this new record features their best collection of songs yet, and this song’s at the top of the list. “…We’ve all got the right to fix things that we don’t like… Revolt, reshape and reload…” the two sing on the chorus, which I think sends the message that if you want something to change, you can and need to be the one to make it happen.

“Found the One” continued their show, and they shared a little bit of the banter they usually make, something Taylor mentioned earlier when he apologized, “…We’re trying not to talk as much today as usual…” Here, they pointed out the producer of their recent record. “…You look hot…” Taylor told, before pointing out he meant in hot in the sense of the temperature. John then chimed in, saying something to the effect that he thought his band mate meant the physical sense, because he was looking pretty good.

They then started a real gem from the new album, “Rearranged”, which was also a very captivating moment of this performance. “Well Taylor, it looks like wearing black wasn’t a good idea after all…” John said to his band mate, as they began to talk about some of the other bands, like These Machines are Winning and their outfits, while saying Baboon probably had the smartest idea by dressing in all white. “…That joke never gets old.” Taylor stated, giving the impression they used that before, which only made the joke that much finnier. They then stepped it up with the only song they have that is borderline rock, and that is “Kitty”, which sees John shredding on his banjo at the end.

There was a long build up to their next song, John doing a lengthy harmonica solo before the two started the music bed of “In Numbers We Survive”, which they segued nicely into “Pushin’ Along”, which required John to use his pedal steel guitar. It then came time to end their 42-minute long set, and what better way to conclude it than with “Everything’s Alright”.

I believe I said this the last time I saw The O’s, and I’ll say it again, they’re growing on me each time I see them. This was definitely the best show I’ve seen them do, even topping the festival I saw them play back in May, mainly because they were able to squeeze some additional songs into this one.

If you’re looking for great, quality country music, then they’re a group to check out. Both John and Taylor are fantastic singers with their own unique sounding voices that can add different tones to their music, and they can harmonize like no one’s business. They also write some topnotch music with brilliant lyrics.

You can find their three records in iTUNES. They’re also keeping busy through the rest of the year, playing Three Links in Dallas on October 4th, with a gig at the State Fair of Texas on the 11th. The 20th will find them back in Fort Worth at Lola’s Saloon, then on the 25th they’ll be up in McKinney at Hank’s Grill. For November they have shows planned in Grapevine, Dallas, Plano and Denton, and even a show in Nashville, TN come early December. For all of those dates, go HERE.

The Burning Hotels were ready to go over on the other stage, having amassed quite a crowd.

While everyone loves  these guys, they’ve never won me over, but I was open to perhaps this being the time the band finally clicked with me.

Their 35-minutes on stage began with “Always”, with a couple of other songs (I suppose newer ones) coming next, none of which did much for me. As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of Chance Morgans’ voice. However, I have enjoyed the songs that guitarist Matt Mooty sings on, and had been somewhat looking forward to “Days are Gone”. It was the first song of the night where Matt really had a part in singing, and maybe he was just having an off night, but his voice was far from good.

It really caught me off guard how incredibly pitchy he was, and the same could be said of Chance, as they continued on with “Lovely Lovely Lady” and “Sound City”. By that time, I had all but zoned out, making it seem like the perfect time to go ahead and get a place in line to buy some Toadies merch, as The Burning Hotels finished up with three more songs, including “Allison” and the closer, “Beard”.

I’ve tried to get into The Burning Hotels, I really have. There even a handful of songs that I really like the recorded versions of, but in the end, honestly, I just feel these guys are overrated.

All the same, if you want to listen to/buy their music, you can do so HERE and HERE.

Now after seeing a few acts I had caught before, I was looking forward to checking out another act that was new to me… Well, sort of.

I had heard of The Dirty Rivers Boys before, about a year ago, and loved their music, but hadn’t managed to see one of their shows when they had come through town, at least not until now.

They looked much different than any of the other bands this day, with the bass player, Colton James, wielding an upright bass, while drummer Travis Stearns sit atop a cajon, with only a partial drum kit of a snare and a tom around him.

No sooner had the MC of the event introduced them, then they got down to it, opening with the lightning quick, “Letter to Whoever”. The catchy beat reeled you in immediately, and I believe it was Nino Cooper who handled the singing on that one, while also playing a guitar, and he spit out the words just as rapidly as the song was quick. There wasn’t even really time to applaud their efforts as they continued on to their next song, “Heart Like That”. “She’s just a girl with a ramblin’ heartache, he’s grown a hard, lost man…” went the chorus of that infectious track, which wound up being my favorite of theirs and a real sing along quality to it.

Those two songs had come from their first full-length record that came out last year, but now they went back to the first two EP’s they released, playing a song from “Train Station” and “Long Cold Fall”, respectively. They switched things up slightly with “My Son”, which showcased what incredible harmonies the quartet is capable of, as Nino, fellow guitarist Marco Gutierrez (who did the majority of the singing on it), and even Travis all chimed in, their voices blending together to make a beautiful sound. Nino then took back the reigns for their next number, briefly saying it was a song he wrote about a union painter he had met, aptly called, “Union Painter”, and had a true country sound to it.

“This is what we like to call a Chinese fire drill.” Marco told the crowd, as they all took on different roles for the next song. If I got it right, it had Travis playing a banjo and singing, Marco on bass and Colton rocking the mandolin. Once they finished it, they reverted back to their typical instruments for what they said was a “drinking song”, which was “Draw”. They rolled it into another song I wasn’t able to figure out, though it was more of a heavy hitter than the previous song. “…There’s this brand new thing on the streets called punk rock…” one of them said before ripping into the song, which did have a slight punk rock feel to it.

Their 40-minute long set was nearing the end, cranking out one more softer song in the form of “Youngblood Blues”. They then prepared to go out with a bang, Nino switching out to a mandolin for their last two songs, “Boomtown” being one of those, and it got everyone pretty active. It was wound pretty fluidly into their final song “Raise Some Hell”, which at times sounded like an Irish jig, making it all the more fun.

That was actually somewhat of an abrupt end to their set, because I figured they might do a little more, and they were one of the only bands this day that had me wishing they had gotten a longer set time. And really, it’s always good to leave the crowd, even if it’s only some of them, wanting more

Everything about The Dirty River Boys was phenomenal, from the lively show to the killer music and just the attitude they seemed to have about it all. By that, I mean they were just having fun doing what they love to do, with just enough seriousness that any band needs, while still being pretty relaxed and just going with the flow.

Their show was one you could just cut loose at and have a good time, though it certainly didn’t hurt that each of them had exceptional voices, and the harmonies were to die for.

Check out all of their records in iTUNES, and even go catch a live show if you can. They’re keeping busy with shows all over Texas, Oklahoma and even a few other states, spread out through the end of November. For all those dates, go HERE. They will be back in the D/FW area on November 22nd at the Granada Theater, then the next night they’ll be in Austin at Antones for their last show of the year.

Night had finally fallen and the heat was finally more than bearable now, as the show entered the headliners portion of the night.

I had been pretty excited about the Tyler based family band, Eisley. I had missed their last stop or two through Dallas, and they were  finished touring for the year, but thankfully they were doing this one-off show.

They played an assortment of songs from various points in their careers, though opened with the title track of the album they put earlier this year, “Currents”. It seemed slow at first, but by the time they hit the chorus, when guitarist Sherri DuPree-Bemis joined sister Stacy King in crooning, “Do you believe in fate, baby? Ask me, ask me…” it roared into a force to be reckoned with.

Dialogue was kept pretty minimal, simply thanking the fans for coming out and the Toadies for having them, as they worked to fit in everything they had planned, and next moved on to “Invasion”. Afterwards, Sherri took over lead vocal duties as they busted out a few from what is their best record in my opinion, “The Valley”. “Better Love” was one of those songs, and by the time they finished it, Sherris’ guitar had a broken string. “…Do we have an extra guitar? We probably don’t, do we?” she asked, before choosing to “rock it out”. “What string is that? G? Who needs the G string?” she joked, before pointing out is was another that had snapped. Drummer Weston DuPree then started them into “Sad”, he and bassist Garron DuPree creating a knockout rhythm section on that one.

“I feel like I have to hold my head on when I sing that one, ‘cause it’s so hard.” Stated Sherri while she caught her breath, Stacy joking with her that it might just fall right off if she didn’t. She didn’t have to exert herself quite as much on the next two songs, “Save My Soul” and “Mr. Moon”, the latter one finding Stacy fully focusing on her keyboard. Upon finishing it, they did chat with the crowd for a few minutes, as Sherri recalled her, Stacy, Chauntelle DuPree-D’Agostino and the rest of the group cutting their teeth at the clubs in the Deep Ellum part of Dallas. “…None of us were old enough to legally get into the clubs, but they still let us play…” she said, before cracking, “Now we’re just old moms with babies…”

Fitting along the lines of that reminiscing was their next song, and old one from 2005’s “Room Noises”, which they said they were doing just for their fans in their home area. No, it wasn’t the ever popular single from that disc, but it was one that’s every bit as good, “Golly Sandra”. It was quite nice getting to hear that more classic song of theirs, which is one of my favorite Eisley tracks, and it was balanced out by the title track of one of their newest releases, “Deep Space”.

Chauntelle added some commentary after they finished it, laughing as she said she had forgotten some of the chords near the end of that song, so she just winged it. “…We’ve been off for two months and I’ve been painting a house…” she informed everyone, noting that between that and being a mom she didn’t have much time to practice. Her sisters agreed with her, that two months in “mommy world” keeps you busy enough that you would forget some things. They followed it with another track from the EP, and considering what had just happened, it seemed apt that it was “Laugh it Off”, which eventually wound into one song that never disappoints, “I Could Be There For You”. It’s nice how it features all three of the sisters singing at least a few lines apiece, particularly Chauntelle, who doesn’t show off her voice on any other song but that one.

They had one last song to do from “Combinations”, and that was “Many Funerals”, after which they once again thanked everyone for coming out. They then wrapped up their 58-minute long set with their current single, the ethereal sounding, “Drink the Water”.

I must say, I was slightly disappointed they weren’t able to fit “The Valley” into their set, but that one stellar song missing didn’t do anything to diminish they knockout show they put on.

The rush they seemed to be in only aided them, making them appear to be even tighter than they already are as they tore through all those tracks, while simultaneously giving it a very fluid feel.

This was definitely one of the best Eisley shows I’ve seen (even though I’ve only seen a handful), and even though it was a one-off performance, the group was more than on point.

Expect to see them back out on the road sometime next year, and in the meantime, hit up iTUNES to check out the collection of albums they have put out over the years.

The main support slot for this year’s Dia de los Toadies went to the Austin based Gary Clark Jr., who is a mix of rock, blues and even some soul.

“When My Train Pulls In”, one of the singles from his debut full-length, “Blak & Blu”, kicked off their set, quickly proving they can also add jam band to their style, too. The recording of that song is close to eight minutes, but this live version lasted slightly over ten, as Gary Clark Jr. riffed and shredded on his guitar, while his band mates, a drummer, bassist and guitarist, tore it up right along with him.

They kept the jam fest going with “Don’t Owe You a Thing”, and then roared into full rock mode with “Travis County”, which was also one that could have and did have some people dancing along to its contagious, poppy vibe. It had quickly become apparent that Gary wasn’t much for chitchat, and he only occasionally offered a “Thank you.” in response to the cheers he was getting. He was all about the music and letting it consume him, and as they carried on, they switched things up from those first few songs.

The falsetto tone of voice he suddenly switched to for “Please Come Home” was enough to catch those who were unfamiliar with him off guard. It was truly impressive how well he pulled that off, though, keeping it up for the duration of the more tender song, which, like every other song, was complete with a guitar solo to demonstrate mastery of the instrument.

“I don’t believe in competition. Ain’t nobody else like me around…” he smoothly sang at the start of “Ain’t Messin’ Round”, which saw their return to the rock genre. It was followed by an instrumental song, which I’m guessing was “Third Stone from the Sun”, Gary lightly picking at the strings on his guitar, and as the time went on, he progressively picked up the pace. It eventually gave way (rather seamlessly, too) into the soulful and even somewhat funky “If You Love Me Like You Say”. The long instrumental segment of the song also featured a good little drum solo, before the full band broke back in to march the song along to its end.

Next up they did the title track itself, “Blak and Blu”, bleeding it into what was arguably the best song of their 63-minute long set, “Bright Lights”. “…You’re gonna know my name by the end of the night…” Gary crooned on various parts of the song, which, when taking out of context, was very fitting, because everyone who was getting their first taste of his music certainly wouldn’t be forgetting him anytime soon.

It was complete with a jam portion, and once they finished it, their set suddenly ended, as he again thanked everyone and he and his band left.

I was kind of mixed about them. On one hand, I’ve stated many times before my disinterest in instrumental music, yet their songs abounded with them, at times causing me to lose some interest. On the other hand, the musicianship (especially on Gary’s part) was superb, and even standing a good ways back from the stage his intricate playing was something to marvel at, making the instrumental parts more than bearable to me.

Overall, I did thoroughly enjoy their show, and it truly was a show they put on. They have a different sound about them, one you don’t hear much of these days, and the crisp, fresh sounding voice of Garys’ is what sets is all off.

Gary and his band will be out on the road from the end of September through the end of November, hitting up several parts of the country. For full details go HERE, and they will also be performing at the House of Blues in Dallas on November 27th. Also, be sure to pick up a copy of “Blak & Blu”. You’ll surely love it.

For the first time in nearly eight hours, silence fell on Panther Island Pavilion. Well, at least silence from the live music. The roadies set to work on getting their stuff off stage and setting up the Toadies gear, allowing the fans to make a beer run or do anything else without fear of missing anything.

By around 10:30, things were all set as the intro song for the Toadies began to play. It wasn’t one of their typical intro songs, though it fit well given where they were. It was George Straits’ “Big Balls in Cowtown”, and after the song had nearly played all the way through, Vaden Todd Lewis walked on stage.

Now, if you’ve seen the Toadies a few times within the last several years, you know they typical stick with the same tried and true set list, usually opening with the same song with many others falling in the same spot each time. There’s nothing wrong with that, hell, I love their traditional set list, but for this year’s Dia they decided to throw everyone for a loop, throwing a multitude of surprises in.

I’ll preface this by saying I find “Play.Rock.Music.” to be every bit as good as the iconic “Rubberneck”, with not a single track on that record being one you should skip over, and one of my personal favorites from their latest disc is “We Burned the City Down”. So, I was pleasantly surprised when Vaden began strumming on his guitar, singing, “Well, misery loves company, that’s why we’re thick as thieves. Let’s move out to the country and live just the way we please…” Soon, Clark Vogeler made his way to stage left while Mark Reznicek took a seat behind his drum kit, joining in after the first chorus, as if they had done this song a few dozen times over already. Once the song kicked into high gear, Doni Blair stepped on stage, bass in hand, as they concluded that deep cut/rarity, and it wouldn’t be the last one of those this night, either.

Their wasn’t even time to applaud that one before some cheers erupted from everyone, excited at the start of “Backslider”. After all, it is those classics that are still the bands bread and butter, even all these years later. Afterwards, they moved on to that follow up to that album, “Hell Below/Stars Above”, Mark counting them in on the rather unexpected “Jigsaw Girl”. That’s an easy song of theirs to overlook, but in hearing it your reminded what good track it is, especially in the live setting, with its nice ebb and flow, while Doni and Mark created an impressively tight, albeit soft rhythm section on the verses. They weren’t about to stop there, and with a mix of mangled feedback they swirled things into their next song, another one I had not experienced live.

Even by their standards, “Cut Me Out” is an extremely intense song, allowing all four of them to get wild, Clark tearing it up on his axe at lightning speed. The crowd seemed to enjoy it, and in a set that was comprised so much of songs that they have seldom done in recent years, it was must play. They rock kept coming as they segued the end of it seamlessly into “I Come from the Water”, the only song that was fit to follow that other up. “Sing it!” Vaden shouted into the mic as he stepped back from it, giving the audience their routine chance at singing the chorus back at them, the shouts of “I come from the water!” flooding out of the fans mouths.

So far, this was shaping up to be what was probably the best Dia de los Toadies yet, and after a quick time out where Vaden thanked everyone for coming out, saying, “…We’ve had a blast for the last two days…”, they continued to crank out some more music.

In recent years, only a couple of songs still get played from the record that officially marked the bands comeback, “No Deliverance”, but they were looking to change that this night, and next did one I hadn’t heard in a few years, “Don’t Go My Way”. As that semi-dark and haunting song came to an end, Clark led them into the next, one of their newer cuts, and it was the best intro I’ve heard him do yet for “Animals”, really putting his whammy bar to use for it. It was just more exaggerated than what you hear on the recording, and that heavy song about the most primal human instinct fit perfectly with the one that came before it. It was then Todd’s turn to start the next one, the pulse pounding “Push the Hand”, before offering up another classic in the form of “Quitter”.

The banter resumed after that one, with Todd pointing out he recognized a few faces from the almost acoustic show the night before. “…That’s always weird and cool…” he said, referring to how it gets them out of their element. He then thought back to the early days of the Toadies. “…They would run us out of the clubs when we first started…” he said, pointing out it was nice now how they get to do this festival each year and play as late as they want to. He even stated that the best part of this night was yet to come, and that they were even going to have some surprise guests join them.

Doni then got them going on “Summer of the Strange”, a song that garnered some very audible cheers from some, seeming to signify that, while new, it’s already become a fan favorite. They then dusted off “I Am a Man of Stone”, which was were one of only two mistakes were made out of this night. Todd got a bit tangled up before the second chorus, flubbing the line, “…Now you’ve got me branded. Broken but still standing, watching you wreck everything…”, starting by uttering one of the earlier lines, before realizing his mistake, which only threw him further off as he tried to recover. Those couple sentences certainly couldn’t ruin the song, but it happened nonetheless.

However, no mistakes were made on “Away”, another song that briefly became a sing along, the crowd chanting, “When I’m away.” a few times over. What happened afterwards, though, was by far the best part of the night for me. Four and a half years is a good chunk of time to have been seeing these guys, and each time I’ve seen them I’ve hoped to hear the lead song from “Hell Below/Stars Above”, and within the last year I finally gave up hope of ever hearing it. So, I was both ecstatic and shocked when Todd began rapidly strumming his guitar, churning out the opening part of “Plane Crash”. The brief jolt of high energy Rock ‘n’ Roll that song offered was something else, and after all those years of hoping beyond hope to hear it, it was everything I hoped it would be.

They had already thrown several curve balls had their fans, and another one came next when they started into “Hell In High Water”. Sure, it has been a staple of their shows since 2008, but more recently it has been reserved for an encore. Yet here it was, in the main part of the set, begging the question, “What did they have planned for their encore?” As fans know, near the end of that one Clark has a sort of solo, knocking out a few lines while pressing his guitar against his amp. Once he finished that he returned to the front of the stage, when Todd made the remark, “I feel like we need one more.” Prompting Clark to return to his amp, letting out wicked and near deafening note.

Upon finishing it, Todd again thanked all the bands who played the festival. “…If you’re wondering how we put all this together each year, fuck, I don’t know…” he laughed, before thanking Kirtland Records and Sonar Management for helping organize it all. “…If it weren’t for you guys I’d have more gray hairs than normal…” he remarked. They then suddenly jumped back into the show, the fans hollering after quickly realizing it was “Possum Kingdom”, and shortly before making his entrance on the drums, Mark struck a pose by angling his arms towards the sky, as if he were a super hero about to take flight.

All these years later that’s still the one most fans love the most, which may not be a good thing, because shortly after they finished was when a very steady stream of people began to leave, and they kept filing out until the night came to an end. It was sad, really, but on the other hand, it showed who the true fans and diehards were.

That song was a sure sign the night was coming to an end, yet at the same time, there were still several songs I could think of they hadn’t played yet, making me wonder how much more they really were going to do. It turned out they had a lot left to give before wrapping up the main portion of the show, and next dug out “Unattractive”, before hitting another favorite of mine, “Sweetness”. “No Deliverance” changed the pace up a bit, being one of the few songs where Todd uses his bullet mic almost exclusively, and once it was over, he mentioned they only had a “couple left until the fake ending”. “…Do you know about the fake ending?” he asked the crowd, all of whom of course did.

During those last few songs a small mosh pit had broken out semi close to the stage, and Todd asked everyone to be careful, saying no one wanted to see anybody get hurt. “Well, there are some people I’d like to see beat up.” Todd said, adding, “Sorry, Doni.” Once the jokes were finished, they continued going off the beaten path by doing “Tyler”, which is normally reserved as an encore, and again begged the question, “What do they have planned for this encore section?”

“This is a good one to shake your ass to, if you brought it. I brought mine.” Said Todd before the final song of their 81-minute long set, which was none other than the high-speed “Rattler’s Revival”.

They took their leave, as did some more of the fans, obviously not concerned with the special guests the band said they had coming up.

A minute or two past before they returned, and once the four-piece reconvened on stage, Clark did the talking. He introduced the first of their series of special guests, a man he said was responsible for much of the Toadies sound, the bands original guitarist, Charles Mooney. Clark ceded his guitar to him and left, and as Charles struck a few notes, a technical issue arose. “…It can’t be a festival without an issue.” Todd said, demonstrating some quick wit by adding, “It has to do with my dad…” To pass the time he got the list of every band who had played and named them all, then bantered on, pointing out that he has been doing this for twenty-four years now, and what a nice privilege that has been.

By that time, the issue with the guitar was resolved, and for this song with Charles, they dug deep, all the way back to “Pleather”, doing “Ruth”. You couldn’t tell it had been about two decades since he had played with the band, owning it on that song, even using his teeth to pluck the strings at the end, all with a vicious stage personality. It was great moment, and he seemed to have a lot of fun doing it.

Clark took back over once it was done, and Doni welcomed their next guest on stage, his little brother, Zach Blair. Vaden pointed out he plays in Rise Against. “..I think they have some potential…” he joked, while handing his guitar over to Zach. It appeared that for one song he was going to be nothing but a front man, and that song was “Velvet”, which saw him pacing about the stage, taking advantage of the mobility he suddenly had.

Shortly after, Zach was replaced by their next guest, James Hall, who had been an opening act for them on the previous night. The thing I hated most about one song from “Play.Rock.Music.” was how nearly impossible it would be to do live, and even worse was it was another favorite of mine from that disc. So, I was quite surprised when Vaden announced the song, “Laments of a Good Man”, with James singing what, on the song, is the devilish voice heard inside the characters head. It translated pretty well live, and James had a good voice for it, sounding a bit wicked. The only hiccup came right at the very end, when he flubbed one line, which in turn made Vaden stumble over his part, laughing about it once they finished the tune.

No Dia is complete without a cover song, and this year (at least for the rock set), they did was Vaden joked was a “obscure” cover. It was a rendition of Joe Walshs’ “Rocky Mountain Way”, and while it didn’t sound like anything the Toadies would do, that was what made it so great, because it put them out of their element a bit, proving they can tone it down a bit.

After nearly twenty minutes this encore was surely close to an end, and their parting song to everyone was “I Burn”. It’s the only way a Toadies show should end in my opinion, capping off the 23-minute long encore nicely.

I’ve only seen three Dia de los Toadies, but out of those three, performance wise, this was the best one, hands down. I return to all the deep cuts they did. That’s how you make this an experience for the fans, perform songs you haven’t touched in awhile or have perhaps have even never played live to make it even more of a spectacle.

It sure worked well for the toadies this night, who were in rare form, even for them, and the banter, which can be lacking at some shows, was well above par, further making everyone feel like they were more of a part of this whole thing.

You can say what you want to about the Toadies, but there’s a reason why they were able to rise from the ashes of their seven year breakup and prove they were not only still relevant, but also a force to be reckoned with. Dia de los Toadies is a testament to that. Well, that, and how many people still love the band and the music they create.

There’s nothing on tap for the band right now, but who knows, they might do one or two more shows before the year’s end. And if you don’t already have them, go check out all their records in iTUNES.

This was a very fun Dia, even without the road trip to Central Texas, but now the question is where will the seventh installment of the festival be held? All of Texas is fair game, and while it could return here to Panther Island Pavilion or New Braunfels, it could just as easily could be held anywhere else.

Friday, September 13th, 2013 – Hayes Carll at the World’s Largest Honky Tonk

This weekend was going to be spent in Fort Worth, and originally, I planned on seeing the Toadies this night as they kicked off the sixth edition of their music festival. Then I happened to check the show calendar for one Hayes Carll, only to see he was going to be playing at Billy Bob’s Texas this same night.

That show had already won out beforehand, but was only made better when I happened to score a pair of tickets via a contest Hayes did on Twitter a few hours before the show.

I had only been to Billy Bob’s once before, to see the aforementioned band, actually, and the set up this night was much different this time around. The substantial floor in front of the stage, which was completely empty on my first trip here, was now filled with seemingly endless rows of tables, stretching as far as possible from side to side and front to back. I assume this is probably how Billy Bob’s typically is, when they don’t have a rock band playing that could bring some rowdy fans.

It was a nice setup, and I was glad to find out that not only were there seats, but also what a good spot they were, being in the second row back from the stage and a little to the left of it.

It was a little after the 10:30 scheduled start time when someone there from Billy Bob’s got on stage and welcomed everyone to the show, plugging some of their other events while also noting what a big Hayes Carll fan he was, and how excited he was for the show. Once that business had been taking care of, he then welcomed the man of the hour to the stage, as Hayes Carll and his Gulf Coast Orchestra took the stage.

Hays got things going by plucking the strings of his acoustic guitar, slowly giving the first song shape, before singing the first line of “The Letter”. “I meet some wild people out here, those who are pretending and others more sincere…” he crooned on the seemingly appropriate opener that’s somewhat about his journeys on the road.

Upon finishing it, he officially announced who they were. “…All the way from Austin, welcome Hayes Carll and the Gulf Coast Orchestra.” Hayes said loudly as whipped into “Faulkner Street”. His Gulf Coast Orchestra got to step it more with this song, particularly Scott who no longer had to gently play his lap steel guitar, and electric guitarist Travis was able to cut loose on a brief solo or two. They moved right along to the next song, the crowd cheering after the first few chords that Hayes played. He then softened his playing, “I have two songs that start this way. I hope it’s the one y’all want to hear.” he said to the sizable audience. I believe it was the one fans were most excited to hear, and that was one of the fan favorites from the “Trouble in Mind” record, “Girl Downtown”. It had much of the crowd enthusiastically singing along, and it was also the first of a few consecutive numbers that found Travis holding the side of his guitar against him, picking at it as if it were a lap steel, while I believe Scott switched over to an electric guitar.

Even though they were only a few songs in, they had been knocking them out left and right, but now it was time for a story, as Hayes mentioned his hometown on the Texas coast, which was around Crystal Beach on the Bolivar Peninsula, and it got a roaring applause from everyone. “…That’s the loudest applause Crystal Beach has ever gotten.” He said while laughing. He talked about a variety of things down there, but the central focus was one Bob’s Grill and World Famous Sports Bar, a club he used to play, which he said had a “misleading” name. “…The whole place was probably about as big as this stage is…” he said, adding that no one who was currently in attendance would have been there. He then backtracked slightly, “Well, you two might have been, but you would have been watching a fishing tournament or something.” He stated he was a bit of a wonder down there, being the only person who could both play a guitar and sing at the same time, so he quickly made a name for himself and started picking up more and more shows. “…My show at Jeannie’s One led to my show at Jeannie’s Two, which was a bait shop located right behind Jeannie’s One…” he said, while rattling off a few other venues.

He then wound things back to Bob’s, which was owned by (of course) Bob, who, as Hayes put it, “…was a drug dealer.” He went on to say he bought some exotic animals with his profits from selling drugs, “…But the prized possession in his collection was a African Lion.” said Hayes, adding that there was a window behind the stage at Bob’s, and when Hayes played there, Bob would often bring the Lion’s cage there and place it behind the window. He continued own, mentioning that Hurricane Ike had devastated the area a few years back, but before it hit, Bob did “the Christian thing” and let all of his animals loose to give them a fighting chance. “Now, instinctually, that lion went to higher ground…” Hays told everyone, with higher ground happening to be a church, a church which some people also took refuge in, entering only to see a lion already in there. “…It was three days before the National Guard could get in there to assist everyone, so for three days those people were on one side of the church, while the lion was on the other… Like a sort of redneck Life of Pi…” he added. “Now, the reason for that long winded explanation is because this next song has a line about a lion tamer, and I didn’t want anyone to get confused.” he pointed out.

The intro alone to “I Got a Gig” had an excellent sound, with one of the guitarists starting first, while the other followed suit shortly after. Oddly enough, it gave it somewhat of a haunting sound, but was soon broken when the rhythm section, bassist Cody and drummer Mark, as well as Hayes joined in. And that explanation does indeed help the song make a little more sense, as he sings on the third verse, “There’s an old lion tamer parked behind the bar, a hundred pounds of weed in a stolen car…”.

They then slowed things down as Hayes led them directly into “Rivertown”, a personally favorite of mine from the “Little Rock” record, and one I was ecstatic to hear them do. “…And time will bring you down, time make you cold. I turned my back some time ago, and now I’m going home…” he sang on the rather somber track, before they immediately picked the mood back up with the title track from that 2005 release. Both Scott and Travis used an electric guitar for “Little Rock”, a very rocking number, and while they were doing more intense songs, it only made sense to the title track from his most recent release, but first, it was time for some more witty banter.

“This song’s about a soldier who has a morphine induced coma…” Hayes informed everyone, then outlined all the things that happen in “KMAG YOYO” as being hallucinations from the drug. The funny part came when he said he has young singer/songwriters ask him what the formula is to have a hit song in the Top 40 country charts. “…Some people write songs as a story…” he said, also giving a few other examples of writing styles, calling them “irrelevant”. “…The thing you need in your songs is keywords. See, I know this, obviously.” he said, in perfect deadpan humor. He went on to say, “…I usually teach a seminar about this…”, before telling anyone who wanted to learn a thing or two to grab a pencil and some paper. “Those keywords are…” he said, then preceded to list off “Taliban”, “IED, or any other acronym you can think of”,  “Trucks” and “Spring break” were some of the words he said every song needed to have to be a hit, and once he had dropped that knowledge on everybody, they ripped into the very rhyme based “KMAG YOYO”. Scott truly got to show off his chops as a guitarist on that one, killing it on the guitar solos, even embellishing them from how they are on the record, subsequently giving it even more rip-roaring action.

There was just enough of a pause to allow the audience to applaud them, while Travis took a seat behind the pedal steel guitar, finally putting it to use on the gloomy “Chances Are”. Things got a little more uplifting after that semi depressing track when Hayes announced the next song was (and I’m sure I’m paraphrasing this) “drunks, and the women who love them.” Between that and pointing out that it was one he had co-written with Ray Wiley Hubbard, the fans knew exactly what song it was, loudly cheering for “Drunken Poet’s Dream”, which featured Travis on the mandolin. They didn’t let up, segueing it right into the next one. “I haven’t done this one in awhile, let’s see if I can remember the lyrics.” said Hayes before he started spitting out the lines of “Down the Road Tonight”. He didn’t seem to have any trouble with the words, and probably around halfway through the song they lightened up on the playing, allowing Hayes to formally introduce each of his band mates. Once he had done so, he left the stage, leaving Mark, Cody, Travis and Scott to do an instrumental jam, and quite a great job at it, at that.

After a minute or two, Hayes returned as they finished out the song, “Jukebox gypsies, mustang sally’s, don’t go walkin’ down dark alleys…”.

Most of his band left after it, leaving just he and Scott on stage, with Hayes informing everyone he was going to do a new song from his upcoming album, due out “…In the spring… Of 2017.” he joked. This was one he wrote about his son, who told him he wanted to be a magician. “Not a musician, a magician.” Hayes reiterated. He mentioned that’s a hard thing, because “…you see a life full of suffering ahead…” for your child, even saying his son wasn’t very good at first, and he would tell him when he was doing tricks for him that he could see what he was doing. “…But he didn’t listen to me or any of the other naysayers…” Hayes said, adding he had recently even become a member of the Austin Association of Magicians, an accomplishment that received some applause from the crowd. “You’ve heard of them?!” Hayes jokingly said, with surprise in his voice. He went on to say that his son is “…the youngest member, by about fifty years or so…” and they meet every other week “…At the IHOP, right by my house.” he finished.

There was an overall meaning to that story, though, as Hayes said he wished he had, had that spirit and determination his son does when he was his age, pointing out that everyone could benefit from picking what they really want to do and doing it, if only it were that simple. “…I hope he never loses that.” he said in closing. The song is called “The Magic Kid”, and it’s a sweet song with a message that everyone could take to heart, as he sings a few different times during it, “Who we are is who we are. Why is that so hard to be?”

While acoustic, it was a good change of pace from the other slower songs which dealt more with heartache, and as the Gulf Coast Orchestra filed back out on stage, Hayes again lightened up the mood by saying the next song was about license plates.

He named a few states and their slogans, like how Oklahoma is the OK state. “I like that, they’re like, “We’re not great, but we’re ok.” He said, and after mentioning North Carolina’s, he joked that that South Carolina’s was, “We wish we were North Carolina.” Talk then turned to the “Live Free or Die” state, New Hampshire, which Hayes said he felt was the best motto, eventually wrapping things up by saying how horrible it would be to be in prison in that state, having to make license plates that read, “Live Free or Die”. “…If you all listen to the third verse of this song, we might learn something tonight.” he told the audience before pulling out a track from his debut album, “Live Free or Die”. It was a humorous song, and that lesson he mentioned, well, it was, “…So if you catch your wife with another man, it’s best to hold off as long as you can. Then shoot him in another state where they got a different license plate.” That is just another example of what a brilliant writer Hayes is (and evidently always has been.)

“Bad Liver and a Broken Heart” came next, albeit a much different rendition than that which you hear on “Trouble in Mind”. Hayes used a harmonica on parts of it, doing a very scaled back acoustic version of it. Personally, I am more of a fan of the album version, probably ‘cause I’m a rock fan first and foremost, but even acoustic the song sounds really good. Fitting with that tone was “Hard Out Here”, which again saw Travis playing the pedal steel. In what I’m guessing is typical fashion, Hayes added some additional lyrics near the end of the song, drawing from experiences on the road, as recently as that day.

He spoke it more than singing, telling the audience of how they played a show in Marfa the night before, and didn’t get to bed until about five in the morning. He continued by saying the hotel room was infested with various bugs and such, like a tarantula, which happened to be in his bed. So, after (literally) a couple hours of sleep, he said he and his band mates woke up and got in the van to head to Fort Worth, only to discover their van had broke down, resulting in some of them riding in an Impala to the show, while the others drove a U-Haul with the gear loaded in it. Such is the life of a touring musician.

Soon after finishing it, they pulled out another blistering number, “Stomp and Holler”, which was a signal that they were at the tail end of their performance, and they wound it pretty fluidly into “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up”. Then, to wrap things up, they did the one song I had anxiously been waiting to hear since they first got on stage, “Beaumont”. That beautiful, straightforward love song about the feeling not being mutual was a perfect way to close things out, and that’s actually one of the few songs I’ve heard any band do that works well as both an opener and a closer (Hayes opened with it at a Dallas venue a few months back).

By the time that was all said and done, they had been on stage for an impressive 90-minutes, leaving me wondering if there even would be an encore or not.

Everyone was hoping for one, though, making sure the band knew it, too, by chanting “Hayes!” repeatedly. It had only been a minute or so since they had left when they made their way back out, Travis picking up the mandolin, while Scott was finally going to use the accordion. “I say this every night, but I would do this every night rather anyone shows up or not, but it’s sure a lot more fun when you do.” he said to everyone before embarking on a 12-minute encore portion. It was nearly impossible not to smile as they ran through the upbeat and incredibly catchy “Bottle in My Hand”, before an electric guitar and the lap steel were put back to work for “Wish I Hadn’t Stayed So Long”. They had one last song left for anyone, another one that came from “KMAG YOYO”, “The Lovin’ Cup”, offering a good, upbeat way to call it a night, and after again thanking everyone for coming out, Hayes and the Gulf Coast Orchestra retreated back stage.

It was a fantastic show with a nice selection of songs from all of his releases, hitting just about every song the fans were wanting to hear and then some.

This was only the third time I’ve seen him live, and it was definitely the best, due mostly to the song selection in this lengthy set.

Hayes is a true entertainer, in terms of a singer and songwriter in the witty and/or honest songs he writes and the almost non-stop doses of laughs he adds to the live performance. So, if you want to see a very enjoyable and memorable show, go see Hayes Carll.

For a list of his tour dates, go HERE. He’s staying pretty busy through the end of September, with a few dates in the Mid-West and the East Coast, and will n doubt be announcing some more shows throughout the rest of the year, so stay tuned. And to check out/purchase his music, head over to iTUNES.

It was a very fun night at Billy Bob’s, and at least now I can say I’ve seen a legitimate country show at the world’s largest honky tonk.

Saturday, February 9th, 2013 – “…Rock ‘n’ Roll Gets the Demons Out…”

If you read my previous blog entry, then you might recall I said that, that show was a bit eclectic. While it was, it has nothing on the show that went down at Tomcats West this night.

Yeah, I made a VERY rare trip over to Fort Worth. Nothing against the city, but living north of Dallas means that logistically it’s just not convenient to get to. An exception was made for this show, though, which featured two of my favorite area acts.

The first act of the night was an acoustic duo by the name, Myrick. I believe that was the last name of the singer of the group, who played an acoustic guitar and was accompanied by another acoustic guitarist (or maybe it was a bassist. Honestly, I didn’t pay much attention.)

With incredible subpar vocals, I quickly lost interest. Their set at least seemed to go by quickly, but by far the worst part of it was the end when he did a parody of Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)”. Obviously, it was set to the same tune, though he called his parody, “Don’t Cum In My Eye”. Evidently I’m still juvenile enough to find a bit of humor in that (and by “bit”, I mean a VERY minuscule amount), but no amount of humor could save it. It only lasted about a minute, before he abruptly stopped and said, “That’s it…”, then walked off stage. Oh, wait, I think I get why he only needed a minute to do the song now…

Meridian was the first actual band of the night, though they, or specifically vocalist, Tim Ziegler, looked a little different. He was without his long hair and beard, and was almost unrecognizable at first glance, looking more like he did when I first met him nearly seven years ago, when he fronted the band Darby.

“Re-digress” kicked off their 38-minute long set. Somehow, I didn’t notice right away when it happened, and then all of sudden I realized guitarists, Mark Sims and Shannon Nedved, drummer, Joe Maurer, and Tim were the only guys on stage. They handled it well, and didn’t act like they were down a band mate, finishing the song strong, and then Tim asked what was up with Chris Gentry. Apparently, he had broken the main string on his bass, which was what left him incapacitated for most of that song, and even a few minutes after. That meant Tim had to make some small talk, and he first mentioned they had played here a several months before and that they’d like to get back a little more often. That was about all the topics he had prepared. “…Chris, hurry up. This is getting uncomfortable for me…” he said, succeeding at being funny and sounding nervous. Chris finally rejoined them, having borrowed a bass from one of the other bands. They were then able to move on, and began one of their most rocking numbers, “All Hands”. They followed it with one of their newest songs, and afterwards took a momentary pause where Tim killed some time. “Listen, I don’t want anyone here tagging me in any shit…” he said. He proceeded to say that he was technically at work, and had taking time off to perform this show, meaning he couldn’t be drinking, and he didn’t want any photos to make it look otherwise. So, once that was cleared up, they tore into “Nights Like This”, which was pretty flawless, except toward the end, when Chris again had to leave with some bass issues. “…We lost our bassist again…” Tim said when the song was over. Mark said something, to which Tim responded, “Oh yeah, we don’t need him for the first part of this next song.” The current four piece then started “Starts and Ends”. “You told them all just what they can do. You got the shortest part of the straw you drew… I draw the curtain back and you take a bow. Did I catch you off guard or get it right somehow?…” sang Tim on the first verse. This was the first time I’ve seen them since getting their new EP, meaning this was the first time I really knew that song since they rewrote it over a year ago. I had missed singing along to that one more than I had realized, and it still stands out as my favorite Meridian song. Chris once again got back on stage pretty early on in that one, and stuck around for another newer song, “Lazy Eye”, which has a more dominant rhythm section. Tim couldn’t go without poking fun of the situation, and told Chris he might be getting a pink slip the next day, then said they might be in the market for a new bass player. Chris didn’t have a verbal retort to that, though he did act like he was about knee Tim right in the crotch. “Train” brought things down a few notches and perfectly showcases the bands softer side, as it is a beauty of a tune, but is still something you can easily rock out to. Tim announced they had one last song, a Mark played the first notes of “Hey Lover”, before Joe busted in on the drums, really getting it underway.

It was far from a perfect show, but Chris deserves some major props for doing the best he could in an unlikely situation. When he was on stage, he gave it his all as usual. It was just an unfortunate circumstance, and really, how many times have you seen a bass player break a string? I’ve seen nearly five hundred concerts over the years, and I can only recall one band who suffered from a broken bass string while performing.

Plus, Shannon and Mark put on a thoroughly entertaining show by themselves, so they were able to draw attention away from everything, and Tim is still one of the best singers and performers I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. Point is, in the end it worked out alright.

Give their debut, self-titled EP a listen, and if you like it, then buy it in ITUNES. And while they don’t have anything scheduled right now, keep an eye on their REVERBNATION PAGE, because they’ll most likely be doing a show sometime within the next couple of months.

A band by the name of Silhouette was next up, and they brought the people, which I took as a positive sign. I mean, if a band can pull fifty plus people, they have to be good, right? The answer is yes… But not to everybody.

I don’t know what the whole deal was, but this was billed as their “comeback show”, and from hearing them talk, it seemed like the band had been almost completely reformed since they last played. I don’t know what they were like before, but now, they were a very hardcore metal act. My interest was lost immediately, especially because their first song was lyrically rapped, in the vein of Linkin Park. If that’s what works for them, okay, but I felt it seemed like they were stuck in a time warp. I mean, that’s been done, many times over at that. Luckily, all their music didn’t sound like that, but with all the screaming, I couldn’t even pretend to like them.

Their set dragged on, and I was relieved when they finally finished.

I mentioned this was an odd billing of bands, and here is where it got really interesting. There are a couple of genres that could pull off playing after a hardcore metal band, like a hardrock outfit, or maybe even a rock group, but Paco Estrada and his band are neither of those. In fact, they’re the polar opposite.

Paco’s backing band looked mostly the same as the last time I had seen him, with Scotty Isaacs manning the keyboard/piano, and there was still a drummer, Irish, whose drum kit was fairly small, consisting mainly of a few toms and a snare. But then you had Joel Bailey, who has been added as the bassist. Along with Pacos’ acoustic guitar, it makes for some lovely music, but a type that quickly pushed all the metal heads out the door.

A lot of Paco’s newer stuff is making it into his sets these days, like the opener, “American Girls”. Over the last decade or so, Paco has written some real gems in all the various bands he’s played with, but that one is by far one of the best. There’s a certain amount of nostalgia the song conveys, while it bears more of a folk sound.  I believe they followed it with another new song, though Paco has been known to play some covers too, so it could go either way. Next, I know for sure they did a cover song, doing a more minimalist rendition of The Cars, “Who’s Gonna Drive You Home Tonight?”. They do a mean cover of it, and put a pretty unique spin on a classic song. They ran through a couple more, with the first of those two really sticking out to me. I don’t think it was a cover, though it sounded like it could pass as one. I mean that as a compliment, because if it wasn’t, then it sounded authentic enough that it could have been written by one of the greats. As usual, some of Paco’s fan favorites had been saved for last, and he began to pluck away at the strings on his guitar, leading into “Breaking Down”. “You grab your shovel and your digging axe, ‘cause you have to be the first in line to bury the past. You put a smile on and try to believe it, but I know how much it hurts you to leave it…” he crooned. This is also one he’s known for adding portions of cover songs to, one of the best of which I’ve always thought was a Peter Gabriel song he used to tack on, but tonight, I think I found a new favorite. After one of the later choruses from his original, Paco belted out the chorus of U2’s “One”, “…You say, one love, one life when it’s one need in the night. One love, we get to share it, leaves you baby if you don’t care for it…” There’s always a deep passion in Pacos’ voice when he sings, but it seemed magnified on this song. It bleed out onto his voice, especially on the line, “…You say love is a temple, love a higher law. Love is a temple, love the higher law. You ask me to enter, but then you make me crawl. And I can’t be holding’ on to what you got, when all you got is hurt…” as well as the chorus that followed. I was awestruck. That was one of the most amazing cover songs I have ever heard, and I know this may sound like sacrilege, but while I have never seen U2 live, I can’t imagine Bono could make his own song connect with and touch the audience the way Paco did this night. It didn’t seem like they had been up there anytime, but already they had arrived at the final song of their 38-minute long set, “Haunting Me”, which featured pieces of another cover song, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston.

Paco’s music has gone through a lot of changes over the years, from playing with rock bands, to spending some time as a solo artist, but hopefully this latest band of his will stick around for a little while. Together they make what is probably the most unique sounding band Paco has had since One Love, and it’s different than most any other type of music out there. It’s gorgeous, and will most likely take your breath away.

Paco has a ton of records from his past, most of which can be bought via BANDCAMP. As for shows, I know he has one coming up on Saturday, March 2nd, where he will play at his old Dallas stomping grounds, The Curtain Club.

After a strange musical combination like that, going from a metal band to a very chill mostly acoustic act, it only made sense to wrap up the night with one final rock band, which was Awake in Theory.

Terry Kimmel began the band show with some hypnotic chords on his guitar, while he walked around the stage. After a minute, Eric Hawkens, who was out of sight, started singing, and eventually made his way on stage from stage left. Soon after was when their first song, “Barely Breathing”, really took off, as drummer, Raymond Chambers, bassist Adam Garcia, and the rhythm guitarist, Brad McCain, joined in. The song is fantastic and one of my favorites of theirs. It also works as a great opener, easing you into it with its slower start, and before you know it, they’ve hooked you. They proceeded to reel everyone in with songs like “Let Go” and “Playing the Victim”, but unfortunately, “everyone” wasn’t as many people as they deserved to have watching them. Like I said, the metal heads had left during the previous act, and now it looked like the only people who were still there were ones who were already Awake in Theory fans. Eric pointed out that, that wasn’t a problem with them, though. “…We’re just happy to play music…” he said, “…Especially when we get to play after Paco Estrada…” he added. They got back to the show with “Dangerous”, a song that saw Brad tear off into a killer guitar solo. Raymond pounded out a brief drum solo before their next song, “Innocence for the Innocent”, followed by their anthem of sorts for anyone serving in the military, “Hero You Hate”. Before starting it, Eric asked everyone to thank anyone they knew who was in the service, and then he mentioned something else. “…For anyone whose seen an Awake in Theory show recently, you know my brother was deployed.” He said. “Well, he’s home now…” You could tell he was excited and relieved by that, and for good reason. That tune is another highlight of their shows in my opinion, and once it was done, they cut loose a bit. Eric mentioned that they come from all over the area, like Frisco. “…He’s from Bowie…” he said, pointing at one of his band mates, quickly following it with something to the effect of, “I’m sorry, it’s not nice to say anyone’s from Bowie.” That got a laugh from all of their fans who had stuck around. Topic of conversation then switched to Raymond, who drives down to all of their shows from Lawton, Oklahoma, and Eric jokingly said he was the one they needed to work on and get to move here. I believe it was this next and final song that they said they would be recording soon, with work on an actually record to follow shortly after. It was “Daddy’s Little Girl”, which will serve as their lead single, and it capped off their 36-minute long set.

It was a great set, and personally, I thought they were better this night than a couple weeks before when I saw them in Dallas. They didn’t let the lack of a crowd affect them, instead putting on a show like they were playing in front of forty to fifty people, like any professional band should.

They were fun and lively, with everybody carrying their own weight. Adam really brought it this night, and owned it on the bass, while Terry and Brad also often stepped up to the forefront of the stage, taking over the spotlight and shredding on their guitars. It was just very well balanced, and also, they know how to work the audience and get everyone excited.

Their next show is going to be at Trees on Sunday, March 24th, where they will open for Adrenaline Mob and Nothing More. It will probably be at least one of the biggest shows they’ve done to date, and I’ll be willing to bet they’ll be even more intense than usually at that one.

They offered a great way to end the night, and despite me not really caring for a couple of the acts on the bill, this show was still well worth the drive to Fort Worth.

The Best of 2012: A List of Albums & Bands You Need to Know

Note for next year: Keep track of all the albums I get throughout the year AS I get them. Don’t wait until the end of the year to a list of all of them and then go through the list to figure out a “Top 10”.

Ha. Lesson learned, I guess.

Anyway, here’s my rundown of the best stuff from 2012. I’ll start with the albums of 2012, and if you don’t know, I split this list in two sections; LP’s and EP’s.

I’ll begin with the former, and after my top ten picks, I’ll have every single other record I bought mentioned, too. After all, the whole reason I do this blog in the first place is to spread the word about great, independent music, and that can’t be done effectively if I only promote ten of albums I purchased during the last twelve months.

I was able to narrow my picks down to a “Sweet 16”, and having to cut out six stellar records proved to be harder than I thought. But in the end, this is what I came up with…

 TOP 10 LP’s of 2012

1.) Artist: Toadies

Album: Play.Rock.Music.

Must Listen Song: “We Burned the City Down”

Purchase on iTunes

 

2.) Artist: Delta Spirit

Album: Delta Spirit

Must Listen Song: “Empty House”

Purchase on iTunes


3.) Artist: Somebody’s Darling

Album: Jank City Shakedown

Must Listen Song: “Weight of the Fear”

Purchase on iTunes


4.) Artist: The Opium Symphony

Album: Blame It On the Radio

Must Listen Song: “Jukebox Junkie”

Purchase on iTunes

 

5.) Artist: Dovetail

Album: Mount Karma

Must Listen Song: “Julie”

Purchase on iTunes

 

6.) Artist: of Verona

Album: The White Apple

Must Listen Song: “Unique In its Madness”

Purchase on iTunes

 

7.) Artist: The Virgin Wolves

Album: Pretty Evil Thing

Must Listen Song: “End of the Line”

Purchase at a live show


8.) Artist: Milo Greene

Album: Milo Greene

Must Listen Song: “Cutty Love”

Purchase on iTunes

 

9.) Artist: Ronnie Fauss

Album: I Am The Man You Know I’m Not

Must Listen Song: “A Pretty Nice Night for Houston”

Purchase on iTunes

 

10.) Artist: The Phuss

Album: The Phuss

Must Listen Song: “The Romantic”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Honorable Mentions (In Alphabetical Order)

Artist: 12 Gauge Warning

Album: What Have I Done?

Must Listen Song: “Subside”

Purchase on iTunes


Artist: A Silent Film

Album: Sand & Snow

Must Listen Song: “Harbour Lights”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Aerosmith

Album: Music From Another Dimension!

Must Listen Song: “Lover Alot”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Ambassadors

Album: Litost

Must Listen Song: “Falls”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Anthony Green

Album: Beautiful Things

Must Listen Song: “Right Outside” (On Deluxe Version ONLY)

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Arkells

Album: Michigan Left

Must Listen Song: “Michigan Left”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Band of Skulls

Album: Sweet Sour

Must Listen Song: “Wanderluster”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Barcelona

Album: Not Quite Yours

Must Listen Song: “Slipping Away”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Ben Kweller

Album: Go Fly a Kite

Must Listen Song: “Jealous Girl”

Purchase on iTunes


Artist: Best Coast

Album: The Only Place

Must Listen Song: “Better Girl”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Black Taxi

Album: We Don’t Know Any Better

Must Listen Song: “Tightrope”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: The Breakfast Machine

Album: A Pitch to the Wind

Must Listen Song: “Mayoween”

Purchase on Bandcamp

 

Artist: Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

Album: Wrecking Ball

Must Listen Song: “Death to My Hometown”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Burning Slow

Album: Diversity

Must Listen Song: “Walls of Glass”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Butterfly Boucher

Album: Butterfly Boucher

Must Listen Song: “Not Fooling Around”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: The Chloes

Album: Vanish

Must Listen Song: “Put it Away”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Circa Survive

Album: Violent Waves

Must Listen Song: “Sharp Practice”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: The Classic Crime

Album: Phoenix

Must Listen Song: “Young Again”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Clepto

Album: Kebab: Live off the Grill

Must Listen Song: “Cry Me a River”

Purchase at a live show

 

Artist: Clint Niosi

Album: For Pleasure and Spite

Must Listen Song: “Shark In Your Water”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Dead Sara

Album: Dead Sara

Must Listen Song: “Timed Blues”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Deadbeat Darling

Album: The Angel’s Share

Must Listen Song: “Insomnia Salvation”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Diesel & Dixie

Album: Short Wave Rodeo

Must Listen Song: “Iron Herd”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Delta Rae

Album: Carry the Fire

Must Listen Song: “Bottom of the River”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Driver Friendly

Album: Bury A Dream

Must Listen Song: “Messidona”

 

Artist: Eleven Hundred Springs

Album: Midway

Must Listen Song: “Hard Working Just Ain’t Working Anymore”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Evans Blue

Album: Graveyard of Empires

Must Listen Song: “Crawl Inside”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: The Gaslight Anthem

Album: Handwritten

Must Listen Song: “Mulholland Drive”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Ghost Hotel

Album: Do You Feel It?

Must Listen Song: “Simple Fiction”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Goodnight Ned

Album: Smoke From the Sails

Must Listen Song: “Papa Jack’s Bag”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: J. Charles and the Trainrobbers

Album: Upon Leaving

Must Listen Song: “Something Wrong”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Jana Kramer

Album: Jana Kramer

Must Listen Song: “I Hope it Rains”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Jason Eady

Album: AM Country Heaven

Must Listen Song: “A.M. Country Heaven”

Purchase on iTunes


Artist: JJAMZ

Album: Suicide Pact

Must Listen Song: “Suicide Pact”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Katie Carroll

Album: Desperada

Must Listen Song: Tie between “If I’m Still Falling” and “Dreams” (Stevie Nicks cover)

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: The Koniac Net

Album: One Last Monsoon

Must Listen Song: “This Time Around”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Lauren Mann And The Fairly Odd Folk

Album: Over Land And Sea

Must Listen Song: “Love, I Lost”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Lindby

Album: Erikson

Must Listen Song: “Here We Are Now”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Long Sword Spectacular

Album: Long Sword Spectacular

Must Listen Song: “Firewalk”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Madisons

Album: Desgraciados

Must Listen Song: “El Paso”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Midnight Empire

Album: Everything And Nothing

Must Listen Song: “Misery”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Minus the Bear

Album: Infinity Overhead

Must Listen Song: “Lies and Eyes”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Missy Higgins

Album: The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle

Must Listen Song: “Tricks”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Mon Julien

Album: Mon Julien

Must Listen Song: “Punchline”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Moonlight Social

Album: Heading South

Must Listen Song: “Neither Are You”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Mothership

Album: Mothership

Must Listen Song: “City Nights”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: The Neckties

Album: Chop And Change

Must Listen Song: “Lies”

Purchase on iTunes


Artist: Neon Trees

Album: Picture Show

Must Listen Song: “Hooray for Hollywood”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Nervous Curtains

Album: Fake Infinity

Must Listen Song: “Cats In the Dark”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Night Gallery

Album: Loud As The Sun

Must Listen Song: “Separation Anxiety”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Parabelle

Album: Your Starry Eyes Will Never Make Us Even

Must Listen Song: “Whisper”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Pebaluna

Album: Carny Life

Must Listen Song: “Honey”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Public Love Affair

Album: Soul Shaker

Must Listen Song: “Won’t Ever Be Defeated”

Purchase on Bandcamp

 

Artist: Riverboat Gamblers

Album: The Wolf You Feed

Must Listen Song: “Bite My Tongue”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Riversyde

Album: See Us Now

Must Listen Song: “What’s Love About”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: The Roomsounds

Album: We’re #1

Must Listen Song: “Kinks”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: The Royality

Album: Lovers

Must Listen Song: “Mr. Hyde”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: RTB2

Album: 2

Must Listen Song: “Wire to the Walls”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Said Kelley

Album: Cupcake

Must Listen Song: “Make Me Up”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Sara Radle

Album: Same Sun Shines

Must Listen Song: “The Pins”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Sarah Jaffe

Album: The Body Wins

Must Listen Song: “Glorfied High”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Silvergun & Spleen

Album: Semi Truck

Must Listen Song: “An Eye for an Eye”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Sleeper Agent

Album: Calebrasion

Must Listen Song: “Be My Monster”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Sleigh Bells

Album: Reign of Terror

Must Listen Song: “Demons”

Purchase on iTunes


Artist: Smile Empty Soul

Album: 3’s

Must Listen Song: “Warning”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Smile Smile

Album: Marry A Stranger

Must Listen Song: “Fatal Flaw”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Sonar Lights

Album: Here We Are

Must Listen Song:  “Oversaturated”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Spook Easy

Album: Faux Show

Must Listen Song: “Arrive Alive”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Stars

Album: The North

Must Listen Song: “Backlines”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Steven Graves

Album: Matter of Time

Must Listen Song: “Right From My Heart”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Sucre

Album: A Minor Bird

Must Listen Song: “When We Were Young”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: The Sword

Album: Apocryphon

Must Listen Song: “The Veil of Isis”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Taylor Marie

Album: Breaking Points & Sleepless Nights

Must Listen Song: “Imprint”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Trebuchet

Album: Said A to B

Must Listen Song: “Sing of the Times”

Purchase at a live show

 

Artist: Turnpike Troubadours

Album: Goodbye Normal Street

Must Listen Song: “Before the Devil Knows We’re Dead”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: The Vespers

Album: The Fourth Wall

Must Listen Song: “Footprints in the Snow”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: The Wedding

Album: No Direction

Must Listen Song: “Kill Any Excuse”

Purchase on iTunes


Artist: Will Johnson

Album: Scorpion

Must Listen Song: “Winter Screen Four”

Purchase on iTunes


TOP 10 EPs of 2012

1.) Artist: Always The Alibi

Album: We Are Waiting

Must Listen Song: “We Are Waiting”

Purchase on iTunes

 

2.) Artist: SpaceCamp

Album: The Daydreamers Guide to: Wasting Time

Must Listen Song: “Before You Die”

Purchase on iTunes

 

3.) Artist: Admiral Grey

Album: Long Road

Must Listen Song: “Pulling Strings”

Purchase on their online merch store

 

4.) Artist: The Soldier Thread

Album: The Bull EP

Must Listen Song: “Pretty Bones”

Purchase on iTunes

 

5.) Artist: April Kry

Album: Music Speaks

Must Listen Song: “Symphony of Misery”

Purchase on iTunes

 

6.) Artist: Meridian

Album: Meridian

Must Listen Song: “Nights Like This”

Purchase on iTunes

 

7.) Artist: Serosia

Album: Variables

Must Listen Song: “Superposition”

Purchase on iTunes

 

8.) Artist: We the Ghost

Album: My Mixtape Summer

Must Listen Song: “Swallow the Key”

Purchase on iTunes

 

9.) Artist: Ifs and Buts

Album: Ifs and Buts

Must Listen Song: “Little Bit”

Listen to it on Soundcloud

 

10.) Artist: People On Vacation

Album: The Summer and The Fall (NOTE: This is technically an LP, though some of the songs are from their debut EP. Hence, why I’m putting it in the EP category.)

Must Listen Song: “Because Of The Sun”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Honorable Mentions (In Alphabetical Order)

Artist: Abacu5

Album: Sandwich Squad

Must Listen Song: “Say What You Want”

Purchase on iTunes


Artist: Alyssa Sease

Album: Lay Rest Your Soul

Must Listen Song: “Lay Rest Your Soul”

Free download on Noisetrade.com

 

Artist: The American Tragedy

Album: The Flame

Must Listen Song: “Blood On the Stage”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Anydoll

Album: Anydoll

Must Listen Song: “You Are Amazing”

 

Artist: Aprilemade

Album: Bright

Must Listen Song: “Come On”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: The Beat Dolls

Album: Death of the Party

Must Listen Song: “We’ll See”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Beta Wolf

Album: Just Before Morning

Must Listen Song: “Just Before Morning”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Bethan

Album: Chapter 1:

Must Listen Song: “Pyewacket”

Purchase on iTunes


Artist: Bravo Delta

Album: Sunset Wasteland

Must Listen Song: “Loose Cannon”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Cozy Hawks

Album: No Blues

Must Listen Song: “Water Wings”

Purchase on Bandcamp

 

Artist: Daylight Industries

Album: Future of an Illusion

Must Listen Song: “Something’s Wrong”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Eisley

Album: Deep Space

Must Listen Song: “Lights Out”

Purchase on iTunes 


Artist: Flatworld

Album: Contradictions

Must Listen Song: “Dark”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Kelsey Schneider

Album: Brother

Must Listen Song: “Something’s Got to Give”

Purchase on Bandcamp

 

Artist: Loyal Sally

Album: Things From Thoughts

Must Listen Song: “Stereo”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Loyal Sally

Album: Pleased to Meet You!

Must Listen Song: “The Ride”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Merriment

Album: Through the Rough

Must Listen Song: “Rewind”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Nikki Jensen

Album: Under The Rain Tree:

Must Listen Song: “Hypotheticals”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Oddlot

Album: Oddlot

Must Listen Song: “Howl”

Free download on Reverbnation

 

Artist: Pistol Whippin’ Ike

Album: Dying The Dream

Must Listen Song: “Last Cigarette”

Purchase at live shows

 

Artist: Red Angel Theory

Album: When the Dust Settles

Must Listen Song: “Inception”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Roses & Revolutions

Album: Earth & Everything

Must Listen Song: “Fall Away”

Purchase on iTunes


Artist: Signs of Reason

Album: One Bullet Away

Must Listen Song: “Where Rockstars Go to Die”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: The Soldier Thread

Album: Matador - Single

Must Listen Song: “Anybody”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Steven Graves

Album: Let it Ride

Must Listen Song: “Take a Stand”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Sunward

Album: A Magical Display of Lights and Rays

Must Listen Song: “Wooden Birds”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Urizen

Album: Boxmakers

Must Listen Song: “Boxmakers”

Purchase on Bandcamp

 

Artist: Waking Alice

Album: Retribution - Single

Must Listen Song: “Treason”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: We the Ghost

Album: White Noise

Must Listen Song: “Wash These Sins Away”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: Windsor Drive

Album: Wanderlust

Must Listen Song: “Wide Eyed at Midnight”

Purchase on iTunes

 

Artist: You vs. Me

Album: The Book Of…

Must Listen Song: “Break”

Purchase on Bandcamp

 

Artist: Zoe Ann

Album: Zoe Ann - Single

Must Listen Song: “Better Than Revenge”

Purchase on iTunes


When it comes to shows, I had a much more difficult time at picking out a top ten list. Out of nearly 130 shows I attended this past year, I narrowed the list of potentials down to about 40. Cutting nearly 30 out took a lot of thought, but I did it. This is the result…

1.) The FEDS (Reunion show) at Dan’s Silverleaf on June 28*

2.) The FEDS (Reunion show) with Space Cadet (Reunion show) & Upside (Reunion show) at Friday Curtain Club  on January 13*

3.) Toadies with Quiet Company at Billy Bob’s Texas on October 13

4.) Blue October with A Silent Film & Barcelona at House of Blues on November 23

5.) Delta Spirit at House of Blues on November 4

6.) Bravo, Max! at Club Dada with Somebody’s Darling & Goodnight Ned on October 6

7.) Missy Higgins at Granada Theater with Katie Herzig & Butterfly Boucher on September 12

8.) Milo Greene at LaGrange with The Southern Renaissance on October 10

9.) Night Gallery at Curtain Club with Dark Horse Darling, Meridian & Daylight Industries on June 30

10.) Opium Symphony at Curtain Club with The Orange & The Breakfast Machine on June 8

(After three years since there farewell performance, it feels DAMN good to be able to again include The FEDS on this list… Even if it is a possible one-time only thing.)

Oddly enough, half of that list is national touring acts, and it was almost painful to leave out some astounding local shows. That’s why (unlike some other blogs) I don’t do some random “Top 59” lists or something like that, because top ten ones make it more of a challenge. I would however like to throw out a couple honorable mentions to two of the festivals I attended this year which barely missed the cut. One was Dia De Los Toadies, while the other was the Homegrown Music & Arts Festival.

2012 was an interesting year, in both positive and negative aspects.

On the good side, in December I marked my one year anniversary of podcasting, and there’s no denying I’ve come along way on that front. (There’s still PLENTY of room for improvement, mind you, but I’ve gotten much more comfortable and confident behind a mic.)

Speaking of that, my WhiskeyBoy Radio family put on a benefit concert in August where we raised $1,00 for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. That was definitely a highlight of the year for me, knowing we were helping out a worthy cause.

On that note, Matt (of WhiskeyBoy Radio), another party and I formed RYA Entertainment and put on a few concerts. It was fun, though there were some, shall we say, circumstances, that resulted in a lot of grief. Still, it was fun times.

I think those are the highlights, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t add becoming closer friends with some musicians I already knew, and getting acquainted with some badass ones I did not previously know.

Oh, and of course I need to shout out the Granada Theater (specifically Tim and Gavin), both of whom have been kind enough to get me into some killer shows at the venue this past year. Go check out the place, as it is my second favorite venue in Dallas!

Those far out way the bad things of 2012 (at least in terms of music), like the debacle that was (and is) the band, Rains. That was, and will always be, the worst show I’ve ever seen, and I still regret the fact that money was spent to get into that one.

The only other thing I can think to add to this negative list is something I’ve been quite about since it happened, except for a brief reference on one of my podcasts. I feel compelled to get it out now, though.

Back in mid-October I went to see a show at the City Tavern in Dallas, and of course had to show my ID to gain entry to the venue. The door guy then looked at my driver’s license, held it up to the light from a street lamp and bent it every which way. He asked me what year I graduated high school, and when I answered him, told me that wasn’t right. He then told me, “…I can’t let you in with this…”, and when I responded with, “That’s funny, because it’s gotten me in practically every single club in Dallas, Denton and Fort Worth.” He responded with the ultimate asshole answer. “Doesn’t matter, it’s not getting you in this one.”

What incensed me the most about that incident wasn’t even the fact that I missed out on seeing a concert I had been anticipating for a couple months. It was the fact that Mr. Incompetent effectively called into question my entire character by accusing me of having a fake ID, and that is one thing I will never tolerate from anyone. My records spotless, in any and all aspects, and for the legitimacy of my state issued driver’s license, which plainly states that I am twenty-three, to be questioned made me irate.

I only mention this now as a cautionary tale to anyone who owns any type of establishment. Make sure you know the people you hire are competent enough to treat people with respect. In this case, make sure whoever you have working your door has a black light to use on all IDs so they can determine the real ones from the fakes. Better yet, make sure their intelligence level is high enough to tell the two apart. Because for better or worse, how an employ treats a (potential) customer reflects back on the company that hired them, and when you are treated the way I was, then you have absolutely no desire to ever even think about returning to the venue/restaurant/store/etc.

Oh, I forgot the kicker. Before trying to get in there I had left a show that was twenty-one and up only show that was sponsored by Jack Daniel’s which I got into no problem. And I had to pay $10 to park in a parking garage here, which meant I basically paid a guy $10 to park my car, then immediately go get it for me.

I guess that covers the big stuff of 2012. I hope you enjoyed this list, and I really encourage you to check out some of those bands you may not be familiar with when you have a chance to, as they will not disappoint.

So cheers, and here’s to a rockin’ 2013!

Album Review: “Pretty Evil Thing” by The Virgin Wolves

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Nearly three years in to their career, The Virgin Wolves have accomplished more than most bands do, or even can in that time frame.

For starters, they expanded from a husband-and-wife duo of Chase and Jaimeson Robbins, to a well-rounded five-piece outfit that has the release of two EP’s under their belt. Both were crucial to capturing and subsequently growing their fan base, though the main draw to the band is probably what they are best known for; their fiery, brash live performance.

That has helped make them into an institution of the North Texas music scene, yet they’ve still lacked something that is key to any band, and that is a full-length record.

Well, they’re finally getting around to releasing one, and their debut full-length is titled, “Pretty Evil Thing”.

The record isn’t all brand spankin’ new material, nor is just the same old tracks from their previous EP’s added in as “filler”. Instead, they tweaked many older songs and peppered in some new offerings, too.

One song that has been tweaked is “Black Sheep”, which is not only the lead track on the record, but also the first single. A fury of drumbeats now begins the song, as some guitar feedback is laced over it and gradually swells, giving way to the series of chords that the fans should be all too familiar with. The big difference with them, though, is they bear a much slicker and more polished sound. Jaimeson’s voice also has more of a snarl to it and is loaded with attitude, which is more reflective of what the song has evolved into in the live setting. But one of the best revisions here is the instrumental bridge at around the 1:50 mark, which incorporates some more soulful notes, but done in a manner that only The Virgin Wolves can pull off.

“Crawl” is another song to receive a bit of a facelift, again beginning with some percussion, which is heavier on the bass drum now. The same can be said for it as the opening track, at least in the general sense that it, too, has been tightened up all the way around. But perhaps the best addition on this one is the layering of backing vocals, which are used at various points throughout and add a cool “echo” effect. That is at its best at the end of the second verse, on the line, “…Gave myself three cigarettes and whistled just like a bird.” It’s simply the way “bird” is enunciated, which sounds quite beautiful.

Your first glimpse (or rather, listen) of the bands new material comes with the next song, “End Of The Line”, which is intriguing to say the least. It’s a vast departure from the niche they’ve carved out for themselves, and, at times, has a certain Pop flare to it, which is something lacking in all of their other songs. There’s something to be said for a band that will push themselves and step out of their comfort zone a bit, though. The multiple vocals create an interesting dynamic that works surprisingly well, especially in the first half, which features a very simple guitar riff that will have you mesmerized. It’s also rather dark and moody, and occasionally makes the transition into an aggressive Rock that is sure to stick with you. All of that helps make it an exceptional song, and not just my personal favorite on this album, but any of the previous ones, too.

“What You Want To Hear” is another oldie that has undergone a drastic overhaul, and not just in the title change. The music bed is completely different and much slower on the verses, with more of a Classic Rock/Blues vibe to it. In contrast, the choruses are full of piss and vinegar, especially the way the lyrics, “No matter how hard I try, you see the guilty in my eye. And I tell you what you want to hear…”, are sung. It’s a beast of a song, and they managed to take something that was good and expand upon and transform it into something incredible.

Another completely new offering is “Same Familiar”. That’s an apt title in some ways, because it’s everything you have come to expect from the band. It’s unapologetic dirty, raw Rock ‘n’ Roll, which is no doubt what they specialize in, and is pulled off exceedingly well here. That’s all I’ve got on this one, because the song speaks for itself.

“Lies” has also gotten a few touch-ups, but nothing too major. The rhythm section isn’t quite as heavy on this new version (it’s certainly still there, though), but the most noticeable difference is the cleaner sound this one has. You can better hear the nuances of the bass and guitars, which does elevate the listening experience. Aside from that, it’s essentially the same song you already know, just with a more refined sound.

“Crooked Smile” is another new original, and is also the song where the album title comes from. It’s still gritty Rock, and on the surface it fits hand in hand with any of their other material. However, like the other new songs on the album, the bands growth is obvious upon close inspection. There’s just a subtle, more mature sound to it on every level. For example, take this line from the second verse, which, if I understand it correctly, is, “…Don’t break no lies, don’t fake no smiles, do only what you mean…”. It’s simple, yet unbelievably deep.

Another older song with a new sound and name is “Oh, Sugar”. The Blues sound has been poured on, even heavier than what it was, and what really jumped out at me are the guitars, which have a much crisper sound, and the stellar riffs are quite inspiring. There’s also a big difference on the vocals and how various parts are sung. It’s all for the better, as it complements the music much better now, and is another prime example of a decent song that they have turned into something that’s off the charts.

A lot of albums begin to lag around the ninth track or so, but not “Pretty Evil Thing”. At this point, you get to what is arguable their most powerful song live, “Virtue And Vice”. It’s also the one that benefits the most from being re-recorded, as they managed to perfectly capture the intensity and energy that you experience at a live performance. At two minutes and forty-five seconds, it is the shortest song on the record, but it’s also the most explosive. But what really makes this one is the edgy, in-your-face screaming, like on the chorus, “…But you better act real nice, I don’t want to tell you twice…”, which comes across more like a demand than anything, and one that you best heed.

The two remaining songs are also ones that have been revamped, one of which is “Vagabonds”. It’s very similar to the original version, but with a richer, fuller sound, and a little more incendiary, too.

“Bad” brings the record to a close, and it has a more well rounded sound this time around. There’s also a ton of ferocity in this version, and that brings this 39-minute long album to a sensational and powerful close.

I’m really astounded by “Pretty Evil Thing”, simply because it captures the bands spirit so well. For those who have yet to see the group, listening to this record will give you a spot on idea of what a show is like. And for those who have seen them, then you’ll finally have something to listen to that does the band justice.

I mean, really, how many albums have you listened to that you can say, “That captures that bands sound to the tee!” Personally, I’ve heard a small handful, but more often than not bands will use some “studio magic” here and there, which makes it where they can’t pull off a track live in the way their fans know it.

There’s nothing even remotely like that on this one, though. It’s simply The Virgin Wolves doing what they do best; rocking out.

Their more collected then before and even more mature sounding, which gives the impression that “Pretty Evil Thing” is the first real release from the band.

I think this has been of the more anticipated records of 2012, as far as the local music scene is concerned, and it lives up to both the hype and expectations. I can also see this album serving as a jumping off point for the band, (hopefully) taking them to a stage much larger than that of North Texas.

The Virgin Wolves is:
Chase Robbins - Lead guitar & backing vocals
Jaimeson Robbins - Lead Vocals
Kristin Leigh - Bass & backing vocals
Steve Phillips - Drums
Carson Coldiron - Guitar & backing vocals


Purchase the album on:
(I will update this when the album becomes available in digital format.)


Visit The Virgin Wolves’ websites:
Official Website / Facebook / Reverbnation / Twitter / Youtube


Current shows include:
December 31st they will be at Wit’s End (Formerly The Bone) in Dallas. / January 11th they will be at Club Dada in Dallas. / January 18th they will be at Andy’s Bar in Denton. / January 19th they will be at The Prophet Bar in Dallas. / For their full calendar of show dates, go HERE.
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Photo credit: Will von Bolton

Saturday, October 13th, 2012 – The Toadies

Perhaps one of the most iconic venues in North Texas (and maybe even the country) is Billy Bob’s Texas.

It’s a VERY large venue, also serving as a place to hang out in the day, with some pool tables and other such entertainment. The venue routinely hosts some of the best Country/Americana bands from all over the nation, and that is why I never figured I’d end up at this place in the historic stockyards of Downtown Fort Worth.

Granted, I am becoming more of a Country music fan, but not to any of the acts that would play here. But this particular night, there were no country bands gracing the stage at Billy Bob’s. Instead, the world’s largest honky-tonk was hosting what is perhaps the best band to come out of Fort Worth: The Toadies.

The band had enlisted two Austin based bands to pen this show, the first of whom was Boy + Kite.

I wanted desperately to see this band again, after seeing them last year’s Dia De Los Toadies music festival, but the drive to Fort Worth is a long one, and by the time my dad and I got there and made it in, the band was practically done. I recognized a couple of their songs, while some others sounded new to me (though I haven’t listened to their music in awhile, so they could have been older tunes). The band seemed much tighter this time then what I remembered, and their stage show was definitely improved, with the three members at the forefront of the stage running about, shredding on their guitars or tearing it up on the bass.

What I saw I enjoyed, and hopefully the bands first ever show in the North Texas area will not be their last.

You can find their debut album, “Go Fly” in iTunes. And as of right now, their next show will be on November 9th at Fitzgeralds in Houston, Texas.

Second up was Quiet Company, and honestly, I’m not sure who I was more excited to see tonight. The Toadies, or these guys. That’s absolutely no joke, either.

The band walked on stage one minute after their scheduled 9:15 start time, and singer and rhythm guitarist, Taylor Muse, asked everyone how they were doing. That was answered with some applause and cheers, and he responded, “Yeah, me, too.” He was holding a drum stick which he then placed in his mouth and bit down on it, as he and the rest of the members cut loose on their instruments. The beginning to “Everything Louder Than Everything Else” gradually grew louder, before Taylor grabbed the drum stick from his mouth and proceeded to use it to play his guitar, then sang the opening line, “Long, long ago, back when the ocean was our home, we crawled out of the sea, so eager to breathe…”. I like all the levels this song takes you to, from that opening line, to reaching its pinnacle about halfway through, with, “…But when I go, there will probably be no angels singing, no harps ringing. No pearly gates, nor devil’s flames, just nothing…”, while it ended with bassist,  Matt Parmenter, guitarist, Thomas Blank, and trombone player, Cody Ackors, all co-singing with Taylor on, “…Don’t let me go, I’m not prepared.  I’m so damned scared that I’m almost there…”. The song takes you through some varying degrees of emotions, which is precisely what makes a good song to open with. As it came to an end, drummer, Jeff Weathers led them right into their next song, which was one of the bands singles, “You, Me, and the Boatman”. It was soon followed by another powerful song of the bands, “Preaching to the Choir Invisible: Part II (What Do You Think Happens When We Live?)”, which is always a highlight of the set. Usually for their next song, they have a sample track that kicks on about this time, segueing them right into it. However, they didn’t use it for this show. Instead, Matt moved over to the keyboard, and they all awaited his cue to start. “HEY!” he suddenly shouted, prompting Matt to begin pounding away on the keys, setting up the catch melody of “It’s Better to Spend Money Like There’s No Tomorrow Than Spend Tonight Like There’s No Money”. Taylor was able to get a little more animated on it, making gestures with his hands throughout it, since it doesn’t require him to play his guitar for the entire song. He made up for it on the next song, though, as he began wailing on his guitar soon after that song ended. This instrumental intro they have crafted perfectly captures a high-energy Rock spirit, and is probably the most intense the band gets, before it breaks into “We Went to the Renaissance Faire (…All Our Friends Were There)”. When it was over, Taylor started talking about Fort Worth. “…I’m sure there’s a lot of cross pollination here, but I think Fort Worth is far superior to Dallas…” he said, to which the crowd roared in agreeance. Not me, though, I knew it was just an attempt to make the people of Fort Worth feel better about where they live (That’s a joke people… Sort of.) It was also around this point where they mentioned that the band had entered into a whole new chapter. All five of them have now quit their jobs to make Quiet Company their main priority. “…So please, tell your friends about us and have them come see us…” Taylor urged the audience. “…I have a three year-old daughter and I’d really like to be able to feed her…”. From here on out they tackled one song right after the other, starting with “Preaching to the Choir Invisible: Part I (What do You Think Happens When We Die?)”. Cody sit his trombone down afterwards, and walked over to stage left, where the keyboard sit. They started an ominous instrumental lead in that instantly got me excited, because it could be nothing else but “The Easy Confidence (What I Would Say to You Now)”. Cody didn’t stay at the keys long, soon going back to the other side of the stage while Taylor started singing, “I was screaming out your name, I guess you never heard me. I was screaming it for years, and I think I deserve a reason for why you’ve remained so elusive…”. A little over a year ago when they released their latest album “We Are All Where We Belong”, that song popped out as being my personal favorite, and a year later it still is, making me look forward to the end of their set, just to hear that tune. Now along those lines, when you see a band enough, you come to know their setlist. Quiet Company somewhat tweaked theirs between the time I saw them back in April and then when they got back to Dallas in August, , though their final song remained the same, and that was the fourteenth track from their newest record. So obviously, I was anticipating that would be next… Luckily I wasn’t expecting it. Instead, the fiery end of “The Easy Confidence” came to a simmer, and then stopped all together as Jeff started some soft and steady drumming. It was a song I had never heard live, “On Modern Men”, coming from the record, “Everyone You Love Will Be Happy Soon”. Not only that, but I haven’t listened to the song much in the first place, so I wasn’t sure exactly what was going on. “So lift your hands up from your sides, rinse them both off with your pride, and let the world see what we’re not.  Because we have carved out our desires, and placed them in the hands of liars that will forget you when they want…” sang Taylor, who simultaneously slowly wrapped the microphone cord around his neck, making a noose of sorts. Sure, it threw me for a loop at first, but this was every bit as good of a note to end on as the other song has been. Maybe even more so.

In all their set was 44-minutes long, which was a pleasant surprise, since usually the opening acts get abbreviated sets. However that was just as much time as most of the other shows I’ve seen them do. There was one difference, though, and that was that they seemed even better this night than usual.

Their performance was spot-on, which is precisely what I’ve come to expect from these guys, yet they were even better than usual. I can’t pinpoint one specific thing, rather, it was the combination of the energy they all put forth, as well as how cohesive they are as a unit. And if they’ve gotten that much better in just a few months, imagine what awaits them, now that they are a full-time touring band.

Their show really was every bit as good as what The Toadies would soon do, but the only thing was Quiet Company didn’t have nearly the audience that they deserved. It wasn’t until they finished that a mass of people entered the venue, and I guarantee that if they had been there earlier, they would have been wowed, because I heard plenty of other people talking about how impressed they were by the band. Even when the night was done, I decided to splurge and finally buy one of the bands shirts, and their merch booth was still swamped at that time.

Obviously, the bands goal is to get out on the road more now, and currently have completed their second East Coast tour. So there’s a good chance the band will get to a city near you in the not too distant future. According to a post they made on their Facebook page, they will start doing about 200 shows a year, all over the United States, and hopefully beyond. They even have plans to release a new EP by year’s end with another full-length to come out sometime in 2013.

But in the meantime, you can find all their previous records in either iTUNES or BANDCAMP. You can even get a SIX SONG SAMPLER for FREE download if you just want to get a feel for the band’s music. And if you have the opportunity to see them live, by all means do. They are really one of the best bands I’ve ever seen or heard, easily making my top ten list. Quite possible even my top five.

Once everything was all set up and ready for the Toadies to take the stage, an interesting intro song started to play through the house system. It was by the Texas Country band, Eleven Hundred Springs, who coincidentally Mark Reznicek went on to play drums for after the Toadies 2001 breakup, and the song was “We’re From Texas.” As odd as a song choice as it seemed, it actually fit pretty well, and as the four members walked out on stage, Mark was even wearing an Eleven Hundred Springs shirt.

After taking the stage, frontman and guitarist, Vaden Todd Lewis, chatted with the crowd for just a moment, asking how everyone was doing, and then they got down to business. I thought I knew what was coming, since the bands set has been essentially the same the past few times I’ve seen them, but this night they threw a little bit of a curve-ball to their fans.

They still opened with a classic, but this time lead guitarist, Clark Vogeler, started them into “Happy Face”. It was a nice little surprise, and I was glad that things had been revamped, at least to some extent. That one was also just as powerful of an opening song as the other one has been, but in a completely different way, and got them off on a solid start. No sooner had that song ended, then Vaden moved right into the next song, occasionally plucking the strings on his guitar as he sang the first line of “Push the Hand”, before bassist, Doni Blair, Mark and Clark joined in to round out the sound. Those first two songs came from the bands first two major releases, and they kept barreling on, doing the title track from album number three, “No Deliverance”. I’ve often found myself on the fence with this song. I like it better live then the recording, but even then I can take it or leave it at times. But tonight, it sounded absolutely phenomenal. The other mic that Vaden uses, which gives his voice a more gravelly texture, definitely helps make the song, but it was at its best on the softer line, “…And then I saw her, bathed in light. A host of angels knelt at her side. She said, “You have forsaken all you believe. Crossed earth and oceans to be with me…”. It had a rather eerie vibe to it, which was exactly what made it so enjoyable. They paused after it, making some small talk. I believe asking everyone to give it up for the opening acts and such. Then, Clark started wailing on his guitar, using the whammy bar to fire up “Away”. Throughout it all you could hear most of the crowd (which I think totaled something like 3300 people) singing right along to it, and at times the audience was even more audible than Vaden was. Afterwards, he set up the bands next song, which was the first single from their latest effort, “Play.Rock.Music.” Doni began plucking away at his bass strings, before Mark joined him on the rhythm section intro of “Summer of the Strange”. As the two played, Vaden made his way from back by the drum riser towards the front of the stage, somewhat dancing as he walked, getting to the mic just in time to deliver the first line, “Give me back control. Give me back control. Give me back…”. I still say that song is one of the most off-the-wall ones the band has done, but has weird a sound as it has, it still is similar enough to the rest of their material to fit in. The music had barely ceased when Vaden started casually rocking out the killer intro of “Sweetness”. A little over halfway through, he changed up one of the lines, singing something else besides, “…Cut right down to the soul, to the center of you. I found me a home for the sinner in me…”, then got back to repeating that line a few more times. I can’t remember what he said at this point, but I liked the subtle change, which added just something extra to it. They followed it by ripping right into a fan favorite, “I Come from the Water”. There’s something about that song that as soon as you hear it makes it so easy to lose yourself to it. As soon as I realized it was that song I got excited, and even though I had been sick for a few days before this, which had resulted in a weak voice and sore throat, I still found myself compelled to join the rest of the crowd in singing along to the chorus at the top of my lungs. It really is that incredible of a song, and I liked the placement of it in the middle of the set even more than when it has been the opener. Another breather came after that song, and this was where Vaden started a conversation with the crowd with, “I’ve never gotten political on stage before…”. Obviously that had me thinking he was about to endorse one of the two presidential candidates, or at least something equivalent on that spectrum. However, what he said ended up being along some completely different lines. “…Has anyone seen  Looper?” he asked, adding, “Yeah, that’s a good flick.” The topic of conversation changed after that, as Vaden mentioned that Mark’s birthday was happening on this weekend. “No joke.” he said, as if to get rid of any doubt, while Mark stood up from his kit and made a few poses, while the crowd chanted, “U.S.A”, a few times. That made me realize that this is the third straight year that if seen the band at about this same time of year. Two years I caught a Denton show, which partially took place on his birthday, and then last year I believe it had just barely passed when they performed in Dallas. After things settled down, Mark led the band into their next song, “Waterfall”, which started another little onslaught of rock, as right after it was done they went into “Little Sin”, which was then followed by “Backslider”. Things then hit a slower spot with a song I was surprised didn’t make it into the setlist for this year’s Dia festival, “Song I Hate”, but at least they were playing it now. “I’m giving up on you. How could I ever call you mine? You’re too pretty, too simple, too easy. You’re just a waste of time…” Sang Vaden. That’s what makes that song so great, the lyrics are honest and raw, making it sound pretty authentic. They set up the next song as being the second single from their latest record. “…And I say second because hopefully there will be more…” said Vaden. A long guitar note rang out from Clarks’ guitar, starting them on the primal tune, “Animals”. It offers a good, realistic take on love, like with one of the lines from the first verse, “…You know love is a magic trick. Fools the eyes and drives the hips, but it’s crazy the shit it gets you through…”. The bands biggest hit, “Possum Kingdom”, came next, but after finishing it, it seemed like they still had a bit more to do. Why? Because Vaden stated, “Looks like this is going to be a three beer set.” One of their roadies brought out another beer for him. They were now in the homestretch, and started to wind things down with another new single and one of the bands best songs to date, “Rattler’s Revival”. Finally, to cap of their 61 minute-long set, they did one that is typically saved as an encore, “I Burn”.

The show had been incredible, and despite the more basic setlist (say, in comparison to the meaty show I had seen last month), this one was still every bit as good… Probably even more so. And they still had a little bit left in the tank for this night.

Now, throughout the show, security had taken several people out, thinking there were fights going on, when in fact some of the people were just moshing. As the main set came to an end, a few more incidents arose, leading the band, specifically Vaden, to plead with the security to leave the fans alone. “…They’re moshing, they’re not fighting. Moshing isn’t fighting. It’s still stupid as hell, but it’s not fighting…” he said, though it fell on deaf ears.

After a couple minutes of being gone, the band reappeared on stage to finish out the show, and got their 14 minute-long encore going with “Hell In High Water”. I didn’t get to fully enjoy this song, because during it was when a real altercation broke out next to me, with one guy grabbing anothers throat (where was the security when they were actually needed?). Luckily, it was resolved quickly, but for a minute or more that had my attention, as I, and numerous other people, just tried to stay out of the two guys way. The band wound that song perfectly into “Mister Love”,  and after it came their final song, which was none other than “Tyler”.

In terms of performance, this really was one of, if not the, best show I’ve seen the Toadies do. They were so on point with everything, which made the entire night quite impressive and was something to really marvel at.

I’ll keep this short and sweet, if you haven’t seen the Toadies, you need to. They know precisely what they are doing on stage and how to keep the crowd entertained, so you will not be disappointed.

As of right now the band is on the final leg of a tour with Helmet, and have only a few dates left. You can find all of them HERE, and if they aren’t coming somewhere near you, then you can surely count on the band touring sometime in 2013. And if you’d like to purchase the band’s music, well, you can find all of their releases right HERE.

All in all, it was a very fun and memorable night in Cowtown. I’ll have to try to get back occasionally, too. ‘Cause really, the drive over this way isn’t too bad.

Album Review: “Erikson” by Lindby

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Lindby may well be the most interesting band in the Dallas/Fort Worth area music scene… Perhaps even beyond. When I first heard of them I came across a little bio on their online EPK where one of the lines from the bio was something to the effect of, “…Linby doesn’t believe in playing the same song over and over…”, rather, each song is an entirely new experience. Their music mines in such genres as Rock & Roll, Jazz, Electronic, Folk and even Classical, and that vast array of genres is readily displayed on their latest release, “Erikson”.

If you would like to know where the title, “Erikson”, came from, and want the full, in-depth story, then read THIS. However, the short answer would be that it began in high school when one of the band members (and a friend) wrote a song about a famous Erikson.  More recently, Lindby dusted it off, improved upon it and then turned it into a song about a different well-known, historical Erikson. That song then became the lead track on the record.

Clocking in at nearly 90-seconds, “Erikson, Leif” is like most of the songs from this album: Short and to the point. Plus, even the band has admitted that these songs Erikson songs are just meant to be “goofy”, which is shown in this song by the few sentences that are repeated throughout. “…You sacked and sailed and drank. You loved your mother. O-oh my Erikson.” And while they keep the mood light for the song, they don’t let that impede their musicianship. Four out of the five band members, Nick Spurrier, Nick Goodrich, Kyle Claset and Ali Grant, all serve as vocalists, and this song sounds like it features all of them. Easily the best moment of the song is at the end when they all harmonize on the final line, their voices mixing to create a gorgeous sound.

I find “Jing Ling Tam Blues” to be an interesting hybrid between Jazz, Blues and Rock. The keyboard part, which runs throughout the song, certainly gives a sound like those two former genres. Then the song explodes, and there’s no question that it becomes more of a Rock tune. It’s almost impossible not to get into this one, which sounds like it could easily be an anthem of the bands’, and you will most likely find yourself shouting right along with chorus, “JING LING TAM!”.

“King Of Condiments” is the longest song on this record (barely over four minutes) and, as the name might imply, it is an interesting song. There are three different distinctive parts to it, the first of which is light and fun, as well as being co-sung between one of the guys and Ali, lasting through the first chorus, “Hop on the gravy train, it goes only where the sun is shining…”. As the music fades out, some drumbeats count them into a much faster, more aggressive section of the song. The lyrics are spit out at such a rapid pace it’s hard to keep up, let alone even comprehend what is being said, as whomever is doing the singing alters their voice, I presume to imitate the “King of Condiments” character, who the second verse is written for. That then suddenly gives way to a more dreamy sounding verse, which Ali sings in a more classical manner, before returning to the same way it began. It’s a very unique mash-up of music, and despite how this might make it sound, they manage to give it a good flow so that it all fits together.

The next Erikson the band tackles is businessman, “Erikson, Sheldon”. It’s another short tune, which they made into a sultry Jazz number. The keys are definitely the backbone of this song, and while embodying the Jazz sound, they also give it a somewhat modernized Jazz sound. It is certainly unlike anything else heard thus far on the album, and is a definite standout.

“Piece Of Reese” is a fun little diddy that relies heavily on the synthesizer. It’s fun listening to simply to hear the various affects they use throughout it. At times the sound effects sound like they would have been perfect in an old school videogame (say, circa late 80’s to early 90’s), while at other parts it sounds more outer spacey. This one will definitely grow on you with each listen, and I started out thinking it was just so-so, but now, I really dig it.

“Across The Blue” begins with a stunning piano part, which sounds quite classical. The co-singing on this song is brilliant in the first place, but making it even more attention grabbing is the operatic voice that Ali taps into for a few fleeting moments. It gives the song a rather refined quality, as well as a certain level of elegance.

The previous song blends seamlessly into the next, “Erikson, Jon/Across The Blue (Reprise)”, a song that pays homage to a man who swam the English Channel eleven times. Some of the lyrics from the previous song carries over into this one, with the addition of a brass section (trumpets and a trombones) featured on this one. However, the song has a sound that is more reminiscent of Reggae, giving it a more tropical vibe. It’s just a happy, upbeat tune. And who knows, if you find yourself feeling a little blue, listening to this one just might make you feel a little better.

Possible the most original song on this entire album is “Gee! Sharp Diminished Over Bee”. It’s hauntingly beautiful, and the only instrument used is the piano. As pretty as the keys sound, I find a certain level of eeriness to them, too. The verses are sung in rounds, which I find extremely inventive, and adds a wonderful layer to the song. While the chorus’s are sung in sync, and are done in fantastic fashion.

“Deadlights” is an interesting song in the fact that I could hear it being performed as a Country song, and sounding very similar to what it does now. The opening line is, “Don’t cry for me, cause you’re gonna bring me down. Baby, please…”, and really, doesn’t that sound like an ideal opening line for a Country tune? I guess there are some subtle sounds where you can draw comparisons to the genre, but that’s as far is it gets. Also, the vocals for this song are often belted out with a deep fiery passion that is sure to reel you in.

The shortest track you will find on this record is about mix martial artist, “Erikson, Tom”. Lindby again achieves a sound that his fully unique to this song, by imitating an Oriental sound, and doing a great job of it at that. It’s very tranquil and the perfect harmonies, which are done more in a chanting manner, serve to make it only more relaxing.

Perhaps the most experimental song on this record is “The Shaman”. It utilizes a very electronic sound, on one hand sounding very futuristic, while on the other it sounds videogame-ish. It uses the same basic qualities as other Lindby songs (i.e. three-part singing/harmonizing), however, it strays so far from the style(s) of music I like, it’s the one song on the album I just don’t fully “get”. I’m not even saying it’s a bad song, because I don’t dislike listening to it, but it just doesn’t mesh with me like their other songs do. But if this is the only song I can say that about, out of fifteen, that’s not too bad.

With “Simple As That”, the bands style returns to some more Rock roots, similar to some songs you heard early on, on this concept album of sorts. There are some sweet guitar riffs that you can hear on this tune, which come across as walking that fine line between being both simplistic and fancy… And I mean that in a positive way. There are some solos that are very slick sounding, though it doesn’t come across, like, they wrote those parts to show off (Am I the only one who occasionally gets that feeling when hearing some guitar solos? As if the musician wrote it just to say, “Look what I can do!”). Instead, it just flows with the song, and gives it a lot of extra pizzazz.

As the album begins to draw to a close, there are a couple more “Erikson’s” to cover, such as “Erikson, J.S.”. Granted, it’s not based on a real person, nor is it a full body song, at least not in the sense that there are lyrics accompanying it, but it’s not some simple instrumental song, either. It’s a four-voice fugue they comprised, basing it upon the Erikson melody. It’s entertaining, and offers a good way to break up the other “true” songs that comprise this record. And that’s coming from the guy who usually dislikes instrumental songs with a passion, so you know it has to be worth listening to.

“Here We Are Now” offers a true end to the album, and is a fitting one at that. It’s a very up-tempo song, and despite what reading the lyrics would lead you to believe, it’s actually gives a pretty optimistic feeling. “My heart has no sense of tomorrow for you, but you’re calling and you’re singing the blues…” Ali sings, starting the first line. This is also another song that has a Classical vibe, and if you imagine it, you could easily hear this song being played inside some lounge circa the 1950’s. That aura is only personified by the piano part, which is the backbone of the song, and is also responsible for making this one of my most favorite tracks on the record

I said that previous song is the “true end” to the album, and I say that because the final song is what the band has admittingly said is them “…goofing around in the studio, having fun…”, and they aptly titled the minute and thirty-seven second long track, “Erikson, Jam”. That’s all it is, a jam of sorts, with the band just cutting loose and (quite obviously) having some laughs, which is what makes this a good fitting end to the record, because in the end, Lindby is a fun band.

“One-trick pony” is a phrase that can be applied to a lot of bands these days, when most bands seemed more concerned with trying to replicate what is “popular”, instead of expressing their own creativity. That is far from the case with Lindby, though.

Every song on “Erikson” has a sound that is truly all its own, and even with all the genres their music spans, it still manages to have a wonderful flow. It’s an album that’s all lighthearted and fun, but not to the point where it all comes across as if they aren’t being serious. Quite the contrary, these are five musicians who have some serious chops and know exactly what they’re doing.

I think we need more bands/songs/records like this. There’s nothing wrong with your typical Rock band (or any other genre for that matter) who makes music more along the traditional lines, with serious songs about broken hearts or whatever else. But it’s bands like Lindby, who weave these interesting tapestries of music, that break up the monotony of all those other bands out there. And sometimes, those are the best bands there are.

Lindby is:
Nick Spurrier - Keyboards/Guitar/Vocals
Nick Goodrich - Guitar/Keyboards/Vocals
Kyle Claset - Bass/Vocals
Ali Grant - Vocals/Synth/Organ
Tanner Brown - Drums


Purchase the album on:
iTunes / Bandcamp

Visit Lindby’s Websites:
Official Website / Facebook / Soundcloud / Twitter / Youtube

Current shows include: For the bands full show calendar, go HERE.
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