Friday, January 24th, 2014 – Kentucky Knife Fight Slices Back Through Dallas

My mind is a receptacle of useless information, most of which happens to revolve around concerts I’ve seen (i.e. there was a time I could list the exact date of almost all 25 FEDS shows I saw. I may could, still.)

So, along those lines, I can say without even thinking that On January 24th of last year I found myself at the Double Wide, when the St. Louis based Kentucky Knife Fight came through Dallas.

Guess where I wound up exactly one year later?

Yep, the Double Wide, to see who else, but Kentucky Knife Fight.

The band had been on the road about a week, after getting off to a rough start when their van was stolen and then totaled. They managed to get a loaner so they could at least get out on this long awaited tour, but nonetheless, it’s still a big setback for this independent band.

There were a couple of great Dallas bands that Kentucky Knife Fight was sandwiched between, the first of whom was Dead Flowers.

This made for back-to-back shows of theirs I had seen (the last one being just six days prior), and knowing that they’d have a shorter set this night, I was curious as to what their setlist would be like.

As it turned out, it was almost entirely new material, though they began with some wisecracks. Singer and rhythm guitarist Corey Howe urged everyone to get a little closer towards the stage, saying those who did might have a better chance of seeing a “nip slip”. Oddly enough, that didn’t seem to entice anyone to get closer.

They opened their 46-minute long set with the very rocking, “I’m Leaving”, which was one of a handful of songs where lead guitarist Vince Tuley had a killer little guitar solo. At one point near the end, everything fell silent, while the crowd in the pretty packed room began cheering and applauding. Corey, who had been facing Ed Chaney and his drum kit, turned around. “Oh, you guys are still here?!” he said, feigning surprise, before they broke back into the track.

A song by the name of “I Don’t Know” came next, and as soon as they had finished it, Corey strummed his guitar, leading them the first of only a handful of songs they did from their first record, “You’re Wrong”. Vince spent a fair of amount of time teetering at the edge of the stage, allowing everyone a good view of him shredding on his guitar, before jumping out in the crowd after the second chorus, giving out high fives to several spectators.

“I didn’t get any high fives.” Corey remarked after they had finished the song. “That’s because you suck!” joked Vince. Corey went on mention the other bans on the bill, saying the first show he ever played in Dallas was with Somebody’s Darling, more or less professing his love for the band by pointing out that he hadn’t missed one of their shows “in a long time”.

“This song’s a couples skate.” Cory announced after he had sit his guitar down. For whatever reason, I liked the song even more this time around than I had the past weekend, and while it is a little more calm from their other songs, I don’t know if you could really classify it as a true “couples skate”, either.

“Evan Wiener Johnson, everybody!” shouted Corey after the song had concluded, pointing out the bands bass player, whose middle name is actually Winston. They knocked out another new one, “Pieces of Me”, which, until this night, had been my favorite new song of theirs I had heard. That was about to change, though.

“Guess what we did today?” Corey asked their friends and fans. Some people responded with some jokes, but the correct answer was that they had made the down payment on their next album earlier that day, as their February recording time draws ever closer.

While on the subject of their new album, they had added a couple of brand new songs to their repertoire that they had only finished earlier in the week. They had shared one with everyone earlier, and now it was time for the other. “This one’s called Anyone But Me.” Corey announced. That was the song that instantly became my favorite new track of theirs, and it may well be the best damn thing they’ve done in general. It was an absolutely killer song with an incredible music bed, and at the start of it Evan and Ed could be seen working in perfect synch with one another, as he slung his bass around in time with the drum beats.

The one thing with new songs that no one knows, is that if you make a mistake, no one’s going to know it. However, Corey pointed out the wrong notes he played at the tail end of it. “We almost made it!” he exclaimed when it was over. “But I owned it! The mistake, that is.”

That brought them to the cover portion of the night, as they did The Replacements’ “Can’t Hardly Wait”, dedicating it to the guys of Kentucky Knife Fight. “Burt Fucking Reynolds!” shouted Vince, during the momentary silence towards the end of the song. The next one was, as Corey later said, an impromptu song, immediately after the other one he fired up “I Will Dare”, looking at his band mates like, “Why not, let’s do this one!”

“Did someone yell ‘Yanni?” Vince asked after the second cover song. “I’m going to have to start using that during Can’t Hardly Wait.” he remarked, before confessing that the first concert he saw was one of Yanni’s. “And I went back, because my dad liked him.” he added.

“Do y’all like country?” Corey then asked the audience, who roared back at him. “Good. This is a country song.” he said. It was the title track from their debut album, “For You”, complete with Evan leading the crowd in a clap along before the second chorus. I missed what happened, though I assume Corey broke a string, as he suddenly switched out guitars early on in the song. Then in the final part of the track he and Vince leaned on one another, resting their heads on the others shoulder, while still picking away at their axes, before Ed got a brief drum solo at the end.

With that, they were on their final song of the night, ending things with their single, “I Won’t Go”.

The only downside with them not having as much time to kill is they didn’t have as much time to goof off. Yeah, they made jokes as often as they could, but nothing to the extent they do when they have another half hour or so.

Still, it was a rocking set they did, and the fact that they had to adhere to a certain amount of time did work in their favor, too, ‘cause as they powered through the songs, you got to see what a tight group they really are.

This made the third time I’ve seen Dead Flowers in just a little over a month, and I have to say, they are quickly becoming a favorite of mine.

They’re taking a little break from doing live shows, with their next one being right back here at the Double Wide on March 1st. Also, go check out “For You” over in iTUNES.

With it being so cold outside this night, most of the people who were in the venue part of the Double Wide never really left, meaning it was already pretty packed in here, and only got more that way as Kentucky Knife Fight got their gear set up.

It had been a few months since their last area show, which had been over in Fort Worth.

Even though their tour got off to a rough start with their van, the guys spirits were high, and you could tell they were excited to again be taking this stage.

Their show got off to a surprising start, far different from the last two times I had seen them. They began with a song from their 2007 debut album, “The Wolf Crept, The Children Slept”, “Herschel Walker”.

Their fans were glad to hear that classic, though, and the softer verses and roaring choruses made for a nice warm up as they eased the crowd into what was to come.

“We’re Kentucky Knife Fight from St. Louis, Missouri. We’re glad to be back in Dallas.” frontman Jason Holler told everyone, while James Baker started a drum roll into their next song. Ah, this was how those other two shows I had seen had began, and “Bad Blood” is, at least for me, one of those songs that as soon as you hear it starting, you feel a euphoric rush come over you. He kept it going, and eventually Curt Brewer and Nate Jones layered their guitars over it, as he excitement mounted.

“Been up for days at the Tic-Toc Inn, with some old habits and some new found friends…” Holler wailed in his unique semi nasally sounding howl. “…Momma know, I won’t be home by Tuesday morning for the funeral…” he, along with Curt and bassist Jason Koenig sang on the third verse, as Holler suddenly raised his voice, hitting an incredibly high note as he sang “funeral”, before bringing it right back down to his normal register. Some four part harmonies were employed near the end, with everyone but James repeatedly singing, “Bad blood.”, their voices mixing well with one another and sounded absolutely sensational.

I’d say they were sufficiently warmed up at this point, though they were still merely scratching the surface.

There was just a few seconds downtime before Nate started up the next one, as they got my two favorite KKF songs out of the early. “She looks bereft in her Sunday dress, ruby red with the lips to match. Her eyes crawl up my legs to my chest. She conducts a room with the shake of her wrist.” Holler gently sang on the first verse of “Always A Bribe, Never A Bride”, which is always one of their best songs live. Take the second chorus for example, which is different from the recording, and they did it almost a capella. James lightly tapped the edge of one of his drums, while Curt, Nate, Koenig and Holler crooned into their microphones, “She can tell I’m an only child. She knows why I can’t sleep at night. Has her fingers wrapped around the necks of every man, every woman, every breath.”

The harmonies on that were nothing short of amazing, and they still weren’t done enhancing the song for the live version. “…Every man.” Holler sang at the end, which was followed by a brief instrumental piece, during which Curt dropped to his knees, shredding on his guitar. That was repeated for the next line as well, before the four guys turned their attention to their singer, who allowed the silence to linger, before that final line, “Eve-ry breath.”

They caught everyone off guard by doing another track from their 2007 record, bringing the mood down temporarily with “Wild Irish Rose”, which ends by giving all their other rock songs a run for their money.

Afterwards, Holler thanked Dead Flowers for opening this show, as well as Somebody’s Darling for hosting it and having them on the bill, giving Curt time to swap out to his banjo. Holler then picked up his harmonica and bullet microphone, playing into it as he swayed back and forth at the start of “Dream So Sweet”. It’s a good, catchy song that’s easy to get into, and best of all, while it’s a clear-cut song about sex, they managed to give it a different spin so it’s not cliché or stereotypical.

That would be the final older song of the night, and they were now done with “We’re All Nameless Here” and “The Wolf Crept…”, and now the attention turned back to “Hush Hush” and beyond.

Holler recounted what happened to their van for those who might not have been in the know, pointing out how lucky they were to have a friend loan them theirs. While he spoke, Curt proceeded to softly pluck the strings of the banjo, very gradually getting faster as the instrument grew louder and louder, eventually, as the murderous tales from “Hush Hush” continued with “Paper Flowers Two”, another fantastic track from an album where the band truly outdid themselves.

Before their show, I was told by James that they had two new songs worked into their shows. Only one got played this night, and it came next. It was different from what they’ve done in the past, and certainly lacked the darker undertones that are so abundant on their current record. In the end, it was still Kentucky Knife Fight, though, and I really enjoyed it. “Let my love wrap you up. Drag you in and tie you up…” Holler sang at the start of the second verse.

As soon as it ended, “Theme” for No One” kicked in as a sample track, but only played for a second or two before stopping. The band looked a little perplexed, but made it work, with James going ahead and leading them into what is, at times, one of their slowest songs, “Love the Lonely”. “This is the sweetest, this is the sweetest part. Your fragile features can only get you so far…” Holler crooned at the start, showing off the softer side he is capable off, while the song was still filled with plenty of head banging moments, making sure the grip they had on everyone was only tightened.

They weren’t done with their songs about various forms of love just yet, and after allowing everyone to applaud the song, Koenig let loose knockout bass riffs that begin “Misshapen Love”. Curt was back on his guitar by this time, and he could be seen getting very into this song, bouncing around his little spot over on stage left. He and Nate led a clap along of sorts during one of the choruses, each keeping a different pace/beat, adding a very cool quality to it, while Holler picked up his bullet mic again. “Why you wanna go and wreck my life? Why you wanna go and bleed me dry? Why do your words seem so insincere? Why do your intentions seem so unclear?…” he sang, getting that nice gravelly sound the microphone helps create.

“We have a lot of friends here in Dallas. We couldn’t have said that three years ago.” Holler told everyone, even saying that out of all the shows on this little tour, this one was probably the one they had all been looking forward to most. He then checked with the sound guy.

“One or two more?” he asked.

They had already been up there about forty minutes or so, and were told one more, getting their set cut short a bit. They were swift in deciding what their final song of the night would be though, and you could hear them unanimously saying, “Father”.

It was a better closer than I thought it would be, bringing their set to a total of 44-minutes, and during the instrumental break after the second chorus, Nate just cut loose and tore it up on his axe. That brought them to the final portion of the track, and I know I said this last time, but I’m going to say it again. It’s utterly amazing how Holler sings the final lines, constantly repeating, “Walking for the door, gonna see if you really mean it when you say you’re not afraid to spread my brains across the ceiling. Officer, there’s no stopping what’s lurking in the weeds this season, so much evil unborn in this world for no rhyme or reason.”

There’s no break between either of those sentences, and it only gets progressively, yet the man never, in any noticeable way, takes a breath. If you paid attention, you could see him inhaling here and there, but as he did so, he kept right on singing. It’s quite impressive, and the semi-abrupt silence that came at the end was quickly meet with applause and cries for “One more!”

Like Holler said earlier in the night, a few years ago they didn’t have any friends here in Dallas. But now, now they are adored by many, and have certainly created their own following here.

As a band, especially a live band, they are impeccable. Their musicianship, performance and stage presence are all off the charts, and each time I see them, they only seem to keep getting better. That’s what touring is about though, getting in even better shape and pushing yourself to a whole other level.

If you don’t have “Hush Hush”, you NEED to buy it. Personally, I feel it was the best album put out last year, and it’s starting to get some recognition from a few radio stations. Check out their other albums, too, which can of course be found in iTUNES.

As for shows, this tour may be over, but they do have a few dates currently scheduled for mid to late February around Illinois. For specific details as to where and when, go HERE.

Closing out the night was Somebody’s Darling, and by the time they were all ready to go, they had the Double Wide more packed than I’ve ever seen it, with everyone crammed in as close as they could get to the people around them.

If anyone could match what Kentucky Knife Fight had done, it would be these guys, but I have to admit, I was skeptical if they even could.

“How you doing, Double Wide?!” asked singer and rhythm guitarist Amber Farris. The fans responded whoops and hollers, letting it be known they were ready for the show. “Let’s get fucked up and play some music, dammit!” she said, before letting loose the first line of their opening number, “Cold Hands”. “Put your cold hands in my warm jacket, keep ‘em there till we leave…”

That was one of only about half a dozen tracks they did from “Jank City Shakedown”, hitting the highlight songs while also focusing on what they’ll have coming down the pike in due time. Nate Wedan bridged them right into their next number, laying down the drum part, while Amber quickly chatted with the rabid fans. “We’re just warming up.” she remarked, noting it had been a little while since they had done a Dallas show. Perhaps the best part of “Back to the Bottle” was the jam outro, which highlighted Mike Talleys’ skills on the keyboard, and had David Ponder throwing a sweet little guitar solo in.

“Give it up for Dead Flowers!” Amber shouted during the next break. “They got me in the mood.” she added, before they launched into my personal favorite, “Weight of the Fear”, which concluded the fan favorites portion for a bit.

Amber announced that along with these old ones, they were going to be throwing in some new ones, the first of which was titled “Set It Up”. In comparison to some of their other songs, it got off to a slow start, but not in a bad way. It was just more tame, especially from the first few songs they had done, but that didn’t last too long, as it slowly grew, becoming a fairly hefty rock number. Amber quickly wound them from it into another new one, which was followed by yet another. “This one’s about being in a relationship and the same shit keeps spinning, and it’s time you gotta change the fucking record.” she explained while setting up “Same Record”. It was another number that had David laying down a guitar solo, which was what brought it to an end. I have to say, after hearing some more of their new stuff later on, I would discover some songs I personally liked even more than “Same Record”, but that song has a certain quality to it that I’d bet will ensure it a spot as the first single from their next record.

“Here’s another new one!” Amber informed everyone in her distinctive Southern drawl. She then joked, “We gotta practice these songs of bitches.” They did bring the mood down with this one, a very poignant song about trying to figure out what went wrong in a relationship. “…Was it me? Was it you? Why’d you let me go?” she crooned at the very end, packing it so full of emotion it damn near brought a tear to your eye.

“We’re Somebody’s Darling. We’re happy to be here tonight!” stated Amber as they brought things back up with one everyone was familiar with, “Keep Shakin’”. As it hit its lull after the second chorus, Amber and David faced one another as they plucked away at their guitars.

It appeared they were going to take things back down afterwards, when David swapped out to an acoustic guitar for another new tune. Keyword; “appeared”. He got the song going, and if I hadn’t seen him shredding away on that acoustic, I never would have guessed that was what was producing the music, ‘cause it sure didn’t sound like an acoustic guitar. This one was called “Keep This Up”, and on the chorus, bassist Wade Cofer and Mike added some nice backing vocals to it. After the fans had, had some time to warm up to it, Wade even got a clap along going with some of the audience, while Amber asked for help there at the end. Not everyone in attendance helped out, but some sang the simple chorus of “How can I keep this up?” back at the band.

The next song came by a request from one fan (mind you, it was made before the show), and whoever requested “My Own Medicine” deserves a pat on the back, ‘cause in some ways, it’s the best song in their arsenal. There’s no denying Amber is an exceptional vocalist, and that voice carries this soft song that exudes heartache. Some may disagree, but in many cases. I think it’s a bands slow song(s) that show off exactly what they’re capable of and just how good they are, and that’s certainly the case with that song of Somebody’s Darling.

“Smoke Blows” was the song that followed, and this new one found Amber pulling out the acoustic. “I’m playing the acoustic guitar for some reason. Deal with it!” she joked before it got underway. Wade and Mike again lent their voices to this one, and something about it, the way their voices mixed with Ambers’ sounded absolutely phenomenal.

Nate and David kept the music going after that one was over, the rest of the band gradually joining in once Amber got back to her electric guitar. Suddenly, the song took shape, as everyone grew excited that it was “Wedding Clothes”. Seeing as that’s their typical closer, I expected that to be the end of the show, but they had one left.

Amber thanked everyone for “sticking around so late, when the witches come out.”, before noting that this final song of their 65-minute long set was a dancing one. I’m unsure if it was a new one or perhaps even a cover, but the song was titled “Generator”, and it brought things to an end in a spectacular fashion.

Amber got to take a break from her guitar periodically, at one point grabbing the microphone stand and walking around what free space there was on the tiny stage. She even pulled the mic out of the stand, still singing, then later asked if someone could hold it for her once she had to start playing guitar again. That left one fan upfront with the duty of holding the microphone up so she could sing into it, while at the end, David dropped to his knees, picking away at his guitar before he began fiddling with the pedal board to add some nice effects to the mix.

There’s a reason why Somebody’s Darling is a band on the rise here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, essentially to the point that they’re a big fish in a little pond, and if you witnessed their show this night, it’s clear what that reason is; they’re just a well-oiled machine.

Everything they do is so precise and tight, without seeming over rehearsed.

You can tell they’re having just as much fun playing the music as their fans are listening to it, creating the perfect rapport between fans and band.

“Jank City Shakedown” definitely helped put these guys on the map, and the touring they did in support of it gained them a good following across the U.S. And after hearing so many new tracks this night, I get the feeling that their next release, whenever it comes out, will leave an even bigger mark on the music world.

If you don’t have any of their records, give ‘em a listen in iTUNES, and they are planning on having another LP out sometime this year, though, as Amber pointed out this night, they don’t have any of that new stuff recorded yet.

Somebody’s Darling’s next show is going to be at The Kessler Theater in Dallas on February 28th, opening for The Band of Heathens (trust me, you won’t want to miss that one.) They’ll also be at Off Broadway in St. Louis, MO on March 1st.

It was a helluva night here at the Double Wide, and this show was even better than I had expected it to be… And I had pretty high expectations.

The Best of 2013: A List of Bands & Albums You Need to Know

Since I only do this once a year, here’s a refresher as to how this goes; After keeping track of every album I bought that was released in 2013 (120+) and every concert I saw, this is where I - completely objectively - select what I think were the best of everything.

LP’s and EP’s are divided into two different categories, with a top ten in each one, after which I do the “Best of the Rest”, alphabetically listing all the other records (the primary reason I do this blog in the first place is to try to help get bands even the slightest bit of extra exposure, so I don’t want to leave anyone out simply because they didn’t make my “Top Ten”.)

After that, I’ll list my ten favorite concerts from the year, then end with a wrap up.

For the albums, if you click on the artist name, you’ll be taken to their website. Clicking the album title will take you to either iTUNES or Bandcamp to purchase the record. Something new I’m also doing this year is including a link to a Spotify playlist next to each category, so you can easily listen to most of the music (not ever band has their music on Spotify, after all.) As for my favorite concerts of the year, they’ll be linked back to the individual review I did of the show, in case you missed it the first time around or may want to read it again.

Sound good? Good. Here we go…

Top 10 LP’s of 2013 (Spotify Playlist)

1.) Artist: Kentucky Knife Fight

Album: Hush Hush

Must Listen Song: “Bad Blood”

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2.) Artist: Jillette Johnson

Album: Water in a Whale

Must Listen Song: “Pauvre Coeur”

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3.) Artist: Nothing More

Album: Nothing More

Must Listen Song: Every track. Seriously.

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4.) Artist: Tommy & the High Pilots

Album: Only Human

Must Listen Song: “Devil to Pay” & “Young and Hungry”

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5.) Artist: Dead Flowers

Album: For You

Must Listen Song: “No Tragedy”

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6.) Artist: Ishi

Album: Digital Wounds

Must Listen Song: “Emotional Hard Drive”

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7.) Artist: Distant Lights

Album: Not Thinking Not Dreaming (FREE DOWNLOAD!)

Must Listen Song: “What’s On Your Mind?”

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8.) Artist: Sick Puppies

Album: Connect

Must Listen Song: “Walking Away”

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9.) Artist: These Machines are Winning

Album: Defender 1

Must Listen Song: “Beat S”

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10.) Artist: The O’s

Album: Thunderdog

Must Listen Song: “Outlaw”
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The Best of the Rest (LP’s) (
Spotify Playlist)

Artist: Air Review

Album: Low Wishes

Must Listen Song: “Low Wishes”

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Artist: Animal Spirit

Album: Animal Spirit

Must Listen Song: “House On A Hill”

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Artist: Anthony Green

Album: Young Legs

Must Listen Song: “Breaker”

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Artist: Anydoll

Album: Electric Heart (Free download!)

Must Listen Song: “You Are Amazing”

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Artist: Ashley Falgout

Album: Long Over Due

Must Listen Song: “Days and Days”

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Artist: The Band of Heathens

Album: Sunday Morning Record

Must Listen Song: “Shotgun”

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Artist: Bawcomville

Album: Tranny

Must Listen Song: “Diminished Returns”

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Artist: Black Books

Album: Black Books

Must Listen Song: “Something to Remember”

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Artist: Blameshift

Album: Secrets

Must Listen Song: “Revolution”

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Artist: Blue October

Album: Sway

Must Listen Song: “Put It In”

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Artist: Bordeen

Album: Bordeen

Must Listen Song: “Spotlight”

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Artist: Bosnian Rainbows

Album: Bosnian Rainbows

Must Listen Song: “The Eye Fell In Love”

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Artist: Bowling for Soup

Album: Lunch. Drunk. Love.

Must Listen Song: “Critically Disdained”

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Artist: The Breakfast Machine

Album: Electric 2033

Must Listen Song: “Si, Explosions”

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Artist: The Bronx

Album: The Bronx (IV)

Must Listen Song: “Last Revelation”

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Artist: Christopher Owens

Album: Lysandre

Must Listen Song: “Here We Go”

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Artist: The Civil Wars

Album: The Civil Wars

Must Listen Song: “The One That Got Away”

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Artist: Courrier

Album: Cathedrals of Color

Must Listen Song: “The City at Night”

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Artist: Courtney Jones

Album: All Things That Fall

Must Listen Song: “Back to Me”

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Artist: Cowboy Indian Bear

Album: Live Old, Die Young

Must Listen Song: “Does Anybody See You Out?”

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Artist: Cull the Heard

Album: Reap the Harvest

Must Listen Song: “I Want More”

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Artist: Cults

Album: Static

Must Listen Song: “We’ve Got It”
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Artist:
The Dangerous Summer

Album: Golden Record

Must Listen Song: “Catholic Girls”

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Artist: Danny Rush & the Designated Drivers

Album: Malverde

Must Listen Song: “SHT YR FKN MTH MY DRLNG”

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Artist: Dead Letter Circus

Album: The Catalyst Fire

Must Listen Song: “Say Your Prayers”

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Artist: Deaf Angel

Album: Brutally / Beautiful (Free download!)

Must Listen Song: “Let You Go”

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Artist: The Dear Hunter

Album: Migrant

Must Listen Song: “An Escape”

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Artist: Dresses

Album: Sun Shy

Must Listen Song: “Friends Are Dead”

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Artist: Eisley

Album: Currents

Must Listen Song: “Save My Soul”

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Artist: Elle Macho

Album: Import

Must Listen Song: “Hey Dude”

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Artist: Fialta

Album: Summer Winter

Must Listen Song: “Photographs”

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Artist: Free Dominguez

Album: Volcano + The Sea

Must Listen Song: “Line in the Sand”

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Artist: The Frisky Disco

Album: The Frisky Disco (Free download!)

Must Listen Song: “Bobo Cakes”

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Artist: Haim

Album: Days Are Gone

Must Listen Song: “The Wire”

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Artist: Hawthorne Heights

Album: Zero

Must Listen Song: “Darkside”

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Artist: The Head and the Heart

Album: Let’s Be Still

Must Listen Song: “Shake”

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Artist: Home By Hovercraft

Album: Are We Chameleons?

Must Listen Song: “Rocket”
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Artist:
IO Echo

Album: Ministry of Love

Must Listen Song: “Ministry of Love”

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Artist: The Joy Formidable

Album: Wolf’s Law

Must Listen Song: “This Ladder Is Ours”

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Artist: Kaela Sinclair

Album: Sun & Mirror

Must Listen Song: “Original Sin”

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Artist: Kate Nash

Album: Girl Talk

Must Listen Song: “Are You There, Sweetheart?”

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Artist: Kree Woods

Album: Talking Underwater

Must Listen Song: “Hip, Hip”

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Artist: Lily & Madeleine

Album: Lily & Madeleine

Must Listen Song: “Lost Upon the Sea”

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Artist: The Limousines

Album: Hush

Must Listen Song: “Bedbugs”

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Artist: The Lovely Bad Things

Album: The Late Great Whatever

Must Listen Song: “Fried Eyes”

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Artist: Manny the Martyr

Album: Brighter Sun (Free download!)

Must Listen Song: “Hit the Brink”

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Artist: The Material

Album: Everything I Want to Say

Must Listen Song: “Born to Make a Sound”

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Artist: Mona

Album: Torches & Pitchforks

Must Listen Song: “Goons (Baby, I Need it All)”

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Artist: Monahans

Album: Leveler

Must Listen Song: “Forward/Reverse”

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Artist: Monahans

Album: Roam an Empty Space

Must Listen Song: “Beat of a Thousand Drums”

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Artist: Myla Smith

Album: Hiding Places

Must Listen Song: “Lose Ya” or “Hiding Places”

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Artist: Nicholas Altobelli

Album: Without a Home

Must Listen Song: “Blackout”
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Artist:
Ours

Album: Ballet the Boxer 1

Must Listen Song: “Pretty Pain”

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Artist: Overseas

Album: Overseas

Must Listen Song: “Old Love”

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Artist: Panic Volcanic

Album: Freak Fuzz

Must Listen Song: “Set You Free”

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Artist: Paramore

Album: Paramore

Must Listen Song: “Fast In My Car”

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Artist: Piñata Protest

Album: El Valiente

Must Listen Song: “Life on the Border”

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Artist: The Polyphonic Spree

Album: Yes, It’s True

Must Listen Song: “You Don’t Know Me”

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Artist: The Postelles

Album: …And it Shook Me

Must Listen Song: “Oh My Luck”

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Artist: The Quaker City Night Hawks

Album: Honcho

Must Listen Song: “Lavanderia”

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Artist: Quiet Company

Album: A Dead Man On My Back: Shine Honesty Revisited

Must Listen Song: “…and You Said it Was Pretty Here”

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Artist:
Ra Ra Riot

Album: Beta Love

Must Listen Song: “Dance with Me”

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Artist: Reinventing Jude

Album: Sundial Soliloquy

Must Listen Song: “Wet Cement”

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Artist: The Reynolds Number

Album: The Reynolds Number

Must Listen Song: “Follow You”

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Artist: Rude King

Album: It’ll Probably be Alright

Must Listen Song: “The Answer’s Right In Front Of Me”

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Artist: The Sammus Theory

Album: Entitled Anonymous

Must Listen Song: “Scarlet Letter Devil”

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Artist: Sarah Hurst

Album: Fine to Wait

Must Listen Song: “Fascinate”

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Artist: Sean Michel

Album: Electric Delta

Must Listen Song: “Mississippi Mud”

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Artist: Shannon LaBrie

Album: Just Be Honest

Must Listen Song: “Gettin’ Tired”

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Artist: The Sounds

Album: Weekend

Must Listen Song: “Outlaw”

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Artist: Steven Graves

Album: Time Will Tell

Must Listen Song: “When Things Were Simple”

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Artist: Tony Ferraro & The Satans of Soft Rock

Album: Friend of Man and Beast Alike

Must Listen Song: “Satanic Verses”

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Artist: Triple SP

Album: Disrupting the Harmony

Must Listen Song: “Symptom”

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Artist: Twenty One Pilots

Album: Vessel

Must Listen Song: “House of Gold” & “Semi-Automatic”

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Artist: Un Chien

Album: Un Chien

Must Listen Song: "Gasoline Rainbow"

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Artist: W.A. Fite

Album: Builds. with. Age

Must Listen Song: “Dramatics”

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Artist: We’rewolves

Albums: We’rewolves

Must Listen Song: “Words of a Black Suit Politician”

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Artist: Whiskey Folk

Album: The Lonesome Underground

Must Listen Song: “Lights On the Highway”

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Artist: Wild Child

Album: The Runaround

Must Listen Song: “Crazy Bird”

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Artist: The Will Callers

Album: What Else is Left?

Must Listen Song: “House of Falling Cards”

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Top 10 EP’s of 2013 (
Spotify Playlist)

1.) Artist: Light the Fire

Album: Light the Fire

Must Listen Song: “All Or Nothing”

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2.) Artist: Drayter

Album: Drayter

Must Listen Song: “Scream”

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3.) Artist: Here Holy Spain

Album: Under the Undertow

Must Listen Song: “Golden Gun”

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4.) Artist: Daylight Industries

Album: Faith Healer

Must Listen Song: “Sit In”

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5.) Artist: Son of Swan

Album: Son of Swan

Must Listen Song: "Dog Days"

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6.) Artist: Charming Liars

Album: New Disorder

Must Listen Song: “I’m Losing You”

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7.) Artist: Enamored

Album: Requiem

Must Listen Song: “Never Again”

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8.) Artist: B-Ners

Album: Back to Mexico

Must Listen Song: “Trouble Dog”

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9.) Artist: The Circle

Album: Who I Am

Must Listen Song: “The Other Side”

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10.) Artist: Paco Estrada

Album: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Must Listen Song: “She”
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The Best of the Rest (EP’s) (
Spotify Playlist)

Artist: Amanda Ply

Album: Nothing More Than Me

Must Listen Song: “Stay”

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Artist: Anna Lombard

Album: Head Full of Bells

Must Listen Song: “Leave Town”

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Artist: The Bedlam Brothers

Album: Saddle Up

Must Listen Song: “We Ride Tonight”

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Artist: Best Coast

Album: Fade Away

Must Listen Song: “I Wanna Know”

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Artist: Betray the Dreamer

Album: Betray the Dreamer

Must Listen Song: “Transmissions”

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Artist: Black Books

Album: Aquarena

Must Listen Song: “Favorite Place”

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Artist: Black Taxi

Album: Chiaroscuro

Must Listen Song: “Gone”

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Artist: Brandon Callies Band

Album: Life is Still Good

Must Listen Song: “This Love” (Pantera cover)

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Artist: Bravo Delta

Album: Shutdown Sequence

Must Listen Song: “We Stand, We Fall”

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Artist: Chasin Aces

Album: Lost & Found

Must Listen Song: “Everglow”

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Artist: Criminal Birds

Album: Criminal Birds

Must Listen Song: “Chill Out”

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Artist: Descender

Album: Slow and Gold

Must Listen Song: “The Language”

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Artist: Emily Hearn

Album: Promises

Must Listen Song: “Found a Heart”

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Artist:
The Hanna Barbarians

Album: Spaceway Sessions, Vol. 2

Must Listen Song: "Oh, Spirit"
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Artist: Kirk Baxley

Album: Cold as a Stone

Must Listen Song: “Rock ‘n’ Roll in My Veins”

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Artist: Kirk Baxley

Album: Southern Son

Must Listen Song: “Times are Changing”

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Artist: Lovebettie

Album: Rise

Must Listen Song: “Alarm”

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Artist: Mike Mains & the Branches

Album: Everything

Must Listen Song: “In the Night”

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Artist: Motel Mirrors

Album: Motel Mirrors

Must Listen Song: “Meet Me On the Corner”

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Artist: Noelle Bean

Album: Bean EP

Must Listen Song: “Lois Lane”

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Artist: Northern Faces

Album: Southern Places

Must Listen Song: “Under My Skin”

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Artist:  Pageantry

Album: Friends of the Year

Must Listen Song: “Dirt”

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Artist: Phavian

Album: Meridian II

Must Listen Song: “Hexenring”

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Artist: Red Angel Theory

Album: Rise for Something

Must Listen Song: “Inception”

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Artist: Rodney Parker & The 50 Peso Reward

Album: The Apology: Part 2 (NOTE: Technically this is an LP, but since some of the tracks were on Part 1, I decided to classify it as an EP.)

Must Listen Song: “Things You Make Me Do”

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Artist: Royal Savages

Album: Royal Savages (Free download!)

Must Listen Song: “Racing Tears”

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Artist: Signs of Reason

Album: Wake Up

Must Listen Song: “Choke”

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Artist: Sleeperstar

Album: Blue Eyes

Must Listen Song: “Replay”

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Artist: Solice

Album: Live EP

Must Listen Song: “Paralyzed”

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Artist: Susy Sun

Album: Wanderlust

Must Listen Song: “Down”

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Artist: The Swear

Album: Gold and Hymns and Hell

Must Listen Song: “Gold and Hymns and Hell”

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Artist: Swindle Boys

Album: Motion

Must Listen Song: “Secrets In Our Fists”

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Artist: Technicolor Hearts

Album: Under The Big Blue Umbrella Sky

Must Listen Song: “Chorus of Friends”

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Artist: Triphazard

Album: Rushing Roulette

Must Listen Song: “Ribcage”

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Artist: The Unlikely Candidates

Album: Follow My Feet

Must Listen Song: “Just Breathe”

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Artist: Vinyl Pilot

Album: A Beautiful Disaster

Must Listen Song: “A Beautiful Disaster”

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Artist: We the Ghost

Album: Sinking Suspicion

Must Listen Song: “Take Somebody Home”

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Artist: White Elephant

Album: Greatest Hits, Vol. 1

Must Listen Song: “Song For The Sick And Hopeless”
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Top 10 Concerts of 2013:
1.)
Riverboat Gamblers on Tuesday, 8-20-2013 @ Rubber Gloves.
2.) The Dirty River Boys w/ Whiskey Folk & Matt the Cat Trio on Friday, 11-22-2013 @ Granada Theater.
3.) Nothing More w/ Little Sisters of the Poor, Ursa & The Last Place You Look on Friday, 6-21-2013 @ Trees.
4.) Ours on Saturday, 8-10-2013 @ The Prophet Bar.
5.) Twenty One Pilots on Thursday, 11-14-2013 @ House of Blues.
6.) Sick Puppies w/ Charming Liars on Tuesday, 9-17-2013 @ House of Blues.
7.) Band of Heathens w/ The Southern Renaissance & Jamie Wilson on Friday, 12-20-2013 @ Granada Theater.
8.) Centro-matic w/ Tony Ferraro & the Satans of Soft Rock on Thursday, 1-31-2013 @ Dan’s Silverleaf.
9.) Muse w/ Dead Sara on Wednesday, 3-13-2013 @ American Airlines Center.
10.) Ishi (Digital Wounds CD release show) on Friday, 5-3-2013 @ Granada Theater.
_
There’s no doubt that 2013 was the best year yet for this little ol’ blog, in terms of traffic an such. I’d also have to say it was the most fun year I’ve had doing this thus far.

Let’s see; In all, I saw (and reviewed) 127 concerts this year. Marking not only my 500th concert, but also my 600th within this past 365 days. I attended my 100th concert (and then some) at my favorite venue, The Curtain Club. I went to SXSW (something I’ll hopefully repeat in 2014) for the first time ever, which was truly something else. The copious amounts of free music going on during that must be what heaven is like. Seriously, 10+ hour  days spent seeing a ton of bands from all over the world was great.

Aside from that, 2013 saw the official launch of On Tour Monthly, an online webzine I’m fortunate enough to be a staff writer for and contribute reviews to from time to time. There’s a ton of potential with that, and the websites already generating some good buzz, and it’s just a privilege to be a small part of it.

I also met and formed a partnership with a newer organization in the Dallas music scene; DFW Undercover.

So, as my seventh year of doing this draws to a close, I have to say, I feel good about it all. I’ve managed to carve out a good little niche for myself, but above that, I’ve met some awesome people, be them band members or fellow fans like myself.

And while I don’t say this nearly often enough, thanks to anyone and everyone who has ever visited this site. Thanks to everyone who has ever read anything I wrote or shared a review I did, or anything else that has been supportive. I’ve said since I started doing this that even if I can reach just one person and turn them on to a band they weren’t familiar with before, I’ll be satisfied. I still stand by that sentiment.

After all, whatever your passion is in, you don’t do that with the sole goal of getting famous or anything. Sure, that would be a nice by-product, but that’s not what it’s all about. Whether you’re a photographer, a musician, an aspiring writer like myself, or whatever, it’s about the sheer love you have for what you enjoy doing, because it’s an extension of yourself. And in the end, that’s more than enough.

Anyway, I hope you’ll all continue to enjoy the in-depth concert reviews I’ll be posting in the year to come.

Happy 2014!

Sunday, July 14th, 2013 – Kentucky Knife Fight

What better way to cap off a busy weekend of concert going then with a show at the Doublewide in Dallas, and what better band to see than the St. Louis based Kentucky Knife Fight.

Yes, nearly six months after their last stop in Dallas, the quintet was again on tour and stopping by what has really become their home away from home, and not only do I mean the city of Dallas, but also the Doublewide itself.

They were sandwiched between a couple of local Dallas groups, and the first act on stage this night was The Drama Queens.

The newer group (according to their Facebook page they’ve only been around about six months) only gave the crowd a small taste of what they were like, with their set clocking in at 20-minutes, during which time they only played four songs.

I wasn’t too keen on them at first, though their opening number slowly grew on me, and by the time they reached their next song, “Old Love”, I was feeling it a little more. “…This song’s about old loves…” said singer and guitarist Jason Burt, adding, “We all got ‘em.” Things continued to get better with their next song, which Jason acknowledged was written by a friend of his, who happened to be in the audience. He also pointed out they had changed it up some. “…Not because your version wasn’t the best…” he told his friend, “But because I couldn’t do it as good as you can.” It was a really catchy number, and the guy who wrote it even joined them on stage to do a little singing, as well as some picking on the guitar, making it all the more memorable. I believe it was also on that song that guitarist Justin Yantz played either a lap steel guitar or a pedal steel (from where I stood I couldn’t actually see, though caught a glimpse of the instrument when it was brought off stage.) giving it a nice sound. And I felt their final track of the night was the best yet.

Upon finishing it and announcing they were done, the sound guy informed them they had time for one more and Jason answered him, saying that was all they had prepared.

Their music channeled a bit of a classic rock sound, complete with keys, courtesy of Daniel Creamer, and there was even another musician who did some back up singing from time to time and shook a tambourine. Maybe you’ll like it from the get go, or perhaps you’ll be more like me and it will take a bit to warm up to the band, but in the end, you probably will end up liking their stuff.

Kentucky Knife Fight was next, and for me, they were whom this night was about. Actually, I think a lot of people felt the same, because they had the Doublewide pretty packed, which is an accomplishment on any night, let alone a Sunday night. The last time they came through down, they brought with them a large amount of new material, and many of those songs I quickly fell in love with, so, now that their latest record “Hush Hush” was out, I was looking forward to hearing those songs again, and better yet actually knowing them.

At 10:59, they were ready to roll, and James Baker got them going with a drum roll on his snare, while the guitars and bass filed in soon after. As they started that, front man Jason Holler closed his eyes, completely immersing himself in the music while he waited for his mark, which was mere seconds away. “Been up for days at the Tic Toc Inn, with some old habits and some new found friends…” he sang, the opening line for “Bad Blood”, in his somewhat gravelly, somewhat nasally sounding voice, two characteristics that make him one of the most recognizable singers you’ll ever come across. It could have been easy to keep your eyes glued on him during that short song, but the blaring guitar notes that Curt Brewer and Nate Jones were cranking out couldn’t be overlooked, nor could their high energy performance. In fact, Nate could often be seen dropping to one knee during that song, then springing back up as he constantly moved around his little portion of the stage.

They may be an alternative country band, but the songs from “Hush Hush” really blur the lines between that and Rock ‘n’ Roll, and “Bad Blood” is a prime example of that. And luckily, this night they drew heavily on that newest album of theirs.

Their other records didn’t go overlooked, though, and once that first song was over, Curt swapped out to his banjo, while Holler pulled out his harmonica, grabbing his bullet mic and playing it into that. That was a pleasant surprise, because I wasn’t expecting “Dream So Sweet”, one of my favorite tracks from 2010’s “We’re All Nameless Here” album, and it gave me hope that they might do a personal favorite of mine later in the show.

They switched back to rock mode after that, Curt going back to his guitar, and Holler again reached for his bullet microphone, now draping it around his neck. Bassist Jason Koenig then launched them into one of the instant classics from “Hush Hush”, “Misshapen Love”. Curt bounced around while shredding on his axe, having a style that’s truly all his own, while James and Koenig created the dynamic rhythm section, complimenting each other even a little more on that number than they do on some of their other material. All the while their throng of fans was singing along, particularly near the end, when Holler repeated the first verse, this time into the bullet mic. “Why you wanna go and wreck my life? Why you wanna go and bleed me dry?…”

Afterwards, they pulled out another old gem, and it was the one I was hoping to hear more than anything else this night, “Always A Bribe, Never A Bride”. The song’s absolutely intoxicating, from the sheer catchiness of it, to the elements you’ll only hear on the live version, like when Holler Curt and Nate harmonized on the second chorus, the music briefly subsiding, making sure the harmonies packed a punch. While they have some fun with the final line, with Holler singing one part, like, “…Every man…”, then pausing for a few seconds before delivering the next part, “Every woman…” then keeping the crowd on their toes as they await the final bit, “Eve-ry breath.” The most remarkable thing, though, was how coordinated they all were, playing right when Holler would open his mouth, and there were no real cues to signal them, at least not that I saw. Goes to show what shape you’ll be in after near constant touring, I guess.

They weren’t quite done with the older stuff yet, but when addressing the crowd Holler noted they were going to do another new song, “Father”, which spins a captivating tale revolving around crime. It’s also a song that pushes Holler as a vocalist, showing off his true prowess as a singer. The final lines, “Walking for the door gonna see if you really mean it. When you say you’re not afraid to spread my brains across the ceiling. Officer there’s no stopping what’s lurking in the weeds this season. There’s so much evil unborn in this world for no rhyme or reason.”, are repeated several times over, without a single break in between sentences, forcing him to strategically reload his lungs, and do so while still going about singing. If you listen to the recorded version, it sounds exactly like that live, and unless you’ve witnessed it first hand, you can’t truly grasp the effort that goes into that song, and it’s something you’ll marvel at.

Next, they offered up their final classic of the night, “Herschel Walker”, which comes from their 2007 debut “The Wolf Crept, The Children Slept”. Many of their fans just soaked in the new stuff, but this one of the few songs that had nearly everyone passionately belting out the lyrics, jumping about, and just having an all around good time.

They had been hurrying through their set thus far, but now took more of a time out, and Holler stated how good it felt to be back in Dallas, and Texas for that matter. “…I can drink Lone Star beer again. That’s always a good day…” he said. By that time, his band mates were ready to continue, Curt again wielding his banjo (for the final time this night) as they got “Paper Flowers Two” going. Then came the title track, “Hush Hush”, which James got going with some powerful beats, and “Love the Lonely” seemed a nice contrast to that rocking number, still allowing some fiery riffs from the guitarists, though also incorporating a low end and deadly rhythm section.

With that, sadly their stint in Dallas had reached the end, though they had one last song to close out their 42-minute long set, and that was “Gunsmoke”. Curts’ opening riffs elicit a real Western sound from the old movies and TV shows, setting the beast of a song apart from their other stuff. It wound up being an excellent last song, ending on the same high-octane note they had started with, Holler snarling on the chorus, “…I wanna leave in the morning while my heart’s still pumping and I still have something to prove to you…”

Kentucky Knife Fight is never the same band, and each time they come through town the several dozen hours they’ve collectively spent on stages across the country shows on them, and such was the case this night. They were so much tighter, nothing short of a well-oiled machine, proving that as far as touring bands go (and yes, I do mean even big name national touring acts), you’ll be incredibly hard pressed to find ones on the same level as KKF.

Each of the members brings an insane amount of talent to the table, and as a working unit they are an undeniable force, which ensures you’ll be transfixed on them.

As far as their new stuff goes, it’s unquestionably the most powerful music the band has made to date, and I was very happy that they played every single song I wanted to hear this night. You can find “Hush Hush” on iTUNES, along with their other albums, so do check them out. As for shows, this tour has pretty much wrapped up, but they do have a few gigs scattered about the Midwest in the month of August and they’ll be playing (mainly) around their home state of Missouri in September, too, so visit their TOUR PAGE for dates and cities.

Closing out the night was a band by the name of The Trophy Wives, which was a super group of sorts, featuring most of the members of one of Dallas’s best alternative country bands, Somebody’s Darling. That is to say that David Ponder and Wade Cofer were the guitarists, while Nate Wedan and Michael Talley completed the rhythm section, on drums and bass, respectively, with Alexis Sanchez handling the singing as well as an additional guitar, and completing the band was keyboardist Daniel Creamer.

They started with what Alexis pointed out was one of their only original songs they did, with the majority of their material being covers. They mined more of the blues genre, with a bit of soul and rock thrown in, and while long (it lasted seven to eight minutes), it was a really good song. I stuck around through the next one, which I believe was a cover of a Jimmy Reed song, but decided to bail after that.

The reason was partly because blues isn’t my thing, even though the guys pull it off very, and it was also due to the fact that being out until two in the AM the previous two nights was starting to catch up to me, and I didn’t want to do it again.

Nonetheless, if you do like blues music, go check out The Trophy Wives sometime when they’re doing a show. They’re a super talented group and one you’ll surely like.

Overall, it was a fantastic bill this night, but there’s no denying that the majority of the people there came to see Kentucky Knife Fight. Which makes me think it won’t be too much longer before these guys work their way up to headlining gigs when they come through town. It’s just a matter of time.

Thursday, January 24th, 2013 – Kentucky Knife Fight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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