Saturday, August 24th, 2013 – We the Ghost

A weekend isn’t complete without spending at least one night at Curtain Club seeing a show. That’s not to say I’m there ever single weekend… But just about every single weekend, and this night was a good night to see a show there.

Five bands were rocking the stage, most of whom I had heard of before, though hadn’t seen, and ever others where brand new to me, which meant it was surely going to be an interesting night.

Starting off the show was a young band by the name of Outcast Hero, who calls the suburb of Flower Mound home. And by young, I mean that each of five members where in their mid to late teens.

They opened their 34-minute set with “Innocence”, one of many originals they did this night, instantly revealing they had some nice chops. It was a really good song, and guitarists Bill Hall and Ben Jester, bassist Marco Molina matching the song, exploding when it roared to life, as did front man Kevin Easley. They didn’t have many onlookers, but the handful of people that were there seemed glued to the stage. They knocked out several more songs, with Kevin occasionally adding a third guitar to the mix, and also playing a keyboard from time to time, before they got to a cover song.

“…You might know this one.” one of them said, before they busted into Jet’s “Are You Gonna be My Girl?”, doing a pretty spot on version of it. They then offered up a few more originals, and sandwiched in between these final three songs was the piano heavy “Home”, which was surprisingly beautiful, and probably the best song of their set, in my opinion.

Given their age, they were quite good, and came off looking like they had been rocking stages longer than what they probably have been. That’s not to say there’s not some room for improvement, as far as becoming more cohesive and such, but that will no doubt come with time and getting more experience under their belt.

Taking the stage next, and on the opposite end of the experience spectrum, was Spill.

I had seen these veteran rockers once before, doing an acoustic set here at the Curtain a few years back, and it became readily apparent that they were a completely different beast when they were plugged in.

They hit the stage with the strength of a hurricane, and only managed to get better the longer they played. Todd Hunter was a beast of a front man, jumping around here and there, even spinning in the air while doing so, and just commanded your full attention. Guitarists David Binnings and Seth Ludeman, bassist Larry Henderson and their new drummer did a great job at holding their own, though, each one being energetic and slick with their playing, so no matter where you looked, there was something constantly going on.

They ran through several songs during their time on stage, I believe doing the three singles that comprise the “The Cruelty of Time” EP, which would be “The Sway” and “Silly Little Things”. It was “Promised Heart” that was a truly gripping song, though, and one that I could easily see being widely played on the radio, if it can only get that kind of attention first. “This is a song I promised my son I’d do a music video for, but I didn’t take the proper steps…” Todd stated to the crowd before starting the song, adding that he’d appreciate anyone who wanted to film it with their phone and send him the video. “…That way I won’t be a failure of a father, again…” he joked.

It was a sweet love song at its core, and balancing out the serious stuff was some more humorous covers, like their rendition of Taylor Swifts’ “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”. Yes, they really did cover that pop song, but they stepped it up so much, making it a true rock song, I didn’t even know what it was until they reached the chorus, proving it was a far cry from Swift’s original version.

there show was filled with many other songs, which I sadly don’t know, as well as some jokes, like when Todd pointed out they were probably one of the only bands to get two plaques on the “Wall of Fame” at the Curtain Club, pointing out their current one at the very end. “…We’re on the way out… After this I think it’s just going to fall off into this trash can over here…” he said laughing, referring to their plaque being on the very end.

They were by far the best, most professional band of the night, and they brought an arena-sized show to this club setting. So know I have to ask myself, “If Spill has been around for thirteen years, why have I barely heard of them?”

Yeah, I have seen their plaque(s) over the seven and a half years I’ve been a patron of the Curtain Club, but had never seen them do a real show until now. Perhaps I’ve just been living under a rock or something, and didn’t even know it.

Hit up their FACEBOOK PAGE to stay up to date on their future shows, and you can buy their three current singles in either iTUNES or BANDCAMP. At the very least, just give the music a listen.

Following them was another long running band, The Farstar, who has a decade long career under their belt.

They were another group I had heard of before, going as far back as the days of Myspace (that dates things, doesn’t it?), but had never seen them, and recalled little about their music. In fact, through all these years I, for whatever reason, assumed they were an indie band, and I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Their first song got them off to an explosive start, and they didn’t let up much with their second song. I think part of why I was so impressed was because it was so different from what I was expecting, being full-blown Rock ‘n’ Roll.

“This song’s called The Healing Kiss of a Blowtorch.” said front man Shannon Barrett, setting up the song from their “Strange Kids” EP, before segueing it into the subsequent song from that record, “I Used to Dream of Astronauts”, which was a bi slower than what they had been doing. Afterwards they dug deep into their catalog, pulling out a song from their first release, “It All Boils Down to Speed”. That wasn’t the only thing they had planned from “Broken Down and Wandering”, though, and they followed it with the lead track from the album, “Welcome to the Show”. I believe it was also on that song that they welcomed former guitarist Chris Hathcock on stage, adding a third guitar to the mix. Shannon explained it afterwards, saying that Chris was part of the band when they wrote and performed that song, and that it only seemed right to have him join them as a guest on it.

They cranked out another song before finding out they had enough time for one more, which Shannon left up to the crowd, giving them three or four options to choose from. “Cash Only” won out, concluding their 38-minute long set.

Kind of like the band before them, I began wondering why I hadn’t seen The Farstar before now., and how I’m going to have to start seeing them a little more often.

Their songs are fantastic, especially the lyrics, which are usually pretty deep, and their performance was really enjoyable. Each of them, bassist Michael Maney, guitarist Chris Lockaby, drummer Lance Lindsey, as well as their other guitarist and Shannon killed it on stage, constantly moving about and doing things to keep you watching.

I don’t think they play just too often now, but stay tuned to their FACEBOOK PAGE for show updates. As for their music, you can get most of it for free on BANDCAMP, while their latest LP is only five bucks. Check it out.

Considering I had been here since early on, things were moving rather quickly, and next up it was time for We the Ghost.

The Tulsa, Oklahoma based group was returning to their Dallas home one last time before releasing their new record a few months from now, which meant this would be the last time for their Dallas crowd to hear some of their older songs live. They made that point clear on Facebook in advance of the show, and honestly was a key reason I came to the show in the first place, to get one last live fix of some of their “classic” material.

Not only that, but this was also the first time (at least that I had seen them) where they had the full band in Dallas, with violinist Jocelyn Rowland finally accompanying them. I caught just a few songs with the full band at one of their gigs during SXSW back in March, so I knew what a difference that one instrument could make, and was looking forward to hearing/seeing a full show with it.

The night wasn’t all about the older stuff, though, and they opened their 37-minute long set with their newest single, “Take Somebody Home”. “All eyes up front, all eyes on me…” sang acoustic guitarist and lead singer Beau Tyler, which seemed to serve as a call to the audience, and one that was hard ignore, given their catchy, original brand of music.

“…I think I sprained my ankle last time we played here…” Beau mentioned, joking that it was nice to be back and on two feet, before doing a song from the “White Noise” EP, “Let Me Know”. Jocelyns’ violin proved to be a critical part of the song, and one I never really realized was missing before, but it made this love song all the more beautiful. As it came to an end, Beau hopped up on one of their boxes at the front of the stage, which had the band’s name written on it, holding his guitar in the air as he picked at to bring the song to a close. They then wound it right into another newer song, which I’m guessing may be called “Love in Reverse”, since that’s part of the chorus, and followed it with yet another song I was unsure of.

Dain Samuelson, who stood on the drum riser next to drummer Jimmy Adams, really got to put his djembe to use on their next song, the more reggae sounding “She’s Gonna Fly Again”, which also featured a special guest. Towards the end of the track, Matt McHan ceded his guitar over to Neil Swanson, who briefly joined the band on stage. “The Son of Swan, himself.” Said Beau introducing the stellar guitarist by referencing the instrumental trio he plays in. Neil riffed for several seconds, adding a great element to the song. While Neil was shredding, though, I couldn’t help but look at bassist Ben Mosier, who’s a killer bass player with some serious swagger, but as a guitarist, he is still one of the best I’ve ever seen.

The hits from their first EP kept coming with “Your Remedy”. “I can be your cure. It’s the only thing that I ever know for sure…” Beau crooned on the chorus of the song, a song that I really hope isn’t one that’s being worked out. The mood got a little more fun when they busted out their rendition of Paula Abduls’ “Straight Up”, which they’ve certainly left their mark on, keeping a fairly pop based song, while making some changes so it better fits their style of music.

With their 37-minute long set drawing to a close, they pulled out some of their best material, like “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”, and their small gathering of fans seemed ecstatic that they ended with “Right Where You Want”, a song from Beau’s previous band, that has (thankfully) found a new life with We the Ghost, because it really is one of their best songs.

This was probably the best WtG show I’ve seen, and despite a favorite of mine, “Wash These Sins Away”, being noticeable absent, it was still a nice assortment of songs they played. It was also nice to see a full band We the Ghost show, and that violin does help propel their already unique sound to a whole new level. And on another note about the show, I enjoyed the incense they had burning during their set (an element that I’m guessing they’ve borrowed from singer/songwriter and friend  Paco Estrada), which creates more of a setting and seems to make the show more intimate.

If you want to hear something different, you should really give We the Ghost a listen, because I’ll guarantee it’s different then just about anything else you’ve heard before.

You can find both of their EP’s in iTUNES, and they will have another record coming out sometime before the year’s end. As for shows, they’ll be playing a couple of gigs at the College Bar in Stillwater, OK, one on September 20th and the other on November 1st. They’ll also be back in North Texas at the Queen City Music Hall in Fort Worth on September 21st.

It was late, around one in the morning when the Bedlam Brothers took the stage to round out the show. The time didn’t deter their small army of fans and friends, though, who moved right up front once they started.

“…Please save me, save me from myself…” crooned guitarist and vocalist Nick Santa Maria, as the southern rock trio kicked things off with the very southern rock sounding song, “Save Me”. Despite the softer start it gets off to, it proved to be an excellent opening song once it sprang to life, and if anyone was feeling tired, it surely woke them up.

“Dallas!!!” screamed Nick as soon as they finished that song, with drummer John Flores immediately firing up the next one, the heavy and loud “We Ride Tonight”. They weren’t about to slow down after that, either. Perhaps they were trying to make up for some of the lost time (since they had told fans they’d be going on earlier than when they actually did), or maybe they had planned to have this flow in the first place. Nonetheless, they barreled right along, launching into the rocking “First Time”, which got nearly everyone moving around.

They had definitely hit their stride by this point, and in taking a short break in between songs, bassist Craig McLaughlin mentioned that their next song required the audience to sing along. Nick led the audience in what to sing, just to make sure they knew, though it didn’t seem like people not knowing or forgetting it would be a problem, what with this dedicated little fanbase. The crowd did their part, shouting out, “Mary was a tortured soul!” after Nick belted out the name that is the songs title, “Mary Rose”.

They, or rather Nick, got a little nostalgic with their next couple songs, doing one that was from his previous band, Skylines. They entered into more of a rock realm with “Not Enough”, which featured a truly wicked guitar solo, and followed it up with another song from past projects, which Nick noted also happened to be a Skylines song for a bit. In between those two tracks, it was mentioned that John had thrown his back out recently, but was still playing, a feat that was both applauded and laughed at. Craig said something along the lines of, “Give it up for premature ageing.”, getting a laugh out of everyone, band mates included.

John’s back wasn’t the only that was out, either, and after that other song his hi-hat cymbal broke. It didn’t seem like a big deal, though, and was fixed quickly, and while he worked on in, Nick filled the dead air with ease, chatting with everyone and thanking them for coming out and staying out late.

They got back to it with “Run Run Run”, then slowed things down a bit with “240 Miles”. Upon finishing it, Nick joked that they had now met their quota for the night, and that they were going to bring it back up for the final song of their 38-minute long set. It was another older one of his, which had, had life in two of his previous bands, and he added he was fortunate enough to have a band mate from each of those past projects in attendance this night. Everyone seemed all too familiar with “My 9 to 5”, again singing along as the band cranked it out, and at one point in the song, Craig hopped up on the drum riser, facing John, as they both rocked out.

The Bedlam Brothers rounded out this night perfectly, delivering a pretty intense show, that I think was the best one I’ve seen them do yet.

They have that great, gritty southern rock sound, from the music to the vocals, and a raw, explosive show to match. A show that gets better each time I see them, I might add.

Give a listen to their “Saddle Up” EP, which is under six bucks in iTUNES, and keep tabs on their FACEBOOK PAGE for updates about future shows.

It was another killer night at my favorite Dallas haunt, and I’ll say it again, because I haven’t in awhile. The Curtain Club is the best place to go if you want to see a good local rock show, and every weekend, there’s at least something that will catch your interest.

Friday, March 8th, 2013 – Saddle Up

Gorilla Productions had put together an epic lineup of bands at the Curtain Club. I mean, a ten band bill does count as epic, right?

The main attraction however was The Bedlam Brothers, who were celebrating the release of their first record, “Saddle Up”.

The doors opened at six this night (early by any standards), but I didn’t arrive until about seven, which meant I missed The Neckties.

I’ve been a fan of the band for about a year now, but have yet to see a show, and I guess it just wasn’t in the cards this night. Check ‘em out, though. They have an album, “Chop and Change”, available, and it’s pretty good.

So, when I did get there a guy named Ty Dillon and his band were playing.

As I walked in the country sound caught me a little off guard, since I’m so used to seeing rock shows here. After one of his songs, Ty acknowledged this and joked about it. “…This looks like the venue that would have a pit, so I’m just gonna say it. “OPEN UP THE PIT!” he screamed, which was quite funny, since he was wearing a cowboy hat and he and his band appeared pretty straight laced.

What I saw of their set was a mix of covers (which I didn’t know) and a few originals, including one titled, “The Hat Song”. He mentioned it came from a very personal experience, when a girl he had been dating quickly got in a relationship with one of his good friends. So, and this is the abridged version, he said happened to be at another friends house where the first mentioned friend had left his hat. So Ty asked whose it was, and upon finding out who it belonged to, took it.

His original stuff was great, and really well rounded for a younger musician, and like I said, I didn’t know the covers, but they still did very good renditions of them. There were just a few times he tried to hit some higher notes and had trouble pulling it off, but that was the only issue I heard, and nothing that can’t be fixed in time. That aside, he’s a promising musician that should have a good future ahead of him.

He mentioned that his debut record would be dropping in a few weeks, so check out iTunes for that. He also has the single, “If You Only Knew” for sale there, too.

Next up was a band by the name Uneasy Pilgrim.

They didn’t start out well in my opinion, and the guy who sang their first couple of songs and the final one didn’t have much of a voice on him. Things improved slightly when, I believe it was their drummer, took over lead vocal and rhythm guitar duties, forcing the other guy back on the guys, while the keyboard player moved over to the drums. Yeah, it was an odd change, but it worked. They cranked out two more in this format, and this guys voice was much more enjoyable, and even the music sounded a bit better, but it still didn’t draw me in, and my attention waned when they reverted to the other lineup for their fifth and final song.

They weren’t truly bad (believe me, I’ve seen truly bad), but in the end, they were easily forgettable.

Luckily, that prove to be the only rough patch of the show, and Kirk Baxley and his backing band, the Old No. 7’s, got things back on track.

It had been far too long since I last saw Mr. Baxley. In fact, I don’t even recall when I last saw one of his shows, and I was excited to see, or rather hear, what he had been up to.

They kicked off their 21-minute long set with a song from Kirk’s newest EP, and that song was “Drive”. It was a pretty catchy tune, and while lyrically it had a country vibe to it, “…Pretty girl by my side, she’s just along for the ride. It’s just another Friday night with nothing to do but drive…”, the music had a little rock flare to it. It was great combination, and made for an excellent song. They went right into song, which was more of a love tune, and afterwards, Kirk formally introduced his band. “…Can I get seven hand claps for the Old Number Seven’s!?” he asked the crowd. No one seemed to enthusiastic about it at first, but he quickly motivated people to get into it, saying something like, “Come on, Dallas! We didn’t come all this way for that!” Its instances like that where you see his personality from his rock band days come through, which is a major help in getting the crowd engaged. They were able to squeeze the ballad, “Constantly”, into this short set, and then did performed the title track of Kirk’s newest EP, “Cold as a Stone”. They really brought things down with those two songs, but they were about to make up for it with the final song they had time to play. I had almost completely forgotten about “Rock ‘n’ Roll In My Veins”, but it just took a few seconds of the song for me to recall it. Most of their music may be considered alt-country, but not that song. It’s a rock tune through and through, and in Kirk expresses his love for both genres. “…I got rock ‘n’ roll in my veins, but I love Waylon Jennings just the same…” he belts out at one part, with a fierceness to his voice. During a little instrument break, where his lead guitarist, bassist and drummer cut loose, Kirk picked up a tambourine and played it for a few moments, before suddenly tossing it to an unsuspecting audience member. “Here you go!” he said, as he went back to his guitar, while the tambourine crashed to the floor, since the person hadn’t been expecting it.

That was it, and it had just really started getting good, too.

I guess since I haven’t seen him as a country musician much, I still find it a little weird. I guess I’m just so used to him running around the stage, interacting with the fans and being a charismatic frontman. Well, he’s still pretty charismatic now, just in a slightly different way.

He’s still one of the best singer’s around, though, and regardless of what genre he’s doing, he still sounds fantastic. And I do like the more country stuff. In fact, he seemed more at home performing it now then whenever I last saw him.

Just check out his “Cold as a Stone” EP and find out for yourself. And if you like it, go catch a show. He’s got a few coming up, beginning with March 23rd at Zapatos in College Station. On the 29th they’ll be down at All Bottoms Up in Harker Heights. April 6th will find them back in Dallas, performing at the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, which takes place on Main Street in Dallas. They’ll also be in Kennedale at Red’s Roadhouse on April 12th.

The onslaught of country music continued with the next band, but in a very different way from any of the bands before, and even the ones that would follow.

With their first song The Calamity Janes showed everyone just what they were in for, with the impressive harmonies of the three Texas sisters, Courtney Childs-Mock, Arwyn Benson and Alyssa Yancey. Each of them had amazing voices, and mixed together, especially on their up tempo opening number, it was impossible not to get reeled in. A lot of what they did during their 25-minute set was covers, such as their next tune. “…We stole this song, and we sing the shit out of it…” one of them said, before starting a cover of The Pistol Annies, “Hell On Heels”. They did indeed “sing the hell out of it”, and I liked that it showcased each of their individual voices, yet also included more of the harmonies, which was certainly their specialty. After that song, they mentioned that they hailed from Waxahachie. “…There used to be a lot of barns there. Now there’s a lot of people.” Said one of them, adding, “We don’t like it.” I think their next song was called “Life’s Wildcards”, and they followed it with a couple other songs. They were sounding pretty good, but so was their backing band, which was comprised of Doug Pitt on the pedal steel guitar, Tanner Laine on guitar, James Kinard on bass, and drummer, Donald Wall. They then did yet another cover, and it was one of the Dixie Chicks songs, “Long Time Gone”, which was a highlight of their set. They had time for one more after that, and closed with an original, which, as they put it, was about their “crazy middle sister”. “I represent that statement!” Alyssa proudly said. With her red hair and prominently displayed tattoos, she did stand out more from the other two, and that was more or less what the song was about, that she was living life the way she wanted to and having fun.

Sound wise, they didn’t even remotely fit with any of the other bands on the bill, but that didn’t keep them from putting on one of the best performances of the night.

Their incredibly tight harmonies are gripping, and is definitely the backbone of their music. They’ve also written some really catchy stuff, and even the covers they put their own twist on.

I guess the point is, this is a band you need to see, and regardless of what your thoughts on country music are, I feel certain that anyone who listens to The Calamity Janes will become a fan.

So, head over to their REVERBNATION PAGE and check out some of their stuff. Also, they have a gig on April 13th in Rowlett at the Dickey’s BBQ Car Show. They’ll also be playing the Texas Tea Music Festival in Denton on May 24th.

Loyal Sally was the next band up, and I was looking forward to finally seeing them live.

They’ve played the Curtain many times before, and in fact have a plaque on their “Wall of Fame”, but I never seemed to be able to make it to one of their shows before, be it here or another venue.

As the curtain opened on them, Michael Morgan began their first song, playing a catchy series of chords on his acoustic guitar. “So, this song starts with Michael playing this crazy music for a minute.” Said singer and electric guitarist, Michael Lindblom. “Then the lyrics start right when I start singing…” he added. It was pretty hard not to laugh at that. The song proved to be every bit as good as the intro had been. “…Let’s get familiar…” Michael M. told the audience when they finished that song, urging them all to move closer. He continued, “…Michael’s going to stage dive after this song.” Michael L. went with the bit for a second, but then quickly dismissed the notion. Probably for the best, too, ‘cause the crowd was pretty sparse up front. They may have two EP’s in their discography, but they did another song that isn’t on either, but as phenomenal as it was, hopefully it’ll make the cut on their next record. They followed it with a song from their first release of 2012, “Things From Thoughts”, and it was my personal favorite of theirs, “Stereo”. It was another that started with some sweet acoustic sounds, but was kicked up a notch when drummer, Stacy Blankenship, and their bassist added some rhythm to it. “I’ll never make it if I hear what they say. I’ll know I’m wrong if I do it the right way…” sang Michael L. on the second verse, which is just one instance of great lyrics that populate their songs. Afterwards, they asked the audience the one question I’m sure every band asks, “How many of y’all are drinking tonight?” Several people cheered or raised their hand, but then Michael M. asked a question I hadn’t heard posed before. “How many of y’all have condoms?” The crowd was relatively silent about that one. Michael’s response was something like, “We have more beers than condoms. I like the direction this is headed, America.” Yeah, they definitely have a sense of humor about them, and it comes out well on stage, but they didn’t let that sidetrack them from the music, and another pretty captivating tune, “The Movies”.  They busted out a new song after it, before closing their 25-minute long set with the final track from the “Pleased to Meet You!” EP, “Bye Bye”. Michael L. even ditched his guitar on that one, and the free reign it gave him transformed him into quite the frontman. That also served as a fitting song to end with, and really gave a sense of finality to the show, while also leaving you wanting more.

One thing I learned from the bands show; I need to start frequenting more Loyal Sally gigs. Like I said, I’d heard of them before, and even had gotten each EP, but I didn’t anticipate them being as fantastic live as what they were. Really, these guys are a force to be reckoned with. I now see why they recently won a semi-final round of the Hard Rock Rising competition, and I’m sure they were more than deserving of it.

The acoustic guitar gives their music a bit of a folk sound, but often it packed in just as much rock as the electric instruments did, while all of those of course added the rock style to it. All that makes for an interesting, more unusual blend of music, which you really need to hear.

Both of their records can be purchased in ITUNES, and catch them at the second annual Big Folkin’ Festival on March 30th at The Door. Also check them out on April 11th at the Hard Rock Cafe in Dallas, for the final round of the Hard Rock Rising competition.

Things got more into the rock swing with the next act, which was The Unlikely Candidates.

Just about two months before, I saw them for the first time right here, and was eager to see them again.

The five-piece pop/rock outfit got off to a great start with their first song, and like the band before them, they have an acoustic guitarist, Cole, which a bit of a different vibe to this radio friendly music. They barreled through their 25-minute set with a couple more songs, before vocalist, Kyle, asked if there were any fans of The Strokes in attendance.  The band’s sound is similar to that of The Strokes, making them a good band to cover and they did a spot on job of “Someday”. In fact, and I think I said this last time too,  but I think it was even a hair better than The Strokes original. There was only time enough for two more songs at this point, but they had saved two of their catchiest for last. By that, I mean The Unlikely Candidates are no strangers to the “hook”, which is something these final two definitely had. They wrapped things up with their current single, which is “Follow My Feet”. “There’s a fork in the road in front of me, at the crossroads of identity. The devil is standing to the left, he says, “Either way they both lead to death”…” Kyle sang, before drummer, Kevin, lead guitarist, Josiah, and bassist, Brenton, tore into the song. Even if you don’t know it, it’ll still have you singing along, even if it’s just on the simple line form the chorus, “…Yeah, so follow, follow, follow my feet…”.

Their set, albeit short, was a standout of the night. Kyle’s voice is incredible, while their music is very easy to get into, and is not only something you could easily sing along to, but also something you might find yourself dancing to. And the acoustic guitar adds an excellent layer to their pop/rock sound. Definitely a band you need to experience if you haven’t already, and after one show, they’ll likely have you coming back for more.

You can find their single, “Follow My Feet”, in iTunes, and hopefully more singles, or even an EP or LP, will follow soon enough. And be sure to check out their FACEBOOK PAGE to be kept in the loop of future shows.

Next up was the main event of the night, and while not the headliner, this show was all about The Bedlam Brothers and the release of their latest EP.

Their 44-minute long set began with some intro music playing, before their new drummer, Juan, stepped on stage and got behind his drum kit, which was set up sideways. It looked a little weird, but I like that, because it makes it easier to see what the drummer at work. He proceeded to lay down some beats, before Craig McLaughlin walked on stage and completed the rhythm section when he added some bass into the mix. After a moment, vocalist and guitarist, Nick Santa Maria, got on stage, completing the trio, and then they were off. They tore through their opening number, which at the end they whipped into the lead track from their “Saddle Up” EP, “Run Run Run”. It’s even more intense live than it comes across on the CD, seeming a little faster paced, while the sweat guitar solo and riffs sound their best in the live environment. Plus you got that catchy little chorus, “Run, run, run as fast as you can. Gotta leave this town, I’m a wanted man…”. Once they finished it, Nick thanked everyone for coming out to the show. “…We may be from Austin now, but Dallas is home…” he said. After all, both he and Craig are from the area, which makes it all the more impressive that later in the show, Nick said this was both the most fun show he had played in Dallas, and also the best crowd. The thing about that was you could tell he was being sincere, and not just saying it to make the audience feel important. They next busted out “Not Enough”, an older song of Nick’s, which is really at its best with the southern rock grit that The Bedlam Brothers give it. “I’m gonna need your help on this next song…” said Nick when they finished. He coached the crowd through their part a few times, as he belted out, “Maaaaarrry Roooose!” a few times a cappella, getting the fans to then shout out, “Mary was a tortured soul!” With a quick beat, Juan then started them on the first single from their album, “Mary Rose”, which is by far one of the strongest songs in their in their catalog. They brought things down just a little “240 Miles”, and afterwards took a brief break as Craig introduced the band. “Back here beating off like no one’s business is John, or Juan. He goes by both.” He said, formally introducing the new drummer to everyone. After saying something about Nick, Nick then introduced him. “Over here we’ve got the master basser…” he said, keeping with the dirty little innuendos. With that out of the way they kicked things back into high gear with “First Time”, which gave the crowd a dose of heavy southern rock, and was something you could really bang your head to. I think it was after that song that Nick thanked everyone for coming out, mentioning that is was the best Dallas crowd he had ever played to, and also pointed out an interesting tidbit of information. “…I looked at our Reverbnation and Facebook pages and it was this time one year ago when we signed up on them…” he said, making this the bands one year anniversary show. That’s a hell of a way to celebrate it to, doing a CD release show in your true hometown. They kept things going with another single, “We Ride Tonight”, and then the song that follows it on the record, “Save Me”. That strong finish served to start winding down their set, but they had enough time for one more song, and it was their routine closer. Craig, who before one song had said it was one of the first he and Nick started playing when they in the early stages of The Bedlam Brothers, stated that this next one really was their first song they started jamming with. He went on to say it was about living their dream of just making music, and that maybe one day they could do that full-time. Nick chimed in, “It’d probably be nine PM to five AM, though…”, which, in that line of work, is more than accurate. They then ripped into “My 9 to 5”, which is a rock song through and through, and will forever be an excellent way to conclude a performance.

These guys continue to get better with every show, and this was definitely their best Dallas show to date. The larger than normal crowd could probably be part of the reason the show was so great, since every band feeds of a crowds energy, and top that with the excitement of a CD release show, which are always some of the best of a bands career, and you got a very memorable show.

Their new drummer, who had only been with the band for a few weeks, looked like he had been with them for years and fit with them perfectly. Craig’s a really good bassist, and makes use of the large stage, moving all around, while Nick slays on the guitar when that’s his only focus and he’s taking a break from singing.

Fantastic band, and their CD is a great reflection of what they are like. So, why not go see a show and pick up a copy of it, either on ITUNES or at a live show. They have gigs coming up on March 30th at The Door in Dallas as part of the second annual Big Folkin’ Festival, and on April 14th they’ll be at The Dogwood in Austin.

After a show like that, anyone would be hard pressed to rival or top it, but if any band could, We The Ghost was one that stood a chance at it.

For this show, they had five out of their seven members in tow, which in the end, resulted in what was probably one of their most solid Dallas shows.

The Tulsa based band began their set with a song from their “My Mixtape Summer” EP, “Your Remedy”. They have several fantastic songs, but that one is of their best (or at least a personal favorite of mine), with the catchy chorus that singer and acoustic guitarist, Beau Tyler, spits out in more of a reggae style, “I can be your cure, it’s the only that I, I ever know for sure. If you will only trust in me, then I can be the medicine you need. Oh, baby, I, I can be your cure…” That’s actually what makes so many of their songs so unique, that they do have a certain reggae flair to them, and stand apart from anything else currently out there. They followed it with another song from their first EP, one of the singles, “She’s Gonna Fly Again”. Towards the end of it, Beau pointed out that since Paco [Estrada] was a no show, they were going to do something else instead. “…I’m going to show you what an amazing guitarist he is…” Beau said, pointing at bassist, Ben Mosier, who is probably best known as the guitarist of the long defunct Denton band, Upside. Ben and guitarist, Matt McHan, then switched spots (and instruments), for a little something special. While short, it was phenomenal, as Ben shredded on the guitar. It’s been so long since I last saw him play the guitar, I forgot the crazy amount of talent he possessed. He’s one of those players that makes it look completely effortless, without being over the top, and as good as he is on the bass, there’s no question where his talent truly lies. That didn’t last too long before they returned to their original instruments and wrapped up the song, before revealing they had something else special in store for the next one. “Does anybody remember a band called Utica?” Beau asked the crowd. It was one of his older projects, which included Stan Roden on vocal duties, and Beau now invited on stage. “…This is one of Stan’s favorite songs of ours…” he added, as Stan proceeded to sing the first few lines of “Wash These Sins Away”, which was the chorus. He handled that part throughout the tune, while Beau sang the verses. I never saw Utica, but I had listened to their stuff. Stan had a killer voice from what I heard, and it sounded every bit as good now hearing it live. The two voices mingled well together as they ceded control back and forth to one another, and made the song sound its absolute best. They brought the level down a little with “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”, before pulling out a rather unexpected cover. “This isn’t new, but it’s new for us.” Said Beau, repeating it afterwards, trying to get a better reaction out of the crowd. Paula Abdul isn’t an artist you’d expect these guys to cover, yet here they were, doing a more rock rendition of her song “Straight Up”. The keys, which were manned by Kris Stone, had been prevalent throughout the night, but they really brought this song to life, while lyrically, Beau transformed it to almost more of a rap. It was really an interesting take on the song, and I liked it. After a newer song, Beau shouted out The Bedlam Brothers and asked everyone to go pick up their new CD. “…I think many of you realize what it takes to make a record.” He said, noting that a lot of work goes into getting music “…on that stuff that makes it play…” He said something along those lines at least, before they soon started their current single off the “White Noise” EP, “Let Me Know”. They weren’t done yet, though, and they finished their 39-minute set with a song Beau wrote during the days of his last band. “…This is called Right Where You Want.” He announced, as they ended with a real rock number. Drummer, Jimmy Adams, had been great all night but it with that song where he really got to cut loose and go all out, giving a dynamic end to a extraordinary set.

Out of the small handful of We the Ghost shows I’ve seen, this was certainly the best. I don’t believe they’ve ever had this many members at a Dallas gig before (at least not the few I’ve caught), and the full drum kit and keys made all the difference in rounding out their sound. And about their sound, like I touched on earlier, it’s something that’s entirely their own. I’ve never heard any music like this before, and in a world where everyone says everything in music has been done and that sound wise it’s impossible to do something original now, We The Ghost is proof that’s not entirely true.

They’re creative and original, yet many of their songs also have that radio quality to them. Check it out for yourself, you can find both of their EP’s in ITUNES. So give ‘em a listen, and buy it if you dig it.

They also have quite a few shows lined up over the next several months, with one being on April 5th at Guthrie Green in Tulsa, OK. The night after they’ll be at Rooster’s in Fort Smith, Arkansas. They’re calendar has a few dates going all the way through September right now, so check out their REVERBNATION PAGE for a list of all of them.

There was one band left this night, but after being out for so long, I was beat. Plus, I had more than gotten my dose of music for the night.

On one hand, a bill with this many acts can be nice, because you do get to see a vast array of talent. But on the other hand, the sets are so short that you just really start getting into the music when they the act has to wrap it up. At least that was true for most of the bands early on in the night.

Still, kudos go out to everyone who had a hand in putting this together, because the majority of the bands were incredible, and it made for a killer night of music.

Saturday, January 19th, 2013 – The Bedlam Brothers

At this point it had been just barely over two weeks since the last concert I saw, and I was in desperate need of a fix.

There were a couple shows going on, and I opted for the one at my favorite Deep Ellum haunt, the Curtain Club.

Gorilla Productions was putting on a show here, which had spanned most of the day, beginning at five that afternoon, but of course most of the better acts had been saved for later in the night, such as The Bedlam Brothers, which was the band I was most interested in.

When I first arrived, there was a rapper on stage, and poor one at that. Granted, I’m not at all a fan of that genre, but I can at least be objective and admit when someone has talent, regardless of my personal opinions. But I found this guy to be just plain bad.

A trio called The Ones You Loved took the stage next, consisting of husband and wife duo, Tyler and Camille De Larm, plus one. Tyler was the guitarist and lead singer, while Camille played the keys and offered some backing vocals, and rounding out the lineup was a bassist.

They did look a little out of place in this venue that primarily hosts rock bands, but hey, you should never judge a book by its cover. But of course it’s okay to judge it by its contents, and in this case, the “contents” were less than stellar.

Tyler has no real vocal talent, and about all he could muster was a whiney singing voice that was far from appealing to me. I wasn’t too crazy about the music either, which was dominated by the keys/synthesizers, and I guess could be called electro-pop. Luckily their set was short, only about five or six songs, and despite some of their fans asking for more, time did not permit for it.

I have to give them credit, though, because despite my opinions about them, they did put on as energetic a show as they knew how. I believe it was before their second tune that Tyler encouraged everyone to dance to, “…But no one will be dancing more than men.” He stated. Camille did her part, too, and was often jumping up and down while banging on the keys.

I return to what I first said about them seeming out of place, and there were some times during their set that to me seemed a bit awkward, and oddly enough, that ended up being a rather endearing quality for The Ones You Loved.

Okay, I didn’t like them all that much, but maybe you will. They have a couple of records available in iTunes, if you’d like to give them a listen.

Up next was the Austin trio, The Bedlam Brothers, who were the main reason I was out this night.

The intro that began their set helped give the impression that they were the most professional band of the night. The sample track was rather beautiful, and soon after it started, Ben Buono, who was the groups fill-in drummer for the night, made his way on stage and got behind the kit, where he proceeded to pound out some beats. Eventually, Craig McLaughlin rounded out the rhythm section, adding some nice bass riffs to the mix, but things really sprang to life when singer and guitarist, Nick Santa Maria, started playing some notes and ran out on stage. They launched into a 42-minute long set, starting with a couple newer songs of theirs (Note: I don’t know how “new” they actually are, but they are that are yet to be released.) During the second song, Nick was rocking out so much that he knocked the cord of his guitar, as it suddenly fell silent. He didn’t seem to worried by it, though, and just shrugged before picking it up and plugging it back in, then got right back to business. In between songs, they were often conversion with the crowd, which was pretty decent sized, and at this point formally announced who they were and where they hailed from. “…But we call Dallas home…” Nick said, stating that they all come from the area, and have a lot of friends and family up here, who were obviously out to support them. The next song, “Not Enough”, might have made Ben feel a little nostalgic, as it was one he and Nick had done in their previous band, Skylines, but has been tweaked since, and now mines the Southern Rock genre. One thing was for sure, though, Ben appeared more happy on that one than any other this night, which is saying a lot, because he was always sporting a smile. They tackled a newer song next, which Nick mentioned they had debuted at their last Dallas gig, before asking the audience if they’d help out. The song was titled “Mary Rose”, and he belted out the name of this fictitious girl a few times before they began the song, coaching the crowd on what to say after that. It was simple, but only a few people joined in shouting out, “Mary was a tortured soul!” It’s one of the tracks that will be on their forthcoming album, and I have to say, I was blown away by it. It’s on a whole new level than some of their other stuff, and is really amazing. Afterwards, they plugged their little merch table, which had quite a few free download cards as well as some wristbands that had both the band’s name and album title on them. “…It’s over yonder…” said Craig, when pointing fans in the general direction. That got Nick’s attention. “…I’ve known you for almost ten years, and I’ve never heard you say the word, “yonder.” He said, looking a bit baffled. That made for a humorous little interlude, before they tore back into another song, which I believe was called “First Time”. Also, and I don’t remember exactly, but I think it was also around this point where they did their catchy song, “240 Miles”. Anyway, after one of those songs, Nick started having some slight technical difficulties, then asked for a light on the stage. “…I feel like a jackass…” he said, saying he had misplaced his capo and had to look for it. “…I always lose my stuff. It’s something my mom’s been trying to fix for almost twenty-four years…” he said, laughing, and added he didn’t think it would ever change. He needed that capo for another new one, which was also the one they were offering a free download of. It was “We Ride Tonight”, and also required some participation from the fans. It’s a stellar song, with some killer guitar riffs, and ended up being the highlight of their set. They had a couple left at this point, and after one, “Save Me”, Nick mentioned that he and Craig had first played the Curtain when they were about fifteen. “…We thought we were good…” he said. Then noted that more of their friends seemed to stick around for them once they were of age to drink, proving drinks really do make bands sound better… At least maybe to some people. That led them to the final song of the night, which Nick pointed out was the first song he and Craig started working on when The Bedlam Brothers were first conceived. It was a classic from Nick’s song catalog, and one that I don’t think reached its full potential until this band. It was “My 9 to 5”, and is still an excellent way to cap a show off.

I had finally seen The Bedlam Brothers for the first time nearly three months ago, and in that time, they’ve really improved.

I was impressed before, but tonight I was just blown away. They polished things up, and their stage show was much more tight and all around better. Part of that could be attributed to the larger stage of the Curtain Club, verses the more intimate Liquid Lounge, which allowed both Craig and Nick to be more active. Then you have Ben, who was a great addition to the group, even if it was just a onetime thing, and had some chemistry with the others, too. Oh, and those new songs they cranked out are something else, and if they are any indicator, then their “Saddle Up” record is going to be a must listen.

Speaking of that, they’ll be right back here at the Curtain on March 8th to celebrate the release of said album. It’s probably going to be an night not to forget, so don’t miss out on it.

The Unlikely Candidates
were on next. They’ve been around for a little while, 2008 to be exact, and while I’ve often heard the name, I had never seen them or listened to their stuff… And after seeing their set, I’m really regretting that.

Their an Indie Rock/Pop band, whose songs are pretty infectious, and about halfway through their opener I felt myself drawn towards the front of the stage. They kept things pretty short and sweet, bouncing from one song to the next, which vocalist, Kyle, said was “Hate to Love Me”. After another, they did what was arguably the best song of their all too short 28-minute long set, “Follow My Feet”. It’s got the hook, and had a few people dancing along to it while they sang along. To set up their next song, Kyle asked if there was anyone who was a fan of The Strokes, and more than a few people cheered at that. “Oh, well good. The you might find this cover somewhat enjoyable…” he said. He pointed out that not only are they his favorite band, but this was his favorite song of theirs. The track was “Someday”, and they did an absolutely amazing rendition of it. Possible even better than The Strokes themselves. I believe it was after that they did what Kyle said was their most philosophical song. At this point I don’t remember all the different layers he said it covered, as he described it all in pretty deep detail, but I think he began with something like it was about how insignificant one can feel when looking up and seeing all the stars. They had only one more after finishing it, and then that was their show.

I was a little disappointed, not by the band, but because I was enjoying their music so much I wanted them to play much longer.

It was still a great set, though, and I love their sound. Along with the typical guitar, bass and drums, they also had an acoustic guitar player. Now a lot of times, an acoustic can be drowned out by the louder, more dominate instruments, which was what I thought would happen with them. Not the case. Instead, it came through rather well, and added a gorgeous texture to all of their songs.

They have a show coming up in February 2nd at The Door in Dallas, and supposedly you should also be able to see them back at the Curtain on March 8th, for The Bedlam Brothers CD release show.

There was one last band scheduled at the Curtain Club, but I didn’t stick around for them. Instead, I crossed the patio over to the Liquid Lounge, where Denton’s own, The Gypsy Bravado was headlining.

I had actually seen the group once before, a little over two years ago. And while I had wanted to see them since, it just never worked out. And I wondered how good this show would be, because I heard from a friend, photographer, Jessy Huff, that the band had been drinking all day. That meant the show could go either way.

To say they were drunk would be an understatement, and even though I was standing pretty far back, you could tell from their eyes that they were beyond wasted.

Now, I have seen another band where at least one of their members was pretty far gone at one show, and it turned out to be one of the funniest and best shows I’ve seen said group do. But there’s a fine line between being a entertaining drunk and a sloppy one, and I was curious which side The Gypsy Bravado would come down on this night.

They opened with a very soulful song, that found keyboard player and primary singer, Mo Myles, guitarist, Shawn Bratton, and bassist, Jeff Dacus, all singing and harmonizing. It was an extraordinary number, and the way their voices intertwined with each other was dazzling. It also became immediately clear that whatever their state of inebriation, their music wasn’t going to suffer. In fact, I think it had the total opposite effect and made it sound even better. After another newer song of theirs, Mo announced to anyone who didn’t know it, that they had “…Been drinking all day…”. He didn’t hang on the subject long, though, and soon said they were going to play “What I Need”. It was a groovy one (that’s not an outdated term to use, is it?) with a sweet guitar solo/breakdown, which was perfectly balanced with some fiery parts on the keys. They did something a little different with their next song, and welcomed a friend of theirs on stage, who also happened to be a rapper (my apologies, as I don’t recall his name.) He walked up on stage with them. “I have something to tell you all.” He said, though it was barely audible, as the main mic had stopped working. It took them a minute, but they got the cable plugged back into it, and their friend revealed his words of wisdom. “…Always make sure the mic is plugged in.” he said, laughing. I was skeptical at first, because I’m not a big fan of how he was undoubtedly going to sing, or rather rhyme, but it turned out to be fairly good. He was talented in his chosen craft, as he busted out the lines of “California Zone”, and towards the end he even seemed to be free styling it, and doing a great job of it at that. He left them once it was finished, allowing the group to return to their Rock ‘n’ Roll jams, which included what seemed like the longest song of their set, “Mountain Tops”. It had a couple different layers to it, starting a bit slower, before working its way into a powerful song. And while it did seem pretty long, it didn’t drag. Possibly the funniest thing of their set was the fact that you could often hear them asking one another what song they wanted to do next. I mean, that happened at least every other song, and they’d quickly discuss. So next up, they opted for a new one. “It was written back in 1979” said one of the guys, possibly Jeff. They had been going for awhile at this point, and they stopped to ask the sound guy how much time they had left. His response, “One long one or two short ones.” Jeff was ready to do a couple more, but then drummer, Lou Anderson, spoke up. “Fuck it! Let’s do a long one!”here was no argument or anything, instead they just went with it and did a song from their “Through the Rabbit Hole” EP, “Dillinger (Rebel Son)”. It was another great example of how epic their music is, beginning with somewhat of a dreamy quality to it, before the drumbeats helped it explode into something you could really rock out to, and was rounded out with both a bass and guitar solo. That might not sound like it was a very long set, but in all it totaled 45-minutes.

I really don’t remember much from the other time I saw these guys, other than thinking they were alright. They were from alright this night, though… In a good way.

Granted, I don’t know what is par for these guys, but they seemed to be in rare form this night. And not only is the stage show pretty entertaining, but they also allow the music to speak for itself, and it will not doubt reel you in.

Check ‘em out, because regardless of your preference in music, chances are The Gypsy Bravado has at least one song that will appeal to you. And speaking of that, hopefully they’ll get some of those record in the near future.

In the meantime, you can get their EP in ITUNES, and even get a couple of FREE downloads from their REVERBNATION PAGE. They also have a show lined up for February 1st at Hailey’s up in Denton.

This was a pretty good night. I saw one band I like and became even more of a fan of theirs, and then got pulled in by a couple of others who I knew nothing or very little about beforehand. That’s a win in my opinion… At least it was until my car broke down on the drive home. But that’s another story.

Friday, October 26th, 2012 – Part II: The Bedlam Brothers

In between the acoustic show that was going on at another venue, I headed over to The Liquid Lounge where The Bedlam Brothers were set to take the stage. Actually, I timed it just right, and got there right before the band took the stage.

I had been wanting to see the band for a while, which I guess has been since they first started. After the band Skylines met their demise a little over a year ago, the bands singer and guitarist, Nick Santa Maria, eventually moved down to Austin, where he soon started The Bedlam Brothers. The band has played Dallas a few times before, and now it finally worked out where I could make it to one.

The trio got up on stage and began their 39-minute long set with a killer song that was a prime example of their awesome Southern Rock sound. It was a powerful tune that reeled you in and got the adrenaline flowing, making it a good one to open with, and the performance fit well with it, as Nick started rocking out, getting pretty into the song. There was even a guitar solo where he wailed on his guitar, creating a moment that was straight up Rock “N” Roll. After another song, they pulled out one that I was pleasantly surprised to hear. Evidently, some of the songs from Nick’s previous band have been brought over to The Bedlam Brothers, and the song they did now was “Not Enough”. It sounded like it had been tweaked a bit, though, in the sense that it had a tighter, more aggressive sound. They followed it with the slightly slower, “240 Miles”, which has a slight bluesy quality to it. It was after that song that Nick made an announcement that the week before they had signed a deal with, I believe it was a management company, which meant they will soon go back into the studio to record their second record. Exciting stuff, and even though they were only about halfway into their show, it was already clear they are deserving of that. “…This next song is called “A Woman the Devil Sent”, he then said, and led them into the tune. There was another pause after that one, where they thanked the two girls who let them rehearse in their garage in Austin, and then told a story about one of the rehearsals getting ready for this gig. He said they were practicing with the garage door up, not thinking a whole lot about it, because it wasn’t too late. He added that some of the neighbors apparently didn’t appreciate it too much, and called the cops on them. “…So where playing, when we see a cop car drive past the house. He didn’t do anything, though, and Nick said as soon as they saw him they stopped and shut the garage door. It was a funny little anecdote and that near constant communication they had with the audience in between songs really helped build a rapport with the crowd. They then got back to it with “Sunrise Blues”, and after it Nick looked at his band mates, Craig McLaughlin and Gio Suarez, the bassist and drummer, respectively. “Are we doing it?” he asked them, as they nodded yes. He then explained to the crowd they had decided to do a song that fit with Halloween, and also noted it was a bit nerve-racking, “…’Cause it is from the best selling record of all-time. That pretty much gave it away, and yes, it was a very unexpected rendition of Michael Jackson’s, “Thriller”. It was an exceptional cover, and even though I’ve never been a Michael Jackson fan, they made me into a fan of “Thriller”… Or at least their version of it. After another song, “The First Time”, the bands time was almost up, and they ended with another song that used to be a Skylines staple, “My 9 to 5”. It’s great to know that Nick has kept this one alive, ‘cause it was always my favorite, and it has been enhanced over the other version. It now has a sound that fits their Southern Rock sound, and has been polished and tightened in other aspects, too, making it an even stronger closer than it used to be. It was also during that song, near the start of it, that one of Gio’s drum sticks broke, and fell to the floor. He didn’t grab a new one right away, though. Instead, he picked up part of the broken stick, which probably wasn’t even half of it, and proceeded to play the drums with that portion. Now that is Rock ‘N’ Roll.

As much as I liked Nick’s previous band, after this one show, I have to say, I like The Bedlam Brothers even more. Nick just seemed a little more at home playing these songs, and Gio and Craig are great fits to round out the band. It was a very solid performance, and one I am looking very forward to seeing again.

Check out either their FACEBOOK PAGE or REVERBNATION PAGE to keep up to date with everything, and you can catch them back in Dallas on November 24th at The Prophet Bar.

I stuck around for a little bit after they finished, but after the next band butchered a Hayes Carll song, “Stop and Holler”, I decide to head back over to the other venue to hear some more acoustic music.