No use for a name
Well, the hype machine apparently did its job. The Spin rolled up to a completely inundated Dino's Bar & Grill on Tuesday night shortly after 9 p.m. What would you say Dino's capacity is? Yeah, double that, and add 20. That's how many folks were there, all sweating our collective [add preferred genitalia here] off, trying to maintain equilibrium by ingesting a volume of alcohol that was roughly equivalent to the amount of perspiration we were producing.
The Tyler Family Band — that's the outfit featuring local guitar master William Tyler, plus his songwriter dad Dan, his mother Adele and his sister Elise — were kicking out some of that sweet-as-pie trad country of theirs. Unfortunately — with the asses-to-elbows sea of familiar locals, the relatively weak PA and the fact that none of the amps or drums were mic'd — we couldn't make out too many details. Lucky for us, The Spin caught The Tyler Family Band at William's Sebastian Speaks anniversary party at the VFW a couple of weeks back, and that fond memory will last and last.
The gear changeover and some general shuffling allowed us to find a spot near the front just as the band without a name kicked off. And here's the lineup: The bombastic master of garage-psych skin-bashing, JEFF the Brotherhood's Mr. Jamin Orrall, was on drums. Then you've got the fleet-fingered captain of the low-end, Joey Scala of Denney and the Jets and formerly of PUJOL, on bass. Fellow onetime PUJOLian Sean "To the Wall" Thompson shredded some lead licks, while Cortney Tidwell/LYLAS sideman Luke Schneider's digits danced effortlessly across the pedal steel. The inimitable little wonder Jessi Darlin of Those Darlins served as frontwoman — no guitar, just vocals.
Orrall laid down a shuffle just as proficiently as he would a driving punk-rock beat, while Thompson and Schneider traded off chicken-pickin' and white-hot licks. We would have loved it if the diminutive Darlin — who spent most of her set standing atop a chair — had been just a bit more audible. As a companion remarked, it sounded like she was singing through wax paper. Nevertheless, the crew pumped out tunes that landed somewhere between Stonesy, bluesy country and '70s countrypolitan, with just a dash of country-funk thrown in for good measure. Seriously, though, as much as some of these kids may be known for their punk-rock leanings, they can authentically lay down some of that Nashville Sound, and there couldn't have been a better venue for it.
Anyway, most of the tunes had names like "8 Feet Tall" and "Raw Dog," and there was even a pretty epic soul number thrown in there somewhere. For their second-to-last tune, The TBAs — that's what we'll call them for now, for lack of a better option — covered Eddie Floyd and Steve Cropper's "Knock on Wood," a song also made popular by covers from David Bowie and Otis Redding. The whole thing wrapped up by around 11 p.m., with The TBAs remaining nameless, though plenty of folks threw ballots into the suggestion box. Thompson later told us that The Heebie-Jeebies was a front-runner, if that isn't already taken. He also informed us that — on accounta all the touring these folks are doing — they probably won't play another show until September or so. But keep your eyes open, and believe the buzz. These dudes were a whole lot of fun.
The Spin, excited to see The Legendary Shack Shakers perform installment No. 3 of the Scene's Sounds Like Summer series at Hard Rock, braved Second Avenue's bass-thumping Thursday night scene, which is not unlike a more nefarious Opryland or a sexed-up Walmart. Entering Hard Rock requires first walking through its restaurant to a staircase leading upward to the venue: a rec-room of sorts, as if George Jones hired T.G.I. Fridays to decorate his Brentwood attic using high-dollar music memorabilia and spared no expense on the bathrooms. (Seriously, those urinals are nice).
The Spin enjoyed the last couple of songs by Pine Hill Haints, a grungy rockabilly six-piece from Alabama that mixed four parts Avett Brothers with one part Badmotorfinger. U2's "Elevation" kept us company while the Shakers set up and the rest of us considered buying discount Heineken. Then, with no warning, the Shakers offered their first amalgamation of country, punk and blues for the night (a real rug-yanker!), and few would recover. While Duane Denison kicked out high-caliber bluesy, soulful, rock-a-boogie riffs, the Jim Carrey-esque rubber-man antics of singer, possessed contortionist and harmonica virtuoso Col. J.D. Wilkes rocked the party.
Earlier in the night, The Spin had baited our lady companion with news that Shakers tune "Swampblood" appears on her favorite show, True Blood (the titillating HBO series about vampire integration in the bayou, duh). The Spin couldn't help notice that in addition to true blood, the recipe for a Legendary Shack Shakers show included true sweat and tears, too. Their stunning mongoose-on-a-chicken assault had us feeling all blown away like we were in the old Maxell cassette commercial. One minute, the guys would be scratching out a vaudeville act (Wilkes the quintessential Rotten ringleader) until zipping into clean-cut rock 'n' roll à la Ike Turner's "Rocket 88." On another track, Denison's crunching, metallic intro chords segued into a polka party that, judging from Wilkes' self-possessed, contortionist fury, may have been fueled by Polish vodka or just plain Texan chutzpah.
With reverence for Mark Robertson on upright bass and Brett Whitacre's drumming, The Spin's focus rarely strayed from Denison and Wilkes. While Denison's superb musicianship yielded impeccable blues and rockabilly, his rock-star moves exhibited panache without flamboyance, content to fuel Wilkes' Southern-gothic performance art. Wilkes' talents included the harmonica (at breakneck speed), a sinister bouquet of vocal styles (from comically nasally to frighteningly screechy) and the stage-presence of a possessed evangelist who not only had The Spin wondering if we had said "Beetlejuice" three times, but whether or not we were going to repeat his name thrice more ...
Bob Dylan, Ke$ha, the American Idol tour and Sade in one week? We can hardly contain ourselves! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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