Tuesday, September 20, 2011

9.16.2011, FTW

The li'l Stoogeband's second go at the Basement Bar since Todd Osborne took it over wasn't as well attended as our previous visit. The absence of Facebook dealie-ohs, the fact that we were up against ACL down in Austin and a Dove Hunter/Quaker City Nighthawks bill at Lola's, and the Fort's first rainstorm in four months conspired against us. But it was Matt Hembree's birthday, and we were topping a bill that also featured our pals The Dangits and estimable Austin power trio Dixie Witch, so we knew we were going to have a good time. And sure enough, we did.

It'd been awhile since I saw The Dangits, but they're sounding better than ever, with new bassist Benjy Silver (Convoy & the Cattlemen, ex-Zombie Shark Attack) better integrated into the lineup (the haircut helped). Mike Noyes (the _real_ Irish kid; sorry, JoCo) still looks like he's going to eat the microphone when not trading off smokin' hot guitar lines with Branden Smith, who has the classic splay-legged guitar slinger's stance down cold. Is there anybody in the Metromess laying down a better, truer take on the Dee-troit via Stockholm/Sydney high energy Rawk ramalama than these motorbike ridin' boyos? I think not. Bonus: We got to hear the version of Deep Purple's "Highway Star" that they learned for the Fort Worth Rock Assembly gig, with Mike neck-tapping the Blackmore solo. Aces.

I hadn't seen Dixie Witch since before the late, lamented Wreck Room closed. (Do you detect a theme here?) Since then, founding guitarist Clayton Mills departed the fold and was replaced by J.T. Smith, a long, lanky, dreadlocked dude who has even more loose-limbed Rawk moves and rubber-mugged facial expressions than any ten other players -- a veritable walking Faces and Attitudes of Rock 'n' Roll, this guy is. The band's fulcrum remains Trinidad Leal (ex-Light Bright Highway), who kicks the double basses with aplomb (only a five-piece kit, he reminded me, when I asked if his set would fit on the Basement's stage), and sings the majority of the songs, giving the lie to the truism that singing drummers suck. Trinidad greeted Richard Hurley warmly, the two having toured Europe -- where folks still dig their rock 'n' roll more 'n we do here in the States -- together when Richard was still in Blood of the Sun. The Witch returns to the Old World in October, and their new rekkid Let It Roll emerges shortly. They blew the power out on one side of the stage a couple of times, but they kept it rollin' like we knew they would.

Soundguy Thomas didn't bother telling me to turn down like he did last time, and as a result, I didn't need to use the Big Muff Pi I'd borrowed from Ray. Branden also let me keep his SG onstage as a spare, which I wound up not needing, having changed the strings I hadn't broken at practice the morning of the show. (The next day, the high E I'd changed at practice on Monday was already showing signs of corrosion, so maybe I need to heed James Williamson's advice and change 'em before every show, as infrequently as we gig.) Without the substantial crowd to feed off of, we were a li'l more subdued than last time, but seemed to go over well. The "new" songs ("Ain't It Fun," "Looking At You," "Jet Boy") are working out fine, and we played an unplanned "TV Eye." The birthday boy had an enjoyable Matturday; mission accomplished. Next: The Wild Rooster on October 14th, and I need to see if I can book something in November or December in a place where we can get pizza delivered to the stage.

Mike Noyes likes to bust my balls about being old, and in retrospect, it's clear that most of the dudes who played that night were _no spring chickens_. But I think we all brought it, and as Mike said afterward, "It keeps us all young." May it always be so.


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