Thursday, November 23, 2017

11.18.2017, Fort Worth

Last Saturday was a veritable Candygram from the gods for your humble chronicler o' events. For just two days after posting a review proclaiming Cameron Smith/Sur Duda's Paper Knife my probable record o' the year (for whatever that's worth), I became aware that Sur Duda was playing that very night at the Grackle Art Gallery, easily walkable from mi casa. So walk I did.

While Sur Duda sounded fine at Lola's when they shared a bill with the li'l Stooge band back in September, the intimate setting of the Grackle allowed their true VU 1969 Live magnificence to shine through (down to the snippet of "Sister Ray" in one of the songs). Beyond that, it highlighted the fact that besides its frontman/songwriter, Sur Duda's a band loaded with talent. Absent at Lola's but present at the Grackle was Andy Pickett, a Robbie Coltrane-like presence on electric piano. Andy's a fine, soulful singer and observational songwriter his own self. He's got new material in the pipeline, including this ditty.

Guitarist Peter Marsh kicks the traps in War Party, but here he plays simple, economical parts, some penned by Cameron, that compliment and elevate the songs in a way a showier style of accompaniment would not. "It's nice," says Cameron, "'cause sometimes full time guitarists don't wanna do anything that doesn't impress their fingers."

Cameron's significant other Stevie Dee nimbly replicates the bass parts that Peter played on the record, while over on the thumper throne, Jesse Gage provides percussive propulsion. It was only after greeting Jesse when I arrived at the Grackle that I remembered that he'd kicked the traps in Brock Miller's Kinks cover band, the Dedicated Followers of Fashion, and that I'd received an email from Dreamy Life Records hyping Jesse's current cassette-and-digital release, Loose Morals in Vintage Florals. Jesse plays all the instruments on a half-dozen slices of prime poppy punk rock (not "pop punk"), singing his cynical lyrics with an Everykid's smirk. My pick to click is "Terror Error;" you'll have yours.

Before I had to cut out, I asked Grackle booker Clint Niosi if Sur Duda's backline was the most equipment anyone had ever brought to the gallery. Just then, Darren Miller (Tame, Tame and Quiet)'s new band the 100's (not to be confused with the now-defunct Red 100's) started setting up their half stacks. The couple of minutes of their set I heard were intense and driving instrumental rock with droning guitars and a powerful rhythm section. Good stuff.


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