Against Me! is for me and probably for you too

For a few years, I went to shows 2 or 3 times a week (the heyday of HCT). I live in Nashville, so something’s always playing somewhere. For a few concurrent years, I worked in a venue that has live music every night.

I confess: I got a little burned out. Like all good things, you can even have too much live music.  I hate being at a bar where a unique experience is possible and I’m not genuinely appreciating it. I’m now extremely selective. Even if I really love a band, sometimes I’ll skip a show if I’ve seen them before.

I’ve been anticipating the new Against Me! album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues—so much excitement that I got the release date wrong. Then last week while disconsolately browsing, I discovered that Against Me! was already on tour and in my fair city on Sunday night. I fretted. I pouted. I am old and must be at work far too early on Monday to manage a late Sunday show. Then, miraculously, for the first time my work gave me Monday off for MLK day.

I immediately bought tickets and anticipated the Against Me! show all weekend. I invited friends. Both my first and second invitees ended up too busy working to go with me and no one spoke up in the desperate round of texts I sent at the last minute. I decided to go alone. Sigh. And then I started my period. At 8:45, before a 9:00 show, I was sitting on the couch crampy, dejected and ready to eat the cost of the tickets. But I rallied, put on a clean shirt and tie, swiped on a little lipstick, and drove over the river.

I knew I’d made the right decision immediately. Inside the door were eager young men desperate for one more ticket. Hooray, I had one! They bounced around me like happy puppies, and into the crush of the sold-out show we went. Drink in hand, I found a place to stand with pretty good view. I missed the first act because of my wibbling, but the second opening band, The Sidekicks, was great. By the time Against Me! came on, I had shifted to an excellent spot: a great view and no one crashing into me.

I’ve been to shows alone, but it’s always when I know the band, where I run into people I know. This time, I didn’t even look for people I knew. The room was packed and dark, and I settled to focus entirely on the stage. It was so good: no friends talking through unknown but good opening bands, no wrangling over who’s going to the bar. Isn’t that what happens when you’re out with friends? Even when you’re busy watching the band, there’s all this peripheral activity. Can they get you a drink? Is someone going to the bathroom? Did we lose someone? No, she’s over there talking. Is everyone okay? Is anyone too drunk? It’s always something. But at the show alone I finally felt like I was able to really pay attention and whoa, did I pick the right show to finally be present for.

Photo by: Rebecca Smeyne, from Spin.comLaura Jane Grace is charismatic and electrifying on stage. I’ve never been so engaged in a performance or felt so emotionally connected to a performer. She seems so happy to be performing and I felt so happy to be receiving that performance, grinning like a fool every time she smiled. Without hyperbole, this was a transcendent, life-changing experience for me and I couldn’t have done it any way but alone.

I rediscovered what I’d been missing from live music—not just enjoying the music and performance, but the sense that I’m living through a unique experience. A door opened to a room I’d forgotten was in my house, a space filled with feeling and music. A large, lost piece of myself has been wedged back in place.

You’re sitting there thinking, “But Cricket, what about the damn music? Is this entire post about you?”

Well, friend, here it is: The music is a fucking emotional chainsaw, ripping right through your soul. The songs tap straight into a base sense that something isn’t right in the world, in ourselves. The rage, isolation and despair that so many people feel comes through the music, raw and incredibly intense.

The songs are new on this album, but many have been performed for awhile now. The audience seemed to know all of them from shows or advance album copies or the magic of the internet. After the show, jonesing for more, I spent an hour on YouTube finding recent performances so I could get more of that potent fix.  (Here’s some for you: Dead Friend, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, Unconditional Love.)

As I write this, I have the album on repeat. Transgender Dysphoria Blues is a love letter to those dark places that you manage to rise above. Like all Against Me! albums, it speaks to my rage and sense of injustice, but this time it’s more personal, because this album leaves me feeling understood. It’s a spectacular feat for a songwriter to take something as personal as gender dysphoria and make it universally accessible.

Laura Jane Grace managed to put hope into every single song. I wept through my first full listen to the album and came through ready to get up and fight, get up and face the world again. I feel an undercurrent of joy through all the bleakness of this album. But then again, after seeing Grace on stage being as she was born to be, experiencing her incredibly joyous energy, maybe some of her joy stuck with me.

Transgender Dysphoria Blues is available for a listen on NPR.

You can buy it everywhere now, but I suggest buying it from the band.

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Last minute Cory show, come to Nashville!

From Cory Branan‘s people:

We’ve decided to add a last minute show as Cory passes back through Nashville b/c his set at the Next Big Nashville was a short one. So tomorrow night at the 5 Spot in East Nashville come out to see Cory’s friends the Magpies play at around 11pm and when they finish up Cory will hit the stage. You should pay the $5 to comes see the Magpies, but we won’t be charging a cover late night for Cory. This show should go pretty late, so if you are going to see the Avett Brothers at War Memorial or our friends Ballhog! down at the Basement, you should stop by on your way home.

We HCT girls say: Yes, come down!! Don’t miss the Magpies, it’ll be an excellent show, now with the added bonus of Cory!!

Lucero Family Picnic version 2.0, the revenge of Arkansas

Daisy and I boldly braved predictions of flash flooding to drive the long, desolate hours to Batesville, Arkansas for the Lucero Family Picnic. It was worth it. So worth it. First off, before I tell you about the show, let me fill you in on the news we gleaned while there:

As many of you maybe know already, Lucero’s Brian Venable is expecting his first child any day now. He was primed to leave, even mid-show, should his lovely lady, Sam, have gone into labor. We saw ultrasound pictures of Henry, the boy they are expecting to join their family soon. So everyone keep them in your thoughts for an easy delivery. I know Brian can’t wait to meet Henry (we can’t either!). Seriously, if every expectant father was as happy as Brian appears to be, the world would be a much, much better place. [It really is just about the sweetest thing ever how excited he is.—Daisy]

There is a Ben Nichols solo EP, The Last Pale Light in the West, arriving soon to the internet near you. Like the most recent Lucero release, this will be available for digital download, with a CD to follow later in the mail (with purchase of the download). What’s that? You didn’t know Nichols’ was making a solo album? Well, neither did we. Apparently it came together very fast. And if what I hear is true, it’s a somewhat thematic album, based loosely around characters from Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. So exciting, I mean, you all know I live for shit like this, right? [The unexpected gift of new Ben Nichols songs? It’s like our reward for having to do, like, work and stuff.—Daisy] Hooray! There will be an extensive solo Ben tour this fall as well. No excuses people, even the West Coast gets some play this time. I have no firm date on the EP release, but I hear tell it could be as soon as this week.

I did not get any confirmation on the new Lucero album, which many folks were hoping for this fall. I do know they signed an excellent four album deal with Republic/Universal. I know the new album has songs already (anyone who saw the last tour heard a couple of them) and the boys are looking forward to making it. I don’t have details on when they are going into the studio, but I’m guessing they will probably hold off at least Brian’s baby arrives and everyone gets settled in after Ben’s solo tour.

So! Picnic! Rockin’ awesome! Oh yes. The line-up was great. We sadly missed The Good Fear and Dan Montgomery (it’s long drive from Nashville and we had to stop to eat). I heard from many folks I trust that we definitely missed some good music. I have since checked out the sites for both acts and, well, goddamn our refusal to speed through rural Arkansas, I wish we’d seen them!

Cory Branan was up next. He was/is/always awesome. [By the way, we love Cory. In case you didn’t know.—Daisy] His set was short. I heard “technical difficulties” which might have meant broken guitar strings, or might have meant ‘oh shit, hurricane Ike really is headed here, should we keep playing?’ The five or so songs he played were certainly crowd pleasers, and he was joined by the lovely Amanda Shires on fiddle and the superlative Rick Steff on accordion. [We love them, too.—Daisy] Also I spent the last two hours of the drive talking about how I wanted a cheeseburger. Got to the show and FREE CHEESEBURGERS! Which I ate while watching Cory. So I’m gonna go on record as saying it was the best Cory Branan show ever. Even if it is just the cheeseburger love talking.

Cory cleared off to make way for Justin Townes Earle. You know, we’ve been incredibly remiss in not talking about Justin here before. He is, I’m sure you’ve heard, ♥Steve’s♥ son. He is incredibly talented in his own right and has no need to trail on his father’s career (which he is definitely not doing). I have had his EP, Yuma, on heavy rotation for months. His recent release, The Good Life, is so exactly the kind of troubadouring that we are always seeking out here. Seeing him live is a treat. There’s a pervasive sense of real Americana– real roots music in his sound that translates to his show. He is touring the rest of the month, you should try an hit up a show if you can. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

The line-up for the Picnic seemed to be all excellent and sort of just getting better and better and better. After Justin, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit played a lovely long set. The weather was starting to get iffy, rain, though light, was coming in and the sky was getting more threatening. Jason played right through it. You’ll recall maybe that, last summer, I wasn’t as impressed as I’d hoped to be with Isbell’s Sirens of the Ditch release. It is a great album and it has grown on me. The thing about Jason is that some people are going love him no matter what because of the Drive-By Truckers connection. Some people are really going to get how good he is just from listening to his album. Some people, like me, need to see him live to fall in love. His is still touring, so if you don’t fall into the first two categories of Jason love, you have chance to redeem yourself like I did. Also, girls, I am not going to lie. He is cute. [True story.—Daisy] We met him briefly backstage and, yes, I confess I have known weakness for Alabama boys, but he is also charming and friendly. So, go see him, there are at least four reasons why you should.

What could possibly follow this goodness? Why Lucero of course! [Hooray! —Daisy] The usual suspects were joined by the stupendous, wonderful, ticklish, cheerful, sweet, alluring, winsome Rick Steff (who we ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥) on keyboards and accordion [Double hooray!—Daisy], and by that mythical creature, Todd Beene, on pedal steel. (If you don’t know, Todd Beenes are native to the mid-south, though found all over the world. They are characterized by mischievousness and incredible musical talent. There have only been sightings of the one, but if you encounter him, be careful! He’s as likely to tease you mercilessly as he is to play awesome music for you.)

It was a Lucero show, a good one. Ike was seriously rolling by that time, the wind whipping Roy’s hair around as he played, making it hard for anyone to smoke a cigarette and making me worry that the lights would fall and kill crew. The fanboys sang along and screamed for Ben’s attention. Brian rocked despite surely spending every second wondering if his baby was going to arrive right then. John C. spoke nearly incoherently into the mic about how grateful the band is for their fans. New songs were played, old favorites could have been sung by the audience, and I decided one of my preferred parts of Lucero shows is watching Roy play (he looks like he’s made of rubber!!). I’m pretty sure a good time was had by all, and the oncoming hurricane added strange, but wholly pleasant sense of melancholy to the entire show.

There was an after party and the club by the park, just like last year. This is a more intimate gathering, like a Ben and Cory acoustic tour, with periodic appearances by any of the cast of characters that played the rest of the picnic. I drank, talked to tons of people and had mostly a good time. The stage is badly placed and hard to see, unless you are in the insane crushing crowd in front of the stage. The audience is so drunk as to be more interested in yelling requests than actually listening to them. It’s kind of a clusterfuck. [Though slightly less clusterfuckish than last year.—Daisy] I’m glad we went. I had fun (and lots of beer which leads gives one the idea of fun, even if it isn’t being had). I’m glad they do that afterparty, but I’m not sure we’ll go again next year. Picnic, yes, afterparty, maybe not. [Yeah, we feel that way now…—Daisy]

So there it is. We wish you were there. We encourage you to go see everyone who played if they ever come near you. And now we have to go rest up, Arkansas can take a lot out of girls like us.

They make us giggle like school girls

In anticipation of all the exciting new changes coming up here at HCT, Cricket and I decided to get our rock chick on and go see some shows a few weeks ago. Yes, Lucero was passing through at the time (they are on tour right now!). Shockingly, they aren’t the point of this post, because the Magpies were here the next night, and I am smitten. Seriously, we’re talking intense new band love affair. I can’t stop listening to their entire catalog and doodling “Daisy ♥ Magpies” on everything. (Note to Cricket: I wouldn’t pass out on the couch any time soon. I have Sharpies…) So forgive me if this is a little effusive and disjointed, and not the calm, rational post that you’re used to seeing on these pages.

I would write about Lucero, but I really can’t even bring myself to focus on them long enough to do so (do I have your attention yet?). I’ll let Crics fill you in if she so chooses. [Um, why would we do that? Remember, I drink, embarrass myself and you remember things. Plus all the stories I have from that night incriminate other people so I can’t tell them anyway. Boo.—Cricket] Besides, I kind of feel like if we haven’t sold you on Lucero at this point, nothing I say here is going to change that, so let me sum up:

Lucero came to town on a Friday night, rocked as per usual, played some new songs, and we had such a good time that we woke up Saturday kind of wanting to die. Cricket perhaps more than myself, but that’s what she gets for diverting from the “One whiskey drink and then only beer” plan. [In my defense it’s hard to refusing raving Lucero fanboys when they won’t let you leave the bar without buying you a shot. Plus it’s bad form to refuse free shots.—Cricket]

Unfortunately for us, we didn’t really have a chance to recover on Saturday, and I would like to take a moment to emphasize what a huge pile of suck Saturday day was in order for you to appreciate just how much the Magpies rock, because they rendered all that did suck meaningless with their awesomeness.

On top of the Lucero-hangover and the intense sleep-deprivation, Cricket had to work for part of the evening (because we do not yet rule the world, and thus must have jobs that pay us cash money). Meaning that I had to go to the show alone, and she would join me as soon as she could. My non-love of going to shows alone was enhanced this particular evening by the fact that, en route to the venue, the skies opened to unleash apocalyptic rain. Upon my arrival, the rain did not stop and after spending a good ten minutes in my car, I realized it wasn’t about to.

You know what I love more than going to a show alone? Arriving at the show soaking wet, looking like a drowned rat. Alone. I walked into the bar to a chorus of, “Oh you poor thing!” But that was just from the staff, because there was no one else there. Except for the band, of course. Rock on. You know what else is awesome when you’re drenched and alone at a venue with the staff and the band? Air conditioning. Sooooo many snaps on me.

That was the start of my night.

Eventually, however, I started to dry off, Cricket arrived and the Magpies got on stage and opened with “The Waiting,” my favorite song off of the new album. As you may recall, we were introduced to this band last October by Mr. Branan and loved them immediately. Their live performance is unspeakably good. I actually cannot overstate how good they are. It is, perhaps, even more impressive considering the fact that the small venue kept them from rocking out to their full potential. Specifically, keyboard player Justin Gorski, who rocked so hard at the 3 Crow Bar, was this time around confined to the accordion for most of the set. Which he rocked. There’s really no holding these guys back.

I’ve been trying to articulate to anyone who will listen (a.k.a. Cricket) what it is about the Magpies live show that sets them apart from the rest. It may be that they bring it. Despite the fact that Cricket and I accounted for about 70% of the audience, they played like it was a (much larger) packed house. They even, for the most part, valiantly ignored the loud, drunk sorority girls at the bar. It could be that they sound live like they do recorded in the best possible way. Lead singer Roger Hoover’s voice is incredibly smooth, with that perfect rough-edge rasp that we at HCT adore so much. It’s perfectly suited to the songs he sings and, let’s face it, sexy as hell. [Also, he has the twinkly-eyed charm of a sexier Robert Downey Jr. Although I don’t think Hoover shares RDJ’s problems… Maybe we need to come up with a better comparison.—Cric] [[I think anyone who knows of our truly deep and abiding love for RDJ would take this as the compliment it was intended to be. Twinkly-eyed charm, indeed – Daisy]]

It certainly doesn’t hurt that the songs they play are the musical equivalent of meeting someone you feel like you’ve known for years—energizing and infectious, but familiar and comfortable in some indefinable way. They have a new album out, Eastern Standard Time, which we will be reviewing once Cricket and I stop fighting over who gets to do it. [I love the album, but I am amused that you think I would do work when you are perfectly willing to do it.—Cric] [[Well played, Crics. Well played. – Daisy]]

Before I get started on that, I thought I’d share some of my favorites from their Whiskeyhounds era (all of which are available on CDBaby and Amazon):

“Blueberry Wine” — Got drunk early on blueberry wine/ sugar-sweet Mexican cigars
I can’t speak for Cricket, but I’m going to anyway. I believe this is the song that sold us completely and irrevocably on the Magpies. It was the day after the show they played with Cory and we were out running errands, listening to our newly acquired CD. It is a great song overall, but what got us specifically were the lyrics:

I’m a long way from East Texas, but I’ll be there unless these two-dollar girls finish my three-dollar wine

You had us at “two-dollar girls”. Well, really you had us at “got drunk early”, but it was all sewn up with “two-dollar girls”.

“Inside His Devil Grin” — There’s a man standing outside my door with a bible like a gun/ That way of life might work for him but I don’t bow to anyone
This song comes close to the frenetic energy of seeing them live. It has a furious drive and rhythm that makes sitting still impossible. That coupled with the controlled intensity of Hoover’s vocals is a perfect example of what makes this band so compelling.

“Roger Hoover’s Dream” — Daughter’s all in pigtails/ She never cries/ She’s got here mother’s hair/ She’s got her father’s eyes
This song has that slow, easy feeling of sepia-toned memories of lazy summer afternoons. It’s also got that perfect twangy edge that makes me think that the “mother” and “father” in the above lyrics should really be “momma” and “daddy”. I do, in fact, thus change said lyrics when I’m singing along in my car. FYI.

“Caroline Street Stomp” — You say I drink too much and now that it’s over, had to keep on drinking whiskey ’cause I couldn’t stand to tell you I loved you sober
If there were no other reason, this song would get honorable mention for the above lyrics. Especially with the follow up – If you ever got to hear yourself speak you’d know just why you’re alone. So many snaps in one song, it must might be my new favorite “eff off and die” breakup song.

“Sweet Angelyne” — I did you wrong, babe, these things are better left unsaid/ No use pulling stitches from a healing wound again
This is, perhaps, my favorite song ever. The rhythm of the lyrics fills me with joy, so much so that I am rendered fairly inarticulate. So maybe you just go download this song? You won’t be sorry.

What I’m saying is this. The Magpies are going on tour again starting in September, so if they are playing anywhere near you, take the chance to go see them. Tell them we sent you.

In the meantime, I’ll go start my review of Eastern Standard Time and you go check out the songs on their Myspace. And if you’re still not convinced? Here’s a video of Roger Hoover covering Cory Branan’s “White-T Girls”:

Trial by Fire

So, hi there, this is Mimi. No, I am NOT dead. I just moved to LA. For now, you can read my mad ramblings here, but soon we’re going to have a huge shake up at HCT. More on that later, but for the time being, meet our latest addition to the wacky world of HCT: our buddy JD. Oh, yeah, so I’ve moved to LA. That’s where I am, not dead (I heard the rumors, trust me), just far, far away from Tennessee (cue a Lucero track). JD’s my gal in CA, and she loves tequila (dear god), Texas-flag regalia, [The throw pillows were a GIFT, I swear! — JD] and avocados. Say hey to her and settle in for the reconstruction you’ll see around here very soon!

*

Hi, I’m JD and I’m from Texas. [Got practice with that particular style at the AA meetings before you fell off the wagon, right? — Mimi] As some of you probably know, they’ve got some music there worth listening to. In this, my cherry-poppin’ post here at HCT, I thought I’d tell y’all a little bit about some of it. So I sat down, fired up the computer, and stared at a blank screen for a very long time. [How I loathe that term, cherry-popping, as can be witnessed in our podcast promoting the Brew City Tour last year when I get lippy when Cory Branan uses it.–Mimi]

See, there’s A LOT of music in Texas, shocking right? Google ‘Texas music’…see? A LOT of music. To do some sort of general “Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Steve Earle, blah blah blah…” rambling just doesn’t cover it. Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Nashville, and other hot spots as well all have their scenes that those of us who love music sit around blogging about as we wait for the next big thing to break in one of them. But in eclectic eccentric Texas, the land of cattle ranching, puffy tacos, and David Koresh, the scene manages to take care of itself. It’s the only place I know that consistently generates talent that never needs to play too far outside the state lines to make a buck selling songs, and likes it that way.

Which, two hoots and a holler for us there going to Floore’s, the Saxon Pub or The Fairmount any given night, but for the rest of you, it’s damned unfortunate. So here’s a few acts (old, new, and somewhere in the middle) that you probably won’t catch anywhere but between the Red River and the Rio Grande. Warning, this is boot scootin’ bar music. Leave your chucks at the door. [If I can wear my chucks to Fan Fair, I think I can wear them to your honky-tonk, darling.–Mimi]

Hayes Carll – Well, look there. Just out of the gate and I pick a guy touring both coasts this summer, with the Old 97s no less. Shows what I know. It cracks me up how many country-type acts I find, love, and wait to come out West only to see their tour lineup go from San Francisco straight to San Diego or vice versa. How can SanFran, the most pretentious city I’ve ever had the misery to step foot in, book country acts at the Filmore while transplanted Angelinos like myself have to drive to the heart of Hollywood to get a six pack of Lone Star for $10 at the BevMo? That ain’t right. Don’t let the steel guitar scare you, LA. It’s good for your soul. Be sure to check out the tracks “She Left me for Jesus” and “Willing to Love Again.”

Ray Wylie Hubbard – Yes, this is your dad’s outlaw music, with a dash of Zappa Sr. Notice the bat wings in his MySpace pic. “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother” may have been made famous by Jerry Jeff, but guess who wrote it? That’s right. Ray holds court in Austin now, sharing his wisdom with young Texas troubadours, but he’s touring quite a bit this summer with shows at the Best in Texas Music Festival and Willie’s Picnic. Side note: the song “Snake Farm,” while ridiculously corny, has actual Texas context. Since 1967, this place has been the biggest road-side attraction on the narrow stretch of I-35 between New Braunfels and San Antonio. When I was a kid, they had rattle snakes in there 30 feet long with heads the size of softballs behind cages made out of chicken wire and two-by-fours. Family fun for everyone! It’s far more Disney-fied now days with a petting zoo and other animals, but the giant hand-painted SNAKE FARM sign right off the highway exit hasn’t changed since I was knee-high to a duck’s behind. Mimi doesn’t know it yet, but we may be making a detour this summer in our travels. Film at 11. [You really went there w/ the snake farm song? My lollerskates are carrying me out the door here. No effin’ way on the snake farm visit.–Mimi]

Two Tons of Steel – Kevin and Dennis have been bringing their brand of swingbilly to the Texas Hill Country for over 15 years now. Originally named the Dead Cricketts (Buddy Holly’s people didn’t take too kindly to that somewhere in the late 90s, and the name was changed in tribute to Kevin’s ’57 Chevy that you can catch him driving around San Antone) Two Tons are a South Texas Saturday night staple. The Cibolo Creek Country Club and Gruene Hall are their main haunts, but they can be caught just about anywhere south of Waco. Don’t miss them. Do you know any other band in the world that does a cover of “I Wanna Be Sedated” that you can two-step to? That alone is worth the $10 cover. [Ok, I’m down. Let’s hit this one this summer. Check back in folks for the story of how we got arrested in San Antonio.–Mimi]

Mitch Webb and the Swindles – If one were to call Two Tons the Beatles of the Hill Country, then Mitch Webb and the Swindles are the Rolling Stones. Gritty, sexy, trashy, and all Texan, the Swindles are the band I see every time I fly home. Their MySpace is a little sparse with info and songs right now, but look them up next month. Uncle Mitchy’s spent the past year or so recording the Swindle’s first album in 5 years, due out June 13th. The album release party at Casbeers should be the stuff of legends.

For those of you who are about to rock

Hi guys! I’m fresh back from Philadelphia which I loved so much I think y’all should move it to the top of your lists of places to visit. In line with our jet setting lifestyles, Mimi is now in LA, leaving Daisy and I to prove we can have fun without her. Left to our own devices we did the only thing we could do that would 100% guarantee fun, we went to a Cory Branan show. [Cory Branan: A guaranteed Good Time—Daisy]

I’ll admit, we just went to see Cory. I knew there were other bands on the bill, I’d read their names in the show listings, thought about looking them up, just never quite got to it. Yes, I’m copping to not doing my homework before a show. Some days I’m just lazy. So anyway, Daisy and I put on cute shoes, grabbed our handbags and our gentlemanly chaperone, Chris Milam, and headed on down to Ye Olde 3 Crow Bar to see some music. We ran into Cory B. as soon as we came in, he assured us that he loved both the bands and that we’d have a great time. Since we love Cory, we took his word for it, but maybe with a grain of salt. Imagine my surprise when I fell in love with the first band during the first song.

I don’t really know where to start, so it’ll be with the keyboard player before all else. The first song kicked up, the band launched into it and the keyboard player rocked so hard his glasses flew off his face less than a minute into the set. If that doesn’t set you up for a good show, I don’t know what does.

The band was the (newly re-named) Magpies (formerly The Whiskeyhounds). These boys are that perfect mash of rock, folk and that bit of twang I love so much. The influences/sounds likes listed on their MySpace page are fairly close to what I’d say: You can hear a Bruce Springsteen and Rolling Stones influence under the rock and roll parts, infused heavily with Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and a strong heartbreak of twang that pulls it towards country. Roger Hoover fronts the band, singing, playing guitar and generally instantly becoming my new singer/songwriter boyfriend (sorry, Cory, but I think you understand). His song writing is tight, smart and exceptionally excellent. The drummer and bassist—I’m going to take a guess, based on what I could find online and say they were Dave McKean and Adam Simms respectively—kept a steady beat that made this a band you could dance too (though you’d never know by the stiff response from the East Nashville hipster crowd, but those people never look like they are having fun). Justin Gorski rounded out the band on keyboards and accordion. His playing was great, his showmanship was spastic and raw and totally worth going to see the band for. Because this is the internet, I can try and share a little of the magic with you:

Although that doesn’t really do those boys justice. If you can, check them out yourself, current tour dates are:

Oct 14, 2007 HiTone Memphis, TN
Oct 15, 2007 Lakewood Bar Dallas, TX
Oct 16, 2007 Club 115 Austin, TX
Oct 17, 2007 Momo’s Austin, TX
Oct 18, 2007 Belle Isle Oklahoma City, OK
Oct 19, 2007 Whitewater Tavern Little Rock, AR
Oct 20, 2007 Hendrix College Conway, AR

It’s been barely twelve hours and I’m already ready to see them again. I’m considering driving down to Memphis to catch them tonight. Hell they’d be almost worth the Texas drive. [If October weren’t booked solid for us, I think the likelihood of us following these guys around for a few weeks would be high.—Daisy] I promise you’ll be hearing more about them in future posts here, because I love to share about my shiny new obsessions.

Cory Branan came on second. He was a little scratchy voiced and wild-haired (it was kind of oddly Kenny Rogers-ish, which even Cory acknowledged was looking a little funky). He played a fast set, keeping with rock theme of the evening, breaking one of his strings right up front and borrowing Roger’s guitar. It wasn’t the best Cory show I’ve seen, it wasn’t the worst, but it was fun and that’s pretty much all I ask for from Cory. Daisy’s goal for the evening was to see him play “Summertime” again, which he did, [YAY!—Daisy] so I’ll give you that:

It’s hard for me to imagine, but I know there’s folks reading this site who haven’t yet seen Cory live. He’s out and about again, this time giving my homies out west a chance to check him out:

Oct 14, 2007 Hi Tone w/ Guests Memphis, TN
Oct 19, 2007 Coffee House Concert Series Memphis, TN
Nov 8, 2007 Trilogy Wine Bar Boulder, CO
Nov 9, 2007 Three Kings Denver, CO
Nov 10, 2007 Triple Nickel Colorado Springs, CO
Nov 11, 2007 Lucky Joe’s Ft. Collins, CO
Nov 16, 2007 Tractor Tavern w/ Tim Seely Seattle, WA
Nov 18, 2007 Aladdin Theater w/ Alejandro Escovedo Portland, OR

Seattle people, I love each and everyone one of you, but if you miss this show, you might be dead to me. [Indeed. There’s no reason for y’all in Seattle not to see this show. It’s on a Friday, even, so I’m betting you don’t have to work the next day.—Daisy]

After Cory, J. Roddy Walston & the Business out of Baltimore, MD came up. Let me say, they promised to rock our faces off, and I for one left with my face sufficiently rocked off in a way it hasn’t been years. [Mine, too, was quite rocked off.—Daisy] It was the hard rocking rock and roll from days gone by, with a hint of punk under the 70s influenced head banging rock. I’ll admit, this isn’t music I’d listen to at home, though I think you ought to give them a chance (hit up a couple songs at their MySpace page). I would, however, go see them live again. And again. And again. The bass player was a spectacle not to be missed, ever. I’m not sure words will do him justice, but I’ll try: He came on stage in heavy boots, loose jeans, a black tank top, Buddy Holly glasses, an impressive handlebar mustache and long, lovely curly hair. His bass was slung so low I wasn’t sure how he’d be able to reach it. The first song kicked up and holy fucking hair metal, Batman, but I haven’t seen head banging like that in years. [It actually reminded me of the time I went to see KISS Army, which is a story for another time.—Daisy] His chiropractic bills must be insane. I wonder if he has a constant concussion? How is it even possible to play and instrument while thrashing like that? Hot damn, that’s rock and roll. I tried to capture some video of it, but alas I clearly still don’t know how to use my new cell phone. Luckily our pall, Caseymagic, from Last Chance Diner, caught it a while back:

That actually doesn’t do justice to the fantastical parade of posing and head banging that I saw last night, but you at least get a feel for it. You should go get your own face rocked off. I mean, everyone needs to do that some times (even Mimi, though she’d probably try to tell you otherwise). You can check out J. Roddy and the boys yourself:

Oct 14, 2007 Hi-Tone (w/ Cory Branan) Memphis, TN
Oct 23, 2007 Iota (w/ Junior League) Arlington, VA
Oct 25, 2007 Baby Grand Wilmington, DE
Nov 29, 2007 Slim’s Downtown Raleigh, NC
Nov 30, 2007 Star Bar Atlanta, GA
Dec 1, 2007 TBA Athens, GA

The J. Roddy boys also have a sort of a tour journal blog thing going on on their website with pictures and all and I am enjoying almost as much as I enjoyed their show.

Daisy and I? We had a good night out, even if it was a long one in shoes that were perhaps cuter than they were practical. [When will we learn?—Daisy] I’d do all over again a million times.