Monday, August 26, 2013
Reviewing The Statesboro Revue Dennis and Brenda Kippa According to the on-line encyclopedia Wikipedia, the definition of Americana Music goes like this: “Americana is an amalgam of roots musics formed by the confluence of the shared and varied traditions that make up the American musical ethos; specifically those sounds that are merged from folk, country, blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll and other external influences. Americana, as defined by the Americana Music Association (AMA), is "contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues, resulting in a distinctive roots-oriented sound that lives in a world apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it may draw. While acoustic instruments are often present and vital, Americana also often uses a full electric band." Pretty technical, right? Now if you really want to learn about Americana music, the most simple route is to listen to The Statesboro Revue's Ramble On Privlege Creek or their first CD, Different Kind Of Light. While you'll find gems on both CDs, Different Kind Of Light offers a traditional country and rock “n” roll fare, whereas Ramble On Privilege Creek offers the pure, definitive Americana music. The Statesboro Revue is led by singer/lyricist Stewart Mann, who plays lead guitar. His younger brother is Garrett Mann, who also plays lead guitar, in addition to beautiful harmony vocals. Ben Bradshaw lays down the baseline, while Luke “Cool Hands” Ayer lends his masterful approach to the drums. Together, the four Austin-based musicians produce something entirely fresh and soulful, and it's pure, textbook Americana. I believe "Ramble on Privilege Creek" will go down as the consummate Americana album in years to come. From "Fade My Shade of Black" to "Hands In the Sun" and the ten cuts in between, all are worthy of your interest. This CD belongs in your collection. In a recent article, we talked about the importance of “hooks” and “transitions” in great songs. The Statesboro Revue's music provides a perfect example of superior use of these techniques. Their lyrics tell stories that make the listener want to know the whole story. The CD Ramble On Privilege Creek is a nod to the grandmother and great-grandfather of Stewart and Garrett Mann. Their great-grandfather played in a band by the name of The Blue Bonnett Ramblers, while their grandmother still lives in the Texas Hill Country area known as Privilege Creek. You'll remember that Americana music is all about roots, which can also mean family. At a recent live show, the Mann brothers dedicated the whole show to the grandmother mentioned here, who had undergone surgery a few days prior. It was a very touching gesture. After the live show that we attended, we were able to spend a few minutes talking to the band members and others who assist with their show. Everyone was down to earth, friendly, open, and they seemed genuinely interested in whatever we and other audience members had to say. Maybe that's another thing about Americana music that is rare and wonderful. Not only can we depend on seeing an energetic and totally memorable show, but we often get to meet and interact with these gifted musicians. (Who out there remembers the last time they attended a concert and got to meet the band members afterward?) One last item: Stewart and Garrett Mann sometimes participate in a play called “The Buddy Holly Story”, in which Stewart appears as Buddy Holly. He portrays Buddy Holly in the early years, dressed in appropriate 50's garb and playing guitar as it was done in the early Buddy Holly years. Fans who remember that period of time have been won over by this great revival play. So far, it has only been available in San Antonio; however some of Buddy Holly's music has made it's way into The Statesboro Revue's lineup on-stage. Your assignment this week is to log into your favorite music player (ie Pandora or Spotify) and listen to Stewart Mann and The Statesboro Revue. They play over 175 dates a year so they will be at a venue near you soon. Don't forget the albums are for sale at any of the on-line music stores and a good selection of performances from their live shows are available on-line on You Tube. BRENDA'S VIEW: I have very little to add; I'm a huge Statesboro fan, too. I may not be quite so certain that their music is the absolute embodiment of Americana, but I agree that years from now we will still be talking about them and there music. I'll leave that part in Dennis' capable hands. What I DO know is that these guys make me happy when I see them on-stage; I know that Stewart Mann can hold a note for as long as just about anyone (and he does a proud rendition of The Star Spangled Banner); and I know that if I watch Garrett Mann play his guitar, and I let my mind take me to the very best places in my memory bank, I could swear I'm seeing and hearing The Band's Rick Danko in The Last Waltz. What's not to love about that?
East Texas Music Scene
Once and awhile you come across a talented musical group that grabs your interest and renews your faith in the possibility of “the next big sound”. It has been many years sense I heard anything that sparked my interest, but Uncle Lucius has done just that in a very big way.
Uncle Lucius, as the band is known, has been playing all around the State of Texas for about 7 years now. They've played at bars, nightclubs, honky tonks, BBQ restaurants, small theaters and festivals - anywhere they can draw a crowd. Their sound is hard to describe. They don't fit into one genre. Some call it Southern Rock, some call it Northern Soul, some call it Americana. I call it excellent.!
Some one recently asked Joe Walsh of the Eagles “What makes a song become a number one record?” “As far as I'm concerned”, he said, “it has to have a hook.” A hook might be a guitar riff, a lyric line, or a melody that jumps out at you and pulls you into the music. To this, I would add that a song must have good transitions. This is the part in the song where the melody seems to shift into a different and unexpected gear. Both of these points of great music- hooks and transitions - is where Uncle Luciusshines. Their music is full of hooks of every variety that tug at your heart and transitions that speak to your soul. From the haunting true story in the song “Keep the WolvesAway” to the rockin' “Everybody's Got Soul”, along with too many others to mention here, the hooks and transitions will keep you listening to their music over and over again. On most any Uncle Lucius tune, you will be pulled musically one direction, and then when you least expect it, you will be pulled hard in another. It feels like magic. You find yourself wondering what's next and hoping that it isn't about to end.
The band is made up of lead singer and rhythm guitar player, Kevin Galloway, who attended Big Sandy High School, along with Hal Vorpahl on bass, Mike Carpenter on lead guitar and vocals, Josh Greco on drums and percussion, and Jon Grossman on keyboard and vocals. Each member of this band adds his own mark on each and every tune, and on most songs they all share writing credits, which is something that is rare in the business of music. Their music is truly a group effort, and a darned good one at that.
If you think you might enjoy the music of Uncle Lucius, you can listen to all of it on any music archive site. Spotify is one such site. Once you download it, you can listen to anything, as often as you like. When you decide what you like, you can download it (purchase it) from any of several music sites.
If you would like to see Uncle Lucius live, you're in for a huge treat. They have a date coming up in early September at a well known BBQ joint in Tyler. You can check theUncle Lucius website or their Facebook page for current information.
As time and space allow, I hope to direct your musical ear to other Texas-based groups that may be of interest to you. I would love to hear from you all with any comments you might have. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE AND SINGING ALONG WITH SHINYRIBS
DENNIS AND BRENDA KIPPA
This week, we're going in reverse with our comments. Brenda's going to give the general scoop on our highlighted band, and Dennis will add his comments. (This is full disclosure, hometown-newspaper commentary style).
When our odyssey of discovering Americana music brought us to a door marked “Shinyribs”, we had been given certain information. “You'll love them”; “They're different”; “Most of the guys used to be with a well-established Austin band called The Gourds”; and again, “They're different”. Often added was something like “You'll swear that guy has no bones”, or “He looks like a happy gnome”, referring to the group's leader, Kevin “Shinyribs” Russell.
As the CD was pulled into the player, we closed our eyes and jumped down the rabbit hole.
From the first notes of their first CD (Well After Awhile, released in 2010), we were yanked into an alternate universe of psychedelic swamp jangle/honky-tonk blues sounds with a nice dollop of very fun lyrics littered everywhere. Wafting through it all, we could sometimes hear sweet, rich harmonies and (yes!) a smattering of yodeling.
Before long, we found ourselves singing along with several of their songs. This put us into the world of a pilgrim who built the moon. He would have been rescued by the Apollo flights (who knew that's why we went there?!), but he got scared and was hiding in a hole when they arrived.
Another sing-along (If You Need The 442) had us singing this: “Well my first gray hair/it growed through my nose/and I can't say if it invaded my mustache/it's too much to think about”, while shopping at (singing along with) the Poor People's Store had us memorizing every kind of goofy item you can imagine, with the sole qualification being that it rhyme with the last item.
Climbing out of the rabbit hole, we agreed on one thing for certain: we had to see a live performance.
Shinyribs is the alter-ego of Kevin Russell, who is songwriter, singer, guitar player, and all-around crazy man and inspiration for the group. Keith Langford is the drummer, Jeff Brown is the bass player and on keyboards is “Kentucky Fried Keyboard Whiz” Winfield Cheek.
Russell was born in Beaumont, Texas, and grew up in the Church of Christ and the biker bars of Louisiana. By the age of 17, he was playing his own version of hippie jam/country blues madness for college crowds and grumpy bikers who wanted “different”. By now, “different” is always assured.
We got our chance to see the band play. On the four hour drive to the venue in Bryan, we convinced our daughters that it would be amusing for the band if we learned the lyrics to a couple of the songs. What we had in mind was that we would be like some of the audiences you see in videos. As it turned out, every single person in the audience had the same idea, and Shinyribs was more than ready for us. By changing a few things here and there, they stayed in command all the way through without stripping us of too much dignity. Sure enough, it felt like we had fallen down the rabbit hole again, led by a madcap gnome with no bones. The chemistry between Winfield Cheek (keyboards) and the antics of Shinyribs was mesmerizing, and every single song was played as if it were the encore. The lineup that night included two other bands – one of which was none other than the great Uncle Lucius – yet Shinyribs played for well over two and a half hours. To say we were well entertained would be an insulting understatement. We were also worn out, and the sun was rising when we saw Wood County again.
My advice? Buy Shinyribs's music. Go see their show. Feel like a crazy fool kid again. It's times like these we dare not miss.
Well once again my better half is correct. Gosh, I hate when she does that. Anyway Shinyribs is a group you have to hear. Go to a music player like Spotify or Pandora,crank it up and enjoy. In my humble opinion there are two sleepers on the album. The last one on the CD is an old Sam Cooke song called Change is Gonna Come.Beautifully sung with heart and soul. The other is called Fisherman's Friend and it talks about a spiritual walk with Jesus. It least that’s what I hear. And don't forget the new CD is called Gulf Coast Museum and it is of course outstanding!