Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dennis and Brenda Kippa

Surprises. People either like them or they don't like them. Since
we've been following the band Uncle Lucius around, we've decided that
we love surprises. There's always some sort of great surprise at a
show that features Uncle Lucius.

Recently, we reported on a Lucius concert in which the biggest
surprise was the excellence of the opening act, Folk Family Revival.
They were wonderful!

Now we have a similar surprise to report from their most recent
concert. But first, we have a few other surprises to tell you about;
all were connected to this one event.

Taking place on Saturday, February 1st, the best surprise might have
been the one that awaited the band itself. Uncle Lucius was new to Ben
Wheeler; they had never played there before. Not knowing what to
expect, maybe they thought they would see some of their regular fans
who almost always show up when they play at Stanley's in Tyler. But
Moore's in Ben Wheeler is a larger venue than Stanley's, and it's a
"hidden" jewel to those who have not yet found it, so maybe Lucius
thought they'd find a smaller-than-usual crowd.

So the surprise for Lucius must have been that after navigating under
darkened skies, down lightly-traveled roads, to a spot in the middle
of nowhere, they found a full house waiting for them! How does this
happen? We'll tell you soon enough.

To us, the mood seemed electric. We noticed the super-charged
chemistry between the band members, and it spilled over to the
audience. The dance floor stayed full until it became impossible to
move; people filled it shoulder-to-shoulder, standing side by side
after that. Clearly, something special was going on. Uncle Lucius took
the opportunity to introduce some of the new music from their next CD,
which is currently in the works. If those songs are representative of
the whole next CD, it seems certain that they've stepped up to the
challenge of their last CD, the acclaimed "And You Are Me", which was
released in 2012 . And why wouldn't it? These guys are the real deal.
Just as their live performances keep getting better and better, how
could their new music be anything less than awesome? For us, it was a
truly joyful thing to see so many new faces experiencing this band for
the first time.

So... how did this happen? That's the next surprise. You may recall
that anything that happens at Ben Wheeler is probably our favorite
place to be on any given night. And if it's at Moore's Store, as most
events in Ben Wheeler are, then it's because of the efforts of one
Martha Thorne. If you met Martha at any of the places you shop, you
wouldn't guess that she is the energy behind this great venue.

 Martha blends into her surroundings and becomes a part of whoever and
whatever is there. Her natural love of people is plain, simple, and
real. So is her love of music and those who play it. She can spot the
bands that people want to hear, and she knows what to do to make
things happen. If a full house of happy people assemble to hear a band
that Martha has told them about, it's because they trust her judgment.
And more and more frequently, if a great band accepts an engagement,
finds it's way to Ben Wheeler, and finds a full house waiting, it's
also because of Martha. It's a fine surprise, every time.

We arrive now at the last surprise this week, which we mentioned at
the beginning of this report. We were happy to once again find that
the stage was warmed for Uncle Lucius by an amazing band that we had
not seen before.

Calling Tyler their home, Stefan Cotter and the Rastabillys blazed
onto the stage and captured everyone who was there in the space of one
heartbeat.  I don't know the names for different guitars, but the one
Stefan Cotter plays is like the ones I remember from 'way back. It's a
big one, like Chuck Berry was famous for doing his duck walk with, or
like B. B. King played. (See? I told you long ago that our references
are.... well, "vintage"). If anyone under the age of a half-century
wants to know what kind of guitar I'm talking about, I can't help you.
But what I want to tell you is that Stefan Cotter played as if this
giant guitar was an extension of his own arm and hand; where blood and
bones stopped and guitar started was impossible to discern.

Stefan and the three other band members (drums, bongos and bass
guitar) brought cheers with two killer sets, mostly of their own
songs. Their sound might be called a mix of Red Dirt Americana,
Louisiana hoedown, and Texas rockabilly, with a generous splat of
reggae in there, too. During their short break, the three other ladies
in our group went out to the smoking porch and found that they had the
whole band to themselves for a few minutes. (Drat! I didn't go!)
Asking the musicians how to refer to their unusual mix of styles, our
girls reported that Stefan replied that they had a hard time naming
it. Determined to nail it down,  the band members laughingly came up
with "rastabilly", and their name was born.  We challenge you to find
a more unique sound, and we promise you'll enjoy yourself if you go
see these guys.

We have an invitation for you. We've heard from several of you who say
you read this column and might like to go see a band sometime. Here's
your chance!

Uncle Lucius returns to our area again this month, on Thursday, the
20th, at The Levy in Longview. This is a venue that we are not
familiar with,  but band members tell us that Lucius has played there
before. If you would like to join your faithful Road Dogs at this
concert, please contact us at 903-769-9043. We can pick a place to
meet or follow each other over to the venue.... what say you? We can
guarantee nothing but a good time and great music. We'll be waiting by
the phone for your call.

If this event is not convenient, maybe we can zero in on a different one,
Meanwhile, whatever you do, put on some music and... enjoy!

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