Monday, October 6, 2014

(Travelin' With The Red Dirt Road Dogs)

                                                            Dennis and
Brenda Kippa

Yes, friends, you read that headline right. Sometimes the concert will
bring itself right into our homes.
This is a fairly new capability, but our Red Dirt crystal ball tells
us that one day this will just be another choice we can make in
deciding how to experience the music we want to hear.

With a nod to the powerhouse that is Texas weather, we recently found
ourselves canceled out of a concert for the second time in less than
thirty days. Not willing to be left undone again, Road Dog One (that's
Dennis) began a tour through the websites of the bands we like.  To
our surprise, he discovered that The Band Of Heathens was having a web
concert, and it was due to begin in just a few minutes.

You haven't heard us talk about the Band of Heathens... yet. We are
anxiously awaiting their concert in Dallas later this month; our full
report will follow that event.  So far, we had only seen them in short
clips of one or two songs - aboard a cruise ship, in clubs, etc. -
via U-Tube online. We noticed a joyful sense of experimentation, yet a
clearly well-oiled package of professional musicianship that made us
want to be in the audience at the earliest possible opportunity. Every
time we saw a clip of their performance, we wanted to see more. Now we
were seeing that a whole concert was here for the taking … and the
great sum of five dollars. What's not to love about this?

Road Dog One did his magic with the cords, plugs, inputs & outputs,
and we were ready to be a part of the audience with one or two minutes
to spare.

The scene was a club in Berkley, California. On the down side, the
whole event was shot with only one camera, fixed in a long-range
position. This made it impossible to experience any close-ups, or to
even be certain about exactly which person was singing at times. That
is the end of the down side report,  because everything else was
concert perfection. This band's trademark concert style of
improvisation and extended versions of their songs keeps their
audience in a constant state of excitement and expectation. Just when
a song seems to be coming to it's end, the band launches into a
thrilling transitional jam to tie it to another of their songs to
create a once-in-a-lifetime medley. Judging by the body language
between the band members, it seems apparent that whoever is “in
charge” of a song is the one that all of the others watch closely.
This person takes the song where he wants it to go and the others
follow along with what is needed. Many bands try to do this; not so
many can pull it off and make it look easy.

We realized that we were receiving audio that was unaltered by first
going through the venue's sound system, which made a huge difference.
For this, we give our full appreciation to the audio technician who
was in charge of the sound board. Clearly, this person knew how to
process the sounds, and through the wonder of digital output and this
technician's talent, we were on the receiving end of a truly unique
sound experience.

The Band of Heathens is another of the amazing Austin-based music
marvels. It's made up of founding members Ed Jourdi and Gordi Quist,
both of whom are expert at vocals, guitar and harmonica, and Ed Jourdi
also shines on keyboards when the occasion warrants. The two of them
play off each other, taking each song into new territory with almost
every delivery. What sounds like straight-up rock or country one time
might sound like gospel the next time they play it. The band is
rounded out by Trevor Nealon on keyboards and Richard Millsap on
drums. In the opinion of Road Dog Two (that's me, Brenda), it's the
keyboards that often take this band into the stratosphere. All of
their songs are original, and these guys really know how to put a song
together. We won't be a bit surprised when some of their songs get
picked up by other musicians in a bid to grab the glow for themselves
(it probably won't work, though; perfection shouldn't be messed with).

What a great treat it was to stumble upon this web concert! As the
result of having several things go “wrong”, we are reminded that the
finest jewels of experience are sometimes found hidden behind or
underneath the remains of what once looked like a lost evening.

Watch for more on the Band Of Heathens later this month or early next
year. Meanwhile, listen to Americana music for yourself, and enjoy!

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