Wes Tucker & the Skillets - What was to be an acoustic set turned out to be a full band set, albeit with acoustic leanings. Local singer/songwriter/guitarist Wes Tucker explained that he was recording a new album with the guys in the band so he brought them along and kept the guitars acoustic and had a drummer play a percussion box. The bass and keyboards were plugged in, but kept things on the subtle side. This was a good choice as the full band succeeded in keeping things more acoustic with a slight air of mystery and longing. And although this was my first time seeing the band, this set was a nice contrast to the live LP that I recently reviewed. That electric set showed the band could really rock while this showcased the fine songwriting and voice of Wes Tucker. Not that the rock was lacking, as the acoustic guitarist provided excellent solos on a couple of occasions. The keyboards and guitar work melded together in one song to almost provide a steel guitar sound without the sometimes overbearing nature of that instrument. This was a solid set and the full room seemed to enjoy it as much as I did. I look forward to their next record and what variations they add to their next live performance.
Drew Gibson - This is the CD release party for this local artist's second album entitled "The Southern Draw" and not the southern drawl as discussed in one of the many amusing quips tonight. Gibson plays guitar and sings with a band consisting of drums, bass, and steel guitar. I was afraid of the steel guitar as it is not one of my favorite instruments, but the player did a nice job of creating atmosphere and not resorting to the sappy country cliches that take me out of the moment of the song. The drum work was also light and there was plenty of room for Gibson to focus on his songs. Ultimately I felt this was a mixed set and as so often the case, it depended on the particular song (and of course some of my biases). If I heard nothing else, the second song tonight (from the new album) was brilliant. It reminded me of the best of Lou Reed and had an old psyche-folk vibe that I recall from obscure artists like Jake Holmes, Cecil McCartney or Geoffrey. I could name drop further, but I would have to go deep into my archives to figure it out. Suffice it to say, Gibson created a haunting dramatic structure that pulled me in like the dramatic conclusion of a great film (and he confirmed it is "I Know I Miss You More, the opening cut from the new album). The middle of the set was a little more routine, but he upped the guitar noise and got a little bit more psychedelic at the end for a nice finish. I heard more to like than not like tonight, but if I only heard that one song, I would have been quite happy. The only other complaint may be going about an hour and twenty may have been a bit much for a weeknight, but people left as they needed to, so the hardcore fans enjoyed it.
Quote of the Night: From Drew Gibson... "I told my Mom that my first album was out and it was called 'Letterbox'."
"Wow, you must really love your cat!"
"No Mom, not litterbox, letterbox."