Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Highballers - Ian Walters Trio - Charlie and the Contraband -- Iota - Feb 20 2012

Charlie and the Contraband - Years from now when the 29 Days Later experiment is discussed (uh-huh), someone will ask the trivia question of what band was reviewed twice during that February of 2012. And the answer will be former Austinian, Charlie Harrison and the Contraband. I enjoyed the set two weeks ago at the Velvet Lounge and it was another nice ride tonight. They were down to a four-piece with a missing guitarist. But Jackson Edwards of the WeatherVanes was again on hand to add some mandolin, vocals, harmonica, and this time around... more lead guitar. Harrison has the songs, lead vocals and plays acoustic guitar. His songs are solid, a bit on the C&W side, but the Austin W side wins out and allows plenty of room for rock moves. Ian Walters joins in on keyboards for one song. Good set, good band, you won't go wrong if you like this style of music.

Ian Walters Trio - The trio consists of Ian Walters on keyboards and lead vocals along with a guitarist/lead vocalist and a drummer. Simple and effective barroom blues seems to be the formula. It is snappy and likable, but seems a little on the straight side for me. I did enjoy the keyboard work with the bass lines and overall rhythmic touch. As the set went on, the guitarist cut some nice solos and Walters had some nice skronky keyboard moves. A decent enough set, hard to criticize, but it did not elevate quite as much as I would like. This set was a good bridge tonight.
The Highballers - This is my second time in as many months seeing this 'local' five-piece. Local is where they live but with members hailing from New Orleans, Los Angeles, Seattle, Pittsburgh, and Oklahoma City, geography is a just a little stretched. But they all bring their influences together in a rousing set of honkytonk rock'n'roll. They call it country, but that does not really describe it, even as they do some Gram Parsons covers and the Everly Brothers "When Will I Be Loved". Male and Female vocals trade off while the rhythm section keeps things shaking throughout. The lead guitar stands out best with an outpouring of notes running around it all. They exude a fun attitude as well and it is hard to enjoy this and get pulled into the rhythm of it all. The crowd was enjoying the night, as many wanted one last night of their long weekend. The Highballers delivered the goods.

Quote of the Night: The Highballers singer (to me after Contraband was finishing)... "Did he just rhyme sausages and hostages?!"

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