Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Highballers - Human Country Jukebox - Avril Smith + Friends -- Iota - Mar 9 2013

Avril Smith + Friends - Ms. Smith is on acoustic guitar and vocals with her friends on vocals/songwriting, mandolin/vocals, stand-up bass/vocals, and lap styled dobro (played standing, but overhand). There are a lot of bluegrass touches with this instrumentation within its country folk-rock approach. The bass added a touch of light jazz and all the instrumentalists got to show off some nifty moves during the set. Smith's guitar work is excellent and she was playing some strong leads to where I was looking around the pillar to make sure an electric guitarist had not sneaked onto the stage. Their 40-minute set was solid, although I personally could have done without the covers. The crowd voted the Stevie Wonder song over the Led Zeppelin cut (not knowing which on) which pretty much only served to remind me how good Stevie Wonder was, rather than break any new ground. To be fair the band had no way of knowing how much I did not want to hear Randy Newman's "Dayton, Ohio - 1903" as I spent many years there and based on the awful day I was having today. For some reason, Newman did not show much irony in that song, even though many of us know it is there. Don't get me started. Anyway, hope to see them again some time with a set of original songs or songs of local songwriters.

Human Country Jukebox - This band lived up to their name with country and country rock music that went down like water. The first song summed it up as the lyrics told the crowd of all the great musicians that they were not going to live up to, including Waylon's guitar work. They chose some of the best to aspire to and being a closet Waylon fan, I was enjoying this more than I expected. The baritone vocal work was as pure as you would want in this genre and led the way to a fine set. The crowded club was getting into these songs and the band did a nice job of building the intensity throughout. I do not care for country music much, but if you lean western and have the 'outlaw' style that these guys do, you can win me over easily enough.
The Highballers - Alas I missed this due to my limited ability to say no and my miscalculation that the Iota show would start at 8pm rather than 9:13pm. I had to run off to the 9:30 Club to see the headline act at their late show which I only just caught as it was. Utterly stupid on my part as this band invited me to the show tonight--and being the good guys they are, were touting the fine opening acts as the reason to come. Well, I may have missed the set, but the club was full as there are plenty of sharp minded music lovers around time who know this band provides warm, energetic, gutsy fare that is perfect for a Saturday night. Here's an older review, but just go out and have some fun at a Highballers show near you. I don't see how they could fail to deliver a raucous, well played set of their hearty world-worn songs.

Quote of the Night: "..." was the 'apology' I got from some drunken idiot who bumped me on a crosswalk headed to the show. What was with Clarendon last night? Everyone was wearing so much green and was so drunk in the streets that I thought it was St. Patrick's day weekend and I had completely forgotten of a Jammin Java show I was supposed to do that day. I finally figured out that I was not screwed up on my weeks, which was a relief as just about everything else went wrong today. I will spare you all that rant, but there are some universal issues that may come out in time. ooooh, ominous vibes.

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