Brandon Butler - The former guitarist from Boy's Life starts off with a solo set featuring voice, acoustic guitar, and awkward rambling (sometimes funny) stories. Normally, acoustic solo sets are death in this club on a Friday night, but the ferocious storms outside kept the crowd down to a quiet dozen when he started his set. As the crowd doubled and then some, it did get noisier, but Butler had a strong enough voice and guitar strum to keep control of the stage. He evokes thoughtful and emotional moods with his songs and he was completely wrong when he said it was all down hill from his opening cut. A few of the latter ones were excellent and he even added a nice finger style in one of the last cuts. His story telling kind of skewed things to a dullish modern vibe that distracted from the timeless qualities in the music. Otherwise, this was folk solid.
Silent Old Mtns. - From nearby Frederick, comes this collective of musicians who have plenty of guitars, banjos, voices, and a rhythm section. They cook up a whacked out brand of Americana folk rock that dives headlong into psyche terrain frequently. The songs were good enough, but the arrangements really shined brightly when they connected. Maybe they are a trippier version of O'Death, but these guys take familiar things to strange places. They were loose, but in a good way, like a jamming band that uses space properly where listeners can float around and connect far more often than get lost. I will certainly look forward to seeing them on another night when the rains are not keeping people away. But the 30-40 people here were enjoying the set.
Vietnam - This band is has a rhythm section, a couple of guitars, keyboards, and violin. They continue the motif of the evening with a psychedelic jamming rural stoned-out folk rock vibe. The songs were not as distinct as that of their recent album (although I recognized a few), but blended together into what felt like an extended jam. They reminded me a bit of MV & EE, but they certainly have their own style. What was interesting was that no player seemed to ever jump to the forefront with any sort of virtuosity, but skillfully wove their sound into the overall fabric. They did a good job on a tough night and I may be catching them quite soon when I make my way to Austin for Psyche Fest.
Quote of the Night: From Silent Old Mtns.... "How many people have wet socks". Thankfully I got here early enough, so I was not one of the many who cheered, but with the wind kicking up, I had a lot of wet clothes to hang up after the walk to the car following the show.