New Boss - Same as the old boss? Maybe. This Charlottesville band has a couple of guitars, a couple of keyboards, and a rhythm section, yet the sound is pretty basic garage pop rock. The organ creates a mysterious backing for the guitars to crunch out some chords. It is not bad, but the vocal melodies and overall songwriting may need more time to develop. The stage patter could use some rethinking as well. But hey, the small crowd was enjoying it as we all braved a windy snowstorm to get here tonight. So it was great to have the music pouring out this evening.
Rathborne - From Brunswick Maine, comes Luke Rathborne with acoustic guitar and voice. Normally, Saturday nights this and many other clubs is certain death for lone folkies. Yet Luke Rathborne has the right approach for the live setting. He plucks the guitar with rock force and has a powerful voice that he can send over the conversation to reach all of us in the back of the club. And the snow has subsided (the cold has set in), so a surprisingly large and vibrant crowd is here to enjoy. He won them over with his energetic playing and quirky humor in between songs. His playing reminded me of Dave Pirner crossed with Jerry Porter. It worked tonight and likely works at most shows he would be a part of. Well done.
Dead Professional - This local trio finished fourth in the Deli Magazine poll of emerging artists of 2014. And it is with good reason, for while they have been around for a while as a one-man band, they have now morphed into a tight pop rock trio that is working Americana into the mix of their pop rock sound. With whatever style they choose, they have the songs that show a high level of maturity and touch that many bands take years to strive for. I enjoyed the foot tapping opener, which was the first of several songs that showed off the Americana vibe they worked in smoothly. The backing vocals help achieve this as much as the basic songs. Other times, they have a rock style that has a light Wipers feeling with a steady rhythm and heartfelt melody with fine vocals and guitar work. They drew a sizable crowd on a night that many people would have done better by staying in. But the effort was worth it and the vibe in the Rock'n'Roll Hotel was great. It appears this band is headed for a long and healthy life.
Quote of the Night: From the opener describing a new song... "It may sound like Blue Oyster Cult."
I wish... it was more like Great Plains, but that works for me.