Browse Category

[REVIEW]

[HOUSTON][ORIGINAL FTNB CONTENT][REVIEW]

Kevin Gordon at the Mucky Duck, Houston

posted by Jared A. Godar December 5, 2018 1 Comment
Kevin Gordon

For me, it is always a bitter-sweet thing to discover a musician I love who has been at it for decades with more records than I can count on one hand. On the one hand, I am happy to have more enriching music in my life and look forward to delving into their catalog. On the other, I can’t help feeling some sense of loss for having not been listening for the last ten plus years. Some examples:

  • A work colleague turned me onto Chris Smither driving to a department retreat.
  • Darrin Bradbury is responsible for exposing me to both Steve Poltz, who randomly got snowed-in in Nashville and ended up opening for Darrin, and David Dondero, who played an intensely intimate set at the OG Basement.
  • Just three months ago I was soliciting suggestions for entire albums to listen to on my drive back to Houston from the Americana Festival and Anna Joy Harris turned me on to Dar Williams.

I most recently experienced this phenomenon when Nick Loss-Eaton strongly suggested I go to the Mucky Duck to see Kevin Gordon. It is no exaggeration to say that I was blown away. Kevin is a road-weathered troubadour in the truest sense of the word. His songs have a very literary quality with vivid imagery. It’s no surprise that he holds a Master’s in poetry from the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Hell, he recited a poem from memory mid-set!

He’s from West Monroe, Louisiana and his songs are definitely infused with the soul and mystery of the deep south. He doesn’t shy away from the uncomfortable truths of racism and segregation and captures the essence of these and other major social issues with specific, relatable examples that most of us have encountered in some capacity. He started writing songs and playing guitar at seventeen and had a garage punk band. His first album was released in 1993 (on cassette). He just released his seventh full-length album, Tilt & Shine, in July.

I’m a big fan of storytelling in music. This often ends up with a bit of rambling over three chords, which I am fine with; but Kevin’s songs were simultaneously tight short stories while still being very much songs as well.

Kevin was accompanied by a rhythm section consisting of Ron Eoff on bass and Joshua Hunt on drums. To say this trio was tight would be an understatement. You know how there’s usually one member of most bands that is disproportionately into what they are doing? The keyboard player who is only playing sustained chords for a measure at a time, but lunges forward with his entire frame every time the chord changes. That tambourine player that looks like she belong under a gospel revival tent.

Ron was extremely animated. Bouncing around the stage, dancing and putting his entire body into it. The difference between his performance and what I mentioned above is his frenetic motions were in utter harmony with the tasty grooves he was laying down. He has performed vocals and/or bass for Levon Helm, Cate Bros., Patrick Sweany, and The Band. I got a chance to chat with him after the show, and he’s everything you hope for in a gun-slinging, highly technically-competent musician: incredibly humble and grateful that he has been able to make his living doing what he loves for the last forty plus years.

Joshua, on the other hand, was a study in restraint. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Percussion Performance from Western Kentucky University and a Master’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is a Nashville Jazz Workshop faculty member. He is one of the most in-demand jazz drummers in Nashville touring with Alison Krauss and Union Station and he is a member of the Jerry Douglas band. I don’t think his head moved once, or that his neutral, serene expression ever changed. But he was laying down a great groove, equally comfortable and competent with a diverse array of patterns and beats.

The performance was intimate and—I don’t say this often—magical. The show was well-attended and save the appropriate-timed chuckle to a quip either in song or the banter between them, the room was completely silent with everyone on the edge of their seats in anticipation of what was coming next.

For me, the highlight of the evening was an autobiographical tune called “Colfax.” Not many performers can hold the attention of a crowd for a song lasting over ten minutes, but I could have listened to an expanded, twenty-minute version of this one.

I have since delved deeper into Kevin’s work and eagerly await my next opportunity to see him perform live. If you ever have the chance to do so, I highly recommend seizing it.

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Spotify | Pandora 
YouTube | Band Camp |Artist’s Website

[NEW RELEASE][ORIGINAL FTNB CONTENT][REVIEW]

Ruby Boots Scoot and Boogie @ The Basement East

posted by Charles Bridgers IV November 29, 2018 0 comments
Ruby Boots at the Basement Wast. Photo: Charles Bridgers IV

I would like to introduce Charles Bridgers IV, the newest member of the Fighting the Nashville Blues team. He will be one of the folks who serve as my eyes and ears in Nashville when I find myself elsewhere. Please enjoy his article from a recent Ruby Boots show at the BEAST. Welcome him and share your thoughts in the comments. Rock on.

Jared Godar

“I have a vagina!”

Anonymous

You know you’re at a rock show when someone screams that out between songs prompting hoots and uproarious applause!

You know the show is in Nashville when you see that blend of hipsters and rhinestone cowboy tourists unique to Downtown Music City. The people in their forties clad in Nirvana shirts and the denim and the patches and the denim and the patches and the denim and the patches and—you get the point.

Last Sunday Ruby Boots and her five-piece rock band returned to Nashville, their home away from home, after a regional tour in support her Bloodshot Records label debut album Don’t Talk About It. Half of the band is from Canada, and the other half is from Australia. The Australian accent is strong with Bex Chilcott, aka Ruby Boots ,who sounds like she’s recording a VH1 documentary.

Ruby Boots Don’t Talk About It

When the music starts, the Nashville comes out of her. Ruby and her band bring the country stomp from Australia to the colonies and beyond. While the twang is unmistakable, you can also hear tinges of alternative rock and a speck of retro flavor—enough to leave you scratching your head trying to figure out what song from the sixties inspired that sound.

One of the things that makes Ruby Boots different from the rest is her love for epic squealing guitar solos; a lost art frowned upon in a world of three-minute disposable pop songs. Her guitarists thrive in manipulating frequencies to add pleasurable textures to the meat and potatoes of the song structure.

Her denim-clad string warriors strut across stage along with her, while the bassist grooves and the drummer keeps that beat we all need so much. The lights shift color,swinging along with the mood and musical shifts provided by Sunday night’s entertainment.

One of the most melodically surprising songs of the evening was“Don’t Talk About It,” a rocking love song with a delicious “doo wop” vibe that was increasingly infectious as the band glided through it.

Ruby Boots “Don’t Talk About It”

How do you follow set like that? With a show-stopping tune that was the highlight of the night.

The band exited the stage while Ruby remained center stage.  The lights turned purple, and sh explained the meaning behind “I am a Woman,” her female-empowerment anthem. Bex then dedicated the song to all the women out there, praising their strength and decrying all the forces trying to take them down. She declared that her gender deserves a lot more respect than they receive, which led to the aforementioned“I have a vagina!” being yelled before the song started.

Ruby had the entire Basement East under her spell as she sang her tune a cappella, providing a voice of love to the struggle against jerks who think it is okay to treat a woman any way they want, regardless of her consent.

I am a believer
Standing strong by your side
I’m the hand to hold onto
When it’s too hard to try… I am a woman
Do you know what that means
You lay it all on the line
When you lay down with me.

Ruby Boots

Her voice was clear and powerful, channeling the spirit of the early female country artists who carved out a place in the genre ruled by men in ten-gallon hats. Call it Dolly Parton filtered through the #meToo moment,call it whatever you want, it was the most powerful moment of the show.

After a couple of songs drenched in distorted, fuzzy rock vibes and plenty of guitar melodies surfing and soaring over powerful vocals, Ruby invited the crowds to come visit her at the merch table, offering to sign just about everything her fans could think of that would need a Sharpie pressed to it.

She mentioned a few less than normal items that had been signed on tour, ending the offer with a wink and guarantee that she “will sign anything but I won’t touch your body unless I ask because I’m that kind of girl.”

It was another unforgettable night in East Nashville, brought to you by Ruby Boots and The Basement East. 

Get your copy of Don’t Talk About It on CD, digital, or transparent orange/gold vinyl here. 

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Official Website: Ruby Boots Online