Saturday, March 31, 2012

Boxcar Rebellion, Brian Ledford and The 1Uppers at Conor Byrne 3-30-12

I was sick in the last part of the week and felt like shit. I had missed a show on Thursday night, the gentlest of shows starting at 6 and ending at 7, and I still didn't make it.

There is a plague going around and many people are affected. Jon Hyde (steely for the 1Uppers) was sick and missed a day at work, thankfully he showed up for the show but he was green around the gills. The sound-tech for Conor Byrne was as white as his shirt; the red tie he wore accentuated his pale look. Poor guy, he spent most of the night with his head resting on the shroud that covered the sound board. Still the sound was great, I could hear all voices and instruments. The bands were also happy with their end, makes for a killer show.

On the way home I even saw a tow truck driver hanging his head out of the window on his truck at a stop sign. He was obviously distressed, I didn't want to see what was coming out of his face.

The big show of the evening was also handicapped by the black death. Marti Brom missed the show at Slim's featuring Rosie Flores, she had to be really sick to miss this one.

Half the town felt like shit, the other half is trying to avoid contact with us lepers.

This wasn't going to stop me.

I really would have liked to see Rosie Flores, a legendary performer. But 2 things, the show was at Slim's, very small venue for such a big name. It would be packed. They also were pre-selling tickets and their website said that if you wanted to attend you better get their early. I wasn't up to that challenge, and beside, the 1Uppers were playing Conor Byrne.

I started Friday eve like I do everyone, with Shake the Shack on KEXP 90.3 FM. The Doc was throwing down a great show; he was playing many of the songs he as made famous for the last 25 years. He had his old gang in the studio; cousin Mike, Britt and Johnny, just like old times.

I had fed them some info for the Concert Calendar that evening. They were falling all over the show at Slim's for good reason. I made sure they mentioned the second best show in town. Joining the 1Uppers at Conor Byrne were Boxcar Rebellion and Brian Ledford. This turned out to be a great show.

We walked into a very empty tavern at 9; yikes I thought, did everybody go to Slim's? There were about 8 people at the stage end of the tavern, a few more up front. When Boxcar rebellion mounted up there was a bare minimum of folks ready for music. Somehow miraculously as the music started people showed called, they obeyed.

Kathy, Igor and Reade were an outstanding trio that played every style of music known to man. Playing mostly original music they rocked us from the first lick. This is one of those incredible talented collection of musicians.

Igor the bass guitarist was a big guy wearing a gorgeously embroidered black velvet jacket. It was a intricate Chinese dragon and it was stunning. He also wore a hip chapeau and sported a groovy soul-patch. He was killin' his huge Yamaha bass, moving with the beat, laying down some great lines. Apparently he plays a different instrument in this band and stepped in to play bass for the evening.

The drummer was one of those special percussionists. I caught him from the beginning; not your usual drummer. I was reminded of an article that came out in The Onion a couple weeks ago. Their faux report stated that 97.5 percent of all bands are looking to upgrade to a better drummer. Hilarious stuff but nothing new for them. This was the drummer that they were all looking for. It turned out Reade was also the beats for the next group. He was great, also adding vocals.

Kathy had the presence of an an 80's rocker. Torn cutoffs, black tights, cowboy boots and a t-shirt with an illustration of guy flipping us all off; she finished the look off with a wonderful Patti Smith like shag hair-do. The good news was that she could absolutely shred that guitar. Twitching her face, moving her mouth like she had an electric buzzer in there, eyes closed and grooving, this was the real deal.

Boxcar Rebellion played rock, country, jazz and just when I thought they couldn't do anymore, punk. They did a killer cover of the Screamin' Jay Hawkins tune I put a spell on you. Kathy was mesmerizing as she belted out the vocals and melted her guitar. I loved this band, they made me and the gathering throngs of Friday night crazies happy and got us rocking.

See Boxcar Rebellion here:

I was really happy to see Brian Ledford hit the stage. I had seen him and his mates in the audience and knew we were in for a treat. I had done a little homework and saw that Brian just returned from SxSW in Austin. He is a wonderful performer;  playing rhythm and singing lead vocals he was captivating. It didn't hurt that he surrounded himself with stellar musicians.

Brian's band, Cadillac Desert was another example of talented artists coming together to make beautiful music. As I mentioned Reade was also adding percussion and vocals in this group. He fit like a glove as I think he would anywhere; he is a phenomenal drummer.

I couldn't peg these guys but I would say that they did have some alt. country influences layered in a very rich tapestry of rock and psychedelic. On the last tune Liam set his guitar on the amp, turned around and sat on his knees in front of his pedal switches. He ended the set by feeding us killer feedback. I almost creamed my shorts.

Liam traded lead with his mate Matt, each one taking turns with the bass. They were both magicians in each forum. Liam melted my face with his licks in the first part of the show, I was floored at his mastery over his instrument. Then Matt took his turn and continued the amazing lead in this wonderful band. I can't pick a winner, each one added his own personality; really great stuff.

I talked with Liam later; I worshiped him as he deserved.

Brian had a beautiful voice and singing his originally penned tunes he had the place buzzing; big applause after every great tune. He had a wonderful sense of humor, reminding us that the way to his heart was by purchasing one or both of his cd's. I took his advice and was not sorry. His music is not to be missed, I bought 2 discs and have not taken them out of the player since I got home.

If you have the chance to buy music from the artist you should do so. This is the best way to support local bands and independent music.

See Brian and his cohorts here:

What can I say about the 1Uppers I haven't said already. See my posts here:

and here:

Tonight they were one short and one up. Eric is a pro and plays other gigs but he was here tonight. He had a shit eating grin on his face the whole set, playing some great beats.

They were missing their virtuoso Telecaster expert Kris Geren. I am always bummed when I don't get to see the whole band but there were some unexpected results. His loss opened up territory for the two remaining guitar heroes.

Jon the pedal-steel player and John the Stratocaster/tenor guitar player had a gas trading lead solos. We got quality time with John who normally is buried behind Dave the lead vocal/acoustic.  He was up front and was obviously enjoying the opportunity. He is a quality musician and I loved watching him work.

You wouldn't know Jon was sick if it were not for the drool on his lower lip...Ha! He played great stuff and was enjoying the extra room Kris' absence allowed. He adds great vocals and writes a lot of the tunes.

Dave is a marvelous front-man for this group;  sharing lead vocals with Jon he plays acoustic guitar. He also writes a lot of this great original music.

I caught Caben the bass player leaning on the piano for strength; he is stoic but always great.

They played all my favorites and then some. If you haven't heard the 1Upppers see them here:

There was some great dancers on the floor this evening. One couple was moving in a blur. They were having so much fun; big smiles and their feet blazing. At one point he had her spinning so fast and for so long that her glasses flew off her face. They were laughing so hard as they scrambled to find them before they were crushed, they were back in action as soon as the glasses were on her face. I loved the look on her face when she came out of these spins...can we do that again?

I had to work the next day so I headed for the door at quarter to one while they were still thrilling. Sad but true. I got half-way across the street and they started into another one of my favorite tunes. I looked at my buddy and said, must go back. We went back in and listened to another couple tunes. I love the 1Uppers; happy, original, hopping, moving, fun, country music.

I am off to see Petunia and The Vipers at the Anchor in Everett tonight. I hope I get a full dose of flower power.

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