We got a big event coming up next week at the AllGood.
The Hobart Brothers & Lil’ Sis Hobart is a sort of supergroup composed of Austin legend Jon Dee Graham, New York’s Freedy Johnston, and the little sister of the legendary family band The Cowsills (upon whom the Partridge Family TV show was based)–Susan Cowsill.
OK, so I am gonna confess–I’m not at all familiar with Freedy Johnston (though I had at least heard of him when his name came up). I’m also not real familiar with The Cowsills, though I did watch a hell of a lot of Love, American Style when I was a kid and anything on the idiot box entertained me (The Cowsills performed the theme song) and, of course, The Partridge Family, and who hasn’t heard the iconic Hair? And I honestly didn’t know Susan Cowsill had her own career.
Both are my oversight, and based on what I’ve heard from The Hobart Brothers–and what of their solo efforts I’ve had time to listen to–I’ll correct, soonest.
Jon Dee Graham is another matter entirely. The man is considered something of a legend in Austin–and he oughtta be selling out shows here. I first became aware of him a few years ago, when he was trying to establish a “residency” (aka a “regular gig”) one night a month at The AllGood. A friend who has known Jon Dee personally for 20-some-odd years basically begged me to come to the show one night. I heard Jon Dee play his acoustic and his “lap steel” and belt out some of the most heartfelt lyrics I have ever heard in his gravelly country-meets-blues voice–and I have tried very hard to get to all of his shows since.
The problem is–no one here knows him. I have seen him play chronically under-attended gigs here in Dallas. This is a complete travesty–and, really, the reason we don’t get more intimate live music up here. We should not have to drive to Austin to see this stuff.
For real–say his name in Austin, and they know who you are talking about. Say “Jon Dee” to Bob Schneider, James McMurtry, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Charlie Sexton, or Alejandro Escovedo–or the people who go to their shows down there–and they know who he is. He’s got great people playing with him–I’ve seen Jon Dee play with Andrew Duplantis, who has been the bass player for Son Volt for several years now, and with Fastball drummer Joe Shuffield. Both Andrew and Joe are also part of Jon Dee’s semi-regular backing band, The Fighting Cocks.
And, yeah–damn right I’m dropping names.
Jon Dee Graham, alone, should be filling bigger venues. Solo, he should be filling the Kessler. This deal with The Hobart Brothers should be filling the Granada, or maybe even House of Blues.
The fact is–next Thursday (that’s April 5), you and I and all too few others will be able to eat a good meal–AllGood’s food is great–and enjoy a very intimate show with this awesome, awesome “supergroup”. I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing that they will tear completely through the one album The Hobart Brothers recorded together (which is greatness, IMHO), and have time for some of the artists’ solo work.
Seriously–do not miss this show.
So, I was flying back from visiting my parents in Raleigh, NC. Pretty sure it was just after Christmas 2004. I’d flown Southwest Airlines, so of course there was the obligatory stop Somewhere Else (thanks to the soon-to-be-dead-but-not-soon-enough Wright Amendment) to get back to Love Field.
This trip, Somewhere Else was Austin. My layover was somewhere in the neighborhood of a couple hours, so I wandered over to find a beer. Turned out they played live music in the terminal at Austin-Bergstrom International, so I took my bottle over to a table by the stage and sat down to hear the young lady who was playing.
Well, I caught about the last song and a half of her set. Certainly long enough to tell she had a pretty voice, and sang about subjects I could identify with. So, as she packed up her guitar, I walked over and told her so. She said she was actually from Dallas (but spent about half her time in Italy) and played around Dallas when she was home. I put my email addy on her mailing list and bought one of her CDs.
Her name was Vanessa Peters and I started getting her email announcements pretty quickly, telling me of shows in Dallas and all of Texas. And Europe. (Yeah, I was confused by that, but seemed to recall her mentioning spending some of her time overseas, when we talked.)
And I kept reading the emails, but not going to the Dallas-area shows. The timing either didn’t work for me, or it did and I planned to go and then just wimped out, at the last minute.
Finally, a little more than a year later, I made it to a show. It was at this really cool coffee house in the basement of what used to be the old Sears Catalog Merchandise Center, south of Downtown. Now the building was lofts and shops (called South Side on Lamar). The coffee house in the basement is now called Opening Bell (at the time it was Standard and Pours), and was neither your typical music venue, nor your typical coffee shop.
Anyway, I was hooked. Since then, I have caught nearly every show Vanessa has played within 50 miles of Dallas–many but not all at Opening Bell–and even one in Raleigh. I just flat out love her music.
More than just Vanessa’s music, however–the other acts she has played with have opened me up to a world of other artists, including (but not nearly limited to) Dallas’ Salim Nourallah and Camille Cortinas, MC Hansen from Denmark, Austin’s Aimee Bobruk, San Antonio’s Joe Reyes, and Swedish/Canadian gem Sarah MacDougall.
I keep going back. As long as Vanessa Peters keeps singing, I’ll keep listening.
…And even I will admit: One Good Thing came out of the Wright Amendment.
Got an email earlier today from Vanessa Peters noting that she is opening for Houston songwriter Matt Harlan and Danish band The Sentimentals tomorrow night, at Opening Bell Coffee. Friday night, March 2, at 8 pm.
Kind of knew about it because MC Hansen–who is a member of The Sentimentals and has played with Vanessa before and is amazing in his own right–mentioned it on Facebook a couple weeks ago. Been planning to go all along, but since I have finally gotten this little project up and running, I thought I’d mention it.
I’ll definitely mention it afterwards.
I didn’t know him, or his music. I went for McMurtry. Decided not to try and look him up or listen to any of his music ahead of time–so many times, I have found an absolutely stellar artist by hearing them open for someone else. (Dyer was the reason I ran into a friend and a friend of hers at this show–they were there to see Dyer. Didn’t even know who James McMurtry was.)
Anyway–Dyer was great! Just him and a guitar and a keyboard and a mic and a pedal of some kind and a big-ass voice. I mention the pedal specifically because, at one point (no, I don’t know the song), he started a kind of driving line on his guitar. Once he established it, he tipped the guitar up, obviously taking his hands off the strings (with kind of a theatrical shrug)–and the guitar kept going as he set the instrument aside and turned to the keyboard. I have (that I know of) only seen that kind of well-controlled use of a loop pedal once before. It was amazing then, and it was definitely amazing Friday night.
I would gladly pay to hear just Dyer perform.