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Writers Treat me Like Coltrane, Insane February 8, 2008

Posted by glenhooks in Show Reviews.
Tags: , , , , ,


Your Man About Town, full of Asian beer and Chinese-New-Year-Cheer (much love to the folks at Saigon)  ventured out last night to catch Round 2 of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase.  Much like a Chinese food menu, the lineup featured a little something for everybody–some of it flavorful, some of it bland, and some that was so tasty that I gazed wistfully at the empty plate when it was gone.

Congratulations to the Round 2 winner:  Epiphany & One Night StandThis six-piece rock/rap/jazz unit brought a loud, funky,  mix that transformed spectators into a sweet headbobbing seventh member.  Big Piph’s strong Popeye flow was given an extra can o’ spinach by the sweet soulful vocals of Gina Gee, but the can’s edge was extra sharp thanks to the serrated guitar work of Sixtring.  This set was strong and delivered the second rap/hip-hop winner in as many weeks.  If you missed it or just want more, catch Epiphany on Saturday the 9th, 7 p.m. at Wynsong. 

The Reds had a tight, super-sweet treat of a set last night, featuring fun dancy pop entirely from their album Economy of Motion.  Lead singer Johnny Mac pushed the songs along with some heavy, chunky bass lines a la early Police tracks, while guitarist Graham Cobb and drummer Jason Thompson spooned extra layers of la-la-la confection onto my crowded dessert plate.   It’s evident that this trio enjoys playing together–check ’em out next Monday at Sticky Fingerz’ Thick Syrup night. 

The other two bands had strong sets musically but seemed to lack that intangible extra bit of connection which separates the sort-of-good from the bands you really love to see live.   Take Notion for instance.  Every member of the band was strong individually, but collectively it was like watching folks paint-by-numbers.   Have you ever watched a band live and been able to peg the source of everyone’s moves or style?  That’s what was happening last night:  like I was watching musicians who each had a different source of inspiration–maybe one grew up on Pantera, another on Black Crowes, another on Jeff Tweedy–and sought to mimic those styles.  I think Notion has good skills and definitely had some audience support, but will be a stronger band when they gel and find their own vibe.    Notion’s next show is Feb 28 at George’s in Fayetteville. 

Bryan Frazier’s set was augmented by a collective group of musicians from other bands, and left me wishing for the chance to just focus on the strength of his songs and lyrics.   Frazier’s usual style–quieter, introspective–may not have been a good fit for a competitive battle-of-the-bands format like last night, so I understand the reasoning behind beefing up the stage a bit.  However, his natural strengths seemed to be overshadowed and sometimes overwhelmed by the “Shreddy McShredenstein” (as one friend put it) lead guitar.  I’m looking forward to seeing Bryan in his natural environment–you can catch him tonight at Lulav lounge in Little Rock.

 The finals are already shaping up to be one nasty streetfight:  607 v. Epiphany v. _____ v. ______.   

Round 3 next week at Stickyz.  Don’t miss it.





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