Live Review – Hillgrass Bluebilly Launch Party
On Saturday night the Hole in the Wall in Austin, TX was transformed into “Dirtyfoot” headquarters for fans, bands and extended family of Hillgrass Bluebilly Records for their Launch Party. Folks from as far as Canada, Seattle, Minnesota, and Boston flew in exclusively for the event and helped pack the walls of the Hole to near capacity, while over 150 people from around the world tuned in through SCM Live to share the experience.
7 bands and 5 hours of music meant both Hole in the Wall’s stages were pressed into service. Darren Hoff & The Hard Times got things stirring with their hard edged country on the smaller stage, while some started biting nails wondering if the second band The Boomswagglers were going to show for their second slot. As was explained later, “We forgot to put gas in the truck,” which they reportedly tried to remedy by pulling off a radiator hose and trying to siphon gas out of a motorcycle before calling someone to pick them up. Now if that ain’t country. . .
The Boomswagglers get the award for most authentic band of the night, in a night packed with authenticity. As they bled out their country/bluesy mix about bad women and hard times the shot glasses and beer jars stacked up on an amplifier like a mocking model of Austin’s ever-increasing skyline of posh condo buildings. Whatever the high rise condo represents, The Boomswagglers represent the polar opposite. Spencer Cornett is taller than a beanpole and skinnier than Shaggy on crack, while Lawson Benett is as tall is he is round. Together they are like dirty country’s Laurel and Hardy, with a larger-than-life, almost rock-star air around them even though they are the nicest, most down-to-earth “just blew in from the corn field” country boys you’ll ever meet.
The Boomswagglers were the one band that night I was most curious to see because I had no idea what to expect. Their song “Run You Down” that was featured on the Outlaw Radio Compilation has been one of the most popular songs in underground country, but was this just a one hit wonder? What I found was they are above-average pickers with solid and original songwriting ability that deserve whatever praise their small but loyal fans give them. Keep an eye out for their first Hillgrass Bluebilly release coming soon.
Next was Roger Wallace, who on such a stacked bill might have been overlooked by some, but was one of the standouts of the night. Roger is pure country, but with some soul and boogie to him as well. He also boasts one of the best bands to be found, with Jim Stringer on lead guitar, and the amazing Lisa Pankratz on drums. Lisa has also played with Dale Watson, Wayne Hancock, and Billy Joe Shaver to name a few. Like so many of the bands that performed, Roger deserves his own separate review.
Tom VandenAvond and his “Say Hey Kids” band afforded the most memorable moment of the night, when he finished his set on the main stage with the song “Brick by Brick,” and was joined on stage by the headliners Possessed by Paul James on fiddle and Larry & His Flask, as well as Brian and Molly Salvi in one of those family-feeling moments that can’t be rehearsed or staged.
The best flat out musician from the night, on a night filled with so many great ones, might be Jim Chilson who flew down with the rest of the Ten Foot Polecats from Boston exclusively for the event. The seemingly effortless trance-inducing guitar rhythms with ridiculous fingerwork put the blues in this Bluebilly event, and was accompanied by balls out singing from Jay Scheffler and expert drumming. Who needs bass?
Now we have come to the point where I am supposed to somehow explain with human language what it is like to see Larry & His Flask live, but no words, no videos do it justice. Larry & His Flask are sheer madness. They are the essence, the pinnacle of on-stage energy. I talk often about one man bands, and how they must put out the energy of a full band. Then there is Hillstomp, which is a two man band, with both men putting out the energy of an entire band, doubling the equation. Well play the analogy out, and Larry & His Flask are like a six man band. No, this isn’t stating the obvious because there’s six people in the band, what I aim to say is they put out the energy of six bands combined.
You might think that their punk approach to an eclectic combination of roots is not for everyone. Videos just make it seem like theater. You have to appreciate that NOTHING in music trumps Larry & His Flask in the amount of energy.
The night was capped by Possessed by Paul James on the small stage, which immediately after The Flask finished, was crowded around so thick even us 6+ footers had to settle for hearing and not seeing. Nothing can trump the energy of The Flask, but it was perfected in mood by Possessed’s heartfelt soul. At that point all these folks from all around the country, from different walks of life and varying musical slantings, young and old, male and female, were all family. It was no longer about launch parties or Austin, or any of that; it was about the fellowship that a dizzying night of music can create for the soul when it is capped so perfectly by true, heartfelt expression.
A few tears were shed as all joined in Possessed’s “We Welcome You Home” at the very end of the night, and the mood in the room was such that you might anticipate all participants would disintegrate into the cosmos in a moment of infinite bliss and communion with the almighty. However reality met you cold in the face the next day, but nonetheless the participants of the Hillgrass Bluebilly Launch Party, in person and online, will never be the same after their experience, and the joy and understanding will remain inside their souls till death and beyond.
Two guns up.
More videos and pictures can be found on the message board.
November 9, 2010 @ 11:06 am
Those of you wondering about recorded audio from the night, long story short is that a comedy of errors occurred where all three people who attempted to record the show live lost some or all of the audio. It’s a long story, but backup plans after backup plans failed and so now I am trying to piece together whatever I can. If you were one of the online listeners who was recording, please send me whatever you have to kylecor42 at hotmail dot com as I’ll try to piece together all the parts. Thanks!
November 9, 2010 @ 11:23 am
Thanks for working so hard, Trig!
November 9, 2010 @ 11:10 am
An unforgettable night from a fantastic weekend!
November 9, 2010 @ 11:25 am
fantastic review, gave me both goosebumps and teary eyes. i appreciate everyone that came in from outside of Austin. Canada, Washington, Arizona, Indiana, Idaho, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Oklahoma…. truly a magical night.
November 9, 2010 @ 1:44 pm
I was one of them clowns….sorry guys i tryed.
November 9, 2010 @ 2:02 pm
me too. It was just too big of a file for my old computer to handle.
November 9, 2010 @ 2:10 pm
You did what you could man. No one can anticipate the problems with live recordings, the internet, etc. Just hope you got to listen to it some……would have been cool to have a recording, but….in an odd sense, I am glad there isn’t one out there. It makes it a little more personal, knowing that those of us that were there, were one of a handful of lucky folks that got to see this show go down.
November 9, 2010 @ 1:49 pm
It was an amazing night. Triggerman- hats off to you for the hard work, and time that you put into making it so that others not so fortunate to be there, could at least experience the sounds. Truly an unforgettable night, and trip down to Austin. Thanks to HBE, and everyone involved, as well as everyone that made the trip for the show. You are all true fans, and I am proud to call you my friends.
November 9, 2010 @ 2:05 pm
BTW- AMAZING review!! The part about PPJ at the end, and it being about the fellowship is PERFECT. That feeling is still in me…..and probably will never leave. Because we ARE all family……..we are DIRTYFOOTS!!!!
November 9, 2010 @ 2:06 pm
Great meeting and getting to hang out with you Weber.
November 9, 2010 @ 2:11 pm
You too Trig. We will be in touch a whole bunch in the near future. Many things to share with you. You kicked ass man. Thanks for all the help you were.
November 9, 2010 @ 2:09 pm
I am excited about the Boomswagglers debut album. Been waiting two years for it! Them boys have come a long way since I first started talking with them.
November 9, 2010 @ 2:17 pm
Talking with them after the show, and they said something about a possible tour in January and making it up to Chicago to see you.
November 9, 2010 @ 3:22 pm
This was pretty awesome. I wasn’t able to make it, so I curled up with the internets and listened here. From 1700 miles away I can vouch for the energy and incredibleness. The best part for me was hearing Possessed by Paul James. I’ll never get to see him live and he just confirmed that yes, he is this amazing incredible talent I treasure.
I look forward to seeing everyone on the road and I can”™t wait for the new releases!
November 9, 2010 @ 4:45 pm
What a great time that was! I tuned in on the internet, figuring I would be in and out. But the music was so good, and believe it or not that feeling of community/family was certainly present in the chat room…
I ended up listening for 5 hours of music that night, and only left when my eyelids got heavy. I hearty and sincere “thanks” to all who participated in putting the festival on, and broadcasting it for all of us who couldn’t make it to Austin. I tell you what, it’s got me seriously thinking of a way to get down there for Muddy Roots, but we’ll see! Thanks Triggerman!
Stacy Lee DeHart
November 9, 2010 @ 6:11 pm
Too bad you didn’t get any video of the Polecats.
David Lee is cute
November 9, 2010 @ 9:50 pm
Look forward to seeing the Boomswagglers on tour. They seem to be the real deal and have been my old myspace friends from way back.
November 10, 2010 @ 6:32 am
I forgot to put gas in the truck, but it don’t matter Nothin’ gonna keep me from what I love . . . Great blog Triggerman.
November 10, 2010 @ 9:26 am
There’s a song there somewhere.
November 10, 2010 @ 3:51 pm
Well, I was one on the internets too and I enjoyed the company of all of you who joined me. I was grateful to have Keith answer my burning question about the Three Sixes in that painting too! lol. Thanks, Triggerman, for doin what you do!
November 10, 2010 @ 8:14 pm
That’s a great thing to read Triggerman! For a pops of 2 with few nights to pick, say 30 shows a year, this was tops for me man. Thanks for your efforts and your heartfelt writing brother. And many sincere thanks for the good people listening to the broadcast and supporting such artists. Cheers to ya a thousand times over.
Sincerely – Konrad
November 10, 2010 @ 9:41 pm
Right back at you brother.
November 10, 2010 @ 9:40 pm
Video of Possesed by Paul James from the night:
November 23, 2010 @ 5:24 pm
Oh man, what an epic night! Wish I could have been there.