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Friday, November 15

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« SXSW 2015: Day 2 Tour Diary from The Waco Brothers SXSW 2015: Day 2 Tour Diary from In Tall Buildings »

sxsw2015 Fri Mar 20 2015

SXSW 2015: Day 3 Tour Diary from The Waco Brothers

Chicago at SXSW 2015

In our third SXSW Tour Diary update from The Waco Brothers, guitarist Deano talks side projects, art projects, and why not to judge a band by their name.

With barely enough time to wipe the sleep out of my eyes, the first stop for me and my throbbing headache is Broken Spoke. There, the Waco Brothers will play the noon set at the day party for Twangfest, the St. Louis roots music festival. The Twangfest folks have been very kind to us over the years.

If you've never experienced a true honky tonk, the Spoke would be a good place to start. This is the real deal, folks. Any other time of year, this place is all about classic, old school country and two steppin'. If not for the fact that they rent the place out for SX, we would not be allowed to grace this stage. When we played here for the first time last year, the owner's wife was overheard grousing, "There hasn't been any real goddamn country played here all day!" She probably had a point. It's certainly true in our case!

The Wacos have a tradition of leaping at the end many songs. It's part of our schtick to make rock star moves in a supposedly ironic way, all the while firmly believing that we actually are rock stars. The Spoke's ceiling is about three inches above our heads. That bit of choreographed comedy gold is out the window. Though at the rate our vertical leaps are declining, in a few years we may be able to incorporate them into the routine anywhere.

Waco-day3-wristband.jpg
Joe, Tracey and Jon plotting the Wacos plans for world domination.

After a well received, energetic (for noon anyway) set, we're off to the Gingerman. Jon curates a "Perfect Day of Music" there for the folks at Dogfish Head Brewery. Dogfish have been supporters for years and even feature some of Jon's visual art on their labels.

We arrive in time to catch a predictably stellar set by the mighty Churchwood. The band features Bill Anderson on guitar, who plays with me in Ice Cold Singles and with Jon and I in the Far Forlorn. This is just the first example of the incestuous Chicago/Austin love fest.

Waco- day3-Gingerman.jpg
Churchwood gettin' it on!

The Far Forlorn, this year's coalition recruited to perform Jon's solo material, includes Austinites Bill on guitar, Tamineh Gueramy on fiddle and Hunter Darby on bass along with Jon, Joe and I from the Waco Brothers. The group also features Josh Kantor on accordion (who also sat in with Churchwood and will play with Ice Cold Singles on Sunday). Josh is the organist at Fenway Park (!). At Far Forlorn gigs later this weekend, Randy Franklin, owner of Yard Dog Gallery, will join in on mandolin. The gallery represents Jon's work and has hosted theBloodshot Records SXSW Day Party for 20 years running.

Everyone plays a great set, especially when you consider some of the band members meet for the first time on stage! Rehearsal is for amateurs.

Speaking of unrehearsed amateurs, shortly thereafter the Waco Brothers take the stage and bring a heaping helping of "the rock". After the Continental Club's margarita-blurred set and the lower key nooner at the Broken Spoke, we're finally firing on all cylinders.

A highlight, albeit a sad one, is performing The Small Faces' "All Or Nothing" in tribute to Ian MacLagen, who recently passed. We started doing the song a few years back. I have the unenviable task of trying to be Steve Marriott, the band's incredibly powerful, soulful singer. A high note in the song is at the very peak of my range. I have a fond memory of chatting with Mac at a Yard Dog party. After I told him we were covering the song, he asked, "Do you do in D?". I told him we did. He looked at me with a knowing grin and said, "It's high, innit?"

Ice Cold Singles at Gingerman.jpg
Ice Cold Singles at the Gingerman. Jo Stanli Walston on the prowl.

At 9:00, my new Austin band Ice Cold Singles takes the stage. It's a little late by day party standards and the crowd has thinned a bit. On the spur of the moment, Bill invites Tamineh to join us. She's never even heard any of my songs but adds some really lovely fiddle, especially on "Maid of the Mist". The small stage is so cramped that singer Jo decides to prowl in front of the stage. The band has a few miscues but we recover like the old, semi-professionals we are. The sturdy folks who have stuck it out until the end of the party are quite appreciative.

After my fourth set of the day, with little sleep and only three tablespoons of hummus to fuel me, I'm thinking about calling it a night. I'm finishing my beer, chatting with friends and watching as the last band brings in their gear. They're just kids, I'm thinking. I would later find out that only the drummer is over 21. Three of the four look very Urban Outfitters. The fourth, I'm not sure what he is. He's wearing some sort of lace undergarments beneath his overalls, Doc Martins and is sporting a Skafish (Google him) haircut. They're called Yoko and the Oh Nos. A genuinely crap band name. The crusty voice in my head is saying, "Good Gawd this is going to be awful. I need to get out of here."

Waco-Day3-Yokos.jpg
Yoko and the Oh Nos, my new favorite band.

Then something happens. They proceed to blow my mind. The Skafish kid is a star. A born performer. The band plays screaming rock. Garage influenced but not retro...tastefully updated. The guitarist writes fantastic, precise parts, the bassist is rock solid and the drummer is a monster. The songs are genuinely well crafted. I turn to Cindy Toth, bassist in Ice Cold Singles, and say, "If I had a label, I'd sign these guys right now." It turns out they did get signed. And it turns out they're from Chicago! Chicago friends, please go see this band. I have a very strong suspicion you'll be able to tell an "I saw them when..." story in a few years. I'm hoping for a similar experience at newcomer Buck Hogarth's show on Saturday night.

The evening ends with some excellent pizza at my east side local bar, King Bee, which is pleasantly free of anything even remotely SX smelling. Jo, Toth and I enjoy frozen cocktails and enjoy a sense of satisfaction. More liver and brain cells destroyed. More musical bonds made. More stories to exaggerate later. And three more days!

- Deano

~*~

Catch The Waco Brothers at SXSW:
March 18: Bloodshot 2015 SXSW Showcase @ Continental Club (8pm)

March 18: Continental Club, (1am)

March 19: Twangfest @ Broken Spoke (Noon)

March 20: Bloodshot SXSW Day Party @ Yard Dog Art Gallery (Noon)

March 20: South by Sapporo Party @ Cheers Shot Bar (2:45pm)

March 22: @ Carousel Lounge (8:30pm)

 
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