Monday, November 24, 2014

Palacios Brothers - Live in Austin!

Ginger Rum: This week, we decided to review a live show. Our friends the Palacios Brothers were back in Austin to remind us why they are at the center of the blues radar.

I Ain’t No Woman: Yes, if the blues had a radar, they would be like this massive jumbo jet blinding us from the other acts. Or maybe I don't understand how radar works. What I'm saying is they're big.

Scotchy: The show was incredibly fun! They should be on the national radar given how incredibly talented and tight they are. Also, they're brothers. The county needs a bluesy rocking brother trio to undo the damage done by Hanson to all family acts out there! 

IANW: Dude, Hanson was filled with music savants compared to the Jonas Brothers.

S: OK, then Jonas Brothers but the point still stands.

IANW But anyway, on the subject of the Palacios...

S: Another aspect of them that blew me away is their musical versatility. The bass player/lead singer Delio strapped on the accordion and busted out Conjunto/Tejano music during their second set at East End on 7th. I've only encountered this music incidentally during my time in Austin and to be honest don't find myself seeking it out to listen to. The Palacios Bros' performance of these styles was fantastic and has made me reconsider the genres.

IANW: We saw them nail everything from the Eagles to Stevie to Santana to the Texas Tornados. Each song had all of the recognizable riffs and hooks, but it also had tons of the Palacios' own mojo. I mean, talk about taking a cover and making it your own.

GR: I probably should be ashamed to admit this, but I wasn’t even sure that some of their songs WERE covers until IANW said something to me. Their interpretations are so unique, and so TASTEFUL, that they pass as originals until you get to the hook and the entire audience is singing along. And speaking of the audience, these guys know how to interact with the crowd! Their stage presence is phenomenal, telling jokes, fielding requests, playing off various events happening in the audience while they play. And, when they play, the brothers are so in sync with each other. Brian and Delio even have some coordinated moves that had everyone in the house pull out their phones to capture on video. Four-hand guitar!

S: Their stage presence is confident and they own everything they do. Their classic rock/funk cover medleys are especially entertaining. Each of these guys: Delio, Brian and Marcel are incredibly talented as individuals. On top of that they have been playing together as a group for a decade, and it shows. The Palacios Bros are something really special. Definitely worth catching live.

GR: Watching Delio, I was thinking that he had already reached a level of excellent musicianship, but then he pushed beyond that. The musicianship of these brothers is almost beyond compare. And, I wasn't alone in this assessment - the crowds at both shows were tremendous and enthusiastic. Just when you think they’ve reached this pinnacle of technical skill and musicianship, they suddenly take it up to the next level. The crowd (and I) loved it.

IANW: Yeah, they're pretty much transcendent. In summary, these guys are the real deal, they are the bees knees, they're hip, they're cool, and they are excellent people. The next time they come through Austin (they're from Hebbronville, pop. 4558) you need to catch them. Their live show keeps you on the edge of your seats, or twirling on the dance floor, and we've heard they are going to be releasing a studio album soon. This is great blues.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Twilight Trio - Finally Made It Home

Act:  Twilight Trio
Album Title:  Finally Made It Home
Awards:  Austin Blues Society Self-Produced CD Competition, 2014, winner

Ginger Rum:  Alright!  Our first Monday Blues Review, and it’s a winner.

I Ain’t No Woman:  Literally.  1st place in this year’s ABS Self-Produced CD Competition

GR:  We hear many bands introduce a song as “delta blues.”  I often strain to hear what they are talking about.  A slide guitar does not a delta blues make.  There are definitely songs here, however, that take me right to the bayous.

IANW: What about alligators?

Scotchy:  Dude, I saw the biggest alligator last week when we were out hiking-

GR:  Have y’all seen those albino alligators?

IANW:  So.  Delta Blues.

GR:  Right. 

IANW:  So we have about 50/50 originals and covers with this album.  The choices for covers are fairly tasteful – nothing that has been beaten to death.  Everything blends in. The music on this album really seems designed to support the singer, and it does a very good job of that.

GR:  Yes, the arrangements are seamless, and really allow the vocalists’ voices to stand out.  Joanna Ramirez’s sultry and soulful mezzo-soprano is an absolute treat.  Looking at their trio, I am amazed at how they take such a unique blend of instruments and come up with something that sounds so smooth and rich.

IANW:  Mmm.  Tasty mezzo-soprano.

GR:  Personally, my two favorite songs are Why Did We Have to Say Goodbye and Finally Made It Home. We also find some good delta sound on In The Dark.  The first is just a damn fine ballad.  You can really hear the emotion in the singer’s voice.  The interesting chord choices lean more towards a country blues progression, but there is nothing wrong with that.

IANW:  Not at all.  Nice and lazy guitar – lazy is a good thing.  It fits well.  It’s tasteful. 

GR:  This whole song is tasteful.  I can’t wait to hear them play it live sometime.  People should be slow dancing.

IANW:  Finally Made It Home is the one that has a bit of a Beach Boys influence, crossed with Dylan.  Or maybe a Dylan influence with a touch of Beach Boys.

GR:  Six of one, half dozen of another…

IANW:  The harmonies are great.  [IANW is already starting to learn it on guitar]

GR:  And a sweet harmonica.  Mmm.  I love blues harp. Then there's Livin' Hell, with great interplay between the vocal and harmonica parts.

IANW:  They really like that turn around.  One more time!  Nope, one more time!  It’s very John Lee Hooker-like.

IANW:  Let’s not forget the covers.  They almost sound like originals.

GR:  They have some amazing interpretations that allow them to bring their own style and sound to songs that have their staying power in their own right.   I love the subtle, precise harmonica on Love Is a Losing Game.  Its haunting counterpoint accents the lyrics so beautifully.

IANW:  And, then there is their cover of I Just Wanna Make Love To You.

GR: They totally changed it up!

IANW: Yep, it’s quite a change up.

GR:  I really like it.  Toe-tapping good music there, yes it is.  The syncopation is great.

IANW:  Mmm hmm. It’s kind of addicting.

GR:  We also really liked their cover of Trouble Blues.

IANW:  Sweet.  Some Blues guitar.

GR:  In summary?

IANW:  OK. Final thoughts. While overall, we really like and recommend this album, the snare on the first two tracks was pounding my ears to death. But, the rest of the album, they seemed to have pulled that back some.  The whole album blends well, and is very tasteful.  Many of their songs are in G, but it works.

GR:  Yes, I agree about that snare.  Outside that, though, this is a damn fine self-produced album.  It doesn’t hurt that these musicians are absolutely stellar, and the music selection really fits well together.   So, bottom line – we enjoyed listening to this album.  It had some really awesome things, the musicians were tight, and the songs catchy.  We definitely recommend it as a buy, and hope to see this trio on stage soon!