Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sons of Bill & Memphis 59 - The State Theatre

A couple of weeks back at the Dewey Beach Music Conference, we became fans of the Levee Drivers, a rock band at our Bucks County, PA. At the time they informed us that they were opening for the Sons of Bill at The State Theatre on October 16th. We added the show to our MyJoog calendar, but when we arrived the Levee Drivers were absent - apparently the band couldn't get a confirmation from the venue. Instead, local rock band, Memphis 59, was warming up. Not a bad replacement, we had heard of this band and exchanged emails, but never saw them live. And they can rock. I am confounded how I missed their performances at the Mid-Atlantic Band Battle held in my own backyard at Jammin' Java. The nucleus of the band is frontman Scott Kurt, bassist Richard Lewis, and drummer Chris Zogby. These are real rock songs - listen to "Black and White TV" or "In Spite of Me" or "Knock Me Out" - and not the power-pop that is prevalent nowadays. I'm looking forward to their collaboration with Justin Trawick at The Clarendon Ballroom for the Pink Jams! fundraiser November 18th.

The Sons of Bill also turned out to be an incredible rock band. I had always heard them referred as a country band - but that is a mistake. This is a rock band, albeit one with roots influences. Yea, they cover Billy Joe Shaver and site Townes Van Zandt as an influence - but listening to the electric guitar, keyboards, bass, and percussion - these guys can rock. The three Wilson brothers; James, Sam and Abe grew up listening to their father playing old country and apparently blues tunes and eventually inherited his guitars and talent. They are based out of Charlottesville, but have a nice regional following along the east coast. Many of these fans were in attendance this night - singing every song and cheering their favorites. Mine was their version of Blind Willie Johnson's classic "Let Your Light Shine" - the best version since The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band. Plus we are fans of any Shaver cover. And Sam Wilson can play the heck out of the electric guitar. What's also nice is that the three brothers alternate fronting the band - with James taking most of the leads, but Sam and Abe contributing their own songs as well. From mid-November through the rest of the year Sons of Bill is touring with Robert Earl Keen starting with a quasi hometown show at The National. How can you pass on that combo?

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