Forget that over-produced, over-hyped, newfangled country sound that has about as much to do with the country as a skyscraper does.
Hats off to Wylie Gustafson and the Wild West Show for country music that remembers its roots without being worn-out retro.
Here’s a guy who makes yodeling cool, a crooner who combines the golden age of country with a rock twist from the ‘60s and ‘70s.
“I grew up listening to a lot of different music, including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones as well as Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, Sr.,” says Wylie, who hails from LaCrosse, Wash. But, “I’ve fallen in love with the country music of the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s.”
Wylie, who looks more like Buddy Holly than Garth Brooks, draws a diverse crowd with his Western swing and honkey-tonk country rock. He doesn’t resort to the slick, plasticine sheen of most modern country which seems to have more citified pop than rural sensibility.
“We’re trying to bring back the roots of country,” Wylie says, but “we don’t want to be just another retro band churning out songs that were made 30 years ago.”
Looks like he’s reached his goals.
After months of delay, Rounder Records will release Wylie’s latest album, “Way Out West,” to the American public Sept. 9.
No need to wait, catch Wylie when he brings his Wild West Show to the Rodeo Restaurant, 5908 E. Broadway. Tunes start Sunday at 8 p.m. with Full House opening. Tickets are $6 in advance, $8 at the door.
There they were, a Spokane pop rock band standing on stage amid the throngs of big-haired, spandex-clad metal heads in an L.A. club on the Sunset Strip.
Things didn’t look good for the four members of Flourish.
“As soon as we started to play, we’re like, see ya later. One more song and we’ll have everybody out of here,” says drummer Steve Lambert.
But while Flourish may have been in the wrong place, they were certainly there at the right time.
A woman who appreciated their talent for catchy pop melodies and three-part vocal harmonies just happened to be in the audience. And she just happened to be booking bands for a large pop showcase in L.A. called Pop-topia.
And she signed them up to play.
Indeed, of late, things have been looking pretty good for Lambert and his fellow bandmates: singer guitarist Mike Clark, bassist Ben Bradford and rhythm guitarist Scott Stone.
After blanketing the country with demo tapes, LobeCandy Records in San Diego signed them and is helping them line up management. The band plans to release its first CD in September.
Flourish, whose current lineup has been in place for seven months, has also been nominated to play at the music industry festival North by Northwest in Portland later this year.
Best of all, after covering 8,500 miles in a van together over the last two months, the Flourish guys still have fun together.
“We get along really, really well which makes it easy for shows because everybody is so comfortable with each other,” Lambert says.
Flourish headlines for the first time at Outback Jack’s tonight. The Auto Poets open. Show starts at 9:30. Cover is $4.
From the Emerald City
Seattle’s Sweet Water flows into Outback’s on Sunday.
The group’s latest album, which was supposed to be released in September, is now on hold after EMI dissolved. EMI owned Sweet Water’s label, The Enclave.
“It’s very frustrating but we’re still lucky because we would pay money to do this,” says guitarist Rich Credo.
Credo says their new album titled “Kill the Messenger” is “like the Cars meets the Clash.” They’ll perform songs from it Sunday. Show starts at 9:30 p.m. Cover is $5.
Down in the Bayou
Spokane’s slice of New Orleans - The Bayou Brewery - has been tweaking its weekly entertainment lineup. Here’s the facts as I know them:
For the last few months the Bayou has been offering free movie nights on Tuesdays. Thankfully, that tradition will continue. For no cover charge, film buffs can throw back a beer and snack on some food while watching recent - and not so recent - flicks on the establishment’s 10-by-12-foot screen.
Although regulations don’t allow them to advertise the scheduled movies, here’s a hint for this Tuesday’s Brew and View: It’s about a bad guy who likes to eat human flesh and the good cop who needs his help to stop a serial killer.
Show starts at 9 p.m. Previous flicks have included “Scream” and “The Shining.”
Gone are the free Thursday music nights. Instead, comedians will now perform both Wednesdays and Thursdays. Four funny men and women will try to make you laugh those two days. Cover is $4.
Music nights are Fridays and Saturdays.
Several original bands are scheduled to perform this month - Mumbo Jumbo and Too Slim and the Taildraggers among them. However, in September cover bands will take over the stage. Spokane favorites such as Legend, the Cronkites and the Perones are scheduled.
Tonight, BeeCraft headlines the Bayou. This talented group of five jazz rockers debuted at Ichabod’s last Friday. Made up of former Mamas Dogma members and a marvelous new guitar player, the band kicked out two sets full of danceable jams to a packed floor.
Tiana Gregg opens. Cover is $4. Show starts at 9 p.m.
Saturday night catch Portland’s seven-piece acoustic groove band Calobo.
Its new album “Stomp,” finds a web of bluegrass, folk and blues run through haunting piano-driven ballads like “Back in Time” and mandolin rockers like “What Is Real.”
Spokane’s own Sweet Fancy Moses open the show with a CD release party. “The Insatiable Song & Dance Man” combines the alt-country flavor of Son Volt with rock vocal akin to Mellencamp and Springsteen.
Cover is $5. Show starts at 9 p.m.
Dumb questions and night notes
Being relatively new to the Nightwatch ace reporter job, I had my first chat not too long ago with Joel Ross from the band Lopez. He dropped a line I haven’t forgotten.
When I asked him if he was the band’s lead singer, his deadpan response: “I hesitate to use the word singer.”
Catch East Wenatchee’s punk kings and their vehement vocalist tonight at Ichabod’s North along with Sacramento’s Majestic 12, Cause and The Withdrawals. Cover is $4 and show starts at 9:30 p.m.
Catch Studebaker John and the Hawks at Mad Daddy’s Blues Club in Coeur d’Alene tonight and Saturday. A smoking slide guitar player who huffs on the harmonica and sings with equal fire, John hails from Chicago. Show starts both nights at 8:30 p.m.
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