Jul 222009

It’s tedious when musicians try to play in new genres. I say, “try to play,” rather than just play. Yeah, I have spent time at home playing through Coltrane changes or working through some quaint little classical guitar etude. But hopefully I don’t force an audience to listen to me trying to force square pegs out of a round guitar soundhole. (Speaking of forced, maybe I should take out that square-peg cliche. Nah!)

Some musicians just play, no matter what, and they just blow through different styles. Garcia and Grisman do a sweet job on Miles Davis’s “So What?” Richard Greene’s string quartet did Guns & Roses and the Doors pretty good. But there are plenty of rockers trying to play bluegrass, plenty of bluegrassers trying to play swing, plenty of folkies trying to play rock. Trying way too hard sometimes.

Then along come the Waybacks. They’re a four-person band: drummer, bass, fiddle, and guitarist. They play hot honky-tonk country, Celticky acoustic rock, fiddle tunes, some western swing, just all kinds of good stuff. They played a sweet show last night at Jammin java in Vienna. These guys sound great on their CDs, and they sound just super live. Lots of lively, fast jamming from all the guys in the group. Dynamics kept changing, styles kept changing. Each song sounded different from the previous. The audience was raucous and having fun. Except for one fuzz-crunch rocker that I found a little flat and monolithic, the hour-plus set was awesome.

There were two opening acts, each a solo songwriter. The first one didn’t do anything that I found memorable or interesting. But the second one was Devon Sproule, who played some poetic stuff with lots of attitude. She was a little rough and raucous in her singing, but that added a lot to the punch and feel of her songs. Lots of interesting word pictures. She played a big old Gibson hollow-body, and it sounded great. I have been thinking a lot about those old twangy hollow-bodies since hearing buddy Miller live a couple months ago. so I may need to look around for one of those nice Gretsches or gibsons.

so jamman java put together a nice night of music. I knew the Waybacks would be awesome, and it was a treat to hear some great new music from Devon sproule.

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