Written by Daniel Barker
Nov 05, 2010 at 08:00 PM
Image      Some days are just better than others and on November 5th, a wonderful Texas fall night everything seemed to have fallen in place for another outstanding Friday night at The Heights Live Music Series @ Heights Presbyterian Church. On tonight’s Sunday school ABC magnetic board marquee were Matt Harlan, who has risen to the top of the local Houston singer-songwriter scene thru due diligence and Brian Hudson, a newcomer to this performance genre after recently parting ways with his former group, The Hudsons. However, this pair that had attended UT at the same time was not 100%. Harlan was just getting over the flu and Hudson had dental work just done, so needless to say these guys were not going to be at the top of their game.

It had never dawned on me that attendance would be an issue at this STEAL of an event but with an 8PM announced start and everyone still scattered about at 8:20 it was discouragingly evident. The Heights Live is hands down one of the best deals in town and I was convinced that a rising local like Matt Harlan would pull the crowd in for $10. Especially with Harlan’s admitted chance appearance on the Anderson Fair documentary that has done so well. KPFT supported him on Wide Open Spaces with Roark and station manager Duane Bradley was heard tooting Matt’s horn during the KPFT Fall  Fund Drive the week leading up to this gig BUT maybe a show at Heights Live EVERY Friday is just too much and thinning out the attendees. The crowd that had come together when the show finally started around 8:30 proved to be primarily diehard fans, friends and family sitting somewhere around 20-25.

Once the lights went down and Pastor Mark’s infamous screen got going these two showed what being professional is all about – THE SHOW MUST GO ON!!! I had no idea these two had played together a few times, most recently at Brian Hudson’s release party for his solo CD “Into The Black” at Austin’s Flipnotics but when Hudson started accompanying Harlan and exchanging solos out of the gate on MH’s “Walter”, I knew this was going to be a treat….MH is an extremely talented picker and BH is not too shabby of a lead himself….BH admitted to listening to Harlan’s “Tips and Compliments” all the way down from Austin before the show but joked that Harlan threw him a curve when he played several other tunes after this

It was a basic song-swap where Hudson proved that he has been rather busy writing by playing many unreleased songs and tracks from his CD rather than just playing all Hudsons songs solo. In fact, he played very few of those… highlights were “Working For A Woman”, “Lonely As Balls” and “The Welfare Song”…He brings a more humorous pop flavor with him comparable to The Barenaked Ladies or Flight Of The Concords…

As mentioned earlier, Harlan started off with some songs not on his critically acclaimed “Tips and Compliments” like “Long Ride Home”, “Darker Shade of Grey” and “The Easy Road” but the standouts of the night were off that album. Besides the title track, there were “Dresses”, “You’re Just Drunk”, and “Waiting for Godot”.

These guys played great together. MH has a style that compliments his lyrics and vocal delivery that is just captivating and Hudson took that bet and just doubled down treating the fans to some fine acoustic guitar work all night…and in a great listening room with Pastor Mark pulling out all the stops on his signature screen…..The guys did some nice covers as the night went on – ABBA’s “Thank You For The Music”, Hank II’s “All My Rowdy Friends”, and Paul Simon’s “American Tune”…

This was a great night for any Texas singer-songwriter lover.  HMR has fallen in love with this venue and has supported Matt Harlan for quite some time…This was an introduction to Brian Hudson but we knew that Wrecks Bell loved The Hudsons so we knew he had cred….With the late start and the break it was midnight before I knew it – rather late for this event – but it was well worth it.  We wish Matt Harlan continued success and welcome Brian Hudson wishing him only the best with this newest endeavor. Until next time, I will see you out supporting live music…