Written by Eddie Ferranti
Feb 02, 2013 at 08:00 PM
ImageDusty McClellan and Jamie Zanelotti traveled different roads to get to the musical hotbed of Austin, Texas and wound up finding each other along the way.

Dusty came from Houston in 2010 and Jamie from Maryland, then they got together playing in a roots rock band, but quickly clicked together in their deep love of the Stanley Brothers, Carter Family and other traditional country acts. That led them to branch off and form The Hems, whom we’ve had the pleasure of catching opening for the Band of Heathens and more recently last September when they tore up a Showcase performance at Southwest Folk Alliance in Austin.

Tonight, they were gracing “the stage” at the Barnes’ House Concert series in NW Houston and it fit them quite well. Bill and Deanna have a good thing going on and had another good crowd on hand this night.

After partaking in the always killer ‘potluck’ din-din, the duo kicked it off with the upbeat ‘Honey Twist’, a Bob Dylan tune which I fail to remember and ‘The Gummy Bear Song’!  Early on, Jamie displayed an old-fashioned, beyond-her-years country sound delivery backed up by DM’s sneaky good jammin’ guitar work. The two of them mixed in a good sense of humor about hitting a deer the last time they travelled 290 from Houston to Austin and ribbing Dusty about being confined in tight quarters making it impossible to demonstrate  his killer “dance” moves!

‘Rebecca’ showed a very tender side to JZ’s pipes that was both teasing and captivating in the tight venue. She strapped on a banjo and did a tune about “Greed”, plus a killer cover of Gillian Welch’s ‘Elvis Presley Blues’.

After a break they returned for the second set which featured ‘Novaleen’, a nice cover of Neil Young’s ‘Hurricane’ and ‘Dogwood Tree’. They wrapped up with a sing along gospel tune ,’I’ll Fly Away’, that got everybody involved.

After now seeing these two three times one could only imagine how much better their sound would be enhanced in a full band setting. Jamie’s vocals are sweet, but after awhile the sameness kind of bogs them down to this reviewer. More of an upbeat rockin’ persona and perhaps cutting loose on volume of instruments would take this act to another level in my estimation.

Of course, that’s easier said then done in the dog-eat-dog music biz called Austin these days and for only playing together for a few years they are headed in the right direction for sure…Ta Ta for now my musical pals!