Written by James Killen
Jan 25, 2013 at 08:00 PM
Image“…there’s a man in there that’ll pay you ten dollars to sing into his can!” and thus the movie “Oh, Brother Where Art Thou” resurrected a musical style of the depression era that most of us had only experienced in old movies with tinny soundtracks or poor copies of archaic recordings.

Just like the movie, The Paper Moon Shiners breathe life back into the songs of days gone by. The band is Elena Antinelli on vocals and Frank Meyer on vocals, guitar, dobro, ukulele and the invisible kazoo. They specialize in covering music from the Victrola/ vaudeville era to the present, sprinkling in some original compositions written in the vintage spirit.

Friday night’s show was way “out in the sticks on highway six” at JP Hops House. The Hops House is really a great little neighborhood pub with a very nice sound system hidden in a dark little strip center behind a doughnut shop.

The evening kicked off with Elena sidling slowly up to the mike during the opening lines of Bob Wills’ “Stay a Little Longer”, while Frank cranked up the jazz guitar accompaniment. They covered the Frank Sinatra hit “Blue Heaven”, followed by the band’s original and entertaining shoo song, “Git”. Elena showed off her vibrato voice on the 70’s Melanie hit “Brand New Key”. Frank took up the vocal lead on the original “Mr. Git ‘Er Done”, turning the vocal duties back to Elena for another original, “Sticker Bush”.

The evening continued with songs as old as the traditional African American work song “Long Gone Like a Turkey Through the Corn” (on which Elena exaggerated her vibrato voice by rapidly patting her cheek while she held her notes) to as recent as a cover of the John Prine/ Iris Dement duet “In Spite of Our Selves”. They included musical styles as wide ranging as the 1928 bluegrass Annette Hanshaw “Who’s that Knockin’ On My Door”, to the Robert Johnson dobro blues classic “Come on Into My Kitchen”, to the Stan Jones cowboy yodeling standard, “Ghost Riders in the Sky”, to the Nancy Sinatra pop hit “Counting Flowers on the Wall”, to the Tom Waits jazz number,”It’s Over”. There were songs by Helen Kane, Paul Robeson, Johnny Cash, Eric Heatherly, Hoagie Carmichael, Cab Calloway, George Gershwin, Bessie Smith, Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell.

They performed a total of thirty songs in a two and a half hour set. “That’s My Weakness Now” featured Frank on the ukulele, the mouth bass (a deep boom, boom vocal rhythm line) and the invisible kazoo (humming through vibrating lips). “A British Pub Song” was Elena’s stuttering Anglo folk ditty about the evils of G-G-G-Gin. Frank got a whole lot of laughs with an original tune of his about a dream where he was a disembodied head flying around accompanied by an eagle and a bat.

The chemistry between Elena and Frank is warm and contagious. Frank has a well-developed talent on the strings and Elena finds natural ways to put effects on her voice sans electronic treatments. If you are looking for an evening that is more entertaining than a museum and more informative than a top ten cover band, spending it with Austin’s Paper Moon Shiners would be a great choice.