Written by James Killen
Aug 17, 2013 at 07:00 PM
ImageMark Potter of 9 Bullets set his sights on raising some money to combat muscular dystrophy by gathering the talents of several artists from both the performing and visual arts arenas at the Ashford Pub on the west side of town last Saturday night. There was a silent art auction for a number of interesting pieces and a lineup of very talented musicians set to play from 7Pm until the early morning hours of Sunday.

The evening’s music started out with Jeremy Steding and his straight ahead country western band. They are promoting the currently in production CD, “My Own American Dream”. Steding seems to believe whole-heartedly that if you’re gonna play in Texas, you have to have a fiddle in the band and the young lady that played with him at this show held up her end quite well.

Jeremy has the traditional full deep CW voice and plays original compositions like “Auburn”, “The Day Today, Today” and “Let the Boys Drink Whisky” in addition to covers like “Truck Driving Man” and Guy Clark’s “Dublin Blues”. They ended their set with the up and coming single, “Lyin’” featuring a prominent fiddle line and a Buddy Holly rhythm.

Next up were The Wayward Sons, featuring the gravelly voiced Huke Green and HMR’s own Samuel Barker. They are currently promoting the release of their new CD “The Long Fall of the Wayward Sons”. The real life song themes, whether the grappling with substance abuse or the overthrow of physical abuse, speak to the lives of folks in the throes of living and surviving together.

ImageThe set started off with Huke’s “Down by Old River” featuring some nice Sam Barker guitar work and it continued on with songs like “Falling Back Down” and “Crystal Beach”. These guys are inventive to the point of creating their own percussion section from luggage with kick pedals (American Tourister for Huke and Samsonite for Sam) and are great songwriters of common man.

Following the Sons, came face-melting, head-banging Revolt 45. They had some original pieces like “Too Hip”, but also relied on covers of bands like Pink and Social Distortion. They played an extremely convincing cover of “The Theme to King of the Hill” and some talented guitar work on “Drop Dead”. The band’s expertise covered the gamut from metal to punk, which is generally a gamut that I don’t frequent, but I could not dispute how serious they were about their music, nor their generosity in supporting the MD cause.

I have to confess that the main draw for me to this show was to have my first live exposure to Cory Branan. I was in no way disappointed by his performance. Fingerpicking at lightning speed, strumming with complex chord interplay, singing tongue twisting lyrics faster than you could hear them coming in, having some of the most thought and feeling provoking lyrics, and drinking whiskey at a rate that would flatten any non-Irishman were all part of the evening.

The show was all acoustic and solo. Cory dropped the PA completely during the second number, “No Hit Wonder”. He dragged the mike off of the stage and played the remainder of the set directly in the midst of the audience. He did immaculate performances of “Prettiest Waitress in Memphis”, the intense ”Sour Mash”, the classic “The Corner”, the disillusioned “The Kiss Song”, and the Buddy Holly styled “A Girl Named Go”. There is no way that this artist will ever again slip through Houston without me in his audience. Get on YouTube and take him in, because this guy is the real thing.

ImageJohn Moreland had the unenviable position of following the high energy performance by Cory Branan, but he seemed to bring the crowd down easy with his rural narrative style. He’s touring in support of his newest CD, “In the Throes” that has critics raving (see last Saturday listening under HMR features).

Moreland comes across as the silent observer, occasionally sharing what he’s seen with perspective and song. While most folks looking out across a river, just see water, Moreland sees the flow, the currents, the eddies and the swirls. He sings about the lives going on in the community, the relationships, the expectations and the disappointments. His set included “Your Spell”, “Oooh Julia”, “Avalon”, “Nobody Gives a Damn About Songs, Anymore” and “I Need you to Tell me Who I Am”. He lays the tunes out like an Oklahoma tapestry.

Matt Woods from the Knoxville area closed out the show. He played a lot of songs from his CD, “The Matt Woods Manifesto” and just as many that he promised to put on a new CD sometime in the near future.

ImageHis vocals carry that Tennessee hill country accent and his strumming and picking walked that line between country and rock and held my interest, even at that late hour. Some of his recorded songs that he played through the night were “The House Always Wins”, “Days of Walking”, “Port St. Lucie”, and “Johnny Ray Dupree”, the last of which featured some impressive vocal sustains.

He seemed to have just as many new songs like “Snack Bar Mary and the Ten Pin Priest” and Matt’s perspective on the music business, “Business Cards and Bullshit”. Matt’s prolific songwriting and his well-honed stage presentation make him an artist to watch. I see by his schedule that he’ll be back at the Ashford Pub for a Tuesday night performance in October.

Thanks are in order for Mark Potter, the 9 Bullets folks, the Ashford Pub and all of the fine artists and musicians that donated their time to help combat this debilitating disease. The show was an altogether enjoyable one and I walked out with a number of new names to follow up on. It was the perfect combination of social benevolence and entertainment. Ya’ll have fun. We do.