Written by Eddie Ferranti
Nov 23, 2013 at 07:00 PM
ImageSara Hickman is a woman who wears more than one hat for sure. She has been named one of Performing Songwriter’s 100 most influential Independent Artists, as well as an avid supporter of many charities and organizations benefitting children, women, and health.

She donates her time and record profits to places like Safe Place, Habitat for Humanity, House the Homeless, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and many other animal and human rights organizations along with being a mother of two! The main thing this lady does right, though, is bring a lot of energy to her stage act along with a cracker jack band.

The native of Jacksonville, NC, who has called Austin home since 1995, has had her tunes covered by the likes of Willie Nelson, Shawn Colvin and Robert Earl Keen to name a few. On this night in Conroe, Texas, at the killer confines of the Dosey Doe Music Cafe, she was promoting her latest debut album for Kirtland Records titled “Shine”.

It is really hard to describe her style when dealing with a live audience, but to say she is normal is far from the truth. Quirky, weird, off-the-wall and downright goofy all come to mind for this reviewer but not in a bad way. Her engaging personality comes across as an “Accept me as I am” and a “I don’t give a damn” type deal to me.

She opened the gig by herself, barefoot and fancy-free, doing two tunes and then when her band joined her, it was totally different. Why she hides behind the “dumb blonde” routine that she played on hard this night is weird to me because her talent is way beyond any hair color jokes. Also, she did a song called “Are We Ever Going to Have Sex Again” complete with laying out on a table in the crowd that was eye catching to say the least.

The new CD seems strong with cuts like “Selfish Freak,” which she dedicated to the table that would not shut up the whole gig, “You Are Not Alone” and the title cut where the band scorched the stage jamming! Chris Geller knocked the lights out with his electric guitar riffs all night long.

Hickman seems more like a caberet singer versus a singer/songwriter, which makes her downright unique to experience. To quote Hickman’s thoughts on making songs says a lot about her shows: “Making music is such a weird job because who knows where it comes from? There’s nothing, then…Bam a song exists. And if it connects with people that weirdness blends into blissful camaraderie…or it pisses people off. But I guess that’s what music/art is supposed to do-cause a reaction.”

Her shout out at the end of the gig said it all when she thanked the crowd for “Letting us be Frank Zappa tonight!”

For a performer who has released more than fifteen albums and has won countless awards including Texas State Musician in 2010, it seems odd that she tries hard to be a parody of herself when it is not needed at all. The last third of the show smoked and it put her back on HMR’s list to track her down in the future. Let’s hope she lets the music do the talking next time…

ImageThe opener, Paper Moon Shiners,  was also a different act that has caught our eye ever since we saw them at Southwest Regional Folk Alliance in 2012 & 2013. This duo, based out of Austin, is bringing the vintage songs of the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s to light in a vaudeville kind of rendition that is beyond refreshing and enjoyable.

Elena Antonelli brings it big time on the vocals in a roaring bluesy rasp that grabs you and won’t let go. Frank Meyer plays guitars of many shapes and sizes, especially ukelele, and has a deep baritone that contrasts wonderfully with Elena to bring forth tunes that not only sound great but make me bust a gut!

Outstanding ones were “Devil Up There,” “Nobody,” show stopping and stellar “Same Thang” and “Whoo’s that Knockin'” with Meyer doing epic trombone sounds!!! The lyrics on “Now Git” will fracture you like watching a live cartoon being performed to perfection without the two of them laughing!

Elena’s growling sexy voice on Robert Johnson classic “Come On In My Kitchen” showcased the awesome potential this duo has as far as blues renditions. Meyer on “The Head” cannot be listened to without full on laughter. The uniqueness of Paper Moon Shiners is that it is very hard to do the music they are doing because nobody is doing it-especially in Austin, Texas.

“Shoo Fly Pie” was a fitting ending to their set with Antinelli using a megaphone prancing out in the crowd. Killer stuff indeed.

GO see these guys when you can and tell me what you think, please…God Bless your Christmas season!