Written by James Killen

DSC03298I had the good fortune last Saturday night to see, not one, but two great shows at the Americana. The evening opened up early with John Egan who showed up with one of his resonators to entertain the cozy crowd. He played about an hour and a half of some of the best acoustic blues to be found in H-town. The set included covers, like Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful” and Lightning Hopkins’ “Once a Gambler” as well as a number of John’s own compositions, like “Man I’ll Never Be” and “Down in Houston”. Mr. Egan threw down an amazing set for the small crowd with finger picking and slide flowing smoothly across his strings, punctuated by a generous helping of harmonics.

After John cleared the stage, it was set up for a three way song swap featuring Charles Bryant, Sara Van Buskirk and Mark Zeus. They play three distinctly different styles of folk, like Neapolitan ice cream, three great flavors in one package.

Charles was belting out his gritty from the gut lyrics about dealing justly with an unjust world, accompanied by his aggressive strumming style and harmonica fill. He performed a number of songs from his latest CD, “Kiss the Sun”, like “Kill ‘Em All” and “Give You”, along with a number of his earlier tunes and a new one or two, as his creativity continues to flow forth.

DSC03309Sara’s voice had the unique quality of being strong and clear and yet ethereal in a way. Her compositions are more like poetic verse set to music than lyrics. They seem to wane introspective and haunting. I only recognized one song from her first (and only) CD, that being, ”The Place Where You Are”. This makes me believe that she was taking some of her newer songs out for a spin, lending credence to the rumors of a second disc in the near future.

Mark’s style is a little more traditional folk with clearly annunciated vocals on songs dealing with social injustice, like “Land of the Lords” and “Somebody’s Heaven”. He also played songs that trended a little more to his country side, like the humorous, “My Baby Wrestles Gators”, and an acoustic version of his Thunderbolts song, “Swamp”. The Thunderbolts band is Zeus’ platform for his country rock alter ego.

The swap session was an interactive one with each artist contributing additional rhythm support, or an improvised lead, or some of CB’s harmonica to the other participants songs. It was clear that they were enjoying themselves. It was well after midnight when I packed up and slipped out the door and Charles was still bubbling excitedly about which song he wanted to do next, three and a half hours after they had started. I do believe he would have gone on all night.

Keep an eye on the Americana’s schedule. They have a lot of good shows planned. I think that I even saw Greg Brown slated for an evening in September. I’ll certainly be there for that.