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The Eddy Hobizal Band
Escondido
Saturday, March 19

Eddy Hobizal's band of four HSPVA alumni plays respectable covers, mostly of '70s fusion. Two of Saturday's sets featured standards by Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Return to Forever, Miles Davis and Santana -- jazz/rock pieces with a pronouncedly funky beat, a simple yet electronically juiced-up melodic line and seemingly endless solo riffs on the guitar and keyboards.

Hobizal moved fluidly between different keyboards, centering on short, fast electric-piano phrases but occasionally taking on the richer harmonic effects of a synthesized wind instrument and often stepping out to boogie on a high-pitched, steely-sounding over-the-shoulder model. He was especially on cue in an extended call-and-response pattern with guitarist Mike Severson, who extends fading notes like Carlos Santana.

Drummer Chris Dave, whose group Mint Condition has played on Janet Jackson's tour, used every piece in his kit with a driving punch that kept the band's timing crisp. Hobizal's lower-register keyboards seemed to dictate the bassline on most of the songs, though electric bassist Tim Ruiz pumped up the backbeat once the leader set it into place.

If the band and the coffeehouse can overcome a few technical gaffes -- the jukebox mysteriously started up two-thirds of the way into one set, plugs fell out of instruments, volume control problems occasionally buried the guitar under the drums and bass -- more listeners will appreciate the chance to hear this group find its own way through its takes on "classic" fusion. -- Bill Levine

Junior Brown
Rockefeller's
Tuesday, March 15

Rockefeller's didn't promote it, and I didn't know about it until the last minute, so unless you read the ad's small print and knew just what you were looking for, you and one of Austin's premier guit pickers passed in the night. Rockefeller's closed off its second story for lack of demand, and while the scale made the show all the better for the few of us there, I've got a gut feeling there are another two Rockefeller's full of people in this town who will dig all hell out of Junior Brown if they manage to catch him next time around.

Brief bio. Brown's in his late thirties, lives in Austin, dresses in slacks, a buttoned blazer, tie and straw hat, and plays, in front of a three-piece band, a self-constructed hybrid of a Stratocaster and a lap steel mounted waist-high on a podium. Two albums out: Twelve Shades of Brown and the newer Guit With It. He's a clean-cut man, with just a bit of jugheaded redneck in him, and he might well be considered a one-trick pony if he didn't pump every bit of his substantial mastery of honky-tonk, swing, bluegrass, blues, surf and rock guitar styles into his rep.

Brown hit heavily on both albums, plus earlier material, and if his vocals sometimes seemed distracted, the guitar work was jaw-droppingly hot. By the time he'd finished with the show-closing "Sugar Foot Rag" -- complete with a medley of Hendrix riffs -- Brown had earned a well-justified encore.

-- Brad Tyer

 
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