Want to hear some great rockabilly, ska, gospel, zydeco, retro-country and soul? Those are only some of the styles you'll hear on Nick Gaitan and The Umbrella Man's debut CD. When you experience the band live, expect even more. Gaitan and Umbrella Man's other five members put on an impressive show at the band's CD release party last night, with tunes that kept the floor packed until the very last note. The band's energy was so infectious, some of the fans put on a dance show of their own for a couple of songs. The vibes never subsided. Lovely vocalist Kam Franklin took her breaks on the dance floor as the band played a few Tejano tunes, allowing Roberto Rodriguez to flex his accordion skills. Rodriguez couldn't even wait for a break and took his accordion down into the crowd to dance.
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Gaitan and guitarist Adam Burchfield took turns slapping the upright bass and playing each other's instruments. Aftermath was feeling a little sorry for drummer Brian Shoppell and pedal-steel man Bart Maloney, because they could only jam in one place. But jam they did. The Houston-centric tunes were just what Aftermath needed to find some hometown pride. "'I've Found My Weakness in You' is a portrait of Houston," explains Gaitan. A majority of the songs on the CD are reflective of Houston, in a good way. If you've lived in the East End or downtown, you'll recognize some of the places the band sings about in their songs...simply icing on the cake of great music for a Houstonian.
Gaitan, a rare native to this city, wrote all the songs for the album. Well, except for the two on which he was simply a collaborator. The two-year project is a shiny example of Houston's diversity and musical talent. And the diversity of the music is rivaled only by the diversity of Umbrella Man's fans - another satisfying reflection of our city. "Nick is rooting for the home team. He's someone you want to see succeed and he's doing it," says Jay Lee, KPFT Technology Bytes radio personality and longtime friend. "He crosses cultural boundaries and brings everyone together. You can't pigeonhole him." If you missed Tuesday's release party, you have another chance to see Gaitan and the Umbrella Man tonight at Avant Garden, 411 Westheimer. The show starts at 9 p.m.