Not everyone has noticed, but Texas sure does seem to produce a lot of great Americana these days. While we have some great bands coming out of Houston, tonight one of Austin's best will play at the Continental Club to celebrate the release of their new sophomore record, Nowhere.
Choctaw Wildfire is the brainchild of singer-songwriter Charlie Pierce. After playing music for many years with many different musicians, he finally said to hell with it and put together his own band. With William Landin playing tuba, Leland Potter on drums, and Janie Cowan on upright bass, Pierce is finally seeing his musical aspirations come to fruition.
But the story behind Nowhere is almost as interesting as the music contained within. With one record under their belts, and many lineup changes with the exception of Pierce himself, Choctaw Wildfire ended up in New Orleans. Having a conversation with a woman there, Pierce found out that her mother, Ruby, a Choctaw Native American woman herself, had passed away recently.
Pierce decided to write a song for the woman's mother, which became album track “For Ruby.” The family was so moved, they funded the recording of the entire record.
Choctaw Wildfire made a name for themselves this year in Austin during the annual South by Southwest festival, but really laid their roots in a bar there called The Buzz Mill, where they hold a residency every Monday night. Having watched them evolve with each and every performance, and heard the music take shape, I found myself growing more and more impressed with them.
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Nowhere is a step up in their songwriting and their instrumental performance in every way. The bluesy swagger they play with is something akin to Leonard Cohen's “Dance Me to the End of Love” or Tom Waits' The Heart of Saturday Night, with a little of that old-time Texas flare that makes our Americana scene great.
Having seen the band perform a number of times, I have no doubt they'll bring that fire to the Continental Club tonight. Though their recordings are no doubt energetic, only their live performances can convey the manic power of their actual playing. Pierce and his band pour their soul into every show, which makes them a sight to behold.
According to Pierce, Nowhere is based on life's simple truths, the ones that may be uncomfortable but makes us feel something. There's no better way to sum up their music and their live experience: it makes you feel something.
Choctaw Wildfire performs 10 p.m. tonight at the Continental Club, 3700 Main.