Excess of Talent: Meet Austin Super-Ensemble the Eightysixxed
A young David Holt and Nick "Mr. Carlene Carter" Lowe in Nashville
courtesy of David Holt
If Lonesome, Onry and Mean was a betting man, we'd bet our entire bankroll that while Warehouse Live or Fitz are filled to capacity with folks checking out the latest hyped-up, flash-in-the-pan, cover-of-Paste-magazine band that's been in existence, oh, at least a year or two, Austin's worn and weathered the Eightysixxed will probably play to maybe 100 cognoscenti Wednesday night at Under the Volcano.
None of these Eightysixxed knights of the road, who have thousands of gigs under their belts in bands with legends like Joe Ely, Robert Palmer, Carlene Carter and Jesse "Guitar" Taylor, chases the frenzied admiration of hipsters anymore; that would be demeaning and embarrassing to artists of such stature and ability. They're past the "flavor of the day" hype contests, preferring to let their instruments do the hyping.
But just so everyone knows what they're missing when they don't see the Eightysixxed Wednesday night, here are some short bios of each member. Read 'em and weep.
Dony Wynn (Drums) A scribbler of short stories and a record producer of note as well as a monster groove driver, Wynn spent 20 years in Robert Palmer's band and probably sees those lookalike models in Palmer's famous "Addicted To Love" video in his sleep. After Palmer's untimely death, Wynn went on to anchor Brooks and Dunn's touring ensemble. He also found time to tour or record with Kenny Mazur, Teo Macero, Gary Numan, Patricia Vonne, Casper Rawls, Steve Poltz, Billy Harvey and dozens of other jazz and pop artists over the years.
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Besides the Eightysixxed, these days Wynn works regularly with salty Austin songster Bill Carter and the Blame and is a regular at Casper Rawls's weekly "Planet Casper" gigs at the Austin Continental Club. Within the context of the Eightysixxed, Wynn holds down a pocket that never wavers, with drumming akin to watching a nuclear reactor functioning at 100 percent. Bandmate David Holt calls Wynn "the Groove Guru."
Led Zeppelin front man/current Austin resident Robert Plant has Wynn's number on his speed dial.
Gabe Rhodes (Guitar) The son of legendary Austin producer, writer, disc jockey Joe Gracey and singer-songwriter/playwright Kimmie Rhodes, at 40 Gabe Rhodes is the young buck of the group. He's made a name for himself as a crackerjack producer and sideman in Austin circles and was singled out in the Austin Chronicle for his work on Willie Nelson's The Rainbow Connection. His production or sideman credits include Waylon Jennings, Billy Joe Shaver, Ray Price, Emmylou Harris, Jimmy Lafave and dozens of others.
LOM recalls seeing Rhodes ten years ago as orchestra conductor for his mother's play Windblown, a collaboration with noted playwright Joe Sears of the Tuna series. Dressed as a campesino, young Rhodes's role called for him to leave the orchestra pit and play his electric guitar as the curtain fell on Act 1. He shredded, as LOM duly reported in his review in No Depression. Rhodes also produced his mom's album Windblown, upon which the play was based, and helped score the popular film Babe: Pig in the City.
In the Eightysixxed, Rhodes gets to turn loose his lead-guitar jones to full effect. The man is a gunslinger.
Story continues on the next page.
Glenn Fukunaga (Bass) Joe Ely went through an unsteady period after dissolving the original Joe Ely band, and Hawaiian-born Glenn Fukunaga became one of Ely's anchors. But aside from work with Ely, since relocating to Austin in 1974 Fukunaga has racked up more than 300 recordings as a session man, working on everything from Bob Dylan's Oh Mercy to Ely's Letter to Laredo to Pat Green's Three Days. He's worked with most of the Lubbock mafia, from Terry Allen to early alt-country legends the Flatlanders.
He also played on the 1999 Grammy-nominated Aztex (Sarah Fox and Joel Guzman) album Short Stories and has worked closely with Terri Hendrix and her cohort/ex-Ely band sidekick Lloyd Maines. Fukunaga also appears on the Dixie Chicks album Home and toured with the group for several years. His other major collaborations include with Eliza Gilkyson, Tom Russell, Jimmie Vaughan, Alejandro Escovedo and Ray Wylie Hubbard.
Fukunaga's first album of his own original jazz material, Not a Word, was released in 2012, featuring fellow Eightysixxer Dony Wynn played on the album.
Jesse "Guitar" Taylor and a young David Holt (r)
courtesy of David Holt
David Holt (Guitar) A graduate of Lubbock Coronado High School, Holt was too young to be part of the original Lubbock mafia, but when Joe Ely guitarist Jesse "Guitar" Taylor formed his own side project, Jesse Taylor's Tornado Alley, he tapped young Holt for the other guitar slot. Holt describes himself as Taylor's protégé.
After graduating from Taylor's band, Holt logged some time with rockabilly filly Rosie Flores and eventually came to the attention of budding country star Carlene Carter (Mrs Nick Lowe). Being in Carter's band brought Holt into the orbs of Lowe, Rodney Crowell, and John R. Cash himself, who encouraged the young ace to hone his own songwriting skills.
After years of constant road-dogging -- "some years I probably wasn't home ten days " -- Holt finally got around to releasing an album of his own, and here's how he explains Perpetual Motion:
With Jesse, I was learning Freddie King. When I started playing with Rosie Flores, I learned Pete Anderson's parts. My first gig with Carlene Carter was the Grand Ole Opry; it was all about figuring out Albert Lee and James Burton. With Joe Ely, I had to learn David Grissom and Jesse Taylor. When I played with Bill Carter & the Blame, I had to learn Stevie and Jimmie Vaughan.
Holt spent the early '90s laying down hot licks for the Mavericks, but after the tragic death of Stevie Ray Vaughan and the breakup of Austin sensation Arc Angels, in 1994 joined forces with Double Trouble/Arc Angels rhythm section Tommy Shannon and Chris Layton, longtime Ely lead guitarist David Grissom, and soul shouter Malford Milligan in blues-rock supergroup Storyville. Writing in the Houston Chronicle in September 1994, critic Rick Mitchell described the band as a "rock 'n' roll band in the bluesy Southern-rock tradition. Imagine a Terence Trent D'Arby backed by a couple of the baddest blues-rock guitarists in Austin and a brutally efficient rhythm section."
That description fits the Eightysixxed to a tee. They fear no band.
The Eightysixxed performs 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 30 at Under the Volcano, 2349 Bissonnet.
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