Iowa beatnik folkie Greg Brown was my long-scheduled reservation for this week's Critic's Choice slot, but according to the folks at the Mucky Duck, where Brown was scheduled to appear on Saturday, he postponed so he wouldn't have to compete with Nanci Griffith in Houston and Austin. When you drive down once in a blue moon from Iowa, I s'pose you seize your moments strategically. Anyhow, in a week filled with Crash Worships and Iguanas and Chris Connellys and Laurie Andersons and Nanci Griffiths and Pegboys, I'm gonna try to steer the faithful to Rudyard's to take in Horseshoe.
It's a lowly Houston band that's been everywhere, but will never go anywhere. A band that lets fly sparks, flickeringly illuminating the asbestos cube of the Houston "scene" that engulfs it. A band tenuously composed of that inimitable bear of a man Greg Wood on vocals, the studiously soul-fingered Scott Daniels on guitar, the ridiculously multi-instrumental Eddie Hawkins on drums, Rob Mahan on guitar and Michael Danburg on bass. If you recognize some of those names -- Wood and Daniels specifically -- it might be from all the rave write-ups that I and many like me finally got around to writing about local beacon Tab Jones on the occasion of that fine band's dismantling.
Horseshoe isn't Tab Jones, but the similarities are there in Daniels' licks and in Wood's half-lordly, half-apologetic presence and penchant for digging his whiskey-soaked growl into a country-rock rump till it hits bone, ripping meat and grinding teeth like a man who hasn't eaten a good song in months. Really, it's cool to watch. Horseshoe covers Johnny Paycheck's postal worker anthem "Take This Job and Shove It," and it kinda makes you want to do just that. Which is what a good country song should do. Tell you precisely how shitty your life actually is, and then prescribe some terminally self-destructive behavior as a cure.
Hey, it works for some of us. When it came in the form of the not-dissimilar Tab Jones, it started to catch on small and late. That can't be allowed to happen here. This band must become huge and famous and rich as near to instantly as possible, so that they remain tied together in contracts for perpetuity, unable -- even into old, tired age -- to shirk their collective duty to you, and to me: make us cry in our beers.
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Horseshoe plays at 10 p.m., Friday, March 3 at Rudyard's. Cover is cheap. Call 521-0521 for info.
* Crash Worship and Mumbleskinny at the Abyss, Thursday, March 2.
* The Iguanas at the Fabulous Satellite Lounge, Friday, March 3.
* Stefan Karlsson at Cezanne, Friday and Saturday, March 3 and 4.