Fabulous Satellite Lounge
Friday, March 3
While the Fabulous Satellite Lounge isn't a traditional roadhouse, it is a great venue to hear the Hollisters. The Satellite is about drinking and dancing, and that's what the Hollisters made everyone packed into the place want to do last week.
The band reminds us that good country should be hard-edged, gritty and direct. Unlike the family-values-laden suburban music out of Nashville, honky-tonk is essentially about living for the night. For the band's longtime fans, the Hollisters are growing into archetypal honky-tonkers before our eyes. On stage, the growth is manifest in rowdy set after set.
At the Satellite, the Hollisters kicked off the show with a whimper. Lead singer Mike Barfield apologized, explaining that the band had been up uncharacteristically early that day to appear on The Debra Duncan Show. But by the third or fourth song, the microphone volume had been adjusted upward, Barfield started feeling more confident, and his strong baritone began ringing out clearly. Then the band hit its stride.
Barfield is an outstanding vocalist who can make a song spring to life. "Pink Adobe Hacienda," for example, off the band's debut album, always seemed a throwaway tune, until Barfield sang it live on this night. He flexed his upper register and hit every note dead on. Although most of the Hollisters' material is up-tempo, Barfield is capable of turning out an achingly beautiful ballad. When the band performed "Heart," he brought an unsurpassable sense of loss to the song.
And as tightly as lead guitarist Chris Miller plays, you wouldn't know he has been with the band just four months. When he solos, which is only occasionally, he is note-perfect. "Pike County Blues" was one of the few tunes on which Miller took an extended lead, setting up instant comparisons to his predecessor, Eric Danheim. Where Danheim was subtle and colorful, Miller is rockish. This addition has only enhanced the band's stage presence, which, as always, is anchored by the rock-solid rhythm section of bassist Denny Dale and drummer Kevin Fitzpatrick. -- Aaron Howard
Saturday, March 4
Bo Patt wasted no time revealing its lighthearted sexuality with the opening tune, "Heifer." The first note sent a masked man exploding from backstage and bouncing around the audience floor. He waved around a glow-in-the-dark dildo and covetously clutched a worn-looking blowup doll. This sense of misadventure permeates the Bo Patt sound.
The fourth song of the 17-song set, for example, "White Trash Oklahoma Girl," was a hilarious commentary on the dating habits of young, lower-class Bible Belt women -- and a perfect opportunity for Bo Patt's personal security team, two miniskirted ladies, to get to work dancing.
Having performed only four shows, the month-old group exuded experience and an addiction to riotousness. The 11 members of Bo Patt delivered a divinely original sound, although obviously derived from '80s punk. It was a mixture that made for an impressive explosion onto the scene and possibly an extended Bo Patt presence in town. -- Brandon Cullum
Hadden Sayers Band
Billy Blues Bar & Grill
Friday, March 3
The first thing a guy has got to do if he fronts an eponymous band is prove that he's no egomaniacal puss. Hadden Sayers dispelled any doubts with a tight, people-moving set that ran the gamut from straight-on blues to crunch-chord rock. His full, colorful sense of rhythm sustained every number, and his muscular soloing had the audience, largely laymen, applauding wildly. Sayers is also armed with a deep yet flat-bottomed voice that acts as another layer of sound, comprising melodic mumblings and half-formed words. Finally, Sayers displayed his trademark laid-back, engaging personality, which immediately put listeners at ease. That allowed him to trot out such clichés as playing behind his head, walking through the crowd and encouraging sing-alongs without a whiff of desperation. The Hadden Sayers Band, with bassist Chris Ross and drummer nonpareil Matt Johnson, might not be spontaneous, but its techniques are fail-safe. -- Justin Wolske
Tom Cummings Quartet
Saturday, March 4
Vibraphonist Tom Cummings did it all. He took requests and even had a couple dancing on Cezanne's limited floor space. Joined by pianist Bob Henschen, bassist Bill Hieronymous and drummer Tim Solook, he put some new dresses on old standards, including Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood," which they performed as a double-time samba, and Jerome Kern's "Nobody Else But Me," which they Latinofied. Cummings also led the quartet through some uncharted territory. They played a few originals, which were beautifully rendered. One of the show's high points came when Cummings called out Ralph Towner's "Icarus," which he said he hadn't played with a group in nearly 15 years. The quartet's surreal version of this captivating but often neglected tune was taken to an even higher level when Cummings pounded out an amazing thematic improvisation. More than anything, the quartet was just having fun exploring new and old tunes in front of Cezanne's typically small and appreciative crowd.