Cadre, Brave Combo, Brains for Dinner Fitzgerald's July 24, 2010
Some would argue that Reggae is dead, but the youth of Houston would beg to differ. In dramatic fashion on Saturday night, fans, friends and loved ones were all brought to their feet at Fitzgerald's, where Cadre, Brave Combo and Brains For Dinner put the crowd in a dancing mood for the longtime Heights club's 33rd anniversary party.
While Cadre's album release was the reason for the party, it was hardly the focal point, though it's definitely worth purchasing, if for no other reason than its background story: Recording, mixing and mastering only took the band three and a half weeks, which as far as we know is close to unheard of.
Because all of the members of Cadre have been in bands before, they know the ropes and know that, when it comes down to it, completing an album needs to be made a priority before it gets put on the backburner, sometimes for good.
"This has been the most ridiculous experience," said Dane Foltin, Brains For Dinner's bassist and co-founder, who recorded and mastered Cadre's album. "I have never before in my life done an album in under a month."
Foltin, who is studying sound engineering at Columbia College in Chicago, told us that Curren Rehm and Nathan Quick, two of the members of Cadre (formerly Where There Is Sound, It Is Good) were hounding him daily to ensure the album was always at the forefront of his mind. In the background, Quick was smirking, quite pleased with himself and his band. Truth be told, we'd be smiling too, and we'd probably be a lot more arrogant about it, too.
Cadre's performance may have been a bit laid-back for an album release party, but the band's strong suit has always been collaboration above all else. After all, two of its members, Quick and Rehm, are also guitarists in Brains For Dinner, the evening's headlining act.
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On the subject of collaboration, another strength of Cadre's lies in its variety of its members voices. Quick is the lead singer, for all intents and purposes, but Kevin Kendrick, the band's banjo player and one of three vocalists, sings but one song, Whistles, and it truly stands out.
"Kevin sounds like a love child between Jimmy Buffett and Bob Dylan," said Stuart Maudlin, a friend and fan of the band. And we agree. It's eerily similar, and Quick told us that Dylan is one of Kendrick's biggest influences. At this point, we grabbed another copy of the album for our dad, whom we were should would love it.
"It ain't nothin' but a party, baby," Rehm said to the crowd as Cadre finished up its set. This statement reigned true as the rest of the evening was filled with people of all ages letting loose and dancing to their hearts' content.
Two-time Grammy winners Brave Combo, who were also featured on The Simpsons by request, strayed from Cadre's sound and instead set the stage for Brains For Dinner. As they took the stage, the crowd grew and before long, Carl Finch, the band's lead vocalist, was asking the crowd, "Who likes salsa?"
Aftermath has absolutely no background or training concerning dance, so we headed to the bar, watched and smiled. We can't quite call Brave Combo hometown heroes since they're from Denton, but we'll lay claim as best we can: they're from Texas, and we dig 'em.
Saturday night also happened to be Fitzgerald's 33rd anniversary, and Brave Combo announced from the stage that longtime owner Sara Fitzgerald is retiring "to go see the world."
Ed. Note: Rocks Off talked to Fitzgerald Monday afternoon, who said she is retiring but not to whom she is selling the business because the paperwork is not finalized. Rocks Off is following this story closely, and will update it as soon as we have any further information.
Brains took the stage a little before midnight, and Aftermath had trouble keeping up with the number of members in the band, much less the varieties of musical influence that shone through during their performance. While reggae isn't Aftermath's preferred genre, it's definitely infectious, and onlookers, even those unfamiliar with it, have a difficult time not getting caught up in it all - and yeah, that included us.
"If you're not jamming to your own stuff onstage, how can you expect other people to?" Foltin asked us, rhetorically. It's a good point, we think, and all local artists should make a mental note of it, because we've attended far too many shows at which bands didn't sell their own performances well.
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By the end of the show, Fitz's smelled like a crowded locker room after football practice but similarly, it also had an air of accomplishment about it, a kind that can only come from an evening of good tunes, good people and lots and lots of dancing.
Originally, Aftermath had planned to swing by a bar or two on the way home, but the show didn't end up coming to a close until 1:30 in the morning, so we contented ourselves with hanging out on the backstage patio with Brains and Cadre until our buzz wore off and we were asked to leave by the staff.
It might not have been our original plan, but we have no regrets; it was the best Saturday night we've had in a long, long time. For those who missed out, Cadre will be having another album release party this Saturday at Waugh Park, where Quick and Rehm will provide free Lone Star for everyone, and Brains will, as always, put on a solid show.
Though this time, we hope they play "Brain Food."