Malcolm Holcombe at McGonigel’s Mucky Duck – July 12, 2016

holcombe1For over 2 decades and 10-plus albums, Malcolm Holcombe has treaded right on the cusp of notoriety and infamy.

One of my favorite quotes on Holcombe has always come from Steve Earle, who said he was “the best songwriter I ever threw out of my studio.” That follows the intensity and controlled chaos that is a Malcolm Holcombe set.

The years have seen less unpredictability from Holcombe. He rarely rocks his chair to points where most people would lose their balance and crash into the floor. He also no longer wanders the stage during songs while singing bent over the mic with the back to his audience. However, he maintains an intensity that would leave an audience of punk rockers in awe. There is not a moment Holcombe does not seem to be pouring himself out on stage through songs or meandering stories that seems like nonsense until the song joins it.

With a new album, Another Black Hole, out in the world for consumption, Holcombe rolled through Houston for his second stop at McGonigel’s Mucky Duck. Sensing he was in classier quarters than usual, Holcombe held back most of his colorful language and stories for the latter half of the set, when he found a rapport with the audience and a sense of comfort.

The first thing one notices at a show by Holcombe is the extraordinary amount of sound coming from the small, fragile looking man that walks on stage and his acoustic guitar. Once he throws his hat to the ground and begins his fingerpicking, any thought of fragility disappears. He beats notes out of the guitar, frails all 5 fingers across the strings to bring percussion, lead and rhythm all out at once. A stare that looks nothing short of crazed and haunted comes across his face, then the stories begin.

holcombe2The music comes from a breadth of experiences. There are reflective songs like his opener for the past few tours, Mountains of Home, and downright bitter songs lamenting the average man being left on his own like the upbeat Papermill Man or the slower Savannah Blues .

The songs rolled forth for a little over an hour before Holcombe exited the stage to calls for an encore. As he ducked outside, pulling his pack of cigarettes from the pocket on his t-shirt, the cries carried on for a few more songs. Then, as people began to give up, Holcombe’s cigarette must have burned to its final drag as he came through the front door to finish out the show with a 1-2 punch of The Music Plays On and A Far Cry From Here.

If you’ve never heard Malcolm Holcombe, be sure to get that changed up real soon. He’s not getting younger, his cigarette intake is forever unwavering and the road keeps calling him out on it. Don’t miss your opportunity to see this man up-close and personal.

For more information, check out his website: http://www.malcolmholcombe.com.

 

Introduction to Samuel Barker

11949449_890950117649613_6278425683884630843_nHey everybody! I figured I would introduce myself since posts from me are going to start popping up on the site and you might just be scratching your head wondering all about me. To really appreciate my writing, you need to know the basics about me, right? Well, here we go.

I love long drives, I wear boxers over briefs, leave the toilet seat up and dark blue is my favorite color. I prefer dogs over cats, beer over wine and/or liquor and I put beans in my chili. Bears are favorite animal, I’m a Fender-style man when it comes to electrics and a Gibson-style kind of guy when it comes to acoustic and I once drunkenly peed in a plant at the Grand Ole Opry hotel.

Now that the important information is out of the way, I’ll tell you the more trivial information about myself.

You may have seen my name pop up on the site in the past when my old band was covered, when my solo album was announced or I opened for a band people on this site dig. I have been a blog writer with sites like Rockzone.com, HoustonMusicReview.com and various others. I love writing, it’s something I’m actually good at.

My main love in life, though, is music. From the time I put my first Bob Seger and Huey Lewis and the News 45s on my mom’s best friend’s record player, I was hooked. Tastes have changed, but that feeling never goes away. It is why I eventually started talking about music, searching out new artists that I’d never heard before, writing about music, playing music and travelling around the country doing all of it. Some people have God, I have music. It does the same thing to my soul (to steal a line from Tom Petty).

Hope you dig what I write about and have a little fun with it. NineBullets has been a great source of knowledge for me, as well as, a place that has given much support to my music. Now, as we should do in all facets of life, I’m going to do my best to give back to those who have given to me. Let the good times start rolling…I’m ready…

Gallows Bound at Gruene Hall – January 24, 2016

IMG_3940A couple of years ago, I pulled up to a little neighborhood bar in Philadelphia to play a show. The headliner that night was a group of young adults from Winchester, VA called Gallows Bound. Six folks decked out in t-shirts from their favorite punk bands, tattoos, piercing and the like.

Walking in, I received a sight I was not expecting to see: acoustic guitars, mandolin, banjo, double bass and a small drum kit with a washboard laid over the floor tom. Instantly, I was stoked to see what these punk rock kids were going to do with their influences from the foothills of the Appalachians.

They were a blast. A little rough around the edges, but the songs were great. Vocalist/Guitarist Jesse Markle was the grit to vocalist/guitarist Jordan Joyes’ grace. The contrast in vocals, the instrumentation of people who all could play their instruments well and the energy were all things that made the band stick out above other acts I had played with on tour. They were special.

We hit it off well, took some pictures together, drank too much together and then we went our separate ways keeping in touch sporadically through social media.

A year later, I was in Johnson City, TN playing a show when I saw a Facebook message that Gallows Bound was playing a few blocks from where I was playing. So, as soon as I packed up my gear, I headed over to the Hideaway to see the band and that was one of the best moves I have made as a music fan.

In that year, Gallows Bound had tightened up the sound, Markle’s vocals were blending well with Joyes’ and the rest of the band, bassist Aaron Blow, drummer Rob Shultz, mandolin player Forrest Veatch and banjo player Justin Carver, were hitting on all cylinders. The energy was high, the audience responsive and the set showed the continued growth of the band. Now, if only they would come to Texas.

Now, in 2016, about 8 months later, Gallows Bound was on their first US tour and the closest they got to Houston was in New Braunfels at Gruene Hall.

Looking a bit worn out from the preceding weeks of touring, the band loaded into the historic dancehall as a few patrons milled around waiting for the bar to open at noon. Having played a late show in Dallas the night before and travelling 4 hours to Gruene, it was interesting to see how the day would progress, especially with a 3 hour set looming.

IMG_3946A little past noon, with a small crowd gathering, the set was off. Almost instantly, at least to the spectators, the exhaustion disappear and the energy came rushing back. As the music filled the air, the butts filled the seats. People danced in the back of the room to the mixture of bluegrass, folk and punk rock attitude. Audience members delivered beers to the stage to help cure the band members’ hang overs and even the seated stamped their feet to the beat of the songs.

The set contained a few tunes from their first album, Empty Flask, Empty Heart, but leaned heavily of their new self-titled album and some yet-to-be released songs, a couple of which featured lead vocals from Veatch and Carver.

At the break for each set, the merch table was filled with people wanting to take home albums and other wares. It was definitely a good day for music at Gruene Hall and a good day to see Gallows Bound.

They are on tour until the end of February, so go check out their website to see when they will be close to you, you will not regret it. For tour information visit their website.

Gallows Bound by Gallows Bound