Last Band Standing, John Henry’s April 28, 2011

Posted: May 3, 2011 in Eugene Band Reviews
What fun! Week Five’s line up at John Henry’s was all country-rock, with the following bands setting our feet to tapping and heads to bobbing:
Opening with Whoppner County Country Allstars (no webpage available)
Amazing female lead singer – when they took the stage, I was pleasantly surprised. I saw these old guys and thought WTF – but they were GOOD. With no sound check, this southern rock band took over. The lead guitarist puts some serious vocals together with his riffs, while the rhythm guitar lead a beautiful counterpoint. Folks drifted onto the dance floor like moths to a flame, with heads bobbing and toes tapping, it was Weezer meets Hank Williams Jr. What was lovely was all the vocals (from all four lead musicians) were excellent – there was nothing forced or contrived., regardless of who was singing. The last song of the set – so EMO – was a perfect close. These guys were just too much fun, 3.5 stars!
Next Up – The Lowmen (no webpage available)
How did I know cowbells were gonna figure into this one??? The lead guitar was tight and hot, a bit thrash punk, a bit good ole’ boy country, the drums keeping it all together. Vocals tell the story, but nothing outstanding (sorry) on this set. Remember guys, loud does not equal good. But with a solid beat that kept the crowd on the floor, this band held their own. Nice storytelling with lyrics, it was funny watching folks 2-stepping to country-punk. Unfortunately, musically, the set was virtually indistinguishable from song to song… basically play – rewind – play – rewind. They had a lot of energy but that was about all. Nice lead guitars tho, when you could hear them. The vocals felt and sounded forced and too limited, the melodies running mostly to two-note leads. I’m not sure that most of the people on the floor weren’t friends of the band. They did have some good jams tho – reminded me of Green Day in its infancy perhaps? But not as cute… 2 1/4 stars (because 2.5 would have been too high and 2 would have been too low).
The Stagger & Sway

I loved the string bass and the vocals were very good. Not that much on stage presence but still a lovely sound. Drums were so THERE. A nice country rock band. Vocals had some lovely harmonies, and the electric lead guitar was such a nice counterpoint. The lyrics were beautiful too, with some awesome instrumental work between the guitar jams. Photographer Jeanice Marvel says, “REM…” I said “but REM never did country rock…” Evidently that didn’t matter! But I could hear it in the stories they told – 3 solid stars and they got our collective vote – we’ll see what the results show, right? Find them at http://www.workingstiffrecords.com/fr_home.cfm, http://www.myspace.com/thestaggerandsway, or http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Stagger-and-Sway/162454070439174

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