Damn. Just when you think there's nothing new under the sun, you go out on a random weeknight and get blown away by brand-new local bands. Last night at Crosstown Station, the Sons of Great Dane, Adam Lee and the Dead Horse Sound Company and the Calamity Cubes formed a rockin', honky tonkin', bluegrass stompin' lineup that reminded me why I love my job.
First off, some video I took of my new favorite country band, Adam Lee and the Dead Horse Sound Company, which is actually two guys: Lee and his sidekick Johnny. Sorry about the jankiness of the video -- my Canon PowerShot is not exactly HD.
Sons of Great Dane were rocking loud and strong when I arrived just past 10 p.m. The band's sound occasionally veers toward alt-country but mostly stays in the realm of straight-ahead, poppy guitar rock in the vein of the Lemonheads. "Bullet Left It's Barrels Head" [sic!] on the group's MySpace is an exemplary track.
I liked the band, but when frontman Brent Windler (who looks, to his advantage, kind of like actor Michael Pitt) attempted a solo cover of John Lennon's "Jealous Guy," I wanted to put a gun to my own head. Had the band come in and killed it on the chorus, it might have been OK, but with just his guitar and unwise use of falsetto, Kindler fell flat on his flannel.
The crowd, considerable at first, decreased in size by about half after the Sons got done. The remaining folks, however, were definitely there to see Adam Lee and Johnny play, filing onto the previously empty dancefloor (apparently SOG's fans came only to regard their chosen band from the tables) to dance and deliver beers, shots and at least one frilly girl drink to the foot of the stage.
Recently transplanted from Phoenix, Arizona, the DHC duo look and act like touring roadhouse minstrels from the late '50s who drove their Studebaker into a time warp on the road to Hunstville and ended up in modern-day KC. Adam is the relaxed, charming frontman, just as ready to give you a clever couplet as a freshly popped PBR. His deep baritone carries more power than his aw-shucks demeanor suggests, however. He could probably handle himself in a scrap. Johnny, however, is the straight-up wildman, his harmony vocals barely more than hoarse yells, lookin' like he might at any second kick over his pedal steel, jump into the crowd and plant one on an unsuspecting pretty girl in the crowd. These boys are a match made in honky tonk heaven, and we're lucky to have them. Their debut LP, Ghostly Fires, is looking for a place in your collection.
Up next, Lawrence punk-grassers the Calamity Cubes took the evening's drunken reins with burly, gruff hoedown music: slapped bass, thrashing banjo and the surprisingly sonorous voice of singer and acoustic guitarist Brook Blanche.
The Cubes played with such energy they broke several strings. There was a G-string shortage at one point, averted with help from the DHC. By night's end, several couples were out twirling on the dance floor, drunkenly bopping to the Calamity Cubes (I have no idea what that name is from, by the way) tales of whiskey and heartbreak.
Whiskey and heartbreak -- those things would be painfully cliched in most bands' hands. But the Cubes and Adam Lee both are plenty authentic to pull it off. Listening to these bands and watching them play, there's no doubt in your mind they're the real deal. They may own cell phones and update their MySpace accounts once in a while, but the rest of the time, it's boots in the dust, booze in the brainpan and Johnny Cash in the heart.