Radio Bean Birthday Part 3 With James Kochalka Superstar, The Honky Tonk Band, Blue Button, Steady Betty, Osage Orange, Monoprix, Vedora, Mighty Jamba, Paper Castles And Swale November 8 2014
Words by Tim Lewis.
It was just before eight pm when I headed down to Radio Bean to find out if, indeed, Jason Cooley had woken up. I ran a little later than I hoped and walked in with James Kochalka Superstar and his band rocking the place hard. With Creston Lea on bass, Jeremy Frederick on drums, and Eric Olsen & Jason Cooley ripping it up on guitars the energy was through the roof. They finished up one song as I settled in, then launched into a heavy rocking psa about the importance of washing your ass. That wrapped up their set and made me wish I’d walked in 5 minutes earlier and caught a bit more.
Up next, the iron man who was there at 8am and also was there during my afternoon visit, Brett Hughes and the Honky Tonk crowd hit the stage. Brett sang and played guitar and was joined by Steve Hadeka on drums, a bass player I did not know and Lowell Thompson on guitar. The first song was a kind of rocking country song. Kat Wright joined them for the next one (I thought I heard a whistle blowing) and Lowell sang the third. It’s not my favorite genre, but the music was very well played and quite enjoyable. They wrapped up the set with Mystery Train which is always fun.
Blue Button followed with four songs that were directly in my favorite genre. It had been a while since I’ve seen them as the intact quintet, lately someone had been missing at most of the shows. With Cooley singing, Rebekah Whitehurst on bass, James Belizia and Eric Olsen on guitars, and Frankie drumming, they let loose a beautiful noise. The first song was an instrumental with a nice build. They followed with a version of Hit that got the packed room dancing. They went super heavy with Fucking Burning Bridges and closed their set in classic style with Bullshit. It was a great heavy wonderful rocking set!
The music took a U-turn as Steady Betty hit the stage. Their joyous rock steady sound had the room swaying instantly. Steve Hadeka filled in on drums, but the magnificent voices of Kat Wright and Miriam Bernardo lead the songs through their meandering journeys. Linda Bassick added some nice guitar and blended in her voice now and then. The bass playing was solid and the horns added lots of flourishes. They played five songs and the whole room had a happy vibe.
Up next Osage Orange took the stage. As a guitar, bass, drums, guitar/keys quartet they played some off paced indie rock. The sound was a bit stark but the songs really had something to them. Unfortunately, lots of microphone feedback on all three songs knocked them off their game a bit, but there was still a lot of fascinating music played. Every time I see them, I just really like them, and this time, despite the sound, was no exception.
The dual microphoned Monoprix followed. With Hadeka on drums (really, there were a couple of bands he did not drum with), Tyler Bolles on stand up bass, and Brett Hughes singing and playing guitar, they had a sound reminiscent of the honky tonk set, but a bit more rocking. Their set was fun to bop to, and the playing first rate. They had Kat sing on the first song, played Bad Enough second and rocked out the third song. I glanced behind me late in the set to see who was setting up next and my heart almost leaped out of my throat.
Vedora followed with Matt Hastings on guitar, Caroline Marie on bass and vocals and Jane Boxall Percussion on drums. Really??? Jane was playing with Vedora???? The first song had a moody swirl as Caroline’s sultry singing helped it build step by step. As it got more and more intense and felt like it could explode, Jane’s playing stepped to the front and lead it into the rocking ending section. I was in complete awe. The second song was great too. It had that post first album song structure, kind of an All In The Room pace, and was just magnificent. They closed the set with Sober and it had a great build and a massive Matt Hastings guitar workout to finish it off. It might have been the best Vedora show ever!
The next act, Mighty Jamba tells the future, was a recitation of an epic Shel Silverstein poem about rolling and smoking and was entrancing from first moment to last.
Paper Castles followed as a four-piece with a drummer I did not know, Padraic Reagan on bass, and Jake Brennan & Wren on guitars. They played four oddly paced but cool songs. Wren pulled out his wrench to get a little extra sting out of the guitar for one song, and the whole set was pretty fun.
The night launched into overdrive as Swale hit the stage. They opened with a killer Everyone Likes To, then invited Lee Anderson to the stage and played Thank You For Being A Friend. Eric Olsen, Jeremy Frederick, Tyler Bolles and Amanda Gustafson were all wearing stings of lights, and at the beginning of the third song, they shut off the house lights and let themselves be the light. They played a killer version of Death’s Politicians In My Eyes. It was gloriously rocking and as it ended, they brought it into a slow section and let it keep going. The moody middle picked up as Steve Hadeka came to the stage to play a second snare. They let the song flow into Nuclear War and had the audience enthusiastically sing along with them. It’s a call and response sort of song, and respond we did. They rocked it hard for a while before finally calling it a night. Bobby Hackney Jr. walked into the room late in the song and thanked them immediately after. It was a wonderfully magic moment.
Well, I’ve got a lot more to write, but am out of time. I will continue the story later.
This post was originally published by Tim Lewis at his personal blog, https://timstriangletribune.wordpress.com.