We wrapped up our yearlong “One Night” series back in March, after checking out dozens of local acts on monthly smorgasbord tours of Austin music hot spots large and small. Occasional revisitations of the theme will happen, and here’s one: Friday night, great shows at two very different venues offered an ideal sampler of top local Americana talent.
At Hogg Auditorium on the University of Texas campus, KUTX held its “Summer Set” concert with singer-songwriters John Fullbright and David Ramirez plus the father-son team of Kevin Welch and Dustin Welch. Sharing the stage for the full two-and-a-half-hour show, the four musicians performed guitar-pull style down the line, each taking turns while some jumped in to accompany others from time to time.
Both Kevin and Dustin performed songs of their own, usually accompanying the other, and for one number they brought out a special guest. Savannah Welch, who lost a leg in a freak accident at the Wimberley farmers’ market last fall, joined in for Kevin’s song “When the Sun Shines Down on Me.” Introducing the song, Welch noted he’s been playing it recently because it was a song he once heard the late Jimmy LaFave sing.
The memory of LaFave, who died last month after a nearly yearlong battle with cancer, was on the minds of many. Fullbright, who lives in Oklahoma butvisits Austin regularly, dedicated a beautiful piano ballad called “I’ve Seen Stars Before” to LaFave and George Reiff, the renowned Austin bassist who died on the same day as LaFave.
Ramirez, a rising-star on the indie-folk scene, mentioned that he’d only just met most of his stage-mates earlier today. Playing some songs from a record due out this fall, he noted that when he moved to Austin nine years ago, UT campus institutions such as KUT and the Cactus Cafe were among the first to give him a chance. “So thanks,” he concluded, “for giving a guy who was new in town the old college try.”
Twilight had turned to darkness when the show ended at 10 p.m, but over on the east side the music was just getting started on a sweltering night at the White Horse. Austin’s hippest honky-tonk had booked arguably the three best alt-country acts in town right now for a dynamite triple bill: Harvest Thieves, Jonathan Terrell and Croy & the Boys. The first and last of those three both had turns as Austin360 Artist of the Month last year.
READ MORE: Austin360 Artists of the Month for 2016
Croy & the Boys opened, packing the set with memorable tunes from their debut album “Hey Come Back” while adding a couple of smartly chosen covers from George Jones and Arthur Alexander that kept the crowded dance floor swinging.
Terrell and his band have been on fire lately, and Friday night was no exception to that. A veteran Austin musician with hard-rock cred from his work with Not in the Face, who almost broke through to the big time a few years ago, Terrell has proven to be an ace songwriter of country material that could cross over into indie-rock. Tunes from his latest EP “Color Me Lucky” stood out, though he also dropped in a couple of great covers with John Anderson’s “Seminole Wind” and Elvis’s “Little Sister” (done up Dwight Yoakam style).
Harvest Thieves took the stage well past midnight, but the White House crowd was still buzzing and dancing. Songs from last year’s debut album “Rival” attested to their stature as one of the city’s most tuneful bands in both indie and roots genres. And like their predecessors on the bill, they understand the crowd-pleasing value of a sharp cover song, serving up Uncle Tupelo’s “New Madrid” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” in the first half of their set.
We headed out just past 1 a.m., with the band still playing, the dancers still dancing, and the sweat still rising from the east side streets. The temperature had hit 102 earlier that afternoon, but some of the hottest action in Austin still occurs after the sun goes down.