Yet another unknown folk/Americana band that I went to see on a recommendation; turns out, they are wicked talented, go figure.
Opener: Beta Radio
When my buddy told me that this band was tremendous and that we had to see them, I went along with it because, well she has good taste and I have an addiction for live music. Plus, a ticket had already been bought for me – score! Thanks again, B.
Ben and Brent are impressive and seemed to be enjoying themselves although they were wrapping up a long trip away from their North Carolina home. Ben told the story that they had left town for their tour just before the hurricane hit and devastated much of the area surrounding their hometown of Wilmington. We wondered if they might be brothers, until one of Ben’s stories made it clear that no, they are not related.
Ben’s voice is a lovely one, but not over the top. He maintains the everyman vibe although he is clearly a talented songwriter, and told the story of writing their biggest hit “Either Way” while on vacation in Hawaii and then racing home to record it while it was still fresh in his mind. Brent is an instrumental superstar, playing guitar and banjo with ease. The fellas were kind enough to chat with us for a few minutes in between their set and the headliner’s, and even signed my pal’s record she bought.
Headliner: Good Old War
These three fellas were really something. Each possessing a nice voice, they sounded great when they harmonized together. Tim Arnold, their sometime accordion player, also did quite a bit of “hambone-ing” throughout the night – which we learned is what you call it when you beat on your chest, stomach, and legs as a form of percussion in an otherwise drum-less band. It would be funnier if the guy wasn’t so damn good at it.
Axeman Dan Schwartz was actually also the opening act, playing solo as we walked into the venue. Then, towards the end of the set, lead singer Keith Goodwin called out to the crowd asking if Beta Radio’s Brent was free to play a song. Sure enough, homeboy walked up and crushed it on banjo for a few minutes. The whole thing felt organic and spontaneous, but of course it was orchestrated – right? Either way, it was terrific and completed a full circle of solid musicianship on the night.
Oh, and fun fact: their name comes from the band member’s three last names… GOODwin, arnOLD, and schWARtz. Yay Wikipedia! And yay knowing people that enjoy good music and like you enough to drag you along.