The Mighty Stef, The Rio
Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, the Mighty Stef and his backing band combined classic
rock with Johnny Cash-esque lyrics about tough times, heartache and drinking a little
too much Irish whiskey. The perfect blend of his Martin and his bandmate’s Les Paul
through an Orange head and stack gives his sound a rocking yet folksy foundation to
support the poignant lyrics about his troubled Irish heart. This current trip to the US
has fared much better than his 2006 trek to the States—that’s when the Mighty Stef
was robbed of his wallet, passport, video camera and guitar, leaving the drifting singer/
songwriter alone with his thoughts and his Wayfarers. At least the experience inspired
more material, which is wonderfully presented in the CD we picked up,
Kylesa takes their name from “kilesa mara, ” a term ancient Buddhists used to refer to
demons of defilement and delusion. Appropriately, the concept is a fitting description
of the band’s sound—scary and demonic, with machine-gunning dual guitars and thundering dual drum sets. Both duos complemented each other well in front of a raucous
Red7 crowd. Co-lead guitarist Laura Pleasants’ gear included an ‘ 89 Pre-Historic Gold
Top, ‘90s Laney GH50L and Krank Rev Series One heads and 4x12 cabs made by Krank
and Mesa Boogie. Cope played a Guild S- 100 Polara, Rev Series One and Laney GH100L
heads and Krank 4x12 cabs.
Ben Harper introduced his new band, the Relentless7, at SXSW. With this outfit, Harper is moving into decidedly political material. Musically,
the groove is heavier, faster and angrier than his previous work with the Innocent Criminals. The night included several long-form jams, a
cover of Bowie’s “Under Pressure” and Harper playing his Les Paul on his lap.
Ben Harper & Relentless7, Stubb’s
Mad Juana, Continental Club
Imagine the characters of a Tim Burton film forming a band and rocking your socks off—that’s
what a Mad Juana live performance is like. Mad Juana fuses an eclectic mix of vaudeville, swamp blues, reggae and mariachi with a healthy slice of rock that goes from Velvet
Underground cool to Stooges-type aggression. The band was formed by former Hanoi Rocks/
NY Dolls bassist Sami Yaffa, who plays acoustic guitar, and his wife, Karmen Guy, who
handles lead vocal duties. Don’t let the accordion, trumpet, melodica or Dia de los Muertos-festooned violin player scare you, Mad Juana’s hypnotic voodoo is worth checking out.
Guy Davis, Victorian Room at the Driskill
We dropped in to see a guitar-slinger named Guy Davis en
route to another show. He’s one of those old school blues guys
who stands up on stage with his 12-string Guild and lets the
downtrodden songs filled with passion pour out of his soul and
his pinky slide. We were fascinated by how closely his music
resembled that of the old Delta masters. In addition to his slide
work, Davis played a ’ 50 Kalamazoo Archtop, a Gold Tone resonator banjo, and what he told us was a 100-year old Vega banjo.
Needless to say, we stayed for the whole set.