June 17 , 2014 – Ed Jurdi has made a name for himself as co-founder of Texas group The Band of Heathens.
And while the band started in Austin and has rocked PBS series “Austin City Limits” as well as many a Texan venue, Jurdi actually grew up in Andover.
So it will be something of a homecoming for the Massachusetts native when The Band of Heathens takes the stage at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River on June 18. Don’t miss out on this one. These guys have earned a reputation as an epic live act.
Since forming in Austin in 2005, The Band of Heathens has been nominated as a Best Emerging Band at the Austin Music Awards and in various categories at the Americana Music Awards. They’ve performed at massive national music fests such as Lollapalooza, SXSW and Bonnaroo, as well as in venues of all sizes around the United States and Europe.
The Heathens have a great Americana/folk/rock twang, with a catalog that swings from foot-stomping rompers to acoustic thinkers.
And they sure have great taste: Their song “LA County Blues” about Hunter S. Thompson — one of my heroes — starts with a riff that smacks of “Homegrown” by Neil Young, another one of my heroes. Great stuff. Look up the YouTube clip of the band playing the song on Austin City Limits in 2009.
While you’re at it, look up their song “Cornbread.” It sounds like a 1930s blues song sung on a back porch down South.
Their latest and fourth studio album, “Sunday Morning Record” (2013), is as rootsy and soulful as the “clubhouse” in which it was recorded. Google “Shotgun” and “Records in Bed,” which embody the band’s punchy-yet-introspective style.
“We recorded it in Austin at George Reiff’s Finishing School, which has a great clubhouse kind of atmosphere,” Jurdi told me. “It’s a great place for making music and creating with your friends. That was the vibe we were going for — sort of a lived-in, homey type of feel.”
Jurdi told me he has “too many influences to list properly. Everything from Miles Davis to Kris Kristofferson and some stuff in between. Just a few of the artists that we listen to in the van are Dawes, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Bahamas, Luther Dickinson and Lake Street Dive.”
Jurdi has “a lot of memories of music growing up” in Andover, he said. “There was always lots of music around the house when I was a kid. My dad played guitar and sang songs a lot; my mom cleaned the house listening to (The Beatles’ classic) ‘Abbey Road.’”
He attended University of New Hampshire before heading out to Texas. “I didn’t major in music, but it was a part of my minor, along with hanging out and listening to records.”
He met Quist and the other original member, Colin Brooks, when they all ended up sharing the bill one night at Momo’s, a now-defunct Austin club. Brooks has since left the band, and the line-up has changed a few times over the years; the current incarnation is Jurdi, Quist, keyboardist Trevor Nealon and drummer Richard Millsap.
“When we started, we were really only interested in having fun and jamming together. Anything else was just gravy,” Jurdi said.
I asked him how they came up with their name — there are various reasons stated online — but it seems not even Jurdi knows:
“That’s become a bit of a mystery,” he said. “It was bestowed upon us by perhaps a high-ranking member of the clergy of Austin Music. It was either that or a friend came up with it. I’m not sure.”
The Band of Heathens plays the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River on June 18 at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance and $23 at the door. For more information, visit narrowscenter.org or call (508) 324-1926.
Lauren Daley is a freelance writer and music columnist. Contact her at email@example.com.
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