Houston Music Review

Houston Music Review

Houston Music Review 150 150 The Band of Heathens

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This is the first time that I’ve seen Ed and Gordy together since they played Almost Austin at the end of 2011 and listed themselves in the show as “A Couple of Heathens”. That show had had the feel of a mutually supportive song swap without the growly blues side that Colin Brooks had provided to the whole Heathens experience.
In a recent interview with Gordy Quist, he had talked about working through the change of personnel and coming up with a new Heathens sound. I was hoping that this stripped down acoustic show would be a preview into the new full Band of Heathens performances promised for the tour after the mid-September release of “Sunday Morning Record”.
The Duck was certainly filled to the brim for a Sunday evening show. The crowd, however, was not the yappy “here-to-be-seen” crowd that attended the last show I had seen with the full band some years back. They were more the listening room group that the Duck’s latest format has been cultivating, but still full of the old BoH fans. It was a great group for an acoustic show.
The evening started off with the tribute to Hunter S. Thompson and his convoluted life on a road trip, “L.A. County Blues”. They continued with “Right Here with Me”, that featured Gordy starting out with lead vocals and Ed coming in to sing in unison. This was the first hint of what Gordy had referred to in his interview as “finding a voice together.” Jurdi also added a nice guitar solo. Every time I see Ed play, I’m reminded what a really good guitarist he is.
It was the fifth song of the set before the duo broke in to a number for the new CD, with “Caroline Williams”. “Shake the Foundation” followed with Gordy singing lead and Ed providing a great slide guitar part. I feel like I got the full effect of the new Band of Heathens sound, though, on “Nine Steps Down”.
Whereas the old Heathens seemed to be a song swap with each member supporting the others with harmonies and instrumental fill or solos, Ed and Gordy seemed to sing this number with one voice. They even strummed the guitar rhythm in unison for a full and unified sound. Now I could see what Gordy meant when he said “We have found a voice together.” “Nine Steps Down” set the bar for the rest of the performance for me.
The set included a cover of Dylan’s “When I Paint my Masterpiece” and a performance of the traditional prison work song, “Ain’t No More Cane on the Brazos”. The duel guitar strumming hit another high water mark on “Second Line” that also featured one of Ed Jurdi’s soulful lead vocals. They took the set to its “end” with Gordy’s “Medicine Man”, Ed’s golden throated “Philadelphia”, and “Shotgun”, the leadoff song for the new CD.
For the encore, Ed and Gordy solicited requests and the crowd overwhelmed them with old favorites. We were treated to the new Ed and Gordy versions of “Look at Miss Ohio”, “Bumblebee”, “Judas ‘Scariet Blues”, and “Old Standby”.
This evening’s event has left me hungry to catch a full electric band performance of the Heathen’s current incarnation. I often complain that an artist hasn’t done anything to update his act since the last time that I saw them. There is no danger of that with the Band of Heathens. Even their old stuff sounds new. Ya’ll have fun. We do.
(For those of you that would like to hear a recording of the 8/25 Duck show, a “bootleg” recording of it in MP3 format is available on their website.)