Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Tuscaloosa teeming with music

“This song is called ‘Memphis,’ it’s about Nashville.”

With those words, Blaine Duncan and the Lookers went from extremely solid to amazing last Friday night as they opened for Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires at the Mellow Mushroom.

Duncan’s words expressed the mix of clever banter and great rock that cemented a phenomenal weekend of music in Tuscaloosa, the type of musical weekend that happens more often in this city than anyone would expect.

In a column by my comrade Morgan Dowdy, he labeled Duncan alongside contemporaries like the Drive-By Truckers’ Patterson Hood. So imagine this performance as DBT with a more aggressive stance on cultural issues, like the dire state of popular country music.

After the performance, Duncan just went to get a drink, no pretension about the endeavor. He might even jokingly suggest that the drinking gives him his familiar haggard voice, and it’s true that whiskey can do a number on the vocal chords. (Or both of these things were just made up. Don’t sue me, Blaine, for ruining your vocal secrets.)

He even hyped the hell out of the Glory Fires over discussing his own performance when I talked to him very, very briefly. I’d consider that humility, myself.

I wasn’t as blown away by Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires, but I feel that they only faced one problem that can come with performing for a bar crowd: burnout. I also hate saying one act was better, because they both got the job done for the crowd, and it’s icing if you can create great iconic songs in the process.

That said, the most enlightening performance of the weekend was that of Joshua Folmar’s new project Heathens and Belles, a folk collective of himself, vocalist/guitarist James Blankenship and violinist Kaycee McFalls.

In amongst the quiet atmosphere at Little Willie’s at only 10:30 p.m., the threesome did what constituted as a rehearsal performance (since the show “started” at 11). And yes, a rehearsal performance can involve some wildly interesting covers of names like A.A. Bondy (acoustic artist from Birmingham of “When the Devil’s Loose” fame and whose gorgeous “American Hearts” was covered in this performance) and Jakob Dylan (of Bob’s son fame).

And the covers and originals all fit like a glove. No dip in quality for original songs, still so beautifully composed with a flair mixing Sufjan Stevens’ darker songs with the heart on a sleeve style that holds folk together.

Joshua promised to play until 2 a.m. with only some slight stops to talk to bar-goers and strike up conversation, and he held strong.

I mention these groups because this column space is a small window to some strange perspective I’m trying to provide. I cannot possibly talk about every great band in the city because I haven’t seen them. But you will, most likely.

This weekend, even more great music invades our town, and we’ll go in order to mention their work.

Baak Gwai, one of Tuscaloosa’s beloved veteran bands, brings its stylings to the stage at the Mellow Mushroom Friday night at 10 p.m. with a $5 cover. The show is 19 and up, and for you freshmen, you should get acquainted quickly with the music these guys put out. They earn the attention of our fair city for a reason.

But if you’re stingy, and if you’re 21 or older, Black Willis Band is playing at the same time at Egan’s with no cover at all.

I want to hear about the great music weekends of all you readers soon.

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