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The Divorcers/Amplified Heat
Red Eyed Fly, October 15, 2003

The brothers Ortiz, otherwise known as Amplified Heat--a supercharged trio of rock n roll siblings determined to peel the paint off Red River walls every time they plug-in, did exactly that last Wednesday night.

Describing the sound of the Heat is somewhat difficult, an obvious signal yielding a band’s superiority in this Mecca of live music we so graciously choose to deteriorate in. We’ll start with the drummer, Chris—this cat can play fast, real fuckin’ fast. His punctual accuracy and spastic ability to swiftly shift tempo keeps this train wreck of guitar solos and tenacious bass playing in some kind of order, like a drill sergeant taming a pack of hops and barley-starved axe-slingers. His percussionary talents keep the delivery and the mood of the band succinctly tight, allowing the bass and guitar work of the other bros to venture into an all-out blues-punk, 70’s psychedelic, indie-rock onslaught, complete with honky-tonk undertones and bursts of stoner rock supremacy. At front and center stage stands Jim, whose vocal techniques and guitar-raping tactics are about as unpredictable as the Texas weather. His solos ring out in a spine gripping solace of ear candy that would herald respect from the most conservative pickers and strummers in town. Each song never really jumped in or out of Jim’s lyrical rants without a bass led journey of twist ups and twist downs held together by Gian, who also yells and screams in complement to the lead vocals. This kid does way more at the low end than simply follow the guitar shredding of his brother—both musicians blaze their own trails, which made the overall noise blaring from the Red-Eye amps stand at polar opposites to anything soothing or comfortable sounding (this is a good thing kiddos). The Heat were quite the showmen as well, talking with the small but supportive group of friends and fellow potheads in the crowd, making fun of those like myself sitting in the back and asking which song their truest fans would like to hear next. If you haven’t seen this young and talented cauldron of stoner sludge, you might want to check ‘em out. They’re guaranteed to play something that you can identify with and they just rock, plain and simple.

Headlining at the Fly were the Divorcers, a psych-a-billy four piece whose sense of humor and ‘who-cares-if-you-like-us’ attitude reigned supreme over the actual music, but I did however appreciate this band. The lead singer was thoroughly entertaining, sounding like Elvis with his best efforts, and every other fucking annoying Elvis impersonator at his worst. The minimalist guitar playing was complemented with symbol-drenched drumming along with technical difficulties experienced on the bass-playing end. There was a smoke machine though. Woo-hoo! The lead singer also told disgusting jokes, begged for shots, made a Johnny Bravo reference and performed a song about the age-old dance known as “the monkey.’’ At one point in between tunes he proclaimed, “Maybe less talky-talky and more strummy-strummy.’’ Yeah, I guess so, but this guy’s antics definitely charged a much-needed spark into the lack-luster set of dark punk tunes. I clapped after each song though, so don’t hate me you Divorcers, you!
Before I let you go, I must confess that Gorch Fock aren’t focking around. Look out for Slander Bob’s upcoming feature on the most kick-ass band on the fucking street. Sorry for the over-use of the word ‘fucking’ in this story. Adios kiddos.



Stevie Tombstone and the Texas Tombstones
Monday happy hours, Red Eyed Fly

So it’s Monday afternoon, and you’re either back to work or nursing a treacherous weekend hangover (or both). You might not feel like it, or think you can afford it, but I highly suggest that you check out the Stevie Tombstone happy hour at the Red Eyed Fly for a good old-fashioned honky-tonk cure for what ails you: cheap beer and booze and sweet old-school country music.

Generally on Mondays, I’m slinging hair-of-the-dog at Casino, my own home away from home, but I recently had the chance to see the Tombstones play both a rare Thursday show at the Fly and last Wednesday’s AMN benefit country night at Bigsby’s. The core members of the Texas Tombstones—Stevie on vocals and guitar, Joey on pedal steel guitar, Frap on bass, and Kevin on drums—have played together solidly for several months now (they just completed recording for their first release), and are all experienced and talented musicians in their own right. Stevie’s heartfelt and heartbroken lyrics (invoking Johnny Cash’s holy trinity, love, God, and murder) wind through his own melodic strumming and Joey’s sonorous pedal steel, which ranges from shimmery and jubilant to so plaintive you might shed a tear into your $1 Lone Star tallboy. Lest this sound a little too depressing for Monday afternoon, I should add that Frap and Kevin comprise a rhythm section tighter than Dwight Yoakum’s jeans. I can’t dance worth a damn (in fact, if I’m seen even attempting to dance, I should probably be cut off immediately), but the Texas Tombstones make me wish I could. Word has it that the crowd at the Broken Spoke was two-stepping all over the place when the Tombstones played there, which itself speaks volumes about the authenticity of their music. The band occasionally invites guest musicians, a fiddler or a piano player, to sit in on gigs, adding another layer of depth to its sound.

If you need some icing on that cake, or just feel poor, rest assured—the Red Eyed Fly knocks a buck off everything during happy hour, which to me translates to $1 Lone Stars and $2.50 shots of Powers, and doesn’t charge a cover. Take advantage while you can, because someday soon, Stevie Tombstone and the Texas Tombstones will be pulling huge crowds (and covers). You can say you knew them when.

-Lisa Graves


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