HEY! It’s a new band!
It’s probably not the best of starts for a new band to have to cancel its first public gig, not good for the karma if nothing else. Your first public show is like when Apple rolls out its newest techno-toy, once you admit its existence any delay can rattle people’s nerves, start inquiring minds to spinning. But the Austin music scene works in weird ways, and there are shows and then there are shows…….
Such was the case for HEY!, the new band fronted by Texacala Jones and featuring Chelsea Taylor on guitar, Lizafer on bass, Alan Boatright on drums and Stephen Worley on electric violin, a combo that has had a lot of us watching the listings for that first show. So when it was announced to be at Incite this past spring many of us made our plans to be there. But then a few days before the show word came out it had been cancelled, no explanations given. But at least there were no whispers of trouble in the band or of cold feet, just one of those scheduling problems with especially bad timing. But sometimes bad timing can just lead to better events, and that sure seems to be the case for HEY!.
The better event in this case turned out to be a (somewhat) private party, a birthday celebration for Martian Sessums and Michelle Sweeney the first weekend of May, an outdoor show on what turned out to be a gorgeous day for music and madness. The party was held at Stately Taylor Manor, home of Chelsea Taylor and Frankie Nowhere, one of Austin’s rockinest couples. And with their recently announced engagement maybe the site of another blowout soon….Now I don’t usually cover private parties, just too slippery a slope that leads down to covering celebrity gossip for the likes of TMZ. I’d rather eat glass, or work for the Statesman….. But considering the impact that the Taylor and Sessum families have had in Austin music a get together such as this transcends such concerns and this turned out to be one for the scrapbooks.
In part that was due to the music lineup, all playing on a back porch stage but through a killer sound system provided and mixed by Matt Meshbane. Besides the new gals on the block doing their first show there was also an old Austin favorite doing their final one, The Chumps. Between those was “special guest” Two Hoots and a Holler with the always dapper Rickey Broussard providing continuity to it all. And wrapping it up was El Pathos, just to make sure no one was dozing off. Which would have been damn nigh impossible, noise levels not withstanding there was just no way of getting horizontal, this place was packed! I’m not any good at arithmetic, and there were definitely more people than my fingers and toes, but I would guess there were maybe 200-300 people in attendance. So instead of playing to maybe a half-full club somewhere HEY! got to bring it out for a crowd of fun lovin’ friends, all in the groove and ready to rock.
And they came out full of fire and ready to entertain, front gal Texacala charming the crowd with her banter and the band behind her bringing it on full tilt. While Texacala writes most of the songs the set included two covers of Gun Club songs, “Sex Beat ”, and then “Highland Avenue“ with Dave Duet sitting in, as well as “ Black Widow“ written and sang by Lizafer. When you mix in originals such as “Dining With the Devil”, “Need No Ride“ and “Lonely Minds “the whole show popped with energy, touching on sounds that go back 20 years but still sounding fresh with no hint of being lost in the past. Fiddle player Stephen Worley added some great fills onto the beats laid down by drummer Alan Boatright, and the whole band showed the kind of chemistry that looks to last.
I chatted with Chelsea a few days after the show. She believes the chemistry seen on stage that day is the real thing and that they’ve achieved a relaxed feel. The band has been playing together for some time now and hope to go into the studio once they have a couple more songs put together. And touring was mentioned, but until that so-far elusive first show comes through it’s pretty hard to do much but speculate. But after coming out of the blocks and blowing such a crowd away the speculation is looking a lot better. HEY! shows signs of being one of the new buzz bands of the year, their influences, pedigree and pure bust-ass energy definitely makes them worth watching for. So keep your eyes on the club listings and when you see HEY! it would be best to be there early. Because if a fraction of the fans they made at the birthday show make the next one it will be sold out, And deservedly so.