Hearsay: Wednesday, May 16, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
From the Pulpit

Toward the end of their set a week ago at the Wreck Room, Southpaw Preachers busted out what lead singer Mike Merritt described as “this Sunday-school song,” a new track off the quartet’s forthcoming, as-yet-untitled album (produced by Casey Diiorio — Valve). The tune wove in and out among levels of intensity, from soft like a lullaby to hard like an anthem. The bridges were seamless. HearSay sat mesmerized; it also rejected the Sunday school Merritt was trying so hard to indict through his lyrics. The song’s end and the band’s subsequent departure from the stage brought the loudest applause of the night (that is, until Soviet Space got up and did their catchy-cute thing). Groupies and other general hangers-on crowded ’round Merritt afterward to get the skinny on the song. (A nearby patron was convinced it was a cover.) HearSay naturally wondered if the rest of the new c.d. would be as bad-ass. Merritt gave your faithful columnist every reason to believe the disc would be.

You could just tell how “Sunday” was different from the rest of the stuff Southpaw was playing that night. Against the backdrop of the band’s more atmospheric and complex earlier material, this song reflected a full-grown, mature band, confident in its ability to simplify its content and build drama within a song’s basic structure without thumbing its nose at musicianship. The sound is still rock and roll — but smarter, more feminine even (in a good way). So Southpaw Preachers are a rock band whose songs sometimes wander off into prog territory but don’t linger there too long. You might just call them a solid indie rock outfit that after two years is already showing signs of having transcended those awkward growing pains. Expect the new c.d. to hit shelves by fall.

Really Unplugged

When the lights go down on a sleepy Texas town, people are out for the evening. That’s how a song HearSay should’ve written goes. See, last Thursday at — okay, HearSay’s gonna come clean and admit it — one of its new fave-o-rite hangouts, The Moon, the power went out, right smack dab in the middle of singer-songwriter night. The end of the line? The death of the debauchery? Hell naw: ’Twas just the beginning of the fun. By candlelight, John Price and Blue Sky Black’s Tim Locke did their acoustic things individually, sans mics or amps — or cooperation from some of The Moon’s jackass-ish patrons who kept talking as if a Judas Priest show was happening ten feet away (HearSay remembers its first beer, though; it talked a little loud and acted as if the world owed it something, too). The two steely performers went back and forth for about two hours before the power went back on at about 12:30 a.m. But Price liked the prehistoric vibe so much that he continued unplugged and un-miked for one of his particularly genteel numbers. Two top-notch performers trudging along despite inhospitable conditions — even creating a little havoc of their own: That’s what local music is all about.


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