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- CITY music writer Frank De Blase shares his thoughts on live sets from Maybird and McKinley James.
Because I was timing my arrival —- I don’t want to go to a show too early and stand there wondering what to do with my hands, or screaming into someone’s ear “Good, good’ Unfortunately this caused me to miss show opener Mikaela Davis’ set, but the beautiful vibe she exuded from the stage was still palpable.
Maybird was put together right and tight and outtasite as they combed through each track of the album and gave it a psychedelic dusting, which revealed hints of Joy Division. What makes Maybird cool is that each member of the band is a utility player, ready to sub in or switch on. There’s no slack. Don’t nobody ride the bench on this team.
Later the same night: Straight outta Nashvegas, Rochester homeboy McKinley James rocked to a full Abilene house with another guitar player, Austin John Doody, who strangled his snow white Stratocaster from beneath the brim of his cocked fedora (remember: if you’re going to play on stage wearing a hat, make sure you put some English on it).
It twitterpates me immensely to my core, to hear James writing and performing more and more of his own stuff. He’s taking a turn into soul and R&B, where it’s not as cluttered as, say, the rockabilly James was playing when he busted in on the scene a few years ago. Now the songs are stressing their own importance, sharing space with James’ incendiary guitar work.
I split Abilene to catch the Link Wray birthday show just in time to see the bands loading out. As hot, angry tears rolled down my face, I bellowed, “Have you seen Junior’s grades?”