THIS LITTLE UNDERGROUND
Country-rocker Matt Woods
is from Knoxville but practically has dual citizenship
here with how often he comes through. And though he may not have the most sizable following here, he has something that most buzz-bands-du-jour can’t claim: real ride-or-die fans.
His people are the kind who don’t just go to every one of his frequent shows but rack up ridiculous bar tabs buying an elephant-killing amount of alcohol
for themselves, their friends (the ones they came with and the new ones they just made that night) and the musicians. These folks are the pure lifeblood of live music whose red carpet has lifted acts like Lucero
and American Aquarium
to such prominence.
Woods’ stop this time was a relatively rare full-band appearance
with a quartet (May 1, Will’s Pub). Unsurprisingly, they brought lots of complementary atmosphere and horsepower to his blend of defiant spirit and traditional soul.
Indiana’s Jeff Shepherd
and his Jailhouse Poets bandmate Marco Sassman
opened by hitting that sweet folk-punk
spot between grit and heart. Even if their synchrony wasn’t always locked, they at least have the kind of real country conviction
where the banjo is a pillar, not an accessory.
With the exact same banjo-and-guitar setup, however, Gainesville’s Big Shoals
showed this arrangement’s capability for real folk majesty.
Even as just a string duo, they stroked fully, beautifully rendered sonic landscapes with their cinematic brand of Americana.
Theirs is an authentic vein that has seriousness of emotion, depth of soul and precision of melody. It’s the quintessence of Southern grace,
and it was the best surprise of the night.
This Little Underground is Orlando Weekly's music column providing perspective, live reviews and news on the city's music scene.
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