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Ahhh the living room. Whether it’s a tiny apartment in NYC or a mini mansion with a 100 inch TV, I would make the assumption that the majority of people spend the better part of their relaxation camped out in the confines of their living room. From movie night to dinner time it’s one of my favorite places to be, so why not invite some of the best local talent to join you.
Sofar Sounds, Songs From a Room, brings secret “pop-up” gigs into the homes of people all over the world. It’s hush hush. So secretive in fact, you don’t even know who’s playing until you walk through the door. This past Saturday I was fortunate to land on the guest list and attend Sofar’s latest event in the small music hub of Denton, TX.
A long stream of cars lined the quiet suburban street with musicians and music lovers filing in with excitement lingering on their faces. When I approached the house my social anxiety started to creep up but was swiftly knocked down by the cordial smiles and friendliness of the Sofar staff. Buckets of ice were waiting by the door for guests to chill their beverages and the regulars were quickly spotted holding their decorative cushions to mask the hard wood floors. This was already one of the coolest things I’ve done in a while.
On the bill for the night’s show were 4 talented acts from Austin, Denton and yes, Portsmouth, UK. First up, UK artist Tom Bertram.
Flanked in some pretty awesome purple socks and a thick British accent, Tom Bertram had the most unbeatable intro of the night.
“Our first performer is a singer songwriter from Portsmouth. He’s performed alongside Noel Gallagher and yes, he’s even performed for the Queen.”
Come to find out he also played for a few Twilight premieres across the pond (cue the swooning of hundreds of teenage girls everywhere). Tom only played a few songs before taking over the duties of MC for the rest of the night and I must say, he did a phenomenal job.
Opening with his first worldwide single, She’s Like a Drug, he immediately reminded me of a young Pete Yorn with his soulful tone and love stricken songs. Ending with his unreleased single You Give me Love, Tom showed off some serious talent and charisma that kept everyone charmed throughout the evening.
Tiny toy pianos, a banjo, stand-up base, accordions, and a lot of creativity came with the next group…Austin based quartet trio, Haun’s Mill. Husband and wife duo Nord Anderson and Eliza Wren and bassist Courtney Jackson filled the room with their unique musical style that blended a bit of Indie, Folk, Country and yes, “Spaghetti Western” as the band likes to call it.
Eliza’s delicate voice whispered beautifully within tunes that seemed to come from another era. No amps, no speakers and did I mention a mini toy piano?? I was completely transfixed by the instrument of my childhood while Eliza played next to Nord’s soulful voice and Courtney’s bellowing plucks. Brilliant.
Ryan Thomas Becker and Last Joke was definitely my favorite band of the night. The musical foursome had a vibe that was 100% passionate and completely entertaining.
The group’s chemistry was solid throughout the set, trading off bluesy licks with an original Denton feel. The University of North Texas continues to churn out some of the DFW area’s finest local musicians in this small town music hub. With musicians like Ryan Thomas Becker and his friends it definitely won’t stay a hidden gem for long.
One of my favorite tunes from the “Six Songs Written for Our Friends” EP was The Train. Melancholy, raw and emotional, Ryan and the boys left everything out on the living room floor with this performance. The vocals were powerful and the melody flowed perfectly into each string and beat of the drum. Loved it! Not to mention, apparently the Last Joke have “the greatest Tumblr blog ever”….so I guess you better check it out HERE!
Sofar did a great job bringing together 4 unique bands to one room. Each sound meshed perfectly together, making for a pretty cool way to spend a Saturday night.
The Backwater Opera is definitely one of the quirkiest groups I’ve seen live. With their playful banter and curious musical inspirations, “this is a song about a sandwich”, the group closed out the show with infectious grooves comprised of bluegrass and classical music.
Besides the fact that the group was funny and engaging, these guys and gals were some kick ass musicians. Playing a hand full of instrumentals this group really showcases the amazing talent this small town has to offer. Marisa Korth had an insane tonality that showcased her bluegrass roots next to Robert Sherwood and Carlo Canlas’ harmonies. Crazy talented and an overall fun group to see.
Thanks Sofar Sounds for spoiling me into thinking I need to see every band now in the comfort of my own living room. Check out their website and get on the waiting list, the experience is an absolute must!
Until the next show! Happy Listening!