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Orbiting SXSW

7 Local Bands To Watch

Fri., March 1, 2013

(Page 5 of 7)

Black Pistol Fire

Wed., March 13, 11pm, Rebels Honky Tonk
Orbiting SXSW
Photo by John Anderson

It happens at a moment's notice. A slight nod or gesture, and they're off, as if racing to the county line with a busted headlight. On stage, Black Pistol Fire choogles with the Southern tenacity of Creedence Clear­water Revival and rave-up elasticity of early Yardbirds, all hot smoke and sassafras. Guitarist/singer Kevin McKeown stomps and hollers, while drummer Eric Owen bashes his drum kit like it's Whac-a-Mole and he's down to his last quarter.

"We've been friends since we were five years old, and beyond that, we've been playing music together maybe 14 years. That's a lot of history," acknowledges Owen. "Some­times we go on tour and it's just the two of us in the same car, the same hotel room. You really get to know a person and the way they think. I can tell with a glance from Kevin where he's going musically."

BPF performs as if it's got something to prove – and with good reason. They're Canadian expats ladling out some of the greasiest modern blues this side of the Mason-Dixon Line, where the shadows of other power duos loom large.

"We're not doing something that's never been done before," McKeown concedes. "We're two guys onstage, turning the amps up and hitting it hard like everybody who's listened to Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, early Stones. You can't even control that, but I really do believe that when people come see us live and hear the catalog, they'll see something else going on."

At a time when the Black Keys are dominating radio, television, and the Grammys, such lofty comparisons are more a blessing than a curse. BPF has landed major spots with Braun's, MTV, and Pepsi, among many others, a feat that's led to a co-publishing deal with Razor & Tie. And the band's third LP, tentatively due early summer, received financial backing from the Canadian nonprofit FACTOR, the same organization that footed bills for Wolf Parade, Metric, and K'naan.

"The last two records were done in just 14 or 15 hours," McKeown notes. "This allows us to take our time and see what the songs need, to not be so rushed in the studio.

"It's really the first time to sit things down and think it over." – Austin Powell

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