Reeling in the years at Threadgill's
By Jim Caligiuri,
12:09PM, Wed. Apr. 8, 2009
Corky was right. Saturday night at Threadgill's felt like 1974 all over again thanks to Uncle Lucius. First, the quartet looks like they stepped out of the cast of Almost Famous. There’s drummer Josh Greco’s afro, which wouldn’t be out of place in Santana. Bassist Hal Vorpahl bares an uncanny resemblance to Glen Cornick, original bass player for Jethro Tull, goofy hat and all. With his long brown hair and un-ironic mustache, guitarist Mike Carpenter is a spitting image of Dickey Betts, while lead singer Kevin Galloway is a mountain man in the Southern rock tradition.
Appearances aside, Uncle Lucius was celebrating the release of their debut, Pick Your Head Up, a healthy slab of blues and country with a soulful backbeat that draws heavily from a sound that hasn’t been all that popular since 1980. There are other bands working similar territory these days – Detroit’s Deadstring Brothers come to mind – but few do it the Uncle Lucius way, making it come to life without cliché or false moves. To prove it, they covered Charlie Daniels’ “Trudy” with almost as much energy as the original.
A packed and supremely enthusiastic house certainly helped, which surprised the band. “This is fucking fun,” blurted Carpenter somewhat sheepishly midway through the almost 90-minute set. Maybe word has gotten out that there’s a new Austin band to follow around from gig to gig. Whether or not Uncle Lucius can repeat Saturday’s success when they’re in front of a lesser crowd will be something to see.
Equally surprising was the night’s opener, Hector Ward. At first blush he's another soul shouter in the vein of Nakia and T Bird, but Ward and his Big Time horns delved into ska, surf, Latin, funk, and country with startling command. Now I need to see them again to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. A band this good won’t continue under the radar much longer.