SXSW Live Shot: Latasha Lee & the BlackTies

Look out Dap-Kings, Austin’s Latasha Lee is on the rise

Austin’s Latasha Lee & the BlackTies knotted together just one year ago, but they already carry themselves like old-school vets. In the past 12 months, the local R&B princess has torn up a bevy of stages both big (ACL) and small (Sahara Lounge) and released a solid digital LP of classic soul.

Crammed on the tiny stage inside Cheer Up Charlie’s, the octet was suited up in white button-downs and the formal accessory from which they draw their name. Lee kept it cool and casual in cutoff jeans and a blue blouse.

Photo by Jana Birchum

Proving masters of midtempo groove, Lee was full of sass as she chunked deuces on “Watch Me Now,” while the band teased “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” on “I Hear You Knockin” and then channeled Motown on “Stuck in My Mind.” The tats and smoky vocal make Amy Winehouse comparisons impossible to avoid, and the BlackTies have certainly studied the Dap-Kings.

Don’t don’t get it twisted, though. This crew led by producer/guitarist Salih Williams has a vibe all its own. Lord knows it’s refreshing to see a band of this vein not consist entirely of nerdy white dudes in thrift shop suits.

The BlackTies’ signature move is calling its frontwoman back onstage at set’s end for a waist-winding dancehall reggae reprise of “Left Hand Side.” It killed as always, but this time the faux encore led to the genuine article, chants of “one more song!” answered by a cover of Winehouse’s “Valerie.” As the stage banter goes, Latasha Lee & the BlackTies ain’t gonna knock no mo.

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Latasha Lee, SXSW Music 2014, Dap-Kings, Amy Winehouse, Motown, Salih Williams

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