Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., June 30, 2000
The PrivateersAustin's instrumental curios the Friends of Dean Martinez need to make room at the end of the bar: The Privateers are here, and they're here to play. Surfing a nostalgic Southwest sound from the Fifties, the local quartet is more Santo & Johnny than Sir Finks, but their gliding guitars and glistening rhythm cast a similarly magic aura. Like sundown coming through the stained yellow glass of some Vegas G&T palace, this 73-minute debut dwells deep in the shadows. FODM minus the psychedelics, Austin's Privateers share that other local band's love of George & Ira Gershwin's timeless "Summertime" as well as Santo & Johnny's heavenly "Sleepwalk." As recorded live at the clairvoyant Carousel Lounge -- what better place for luminescent instrumentals? -- both tunes wander a bit, but their echo therein, and throughout the length of The Privateers, is perfect. Many critics would not consider Joe Zawinul a jazz great, and his rather generic "Mercy Mercy Mercy" could go missing here, as might Ray Charles' "Hard Times," but the Grateful Dead's "Friend of the Devil" is a friend indeed. The loping "Apache" and shining "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" both lack only Willie Nelson for authenticity, while the band's original "I Thought You Knew" brings to mind SRV and Austin's blues legacy. Comboed with opener "R for Romeo," another collaboration of the Privateers (Landis Armstrong & Andrew Nafzinger, guitars; Chris Johnson, bass; and Andrew Gerfers, drums), "I Thought You Knew" is like the band itself -- thoughtful, knowing, and on one wavelength.