Photo By Gary Miller
Fire Marshalls of BethlehemTexas Union Theatre, Thursday, March 13
The first thing that Austin music fans will want to know about the Fire Marshalls of Bethlehem is that they're John Croslin's first band since the demise of the Reivers more than a decade ago. The band's name is purportedly the answer to the question "Two thousand years ago, who was responsible for there not being any room at the inn?" and in keeping with that bit of frivolity, this appearance was a mostly lighthearted affair. Sure, they've only played in front of an audience a couple of times, but when the sextet clicked it sounded terrific. Vocalist Julie Lowry, who some may know as a member of Michael Hall's Woodpeckers, led the way most of the time, and though the sound was less than perfect -- and positively muddy at times -- her voice came through confident and clear. It was pointed out that this was more than just Croslin's band, with Lowry and guitarist/vocalist Kevin Carney contributing songs as well. Still, it all fit together comfortably, with a sound that was heavy on the jangle, while Jenny Smith's violin added fullness and bits of color. When Croslin sang with Lowry, it was hard not to think of his old band, especially on a darker number in the middle of the set. Overall, it was an impressive beginning. The Fire Marshall's mix of folk, rock, and pop seemed sunny enough that it should have wide appeal, and their sense of humor fits right in with those who want to "Keep Austin Weird."