The Little Willies

Norah Jones
Norah Jones (Photo By Todd V. Wolfson)

The Little Willies

Town Lake Stage at Auditorium Shores, Friday, March 17

If the multiplatinum-selling Norah Jones weren't one of the singers in the Little Willies, they'd be just another band goofing around with well-known country songs. Instead of playing in front of a couple thousand adoring fans, the quintet probably would've played a SXSW day party at Yard Dog. Even though the Willies were a little sloppy, their professionalism kept things from disaster, which was the point, since the group started as simply some friends sharing songs they loved. Someone from Austin needs to turn these New Yorkers onto Heybale!, who succeed at the same schtick because their of their heart and chops. The main detraction for these Willies was Richard Julian's vocals. All beige, they're perfect for his brand of singer-songwriter sincerity, but that falls flat on country tunes that need nuance, like Townes Van Zandt's "No Place to Fall" and Hank Williams' "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive." That said, the crowd was there to see Jones, and even though the set was brief, she didn't disappoint. She got sexy on "Love Me" (made popular by Elvis) and swung madly on Willie Nelson's "Night Life." Jim Campilongo deserves special mention for his sweet picking on the Telecaster, as does the acid-tinged original "Lou Reed." The band had fun, and the audience was left screaming for more, but a little polish would've made this performance much more memorable.

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