Rebirth Brass Band

Rebirth Brass Band
Sam’s Burger Joint
San Antonio, Texas

Eight members worked frenetically to deliver their stamp of New Orleans R&B-jazz-funk, influenced by the sounds of Professor Longhair, Allen Toussaint, The Meters, and Fats Domino. The Rebirth Brass band kicked off with the energy of a carnival.

Familiar renditions such as the Fats Domino evergreen “I’m Walkin” and Crescent City perennials “Mardi Gras In New Orleans” and “Big Chief” were treated with extended brassy vibrancy. The cover of the Bobby Womack/Valentinos standard “It’s All Over Now” received an accapella intro before fiery jazz-funk grooves entered, segueing into other high-powered jamming affairs that have molded the band into a critic-winning, 30-year-enduring musical machine. Their success has taken them as far as Asia and Africa and collaborations with The Grateful Dead, Ani DiFranco, P-Funk Allstars, and Robbie Robertson.

Whether whistling, encouraging festive participating, or joyously exuding the power that brass instruments can offer, the Rebirth Brass Band showed the audience why they remained major magnets representing the fertile New Orleans music scene. Despite the lineup changes throughout the decades, the group’s energy remained intact, and the audience seemed to appreciate the solid studio material, and the band’s kinetic live performance.

by Jeff Boyce

Court Yard Hounds

Court Yard Hounds
Waterloo Records
Austin, Texas

On an overcast afternoon, Waterloo Records filled with music lovers of all kinds and ages in anticipation of the free in-store performance by the Court Yard Hounds. The two sisters, Martie Maguire and Emily Robinson, who also happen to be two-thirds of the Dixie Chicks, walked on stage, accompanied by a drummer and guitarist, and the crowd cheered in excitement.

The band opened with "Then Again," a track off of their last self-titled album. Robinson played lap slide guitar while Maguire sported her fiddle. After their opening song, they paused to greet the crowd and thanked everyone for coming out to the show. The duo then went into a song on their new album, titled "Aimless Upward." The lyrics were poetic, and the song included stirring violin interludes.

Quickly, Emily traded her guitar for a banjo, and the sisters introduced their backup guitarist, Martin Strayer. Together, the three of them, Robinson, Maguire and Strayer made up the songwriting trio behind the Court Yard Hounds. Maguire explained how Strayer was never officially trained in guitar, noting that she considers untrained guitarists the best. He writes "hundreds of riffs a day," according to Maguire, which they use for their original songs, and their next song was no exception. They proceeded to play "Pheobe," which put the crowd in a noticeably good mood.

"The Coast," which Court Yard Hounds performed next, was written by Robinson and was inspired by the Texas coastline. The audience nodded their heads to the rhythm of the music, some dancing with each other. Their next song, "Divided," was another song from their newest album, one they said was inspired by the challenges and hardships of keeping relationships together while touring on the road.

Robinson and Maguire took a moment to talk about the venue, Waterloo Records, commenting how there aren't many record stores left in the world, and the fact that Waterloo Records is such a strong landmark here "says a lot about Austin."

The Court Yard Hounds closed their set with the title track to their latest album, "Amalita." However, before playing the piece, they told the story behind the song. Making their first Dixie Chicks music video while on location in Texas, they found they were staying right next to a brothel. The sisters had been unsettled by the presence of the brothel and the memory had stuck with them ever since. They decided to write a song that revolved around the life of an imagined girl in the brothel. The result, “Amalita,” was both moving and raw.

The music-filled afternoon was a memorable experience and despite the grey weather, many had broad smiles as they walked out the door.

by Olivia Lin

Sara Hickman

Sara Hickman
Cactus Café
Austin, TX

Artist and singer Sara Hickman seemed utterly at ease as she enthusiastically moved about the stage chatting with the audience at a recent performance.

Hickman’s band mates consisted of three rather subdued gentlemen dressed in black, but as soon as the band began playing, her fellow musicians came alive with great passion and energy.

At times the vocals were muffled and difficult to decipher, but the band was visually compelling throughout. They worked as a cohesive unit, regularly looking to synchronize the individual parts as they reached cadences and climaxes.

Hickman opened the show with a piece from her new album, Shine, with “Do me all over,” as its main lyrics. She appeared to be having the time of her life on the stage, passionately bobbing her head and rocking to the beat.

Hickman seemed fully engrossed in each song, and she never failed to connect with her audience. She took the time to tell the story of each piece. Occasionally she would even engage in conversations with individual audience members, once calling out to a man who got up from his seat: “Hey, where are you going?!”

She introduced another song, “Trouble with Boxes” with a succinct message: “This goes out to anybody who feels like they don’t fit in,” which endeared her even more to her listeners. Its steady, pronounced rhythm combined with repetitive melodic motives seemed to mirror the sturdiness of those confining walls about which she crooned.

By the end of the night the audience members at the concert reflected back Hickman’s cheerfulness. A consummate performer, Sara Hickman gave them an experience they will not likely soon forget.

by Jacqueline Perrin