The Derailers

The Derailers
Broken Spoke
Austin, Texas

Recently, the Austin-based country music band known as The Derailers had no trouble getting dancers on their feet at The Broken Spoke.

The venue celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, and there is little mystery as to how it has thrived for so long. Offbeat Austin charm greets patrons in the form of low ceilings, creaky wooden floors, and a handpainted namesake on the back wall. The space was teeming with animated dancers, rarely leaving the dance floor for fear of losing their spot.

Substitute bass player Billy Dee joined The Derailers, and the musicians performed with the facility of a long-standing ensemble. The men rarely looked at one another while performing, but instead looked out on the dance floor connecting with the crowd as they took turns with their solos.

The standout performer turned out to be the keyboardist, “Sweet Basil McJagger.” His solos had enormous range, running the gamut from a heartfelt earnestness to a roguish wit. The riffs “Sweet Basil McJagger” interjected served as expansion on and punch lines about his band mates’ musical conversations. These lines had a casual quality to them despite the immense creative and technical effort required.

Among the most pleasing of the surprises The Derailers delivered were the moments of brilliant genre fusion. Within the first three bars of “Great Balls of Fire,” half of those seated sprang to their feet. At times the band even folded subtle allusions to other genres into classic country songs. Specific harmonies, phrase lengths, and vocal qualities hearkened back to The Beatles.

By the end of the night, The Derailers had won over the crowd with their charisma as well as their refreshing take on country music.

by Jacqueline Perrin