Hooo, boy. Here's our fourth and final installment covering the artists playing this Saturday's Robert Johnson 100th Birthday Hootenanny at the Abbey Pub, in mighty Chicago, Illinois. We're a co-sponsor of the show, along with Black Oil Brother, and Hellhound Trail Booking maestro, Tony Manno, so we're biased. But it's gonna be a helluva show, and even better party. Oh yes!
Today is all about headliners The Black Oil Brothers and Bethany Saint Smith. We've covered the Black Oil Brothers a few times in the past, and we're gonna have a feature on Bethany Saint Smith by her lonesome coming up soon. So, we're gonna re-post our review of the fantastic album they did together, American Honey.
It's well worth yr time to read the following, and certainly check out the record, and the show. Here we go...
Last year we covered a record by The Black Oil Brothers. Here's what we said then:
"The Black Oil Brothers create an amalgam of Country and Blues not beholden to contemporary "alt" whatever, forging their sound from a deeper well, stripping away the trappings of contemporary naval-gazing to find a purer sound. Strapped to the concrete acreage of the big, big city, the Black Oil Brothers find the wide open spaces of beyond, and the smallness of life lived in overgrown yards and back porches lit by fireflies. Regret and bad choices made in the midnight hour, then. The kind of Country Blues record we love so dearly."
We didn't focus enough, of course, on the Delta Blues aspect of their sound, and with their new EP, American Honey, featuring the astonishing vocals of Bethany Saint-Smith (or here), The Black Oil Brothers tromp and stomp further into the muddied bottom, sinking their acoustic strum'n'snake oil holler into a midnight last call desperation, dancing loose-stringed and meditative with sex and whiskey running slow and fast, the final nod, the heavy lean, the sweep-me-off my feet, I'm lighter than air and these planked floorboards can't keep me steady.
While the Black Oil Brothers (Tony, Tony, and Timmy) do that voodoo that they do (and it is a hypnotic voodoo)...this new EP introduces a new element in one Ms. Bethany Saint-Smith. I'm gonna let one of the Tony's (Manno) tell you how this came to be:
"We met Bethany when we went to NYC for a string of shows a few years back. She was running sound at Niagara, a bar in the Lower East Side, that we played the first night out there. She took to us immediately, and literally called a bunch of friends while we were playing and packed the place halfway through our set. We became fast friends and her and her gang followed us around to our other shows that weekend. We ended up jamming at one of the shows, and realized that she has one HELL of a voice pretty quickly. So we kept chatting and chatting, and finally she flew out here last year and we fired through a bunch of tunes in my apartment over a weekend of doing nothing but smoking and drinking a lot of Jack Daniels and Wild Turkey American Honey (hence the name). We got around to fixing up the tunes, adding some percussion, and decided to put it out. Bethany has a band out in NYC called Bethany Saint-Smith &the Gun Show, and she also sings for a Rockabilly band called (shit, I forget the name at the moment-she just joined). She's a firecracker of a chick, and has become a close friend of mine. We went out there to play with her last December and did a few of these songs, and that solidified our relationship. "
He's right. Saint-Smith has got a voice equal parts straight-no-chaser whiskey and straw-dry huskiness, low-murmured and deep, deep soulful, the voice of yr loss and the consequences of yr bad strayin' self. She's got you in the wee small hours. Of the night, and of your slow sun risin' morning regret.
Together, the Black Oil Brothers and Bethany Saint-Smith create a burning ember of a torched rickety shack, hard stomped, dusty caked, risin' flooded porch Blues.
The Black Oil Brothers with Bethany Saint Smith: Stop Stompin' On Me (mp3)
The Black Oil Brothers: Wednesday Afternoon (mp3)
The Black Oil Brothers: Robert From Hibbing (mp3)
Please support yr local show promoters, and the bands they love!