Saturday, October 11, 2008

Distractions and Bluegrass

Last night I caught a great show at Alex's Bar in Long Beach. Tijuana Knife Fight, Johnny Madcap and the Distractions, Mike Watt and the Secondmen, Old Man Markley and everybody's favorite old man punk group: Youth Brigade. All the bands had lots of energy and managed to whip the crowd into a frenzy. Two bands in particular caught my attention: Johnny Madcap and the Distractions and Old Man Markley (above).

Led by former Madcap guitarist Johnny Madcap, the Distractions deliver a great blend of catchy one-liners, harmonized music and a stage presence that's the mark of years of experience. Admittedly biased, I've been a fan of Johnny's work since the early days of Madcap and can definitely hear the influence in the Distractions. Their songs feel like anthems and easily draw the crowd in. While they aren't the next Rolling Stones, they have an endearing quality that's sure to attract many fans as they hit the road and tour. When asked about the new band, Johnny had this to say, "Music's the only thing I know, so I felt like I had to do this." Check 'em out, tap your toes and enjoy.

Similarly to the Distractions, band Old Man Markley proves that harmony is key. Don't let the name fool you, Old Man Markley isn't a solo act, in fact, its far from. This eleven-member punk-induced bluegrass act has enough vivacity to make even the toughest brute jump up and jig. Using unconventional instruments to their advantage, Old Man Markley has a sound uniquely their own and leaves you wondering why more haven't picked up the train whistle. They're like a bigger, fuller, faster version of the Knitters. While I must admit that their singles don't pack nearly the punch as their live show, you should definitely check this group out. Most fun I've ever had watching a grown man strum a washtub, swear.

Both bands will be perfoming on the 17th of this month at the Way Out West Fest in Pioneertown, California.

p.s. Youth Brigade was awesome.

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