"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


last week in live music: the asylum street spankers

Regular readers of Texas in Africa will notice that I haven't been posting much about music lately. That's mainly because 1) no interesting albums have come out lately (that changes Tuesday, finally) and 2) the vast majority of my January entertainment budget went to Pasadena and had a lovely time, thank-you very much. But, since it's time to leave and because I'm facing the prospect of a very long 2006 with little or no live music outside of Bukavu Baptist Church until ACL time, it seemed okay to splurge when my attorney mentioned wanting to see the Asylum Street Spankers last Wednesday at Ruta Maya, where they're playing every Wednesday in January.

The new Ruta Maya (now serving coffee and vegan specialties to aging hippies and young hipsters alike at Penn Field) is really cool - it's a big, airy space with a nice balcony and lots of cool art on the walls, and it's pretty much the perfect environment in which to see a band as completely insane as the Asylum Street crowd, along with founding member/now bigger as a solo act Guy Forsyth. And, oh, how insane it was. I can't remember who made the comment, but we all agreed that the band is more or less like a bunch of 6th grade boys who are trying to get away with seeing how offensive/childish they can be. The thing is, they're incredibly talented musicians (and the only band I've seen recently that incorporates a washboard into their percussion section without looking cheesy). The Spankers' mix of blues, hip-hop, and the Americana/roots-inspired vibe didn't fail to disappoint on either count. Highlights included a hilarious patriotic song called "Slap Another Magnet on Your SUV" (to the tune of "Tie a Yellow Ribbon ('Round the Old Oak Tree)"), "My Favorite Record," Forsyth and Marrs' duet on "If You Want Me to Love You," "Winning the War on Drugs," and, of course, Wammo's "Hick Hop." Classy stuff.

Actually, there was a touch of class when they played a couple of gospel numbers from their Tuesday night shows at the Saxon Pub. The most shocking portion of the evening actually came with Christina Marrs' announcement that the bands next record is a children's album. No, really. They previewed a couple of songs from that; we enjoyed "Boogers" the most. All in all, it was really pretty wrong,

The real highlight of the evening, though, was Marrs' and Forsyth's musical saw duet. It was eerie and strangely beautiful, and, long story short, I'm now in the market for a musical saw instructor in Austin. Seems that my attorney and G think the best way to welcome their little bundle of joy next winter will be a rendition of "El Shaddai" on the saw while our friend Cinda performs an interpretive dance at their baby dedication at one of the oldest Baptist churches in Texas. Who am I to say no to friends like these?


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