Lately, I’ve been experiencing something of a crisis of faith.
While I recognize and acknowledge that there is, just as there always has been, excellent music being produced in the Augusta area, I’ve been concerned by the absence of new voices and new sounds.
Some of this, I acknowledge, could easily stem from my being in the wrong places at the wrong time. That said, the internal promotional engine that once drove the growth and consistent sense of renewal within the local music community seems to have slowed considerably.
Where once more seasoned acts saw extending encouragement, gigs and perhaps some promotional muscle to newcomers, today we are seeing a lot of familiar faces touting a lot of other familiar faces. That’s not to say the odd newbie doesn’t occasionally break through, but they are fewer and farther between.
I bring this up because this week I had the great pleasure to step back in time a bit. The scene – the Highlander.
This near-legendary basement bar – this night crowded not only by its oddball architecture (low ceilings, too many walls) but also a couple of artificially-fervent fans – always feels like a colonial outpost to the capital cities of the Broad Street bars. It’s sort of the Wild West. Anything, musically speaking, can happen. Folkies can strum or punk rock can roar. In this case, a little of that aforementioned crisis-stricken faith was restored.
It was there that I found the seasoned vets in Hound of Goshen – itself experiencing a true musical renaissance – extending a slot to Bullmoose, an act that had heretofore existed, to some extent, on the fringes.
Goshen’s motivations, I presume, were complex and based on expanding fan base, availability and willingness. Also – and this is the important part – the fact that Bullmoose is an incredible act that deserves to be heard – a lot.
This trio – I do love a trio – plays rock music that acknowledges musical influence without aping it. Its slinky rhythms, guitar riffs that flip from near-funk textural to big buzzing rock and dynamic vocals recall, at times, everyone from Nico-era Velvet Underground to Gogol Bordello. They are the kind of songs and arrangements that feel like acts of musical courage, a young band stretching expectations because they have not yet learned the perils of doing so. Let’s hope they never do.
This is a band I want to hear more from.
More importantly, this is a band I want Augusta to hear more from. No offense to the more experienced vets claiming most of the downtown stage time, but it’s time to share the limelight. This band needs a shot.
It’s interesting, because, in truth, two new bands played at the Highlander.
Although Hound of Goshen has been around for a few years, this band, now with a slightly altered lineup, has played fairly infrequently over the past 12 months or so. That time under the radar has allowed the band to refine its sound, allowed first-time frontman Brian Allen, best known as an in-demand drummer, the opportunity to build performance confidence and crank the volume a little.
The result is an act that recalls a lot of what was interesting and appealing about American alternative rock when that was still a thing. Elements of the Jayhawks, Uncle Tupelo and perhaps a single shot of Replacements unpredictability now drive Hound’s real rock sound. The real trick the band accomplishes is citing those sources without ever feeling dated.
And so my crisis comes to an end – for the moment. But it has also left me craving more.
More new music.
More evolving acts.
I know they are out there.
New bands – send me your music. Better still, play it for those vets that might be able to help you get it out in the world.
That’s how communities are built.