Sons of William with Griffin House and The Kins
Thursday · Southgate House
Plenty of musicians thank their fathers in the liner notes of their debut albums, but scant few tribute the old man by naming the band in his honor.
Louisiana brothers Joe and David Stark did just that two years ago when they formed their first official band together, Sons of William, as a homage to the man who bravely bought Joe a drum kit when he was 2 years old (and then passed it down to David at a similar age ... they should add "Saint" to their father's and the band's name). The Sons' debut album, last year's What Hides Inside, received a good deal of critical acclaim from local, regional and national outlets, and the trio (Joe on vocals and guitar, David on drums, keyboards, guitar and vocals, Jen Janet on bass) has spent the better part of the subsequent year on the road supporting the album and spreading the word.
The Sons' appeal on What Hides Inside lies in their ability to apply their unique Southern spin on a broad variety of styles, from Indie and Classic Rock to Blues and Pop, without sounding scattered, overreaching or ingratiating. On "Message" and "Dreaming," the Sons exude the soulful and melancholy Pop edge of the Finn brothers in their various sonic guises, while "Easy to Love" and "Savannah" have all the balladic and anthemic power of Tom Petty.
All of What Hides Inside is executed with the unmistakable dirt-under-the-polished-fingernails ethic of Indie champs like Ryan Adams and Will Hoge, and as a result Sons of William present a compelling sound that alternately charms and pummels, soothes and scorches, thinks and rocks. Equally impressive is the way the Sons surf the tension between their many extremes in the live arena, bringing even more verve and depth to their already diverse arsenal. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.)
Slightly Stoopid with The Expendables and Outlaw Nation
Saturday · 20th Century Theater
The mid-'90s saw a resurgence of Punk bands adopting a Reggae-tinged groove, a trend that resulted in the rise and ultimate widespread success of Sublime. The SoCal trio's frontman, Bradley Nowell, fostered that musical direction by launching Skunk Records and signing like-minded acts to his roster including Slightly Stoopid, an Ocean Beach combo that combined Punk, Reggae, Surf grooves and an acoustic singer/songwriter ethic.
Nowell died of a heroin overdose in 1996 before seeing the fruits of his labors; Sublime's success was sadly posthumous. And yet Nowell's legacy continues to yield dividends as Slightly Stoopid has cultivated a healthy measure of success over the last 13 years, selling close to a million albums total and growing a rabidly loyal fan base known as Stoopidheads. (If you don't have tickets, look for scalpers, because the Stoopidheads snagged all the ones that were made available for the 20th Century Theater show.)
Since their 1995 self-titled debut, featuring a cameo vocal from Nowell, Slightly Stoopid has built an amazingly sturdy career on their Punk/Reggae foundation by mixing in elements of Blues, Rock, Funk and Hip Hop and layering it with an affinity for blissed-out '70s acoustic singer/songwriters. After five studio albums (including last year's well-received Chronchitis), an EP and a pair of visceral live releases (one of which came with an accompanying DVD that showcased the band's energetic stage presentation), Slightly Stoopid has perfected the art of their chilled-down/powered-up musical hybrid.
The sextet has opened for everyone from Dave Matthews and Damien Marley to G. Love and Pennywise, eventually evolving into an impressive headline act that regularly treats its audience to two-hour jam gigs. They do so well on the road, they even earned a spot as one of 2006's Top 50 concert draws by industry tour tracker Pollstar.
With love for their fans, a kitchen-sink approach to their music and a rampantly positive attitude, Slightly Stoopid has maintained their indie status while becoming one of the biggest little bands in the country. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.)