The Band of Heathens

July 29 • Southgate House

Jul 25, 2011 at 2:06 pm

If Uncle Tupelo taught us anything, it was that incredibly talented and hyper-creative personalities will find it difficult to coexist within the same band structure. Of course, there are exceptions (look at Crosby Stills Nash & Young) but it can be problematic (look at Crosby Stills Nash & Young).

Apparently, the principals of The Band of Heathens didn’t bother to learn these particular lessons, as their Austin quintet is that rarest of all musical entities — a band with three distinct frontmen. Since meeting at a mutual residency as solo acts on Austin’s fabled Sixth Street five years ago, Ed Jurdi, Colin Brooks and Gordy Quist (all singers, songwriters and multi-instrumentalists) have had no trouble conceding the spotlight to one another in the context of Band of Heathens’ classically inspired Americana hymns and anthems.

The Heathens’ recently released third full-length, Top Hat Crown & the Clapmaster’s Son, follows in the vein of their earlier albums (the 2008 eponymous studio debut, 2009’s One Foot in the Ether and a trio of live recordings) as the band continues to channel the spirits of some of American music’s most powerful personalities. The group moves from the swampy Rock gumbo of Tony Joe White, the inclusively freewheeling embrace of the Band to the funky Blues swing of Leon Russell, the heartland Rock ethic of Tom Petty, the Folk/Blues/Jam jump-and-run of the Grateful Dead and the bayou translation of CSNY’s harmonic brilliance.

Along with the skilled touch of producer George Reiff (Chris Robinson, Courtyard Hounds, Ray Wylie Hubbard), The Band of Heathens crafted Top Hat Crown into a marvelously timeless extension of some of the greatest music ever made, adding their own potent contemporary twists while working within a familiar framework that has remained vibrant and vital for the past four decades.

THE BAND OF HEATHENS plays the Southgate House Friday, July 29. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.