Aftermath: Billy Bob Thornton's Boxmasters, and Special Guest Billy Gibbons, at Fitzgerald's
A sad part of being a major celebrity and starting a rock band on the side is that inherently people will show up out of nowhere to see your band and ignore your music because they just want to see "you." Sometimes the music somehow ends up overshadowing the celebrity and the band becomes noteworthy in their own right and the fact that Jordan Catalano is your lead singer is sort of an afterthought.
Photos by Craig Hlavaty
The Boxmasters, actor Billy Bob Thornton's newest musical project, is very much still in that early stage of notoriety - the stage where people show wanting to hear lines from Sling Blade or throw publicity stills at him while he is trying to sing a song or even light a freaking cigarette onstage. But that still shouldn't diminish the fact that his Boxmasters are making ace country-fried rockabilly.
Imagine if Conway Twitty and the Kinks at their most mod got stoned one night in the '60s and decided to record four albums out in Bakersfield. It's definitely not like the stuff that BBT was doing earlier this decade, because this stuff has a more closely defined sound and aim.
What gets the Boxmasters over that hump of starfucking hysteria is that they actually don't do a bad job at what they do. This doesn't seem like some sort of 30 Odd Foot Of Grunts or Wicked Wisdom jazz, where actors try to live out some rock fantasy in between filming movies or getting into fights with hotel managers. In fact, it's the Boxmasters' prodigious recording nature that proves that this isn't a flash in the pan vanity project but a true musical enterprise.
Friday night at Fitzgerald's, the Boxmasters came out in front of an oddly miscast crowd of film fans and confused mid-tier socialites who could have cared less about the music and were more interested in seeing the man at the mike. The band played mostly unreleased music from the upcoming album, Bellflower, that should be hitting stores in May.
The new music is decidedly more morose than the band's eponymous debut and this year's Modbilly, which were both Spanish-heeled slabs of mod-slash-country inhabited by sad-sap dick-in-the-dirt characters and alcoholics in affable misery. The music that they are now making veers more into balladeering than "I'm Watching The Game" from their debut.
From the sounds of it though, Bellflower will be way more traditional than the other records. The new "The Light Won't Shine" and "Annalee" are both way more accelerated and maudlin. "Hope For Glory" is an pro-soldier ode that has its shit straight, which more than most protest songs can say for themselves. Modbilly's "Turn It Over" is pure modern Bakersfield 'tonk through and through.