Last Night: Robert Ellis & The Boys At Fitzgerald's
See more Photographs from Ellis' homecoming in our slideshow.
Robert Ellis' record release show last night wasn't short on thrills, from the openers to the closing moments from Ellis and his boys, it was a brief but overtly satisfying homecoming for the touring band before they fly off into the wild blue yonder of the music business outside Houston.
Built around the release of Ellis' New West Records debut, Photographs, Wednesday night was very much a throwback to all those hump days at Mango's and Fitzgerald's, except there won't be one next week to count on, and there was a cover charge at the door.
The things we link to Ellis shows, the classic country covers, the drinking, the church-like fellowship, and the handshakes and hugs all remained.
There were two openers for Ellis last night, the first out the gate being locals Khruangbin, a band which wouldn't be pegged as an opener for Ellis, but made for an interesting appetizer. Was it jam, fusion, or just heavy dope being spit? We can't quite pin it down.
Jonny Corndawg & the Boys
All of those, plus more. Totally instrumental guitar passages, melding blues licks and sturdy drumming.
Now, second opener Jonny Corndawg was a horse of different color altogether. Bringing to mind Johnny Paycheck, Roger Miller, Tom T. Hall, and that uncle in the tight Guy Harvey shirt in the corner, the sometime Middle Brother collaborator churned out songs about angry wives, general health, bikini waxes and dranking. Don't go thinking he's a novelty country act, his picking and songwriting is the real deal Ally McBeal. You need to see the jovial leatherman when he hits Houston again. His gospel was almost too strong for us to bear.
Ellis' stage backdrop was made of vintage country LPs, ranging from Hank Williams Sr. compilations to the first Dwight Yoakam record. The sense of tradition was heavy in the air, thick enough for us to scoop up from our spot in the balcony above the stage. The lighting was considerably more theatrical than we had seen on Ellis and the band as well. The crowd surged towards the front, meaning just a step or two, as the turnout was hefty.