Last Night: Buxton & The Donkeys At Rudyard's

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Photos by Marc Brubaker
Buxton's Jason Willis (background) and Sergio Trevino
See pics of the bands (and a birthday girl) in our slideshow.

Buxton, The Donkeys, Steve Reno & Wayne Wilkerson
August 21, 2011

For a gig whose poster involved a tragic school-bus wreck, Sunday night's show at Rudyard's was anything but disastrous. True, the crowd may have been a bit thinner than expected, but between those with work and those starting back at school Monday, that's not too strange. Buxton continued doing what they do best, delivering a solid set of their ever-richer tunes to the delight of a crowd speckled with friends and other fans.

Gray-haired, ponytail-sporting Steve Reno opened up the evening, accompanied by Wayne Wilkerson. Fans of acoustic songwriters may have seen Wilkerson hosting the weekly open-mike night at McGonigel's Mucky Duck, as well as co-hosting Anderson Fair's Thursday-night "Songwriters In The Round" series.

Reno happens to be an old friend of Larry Sepulvado - that would be Buxton member Austin Sepulvado's father - from their days playing in California decades ago, but he's also Cody Swann of the Wild Moccasins' uncle. Life is strange that way sometimes.

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Wayne Wilkerson (left) and Steve Reno
Reno's country music harkens back to the old story-songwriters of the '70s, feathered with Neil Young and early Willie Nelson vibes, with some mighty-fine pickin' and a-singin.' His songs floated by like a breeze swooping through a pickup's open windows, and our favorite involved a cautionary tale about "soft shoulders and dangerous curves."

The Donkeys may have stolen this show out from an unsuspecting crowd's noses, including Aftermath. The energetic band of young Californians riffed off a rolling set of strong song after song, throwing the binding ropes of genres to the wind. There were hints of nearly everything in the canon they played: Blues, country, funk, rock, Americana, soul, Chuck Berry, Ravi Shankar, and more.

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A Donkey and a sitar
It brought to mind the big acts of the '70s that had a large blend of sounds and didn't worry about their music being labeled or filed a certain way, because everything was still rock and roll.

The smart songs eclipsed and blindsided the recorded material we'd previously encountered (which, upon further research, was from fairly early in the Donkeys' career). As the four bounded about the stage, they commanded the room and injected a dose of revelry into the crowd. It was simply four fellows playing music and having a lot of fun doing it.

That goes a long way towards a great show experience, and it doesn't hurt that the music was pretty wonderful to boot. The set list focused heavily on their newest album, with seven songs coming from Born With Stripes (Dead Oceans), which was released in late April.

Four more came from 2008's Living On the Other Side, with just one song predating that.

Location Info


2010 Waugh, Houston, TX

Category: Music

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God...Houston bands are so utterly boring these days. 

Marc Brubaker
Marc Brubaker

Seriously? Do you have any idea the amount of music going on in this town? Have you bothered to see any of these bands live?

Come back when you put a little effort into it.


I'm well aware of most of the bands in this town, and yes I don't find any of them particularly interesting and/or good. If I looked at it from the standpoint of say, an A&R guy, there's not a single band in Houston that I would sign. That goes for your precious Moccasins, Mammals, Roky Moon, Buxton, Tons tons, etc. They're all second rate at best. Ok, they work hard and get people to come to their shows? I can appreciate that, but musically they do not "wow" me. It's just indie posturing and cliché after cliché. Why do you think these bands go on tour and nothing happens? Because they're no better than the local bands in every other town.

I will say Robert Ellis is quite talented. He has a great voice for his old school country style and deserves every bit of praise he receives.

Marc Brubaker
Marc Brubaker

Fair enough, and I respect your right to an opinion. There's a great deal of diversity in this city when it comes to music, and I can rattle off a list of a couple hundred active music acts. I think painting the entire local music scene as boring is a bit of a stretch.

As far as A&R perspective goes, I'll respect that as well - but in whose A&R department are you inserting yourself? I think this matters a great deal - majors & independents think drastically differently. Major A&R, I probably wouldn't sign many of the local acts. As an independent label, there's several who would pique my interests.

I think "indie posturing and cliché after cliché" is a stretch, too - at least for several of our larger bands.

As to your "no better than the local bands in every other town" argument: the internet is the great equalizer. It's possible now to hear what all the local bands in all the other towns sound like - and for tiny bands to be influenced by other tiny bands from across the world. Unless you discount major-label pop and the most experimental fringe music, that statement would hold water anywhere.

I hope you do find something you like here in Houston.

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