Last Night: Brennen Leigh at Under the Volcano

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Photos by Jason Wolter
Austin singer-songwriter Brennen Leigh broke country hard on an initially smallish, talkative crowd at Under the Volcano last night. Opening with "Paint Myself Blue" as a teaser/warmup, she immediately jumped straight into "I Only Drink On Special Occasions" and the crowd was hers. It's one of those songs you don't so much sing as belt out, and Leigh belted it out of the park.

"That's a song about substance abuse, the first of many tonight," she said.

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By the third song, "Backsliding Blues," Leigh was tromping through Miranda Lambert girl-with-an-attitude territory. "Sleeping With the Devil," recently recorded by Lee Ann Womack, gave us an example of just how deep Leigh's material runs as a writer. By the time she'd finished it, we had settled in, sure that we were in for one of those nights music critics remember long after the last note fades.

"If I Ever Get Married Again," another Leigh composition, is one of those half funny/half tragic Tammy Wynette/Loretta Lynn tearjerkers that require every simple word to be in exactly the right place. Leigh's got songwriter chops aplenty, and nothing screamed it quite like what is our favorite Leigh song, "Are You Still Taking Them Pills," a cowrite with guitarist/boyfriend Noel McKay.

Leigh ended the night with a stellar cover of the old Bill Monroe bluegrass classic "I'm Workin' On a Building" which totally quieted the restless crowd at last.

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8 comments
RUKiddingME
RUKiddingME

Yeah, you're right.  For probably 50 bucks per player, cost of gas, 5 hrs driving, wear-n-tear on the van, they should power through it and play their shit without a break, without making contact with new or come-back Houston fans, or whatever.  The "next big thing" should play for next to nothing, put out and shut up.  What a mixed message.  The REST of us, are grateful they came and played and don't mind how they choose to do it.

AKNewbie
AKNewbie

Brennen has a ginormous amount of talent, and has harnassed it through an incredible work ethic and profound desire to give people joy. Thanks for giving her some much-deserved attention. We longtime fans say 'It's about time!'

GlennAgency
GlennAgency

She put on one heck of a show last night.

Carolina Chickadee
Carolina Chickadee

Now THAT's my favorite review I've ever read of yours!  You nailed it.

Sahm-Nambulist
Sahm-Nambulist

And for the record, the same goes for the few Nashville bands that play Volcano. If you're coming down here, bring some muscle and stamina. This ain't for sissies or dainty folk.

Eric C Hughes
Eric C Hughes

Quote: "Note to Austin bands: we didn't come to hear you tell us about your songs or make jokes, we came to hear you play."That's because Austin bands are pussies.  Except mine.

Sahm-Nambulist
Sahm-Nambulist

RUKidding: there's no mixed msg. Go see Shinyribs, Two Hoots, Stinson, Umbrella Man, Chuck Prophet, Nicholas Tremulis, Horseshoe do that same gig. They play two hours and they play hard, make minimal small talk. Taking a break after playing eight songs so you can mingle with "fans/new fans" won't keep em coming back to hear you. That gig ain't no open mike night, it's a show. Some bands play em like their lives depend on it, some play em like it's a tea party. If my count is right, they played 19 songs in two hours. That's pretty puny, kinda like the last couple of Nashville bands that played there. I've been there on nights when Stinson had a set list of 40 songs and probably took a few requests too. Two Hoots plays those gigs like they're defending the Alamo. You make new fans in Houston from the stage, not from crowd-mingling and schmoozing. As for economics, no one told anyone to become someone who'd work for that. The gig ain't viable, why would you beg to get it?

RichHB
RichHB

Who gives Two Hoots and a Holler!

J/K  Your band kicks--who else can Hula & Honky Tonk?That California/Virginia out fit you hang with ain't bad either.  But what the Hell did that Smith guy do to his guitar, try to mate it with a belt sander?

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