I’ll be candid with y’all because we’re friends. I scare easily. I avoid horror movies. My little girl can pop out from behind a door and go “boo” and I jump. I don’t know what it is. Maybe I’m just an orderly, boring kind of fellow. So my approach to Halloween, at least since the candy free-for-all of my youth, has been to basically lay low until it passes. Not that Halloween is remotely terrifying in the you’re-gonna-die sense. I just find that adults in costumes, whether zombie, tennis pro or the latest internet meme, well, they scare the bejeezus out of me too.
This week’s show takes place on Halloween night. (Mwah-ha-ha-ha! Eeek! WTF?) Just another week as far as I’m concerned, with friends, Loveless chicken, Blackstone beer and great music. I’m told I don’t have to dress up, which is great. I’m coming for the tunes, and it’s a lineup that favors the occasion, with a bit of camp and a little gothic grunge.
Take the Memphis Dawls for instance. This isn’t Plain Jane folk music. Rather, this womanly trio has a dramatic look and a slightly spooky sound. Washes of mystery strings back enthralling vocals. All three are well-known Memphis artists. Holly Cole sports a guitar, while Jana Misener and Krista Wroten play cello and viola respectively. Jack White fell for their seductive aura when they opened for him in Bluff City, and he took them on the road for some dates. They have a crafty EP that you may well want to pick up before you leave the Barn.
The Black Cadillacs have a name that rings of Memphis, but they’re actually from across the state in Knoxville. And they’re turning heads with an organic, rocking integrity and some outstanding lead vocals from Will Horton. They’re a larger outfit, with six guys, and they can swing it mellow and rich, or loud and raucous. And when you come to the Barn this week, be ready for loud, because that seems to be the Owsley Brothers default position. This Florida-based band is a stripped down, post-modern guitar-meets-drums, Hill Country kind of thing. The same badassery that drove the early White Stripes and Black Keys.
The Dirt Daubers are a little bit hainted, to borrow a word from the Ozark hills. They are a fiery front porch old-time band, with cutting harmony vocals from Col. JD Wilkes and wife Jessica, bolstered by the bumping bass of Mark Robertson. Wilkes, chiefly known as the wildman lead singer of the Legendary Shack Shakers, has been aptly called the hillbilly Iggy Pop. This alter ego band put out the incredible album “Wake Up Sinners” last year, and it’s a super fresh take on some punchy old time tunes.
The evening will wrap with Humming House, which is the farthest thing from a haunted house you could find. I mean these cats are kind-hearted people who want nothing more than to entertain with their slightly vaudevillian indie folk. Original songs like “Cold Chicago” and “Stop Me Still” have propulsion and room for improvisation amid the smart lyrics. These guys have become a favorite of ours and a band in the vanguard of the new Nashville sound. They’ll make a great show-closer.
So in the end I’m not scared by any of this, but we’ve got some blazing cauldrons of rock in store on Halloween. Be courageous and come join us.