Koe Wetzel & Konvicts Steal White Elephant Saloon Contest
You’d think somebody named Mary Jane Farmer would be a pot grower. But she’s not (as far as I know). Farmer is a pleasant, middle-aged woman who traverses the Metroplex nearly every night checking out Texas Music entertainers and writing about them in Scene In Town.
So it wasn’t surprising that she was the second person I saw when I walked into the White Elephant Saloon last night for the 9th Annual Texas Music Showdown. The first person I saw was Stockyards troubadour Brad Hines playing on stage while Farmer busied herself behind him with her cameras and computer equipment.
That’s her in the red shirt in the photo to the left.
You won’t find a more color-coordinated music writer — her boots matched her shirt. Shoeshine man Rodney Peoples gave a fresh shine to those apple-colored babies. Needless to say, the demand for red polish isn’t exactly high.
“The last time I used red was about two years ago,” Peoples said. “Pink is another oddball color, but I keep it.”
He uses Lincoln Shoe Polish because the cans seal tightly, keeping the polish fresh and supple for years, he said.
Next week, Farmer plans to wear blue or green boots.
Peoples has got her covered either way; he carries both colors.
But why the hell am I discussing shoe wax?
This isn’t a shoe wax blog.
This is supposed to be about the battle of the bands contest hosted by deejay Brett Dillon of KHYI 95.3 The Range.
First out of the chute was Longview’s Cole Allen, a former rodeo cowboy turned one-man band.
Allen is the first solo performer to get invited to the contest.
He plays guitar with his hands, harmonica with his mouth, bass drum with his right leg, and tambourine with his left leg.
Allen is as real as rawhide, and his songs offer rugged poetry about the cowboy way.
He sang flat, perhaps because he was having to work his legs so hard to keep the percussion going. Trying to sing while doing the equivalent of riding a stationary bike for 30 minutes would make me sing flat too, if not kill me outright.
After his set, Allen handed me a copy of his new CD Sabine River Blues, which I listened to on the way home.
It’s an absorbing album and he sings pitch-perfect.
Next up was Travis Bolt & Co from Maypearl.
Bolt’s “Moonlight Serenade” won Song Of The Night honors (there is no such honor, but there should be).
He also sported the coolest guitar, a sea foam green Fender Telecaster copy made from a variety of parts ordered online. The judges christened it “FrankenTelly.”
Unfortunately, Bolt’s band was missing a crucial member.
Seems the fiddler was AWOL (was Rome burning last night?). Hope the sideman had a good excuse. His absence was costly.
The judges — Dillon, myself, and singer/songwriter and pedal steel legend Chris Schlotzhauer — relied on a 100-point scoring system so complicated it would give Sir Isaac Newton an aneurism.
And yet Bolt’s band was beaten by a single point.
The third act, and the night’s big winner, was Stephenville’s Koe Wetzel and the Konvicts.
The band members look young and friendly, so it’s doubtful they’ve actually served hard time. Maybe juvie. Probably more like detention hall.
Regardless of their penal pedigrees, they made great music and will now advance to the next round of the contest. Hopefully they won’t rely on bassist Mason Morris for stage patter. Wetzel experienced equipment problem after a song and, while he was working on a fix, he asked Morris to say a few words to the crowd.
“Uh, we drove an hour and 20 minutes to get here,” he said.
The crowd stared at him.
They didn’t seem impressed.
Morris stared back, trying to figure out what to say next.
Minutes passed. Then hours.
Finally he spoke.
“It was crazy,” he said.
The crowd burst out laughing.
“He doesn’t talk too much,” Wetzel said.
He plays a mean bass, though.
Come on out next Wednesday at 8 p.m. for the next round of bands. I’ll be there judging, and Farmer will be wearing her blue or green boots.