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Brandin Lea (second from right, shown with his new band, Jetta in the Ghost Tree) is excited to reunite with two of his old Acoustic Mafia pals, John Price and Collin Herring, on Saturday at The Aardvark.

The three guys who at one time almost drank Fort Worth out of Jäger (and Jack Daniels and Lone Star Beer) couldn’t even finish a six-pack now. And that’s a good thing.

Brandin Lea, frontman for psych-rockers Jetta in the Ghost Tree and formerly Flickerstick, is nearly two years into recovery for alcoholism. Rootsy singer-songwriter Collin Herring is going on five. And the third guy, pop songsmith John Price, could be described as healthily health-conscious. He’s married to a master of acupuncture and oriental medicine, he’s a youth psychologist, and he has been the primary caretaker of his young son, River Price, for nearly a decade. When this triumvirate was at full sail, however, the whole world seemed to be covered in booze, cigarette smoke, and coke (and stripper glitter).

The time was around 2003. Herring and Price were fresh into their solo careers, and Lea was still fronting Flick. They all knew one another but never worked together until Danny Weaver offered them a monthly Sunday night gig at his new bar, The Moon, right down West Berry Street in TCU-land from his first venture, The Aardvark. Called the Acoustic Mafia, the shows featured mostly acoustic solo and collaborative performances by the trio plus another original mafioso, Calhoun’s Tim Locke, and a couple of guests, most notably Kevin Aldridge, Taylor Craig Mills, and Joe Rose (who would go on to form Holy Moly with Weaver). The Acoustic Mafia quickly outgrew The Moon and had to be relocated to The Aardvark. For nearly a year, the mafiosi drew better than many well-known touring acts at The Aardvark, The Wreck Room, and Ridglea Theater. The days leading up to the shows had a carnival feel. Pre- and after-parties sometimes went on for days. Some may (may) have involved bars that stayed open well past closing time, “entertainers” lassoed from New Orleans Nights (R.I.P.), ropes of cocaine snorted off restroom handicap rails, shots of Jäger poured from rooftops, and open romantic liaisons. Right there! In front of your face! I don’t know how crazy The Where House ever got or how wheels-off some Hanna Barbarians shows may have been, but I can’t imagine getting away with the stuff now that local musicians got away with then. Fort Worth has been legit for awhile now. Back in the day, it was the Wild Wild West.

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But it’s better this way. Way better. Lea is producing some of the best work of his 20years-plus career. Jetta in the Ghost Tree’s forthcoming debut album, Clandestine, Vol. 1, is a loud, bruising, moody trip. Herring, who’s been living in Austin and recently released his fourth album, Some Knives, is thriving creatively in addition to personally (“New, Improved Collin Herring,” July 30, 2014). Price, who lives in Houston, stepped away from music to pursue his professional career but still dabbles, and since he’s the best hook crafter North Texas has ever seen (by a mile), he could recite Joe T.’s menu and still make it catchy.

Most of the Acoustic Mafia will reunite on Saturday at The Aardvark (2915 W. Berry St., 817-926-7814). “Acoustic” might not be entirely accurate, however. Instead of solo Lea, Jetta will perform, and Price, Herring, and Mills will be backed by several local heavy hitters, who will be plugged in.

The reunion came about somewhat accidentally. Not long after getting sober, Lea reconnected with Price. The idea of doing a show together came up. Herring got involved after bumping into Lea at Arts Goggle last summer. “We decided to do it,” Lea said, “just because we wanted to.”

Lea can’t wait for Saturday. “I haven’t been this excited about a show in a long time,” he said. “Jetta’s finally hitting our stride … . I feel a lot comfortable now. Plus, I’m just excited to play with John, Collin, and Taylor, to watch all of us 10 years later. We’ll try to not cause too much trouble.”

Cover is $10.

Contact HearSay at hearsay@fwweekly.com.

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