Monday night I wasn’t in the mood for a big performance. I just wanted a mellow soundtrack to my drinking while I let the knots in my back unravel. The Magnolia Motor Lounge (3005 Morton St, 817-332-3344) is one of my go-to places for a quick pint. I lucked out last week when I walked in on the middle of Jody Jones’ singer-songwriter night and Taylor Craig Mills was on stage accompanied by Ryan Tharp on slide guitar.
I’ve seen both guys perform a couple of times, but not together. My attention was split between Tharp’s playing and Mill’s crisp, at times pained vocals. I ended up staying longer than I had intended, but I least I walked out with a link to Tharp’s yet-to-be -released debut album, Life so Far. The next morning I listened to the album, and then I listened to it again. Actually, I don’t think I’ve listened to an album so many times in a row since Son of Stan’s Divorce Pop was released in late 2013. So when I saw that Tharp would be playing at MML again on Thursday with his full band, I threw my previous plans aside.
The Thursday night crowd at the Motor Lounge was an eclectic mix of people of varying ages and dress.
The band kicked off its set with a song that had heavy drums and bass and gritty vocals before transitioning into a slower, more soulful sound. The band played several songs I recognized from the album: “Every Word,” “I’m Yours,” and “Head Games,” were the three that stuck out most in my mind. During “Every Word,” I heard my friend whisper, “damn, his voice is beautiful” under her breath. She wasn’t wrong. The set ended with a long guitar solo that left the crowd mesmerized. My pal remarked, “he sucks me in and puts me in a trance.” Watching Tharp play guitar is a show unto itself, it’s evident he’s worked hard to master his craft.
What I like most about Tharp’s sound is that it varies, unlike many bands where every note sounds the same. Some of his are bluesy while others are more prog-rockish, and the guy isn’t afraid to take chances with his songs, structurally or sonically. Tharp can experiment without loosing his identity. His show isn’t flashy, it’s straightforward, solid rock ‘n’ roll even with the slightly experimental touches.
If you need something to do on a Monday night, venture on over to Magnolia Motor Lounge and check out Jody Jones’ singer-songwriter showcase for yourself. Maybe you’ll find something new to add to your playlist.