Once a month, Tom Urquhart and Tony Diaz take over Lola's Sixth Street and showcase an out-of-the-box mix of local music acts. It has become my favorite time of the month. I never know quite what to expect. Indeed, the Good Show Live Music Series, sponsored by 88.7 FM and DFW.COM, has steadily established itself as the most exciting live-music offering around.
Last Saturday, things were really unpredictable: It was The Good Show's first funk/R&B/hip-hop edition. We started off the night with the Boss Level, featuring Daniel Hardaway (vocals, trumpet, cowbell), Justin Barbee (vocals, keyboard, trumpet), Josh Vandenburg (guitar), Ed Chaney (drums) and Paul Garza (bass).
Diaz has said that these guys are the tightest band in Fort Worth -- and he's not wrong. They can bring the funk. In a single song they can shift gears from R&B to hard rock to hip-hop and make it feel all of a piece. They opened with a trumpet duel between Hardaway and Barbee, and, I gotta say, real horns make a real difference. They even brought the headliner, Dru B Shinin', onstage for a collaboration that brought the house down.
Up next was Gallery Cat, a Dallas act that consists of Angelo Gonzales (vocals) and Anthony Gonzales (vocals), Jonny Mack (vocals, keys), Johnny Hatcher (guitar, vocals), Rich Williams (bass) and John Solis (drums). They got on my bad side right off the bat, when Mack pronounced the name of his synth "Mooog." It's spelled Moog, but it's pronounced "mowg." Seriously, that's a cardinal sin for a keyboardist.
But all was forgiven as soon these guys got started. From a sound perspective, rap is a tough thing in a small club, even with the best of sound men (and Lola's has Dre Edmonson, the best of sound men). The audience may understand a third of what you say, so you have to make the crowd feel it with inflection and body language. Angelo and Anthony are masters at this, and although you may not be able to understand they're rapping, you definitely won't care. They are just a blast to watch and listen to. They also have an insanely good live band behind them, full of energy and spirit. They jumped around onstage so much I kept waiting for them to crash into each other. Through professionalism, or sheer luck, they never did.
All of the band's music is available for free download at www.gallerycatmusic.com; I'm going to be playing this in my car all week.
Following such an assured performance, it's perhaps inevitable that the headliner was a letdown. I've been hearing about Dru B Shinin' for a while now, and I've seen his videos. He's a real talent, and a rising star in the Funkytown scene.
But with all the energy Boss Level and Gallery Cat brought to the stage, Dru left me a bit flat. His band consisted of a lot of laptop sounds, in addition to a real drummer and guitar player. Compared to the first-rate musicians the opening acts brought with them to play, well, Shinin' couldn't quite compete.
To be honest, I didn't stay for his whole set. The energy just wasn't there, and then one of the speakers shorted out and started blaring ear-splitting static. I took that as a sign it was time to go. But check out his work online, because he is definitely worth a listen.