On Friday night, I was sitting at the KTCU studios with Tom Urquhart, playing some tunes for dozens of listeners and discussing live-music prospects for the evening. Urquhart, who also co-hosts The Good Show on Saturday mornings, let it slip that he was going to be sitting in with Neptune Locals, a Funkytown rock band scheduled to headline a show Saturday night at The Grotto. Urquhart plays trombone, not something you normally "sit in" with, and there was no way I was going to miss this.
I got to the club just as Joshua Irwin was wrapping up his set. Irwin is a gifted singer/songwriter, and I could kick myself for not showing up sooner.
My disappointment was short-lived, however, because Reinventing Jude was up next. As a vocalist and a songwriter, frontwoman Jude Gonzalez can connect through sheer force of personality onstage. One woman in the audience was moved to tears, and while Occam's razor suggests that that was at least partly because of the alcohol, the music was a moving experience even for those of us who were stone sober.
Reinventing Jude has a new album due out, with a release party to be held Sept. 30, and while most local musicians I talk to play the "I'm just in it for the fun" card (when we know they dream of rock stardom), Gonzalez wants a world tour and radio play. She is positively outraged that people in Dallas worship Kelly Clarkson while songwriters of more substance go unnoticed. I can't say she doesn't have a point. When she launches her world tour (and it's hard not to believe her), she plans to take the Neptune Locals with her. They were up next.
The band consist of Danny Ferry (vocals, guitar), Victor Garcia (drums), Scott Bruce (bass) and, just for Saturday, Tom Urquhart (trombone). The group did a couple of covers -- a funky version of Cheap Sunglasses by ZZ Top and Black Sabbath's Sweet Leaf. Sabbath with trombone is not something you hear every day (or ever). I think I prefer it with trombone.
But the originals were what I was there to hear, and those did not disappoint. These guys have kind of a jazz-reggae thing going on, with a hard-rock edge. There were instrumentals and originals with vocals, and all were well-executed, suitably complex and yet surreally enhanced by the trombone. I can't explain for the life of me how it worked, but it did.
The Grotto is a small club that consistently shows its dedication to local music. At times it can be a bit cramped and smoky, but you really can't experience this level of intimacy with musicians of this caliber anywhere else in Funkytown. Go see Jude and/or Neptune Locals before Jude takes them all on a worldwide tour. And go see Joshua Irwin just because you don't get a chance to hear that kind of talent often enough.