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Concert Review: Spencer Durrett at Mambo's

Spencer Durrett Jan. 5, 2013 Mambo’s Tapas Cantina 1010 Houston St., Fort Worth 817-336-3124 www.mambosfortworth.com

Posted 8:01am on Monday, Jan. 07, 2013

Mambo's Tapas Camtina is an easy place to overlook. It’s a hotel bar, right across the street from the big ole space ship of a convention center in downtown Fort Worth, and not the kind of place you think would be a music destination. You would be wrong.

Mambo’s is owned by Dr. George Cravens, a famous neurosurgeon who I think wanted to be a musician when he grew up, so Mambo’s has been his way of giving back to the Funkytown music scene. But with neurosurgeon things to do, day-to-day management of the place has to be delegated, and recently the place seemed to have lost its way. But as Kelley Love, Mambo’s new general manager said: “There’s a new sheriff in town.”

Kelly is working on some of the issues that have plagued Mambo’s in the past: inconsistent booking, odd hours of operation, and a general lack of direction. He’s booking more and better music acts, and plans to be open earlier in the day for the after work business crowd. And since the hotel has pool, there is even talk of poolside events come summer. But you don’t have to wait till summer to get some your music fix at Mambo’s. On Saturday, it was singer/songwriter Spencer Durrett.

With the weather turning cold, I was able to get a parking space right in front of the door. Mambos has a small above-ground parking lot, and even more parking in an underground garage that most people drive right past. I grabbed a table right up front just as Spencer was starting his set.

Spencer started out with a blues piece. His guitar work impressed me right out of the gate, and his vocals were emotive and creative. He did seem a tad nervous at times, but he shouldn’t be. Although young, he definitely shows promise.

Except for some of his covers. He did a cover of Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash, which seemed inauthentic. The same can be said for Tush by ZZ Top — some songs just require a bit more grit, and he just couldn’t pull it off. But he fared better on others, such as Jimi Hendrix’s Little Wing and Purple Haze, Billy Robert’s Hey Joe, Silverchair’s Tomorrow, Sober by Tool, Cumbersome by Seven Mary Three, and Summertime by Sublime. His originals were excellent, and his guitar playing was, at times, inspired. He does a fairly modern take on blues, including some nice slide work, and some blisteringly fast yet tasteful runs.

With a little triage on his set list, and a bit of polish, Spencer Durrett has a bright future ahead of him.

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