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Concert review: A Toadies drive-by, plus The County Fringe at The Grotto

A dollop of Toadies, plus The County Fringe Feb. 9 Lola's, and The Grotto Fort Worth http://www.thegrottofw.com http://thecountyfringe.com/ http://www.facebook.com/DiaDeLosToadies

Posted 10:51am on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013

My weekend of music kicked off at 6 p.m. at Lola’s Saloon in Fort Worth. The bar was packed. Cryptic Facebook messages had promised that two members of Toadies, Vaden Todd Lewis, and Mark Reznicek, would be hanging out for happy hour. Even though they haven’t been as active in the past few years, these guys are local heroes and they still have a fanatical following in Funkytown.

The festivities started nearly an hour late, but nobody cared, and a free, single-song CD was passed out to the crowd while we waited for the announcement that Dia De Los Toadies, the bands annual music festival, would be held in Fort Worth at Panther Island Pavilion on September 13-14.

Vaden Todd Lewis then gave us a four song acoustic set consisting of I Burn, Tyler, and two of the bands’ new songs. It was good, Lewis is still a world class performer, but I think most of us were hoping for a full set (at least). It was a free show, with an honest-to-god rock star (and swag!). Who can complain about that?

On Saturday, I dropped by The Grotto for some serious folk music from The County Fringe. It was cold and rainy, and with only the hardcore regulars and true believers out on a night like this, it was easy to find a good seat.

The County Fringe is a Dallas-based duo consisting of Heather Cramer (vocals) and Guy Cramer (guitar, drums, banjo, and backing vocals). Guy plays a minimalist drum kit with his feet, while pulling off convincing leads on guitar and banjo. The resulting instrumentals are bigger than you would expect, but no more than you want for this kind of bare bones folk experience.

There’s a lot of charm to this act. The stage presence is a decidedly young, charming, married couple. The vocals are expressive, and pitch perfect, with just enough of a vintage vibe to them for that roots/Americana flavor all the kids are so hot for – while still keeping it honest and not stepping over the line into pretension.

They did mostly originals and a nice cover of On the Moon by A. A. Bondy. They finished up with about 30 minutes to spare, and left the crowd begging for an encore. The couple will be playing in Keller at Up in Smoke BBQ on Thursday, so do yourself a favor and check them out if you’re in the area.

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