One of the best things about the Thursday at Canalside music series (besides the music) is the sheer amount of people-watching available. It’s like a gathering of different tribes, many of them wearing attitudes and a world of colorful fabrics in a plethora of styles.
Generations pass one another, each of them engaged in living the present or revisiting the past, conversing and laughing; some engage in discreet displays of affection while others act more overtly than covertly. All of them profess to be there for the music, and the sense of community engendered by like-minded souls only serves to heighten the experience. And, when you get down to it, it really is all about the music.
That may be why most of the crowd, and there were many people there as the night wore on, didn’t start to stroll in until it was nearly time for Los Lonely Boys, the headliner for the evening, to hit the stage. It was like going right for the entree without indulging in any of the appetizers; there was nothing to set the moment, to offer a contrasting taste that would make one appreciate the main course even more. But then again. ...
Los Lonely Boys is an impressive act. The Garza brothers – guitarist Henry, bassist Jojo and drummer Ringo – are a tightly woven unit of masterful musicians who’ve managed to step beyond the Hendrix/SRV/Santana roots of their beginnings to create their own unique sonic blend. Yes, you can hear the history in what they play, but there is an overlay of style that is subtle but still noticeably different about what they’re doing.
From the moment Henry shouted out, “Que pasa Buffalo?” and launched the band into a torrid take on “American Idle” (with Jojo handling the vocals), much of the audience packed in front of the stage and scattered throughout the park was shakin’ what they brought, waving their hands in the air and shouting encouragement – especially during the guitar solo.
It should be noted that Jojo and Ringo are a solid rhythm section, providing support and driving the material forward, but most of the audience attention was diverted by Henry’s florid six-string acrobatics in tunes like “Senorita” and his surprisingly sophisticated grasp of subtlety in the mid-tempo “Roses.”
The opening acts deserved more of an audience than they received but appeared happy with what they got.
Randle and the Late Night Scandals is a local band whose biggest break so far was when it became national finalist in the 2013 Hard Rock Café “Rising Battle of the Bands.” Amanda Markovich-rabb (a.k.a. Randle Rabbit) is the focus of the group and possesses a good, gritty when needed, voice that rides that narrow line between rock and soul. While the rest of the band has a certain amount of chops, the saxophonist Kimberly Young-Mason has a stage presence that goes along well with her sharp, pungent musicianship.
Goodnight Texas was the middle band in the mix. An Americana-leaning outfit operating out of San Francisco and whose main instruments (guitar, banjo and mandolin) wouldn’t be out of place in a bluegrass ensemble was the maverick on the program. The group, with songs like “Submarines” and “The Railroad,” has a distinctive voice that harkens back to folk roots. While it took a couple tunes for the audience to get exactly what they were doing, Goodnight Texas had the crowd in front of the stage dancing.