November 2009
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Aftermath of Bands, Fans & Cans

Using ones area of expertise as a benefit platform is both a generous and convenient effort. Aspiring to help hungry Houstonians during the holiday season, Houston-based band The 71’s used music as the gateway to entice a charitable deed. The Deal—Bring 5 canned goods to the show and get a free CD. As the instigators of last Saturday night’s event at Fitzgerald’s, The 71’s had the freedom to name it “Bands, Fans & Cans.” Furthermore, they proposed and produced the line-up, electing four local indie-rock contributors known as Amber Skyline to set things in motion.

Graceful piano chords, emanating dramatically upon the fade-out of other instruments, frame the beauty that is Amber Skyline. Melodic vocal harmony and slow southern guitar solos are also present in songs such as “Fall.” Members of Amber Skyline share The 71’s openhanded approach to fighting poverty as they too have a benefit of T-shirt sale proceeds entitled “Can’t Ignore the Poor.” Keep an eye open for the record soon to be available on iTunes and CD Baby.

The evening was full of uplifting lyrics. I find it difficult to be moved by words while tackling the task of deciphering them live, nevertheless, the lyrics of The Canvas Waiting did move me. Unlucky in love, the desire to relay hurt to the inflictor of one’s pain is vexed when “Mercy finds its way” and forgiveness comes. Augmented by the percussive finesse of Josh Rodgers, the excellent falsetto-capable voice of frontman Nathan Medina croons the former phrase from the song “Mercy.” The album A Seasons Change is available on iTunes.

Dallas commuters, Air Review, came prepared with their mood-lighting props and two laptop computers, assumingly containing supplemental overlies. The continuity of four simultaneous guitars combined with ambient, melancholic vocal blends and the drum beat clap-along of “House of All We Left Behind,” had my head spinning in awe. Furthermore, I experienced an immediate liking to the catchiness of “Chasing Corporate,” a song about seizing an opportunity to escape routine and boredom. With the coordinating band next on the agenda, Air Review thanked The 71’s and concluded with the sweet-sounding “All Because You’re Mine.” The album Landmarks is available on iTunes and Amazon.

Chasing Corporate Acoustic Performance from Air Review on Vimeo.

They always begin with “Stretch Out Your Love” and Saturday’s performance by The 71’s was no exception. The song is full of power and vigor allowing Keeton Coffman to transform into the exuberant frontman that he is. Introduced during “Start Again,” the young photographer, Jackson, was asked onstage to snap a few invited shots. Jackson is the son of The 71’s album artist for We Are Locomotive available on iTunes. Keeton offered the Tears for Fears cover of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” to those of us who love the 80’s and still “wish Charles In Charge was on the air.” With a cue to “The Captain,” Ryan Cecil began its familiar introduction. They played “Ready For My Love” as well as two other new songs waiting to be recorded.

With an array of bands this brilliant, sincere, and geographically desirable it’s no wonder I planned weeks in advance to catch them all in action. I too would like to thank The 71’s for opening my eyes to more home talent, giving me a number of neighboring bands to track in the future. My selfish thanks aside; I also commend their heartfelt outreach to help those in need. With Thanksgiving Day approaching, The 71’s gift to the community will remind a few downtrodden individuals that “the God of Surprises always strikes again.”

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