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February 24, 2010

Contributed by: Garreth Moore


Casbah last monday night was a whim; a last minute invitation to watch Longstay, Nik Ewing’s band of revolving door San Diegan musicians. The quality of the newly released album was lost in the standard stage performance, not bereft of out of tune guitars that lead dogs on to the highway.

Music to drink Whiskey to (live), not music to bring home.

I wasn’t planning on milling about too longer after their set, but I did have a drink to finish and a conversation to swallow. Both were successful in cementing me in my place as the next band set up. A hodge-podge quintet, not to dissimilar from an late Picasso. The bass player could have been a poster child for the world recluse society, the lead guitarist an amalgamation of Clint Eastwood movie stills and a drummer who had just ditched his gig with Saturday Night Fever, a fictitious disco cover band. They were either going to be phenomenal or a traveling disaster come down from L.A. to terrorize unsuspecting listeners on a Monday night. I gripped my glass.

The apparent front man, looking barely eighteen, picked up his acoustic guitar and mouthed the mic with a British accent.

“We’re Samuel Stewart“

From then on; phenomenal. The young man’s vocals wouldn’t floor you (not operatic by any means, though his female accompaniment was very close), but they could move you, with bravado and swagger heavy in every phrase. Appearances belied the depth of experience evident in his tales of love and strife. And likewise the music moved with the same dynamism that his voice exuded.

They took a piece of Carnival/Western psychedelia, as though the Outlaws and the Yardbirds got into fist-a-cuffs in a bar and Samuel Stewart was knocked out of a window with a young Conor Oberst leading the way through a painted veil of biting lyrics and proudly off color vocals. This band is something to be reckoned with. After they had finished their performance and I had reaffirmed that my jaw hadn’t gone completely to the floor, I meander over to the bar for another whiskey and it hit me. It was hard to meander because more people were filling in the gaps in the room that were very present when I first made my way in three hours earlier.

Evidently the closing band was worth watching or monday night law would make it a more of a rehearsal with a sound man than anything else. I was then told that this was the side project for the Get Back Loretta singer Stephen Bradford and songwriter Gabe Lehner. Throw in Kyle Bradford, Stephens brother and front man for Thieves and Liars, and GBL percussion man Isaac Cass and you get a line up of San Diego All-Stars.

Again my stay was prolong, I couldn’t miss the beginnings of this group. The first notes rang out with a haunted, ethereal sound followed shortly byS.Bradfords ever perfect voice.

Progressive Folk for the masses? Radiohead goes acoustic? Call it what you will, the sound I heard was damn near drinkable, two parts melodic, one part amazing with a twist of lemon.

Shaken or stirred; wet your pallet as you will. Their harmonies were flawless and the music, though only an acoustic and electric guitar, bass, and drums, filled the room with lasting and liquid depth. Not the usual Monday night.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Ryan Weiss permalink
    February 25, 2010 2:11 am

    Its Joey Bradford from Thieves and liars. Just a correction. Other than that, awesome review man. I dug that second band too

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