Koe Wetzel, with The Steel Woods and Ray Wylie Hubbard, Saturday, June 27, Pub Station Ballroom, 8 p.m. Tickets for the all-ages show are $29.50, plus any applicable fee.
“Harold Saul High” is Koe Wetzel being 100% Koe Wetzel but adding a new level of songwriting that proves him belongs at the forefront of this scene. It’s ‘90’s and early 2000’s punk rock meets raw, hillbilly east Texas country music. This album marries the authenticity of Koe’s live performance with an even better look into the mind and soul of the writer behind the pen, all at the same time appreciating the wit and heart of Koe in his nature as a fun-loving dude who loves to have a good time. Everyone who complained about having to wait for a new album from Koe gets more than they deserved and likely expected. “Harold Saul High” is sure to be one of the few albums that defines this generation of Texas music.” – Buddy Logan
Steel Woods, with a pair of critically acclaimed releases under their belts in Straw in the Wind and Old News, the Nashville-based band has lived up to their name as a hybrid musical force both in the studio, but especially live.
The band’s two original members are native sons of the south who both hale from small-town backgrounds. The Alabama-born Wes Bayliss played harmonica from the age of eight in his family’s gospel band, eventually teaching himself piano, bass and drums. Jason “Rowdy” Cope turned his love of Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix into a career as a session guitarist/songwriter and producer, moving to Los Angeles, then playing in Jamey Johnson’s band for nine years. The two met in Nashville playing for the same cover band in some out-of-town dive, and immediately discovered an affinity for each other.
Whether or not you subscribe to the adage that the devil always has the best music, you can take it on faith that anytime he pops up for a cameo in a Ray Wylie Hubbard song, the results are gonna be pretty damned entertaining. And as any fan of the Hubbard cannon knows, Old Scratch pops up in his songs a lot — nearly as often as all of Hubbard’s wise-cracking black birds, lyrical and musical nods to Lightnin’ Hopkins, bad-ass women (usually Hubbard’s own wife, Judy), and a myriad of other grifters, ruffians, and scrappy cats of the gnarly and general lowdown variety.
Somewhere or other on just about every Ray Wylie Hubbard album, the devil always gets his due — and he’s now even worked his way up to top billing on the acclaimed songwriter’s latest, Tell the Devil I’m Getting There as Fast as I Can (due August 18, 2017 on Bordello Records through Thirty Tigers). Now, don’t get the wrong idea here. Hubbard’s not some faddish heavy metal occultist on an Aleister Crowley kick; “I don’t really go that far or study it or anything,” he says with a chuckle. Nor is he under the spell of any liquid, powder, or other chemical that a tee-totaling churchgoer might flag as the devil’s influence: Hubbard shook off all of that stuff 30-some-odd years ago, when the wayward ’70s progressive country refugee stumbled out of his honky-tonk fog and discovered that both his life and art were a helluva lot greener on the sober side of the fence.
What it really comes down to is the fact that there’s just something about the cut of the fallen angel’s jib that’s tickled Hubbard’s muse ever since 1999’s uproarious “Conversation With the Devil.” And much like his sheepish excuse in that song that “I never used the cocaine to get high, I just liked the way it smelled,” Hubbard just gets a kick out of hearing — or rather, making — the wily (Wylie?) fiend talk. “You kind of give him a personality, you know?” offers the 70-year-old Oklahoma-born troubadour from his log-cabin Shangri-la in Wimberley, a Texas Hill Country hamlet just outside of Austin. “Like in [the new album’s] ‘Lucifer and the Fallen Angels,’ you pick up this guy hitchhiking to Mobile, Alabama, and he’s just this colorful kind of smart-ass, funky cat. It reminds me of A Streetcar Named Desire, where you’ve got Marlon Brando as this brute in a torn T-shirt, but what he’s saying is brilliant, because his words are from Tennessee Williams. I always enjoy that.”