Apr 8

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Allstage Crawl: Fitzray’s Lounge Indie Night

Allstage Crawl: Brother Leeds

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On March 27th ,2019 I had the pleasure of attending Fitzray’s Wednesday Indie Night with featuring local indie act Brother Leeds.

The entire concept of this weekly Indie Showcase is the brainchild of Tara Scott and Jeffy Bialkowski. Tara looks after media for Fitzray’s and is there PR and camera guru for the bar – catch Tara’s pics as they works of art and she has the “eye” for taking great pictures of musicians.

Jeffy Bialkowski is well known for many musical projects be it his former days in the punk circuit, his solo acoustic show or his indie band Dustbin Flowers. Jeff does the sound work for the Indie night shows and his experience as a musician grants him the talent to be an excellent soundman. On this night I was sitting right up front near the stage and the sound was pitch perfect – not too loud and just enough volume to project to the back of the bar and give the band that excellent “full” sound that musicians love to project.

Fitzray’s itself is a downtown live music mecca to play at. I’ve played there numerous times in the “old” bar and it was a blast, now that Mark J McGonigle and Jay Bell have dove in head first on a remake – the bar is better than ever. The sight lines are perfect, the interior has been vastly upgraded to reflect an intimate and upper end venue and the stage has been enlarged to give bands far more room onstage. Add to that the fact the venue has inhouse lighting and PA with Jeff on sound and you have all the ingredients for a “A” level venue.

The food there put out by the cooks is always, always excellent and fairly priced for the high quality that you receive, and ALL the Lady servers are absolutely the best in service and being attentive to you.

There is a reason that this venue has survived the dredges of downtown for over a decade – its simply a “go-to” destination for live music.

 

Brother Leeds

Ok, I’m not going to ignore this fact – these guys are one of my absolute favorite indie acts around town. Of course, I’m a little partial since Karen & Brad Coward gave me the best t-shirt I own and Andrew Malo was wearing a Bender t-shirt on this given night to get in my good grace – ha, ha, ha.

On a serious note, the band consists of Brad Coward (Drums & Vocals) Andrew Malo (Guitar & Vocals / Songwriter) Steve Sinclair (Guitar & Vocals / Songwriter) and Ron Van Boheeman (Bass & Vocals). All of them are very respected musicians in this city not only for their individual talent on their instruments but for their amazing character as human beings – I’m very blessed to call them my friends.

Moshe Bar Noach said it best when he mentioned online that when he stuck his head in the door on the way to work, that the band very much resembled The Stones – he is dead on in that regard.

Andrew (electric) & Steve (acoustic) in tandem on guitar mesh perfectly in that acoustic/electric configuration – it gives the band a flavor that works in total harmony with one another and both these boys are true axe slingers. When Steve switch’s over to electric it immediately gives the band an extra layer of punch and dynamics that lifts the songs to another level as they work in unison like the one-two punch of Def Leppard.

The band throws in some covers for us “old” folk but the majority of their setlist is nothing but originals and they range from toe tapping catchy tunes to downright gritty Stones like material with an edge. Add to that the strength that they have four excellent singers in the band which gives them the flexibility to deliver full harmonies across a large swatch of their catalogue and its win-win.

Ron and Brad as a rhythm section are as locked in as you will ever hear – nothing flamboyant – although they certainly are talented enough on their instruments to do that which I have had the pleasure at times to witness first hand – but they both play to the song and the foundation they create powers this band forward no matter what style they are playing.

I’ve been critical in the past of seeing the same bands get opening slots at events in town at larger venues be it inside or outside in the Summer, or the same acts being part of Music Exchanges with other cities while other equally talented acts never get a whiff of those slots.

While I could fire off the names of over a dozen who get passed over, Brother Leeds is one more on that list that deserve by talent alone to get a shot.

The concept of finding the next boy band or Justin Beiber act has grown old and ridiculous – just because you are over 30, or are a rocker mom with long blonde hair (Nikki May of Mad Moxxis) in a rock band who sings better than most in this city, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have your shot.

Is it because there is a “favorites” list that exists, I kind of wonder myself?

Not putting down other acts who get plum gigs over and over, but bands like Brother Leeds, Mad Moxxis, Nostalgic Brightlights, ATL, VPR, Howzat and a host of others should be getting their fair share of paid Showcase gigs.

Until that happens all I hear is a lot of lip service.

Jim McCormick – Allstage

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