By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
The tempered raves the Shakin' Apostles have garnered since the release of their eponymous debut in 1993 throw out the Flamin' Groovies and Moby Grape as the starting points of reference--and, just maybe, there's a little of that dope-drenched '60s SanFran boogie-rock to be found within the grooves. (There's indeed enough to garner these Austin boys a mention in Relix, the magazine devoted to covering, well, what its name threatens.)
And frontman Freddy Krc's explicit pseudopolitical rants and stabs at sociorelevance--"I rage against the leaders who only tell us lies" and "I saw a hippie on T.V., he just wanted freedom"--have a decidedly dated, silly feel. The song dedicated to Woody Guthrie wears especially thin and grows laughable as it coopts and misinterprets its "inspiration": Krc sings he "don't belong to no party but I'd like to go to one" (Guthrie, of course, was a devout Communist), then mentions that this land is his land and our land, and closes by asking Guthrie if he can sing some of his songs. (What is that I hear? A NO?)
Rather, it's on the less overwrought numbers--the more personal, low-key travelogues through Texas, Arizona, and London, and the narrative-driven relationship songs--where Jerry Jeff Walker drummer Krc (pronounced Prince--no, wait) and his band (including guitarist John Inmon, also a Jerry Jeff veteran) succeed. They sound like a '70s British pub-rock band fronted by Joe Ely--which means they sound like the Byrds trying to sound like a country band trying to sound like a rock band. Once upon a time, Krc was in a band that backed up Roky Erickson for a few years (they can be heard on the 1986 release Gremlins Have Pictures, perhaps the weakest of Roky's later releases); now, his band is preparing to contribute some tracks to an upcoming Hollies tribute album, and he's a damned sight better singer than Terry Sylvester, for what it's worth.
The Shakin' Apostles perform January 13 at the Sons of Hermann Hall--marking the first time Randell Fields and Mike Snider have brought in a non-country band to the hallowed halls. (Least it isn't Jerry Jeff himself.)
The following night at the Orbit Room, El-Vez--the Elvis impersonator with a Latin accent and a social conscience who somehow gets the folks to take him seriously (for a joke, that is)--makes his return to the Orbit Room. Personally, I wait for Oy-Vez, the Yiddish facsimile whose rendition of "In the Warsaw Ghetto" is a real weeper.