Maybe a month and a half or two months ago--I'm blanking at the moment--back when Shibboleth was still doing its month-long artist-in-residence thing at Club Dada, I found myself at the Deep Ellum club on a Thursday night, asking club co-owner Amanda Newman some questions for an article I was writing at the time.
But it was pretty tough for either of us to stay focused.
A lot was going on: Two-thirds of Shibboleth was on stage (one of the guys, not sure which, had taken the night off) performing Ennio Morricone covers; a car had broken down in front of Dada and Amanda kept running in and out of the bar to assist the men in trouble; and a small crowd sat by the stage, marveling at Shibboleth's skill set. But most distracting were the actions of the seven-year-old-or-so daughter of one of the guys having car trouble. Amanda had let her in the bar and given her a soda or something so she could be distracted from having to wait for car help. And the little girl--more so than anyone else in the place--was in love with Shibboleth. And she was vocal about it, too.
"What's your band's name?" she'd ask between songs.
"You guys are awesome," she'd say in a tone somewhere between awe and matter of fact.
The crowd got a kick out of it, and the girl didn't even notice. She was glued to Shibboleth's show to the point that she barely noticed that the crowd was watching her reactions almost as much as they were watching the stage.
It made perfect sense; the guys in Shibboleth--Rich Martin, Don Cento and James Driscoll--are clearly some of the most talented musicians in the area. And yet, as Jesse Hughey's review of the band's new disc Experiment in Error in this week's Observer explains, the band is perfectly content to dwell in instrumental quirkiness. So, of course, a seven-year-old is going to dig them. How could she not? Not only is this band right up her alley, but it's as talented as any other band she's probably heard.
Two months ago, back when Shibboleth announced its signing with Idol Records, I remarked that the deal could be a lucrative one for both parties. I stand by that; Erv Karwelis once told me how much he values the ability to license out the songs from his catalog for commercial use, and I don't see another band in the Idol catalog with as much licensing potential. Listen (and download) this example:
Shibboleth -- "The 1912 Horsey Rebellion"
Fun track, right? I think so. But it speaks to the album as a whole. As Jesse wrote in his review, it's a little too quirky as something to listen to as a standalone. I agree. Would I buy this album? Me, personally? I dunno.
But if I were Nickelodeon, and I needed backing music for my pre-teen audience's favorite shows? I'd have Shibboleth on speed dial.
And, maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think the Shibboleth guys would mind me saying that. --Pete Freedman