Last Night: Dan Dyer at Bend Studio

If only we could grow beards like that. (Dan Dyer)
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Dan Dyer
February 29, 2008
Bend Studio

Better than: ... going to the same venue for yoga and discovering you’re about as limber as week-old garlic bread.

Dan Dyer hit the stage at a packed Bend Studio and within seconds of starting the first song, it was obvious that he had the crowd eating out of his hands. The mostly female audience sang along with nearly every song (even the brand new ones), shouted out requests (changing the set list several times) and chuckling at Dyer’s humble between song banter.

Dyer, the former leader of legendary Austin band Breedlove, is out on the road promoting his recently released self-titled effort, a record that goes well beyond the common comparisons to Jeff Buckley. Incorporating elements of his heroes Stevie Wonder and Bill Withers, Dyer’s songs are laced with country and folk elements and never succumb to the dreaded NPR/Starbucks banality. When he sang “Love Chain,” one of the new album’s best cuts, it was as if Dyer was leading a church revival. Audience members raised their hands and swayed as Dyer and his recently assembled quartet locked into a groove and showed a clever hand at improvisation.

Wisely throwing in a few Breedlove chestnuts (I thought a few in the crowd were going to cry if he didn’t), Dyer kept the audience engaged for nearly two hours. “I haven’t taught this band anymore songs,” Dyer said at evening’s end, somehow having to apologize for a job well done. Indeed, Dyer’s brand of soul/funk/pop is well worthy of wider recognition. His vocals are simply too good, his songs too emotional and intense, his band too soulful to spend many more nights presenting the case before just family and friends. -- Darryl Smyers

Critic’s Notebook Personal Bias: I wish I could get women to scream for me like they do for Dyer, but I can’t get my beard to grow in that slacker/suave way that folks like Dyer can. I bet none of his shirts have top buttons. Hell, he doesn’t sweat, he perspires. Some lady even screamed when Dyer was sipping from a water bottle.

Random Moments: Dyer’s wife (very hot) sat right next to me, and his mother (not too shabby either) was a few seats to my right. Wife kept pointing out various other family members in the audience and looked kind of pissed when I asked (jokingly), “Is this a goddamn family reunion?”

Artist Suggestion: Dyer is funkier but a nice complement to his music might be that of Paul Brill, a New York singer/songwriter who mines some of the same emotional territory while adding subtle shadings of electronica.

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