Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
This is home turf for me. I cut my teeth at the 8 x 10 in the late 80s/early 90s. There was a real buzz. This is before the renovation. It may not have been the most comfortable club, but it was ours. For a while, almost every national alternative up and coming act played the 8 x 10. That includes Green Day, The Meat Puppets, Supersuckers, and Firehose. Cris Jacobs has played there as much as anyone in the 2000s. There were so many more but it has been a few years and my memory isn’t as quite as sharp as it used to be.
That feeling of being in the right place at the right time came back to me in the very place that I felt it 30 years ago. That’s right, The Travers Brothership and Southern Avenue brought back the magic. The show started around 9 PM, which is perfect for a weeknight. The Travers Brothership hail from Ashville, NC and had been opening some dates for Southern Avenue.
My first impression was that these guys are really tight. They play an Allman Brothers type of set with long songs and lots of improvisation. The keyboardist later told me that the Allmans are one of their biggest influences. Well, these guys sure were able to take the best parts and put their own mark on this genre. Kyle Travers was shredding it on guitar, while his twin brother, Eric was pounding the skins and holding the beat. Josh Clark was holding down the bottom and slapping some funky ass bass. Ian McIsaac was the man on the keys.
Ian has an interesting style of playing where he seems to play lead a lot with his left hand. It really changes up the sound significantly. Ian seems to be the soul of the band and I was seriously digging his key and synth fills. So much feeling. All of the guys are pros. And Josh plays the bass like a jazz player. Their chemistry on stage is palpable. They played a 45 minute set, but I could have used a little more time. Hopefully, they will make their way through Charm City sometime soon.
There was the obligatory 30 minute set break and then Southern Avenue entered the stage. They had an announcement to make: the lead singer, Tierinii Jackson, announced that due to a sinus infection, she would be unable to sing in any capacity that night. But, they really made lemonade out of a pile of lemons. Tierinii was there in the front row, dancing with the audience and keeping the vibe positive.
The majority of the vocals were replaced with the keyboards and some guitar. The result was something spontaneous and completely awe inspiring. I felt like I was watching The Mighty Imperials, The Sugarman 3, or The Budos Brothers Band. It was truly incredible. Not only did the show go on, that is definitely an experience that could help the band evolve even further. It was also proof that they will not be deterred. Don’t get me wrong, we missed Tiernii’s voice. But in spite of her temporary malady, the band picked up another tool for their musical tool box. And that is always a good thing.
Next time I see Southern Avenue, I hope that Tieriini is all healed and belting out those high notes. Until that day comes, I have a fantastic memory of an evening of incredible music and electricity all because a band was faced with a mini crisis and chose to solve the problem by being incredibly open minded. They also displayed that experimental spirit.