Friday, September 17, 2010

Griffin House w/ Tyler James @ The Iron Horse, September 16th, 2010

I hadn't known much about this guy and his band before last night. Only that they sounded a bit like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and that House himself looks a little like I'd imagine Dan Bern to look if he'd spent a couple of weeks living on the street. Looking for something to do that night, I noticed they were playing, and off I went to the ole' Iron Horse for the show, accompanied by my friend Merideth.

The opener was a guy named Tyler James. He played keyboards, guitar, and some trumpet, and he used his pedals to loop some guitar and keyboard parts to conjure a one-man band sound. He was good at it. I was struck my how young he looked and impressed that he went out of his way to joke about it: he's 28 but he looks 15, and that's what he told us. He played around 40 minutes of music altogether and, by the end, I'd become fond of his voice which, when we he really trying, sounded soulful. One song included the line "constance of becoming," which is something I like to think about, and I think my man Chris Smither thinks about too. "All I Got" used the keyboard sound that I associate with Creedence's "Long as I Can See the Light." What could have been his strongest song was a hymn that, after he looped a couple of trumpet parts and sat down at the keyboard, he announced he'd forgotten the words to. We laughed, and he eventually remembered and sang the song. Beyond that, he was basically a slightly above average song-poet. Good love songs well-sung.

Griffin House are a good band. The lead singer does sound a bit like Tom Petty. And he looks how I'd imagine Dan Bern to look after a night of drinking and several nights spent in a ditch. They are basically a country-ish rock band. Their lead guitarist plays simple but effective solos, and the rhythm section is solid. They veered close enough to old-school rockabilly that I was not surprised when they whipped out "I Fought the Law" and "Folsom Prison Blues" and even less surprised that they both sounded great. They also did some quiet ballads, one of which, "The Guy That Says Goodbye," I found genuinely touching. They did a murder ballad, which they have yet to record, that's based on the singer's high school recollection of having his girlfriend stolen by the school's basketball star. Many of their songs reminded me a little of Tyler James' in fact. More so than James, GH relies on simple lyrics, often-repeated, taking on the feel of a mantra.

1 comment:

Matt Winters said...

Dan Bern already looks like a guy who is living out of his car at least, no?