The Local Brew has played over the WMOT airwaves as spotlight songs in the morning and afternoon (5:30 am and pm) and as interview/record shows with host Ana Lee on Monday evenings. This Monday night, the program went live for the first time from The Local off West End, with a power trio and a big band, an Australian and an American, a guitar-master songwriter and a cosmic showman.
The American cosmic showman with the big band was King Corduroy, the artist persona of Kurt McMahan, who’s wended his way to Nashville from his home state of Alabama by way of Austin, Los Angeles and the bohemian, spiritually resonant town of Todos Santos at the tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. The band leader reportedly sports tattoos of Gram Parsons, Leon Russell and Levon Helm under his western shirt. These people and places provide a pretty good guide to the exuberant R&B and grooving country soul made by this ten-piece ensemble.
Ten pieces! The band included a three-man horn section, two background vocalists and a lead guitarist who was deft with both slide and fingers. “The Emerald Triangle Blues” delivered slinky funk. We heard a dash of the strings on KC’s new Avalon Ave. EP on “Working For A Living,” which may or may not have lines about pot farming in California. That and “Hollywood” were chill mid-tempo tunes ideal for a summer night. There were some semi-extended jams and some fine twin guitar leads from the Southern rock school. It’s nice to have a band in town bringing such a maximal sound that braids together so many different threads of the Americana lineage.
Smaller in size but not in musical ambition was the trio led by Australian-born Nashville standout Jedd Hughes. This enthralling singer/songwriter and master guitar player is part of a small squad of elite Music City sidemen who are so good and in-demand by the stars (in his case Vince Gill and Rodney Crowell) that their solo hopes can sit on the back burner. Jedd is preparing to release West on Aug. 30, his first album in ages. He’s been through a lot since then, and some of his struggles were simmering behind “Animal Eyes,” a smoky and haunting song that he’s just released as a single.
Hughes let the band take a break to perform a few with a fluid acoustic fingerstyle backing, including “The Dreamer,” a swooning number inspired by the work, he said, of Nick Drake. This one completely hushed the crowd with its tense chords and vivid imagery. When the band returned and with Hughes back on electric, the Guy Clark co-write “Kill My Blues” proved Jedd’s a rock and roller on top of everything else.
The Local Brew will continue to showcase weekly at The Local, with live broadcasts once per quarter.