May 4th, 2011

Loopster Live: The Literary Greats at Continental Club

I was already geeked up by the time The Literary Greats took the stage of Continental Club. Years ago, my friend and I used to take to Continental Club most every Thursday night to see Beetle and eat free hot dogs. We decided to wind-back-the-clock for his birthday to a simpler time.  A time when our wallets were a little bit lighter and the pressure to get laid every night was a little bit heavier.

We bundled up our company of friends to check out the cover band that still plays every week to an exuberant and lithe crowd. It seemed a fitting appetizer. Once again trying out the old to see if it still fits (it does), before getting a taste of the new album by The Literary Greats, Black Blizzard.


I have a general rule about live music: The more musicians on stage, the better. Plenty of bands bring elements into their studio recordings that never make it to the live showcase. With horns and strings sampled on Black Blizzard it was nice to see The Literary Greats feature them, if only for one night. In fact, the Houston quintet added two more members on stage for back-up vocals, crowding in nine people in total.


With the excess of people on stage, The Literary Greats were able to match the fullness of sound they achieve on their album (which was the point being that this was a CD release party…). The only people more excited than the band on stage were the fans who crowded the stage and bought drinks for their heroes of the night for copies of Black Blizzard.


The Literary Greats practice a brand of bluesy rock n’ roll, stringing together looping solos, longing keys and even the trill hope of a mandolin (yes, a mandolin). The lyrics reach for the same highs and lows. From desperate to righteous, Brandon Elam has weaved fateful and helpless tales. His brothers from another mother band Taylor (guitar) and Darin Lee (bass) of Finnegan back him up along with Chris Ginsbach (drums) and Russ Willis (keys and mandolin). The sound that they end up with is soulful and hopeful with a tinge of regret. It was magnetic to the group that I was with who had never heard of The Literary Greats before the night started.


The Literary Greats didn’t have to work hard to win me over by the end of the night, but I certainly felt worked. A small venue packed with adoring fans who are one step ahead of you will do that to a wouldbe journalist. But I take it as a challenge to catch up on two previous albums by the band, a task definitely worth undertaking. As for a first to whet my palate, Black Blizzard certainly does the trick.


[Check out some more photos from the show in our flickr set and a couple more from Alexander here]

— Paul


A — Thursday, May 5, 2011 12:00 am

The guy who played keys (and mandolin) is Russ Willis. He also plays drums in Finnegan with Taylor and Darin and plays with Dont Poke the Bear and the Shallows (all great bands) FYI:)

Paul — Thursday, May 5, 2011 8:00 am

Thanks, A. I was just going off of the band’s member list from their page.

We need all the help we can get.

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