February 21st, 2011

Loopster Live: The Wheel Workers at Walter’s

On Friday night, I made my way down to Washington Avenue. No, not to partake in the raucous club scene, but to see some live music. There was a day, not so long ago, that the Washington corridor was known more for music than glitz. I miss that time.

On this night, The Wheel Workers were celebrating the release of their album Unite. Opening the show was Featherface, a Houston act that was just named as part of the line-up for Summer Fest. The Orbans from the Dallas area would close out the night. I grabbed my camera and ten dollars and arrived early.

Featherface is good, if just a little bit loud. The vocals struggled to be heard out over the rest of the sound, but the melodies were apparent and well-crafted. It was tough for me to tell what they will be like in front of the crowds of summer, but surely their youthful exuberance and on-stage energy will carry them over the top.
(Above: Steve Wells)

(Above – Left to Right: Jake Harris, Steve Wells, Kenny Hopkins, Travis Peck)

Check out Featherface’s EP, It Comes Electric. You can hear the potential. Definitely a band to keep an eye out for when Summer Fest rolls around. Unfortunately, there was only a crowd of about 30 in attendance for this first third of the show. That’s ok. That just means the few will feel smarter in a few months.
(Above: Jake Harris, Travis Peck)

By the time The Wheel Workers took the stage, the crowd began to thicken. Honestly, I was a little bit worried that on this grand occasion only a few people would bear witness. That’s just me, though: Always looking out for everyone else…
(Above: Craig Wilkins, Allison Wilkins McPhail)

Steven Higginbotham and his gang took the stage and took their time to perfect the sound. Almost 30 minutes passed by the time the first chord was struck. The crowd grew only the tiniest bit restless, but as the show began you could tell the difference between the opening act and The Wheel Workers. Each instrument perfectly balanced. They left no amp unchecked, nothing to chance.
(Above: Steven Higginbotham)

Lady Gaga fan? Lady Gaga fan!
(Above: The Crowd)

(Above: Jason Carmona)

Each musician seemed to bounce around the stage, swapping instruments and positions. Only Jason Williams on bass and Jason Carmona on drums were cemented in their instruments. From Allison Wilkins McPhail going so far as to use her head to activate the theremin to Higginbotham grabbing a ukulele, the musical proficiency was very evident.
(Above: Steven Higginbotham, Jason Williams)

The Wheel Workers didn’t confine their set list to the new songs. They had even newer compositions to share throughout the night. Apparently, they weren’t busy enough trying to mix, print and promote Unite.
(Above: Steven Higginbotham, Jason Williams)

As the celebrators wrapped up, they left the stage to healthy applause. I turned to ask my friend, who was sold on the show after the review, what he thought. He said, “I like the music a lot, but there’s an it factor missing for me.” I asked him what it was, but when it comes to these things, there is no definition. At the very least, The Wheel Workers found themselves a sturdy stepping off point on Friday night. As they get a couple more shows under their belt, perhaps they’ll find the “it” that my friend was waiting for.
(Above: Steven Higginbotham, Craig Wilkins, Jason Williams)

Before Higginbotham left the stage, he implored the crowd not to leave without catching The Orbans. With a trip to Habitat for Humanity scheduled the next morning, I stuck around as long as I dared with a stomach full of Lone Star and in need of a good night’s sleep before succumbing to manual labor. The few songs that I let myself listen to were enough to remind me never to schedule such charitable things too early in the morning. I regretted having to retire for the night, but made a note to pick up their album When We Were Wild.
(Above: Peter Black)

This is where you ask me, “but, Paul, why didn’t you just buy the album at the show?”
(Above: Kenny Wayne)

Now I remind you, “I can’t remember a time in my life that I was truly thorough the first time around.”
(Above: Peter Black, Cliff Wright)

Check out the slate of photos on Flickr – The Wheel Workers – Album Release Party
(Above: Blaine Crews, Justin Pate)

— Paul


John Doe — Wednesday, March 2, 2011 6:33 pm

How about that trumpeter?!?!?!

Paul — Thursday, March 3, 2011 10:29 am

John Doe, bragging about yourself is only as useful as the name you give. “John Doe” just isn’t going to cut it.

Stephen Forse — Tuesday, March 8, 2011 10:16 pm

LOL I didn’t write that…but thanks anyway man!

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