Horseshoe – They’re on the other foot now
In the beginning (in Houston, Texas, as far back as a 28-year-old music reviewer can remember) there was Fleshmop, a righteously wicked go-nowhere rock band that, like all of Houston’s go-nowhere bands, good and bad, crumpled like a sheet in the warm summer stench. Fleshmop begat Tab Jones, or at least passed bassist Ben Collis and guitarist Scott Daniels from rank to rank.
Tab Jones had a decidedly twangier sound to Fleshmop’s almost-prog-pop, so people around here started calling it country — mostly because, on the live scene anyhow, there wasn’t another band to fit the bill. There was some roadhouse rock, and some mixed-up punk shit, and Mary Cutrufello played in town now and then, but nobody was covering Hank. Tab Jones became a local critic’s darling, and when you went to one of their shows most everyone you knew was there, especially towards the end, when we (critics) all tossed up the hue and cry to lament that Tab Jones, like all of Houston’s go-nowhere bands, good and bad, was crumpling like a sheet in the warm summer stench.
A year and a half later, Tab Jones has passed on Daniels, Collis, and singer Greg Wood, begetting Horseshoe, which is trying its damnedest to avoid devolving into another of Houston’s go-nowhere bands. They’ve solidified a lineup with Cary Winscott on rhythm guitar and Eddie Hawkins on drums. They’ve built a flexible set of originals and covers both obvious and obscure, and have introduced it to a relativly loyal pocket of interested bystanders with an ongoing Wednesday night hootenanny at Mary Jane’s, where Wood swaggers across the floor like a bear trailing mike-wire across beer-splashed feet, looking for someone to sing to.
In late July they got their first shot at a sympathetic crowd and a decent P.A. opening for Steve Earle at Rockefeller’s, and Earle’s crowd acted like they liked it more than just a little. Wood didn’t wade out into the crowd like usual; he looked a little penned-up onstage, but Hawkins and Collis were tight, Daniels was playing like a star, and the set was composed entirely of originals.
This fall, the band will release its first CD, King of the World, which clocks in at 73:45 and features 22 tracks of original material. Some of it is frighteningly authentic, fire-tested in the places this music works best, thanks largely to Wood’s gruff poetry and Daniels’ slicingly tasty guitar work. It’s not pure country — if such a thing exists outside the imagination — but it has an educated and honest country bent. It’s also folksy in the best, non-somnambulant sense of the word, and crooked enough to cover a lot of rock ‘n’ roll ground.
And it’s not, I say NOT, going to crumple like a sheet in the warm summer stench.