Jon Hogan & Maria Moss / Jonathan Byrd/ And Friends — Review
Jon Hogan, Maria Moss, Eric Gerber, Sean “Cornbread” Andrews, Richard Bowden, Jonathan Byrd, David Glaser, Andrew Pressman, Karen Mal — Romeo’s restaurant, South Austin, Texas — November 15, 2010
There is a popular section of Barton Springs Road in South Austin with a number of restaurants that are well attended at all times. One of the restaurants, Romeo’s, has not historically been a key venue for music. But that is changing. Thanks to their management, and with the help of entertainment manager Gretchen Barber, a conversion is happening.
This past Monday we managed to get a seat for a first-rate show, which included a couple recent newcomers to Austin and a few of their very talented friends. Jon Hogan and Maria Moss were the hosting musicians for one show in a series of supper club events. They are a delight, both as people and musicians.
Jon Hogan has lived all over the country and is a prolific songwriter, starting his career early within a musical family. Maria Moss comes to us from Houston and also played music from an early age while simultaneously following a strong professional career in writing and communications. Jon and Maria met a few years ago at a Kerrville Folk Festival and have been playing music together since then, complementing each other with their collective story telling, harmonies, and guitar playing and picking styles. Songs included “Laramie” about Matthew Shepherd, “Dig and Dine” about the Irish potato famine, and “Can’t Always Cry”, which was written by Blaze Foley but never put to music. Never put to music that is, until Blaze’s sister, Marsha Weldon, recently gave the words to Jon, along with those of two other songs. Jon has taken those songs, along with covers from Townes Van Zandt, and has put out an album called Every Now and Then which is sure to be well received by numerous fans. They also played a song we especially liked called“You At Sunset”, which Maria wrote (and can be found on the jonhoganmusic myspace site).
Throughout this particular performance was Eric Gerber on mandolin and backup vocals. We’ve also seen him separately putting on a fine solo show with his own songs while playing guitar. Eric is originally from Georgia, and is primarily known as a musician in the Boston area. However, like many others, he came here to Texas and has decided to remain. Also with Jon and Maria, on the 28-gallon washtub bass, was Sean “Cornbread” Andrews, and there was Richard Bowden on fiddle. Richard is a true Texan, who also happened to be born in the same little East Texas town as was Don Henley. Richard has played with Henley, Glenn Frey, and the other Eagles, as well as Linda Rondstadt and Roger McGuinn. There is a lot of history in his world.
A little later in the evening we had a special guest appearance from Jonathan Byrd, visiting from North Carolina. It was obvious his reputation preceded him there. Jonathan and Gretchen also have history from her house shows in the Chapel Hill, NC area. And most everyone in this evening’s group has spent time together in the past, much of it starting with meetings at the Kerrville Folk Festival. Just a few years ago in 2003, Jonathan attended Kerrville, and – just as Gretchen predicted – he won as New Folk Artist of the Year. He’s a regular at that festival now, and with luck he’ll become a regular here in Austin too.
Jonathan touches your soul. His good heart, and common sense outlook to life, clearly comes through in his songs. He’ll have you both laughing and tearing up within the space of a few minutes. He began with an appropriate song of his, “The Waitress”, sung a capella. Other great originals included “The Law and Lonesome”, “Amelia”, and my current favorite of his, “The Ballad of Larry”. During his set, David Glaser stepped in. He was in our town working on a collaborative effort with our local talent Will Taylor, who is putting together yet another cover tribute — this time to James Taylor. David is from Annapolis, Maryland, and has a wonderful diverse background with lots of good rock and roll, country, blues, and more. He is now apparently focused on more acoustic sessions, as well as teaching, and even more songwriting. Andrew Pressman on stand up bass supported Jonathan admirably throughout his show. And local Austinite Karen Mal also joined Jonathan a little later on — I’m sorry I missed her.
These musicians obviously enjoy each other’s company and each other’s music. And together they provided the rest of us with a wonderful evening I won’t soon forget.